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Oak Ridge Reservation

ORRHES Meeting Minutes
December 3, 2002


Status of Action items – list provided

The list of action items and recommendations was reviewed by the Subcommittee. La Freta Dalton highlighted that the action items concerning the ORRHES web site from the August 27, 2002 ORRHES meeting have been completed.

ORR Project Update

Jerry Pereira reported that Lorine Spencer will be working, primarily, with the Communications and Outreach Work Group on Oak Ridge activities, as a senior health communications specialist (approximately 50% of her time). Lorine Spencer will be working only on community involvement (CI) activities in order to develop fact sheets and perhaps onsite availability sessions to present specific information about the PHA to members of the community.

The administrative assistant for the field office in Oak Ridge, Gayla Cutler, will unfortunately will be leaving within the next couple of weeks for personal reasons. She expressed concerns about the work hours and being out at night during winter months. Jerry Pereira will find out the next step in the process of trying to obtain a replacement person.

Jerry Pereira presented the Subcommittee with ATSDR’s ORR PHA Project Management Plan Overview, the project Gantt chart, and contaminants of concern sheet. The Gantt chart covers the entire PHA process, with the last item, the executive summary, scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2005. All PHA activities are scheduled for completion by fourth quarter 2004. The Gantt chart detail shows that the focused PHA for Y-12 uranium releases has been accelerated in the schedule. The Gantt chart symbols show percentage of completion for each individual work task. Sandy Isaacs took the time to assemble and construct the Gantt chart in all of its detail. Subcommittee member comments on the Gantt chart should be submitted to ATSDR at any time and concerns should not be delayed until the next Subcommittee meeting. Examination of the Gantt chart reveals that many tasks will occur simultaneously, and it will require major effort from ORRHES and ATSDR staff in order to maintain and complete the schedule as indicated. Jerry Pereira will have to justify causes to ATSDR management if schedule slippage occur.

James Lewis asked for indication on the Gantt chart of where ORRHES needs to concentrate its effort. Jerry Pereira responded that the Gantt chart schedule lists, for example, PHA Work Group actions which would be an ORRHES action item. Kowetha Davidson added that any PHA Work Group work items listed on the schedule will be examples of actions that will be brought to the Subcommittee.

George Gartseff asked to what extent the Gantt chart schedule reflects the Subcommittee’s meeting schedule. The concern would be that ORRHES meeting schedule might be a cause for a schedule delay. Jerry Pereira replied that if a potential for a schedule delay appears ATSDR and the work groups will need to work together to adjust meeting schedules to accomplish the required deliverables.

James Lewis commented that a plan needs to be developed within ORRHES to understand what has to be accomplished by ORRHES by what time point. Bob Craig commented that the schedule software can easily produce a resource report for an individual group, such as PHA Work Group, that will assist with keeping up on the schedule.

Sandy Isaacs commented that the schedule includes two built-in PHA Work Group meetings for every focused public health assessment. There is a printout of the PHA Work Group resource report that can be given to the Subcommittee.

Kowetha Davidson added that there may be some occasions when additional PHA Work Group meetings may need to be added.

Jerry Pereira announced that Dr. Elizabeth Howze of ATSDR (Division Director of the Division of Health Education and Promotion) is in attendance at the meeting.

Presentation on the Status of the EPA Soil Sampling Effort in the Scarboro Community

Jeff Crane of EPA Region IV (substituting for Elmer Akin) presented the Draft Sampling Report for the Scarboro Community. Connie Jones is the EPA project manager for the Scarboro project.

Project Background:

  • Oak Ridge NAACP requested EPA to conduct sampling in Scarboro
  • DOE is defined as “lead agency” for conducting Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liabilities Act (CERCLA) investigations.
  • CERCLA investigations can include “off the Oak Ridge Reservation” environmental activities
  • In September 1998 DOE presented a report on its Scarboro Community Project, which primarily addressed radionuclide contaminants.
  • Additional concerns of EPA recognized that other potential contaminants had not been addressed. Work plan developed in 1999, sampling conducted in 2001.

