Oak Ridge Reservation: Public Health Assessment Work Group
Public Health Assessment Work Group
February 17, 2004 - Meeting Minutes
ORRHES Members attending:
Bob Craig (Chair), LC Manley, David Johnson, George Gartseff, and Kowetha Davidson
Public Members and others attending:
Liz Bertelsen (telephone), Danny Sanders, John Merkle and Tim Joseph (DOE)
ATSDR Staff attending:
Lorine Spencer (telephone), Bill Taylor, and Melissa Fish
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and consider the comments submitted for the Initial Release version of the White Oak Creek Radionuclide Releases Public Health Assessment (WOC PHA).
LC Manley moved that the January 20, 2004 Draft PHAWG minutes be approved. John Merkle seconded the motion. The motion passed. The draft meeting minutes for January 20, 2004 were approved.
Discussion of Initial Release version of the White Oak Creek Radionuclide Releases PHA comments
A copy of the compiled list of comments is available in the Oak Ridge Field Office.
Bob Craig told the group that he had received comments from eight reviewers and that the bulk of the comments were editorial. There were five technical comments, eight general editorial comments, and 154 specific editorial comments. Regarding the technical comments one reviewer focused on the core of the White Oak Creek PHA and drew a diagram that accompanied his comments.
Bob Craig also pointed out that a group of people objected to the discussion of risk where ATSDR was using EPA wording which read, "the risk may be low, it may even be zero." Bob Craig said that he thinks ATSDR used the language because it is what came out of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) analysis. Bob Craig said that "the risk may be low, it may even be zero" is an awkward way of saying that the risk could be zero.
John Merkle provided an explanation of his technical comments. John Merkle said that he would like to better understand the relationships that are the basis for the conclusions that the public health assessment draws. John felt that it was fortunate that the ATSDR responses to comments include the web page which contains all of the Dose Reconstruction reports; this made it easy to review pertinent information in the Task 4 Report.
John Merkle said that he has spoke with Kathleen Thiessen who performed most of the calculations in the Task 4 report. Kathleen Thiessen has agreed to provide John with the median values for quantities (especially ingestion values) that were only given as ranges in the Task 4 Report. Once the median values are listed, they can be used to make calculations of intake, dose, and risk. Once those example calculations are performed, they will provide a good illustration of the reasoning that is contained in the Task 4 report, which is the basis for the conclusions in the WOC PHA. When the calculations are performed, they can be presented in the PHAWG and the group can take a look at them and see what the calculations mean. John Merkle said that he expects (as well as Kathleen Thiessen) that a calculation based on all of the median values should come very close to the medians that they estimate for the distributions of intake, dose, and risk. If they do not, the group will figure out why they do not.
To help the public put doses into perspective, Tim Joseph said that ATSDR should try to answer the questions, "At what level should I be concerned?" and "When should I be worried?"
John Merkle said that Tim's questions could be answered once the group makes its way through the numbers.
Bob Craig said that another comment that was made by several reviewers was that they did not like the description of the history of the Manhattan Project or some of the terminology that was used. One reviewer suggested that ATSDR use other current documents with descriptions of the Manhattan Project that accurately characterize the history.
Another comment that Bob Craig pointed out is that the Summary portion of the WOC PHA will be the most widely read section of the WOC PHA. As such, the summary should be a clear, concise, and unambiguous summary of the significant elements and conclusions of the PHA. The Summary deserves a thorough editorial scrubbing before releasing the public comment version.
Bob Craig pointed out that someone had an objection to the term "protective" and thought that the term might be over used.
George Gartseff said that he does not think the term "protective" communicates well to the public and can be misunderstood. While George understands what ATSDR means by "protective," when he saw the term in print and the frequency in which the term was used, George did not feel that the word "protective" as used in the PHA conveyed the right message to the public.
On behalf of ATSDR Bill Taylor thanked the group for the comments and said the comments were exactly the type of things that ATSDR is looking for.
Bob Craig said that he feels the White Oak Creek PHA is a good solid document that would benefit from going back through the database to make sure that all of the concerns have been extracted and dealt with.
Bob Craig suggested that the section of the PHA that contains the community concerns should identify where the concerns and responses are referenced in the PHA document. Kowetha Davidson pointed out that ATSDR's responses are in the column next to the identified concern.
David Johnson said that it is important that ATSDR and ORRHES identify a step to educate the general public about the White Oak Creek PHA.
Kowetha Davidson said that she would like to see a public friendly document distributed by the time that the Public Comment Version of the WOC PHA is distributed.
The group discussed the idea of having students review the public friendly documents and then letting them provide feedback and suggestions so that the documents can be improved. Danny Sanders indicated that he would be willing to let his students review the documents. Tim Joseph is also willing to help in any way that he can. The group generally liked the idea of letting students review the documents. Melissa Fish will let Danny Sanders know when ATSDR has developed a public friendly White Oak Creek document.
Bob Craig said that the DOE has unintentionally created an ecological preserve. Bob Craig referred to the National Environmental Research Park (NERP) and said that eroded farmland has become an extraordinary natural area and that just by being left alone nature has come back. Now there are mountain lions and coyotes, and several endangered plants and animals have returned.
Bill Taylor said that ATSDR would incorporate the comments and suggestions into the Public Comment Version of the WOC PHA.
LC Manley asked about the source of the niobium-95 and the cobalt. What generated those contaminants?
The group was not completely sure about the source of the niobium and cobalt, but Bob Craig said that they were trace elements that came out of the separation operation.
It was moved that PHAWG recommend to ORRHES that the list of compiled comments be accepted and submitted to ATSDR. The motion passed unanimously.
The group was reminded that a March 9th ORRHES conference call will be held with the purpose of officially passing the comments on to ATSDR. Other comments will be accepted at that time as well.
Bill Taylor will email the comments approved by PHAWG regarding the Initial Release of the White Oak Creek Radionuclide Releases PHA to all of the ORRHES members prior to the March 9th ORRHES meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:15 P.M.
Votes/Specific Actions Taken in the Meeting
The draft meeting minutes for the January 20, 2004 PHAWG meetings were approved.
It was moved that PHAWG recommend to ORRHES that the list of compiled comments be accepted and submitted to ATSDR.
Melissa Fish will be in touch with Danny Sanders concerning the development of the public friendly White Oak Creek documents.
Bill Taylor will email the PHAWG list of comments regarding the Initial Release of the WOC PHA to all of the ORRHES members prior to the March 9th ORRHES meeting.