ORRHES Meeting Minutes
June 8, 2004
Presentation by Paul Charp:
Mr. Charp began by saying there was a lot of concerned raised among members of the subcommittee, as well as the work group and other folks in the city of Oak Ridge and surrounding areas, about ATSDR's use of the 5000 mrem over 70 years. The director of the National Center of Environmental Health and the administrator of ATSDR said that we should establish a panel to review this issue. Four people were selected by Dr. Falk to be on the panel: Dr. David Kleinbaum, Dr. Thomas Mason, Dr. Charles Miller, Dr. Robert Spengler. Mr. Charp and some other people, within the division of health assessment and consultation, requested input from two additional people: 1) Dr. Charles Land, who had been critical of ATSDR's approach to the 5000 mrem over 70 years, 2) Dr. John Boice, who most people say is the world's preeminent radiation epidemiologist. These six people were given four issues to evaluate and present their findings.
Review of Issues and Findings:
The first issue is "ATSDR does not appear to use the Linear Non-Threshold (LNT) Hypothesis in evaluating public health "risks" for radiation." Mr. Charp explained the panel said this is not true, ATSDR does use LNT and also noted that LNT is the best approach currently available for regulatory purposes because it is highly protective of public health. Mr. Charp commented that ATSDR could not change their findings, only make some discussion, but wanted to add something to the findings. Mr. Charp referred to a supplement of the Health Physics Journal dated June 2004 and explained these are the abstracts of the upcoming Health Physics Society meeting. DOE has a low dose radiation studies program and a lot of the work is being done at Washington State University. Mr. Charp refers to the article submitted by A. L. Brooks, who is very heavily involved in the low dose studies for DOE. The first two sentences of the abstract: "Extensive research has demonstrated that there are different shapes of radiation induced dose response relationship dependent on the tissue, organ, species and the characteristic of the radiation exposure. However, regulations use simplifying assumptions so that the dose response relationships are assumed to be linear." Mr. Charp skips to "Recent research has demonstrated that a low dose of ionizing radiation under 0.1 Gray (which is 10 rads) activates a unique set of genes in a cell." Mr. A. L. Brooks also states "However, there are situations under high LET radiation, such as alpha radiation, that a cell doesn't have to be hit by the radiation in order to have some effect, the bystander effect. A lot of the bystander effects studies are not consistent with the many animal and human studies on internally deposited alpha emitting radioactive materials. This is why the extension of the studies of cellular and molecular mechanisms to tissues and organisms is required before being used to calculate risk or to impact radiation protection."
Mr. Charp stated ATSDR uses linear threshold in their evaluation. Any dose calculations that are performed using the dose coefficients that are published in EPA's Federal Guidance Report 13, which are actually based on the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP) reports that came out after ICRP 60, all incorporate LNT and the dose coefficients.
The second issue of "ATSDR has two screening values, a "minimal risk level" (MRL) of 100 millirem (mrem, a measurement of radiation dose), and a radiogenic cancer comparison value (CV) of 5000 mrem. Why are these different?" Mr. Charp explained the panel responded that the use of both of these are appropriate as used by ATSDR, each measurement defines a different "dose" (amount of exposure) above background and each refers to different kinds of health effects.
The third issue of "ATSDR refers to effective (whole-body) doses and single-organ (partial-body) doses separately. For some, this practice appears to ignore evidence that relatively high doses to single organ, even at levels below ATSDR's whole-body limit of 5000 mrem, produces an increased cancer risk." Mr. Charp explained that the panel found that the ATSDR approach considers the evidence of both whole body and individual doses, in fact you cannot do a whole body dose until you have the organ dose. The panel suggested ATSDR needs a better explanation to the public to clarify the differences between whole body doses and organ doses.
The forth issue of "In discussing the hazard radiation dose ATSDR's method of distinguishing dose levels from risk levels many not adequately report potential health impacts." Mr. Charp explained the panel found it acceptable because in calculating the doses ATSDR incorporated risk and LNT explicitly and implicitly. The panel did suggest further explanation of what the dose is.
