Community Concerns and Communications Work Group
Community Concerns and Communications Work Group
May 24, 2005 - Meeting Minutes
ORRHES Members attending:
George Gartseff (Chair), Don Box, David Johnson, James Lewis, and Charles Washington
ATSDR Staff attending:
Jack Hanley (phone), Marilyn Horton (phone), Susan Robinson (phone), and Bill Taylor
Public Members attending:
Lynne Roberson (phone)
The Oak Ridger Staff attending:
Liz Bertelsen (phone)
George Gartseff called the meeting to order shortly after 5:30 p.m. The purpose was to a) discuss the meeting minutes for April 26 and May 10, b) discuss a possible recommendation related to Dr. Robert Brent's presentations, c) receive an update on fulfilling the gaps of the needs assessment, d) receive a progress report on the DVDs for Dr. Brent's presentations and the Y-12 Uranium Public Health Assessment (PHA), e) listen to and discuss the Web site enhancements, and f) briefly discuss the White Oak Creek PHA summary document.
Discussion on Meeting Minutes
Mr. Gartseff noted that there were draft minutes from April 26 and May 10 to discuss. Mr. Lewis complimented how the last set of minutes (May 10) captured the issues discussed. He expressed concern, however, that a record of discussion between him and the agency had been omitted. In his opinion, key comments from Marilyn Horton were not included, regarding who made the decision to revise the meeting minutes and that the decision was made without discussion with ORRHES members. He expressed amazement that this had been omitted.
According to Mr. Lewis, he had asked if the management team was aware of the procedures that were in place, and said that he had expressed his frustrations associated with ATSDR altering previously voted on and accepted procedures for work group meetings without having discussions with them. In his opinion, this portion of the conversation should be incorporated verbatim into the May 10 meeting minutes. He expressed concern that without this detail, the minutes appear as though he is simply challenging the agency, yet there was a basis for him raising these issues. He stated that the current minutes were fine, but that this additional detail needed to be included. In his opinion, this information will be a basis for another agenda item, regarding interface between ORRHES and ATSDR. He expressed his belief that problems occur when these types of statements are altered from the public record.
Mr. Gartseff requested that this discussion be added to the May 10 meeting minutes. In his opinion, this sounded to be a procedural issue to be brought to and addressed by ORRHES. Mr. Lewis agreed, noting that they would need to pull various items together to present a history and logic to the guidelines and procedures initially developed. Mr. Gartseff asked whether there were comments on the revised April 26 draft minutes. Mr. Lewis had not had time to review these. In his opinion, Mr. Gartseff said, the revised version captured the changes that had been raised. Mr. Lewis was not opposed to accepting the revised minutes, but in his opinion this affected all work groups and reiterated the need to develop a recommendation to present to ORRHES.
Bill Taylor apologized for not bringing this issue up at past meetings, but pointed out that this work group had not approved any work group minutes since January. This was an administrative issue to make the draft minutes into final minutes, as only final minutes were being posted on the Web site. Mr. Lewis made a motion to accept the minutes up until April 26 when changes had been made. According to Dr. Taylor, he had not heard any complaints or comments on the minutes until recently. Mr. Gartseff asked for any objections. Following no objections, the motion passed to approve the meeting minutes prior to April 26 as final. Mr. Gartseff postponed any further discussion of the April 26 minutes until Mr. Lewis had reviewed them.
Mr. Lewis said that he was willing to play the recording from the May 10 meeting during tonight's meeting to see differences between his and Ms. Horton's conversation and what was captured in the minutes. He questioned whether the agency was willing to make these changes. Ms. Horton stated that she and Liz Bertelsen would re-listen to the tapes and revisit this issue. Mr. Lewis stated his preference for having Ms. Bertelsen capture the dialogue verbatim and including it in the minutes because, in his opinion, this is a major point for himself and others. Ms. Horton reiterated that she and Ms. Bertelsen would listen to the tapes. Mr. Lewis stated that this would be fine if Ms. Horton wanted to do so, but recommended having Ms. Bertelsen listen to the tapes and incorporate the changes. Mr. Lewis was not sure if what they had asked for in the beginning was covered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) guidelines, but in his opinion, he was hearing things differently than in the past. He noted that Ms. Horton had spoken for the agency, and expressed his interest in having this in the public record as stated.
Mr. Gartseff stated that he was not sure how to handle this issue. He asked whether Mr. Lewis saw this problem with other work groups. Mr. Lewis said that minutes were not presented at last night's EEWG meeting, but apparently that work group had no issues with the minutes. According to Mr. Lewis, he had mentioned this to some people who were stunned that a recommended and approved procedure was being modified. Though this work group may develop a recommendation, Mr. Gartseff suggested tabling this discussion from the CCCWG as it might be more of an administrative issue that affected all of ORRHES, and suggested either deferring the issue directly to ORRHES or addressing it separately.
