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Oak Ridge Reservation

ORRHES Meeting Minutes
August 26, 2003


Update on the Project Plan

Mr. Jerry Pereira, the ORR Project Manager, covered the following issues in his status report. One, ORRHES should be responsible for information ATSDR presents and should also take ownership of its completed activities. Based on its limited number of years in operation, ORRHES has been the most successful health effects subcommittee in communicating with and providing feedback to a federal agency. This guidance continues to be extremely valuable to ATSDR. Two, ATSDR and the CDC National Center for Environmental Health are currently being consolidated. Dr. Falk was recently appointed as the new director of the combined agency. The transition will require the full attention of Dr. Falk and other senior personnel over the next few months.

The consolidation at the director’s level is scheduled to be completed by October 1, 2003. Functions by both agencies are not expected to change. Three, the PHAGM is currently being updated with a chapter solely devoted to community involvement. Four, new personnel have allowed ATSDR to become more proactive and make improvements despite budget constraints. Management and operation of the Oak Ridge Field Office have significantly improved with the addition of Dr. Taylor and Ms. Melissa Fish. Administrative tasks, clerical duties, data entry and filing are now completed on a more timely basis. In her new role as the DFO, Ms. Spencer will continue to extensively interact with ORRHES.

Five, all public documents produced by ATSDR will continue to undergo a management review, but Dr. Falk recently instituted a “focus site review.” ATSDR defines these communities as high-priority sites with significant visibility from Congress, the media, public or other sources. ATSDR classifies ORR as a focus site. All documents ATSDR releases or reissues from a focus site are subject to this type of review. The process has not had a major impact on ORRHES activities to date, but the project plan will be delayed to some degree. For example, time to conduct a focus site review must be incorporated into each ORR PHA. The new policy will require ATSDR and ORRHES to identify community needs for the specific PHA, such as a public availability session, fliers, newsletters or a public meeting in the community.

A focus site review must also be integrated into all ORR community involvement activities. Ms. Spencer will continue to provide support in this effort and Ms. Marilyn Palmer, the ORRHES Committee Management Specialist, will play a greater role in these projects. Additional staff will be temporarily assigned to specific activities on an as-needed basis. Six, the terms of all members currently seated on ORRHES are scheduled to expire in December 2004. Since ATSDR expects to complete all activities on the project plan no later than June 2005, a request will be made to extend the terms of all ORRHES members with an interest in continuing to serve for 180 days past December 2004. However, Mr. Pereira has no knowledge whether the request will be approved.

To date, ATSDR has been unsuccessful in its efforts to fill current ORRHES vacancies with a sick worker and physician. However, the ability of new members to make valuable contributions and a strong commitment to ORRHES is more important than the category of the individual selected. Current members can suggest names of potential candidates for ATSDR to consider at any time so long as a completed application packet is submitted. Seven, the current status of the ORRHES project plan is as follows. The screening of current chemical exposures was initially designed to be included in each PHA as an executive summary, but the activity has now been added to the project plan as a new standalone PHA. The PHA is ahead of schedule with an initial release date targeted for July 2004.

The PHAs for PCB releases and TSCA incineration are both on schedule and were initiated in August 2003. The K-25 uranium releases PHA is also on schedule and will be initiated in September 2003. Four PHAs are currently delayed. The final version of the Y?12 uranium releases PHA was due on August 26, 2003. ATSDR plans to complete and distribute the document during the October 2003 ORRHES meeting. The delay was caused by postponement of a recent ORRHES meeting, the focus site review and extension of the public comment period. ATSDR distributed the initial release of the White Oak Creek (WOC) releases PHA to PHAWG on July 28, 2003, but the data validation is delayed by two months. ATSDR expects to distribute this version of the document in October 2003. The delay was caused by the focus site review and development of the PHA.

Dr. Taylor has taken responsibility for the Y-12 mercury PHA and is developing a step-wise approach that will be presented to PHAWG. This process will be related to the dose reconstruction, key technical reviews and comments. ATSDR discussed current exposures with PHAWG in April 2003; Dr. Taylor will address past exposures in the new approach he is developing. ATSDR expects to release the PHA early in 2004. The additional activities undertaken by Dr. Taylor will not adversely affect the time-line of any PHA. The iodine-131 PHA is delayed by three months. Dr. Charp has taken responsibility for this activity and will present a plan to address iodine-131 to both PHAWG and ORRHES by the October 2003 meeting.

Mr. Pereira and other technical staff will continue to closely monitor the focus site review process to ensure current delays do not increase. If the new policy begins to significantly affect the ORRHES project plan, Mr. Pereira will inform Dr. Falk that more time and resources are needed. Dr. Malinauskas noticed that the project plan requires PHAWG to review the PHAs in rapid succession. He asked ATSDR to stagger the schedule to provide PHAWG with down time between each document review. Mr. Pereira confirmed that ATSDR will incorporate as much down time as possible for PHAWG so long as the PHAs are reviewed by the time the members’ terms are scheduled to expire. He also committed to incorporating DHEP’s activities with HENAWG into the project plan. Although Dr. Davidson found the project plan to be optimistic, Mr. Pereira indicated that completing the schedule is feasible barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Unfinished/New Business and Outstanding Issues/Concerns

Ms. Spencer called ORRHES’s attention to the “Gallup Stakeholder Engagement Survey” distributed in the pre-meeting briefing packets. The web-based survey was conducted by the General Services Administration Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) on December 13, 2002-January 22, 2003. The purpose of the survey was to provide OGP with a standardized method to collect performance measurement data related to stakeholder engagement. Ms. Spencer provided ORRHES with basic information about the project, including the background, list of survey questions and response rate.

