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Oak Ridge Reservation

Oak Ridge Reservation: Public Health Assessment Work Group

Public Health Assessment Work Group

November 6, 2003 - Meeting Minutes


Attendance

ORRHES Members attending:

Bob Craig (Chair), David Johnson, James Lewis, LC Manley, Tony Malinauskas, George Gartseff, Susan Kaplan

Public Members and Others:

Danny Sanders, Donnie Sanders, Al Brooks, Roger Macklin, Tim Joseph (DOE), Gordon Blaylock

ATSDR Staff:

Jack Hanley, Paul Charp, Bill Taylor, Melissa Fish, Lorine Spencer (telephone)

Purpose

There were four items on the agenda for discussion.

  1. Approval of October 20, 2003 meeting minutes
  2. Recommendations and resolutions for ORRHES to ATSDR
  3. New Business
  4. Identification of action items and assignments

Meeting Minutes

Susan Kaplan presented a written page with four comments regarding the 10-20-03 Draft PHAWG meeting minutes (See Handout One).

  1. Referring to the statement from the minutes of 10-20-03 that read “Jack Hanley added that one reason for keeping the clean-up level low in East Fork Poplar Creek was because of effects on the shrews and wrens.” Susan Kaplan wanted to point out that the 400 parts per million cleanup value started out at 10 to 12 parts per million, so the term “low” is relative.

    Jack Hanley clarified that EPA wanted a clean up level of 180 or 200 parts per million of mercury in the soil because of ecological reasons and risk. The decision was later made to have a clean up level of 400 parts per million.

    There was disagreement between Susan Kaplan and Al Brooks about whether the Civic Center was cleaned up to the level of 10 to 12 parts per million. Susan believed that the Civic Center was cleaned up at the 10 to 12 level while Al Brooks disagreed.
  2. Susan Kaplan noted that her comment was left out about the lawsuit that had been filed by Wayne Clark and Mel Sturm regarding East Fork Poplar Creek land.

    Melissa Fish told Susan that she would add that information to the minutes and the reason that it was left out was because the names were not clear on the audio recording.
  3. Referring to the statement from the minutes of 10-30-03 that read, “Paul Charp said that when ATSDR requests soil samples, ATSDR always requests the top two inches of soil because that is the area where children will dig into the soil and ingest soil.” Susan commented that when her children dig, they dig deeper than two inches. Susan Kaplan also commented that the black mercury layer in the soil was located approximately five inches from the top and thus, going down only two inches would miss that layer of mercury.

    Jack Hanley said that normally EPA takes 6-inch, 12-inch, and 18-inch core soil samples and those samples are used. However, in the evaluation of recreational areas including playgrounds and residential areas ATSDR also likes to look at the surface soil in addition to the core sample.
  4. Susan Kaplan asked that the comment number in which she referred to ATSDR’s use of “nice academic exercise” be included in the minutes. Melissa Fish responded that she would add the comment number.

Approval of the PHAWG October 20, 2003 meeting minutes was tabled until a future meeting so that the rest of the PHAWG members would have the opportunity to review the draft meeting minutes.

Before moving on to the next agenda item James Lewis said that when he looked at the agenda for tonight’s PHAWG meeting he thought that it was too skimpy and that he did not understand why he was coming to the meeting or how he could prepare for the meeting. James noted that it is difficult to draw people to a meeting when the agenda is not detailed because people do not know what will be discussed or the reason that they should attend the meeting.

Bill Taylor said that the reason that the agenda was so short was because the agenda items were not resolved prior to putting the agenda together. The agenda needed to be sent out so it was sent out with as much information as was available at the time. Bill Taylor agreed with James Lewis that this meeting agenda is short and inadequate.

Recommendations and resolutions for ORRHES to ATSDR

Susan Kaplan read aloud two proposed recommendations concerning the Uranium Public Health Assessment (Item #1 and Item #2 on Handout Two).

  • EPA (both Headquarters and Region IV) should be officially asked to comment on ATSDR’s response to their comments on the draft Uranium Public Health Assessment report and to discuss whether ATSDR addressed their concerns adequately.
  • EPA (both Headquarters and Region IV) should be invited (together) to an ORRHES meeting to discuss their comments and ATSDR’s responses to those comments on the draft Uranium Public Health Assessment report.