Discussion of Possible Recommendation Regarding Dr. Brent's Presentations
At the last meeting, Mr. Gartseff said, he and Mr. Lewis had discussed developing a possible recommendation regarding the work group discussions and lessons learned from Dr. Brent's presentations. He questioned whether a recommendation needed to be brought to ORRHES associated with addressing future presentations, such as PHAs or other communications with the community. He stated that he and Mr. Lewis would possibly meet next week to review the draft recommendation formulated by Mr. Lewis at the May 10 meeting.
Mr. Lewis referred to the meeting minutes where he described how well the approach worked when Dr. Jerome Hershman presented. He had called into the work group beforehand and was prepared when he went to ORRHES. According to Mr. Lewis, because of these steps, there were no surprises and issues were addressed openly. Thus, in his opinion, there was a process used in the past that was effective. David Johnson added that utilizing community radio and television shows is an effective outlet for obtaining public interest.
Dr. Taylor expressed appreciation for these good comments, but noted that they have been previously stated and captured in the minutes. He said that they needed something concrete in terms of a recommendation. Mr. Gartseff questioned how recommendations and suggestions from ORRHES and the work groups were actually acted upon by ATSDR. He noted that they would refine the recommendation and present it by the next meeting to the CCCWG. According to Mr. Lewis, some ideas expressed in the pastnot in the form of a formal challengewere picked up on by ATSDR, but he was not sure if this was occurring now. He questioned if they needed to incorporate all of their ideas into formal recommendations to have them acted upon.
Mr. Lewis asked if Ms. Horton had watched the "Dr. Bob Show." Ms. Horton said yes, and expressed her appreciation to Mr. Lewis for providing details on the show. She had already talked to the site team (ATSDR staff) about it. Ms. Horton stated that she is working with Rachel Powell in ATSDR's Office of Communication who will be contacting the show and its affiliates to research the requirements to have people on the show, the time frame of scheduling, and interesting topics. In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, this was an example of the agency responding to something without knowing the issues to convey. He expressed his belief that staff in Atlanta finds out about these things, resulting in disconnects because the concerns of the community are not being presented.
Discussion on the Follow Up to the Gaps in the Needs Assessment
At the last meeting, according to Mr. Lewis, Mr. Gartseff expressed surprise that ATSDR did not have a time frame for ERG to complete the aspects of fulfilling the gaps of the needs assessment that would have been capturing these issues. Mr. Lewis expressed concern that they have been working on this for 4 or 5 years, and these issues have still not been captured from these articles. In his opinion, ATSDR used its standard list of concerns from its Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual to avoid addressing the issues. He recommended extracting the community concerns from these articles so that someone such as Dr. Bob will know the issues ahead of time. Without this preparation, Mr. Lewis expressed his belief that proper interface would not be obtained, and that Dr. Bob and Dr. Brent could end up looking the same.
According to Jack Hanley, as discussed by Dr. Bill Cibulas at the March 22 ORRHES meeting, ATSDR's Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC) has committed to following up on the gaps in the needs assessment. At the March 22 meeting, ATSDR laid out the plan for the follow up and presented the resources that will be reviewed, including several articles from The Tennessean and various surveys. ATSDR will capture the environmental and health concerns from these articles and surveys and enter them into the Community Concerns Database. At the same time, ATSDR is also collecting information on available resources. He agreed with Mr. Lewis that no time frame had been previously laid out, and stated that a progress report and schedule to complete the effort would be presented at the next ORRHES meeting.
Mr. Lewis expressed appreciation for Mr. Hanley's response, stating that the only issue was the need for the completion date to incorporate into a recommendation at the last meeting. In his opinion, if the community's issues have not been laid out, disconnects will continue to occur while producing other videos and giving presentations on PHAs. According to Mr. Lewis, Dr. Henry Falk said that the issues of the community were needed upfront to guide health assessors.
Mr. Hanley said that Mr. Lewis was correct, and noted that he was providing the status of activities today. He explained that ATSDR had received many concerns from work group and ORRHES meetings, letters from community members, e-mails from the public, and from a few issues printed in newspapers. He agreed that they do not have the broad scope of concerns that Mr. Lewis has been referring to, which is why the agency is going beyond the main contacts on its mailing list to get input from interested individuals. Additional concerns will be captured, reviewed, and included in relevant PHAs. Also, many concerns were obtained during last night's meeting. He noted that some of these documents were reviewed previously for the Y-12 Uranium PHA to address issues in Scarboro. He added that if any of the concerns identified have not been addressed, then they would be included in the final assessment.
Mr. Lewis expressed concern that he was understood clearly. There was agreement, he said, that the current source of concerns has been extremely limited to people interested in exposure evaluations. According to Mr. Lewis, he has been trying to have the agency focus on health concerns because, in his opinion, these are the main issues among the lay public. Mr. Lewis asked that the record reflect that most of the concerns and issues captured thus far have been limited to technical evaluations. He expressed concern that people interested in health issues have been turned away and are no longer part of their audience.