Next, Mr. Charp read comments from John Boice, perhaps the world's preeminent radiation epidemiologist. "The general consensus is that LNT is scientifically reasonable for the purposes of radiation protection. While epidemiology is not capable of detecting risk in the low dose domain, say under 10,000 20,000 mrem, there are cellular experiments and theoretical reasonings to support a linear response. On the other hand, there are factors of repair, adaptive responses and cellular apoptosis which is essentially programmed cell death. (Mr. Charp explained a cell knows when to die when a certain gene is activated and tells the cell to self destruct.) The actual risk may in fact be negligible at lower doses, but you can never prove or disprove it. In fact when exposures are extremely low, the LNT hypothesis predicts no excess cancer cases occurring even among large groups of exposed persons. The ICRP states that the increment in dose to the exposed group may be much less than one even in a large dose and in some cases it can be zero (ICRP 60, 1991 pp.17). Because cancer risks have not been detected at low doses, such as experience in large populations exposed to levels of high natural background, does not mean the LNT hypothesis is incorrect, it just means the predicted number of cases may be less than one." Mr. Charp specified that Mr. Boice did not mention that the NCRP Report 121 on collective dose says that if the number of cancers that you detect is less than one, then you have to consider that to be zero. Mr. Charp also referred to an email from Jerry Puskin (ORIA) sent to Ron Kathran (retired director of the transuranium registry). Mr. Puskin said in his evaluation of Scarboro, his calculations would indicate there would be 0.4 health effects. Mr. Kathran's response was, then NCRP says that is considered zero.
Mr. Charp noted that Mr. Boice was not very familiar with on why there is minimum risk level and a cancer comparison value. Mr. Boice responded "It seems to me that 100 mrem per year for non-cancer effects following radiation is the dose substantially below the dose where non-cancerous effects in the most sensitive subgroups have been observed." Mr. Charp adds which is mental retardation in atomic bomb survivors. Continuing with Mr. Boice's comments "The comparison value, the screening value, is proposed on cancer effects where there is convincing evidence that some increased cancers at moderate doses (10,000 20,000 mrem). If the comparison value of 5000 mrem committed effective dose is the total estimator for the lifetime, then it is similar to the 7 rems (which is 70 years × 100 per mrem for the MRL). If this is true it seems a bit odd that this dose for the comparison value would be similar to the total dose for the MRL. In other words the MRL based on non-cancer effects seems unusually low, not that the comparison value is especially high." Mr. Charp said (depending on how you interpret it) he is saying our 5000 is too low. Mr. Charp said the bottom line is that our comparison value was reviewed by a series of internal panel members and also by two recognized experts in radiation epidemiology. They all gave us the thumbs up and said it is fine for what you are doing. What seems to be missing in a lot of these discussions is that this was used for screening and not used to base our health effects on. Mr. Charp noted that in the 4-5 discussions that he has had with the subcommittee and the public health assessment work group, ATSDR indicated to them that when they come to a radionuclide in which we are concerned about the particular dose to an organ, such as iodine, ATSDR is going to throw the whole body dose information aside and look at the equivalent dose (not the effective dose equivalent). Which means ATSDR not going to worry about the whole body, we are going to look at the organ doses. Mr. Charp stated with regard to the 42 rem to the lungs, he would rather receive the 42 rem to the lungs than the 300 400 rems one may get from the inhalation of background levels of radon and asked everyone to take that into consideration.
Mr. Charp explained that Dr. Land made a mistake in his text given to ATSDR. Mr. Land said "LNT does not imply linearity from 1 Gray or 100 rads down to zero. As you get lower you have a dose rate and a dose rate effective factor that tries to adjust to linearity because there appears to be some type of quasi threshold. However, that threshold is not always there."
Mr. Charp referred to another document in the same supplement of the Health Physics Journal dated June 2004 written by Brenner of Columbia University. The title of the article is Cancer Risks at Low Radiation Doses, What Do We Really Know? The article poses the question "What is the lowest dose of X or gamma rays for which there is good evidence of increased cancer risks in humans? The epidemiologic data suggests that it is about 1000 5000 mrem for an acute exposure and about 5000 10,000 mrem for a protracted exposure." Mr. Charp explains we are at the lower end of where he thinks the epidemiologic data show observable cancers and Mr. Brenner also notes there are a lot of problems with low dose issues.
Next Mr. Charp referred to the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and their 2000 report, volume 75, to support ATSDR's contentions. This report deals with ionizing radiation, gamma radiation, neutrons, etc. Mr. Charp said ATSDR realizes that uranium is a mixed emitter and if you consider the entire decay scheme it emits alphas, betas, and gammas as well as some spontaneous fission (which can release some neutrons). Mr. Charp explains in this particular report, the risks for cancers are frequently increased in exposed populations. Tissues that are apparently less susceptible, or in which cancers are induced only at relatively high doses, include the brain, bone, uterus, skin, and rectum. Some cancers have not been linked convincingly to exposure to radiation. These include chronic, lymphocytic, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (reference is Boice), and cancers of the cervix, testes, prostate, pancreas, and the male breast. In the summary, Brenner said carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation have been studied extensively. Evidence for causal associations come primarily from epi-studies of atomic bomb survivors and patients exposed to radiation for medical reasons. Epi-studies of exposed populations exposed to lower levels of radiation were considered but were determined to as not informative for their evaluation. The level of cancer risks after exposure to X rays or gamma rays is modified by a number of factors in addition to radiation dose including the age at which exposure occurs, the length of time over which the radiation is received, and the sex of the exposed person. The level of cancer risk also varies with time since exposure.