Jack Hanley said that ATSDR has contacted EPA Region IV and EPA Headquarters. Jack Hanley went on to say that all of the entities at Region IV and Headquarters that have been involved in this issue are going to get together and come up with a resolution. Jack said that ATSDR anticipates hearing from them but he does not know how they will hear from EPA, when they will hear from EPA, or what they will hear from EPA but he does know that the entities are getting together to resolve this issue.

Jack Hanley also told the group that the EPA liaison Jon Richards would be present at the December 2nd ORRHES meeting.

Tim Joseph asked if EPA could be reminded that the ORRHES expects EPA to have comments regarding the Uranium PHA issue. Jack Hanley replied that EPA had been reminded.

James Lewis said that there had been an Agenda Work Group meeting relating to the same subject. James said that Barbara Sonnenburg had wanted a slot on the agenda for an EPA Representative to come and address the Uranium issues. Barbara Sonnenburg then had asked James to contact Jon Richards. James explained that he contacted Jon Richards and that in addition to that Kowetha Davidson is planning to draft a letter to request the appropriate presence available at ORRHES to address the issues.

Tony Malinauskas asked what type of responses ORRHES is expecting from EPA.

James Lewis said that outstanding EPA/ATSDR issues need to be discussed openly.

Tony Malinauskas said that logically there are two conclusions—either ATSDR was responsive to the EPA comments and addressed the comments satisfactorily or they did not, according to EPA.

Al Brooks said that it is his understanding that as of right now, EPA has more than one opinion. Al said that Region IV has agreed with ATSDR’s conclusions but the Office of Indoor Air has written a contrary opinion. In Al’s opinion, the problem is a disagreement within EPA. Al Brooks urged the PHAWG members to not get caught up in EPA’s disagreement.

Bob Craig responded to Al Brooks by saying that ORRHES needs the unresolved issues resolved. EPA caused the problem and thus EPA should resolve the problem that they created.

James Lewis stated that most of the general public knows who EPA is but does not have a clue as to who ATSDR is. The general public will not go beyond the headlines that appear in the newspaper, one of which stated “EPA Flays OR Public Health Report”. James believes that it would be to the ORRHES’s advantage to find out what the EPA differences are.

Bob Craig said that he knows that there were significant comments regarding some of the ways in which the analysis was done and some of the conclusions that were reached. Bob also added that EPA Headquarters comments were significantly different than Region IV comments.

James Lewis said that after his phone conversation with Jon Richards, James did not think that there were outstanding issues with the current findings. Instead, James felt that Jon implied the area of concern was with the past exposure calculations. James Lewis said that EPA should state its position so that ORRHES and ATSDR can move away from this issue.

Tony Malinauskas said that ORRHES is an advisory group to ATSDR and that ORRHES can only tell ATSDR and EPA to get together and try to resolve these issues.

Susan Kaplan asked if the ORRHES would hear from EPA. Susan asked if the group can trust ATSDR that they are trying to get into contact with EPA or if there needs to be a resolution voted on [at this point Susan was interrupted and the rest of her statement could not be heard].

Jack Hanley said that ATSDR has contacted EPA and ATSDR is trying to work with them. EPA said that their entities need to get together and if they have any outstanding issues they will come back to ATSDR to discuss them. ATSDR has not heard back from EPA and ATSDR is continuing to work on it.

Tim Joseph asked if EPA would have held their discussions by the next meeting. Jack Hanley said that he couldn’t promise or predict what EPA Headquarters will do. Jack Hanley said that EPA knew about this PHAWG meeting, the next PHAWG meeting, and the December 2nd ORRHES meeting.

Susan Kaplan said that EPA is well known for dragging things out. Thus, Susan felt that if the group made some type of official request, that request would be more difficult to ignore than an unofficial request.

James Lewis said that it is imperative that an appropriate EPA individual with some clout comes to the ORRHES meeting to discuss the outstanding issues.

Al Brooks felt that an appropriate person would not be willing to come.

Bob Craig said that rather than having EPA attend an ORRHES meeting, the group could have ATSDR request a consistent EPA position regarding the Y-12 Uranium Public Health Assessment.