Mr. Hanley said that the agency obtains technical concerns, but also receives concerns from other individuals via meetings, e-mails, letters, and other methods. He agreed that the current database of concerns was limited, which was why ATSDR was collecting concerns from these other sources. He explained that these concerns were not captured in the needs assessment as was initially anticipated. Then the Division of Health Education and Promotion (DHEP) was going to follow up, but dropped the project. Therefore, DHAC is following up by reviewing these resources and identifying community concerns within them. He suggested sending the list so that work group members could see if any documents and articles were missing. According to Mr. Lewis, this list had already been presented and reviewed. In his opinion, this was not the issue. He suggested conducting an interim review of the concerns being captured to ensure that items were included. He stated that he only brought the issue up because he was asking ATSDR to follow through with its commitment. If the agency did not consider the project desirable, then Mr. Lewis asked the agency to say so. Mr. Hanley explained that this was a worthwhile effort, which was why the agency was moving forward to conduct and complete it.
Mr. Gartseff suggested that ATSDR provide a progress report at each CCCWG meeting, indicating the concerns that are being identified and compiled. Mr. Lewis recommended that ATSDR provide some samples of the concerns being captured. Mr. Hanley expressed appreciation for Mr. Lewis's comments and noted that ATSDR would consider this.
Discussion on DVDs
Within the next 2 weeks, Mr. Hanley stated that the Y-12 Uranium DVD would be mailed out with a cover letter and highlights document, explaining that the DVD was developed to communicate the findings of the PHA. It would direct people to the Web site for additional information and to the field office for people who want to become more involved.
Don Box had additional contact with his pastor, who is willing to have them show the DVD of Dr. Brent's presentation ("Environmental and Genetic Causes of Human Cancer") when it is available. He would schedule a time for any interested individuals to see the DVD.
Mr. Gartseff asked who would receive the DVD. Mr. Hanley said that the DVD would be sent to people on the agency's mailing list, which has about 150 to 200 people including subcommittee members. People who request not to receive information are removed. Mr. Gartseff asked whether the list included organizations. Mr. Hanley said that it included organizations that have been involved and asked for information. Repositories are also on the list.
Mr. Lewis asked if ATSDR followed up to determine why people wanted to be removed from the mailing list. In his opinion, groups and individuals with technical expertise no longer participated in these activities, and he questioned whether ATSDR had asked them if they had complaints or how they could be brought back. He expressed his belief that some people have lost trust and some have lost interest, including Coalition for a Healthy Environment (CHE). Mr. Hanley replied that several members of CHE are on the mailing list. Dr. Taylor said that people have not asked to be taken off the list within the last 2 years that he has been here. He noted that sometimes people will move or change e-mail addresses, but this has not occurred often. Prior to Dr. Taylor's arrival, Mr. Hanley said, the agency had an extensive list and sent a flyer to people on the list to ensure that they wanted to be included. He noted that some people requested to only receive documents, and recently some people requested to receive the video only.
Mr. Gartseff asked whether the DVD had already been approved. Mr. Hanley replied that the letter and DVD were approved. The highlights document was currently being updated with the new Web site information.
Mr. Lewis asked whether the video had been shown to individuals within the impacted community to obtain feedback (other than the two people in the video), such as presenting it to churches, community centers, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mr. Hanley answered that the video was shown to individuals in Scarboro. Mr. Lewis questioned if the video was presented to gain feedback from a group, such as in Kingston. Mr. Hanley explained that feedback was received from a group of individuals who watched the video. In addition, he had asked LC Manley whether the video should be shown in Scarboro before Kingston, and according to Mr. Hanley, he had said to wait until someone in the Scarboro community asked to see it. If it is requested, the video can be presented to anyone in the community and they can be provided with documents as well. In his opinion, Mr. Hanley said, Mr. Manley lives in the community and knows the neighborhood.
Charles Washington asked who the individuals were who watched the video, noting his opinion that one or two individuals does not form a consensus. Mr. Hanley responded that individuals who expressed an interest in working with the agency were contacted. A number of inroads were made to try and get people to participate; ATSDR worked with the individuals who came forward. Mr. Gartseff asked if this took place during production. According to Mr. Hanley, the video was shown during and after production to obtain input.
Mr. Washington asked whether J.B. Hill or Ms. [Fannie] Ball had seen the video. Mr. Hanley expressed his belief that they had not seen it. In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, these individuals have the most issues and concerns within the Scarboro community. He noted that there are differences in every community regarding technical and non-technical people, and asked whether ATSDR had made inroads with non-technical individuals to obtain their feedback. Mr. Hanley said that they had outreached to the community and received input from people in Scarboro, though J.B. Hill had not been reached out to. According to Mr. Hanley, efforts were made to reach out to people in Scarboro, and they had tried to find people for interviews. Those who stepped forward were interviewed.
Mr. Lewis suggested that ATSDR interview people after watching the video to see whether their concerns and issues were addressed. Mr. Hanley said that he had spoken with individuals who brought additional technical issues forward. He stated that the video was not all-inclusive to address all of the issues; it was very specific to address environmental exposures occurring off site related to Y-12 uranium. Therefore, the video will not be able to address everyone's concerns because it is focused on this one particular topic. He pointed out that the video does include historical information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC's) study conducted in Scarboro, but that the video only addresses the assessment on Y-12 uranium because it is focused on that particular PHA.
