Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
July 30, 1999
DHSS--Rita Manno or Dennis McGowan
TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will release for public comment health assessments of the Reich Farm Superfund site and the Dover Township Municipal Landfill. The complete technical report will be available Tuesday, August 3. Written comments may be submitted through October 1, 1999.
Both public health assessments support the decision by state and federal agencies in April 1997 to conduct an epidemiologic study of elevated childhood cancer in Dover Township.
The ongoing epidemiologic study will be completed next year, with an interim report expected later this year. The study of brain and nervous system cancers and leukemia includes an analysis of interviews with parents of 199 Dover Township children, including 40 diagnosed with cancer, and exposure assessments based, in part, on complex computer models of the community water supply and air pollution patterns. Between 1979 and 1995, 90 children in the township were diagnosed with cancer where statistically only 67 cases were expected.
The health assessments of Reich Farm and the landfill are not designed to determine the cause of disease in the community. Rather, the reports thoroughly review and document what is known about site contamination, human exposure to those contaminants, and the implications for public health. Health assessments are important tools for determining if follow-up activities are needed and what actions -- such as community education and/or epidemiologic studies -- should be taken.
"Both Reich Farm and the Dover Township Municipal Landfill have generated a great deal of community concern because of their long history of contamination. We've used the best science and research methods to bring all the facts together to help us understand exactly what went on at both sites," said DHSS Senior Assistant Commissioner James Blumenstock.
The Reich Farm and municipal landfill assessments were conducted as part of a public health response plan prepared in June 1996 by DHSS and ATSDR in coordination with the Citizens Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster (CACCCC) and the Ocean County Health Department. An assessment of a third site, at Ciba-Geigy, will be released this fall. A report evaluating extensive quality testing of the community water supply will also be released later this year.
The health assessments detail more than two decades of contaminant detection, site remediation and protective actions taken at both Reich Farm and Dover Township Municipal Landfill.
The Reich Farm Superfund Site: The assessment concludes that the site was a public health hazard in the past because area residents, depending on their water source, were exposed to site-related contamination for varying periods of time as far back as the 1970s. As a result of actions taken to reduce exposure, the site is considered to pose no apparent public health hazard at present. The assessment recommends continued groundwater monitoring and treatment and that the current private well restrictions remain in place.
The assessment documents contamination beginning in 1971, when over 4,500 drums of chemical waste were illegally dumped at the site. This led to contaminants entering the Cohansey aquifer, which supplies water to much of the area. In testing of both private and community wells between 1974 and 1996, several volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds were found.
To reduce exposure to these compounds, drums and soil were removed from the site. Many private wells in the area were condemned and sealed, and a restriction zone was established where no new wells could be installed. In the late 1980s, air strippers were installed on two community water supply wells to remove volatile organic compounds. In 1996, following the discovery of styrene-acrylonitrile trimer in the community water supply, water from the two wells was treated with activated carbon to eliminate potential contaminants and pumped to waste except during periods of high water usage. In 1999, water from two additional wells in the community supply began undergoing treatment with activated carbon.
Dover Township Municipal Landfill: DHSS and ATSDR conclude that the landfill was a public health hazard because of past exposures to groundwater contaminants in nearby private wells. There is no apparent hazard associated with the landfill today because the affected wells were capped in 1991. Groundwater investigations currently being conducted by Dover Township with state Department of Environmental Protection oversight will help to determine the nature and extent of site-related contamination.
The assessment also documents investigations of private well contamination in the township's Silverton section, beginning in June 1981, when residents complained of chemical odors and tastes in private well water. The source of volatile organic compounds found during testing of the water has not been established. The wells are no longer in use.
Copies of both health assessments and citizen guides summarizing their findings will be available at the Ocean County Health Department and Dover Township Public Library for 60 days beginning Tuesday, August 3, 1999. Copies of the reports will also be available by calling the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services at (609) 633-2043.
Written comments should be addressed to: New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Consumer of Environmental Health Services, ATSDR Project, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0360