Charles Washington asked Mr. Charp to explain what all he just said?
Mr. Charp summarized all this means is that ATSDR believes our 5000 mrem is defensible based on a peer review, based on reviews fro other epidemiologists, and is supported in the literature. ATSDR's 5000 mrem is a good screen in what we are looking for as it is related to Y-12. Mr. Charp also wanted to remind everyone that yes ATSDR used a screening level of 5000 mrem, but we found the dose for Scarboro was less than 1 mrem. In the past it was somewhere around 155 mrem.
Kowetha Davidson mentioned it was time for a break and asked the panel if they wanted to continue this discussion after the break.
Susan Kaplan made a motion to continue this discussion after the break. David Johnson seconded it. Only Herman Cember opposed because he wanted to make a comment and was allowed to do so.
Herman Cember explained the excess risk factors that we are talking about, that were reported in the article that Paul Charp just read, are at doses of 1 sievert (which is 100 rads which is 100,000 millirads) and those are for acute doses. For protracted doses we have a dose reduction factor and the exact number they said should be some where from 2 10. To be conservative they choose 2 for that and the reason is that we know there are genetic repair mechanisms. If we give a huge dose of 100,000 mrem at one time, it overwhelms the body's repair mechanisms. But if you do it very slowly, that is why we have to doubt dose reduction factor, then those damages or those injuries to the DNA get repaired. Dr. Cember emphasized that we are extrapolating down from a dose of 100,000 mrem to something like 7000 mrem over 70 years or whatever the lifetime is. He said there is a real big difference between there and on that basis he would support the 5000 mrem screening value.
Kowetha Davidson noted that when you are dealing with radiation or chemicals, the body does have a way of dealing with these exogenous agents that tend to have that affect on us. Dr. Davidson mentioned free radicals and said this does not mean it is going to cause an effect because your body has a way of dealing with that. It is only when you overwhelm the body's ability to deal with a noxious agent, whether chemical or radiation, that you have an effect. If you are at a level in which the body can deal with whether metabolize it or compensate for it, then you will not get an adverse effect from that.
Dr. Cember reiterated that when something goes wrong the body will repair it. It is only when the repair mechanism fails that the toxic effect is evidenced. This is true with everything. He mentioned that is the 1500s that Paracelsus said that only the size of the dose determines the poison. Dr. Cember said the same is true with radiation as well as everything else, including water by the way.
Susan Kaplan asked if there is a public transcript of the panel deliberations that we were given the summary of and also the panel's credentials, not just who they work for. Ms. Kaplan also wanted to know if the use of the 5000 mrem limit used in Oak Ridge will set a precedent that impacts national policy and/or cleanup. You keep saying that it has never been used before and what is the impact. What is going to happen long term if we do this? Kowetha Davidson responded by saying we are not setting standards for cleanup, that is EPA. We are working with ATSDR and they do their own cleanup standards. Mr. Kaplan asked can it have an indirect impact. If we allow it to be established and endorse it in Oak Ridge, what are the impacts? Mr. Kaplan said she would like to hear Dr. Ralston's comment on that after the break.
Kowetha Davidson announced a 15 minute break at 2:45.
Continuation of Discussion
Kowetha Davidson noted that the ORIA members had to pack up and be ready to leave by 4:00. Therefore, this leaves a finite amount of time in which we can continue this discussion.
Herman Cember wanted respond to Ms. Kaplan's question on the 5000 mrem limit and put that value in context for which everyone has a gut feeling. He noted that 5000 of anything sounds like a lot. He explained the 5000 mrem is over 70 years is well within the range of the variability of natural occurring background. So if a person were to move to Denver Colorado, they would get much more than 5000 units additional radiation doses. In support of that number, we have never observed any harmful effects from radiation of any kind whatsoever, due to variations in high background and low background. This has been studied in other parts of the world as well as the United States and we have never found any harmful radiation effects within the range of background. Dr. Cember said in his opinion, 5000 mrem seems quite reasonable and is a conservative number to use.