Mr. Gartseff stated that this video has been in production for several months, and expressed concern that he was first hearing that certain individuals should have reviewed it. He indicated that as a work group, they should not be second-guessing a project that has been taking place for many months. He agreed with Mr. Lewis's suggestion of obtaining feedback to see how the video is being received, and indicated that this could improve future videos. Mr. Hanley agreed. Mr. Gartseff pointed out that the video is already in duplication and will be distributed soon.
Mr. Hanley explained that Bob Safay presented the video concept to the CCCWG in September, and provided transcripts for the work group to review. According to Mr. Hanley, Mr. Safay had asked for help discussing the issues with people and in finding interested individuals. Calls were made to several people to determine if they wanted to bring their issues forward on video. He agreed that things could always be improved and that there are always lessons learned. He said that they would probably be preparing the next video on mercury, which is also an issue in Scarboro. He stated that these suggested steps could be taken next time.
Since the video has not been distributed yet, Mr. Gartseff suggested sending a mechanism for comments and feedback along with the DVD. Mr. Hanley stated that ATSDR has a mechanism that is sent with PHAs, and would see if this could be modified and sent along with the DVD.
According to Mr. Lewis, they have heard that many people will not read the document, but liked the video. After ATSDR finishes a PHA, he suggested being proactive in the community by going to groups to get their feedback on the video. He recommended showing the video to the affected communities and asking whether the material addressed their issues and concerns. Mr. Washington suggested going to the Atomic City Sportsmen's Club, the National Organization of Black Chemists and Engineers, and other groups that would understand the information.
Mr. Gartseff asked about the DVD of Dr. Brent's presentation. Mr. Hanley said that a DVD was completed for Dr. Brent's third presentation on "Environmental and Genetic Causes of Human Cancer." According to Mr. Hanley, this DVD was nearly final, and Mr. Safay was continuing to develop the other two presentations into DVDs. Mr. Gartseff asked whether the DVD was undergoing production-type edits. Mr. Hanley said that this was correct and explained that Mr. Safay had to incorporate different camera shots, ensure that the PowerPoint presentations were included, and work on other editing components.
Mr. Hanley was not sure how many work group members were able to review the DVD when it was in the office. After group discussion, it was determined that no CCCWG members had viewed the video. Ms. Horton suggested sending the DVD to Dr. Taylor so that it could be viewed at the next CCCWG meeting.
Mr. Hanley said that all three DVDs would be sent to Dr. Brent for his approval. Mr. Gartseff asked what type of approval would be required. Mr. Hanley said that ATSDR had received verbal approval, but was seeking written approval as well. He noted that one version could be shared with the CCCWG to obtain their feedback. Mr. Gartseff stated that the CCCWG would definitely review the DVD of the third presentation. He questioned how Dr. Brent could retract what he said in public. Mr. Hanley explained that his approval was required to mass-produce and mail out the DVDs, and to use the DVDs for other communities.
Mr. Lewis indicated that comments had been made regarding the presentations not being very interactive. According to Mr. Lewis, suggestions had been made, and he asked whether these were considered while preparing the videos. Mr. Hanley expressed appreciation for these comments, which he had read in the minutes. He said that they had anticipated people bringing questions to Dr. Brent, but not many questions had been received. In his opinion, Mr. Hanley said, Dr. Brent was well prepared. He had read the Oak Ridge Dose Reconstruction studies, been provided with materials on ATSDR's work in Oak Ridge, and prior discussions were held to provide Dr. Brent with issues that have come up in the community (including those unrelated to environmental issues, such as occupational issues). However, Mr. Hanley said, they were not prepared for people not asking questions in public. In retrospect, he indicated that having someone such as Dr. Bob asking questions for community members could prove helpful, or someone else who knows the community's issues and can ask the questions for them.
According to Mr. Lewis, there was an issue of trust in the community. In his opinion, he said, certain individuals trust some people more than others. He expressed his belief that messages are different when they are relayed by ATSDR (to someone such as Dr. Brent) instead of someone within the community. He also reminded Mr. Hanley that the presentations had low turnout.
In his opinion, Mr. Hanley said, Dr. Brent answered the questions he was asked and was prepared to answer them. He stated that some people went to Dr. Brent individually and asked personal questions. Dr. Brent made himself available for consultations, and people received answers to their questions on genetics, birth defects, and other topics immediately. According to Mr. Hanley, people handle their issues differently. They tried to obtain comments in advance and reach beyond the work groups and ORRHES. The flyer stated that the presentations would be framed around individuals' comments to address local issues. Mr. Lewis stated that the work group previously discussed the problems with the flyer. Mr. Hanley asked if these comments had been submitted in writing in a formal recommendation through ORRHES. Mr. Lewis suggested that Mr. Hanley read the minutes.
