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The Bruno Coop & Associated Properties (BCAP) site is in Bruno, Butler County, ineast centralNebraska. The site involves grain storage and two formerly used contaminated municipal wells. Use of carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, and chloroform at the grain facilities appears tobe the dominant source of chemicals found in groundwater and in soil gas.

Staff from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) have reviewedenvironmental data on BCAP, and found that people were likely exposed to contaminants in thewater supply. They were likely exposed by ingesting the contaminated water or by breathing inor direct skin contact with the chemicals while engaging in various activities such as showering. Based on the data that ATSDR staff reviewed, the levels of the contaminants in the water supplyand the probable length of exposure to thecontaminants, adverse non-cancer health effects arenot expected to occur.

Grain workers at the site who applied the fumigants were likely exposed to the contaminantsvia inhalation.

People who live near the BCAP site are concerned about these issues:

  • cancerous and non-cancerous health effects resulting from exposure to contaminants found in the old water supply,
  • relationship between carbon tetrachloride and development of hepatitis, and
  • health effects from eating crops which have been irrigated with the contaminated water.

The site is categorized as no apparent public health hazard because 1) current exposure to siterelated contaminants at the reported levels are not expected to result in adverse health effects,and 2) alternate water supply wells have been established and are being utilized.

ATSDR recommends that

1) new occupants of residences which are not hooked up to the public water system be encouraged to connect to the public system or have their well sampled periodically to characterize potable water quality;

2) the periodic sampling data received for Bruno's new water supply wells, continues to be reviewed;

3) residents near the town who rely on private wells for potable water supplies have their water tested soon and at periodic intervals in the future;

4) residences west of the storage area that are closest to the points where elevated soil gas was recorded in 1988, be sampled; and

5) an analysis for ethylene dibromide (EDB) be included in future tests of any public and private wells.


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR),located in Atlanta, Georgia,is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR, underthe Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of1980 (CERCLA)conducts public health assessments for sites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes for its National Priorities List (NPL). EPA announced its proposal tolist the Bruno Coop & Associated Properties (BCAP) site in October 1992. Therefore,ATSDRhas, under its mandate, evaluated the public health significance of this site by consideringwhether health effects are possible and has recommended actions to mitigate possible futureexposure.

A. Site Description and History

The BCAP site is in Bruno Nebraska, about 40 miles north-northwest of Lincoln, andinvolvesgrain storage and two contaminated former municipal wells that had serviced the town until1990 (1). The town limits, grain storage property, and former and new municipal well locationsare shown on Figure 1 (Appendix A). ATSDR, for purposes of this health assessment, considersthe site to include all areas underlain by contaminated groundwater or soil gas. The lateral limitsof the site area have not been fully defined, but available information shows that it includes atleast portions of the grain storage property and the residential area.

The grain storage property originally was owned by the C & NW Railway company. Allor partof the property was leased by a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from1947 to the 1960s for use as a Federal grain storage facility. Bruno Coop & AssociatedProperties (BCAP) purchased a portion of the property in 1964 and later became owner of theentire property. Wagner Mills, Inc. and R & W Grain company once owned portions of theproperty. Agrico Chemical Company once leased land owned by Wagner Mills for storing,blending, and distributing anhydrous ammonia and related products (2). Existing storage unitshave concrete floors. A former USDA employee reported to ATSDR that some former USDAstorage units had a gravel base overlain by sheet metal. Grains stored are predominantly cornand soybeans; wheat, oats, and milo are also stored. The property is unfenced.

The town water manager reported to ATSDR that the municipal water system has been inplacesince about the 1920s, and sewers were installed about 20 years ago. Tests conducted onsamples from the former municipal wells between 1984-1988 showed that carbon tetrachloride(CCl4), 1,2-dichloroethane (DCA), and chloroform were present (1,2). TheNebraskaDepartment of Health (NDOH), who conducted those analyses, reported to ATSDR they did notknow of any earlier tests for organic chemicals.

CCl4, chloroform, and DCA were used as fumigants in grain storage units byone or more of theoperators. The chemicals were sprayed on, poured on, or pumped into the grain (1). An EPArepresentative told ATSDR that CCl4, chloroform, and DCA also have been pouredinto rodentholes. ATSDR was also told that those chemicals were banned for fumigant use in the mid1980s, and the USDA stopped using them in the mid 1960's. The current manager of BCAPreported to ATSDR that neither fumigants nor those chemicals have been used on the propertyfor at least the past two years -- the manager's term of service. The manager reports that thebins, after emptying, are being sprayed with malathion prior to refilling with grain.

EPA provided bottled water to Bruno residents from May 1989 until the two new wells wentinto service in October 1990 (1). A Bruno official reported to ATSDR that the former wells aredisconnected from the distribution system but have not been closed or abandoned -- at therequest of USDA who may want to use them for water quality testing in the future.