Tony Malinauskas told the group that it is important that the group recognize an apparent difference in policy between EPA and ATSDR. The group could suggest that the two organizations get together in an attempt to resolve the issue completely. Tony added that EPA could be given the opportunity to append an objecting opinion.

Bob Craig reminded the group that they want to hear one voice from EPA.

After much discussion the motion was made and then seconded to recommend that ORRHES request that ATSDR request that EPA come back with a definitive set of comments reconciling the original set of EPA comments from Headquarters (Office of Radiation and Indoor Air) and the ATSDR responses to those comments prior to December 1, 2003 regarding the Y-12 Uranium document.

James Lewis stated that if ORRHES and ATSDR are going to be working with Region IV EPA and if ATSDR is going to continue receiving comments from EPA Headquarters then James would like to have both EPAs at the table so that ORRHES and the community does not have to go through this same process for each and every Public Health Assessment that ATSDR issues.

Al Brooks told the group that ATSDR is already trying to do what is noted in the recommendation/resolution and it is possible that ATSDR may have the issue resolved before ORRHES has to act on the recommendation.

Gordon Blaylock asked if someone from EPA should come to an ORRHES meeting to present EPA’s comments.

James Lewis agreed with Gordon Blaylock and added that it often takes a real person—one with the authority to speak to the issue—presenting the information for accurate delivery of a message. James believes that it would be more effective to have an EPA representative in person rather than just a letter from EPA.

Susan Kaplan asked what will happen if EPA cannot come to an agreement.

Tony Malinauskas said that if EPA cannot come to an agreement then EPA should send someone down to say that EPA Region IV and EPA Headquarters do not agree.

Responding to Jack Hanley saying that Jon Richards is the EPA Region IV representative, James Lewis said that Jon Richards told him that he (Jon Richards) is not in the technical position to make the call. Jon said that he has his own area of expertise and the area of expertise that has been challenged came out of Headquarters and not from his own area of expertise.

Jack Hanley reminded the group that EPA Region IV concurred with the findings of the Uranium Public Health Assessment and had the expertise to make that call.

Tony Malinauskas said that EPA commented on the Uranium PHA, ATSDR claims that they addressed those comments, so what is the issue?

James Lewis said that he remembers Jack Hanley stating that the first revisions ATSDR made to the Y-12 PHA would resolve some of EPA’s questions and issues. James asked if ATSDR’s first revision took care of EPA’s comments. He added that if it did then this in a non-issue; however, if there are outstanding issues, ORRHES needs to know what the outstanding issues are.

Regarding the motion and the amendment to the motion, Tim Joseph asked about a single set of comments from EPA. Tim reminded the group that both Headquarters and Region IV could have a definitive set of comments.

Tony Malinauskas said that all EPA comments have been addressed by ATSDR; he asked, what is the issue?

Susan Kaplan responded to Tony Malinauskas saying that some of ATSDR’s responses are very vague and don’t really [at this point Susan was interrupted and the rest of her statement could not be heard].

James Lewis said that he feels that EPA comments may have been addressed adequately for those who are very knowledgeable about the situation. However, the other audience who believes EPA is the bigger agency or does not understand the situation technically may not feel the same way. James added that perhaps those who understand the issue might be willing to try to sell the issue to ORRHES if they understand the situation so well or the group could let EPA come and discuss the issue with ORRHES.

Susan Kaplan said that she personally wants to know if EPA accepts ATSDR’s comments [at this point Susan was interrupted and the rest of her statement could not be heard].

Al Brooks told Susan that he made comments and nobody asked if he accepted ATSDR’s responses to his comments. Susan Kaplan reminded him that he is not a federal agency.

Regarding the motion and the amendments to the motion, Tony Malinauskas asked what version will EPA provide consistent comments to and he told the group that he still believes the EPA issue is a non-issue.

Motion voted on:
ORRHES request that ATSDR request that EPA come back with a definitive set of comments reconciling the original set of EPA comments from Headquarters (Office of Radiation and Indoor Air) and the ATSDR responses to those comments prior to December 1, 2003 regarding the Y-12 Uranium document.