Mr. Gartseff stated that issues concerning the flyer had been discussed at the last meeting. He said that disappointments had been noted, and according to Mr. Gartseff, suggestions were not acted upon. As talked about at the last meeting, they needed to communicate their specific expectations of future events rather than providing criticisms in hindsight.
For further events, Mr. Box suggested handing out paper for individual attendees to write their comments instead of voicing them in public. In his opinion, this could be a means to get more feedback, particularly from people who are too timid to ask their questions in public. Mr. Hanley noted that this method was used by facilitators, and agreed that this could be tried in the future.
Discussion on Oak Ridge Reservation Web Site: Possible Enhancements
Facilitator: Susan Robinson, ATSDR
Susan Robinson was filling in for Wilma López of ATSDR who has been working with Mr. Hanley and Ms. Horton on the Web site. Ms. Robinson stated that she presented the new Web site at the March 22 ORRHES meeting. At that time, she provided ORRHES members with a sheet to rank suggestions previously made during a CCCWG (former Communications and Outreach Work Group [COWG]) meeting. She asked the members to rank these so that ATSDR could prioritize its work based on the most critical items. Seventeen responses were received.
She noted that the phased approach process included two phases: a) Phase 1 included the initial migration of old content to new format and b) Phase 2 included site enhancements based on input from the ORRHES. Phase 1 has been completed, and ATSDR is currently working on Phase 2. A project status diagram depicted the deliverables and time line of the Web site process, indicating the completed and upcoming activities. In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, the flow chart was excellent as it showed the steps that have been taken, where they are now, and the future activities. He suggested that others use this as an example. Ms. Robinson expressed appreciation for Mr. Lewis's comments, but noted that Ms. López had worked hard on this project.
She referred to a handout of possible enhancements that listed the items, the average ranks, and the corresponding actions. The lowest ranking scores were the most important items. She went through each item in order of priority (top priority first) and specified the corresponding actions for each item. She stated that they are trying to respond to their requests.
The highest-ranking item is an interactive map that shows the areas of projected contamination by year and community areas, and shows overlapping exposures. She reminded the group of their discussions on how difficult this would be, but suggested that they evaluate the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) interactive map (based on the Dose Reconstruction) and provide feedback on it. Ms. Robinson stated that Dr. Taylor would provide the URL to them. She indicated that this would not be exactly what they requested, but she asked the group to explore this map application. She noted that this was a complicated venture, and that they would see how to use DOE's investment to get their own map developed.
The second ranked item is a list of top issues (what people are asking aboutquestions and answers). She stated that the PHAs contain a community concerns section, but they are currently buried within the document. A "Community Health Concerns" section will be added to each PHA page under the "Selected Resources" section. The community concerns from each PHA will be pulled out and placed into this section. This would also be augmented after the needs assessment gaps are fulfilled. In her opinion, Ms. Robinson said, this was a way to bring some of the top concerns about particular studies to the forefront of the Web site. Mr. Lewis expressed his belief that this was excellent and corresponded to their requests during the CCCWG meeting.
Mr. Gartseff asked whether it would be obvious at a first page level that "Community Health Concerns" is a direct link, or if it would be buried under other links, such as "Selected Resources." Ms. Robinson asked if he was suggesting that this link be included on the home page, as well as in the "Selected Resources" section. According to Mr. Gartseff, a recurring concern has been whether concerns are being captured completely and addressed accurately in the PHAs. He agreed that the concerns should be presented prominently, and placed so that community members can easily determine if their concerns have been addressed. Ms. Robinson would convey this suggestion to Ms. López, and Mr. Hanley agreed that this would be helpful.
The third ranking item is links to additional information regarding possible health effect by types of contaminant (could be cross-linked with interactive map). Ms. Robinson explained that a new section entitled "Hazardous Substances in the Environment" would be added to the "Community Resources" page. This will provide links to different substances from the PHAs and links to some of the health effects information. In addition, there will be a link to more information on the studied contaminants under "Community Resources" and under each PHA.
Ms. Robinson asked whether the PHAs discuss possible health effects from these contaminants. Mr. Hanley replied that they do, though three types of documents that provide quick answers will also be available on the Web site: toxicological profiles, tox "frequently asked questions" (Tox FAQs), and public health statements. These documents would be available under the "Hazardous Substances in the Environment" and "Education and Training" sections.
Ranking fourth is adding a "Current Activities" section that lists Oak Ridge PHAs in progress and includes a 3-month look ahead calendar. Ms. Robinson indicated that this would be added onto the "Public Health Activities" page with an explanation of the ATSDR process and the list of PHAs in progress. New pages will also be developed for "White Oak Creek Radionuclide Releases" and "TSCA [Toxic Substances Control Act] Incinerator," with their links added to the "Public Health Activities" page under "ATSDR Current Activities." She noted that they have started adding content for ongoing PHAs, those in review, and those already up.
Mr. Gartseff asked if there would be links to the documents or summaries. Ms. Robinson answered that each PHA will have its own page.