Lowell Ralston said he would restate where the EPA stands on this issue. The EPA is not contending that 5000 mrem effective dose is not a level in which you see observable cancers. We agree for low LET chronic radiation you can see cancer risks at that level and it is effective and the organ doses are going to be much higher based on their weighting factor. For example the example I gave before on the lung of 42 rem, it just happens to be a level that you can see statistically significant increases in cancer risks using epidemiological techniques. We believe you can extrapolate cancer risks below the levels that you see them. It takes a long time to form a cancer over a 30 50 year period. There are a lot of things going on during that time that leads to the cancer risk estimates that we have. Mr. Ralston explains uranium is an alpha particle emitter. The lowest dose of an alpha particle emitter is one alpha particle track through a cell and it does scale linearly based on the in-vitro studies that we are seeing in the laboratory at this particular time from the DOE low dose studies. We are also seeing an enhanced effect called an inversed dose rate effect. A dose rate from an alpha particle emitted is just a particle. We are not convinced that LNT, the linear extrapolation is the final answer in all of this stuff. We are saying that the NCRP, who has looked at this issue, also the National Academy of Sciences, the Bier VII committee that we are sponsoring is going to look at this issue again. The difference between high LET radiation, the alpha particle emitters like uranium, and the low LET which are different. We do not use a dose rate and dose rate effectiveness factor for high LET, there is no dose rate other than the emission. It is a national debate. But what we are saying in this particular circumstance is this would not be the value we would choose to evaluate health effects because it is at the observable level; there is no margin of safety. Mr. Ralston reiterated that he is not saying that ATSDR should use 10-4 either or about 3E-4 which is only a factor of 10 lower. We are saying that application is inconsistent with the way they deal with chemical carcinogens, which do look at risks below the observable levels; they look at non-cancer health effects below thresholds in fact their level could be looked at as a threshold for being able to observe or not observe cancer effects. We do not regulate based on thresholds, we believe that there are effects below that and others do too. So there is a national debate on the question of linear no threshold (LNT) extrapolation of lists below detectable levels. Mr. Ralston noted that the group could spend days discussing this because there are a lot of experts. He noted Dr. Charp did a nice presentation on a lot of the information we are familiar with and in fact agree with. The paper from Brenner is one that Jerry Puskin of our staff also wrote as well too, which said that about 5 is about right for chronic low LET, but this is alpha. Mr. Ralston summarized the bottom line is we are not saying whether ATSDR should or should not use 10-4, we are just saying that we would not use 5000 mrem over a lifetime. It is just not protective enough from the standpoint of where we would start to say health effects occur.
Susan Kaplan asked Mr. Ralston to define LET. Mr. Ralston defined LET as linear energy transfer, it is that alpha particles are much bigger and doubly charged particles that are shot out of the nucleus of atoms as they decay. It creates a very dense cone of ionization within the cell or biological material through which it passes and causes complex damages. Getting back to repair, it is so important for LET because that alpha particle damage can damage much better with a single alpha pass than low LET beta particles or low LET gamma. It is just the difference in terms of interpreting the health effects based on the quality of radiation.
Kowetha Davidson responded that when looking at this as linear it is still conservative because even when you consider damage to DNA causing more damage, the body still has a way of dealing with that because it can get rid of the cell. So the linear model totally ignores the ability of the body to repair. Dr. Davidson mentioned she uses the linear model but she recognizes the conservativeness of this model and there is nothing better; it cannot be proven or dis-proven because we do not have the statistical power to do it. What we are saying when we use it is that there is no level in which there is not a risk of an effect. She suggested Mr. Ralston is saying that there is no level in which the body is not able to repair damage that is caused to it. Dr. Davidson said we also have to recognize that sometimes the damage is so severe that the cell dies; when the damage is less severe the body has the ability to repair the damage to the cell. Also some cells just naturally die. Dr. Davidson repeated the linear non threshold model that we use has a built in conservativeness within that model. Mr. Ralston suggested that a lot of time could spent discussing this topic. Mr. Ralston said not having the statistical power to prove something is a problem with epidemiological studies and counting dead people, looking at cell studies where you look at it in an artificial environment (a Petri dish) and trying to scale it up to a whole animal. There are things that we do not know; we have evidence that it could be worse than we think it is or even the risks are lower and right now we do not know. We have so many experts weighing in on this issue from both sides. We look at the NCRP as one of those expert committees that looked at the question of LNT as a suitable model for radiation risk assessment and they said it is better than other things that we have seen but we are still keeping the dialog open. The Bier VII committee will look at all of the data that is being collected from the DOE low dose radiation programs that Dr. Charp was mentioning and is just part of the whole debate. Mr. Ralston reiterated that 5000 mrem over 70 years could be a level in which you start seeing clinically diagnosed cancers and that is high relative to what we would think would be a margin of safety in trying to make any decisions on health effects. This is where we are at on that debate and Mr. Ralston said he did not think it would be resolved in this discussion.
Kowetha Davidson asked Mr. Ralston if he wanted to put up some of his slides before leaving. Mr. Ralston answered he would leave copies of his slides but he did not need to present the information because they only contain the background information that lead to the decisions they made and it would take too long.