The motion passed. 7 in favor; 4 against

Bill Taylor pointed out that an ORRHES conference call prior to the December 2nd ORRHES meeting would be necessary for this motion.

James Lewis said that he believes ATSDR did an excellent job responding to the EPA agency comments. However, the rest of the comments need to be organized and reviewed so that they are user friendly for the lay public.

Al Brooks asked if there would be any delay in the final version of the Y-12 Uranium PHA due to the panel that met.

Paul Charp said that the panel met last week and that the bottom line was that the ATSDR procedures used to address radiation issues are fine. There were no recommendations to change the approach. However, the panel indicated that ATSDR needs to do a better job of communicating its approach and its findings to the public. Paul Charp added that he is preparing a synopsis of the findings that will be sent up the ATSDR administrative chain. The synopsis will eventually go to the panel members to see if it adequately addresses their comments and then at that point, the synopsis will go to Dr. Falk.

Jack Hanley told the group that environmental issues, especially radiation, are difficult to effectively communicate to the public—this is not just an issue for ATSDR. Jack Hanley added that the panel thought the Thermometer graph was an excellent tool for communicating and presenting information. The panel also liked that Paul Charp had discussed the screening value process with the ORRHES.

Paul Charp told the group that he had been in Washington DC at a Federal Radiation Policy Coordinating Committee Subcommittee meeting and one of the items on the agenda was whether or not things should be addressed as dose or risk. Paul told the group this so that they would understand that the dose versus risk is a national issue and not just an issue within ATSDR.

Jack Hanley said that both approaches are appropriate, communicating the information is the problem and the challenge.

Gordon Blaylock said that the general public could perceive risk while most of the public will not understand the terms used for dose (rad, rem, etc.).

Al Brooks explained that both of the motions that he would present were in anticipation of the Y-12 Uranium PHA moving forward to ORRHES (See Handout Three).

Al Brooks made a motion to request ORRHES to concur in ATSDR’s responses to the PHA on the Y-12 release comments: Al Brooks moved that PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR responses to the public and agency comments and request ATSDR include these responses in the final PHA document.

Tony Malinauskas seconded the motion.

James Lewis said that he believes the public comments deserve some organization in a way that is similar to the organization of the EPA comments. James Lewis said that he believes in the detail but he also believes that it would be beneficial to boil the comments down into a summarization since nobody will read the entire set of comments.

Motion voted on:
PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR responses to the public and agency comments and request ATSDR include these responses in the final PHA document.

The motion passed.

Al Brooks made a motion to request ORRHES to concur in ATSDR’s findings on Y-12 Uranium releases: Al Brooks moved that the PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR findings of “No Apparent Public Health Hazard” for the ORR Y-12 Uranium Releases and that this finding be conveyed to the ORR public in an appropriate manner.

The motion received a second.

James Lewis said that the categorization categories involve specific actions. One major problem with voting on a category is that the ORRHES does not have a good understanding of what ORRHES is voting on. ORRHES must have a good understanding of what they will be voting on before being asked to vote.

Al Brooks said that he assumes there will be a negotiation between ORRHES and ATSDR on what constitutes an appropriate manner of conveying the information to the public.

Jack Hanley pointed out that in the Y-12 Uranium PHA the recommendation states that ATSDR will inform the community and work with ORRHES to determine the best ways to communicate the Y-12 Uranium release results.

Both Jack Hanley and James Lewis agreed that a plan for communicating the Y-12 Uranium PHA results will need to be developed and followed so that the Y-12 information is available and understood by the lay public.

Motion voted on:
PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR findings of “No Apparent Public Health Hazard” for the ORR Y-12 Uranium Releases and that this finding be conveyed to the ORR public in an appropriate manner.

The motion passed.

James Lewis said that something needs to be presented to ORRHES about ATSDR’s conclusion categorizations so that ORRHES understands what it is they are voting on. A motion was made and seconded that ATSDR give a presentation to the ORRHES regarding the ATSDR conclusion categories.

After some discussion Jack Hanley explained that the conclusion categories as identified in the most recent version of ATSDR’s Guidance Manual are now policy and that a presentation could be given regarding the categories.

Motion voted on:
ATSDR should give a presentation to the ORRHES regarding ATSDR’s conclusion categories.