The town water manager reported that a chlorine treatment system was in place at one of theformer wells for a short time; the other former well had no treatment system. The new wellshave full-time chlorine treatment. Wells are pumped alternately to fill an elevated storage tankfrom which water is released into the distribution system.

B. Site Visit

ATSDR representatives Ms. Déborah Boling andMessrs. Don Gibeaut and John Risher, and arepresentative from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality visited the site area onMarch 17, 1993. Public availability sessions were also held on that day. Pertinent informationobtained during that visit is described in appropriate sections of this document.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and NaturalResource Use


The town which has about 170 residents, lies within a rural area that has widely separatedfarmsand residences. The majority of the town's residences and businesses are southeast of the grainstorage property, across Nebraska Highway 12 Spur (Figure 1). ATSDR observed severalhomes immediately west ofthe property -- some as close as about a hundred feet.

The nearest communities are Abie (106 residents), about 4 miles north, and David City, theButler County seat, (2522 residents) about 11 miles west.

ATSDR was told the Bruno School, located in the northeast part of town has about 35students,kindergarten through 8th grade. No hospitals or nursing homes are in the vicinity.

Land Use

ATSDR observed that land within a several-mile radius is used for growing a variety of grainsand cattle. Agricultural products are likely to be shipped to diverse markets, although farmfamilies typically would consume a small portion of those products at their point of origin.

Natural Resource Use


The majority of the groundwater used in the Bruno area is obtained from the fairly thick soilzone that overlies bedrock. The former municipal wells are relatively shallow. The well at thegrain storage area is 66 feet deep, and the one in the residential area is 138 feet deep (2). Available information does not firmly identify the past and present directions of groundwaterflow beneath the town. However, with the former municipal wells out of service, ATSDR'sreview of topography and stream flow patterns suggests that the present general trend of flow ofsurficial groundwater beneath the majority of the town and grain storage area is likely to benorthward. ATSDR was shown the new public well locations, about a mile southwest of thegrain storage area. A Bruno official reports the depths of the new wells are more than 200 feet.

The Bruno official reports that all the inhabited residences in Bruno are connected to thepublicsystem, but have wells that are used to water lawns. A well survey has not been conducted forthe area. ATSDR was shown three vacant residences in town and also two vacant homesimmediately beyond the town boundary that are not on municipal water. Most of those homeshave been vacant for many years although one by the town boundary is expected to be occupiedsoon. ATSDR was also shown the nearest residences with active private wells outside of town --the locations are several hundred feet west, 1,500 feet north, and 2,000 feet east of the grainproperty.

Some farmers use groundwater to irrigate crops. ATSDR was told that the nearest irrigationwell is about three quarters of a mile west of town.

    Surface Water

ATSDR's review of topographic features shows that surface water runoff from the grainstorageproperty and also the community drains into a small stream (a branch of Skull Creek) locatednear the western edge of town. ATSDR believes groundwater also discharges into the streamduring the wetter seasons of the year. The stream and Skull Creek join several miles north oftown, wind through rural land, and ultimately discharge into the Platte River. NDOH officialsreported to ATSDR that none of those surface waters are used for potable purposes althoughsome downstream communities have installed public supply wells along their banks.

ATSDR saw the stream and Skull Creek a short time after snowmelt and observed little flow. Flow quantity is likely to be variable over time; possibly no flow occurs during extended dryweather. The portions of both water bodies ATSDR observed have relatively high, steep banks. The stream's flow channel is a few feet wide.


ATSDR believes the portions of the stream and Skull Creek in the site vicinity are not likelytosupport a substantive fishery.

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data for the area surrounding the BCAP site were reviewed and are discussedinthe Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this document. The Nebraska Department ofHealth, Division of Health Data Systems published a 1989 Vital Statistics Report in 1991 (3). This report contains information on births and deaths in the state of Nebraska broken-down tothe County level. The Nebraska Cancer Registry published a report on Cancer Incidence andMortality in Nebraska for 1989 (4). Some of the information is broken-down according toHealth Planning Areas (HPA) and county level if the county population is greater than 20,000. Butler County is in HPA 5 but has a population of less than 20,000 according to 1990 censusdata. The National Cancer Institute administers the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and EndResults (SEER) database. This database has counts and rates of new cases of cancer in theUnited States. The National Center for Health Statistics, CDC administers mortality/populationdata.


As part of the development of this public health assessment, ATSDR staff held informal,one-on-one public availability sessions to learn about the community's site-related concerns. Theavailability sessions were held on March 17, 1993 at the Bruno fire station in Bruno. About 12persons attended the sessions.

Residents and officials raised the following health-related concerns:

  • Can any of the contaminants in the old water supply cause cancer?
  • What non-cancer health effects can be expected to occur given past exposure to the contaminated water?
  • What is the relationship between exposure to carbon tetrachloride and the development of hepatitis?
  • What health effects can be expected from exposure to the contaminants in oldwater supply from uptake in consumable crops via irrigation?

These concerns are discussed in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation section of thisdocument.

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