Bob Craig conveyed his frustration about discussing the 5000 mrem level for a year and a half. Dr. Craig said he recognizes the EPA does have an issue with it but he does not think it belongs in this forum. He mentioned there being no levels near 5000 mrem in the area and asked the EPA to "please take your debate to a higher level and leave us alone."
Susan Kaplan asked again by endorsing this level what is the impact on the national debate. Paul Charp stated the 5000 mrem over 70 years is only an ATSDR value. He reminded everyone that ATSDR is not a regulatory agency and cannot tell people they have to use this. Mr. Charp explained this is a value used at Oak Ridge and at every other radiation site we have looked at across the country. The issue at Oak Ridge was about putting the 5000 in writing. It has been used at Oak Ridge, Livermore, Hanford, Osen (sp?) Avenue radiation sites, some Navaho uranium mines, some Indian reservations where we have had some other uranium issues. It has been used all across the country only this is the first time it has been asked to be detailed to the public on why we used it. It will not affect national policy and national regulations; it is only an ATSDR value for our purposes to determine if we approach a trigger level to do any additional health related aspects as mandated under the CERCLA law for us.
Tony Malinauskas stressed it was important to get back to the fundamental issue that there is no disagreement that based on the data that are currently available, it is perfectly safe to live in the Scarboro community relative to exposure to uranium.
James Lewis wanted to echo what Dr. Malinauskas just said but he also wanted to address what Dr. Craig said. Mr. Lewis reminded the committee they voted to bring EPA to Oak Ridge to give this presentation. He noted the fact that EPA was not brought to Oak Ridge in a timely manner to give the type of presentation that they have given is not our fault. Mr. Lewis said that he thinks if the committee (as chairs, work groups, etc.) learns how to use those positions and push issues hard enough early in the process to get these types of issues addressed prior to endorsing a document, will not have these kind of problems. Mr. Lewis suggested that ATSDR needs to look internally as to why this did not happen earlier and what prevented it from happening. Mr. Lewis said he thinks we should applaud the EPA for coming and giving this presentation. He noted it may not change anything that the committee has done about the impression that we are suppressing information from other people. Mr. Lewis said, we as lay people may not understand but do have the right to hear what is out there and what is being said; we appreciate the comments and it gives us a better confidence in what we are doing. Mr. Lewis thinks that needs to be taken into consideration when we are dealing with this if we want the community to buy what we put out we have to develop that level of trust.
Al Brooks, speaking from the Oak Ridge Environmental Justice Committee standpoint, wanted to speak briefly on the same issue as he did the evening before. Mr. Brooks referred to the EPA Region IV PA/SI schedule slide, which read "currently scheduled after completion of the PHAs," and then quoted the ORIA presentation, "detailed sampling is recommended in all of the most closely situated neighborhoods and also in a few residential areas at greater distances. Any decision about additional dose reconstruction studies should be deferred until the results of the recommended soil sampling programs have been obtained and carefully interpreted." Mr. Brooks explained that this means the PHAs will be finished before the available information on any additional dose reconstruction studies are done. He noted this has the potential for going on and on and what he would like to do to stream line the process and bring it to closure is to make the same recommendation made last night for the benefit of the ORIA people who were not here. Mr. Brooks explained that basically it is a recommendation in which each agency will define its roles and responsibilities; a statement which would include the fact that they agree to publicly critique a site as a site but not interject agency differences and procedures. Those agency differences and procedures would be help at meetings which are not related to a particular site and the agencies will clarify which branch will speak for that agency. Mr. Brooks noted that he thinks there are almost two different recommendations here. The fact that this can be done is demonstrated by the publication A Citizen's Guide to Risk Assessments and Public Health, Assessments at Public Sites from ATSDR and Region IV. ATSDR and Region IV agreed upon statements of their purposes, goals, objectives, and indicated the differences and explained why differences might arise in the numbers they use and apparent differences in minor things along the way which might lead to questions. Mr. Brooks suggested that if this had been properly laid out beforehand, if these differences had been discussed and acknowledged by both agencies, much of this could have been eliminated. Mr. Brooks, now speaking for self, mentioned he worked at Y-12 and talked about many things with other people who worked at Y-12. He said that every time there was a disposal problem it was looked into. Characteristic of this was the burning of uranium chips. He noted they were covered in oil so a big plume came off and everybody asked where the uranium was going. What they did was go out and sample the ground under that plume with sticky paper samples and they found that after 100 200 yards all the uranium had dropped out and there was no problem. Mr. Brooks reiterated what happens to negative data is that it may be retained out there but there is no way to find it. You can talk to the people who did it and they will say yes we established the uranium did not go anywhere. Mr. Brooks said one assumption that has been made here today that needs to be looked at very closely is that the uranium may have all came down on Y-12 property or very close to Y-12 property.