The motion passed.

Jack Hanley followed up on the action items that were identified at the end of the previous PHAWG meeting minutes.

  • Regarding one of ATSDR’s responses to an EPA comment, ATSDR will be adding language that Al Brooks and Tony Malinauskas suggested.
  • Regarding EPA and the process used for soil samples (were they homogenized or not) Region IV is consulting with their lab and will get back to ATSDR with an answer. EPA will clarify their procedure.
  • Regarding ChemRisk and a deposition map showing uranium fallout, the ORHASP minutes have been reviewed and nothing was found so ATSDR is in the process of contacting the ChemRisk people.
  • The category will be changed from “health concern” to “health hazard” as was suggested by James Lewis.
  • Regarding the question of why ATSDR is only performing health education and not a health investigation or residents tracking system—Jack spoke with the Assistant Director for Science who is leading the effort to develop the new Guidance Manual. Jack explained that the overhead that he used last meeting listing the PHA recommendations’ options of “health investigation” and “residents tracking system” was from the 2002 Public Comment version of the Guidance Manual. Since then, the Division of Health Education and Promotion and the Division of Health Studies have removed those types of follow-up activities and under the No Apparent Public Health Hazard category, they no longer perform those follow-up activities. Those activities will not be included in the Final version of the Guidance Manual.
  • Regarding Peggy Adkins request for maps showing the ranges and ridges in the different valleys, Jack Hanley explained the 1950s maps on the wall.

Before the group moved on, James Lewis said that ATSDR must make an effort to put forth information into the general public that the general public can understand. Communication is important and ORRHES needs ATSDR’s help in communicating the findings.

Jack Hanley referred James Lewis to DHEP and CIB staff.

James Lewis said that he feels the group is almost down to needing to discuss the issue with Congressman Zach Wamp if ATSDR does not respond or provide assistance in getting information out to the lay public.

New Business

Danny Sanders would like an updated timetable in regards to the issues about Happy Valley that Danny raised last year at a PHAWG meeting. Danny Sanders wants to know about the health risks for the Happy Valley community.

Jack Hanley explained that a Public Health Assessment would be performed on K-25 regarding uranium and fluorides.

Danny Sanders said that he knows ATSDR has new historical information. Danny pointed out that there are some discrepancies in the new information regarding his sister’s address and the year of her birth-1948.

Danny Sanders asked if ATSDR would be looking at water sources. Danny said that water from the Clinch River was sent to a tower [at this point the audio is inaudible because people are interrupting].

Danny Sanders said that he has a picture of one of his brothers sitting on the front of his parent’s car in Happy Valley at one of the hutments with the license plate reading 1947.

James Lewis clarified that Danny Sanders had submitted his comments in writing and is still waiting for a response to his written comments.

Jack Hanley said that there is a date planned when ATSDR will come to the PHAWG with a preliminary assessment regarding where the agency is concerning the K-25 PHA. After that, ATSDR will come in with a written version and then a public comment version of the K-25 Public Health Assessment. In both versions, PHAWG members have the opportunity to participate.

Bill Taylor announced that all ORRHES members need to review the draft ORRHES meeting minutes from the October ORRHES meeting and turn in their comments by end of the business day on Monday, November 10th. Melissa Fish has copies available for those who cannot get to their email.

Votes/Specific Actions Taken in the Meeting

The draft meeting minutes for the October 20th PHAWG meeting was tabled.

The following motion passed: ORRHES requests that ATSDR request that EPA come back with a definitive set of comments reconciling the original set of EPA comments from Headquarters (Office of Radiation and Indoor Air) and the ATSDR responses to those comments prior to December 1, 2003 regarding the Y-12 Uranium document.

The following motion passed: PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR responses to the public and agency comments and request ATSDR include these responses in the final PHA document.

The following motion passed: PHAWG request the ORRHES to concur in the ATSDR findings of “No Apparent Public Health Hazard” for the ORR Y-12 Uranium Releases and that this finding be conveyed to the ORR public in an appropriate manner.

The following motion passed: ATSDR should give a presentation to ORRHES regarding ATSDR’s conclusion categories.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 P.M.


 
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