Dr. Taylor had the site up in the field office. Ms. Robinson asked him to click on "Public Health Activities" and go to the "Y-12 Uranium Page" under "ATSDR Current Activities." She said that they needed to begin adding "White Oak Creek" and the "TSCA Incinerator" to show more of the current activities and the Oak Ridge PHAs in progress. The 3-month look-ahead calendar will be added to the top of this page, and will present an overview of all of the activities taking place.
Mr. Hanley pointed out that "ATSDR's Public Health Activities" would link directly to the PHAs as they are completed, and also to past activities by DOE, CDC, the state, and others.
Adding a time line to show the operational periods of the three main facilities (X-10, Y-12, and K-25) ranked fifth. Ms. Robinson said that this would be on the "Public Health Activities" page under "ATSDR Current Activities." There will be a link to Y-12, X-10, and K-25. The time lines will be located under "Selected Resources" on each PHA's page. For example, the Y-12 time line will be located under "Selected Resources" on the "Y-12 Uranium Releases" page. Also, the Tennessee Department of Health's (TDOH) "Overall Time Line of Operations and Releases Important to the Oak Ridge Dose Reconstruction" will be on the "Community Resources" page under the TDOH link.
In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, the time line was a good rendition, but may need alterations to be more easily understood because the logic was somewhat confusing. He expressed his belief that this type of time line should be presented at the front of all PHAs for each contaminant so people can look at the areas of concern and the technology at that time. For some years, no activities of concern were taking place. According to Mr. Lewis, this time line was helpful so people could see if they lived outside of the range of activities. Ms. Robinson suggested having ATSDR's Visual Center modify the document for the Web site. Mr. Hanley agreed, noting that Ms. López already had an electronic version of it, as well as the ATSDR time lines for Y-12 and X-10.
Ms. Robinson agreed that an interactive map with a slide bar showing people the activities at each facility during certain times would be beneficial. In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, this would help show which communities have been affected. Ms. Robinson noted that this would require an extensive amount of work and said that a grant was probably needed for this type of effort.
The sixth ranked item is the best ORRHES and work group presentations. Ms. Robinson stated that some presentations were added during Phase 1. She requested their input regarding others that should go on the Web site. She had the group click on the "Thyroid Cancer Presentation" and stated that this contained the presentation transcript. However, slides were more difficult to include because they had to go through clearance. A note would be added, indicating that the overheads for the presentations are available in the ORR field office. Ms. Robinson stated that this was not the best solution, but it was a temporary fix until the overheads were cleared. Mr. Hanley suggested noting that a videotape is also available. For the next agenda, Ms. Robinson recommended adding a discussion about different presentations to be included on the Web site.
Ranking seventh is a search engine for minutes of ORRHES and work groups only. Ms. Robinson noted that they were still working on this issue with the information technology (IT) department, and apologized for the technical difficulties. In her opinion, however, using the Google search engine was a more trusted method than something that might be created. Mr. Lewis suggested that they practice using Google as a group on the updated site. Ms. Robinson stated that she could walk the group through the process.
Ranking last is an open-ended feedback or comment input box. Ms. Robinson stated that a comment box would be added to the "Contact Us" page and the comment would be sent to Ms. Horton. In addition, comment boxes would be added to "Selected PHAs for Public Comment."
Ms. Robinson also presented verbatim suggestions. One suggestion asked to show when the facilities were operating at 100% of capacity, showing the discharges to local streams. She indicated that this was included in the TDOH time line that will be put onto the site, noting that this referred to Mr. Lewis's comments on showing what was happening at certain time periods. Mr. Box expressed concern about using the term 100% capacity because there could have been instances when the plants were not operating at 100% capacity, but were releasing larger quantities of contaminants. Ms. Robinson asked whether the time line said 100% or only referred to operating. Mr. Lewis read the title: "Overall Time Line of Operations and Releases Important to the Oak Ridge Dose Reconstruction." Ms. Robinson expressed her belief that since this time line shows when the facilities were operating, as well as the period of time when there were no operations, it would address the suggestion. Mr. Lewis agreed.
Mr. Box expressed concern that the TDOH time line presents too much information onto one page, and suggested displaying it over two or three pages. Ms. Robinson said that this was a good suggestion, which would be easy to do.
Another suggestion was to have an official and unofficial map overlaying the burial sites and dumping areas, including creeks. Ms. Robinson stated that a link would be added to the map under the "Selected Resources" section of each specific PHA page. Ms. Robinson asked Mr. Hanley for clarification. He indicated that there are photos within the PHAs that will be brought to the forefront for each specific PHA page.
One suggestion asked that ORRHES recommendations and responses be included. Ms. Robinson stated that they would review the recommendations and streamline the information to highlight the major ones. Mr. Lewis asked if there is a master list of recommendations. Ms. Horton had a 15-page spreadsheet, but said that they will tailor the site to have the major recommendations and responses. Ms. Robinson added that the general public is more interested in the significant recommendations that have been made. Mr. Lewis indicated that a balance was essential, noting the importance of also including recommendations that were stepping-stones to major recommendations. Ms. Robinson said that his suggestion was fine, noting that they would focus on the major recommendations without excluding those that were important in the process.