Kowetha Davidson said she wanted to reiterate the comment that she made last night about the handling of the Y-12 uranium document because she did not think the comments by the agencies have been handled in the best way for this community, and that it has had a negative impact on this community. Dr. Davidson said we have eight additional health assessments that we have to do and the last thing we need is to have this type of problem with the comments. Dr. Davidson recognizes that initially there was a lot of confusion among the committee because of the comments received by region IV and then to find out there were comments received by ATSDR from EPA headquarters and the word that was coming to us was that these were different comments and it did create confusion within the community. The other thing that we have to realize is that there are always going to be comments regardless of what is written, and if you answered all of the comments nothing would ever be published because every statement leads to another question. This is good science and if we are going to move forward, at some point we have to bring closure and acceptance of the response to the comments and this goes for the subcommittee as well as between the agencies. If we cannot accept these differences and move forward, we will have eight incomplete s at the end of this process and EPA will not have any formal recommendations in which to use for their soil sampling. Dr. Davidson said it was her understanding that EPA is going to wait until the PHAs are complete before initiating their soil sampling to be completed in September of 2006. She also mentioned at the rate the committee is going and if it is going to take a year for each PHA, they will not be completed by 2010, and this is why at some point we have to accept the responses to the comments and move on. If not the community response will be well another federal agency came to town and they did not do what they said they were going to do.
Susan Kaplan said she would like to reiterate again that it took a year to get the EPA issue dealt with. There was a recommendation from PHAWG to ask them to come to a meeting. Ms. Kaplan asked has this really been so painful to have this kind of discussion. We have had other federal agencies to come talk to us. You (addressing Dr. Davidson) brought someone in on the clinic that we have been told that was not even "within our scope." The EPA is a major federal agency and you tried to squelch what they tried to say. Ms. Kaplan stressed we want to hear it and said "maybe we are stupid lay people but we want you to answer our questions."
Kowetha Davidson commented that we have a liaison on our subcommittee as well who can pass these things on in addition to our recommendations. Dr. Davidson thought Jon Richards could initiate the action to bring anyone from EPA to our subcommittee and I would recommend that he do so anytime these issues come up.
Susan Kaplan also asked could we have detailed written responses to the questions that we submitted. Jon Richards said they agree to provide written responses to the subcommittee's questions.
Peggy Adkins said thinking like a taxpayer and if she writing this for a newspaper article, she would summarize it as: we have to get through our eight assessments so we can get to the real work of having EPA dig in with all these extra soil and water samples and extra information. What we are doing just does not make sense when you look at it from that point of view. If we have to get through all of ours before we can incorporate their new information gathering process, then aren't we just wasting a lot of money and a lot of time with our little report since all they are is a temporary thing until we can really dig in. Dr. Davidson said she agreed with Peggy and it would be best if we already had the data.
Marilyn Horton noted that ORRHES does not make recommendations to EPA. ORRHES make recommendations to CDC and ATSDR.
Peggy Adkins said she would like to make a motion that whom ever is in a decision making process about testing, screening, and sampling, rethink things so it can be done immediately to incorporate the needed information into the reports that we are creating so these will not be just one more piece of paper that says there is no problem in Oak Ridge, which is what the community expects this group to come up with. Barbara Sonnenburg seconded the motion, but with some confusion as to what was said, Kowetha Davidson asked Ms. Adkins to repeat the motion.
Jeff Crane wanted to make a clarification regarding the motion. He said he attempted to make it clear in his presentation but referred to Ms. Adkins indicating this is an EPA study. Mr. Crane stressed this is not an EPA study, there is a DOE commitment to look at any unanswered questions that may come out of the site wide off-site assessments that are being done by ATSDR. The approach to this was after those activities are completed, if there are any unanswered questions that could be addressed with additional analysis or assessment accumulation of other information as to whether there might be areas where data gaps could be filled; not for purposes of completing the PHAs but for validating whether or not contamination may be present off site. Mr. Crane said if it is concluded there is contamination off site and that data is found via those assessments, this may open the door for ATSDR to consider any follow up action there. The strategy is to have ATSDR conduct its global analysis of information and see if there are any unanswered questions. This Y-12 uranium release is focused on Scarboro and we do not believe there is any reason to be concerned with Scarboro or other areas, but there are some limited data gaps. This opportunity to look at the data and collect more samples we might be able to put that to rest, that indeed there are no areas of elevated contamination other than Scarboro. This is the primary focus and it is not an extensive remedial investigation, it is a preliminary assessment.