Project Activities:

  • EPA draft report posted for public review and comment in September 24, 2002. www.epa.gov/region4/waste/fedfac
  • EPA held 2 public availability sessions in November 2002.
  • Final report will be available in late January 2003.

EPA Analytical Conclusions:

  • There were no site-related radionuclides that exceeded both the PRGs (preliminary remediation goals) and their background levels in the samples or the walkover survey
  • Exceedance of the PRGs without comparing to background would lead to false assumptions that the levels are excessive or site-related
  • Some chemicals had high detection limits or slightly exceeded PRGs, but none are known to be site-related
  • EPAs analysis identified no date above regulatory health level of concern.
  • Project results compare similarly with Department of Energy’s results (no significant differences were noted)

General Website Addresses:

EPA’s home web site: www.epa.gov

Radionuclide PRGs: www.epa-prgs.ornl.gov/radionuclides/

Chemical PRGs: www.epa.gov/region09/waste/sfund/prg/index.htm

Summary:

Based on EPA’s analysis of the data:

  • EPA findings are consistent with DOE conclusions
  • There are no elevated chemicals, metals, or radionuclides above a regulatory health level of concern
  • Scarboro residents are not currently exposed to substances that warrant an EPA response for more sampling
  • Scarboro is safe for residents

Path Forward:

  • Final EPA report scheduled for issuance in January 2003
  • Future off-site evaluations (Oak Ridge-wide) will be coordinated with the ATSDR PHA report:
    • Should address ORR Health Effect Subcommittee recommendations to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
    • ATSDR is the principle federal public health agency with responsibility to evaluate human health effects
    • After ATSDR PHA report is issued, DOE, TDEC, and EPA will scope offsite assessment activities with stakeholder involvement

Herman Cember asked, concerning the draft EPA Scarboro soil sampling report, whether the uranium MCL in drinking water (30 micrograms/L)listed in the report refers to natural uranium. Jeff Crane responded that his understanding was that the MCL represents total uranium (all isotopes).

LC Manley asked what additional contaminants did EPA sample and analyze for that the DOE effort did not include. Jeff Crane responded that additional analyses included organic compounds and metals.

James Lewis asked what specific additional compounds were analyzed and why EPA was prompted to perform those additional analyses. Jeff Crane responded that the EPA preferred to include a more complete list of analytes simply because the DOE effort focused primarily on radionuclides.

Bob Craig commented that the uranium data appear to have the same distribution as uranium in background soil samples, suggesting that no uranium got to the community from the nearby Y-12 plant. Jeff Crane agreed that this is the conclusion of the EPA sampling effort.

Work Group Sessions

AGENDA WORK GROUP PRESENTATION

Barbara Sonnenburg reported that future subjects for discussion before the Subcommittee should be presented to the Agenda Work Group before future ORRHES meetings.

GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES WORK GROUP

Karen Galloway was not present. Kowetha Davidson noted that the Subcommittee had not given any tasks to the Guidelines and Procedures Work Group.

HEALTH EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT WORK GROUP

Donna Mosby reported that Theresa NeSmith would present update information regarding the focus groups of the Needs Assessment. Donna Mosby reported that the work group itself had not met since the last ORRHES meeting.

Theresa NeSmith reported on the identities of the categories for the focus groups of the Needs Assessment. A copy of an e-mail concerning the input compiled from the work group on categories of focus groups was distributed. The e-mail discusses the reasons for choosing the focus group categories. Information was taken from the phone surveys, key resource interviews, and information from the work group. The data collected did not support inclusion of some of the focus group categories originally proposed by the work group. However, the categories selected will likely capture the persons who would have been in those categories. The titles for the focus groups are vague, due to confidentiality concerns, but should answer Subcommittee questions. The focus groups are due to be held in January. The categories of focus groups are:

  • Midlife women
  • Long-term elderly residents
  • People who have respiratory diseases
  • People who have cancer
  • People who have heart disease
  • Ill workers (people who have worked or who are working at ORR)
  • And 3 general resident groups (distinctly different groups based on the study evidence)

Theresa NeSmith pointed out that a Needs Assessment is performed at all DOE and DOD facilities addressed by an ATSDR PHA process. Needs Assessment reports are available for each of those sites.