In her opinion, Ms. Robinson said, the next two suggestions were excellent and interesting; however, she was not sure the Web site was the proper forum to deal with them. They were the following: a) adding the topic "My Heart/Your Heart" to stimulate discussion with the community and b) creating a partnership with the person coming onto the Web site. She stated that these dealt with having relationships with the people coming to the site, and suggested looking at the tone of the home page to ensure that it is friendly and welcoming. Ms. Robinson challenged the work group to think about this issue of dealing with feelings in terms of their outreach. She asked them to consider content to convey that this is an open process and people are welcome to participate; this content could be placed on the "Community Resources" and home page. They would also need to outreach to specific organizations in the community.
In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, "My Heart" referred to emoting concerns and issues. According to him, many of these concerns were not listed or captured. For example, he saw many articles in The Tennessean where people had relayed their feelings, and he wanted to ensure that these were captured and addressed. He suggested showing some of these issues and indicating how the PHAs address them. He expressed his belief that the majority of these issues were healthnot technicalissues, and that people wanted to see if their concerns had been responded to. Ms. Robinson expressed her belief that this was a critical issue; however, she was not sure how to address this on the Web site. She questioned how this could be handled and sponsored by ORRHES. Because this site was more about activities and their participation, she suggested possibly partnering with an area group or linking to story archives that might already be in place.
Mr. Lewis noted that a man from Cornell University conducting a study on how to reach people had attended Dr. Brent's presentations, and suggested possibly contacting him. Ms. Robinson explained that he is studying a process and how to improve it, which is somewhat different than the issue of letting people know that their concerns are heard and that their feelings are valid and honored. She noted that this was a topic to be discussed later, but asked the work group to brainstorm ideas for outreach, activities, or site content that would communicate these values. She added that this could possibly include capturing individuals' stories and placing them onto the Web site.
In his opinion, Mr. Lewis stated, it would be beneficial to capture some of these stories, such as people bringing contaminants home from the workplace in their shoes. According to Mr. Lewis, some of these stories gain more attention than PHAs, and he expressed his belief that these were off-site issues that were not being addressed. Mr. Hanley noted that this concern was addressed in the Y-12 Uranium PHA. Mr. Lewis stated that they needed to hear these stories. Ms. Robinson said that stories could possibly provide information on exposure pathways, but they needed to ensure that they honor people's feelings and concerns about exposures. Mr. Lewis agreed.
Mr. Lewis suggested going into communities and videotaping people telling their stories. Ms. Robinson indicated that using cameras can make people uncomfortable. Mr. Hanley asked whether the Office of Communication has the capability of storytelling because DHAC did not. Ms. Robinson replied by suggesting that people be audiotaped instead. She said that a transcriptionist could extract some of the stories and pictures of the event could possibly be incorporated. This could become content for the Web site to send the message that people have shared their stories and have been listened to. She stated that this would be one way to address the suggestion that the Web site be used to convey values about the relationship between ORRHES, ATSDR's public health activities, and the community (and their feelings). Mr. Lewis added that this would incorporate what they have asked for from Dr. Cibulas.
Ms. Robinson stated another suggestion that requested links to the following public Web sites: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT)-Y-12, and the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). ATSDR will review these sites to evaluate if they can be included on the ORR Web site (per policy). Another suggestion asked that the Web site be promoted to the community. Ms. Robinson stated that the Web site will be promoted on the media announcement of the DVD release, and a future mailing might be possible following the completion of Web site enhancements.
Ms. Robinson noted that Ms. López was planning to be in the field office on June 910 to conduct usability testing. She suggested bringing in people who are not familiar with the site to see if they understand the labels used and other aspects. Mr. Lewis suggested possibly making a DVD showing how people are interacting with and using the newly improved Web site. Mr. Hanley said that they have videotapes of people being interviewed on public access television. He could show these to Ms. Robinson to see if and how they could be used. Ms. Robinson suggested showing the Y-12 Uranium video while people are waiting in the office for the usability testing.
Mr. Gartseff indicated that there was enough discussion to devote to a work group meeting, tentatively within the next two or three meetings.
Discussion on White Oak Creek Summary Document
At the last meeting, Mr. Box had expressed concern about whether contaminants had increased in the sedimentation ponds. He stated that the Fission Products Development Laboratory (FPDL) had been one of the major past contributors, including large quantities of cesium and strontium production that generated wastes. Based on discussions with people still working in this area, however, Mr. Box said he learned that the FPDL is not really operating at this time and the ponds are not really needed.
Mr. Hanley asked the group to review the summary document and compare it to the PHA. He suggested formulating their comments for the next meeting. Mr. Gartseff asked about the time line for the summary document. Mr. Hanley answered that it would not be finalized until the public comment period has been completed and ATSDR has responded to all of the public comments. He suggested having their comments by the end of June, and having the entire ORRHES see the document and provide comments as well.