Peggy Adkins said Lowell Ralston mentioned several things the group in1999 suggested, that we needed better sampling and other things. Ms. Adkins said having this information now instead of later would make her feel more confident about the committee's reports, trying to clarify what she is asking for in her motion. Jeff Crane said the EPA will assemble all the unanswered questions up to this point and make sure that any follow on activities can appropriately address those but stressed again our focus will not be trying to evaluate and redo the dose reconstruction or PHAs. It is to evaluate whether there is any existing contamination that requires analysis and further response.
Kowetha Davidson summarized Ms. Adkins' motion as EPA's screening be done immediately so the findings can be incorporated into the PHA. Ms. Adkins said that summary was sufficient but Barbara Sonnenburg asked is it EPA's screening. Dr. Davidson clarified EPA will be doing the sampling.
James Lewis, in trying to clarify, said that the subcommittee make the recommendation to ATSDR for ATSDR to recommend to EPA to accelerate their efforts in that area.
Jeff Crane said lets make sure this is a recommendation that considers follow on action from DOE. You can recognize that under that follow on action under the FFA, there are three parties involved: EPA and TDEC oversee DOE's actions, so please make sure it is clarified.
With very much confusion, discussion and rewording, Kowetha Davidson summarized Peggy Adkins' motion: That ATSDR ask the proper agencies to accelerate their environmental sampling so their findings can be incorporated into the PHA.
Jerry Pereira commented that he thinks what the committee is trying to do is fine but EPA is here and they are not the ones going to do the sampling. DOE is ultimately going to be the responsible party to do that sampling with EPA and TDEC oversight and review. Mr. Pereira said lets ask them if it is likely, possible, realistic to believe that ATSDR would go to you first and say is it likely that DOE will accelerate doing this. If no then why not and if yes then we have our answer today.
Jon Richards responded part of the answer is do we wait for all PHAs to be completed. This first one has been completed and there is a limited data gap and maybe we do not need to wait until all PHAs are completed. Maybe there is some timely effort that can be undertaken in a limited scope that will be consistent with DOE's existing resources; that is the fair question to ask. To go out and say that we are going to conduct an extensive analysis to support all PHAs is a different scope.
Jerry Pereira said what he does not want to happen is have ATSDR, EPA, and DOE mired in this question for the next six months and that is why I brought it up. Is it something from your experience that as EPA feels the need to advise DOE and TDEC to do these things, is it realistic that they can be done? If the answer is yes then let us just contact DOE and makeup what needs to be done.
Kowetha Davidson said the subcommittee needs to vote on the recommendation.
Tony Malinauskas said in order to identify data gaps you have got to do a PHA. Once you have identified data gaps, that is the time to go to the respective agencies and ask them for additional information and then redo the PHA. You cannot just go and say we have data gaps fill them you have to know what the data gaps are; you need a PHA.
Bob Craig responded that is one of the goals of a PHA, to identify data gaps. Our findings are that we do not believe that the public has been endangered or is endangered but there are some data gaps that we would like to go back and look at and that is what they are going to do. We are done with this one so lets have them go do it but it is not going to go into this PHA, it is final.
Al Brooks - thinks if the committee looks at the motion closely there will be another problem. You use the wording "so the findings can be incorporated into the PHAs", which means you are going to hold up the PHAs until the sampling results are in.
Bob Craig said that was his point. One of the results of a PHA is to identify data gaps and have the gaps filled. Dr. Craig said that is where we are; we have finished a PHA now lets fill that gap.
Don Box said the recommendation is a bit unrealistic. We know there are some voids in the PHA. There may be some portion that we could narrow down to greatly enhance the PHA, rather than asking for a more in depth analysis on everything again. The EPA may know of a prime candidate that we could do to give the PHA more emphasis and more accurate analysis. We might not have to wait for a completed PHA to do something like this; is this possible?
Jeff Crane noted the central issue out of the Y-12 releases is where did the uranium get deposited and is it present at levels of any concern that would require cleanup. The available information suggests that where we have those data it is not a problem. There is some uncertainty of the modeling of the dispersion and the analysis of where it might be. We believe going forward with that investigation might provide some additional data that could support some of the ongoing PHA activities for other air dispersion type pathways. That is one area that some consideration of acceleration could be appropriate for multiple purposes. Mr. Crane thinks some of the PHAs are already going to be in the context of the ongoing cleanup effort, for instance off-site groundwater. Mr. Crane believes a good question to ask is how do the array of PHAs correlate with the ongoing CERCLA cleanup activities, some of which are specifically scheduled under the FFA, such as groundwater activities for certain areas. There may be an opportunity to collect some limited data to answer the questions that might support ongoing PHAs.
The members of EPA Region IV and ORIA left at 4:00. Kowetha Davidson graciously thanked the staff from ORIA for coming and speaking with the committee and also invited them to come again. Dr. Davidson also thanked Jeff Crane for attending the meeting the evening before as well as today.