The complete survey was displayed on the table of meeting materials for the members to review; two copies will be available for viewing at the Oak Ridge Field Office. The members can also view the on-line survey at the web site listed in the pre-meeting briefing packets. Since ATSDR did not have e-mail addresses for all ORRHES members, some persons did not participate. However, the ORRHES master roster is currently updated to ensure that members with up-to-date information will be included when the survey is repeated in 2004.

PHAWG generally agreed to reschedule its next meeting to September 2, 2003 due to the federal holiday on September 1, 2003. Mr. Hill pointed out that the final draft needs assessment report shows heart disease as one of the most significant health concerns voiced by telephone survey respondents and focus group participants. He did not recall ORRHES’s focus on this issue or DOE’s release of heart disease studies. Based on the concern expressed by the ORR community, Mr. Hill suggested that ORRHES review the incidence of heart disease at the site to determine whether this condition is related to the environment. Dr. Davidson confirmed that health issues unrelated to ORR releases can be addressed within the health education needs assessment process.

Mr. Lewis added that at a future meeting, ATSDR should explain to ORRHES the process and limitations in evaluating health outcomes other than cancer. He informed the members that PHAWG reviewed the ATSDR web site to obtain information on performance measures. The web site showed that ATSDR “exceeds its targets” with PHAs, but PHAWG was unable to locate the ORR site in the performance plan. PHAWG discussed the possibility of inviting Mr. Peter McCumiskey, the ATSDR Deputy Assistant Administrator, to a future meeting to outline ORRHES’s position in the performance plan.

Dr. Charp explained that ORR is more complex than ATSDR’s other Superfund sites due to its multiple facilities, waste sites and contaminants. Of the 18 DOE sites on the National Priorities List, ATSDR ranked ORR in the middle in terms of complexity. Moreover, ATSDR has chartered committees under the Federal Advisory Committee Act only for ORR and Hanford. Ms. Spencer was pleased to announce that ATSDR has taken stronger efforts to improve the ORRHES web site. ATSDR is exploring a proposal to redesign the web site to be more user-friendly as well as to incorporate a cross-index of issues. A budget proposal will be submitted to request funding to accomplish this task. ATSDR will update ORRHES on whether or not the proposal was approved.

Mr. Pereira mentioned that after Ms. Spencer and Ms. Palmer are trained in providing minor updates to the ORRHES web site, approved meeting minutes and an updated calendar are expected to be posted in a timelier manner. Mr. Hill inquired about the status of a previous suggestion to hold future ORRHES meetings in locations other than Oak Ridge. He noticed that public attendance at recent meetings has dramatically decreased. Dr. Craig proposed that PHAWG’s future meeting on the WOC PHA be held in the White Oak area around Kingston. Dr. Davidson advised each workgroup to meet with the DFO to discuss the logistics of convening future meetings at locations other than Oak Ridge.

New Action Items

Ms. Spencer reviewed the action items raised during the meeting.

  • DHEP to present examples of health education projects completed at other sites during the October 2003 ORRHES meeting.
  • Mr. Pereira to distribute the revised PHAGM to ORRHES after the document is approved for release.
  • Dr. Charp to present a plan to address iodine-131 during the October 2003 ORRHES meeting.

Housekeeping Issues

No announcements were made for the record.

Closing Session

The next ORRHES meetings will be held on October 21, 2003 and December 2, 2003. There being no further business or discussion, Dr. Davidson adjourned the ORRHES meeting at 5:31 p.m.

I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge, the foregoing Minutes of the proceedings are accurate and complete.

___________________
Date

________________________________
Kowetha A. Davidson, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
ORRHES Chair

Glossary Key

AOEC — Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics
ATSDR — Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
AWG — Agenda Work Group
CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COWG — Communications and Outreach Work Group
CSR — Cancer Statistics Review
DFO — Designated Federal Official
DHEP — Division of Health Education and Promotion
DOE — U.S. Department of Energy
EPA — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
GPWG — Guidelines and Procedures Work Group
GWU — George Washington University
HENAWG — Health Education Needs Assessment Work Group
HHS — Department of Health and Human Services
HSR — Health Statistics Review
OGP — Office of Government-wide Policy
ORRHES — Oak Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee
PHA — Public Health Assessment
PHAGM — Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual
PHAP — Public Health Assessment Program
PHAWG — Public Health Assessment Work Group
PHEP — Public Health Education Program
TDEC — Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
TDOH — Tennessee Department of Health
WOC — White Oak Creek

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