Dr. Taylor asked who the intended audience would be for the 16-page summary document. Mr. Hanley explained that this document was based on the Y-12 version. It was also long because it contained a section explaining radioactive materials. The summary was designed for the average person who would not read the whole document, but would read a summary. He said that it would be helpful if the group read the material and highlighted major sections that could be extracted for a four-page summary. This was similar to the process used for Y-12; once ATSDR is close to completing the larger summary document, the agency will use their input on the key information to prepare a highlights document. He noted that there were problems with the TSCA Incinerator summary because they tried to develop a summary document without initially creating a more informative executive summary.
According to Mr. Lewis, Tony Malinauskas had asked for this type of document, and in his opinion, this was a step in the right direction.
Mr. Gartseff asked the work group to review the summary over the next 2 weeks and provide their comments. In his opinion, Mr. Hanley said, the process used by the Exposure Evaluation Work Group (EEWG) has been effective. The work group members send their comments to the Chair who compiles the comments, and the comments are then discussed collaboratively as a group. Mr. Gartseff stated that they will discuss the comments at the June 14 meeting, noting that advance comments via e-mail would be helpful for facilitating the discussion.
Mr. Gartseff explained that Mr. Lewis had discussed the issues of closing the gaps from Barry Lawson's executive session in November 2004. He questioned whether this was a work group or procedural issue for ORRHES. If this was not of immediate concern, Mr. Gartseff requested that other items be discussed instead. The work group had no objections.
Mr. Lewis referred to a May 12 article in The Oak Ridger entitled, "ATSDR Report Flat-Out False OREPA [Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance] States." He read the following quote: "The declaration that Oak Ridge has never posed a health risk cannot be supported by science or by common sense," [Ralph] Hutchinson's statement added, "ATSDR's finding is either the result of half-hearted work or simple duplicity." Mr. Lewis said that he tries to see how someone drew this type of conclusion after reading the document (if he or she did in fact read it). He suggested that ATSDR study this article to ensure that these comments are addressed in the summary and PHA. In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, people read these articles and the message spreads throughout the community. If ATSDR has not addressed the issues or the information can be taken of content, then he suggested that ATSDR focus on clarifying these issues.
Mr. Hanley responded that these comments would be addressed in the PHA. To clarify, Mr. Hanley explained that ATSDR used the TDOH's Dose Reconstruction on White Oak Creek Releases for its PHA. Technical experts evaluated this Dose Reconstruction and said that the data were appropriate to use for making public health decisions. The state worked on this for several years and had the Oak Ridge Health Agreement Steering Panel (ORHASP) during this time period. The state concluded in its Dose Reconstruction that there was an increase in radiation doses from White Oak Creek releases; however, both the state and ORHASP concluded that less than one excess cancer would be expected. Instead of duplicating all of this work, ATSDR used the doses out of the Dose Reconstruction, which had been reviewed by ORHASP for 9 years, peer reviewed by the State of Tennessee, and peer reviewed for ATSDR by technical experts. In addition, according to Mr. Hanley, the person making these comments in the article sat on the ORHASP panel for 9 years and was familiar with the Dose Reconstruction; however, he may not have been aware that ATSDR used the doses directly from the Dose Reconstruction.
Mr. Lewis referred to the summary document reading that, "ATSDR scientists conclude." In his opinion, Mr. Lewis said, ATSDR is taking responsibility for other people's work. According to Mr. Lewis, ATSDR needed to address this person's issues. He expressed his belief that people are concerned about health issues and that ATSDR needed to respond to these concerns from a clinical perspective. Mr. Hanley explained that the summary and PHA state where the doses for particular exposures were pulled from. According to Mr. Hanley, Dr. Brent had read the major sections of the White Oak Creek PHA, knew what the doses were, and was prepared to answer questions from a clinical perspective.
Mr. Lewis expressed his belief that the advertisement for Dr. Brent's presentations did not show a connection to the activities in Oak Ridge. Though Mr. Hanley indicated that Dr. Brent was prepared to address the document, in Mr. Lewis's opinion, the flyer did not make a connection between the PHA and Dr. Brent's presentations. He expressed concern that this conflicted with previous statements made about not linking the presentations to the activities in Oak Ridge.
Mr. Gartseff said that they needed to review the summary, pointing out that the summary would not be final until all comments were incorporated and addressed. He agreed with Mr. Lewis's concerns that people have read these articles, and whether they contain factual or non-factual information, people will come to certain conclusions. In his opinion, it hurts ATSDR to have to be in a defensive position. Based on the summary, he indicated that they could possibly develop a viewpoint to address some of these issues before the final document is released.
In addition to the summary, Mr. Hanley stated that it would be helpful if work group members could also read sections of the PHA containing the environmental evaluations and the public health implications section. Material from these sections was incorporated into the summary, and therefore, it might be helpful to read these sections as well. He also commented that the group may find other ways to present the information.
Mr. Gartseff stated that the June 14 meeting agenda would include reviewing the summary and watching the DVD of Dr. Brent's presentation. He asked that work group members forward their comments to him and Dr. Taylor before the meeting. He adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m.