Peggy Adkins said there is the perception that this is just a procedure to rehash more of the same old information and come up with the same old answers that we have always had, that there could not possibly be any problems related to Oak Ridge. The public perceives that no matter how many meetings or studies we have, we are going to come up with the same thing because we use the same information over and over. Ms. Adkins commented that it was shocking to hear him comment about 1999 and the panel, who put a lot of effort into their work, suggested there were three or more things that needed to be done and we have not done them. We are just doing one more study rehashing the same old thing over and over. Peggy Adkins explained this is why she made the motion she made.
Bob Craig said we went through a serious screening process and did identify the nine contaminants of concern. He said his frustration is there may be something bad out there among those nine. We are looking at these very carefully, ATSDR is doing their job. They are going through available data and looking for data gaps. The two that we have done thus far, we can walk away and say Scarboro is not affected; we do not see an impact on human health from uranium. We have looked at this one and need to get to fluorine and iodine, etc. and find if there is something out there that we do not know about. If we take ten years to get to it then we have failed in our public responsibility.
Kowetha Davidson indicated it was time to vote on Peggy Adkins' motion. The motion is: For ATSDR to ask the proper agencies to accelerate their environmental sampling so their findings can be incorporated into the PHA. The vote was done by raising placards. There were nine votes in favor, five opposed; therefore the motion did not pass because it was less than 2/3 of the vote.
Continuation of Discussion
Bob Craig noted the point was well made and mentioned Tim Joseph from DOE and the EPA has heard us. Kowetha Davidson agreed that it could still be done and also mentioned the liaison from TDEC has heard us.
Susan Kaplan pointed out this is another vote that fails under the 2/3 rule, and the Oak Ridge subcommittee is the only subcommittee that has been forced to live under this rule. A simple majority is sufficient for all others. Ms. Kaplan said she asked for clarification of this once.
Marilyn Horton said not all subcommittees have bylaws and she has posed this question to committee management. They are researching to find out who and how many committees use the 2/3 rule. Ms. Horton reminded everyone that ORRHES approved the bylaws with the 2/3 vote.
Tom Sinks clarified the purpose of the 2/3 vote was that it encourages the committee work harder to come to a consensus rather than just going with a simple majority. Kowetha Davidson stressed that all key players were present during the motion and she believes the subcommittee has been heard.
Charles Yard of TDEC wanted to clarify the state's position on sampling. Mr. Yard said if the federal agencies involved decide to do the sampling, the state is going to assist in any way possible.
George Gartseff reminded everyone that there is a much bigger picture that we are just a small part of. We got the FFA which is the EPA legal bylaw requirement for DOE to clean up the site. All the funding for that is done by priorities of need and these funding levels have been going on for years, they are adjusted annually and they are difficult to change. I am not opposed to getting new funding but I saw a significant milestone that they have actually added the additional sampling as an FFA milestone. That is a legal commitment. The fact that we want the data sooner is not going to change that in my opinion. The main point is that DOE is under EPA order to clean up the Reservation and that is what the FFA is all about. This has been going on for years and it will continue for years and these assessments are useful information that go along with it. We have seen evidence that it is now going to be modifying the FFA efforts and Mr. Gartseff is confident that as data gaps are found they will be filled. We just heard Jeff Crane say this is not a high priority warranting additional funding or changes in priorities for existing funding. Mr. Gartseff said the committee needs to decide whether it is pursuing an academic issue verses the very practical cleanup issue for some very real problems that are out there.
Barbara Sonnenburg asked if the big issue is cleanup (and she agrees the committee is not watching at all) why is the committee spending all of this federal money just to produce documents to say there is no threat to the people. So many people in Oak Ridge and even people on this committee know that is going to be the results. Ms. Sonnenburg expressed her frustration with all the trauma, expense an time when the subcommittee could not even pass the last vote.
Bob Craig said he believed it was the difference between knowing and thinking. He mentioned never seeing evidence of contamination off-site but still not knowing.
Herman Cember, referring to the question Ms. Sonnenburg raised, mentioned the cleanup of the Joliet Arsenal (not a radioactive site) in Illinois. All the measurements were made and the people were told there was no hazard to the population but there were elevated levels of TNT. Dr. Cember asked those involved if there was no risk or hazard why were we doing this and the answer was that congress explicitly mandated it to get it back to pristine values in that case.
Marilyn Horton reminded everyone that Paul Charp had to leave and would not be giving his presentation because the committee chose to continue the discussion with EPA. Kowetha Davidson said the committee would hear from Mr. Charp at another meeting before doing Iodine; although he will not be available for the upcoming August meeting.