Barbara Sonnenberg asked why the focus group labels cannot be given more specifically.

Theresa NeSmith stated that the categories are generalized in order to allow as many people as possible to take part in the focus groups and avoid biasing the membership in the categories too narrowly.

Don Creasia asked whether the ill worker category and the respiratory disease category were redundant. Theresa NeSmith explained that, while there could be overlap, the screening process will distinguish between ill workers and other people who have respiratory diseases.

Peggy Adkins asked for clarification on the 3 general resident focus groups. Theresa NeSmith responded that the screening process helps enable persons with certain health concerns to be placed into a specific focus group. Peggy Adkins requested that persons with neurological autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and lupus be specifically included in a focus group(s). Theresa NeSmith responded that people with those illnesses may be captured within the existing focus groups but she does not know if that is true.

Kowetha Davidson asked if everyone who calls in to be included in a focus group will indeed be put in a focus group. Theresa NeSmith responded that the only way a person will be turned away and not included in any focus group is if all the focus groups are full. The likelihood that the focus groups will be full and volunteers will have to be turned away is low.

Herman Cember asked how a person with multiple health concerns would be selected for one focus group rather than another. The concern being creation of confounding factors in the statistical analysis of the data when persons could be placed in more than one category. Theresa NeSmith replied that even though a person may qualify for more than one group they would only participate in one focus group.

Tony Malinauskas inquired how solicitations would cover a large geographic area, such as Roane County, if advertisements were limited to the Oak Ridger. Theresa NeSmith stated that the Roane County News was used to carry advertisements as well, and other resources, such as college students handing out fliers, were used. The suggestions of the work group to solve this issue were very helpful.

James Lewis requested that the Subcommittee be given an example report of a Needs Assessment that has been completed for a site. James Lewis asked about the definition of the term “priority health issues” in the Needs Assessment Project Summary dated March 19, 2001, where is the list of priority health issues, will it be presented, and will it be incorporated into the PHA community concerns database. Theresa NeSmith stated that this kind of information was currently being collected, that is exactly one of the reasons for performing the Needs Assessment. James Lewis also asked if assistance could be provided for effectively communicating in the community the information collected and put in the final Needs Assessment report. Can the information be sequenced in order for the Subcommittee to know what communication approach to take with the community, to reach people.

Don Box asked if persons with cancers in remission are disqualified them from participating in a focus group (i.e., because their cancer may be in the past or “cured”). Theresa NeSmith replied that there would be no such disqualification.

COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH WORK GROUP

James Lewis reported that he has had discussions with Lorine Spencer about potential community involvement plans, and asked that Lorine Spencer introduce herself to the Subcommittee. James Lewis repeated his request that Theresa NeSmith provide a copy of a Needs Assessment report prepared for another site for the Subcommittee to review.

Lorine Spencer introduced herself and stated that she has assembled ideas for community involvement activities based on the ATSDR PHA project plan. Lorine Spencer encouraged suggestions for community involvement activities that would involve the community in the ORR area. The goal is to make the effort to involve as may people as possible, so that members of the local community feel that they are part of the process.

Kowetha Davidson asked that the Communications and Outreach Work Group work closely with Lorine Spencer to develop specific strategies for the ideas for enhancing community involvement. Perhaps a presentation of strategies could be made at the next ORRHES meeting.

Bob Craig recalled that at the last ORRHES meeting there was agreement that Kathy Daniels of the Oak Ridger would be invited to meet with ORRHES, re-establish the Subcommittee’s relationship with the Oak Ridger. James Lewis has met with Kathy Daniels previously and will talk with her again.

La Freta Dalton noted that the existing communication strategy should be revisited in light of the new project plan that is available at this time.

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT WORK GROUP

Bob Craig reported that good working meetings have taken place recently and the PHA Work Group is identifying the data they would propose request from the State of Tennessee cancer registry. The work group will likely have a recommendation for the Subcommittee at the next ORRHES meeting on that issue.

Jerry Pereira took a moment to distribute to the Subcommittee a printed resource report from the scheduling software (for the PHA Work Group), listing who is responsible for what task completions and when.

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