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Pullman Factory Screening Ecological Risk Assessment

Site Description/History

Environmental Setting

In this section, the history of the site, along with endangered species known (or suspected) to be at the site, is described. Information about the historical and current land-use, as well as types of habitats, and known or suspected sources of contamination.

Site Description

Pullman Factory was used as a sewage farm operation between 1881 and 1907. The site is now a residential area of southeast Chicago bound by Indiana and St. Lawrence Avenues and 130th and 134th Streets. It received untreated industrial and domestic sewage, and possibly liquid waste from the Calumet Paint Company. The Little Calumet River is close to the southern and western sides of the site.

Sensitive Habitats

Palustrine wetlands were identified from the Lake Calumet wetlands map. The nearest wetland borders 130th Street immediately north of the site, and consists of approximately 16 acres (6.5 ha) of impounded seasonally flooded deciduous forest and emergent vegetation wetlands. Similar wetlands extend about 0.6 mi to the east along the north side of 130th Street, but do not directly border the site. Two 20-acre (8-ha) wetlands are located within 0.5 mi of the site: a seasonally flooded emergent vegetation wetland to the northwest among the railroad tracks, and a temporarily flooded mixed forest and emergent vegetation wetland to the east of the site (south of Carver Park). The Little Calumet River is adjacent to the southern boundary of the site, and curves around to within 250 yd of the northwest corner of the site. Two deciduous forest palustrine wetlands are located about 0.5 and 0.8 mi downstream. The former, with about 0.14 mi river frontage, is on the north bank between the river and the rail spur south of 127th Street, and is temporarily flooded. The latter, with approximately 0.5 mi river frontage, is on the south bank west of the rail bridge, part of the Whistler Preserve, Cook County Forest Preserve District, Riverdale, and is seasonally flooded.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Lake Calumet, about 1.5 miles northeast of the site, contains black-crowned night herons, double-crested cormorants, great egrets and great blue herons. The former three species are listed as state threatened. The foraging distance of great blue herons ranges from 1 to 5 mi or more (U.S. EPA 1993), and therefore may include the Little Calumet River adjacent to and downstream from the site. The same is probably true of the other species. Other state-listed birds at Lake Calumet include common moorhens, pied-billed grebes, least bitterns, black terns, and yellow-headed blackbirds. A substantial colony of double-crested cormorants also is established in Riverdale.

The site is a residential neighborhood and therefore does not possess suitable on-site habitat for the aforementioned species, or for any other endangered species.


SLERA (Screening Level Risk Assessment):
Screening Level Problem Formulation (Step 1)

For this site, the Region 5 ecologist (James Chapman) performed the Ecological Risk Assessment, including calculation of Hazard Quotients (HQ), deciding on potential assessment endpoints and conceptual site models (See ERA Guidance Step 3 for more information on endpoints and site models).

Contaminants of Potential Ecological Concern (COPECs)

Twenty-three soil samples were collected between January 19 and 25, 1994, for the Expanded Site Investigation (including one background sample, SS01). Six of the samples (SS16-SS20 and SS22) were collected from adjacent off-site properties. Sample depths ranged between 6 and 16 inches below the surface. The chemicals with media concentrations above background concentrations are as follows:

Table 1. Chemicals with Media Concentrations that Exceed Background Concentrations

Soil samples (23 total)Number of samples exceeding background
Total xylene
1
Phenanthrene
1
Anthracene
1
Carbazol
1
Di-n-butylphthalate
1
Fluoranthene
1
Pyrene
1
Benzo[a]anthracene
1
Chrysene
1
Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP)
2
Benzo[b] fluoranthene
1
Benzo[k]fluoranthene
1
Benzo[a]pyrene
1
Indeno [1,2,3-cd]pyrene
1
4,4'-DDE
4
4,4'-DDD
1
4,4'-DDT
3
Chlordane
1
Arsenic (As)
1
Barium (Ba)
3
Lead (Pb)
1
Manganese (Mn)
1
Silver (Ag)
2
Thallium (Tl)
2
Vanadium (V)
1
Cyanide
1

Manganese and vanadium are eliminated as Contaminants of Potential Ecological Concern (COPECs) because the detections are within the ranges reported for soils in the U.S. Silver and thallium are eliminated because the detections (0.58 and 2.2 mg/kg, respectively) are below the CRQLs. DHEP would normally be eliminated from further consideration because it is a common laboratory contaminant and was detected in the blank; however, the concentration in one sample (8900 g/kg) is elevated about 20 times above background and therefore is retained as a COPEC.

Fate, Transport, and Ecotoxicity

Only those chemicals likely to contribute to the potential ecological risks of the site are discussed in this section. This procedure is followed because the screening level ecological risk assessment (SLERA) is based on a screening comparison of the concentrations of COPECs with benchmark guidelines by media (soil, sediment, or surface water). This numerical comparison results in a Hazard Quotient; if the HQ is greater than one, the potential for ecological risk by that COPEC is present. (See Step 2 of the Guidance for more details.)

The benchmark values are sufficiently conservative so that chemicals detected at concentrations below the guidelines are not expected to exhibit significant ecological effects, even if fully bioavailable. Since fate, transport and toxicity variables do not modify the outcome of the screening (these effects are embedded in the derivation of the particular guidelines), discussions of these processes for the chemicals screened out are unlikely to contribute meaningful information to the SLERA.

The following COPECs are likely to contribute to the potential ecological risks of the site:

On-site samples - barium (Ba) and lead (Pb);
Off-site samples - phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo[a] anthracene, chrysene, benzo[a]pyrene, indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, total PAHs, DDE, total DDT analogues, arsenic and barium.

See TOXICITY PROFILES for more information on the toxic effects of the various COCs found at this site.

Exposure Pathways and Potential Receptors

The primary route of exposure to the COPEC is direct, through eating earthworms, incidental soil ingestion, or burrowing. DDT and DDE are the only COPECs at this site that biomagnify. The potential receptors are restricted to common urban/suburban wildlife such as robins, rodents or moles.


SLERA: Risk Calculations/Exposure Estimates (Step 2)

This section includes calculations of Hazard Quotients and calculated estimations of risk by COPECs to potential receptors in different media (soil, sediment, surface water). This step involves the comparison of the concentrations of COPECs with benchmark guidelines by media (sediment, soil, surface water). If the maximum concentration of a chemical found at the site exceeds the screening benchmark guideline, then there is the potential for risk and further study is needed to clarify that risk. (See SLERA Step 2 for more information on the screening process, including calculating Hazard Quotients.)

Ecotoxicological Benchmark Values

The Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment (SLERA) is based on a screening comparison of the concentrations of COPECs with benchmark guidelines by media. The following (nonregulatory) guidelines are used in this SLERA: Netherland Soil Cleanup (Interim) Act (Beyer 1990); Soil Cleanup Criteria for Quebec (Beyer 1990) (See Screening Benchmarks for more information on these criteria and guidelines).

Exposure Estimates

The SLERA is performed with the following conservative assumptions:

Table 2. Comparison of Landfill Soil Contaminant Data with Soil Quality Criteria (SQC)

Substance SQCMaximum Detected Contaminant Concentration Hazard Quotient
BCBC*
Total xylene
5
50
0.01
0.002
--
Phenanthrene**
5
50
21
4
0.4
Anthracene**
10
100
3.5
0.35
--
Fluoranthene**
10
100
23
2.3
0.23
Pyrene**
10
100
22
2.2
0.22
Benzo[a]anthracene**<