Oak Ridge Reservation: Public Health Assessment Work Group
Public Health Assessment Work Group
June 16, 2003 - Meeting Minutes
ORRHES Members attending:
James Lewis (substitute work group chair), Tony Malinauskas, Charles Washington, David Johnson, Kowetha Davidson
Public Members attending:
Timothy Joseph, and Danny Sanders
ATSDR Staff attending:
Jack Hanley (telephone), Lorine Spencer (telephone), Bill Taylor, Melissa Fish
James Lewis explained that he is filling in for Bob Craig by chairing tonight’s PHAWG meeting. The meeting was called to order and the audience was noted for the record.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the following three topics as listed on the agenda:
- Approval of the previous meeting minutes (May 19, 2003)
- Discussion of meeting minutes
- Review and update of the PHA project plan
- In addition to the three agenda topics, James Lewis added an additional item relating to recent media coverage.
- Discussion of recent media coverage related to EPA comments
Discussion of the Meeting Minutes
Bill Taylor provided an overview of difficulties with the work group minutes that he and Melissa Fish have experienced while creating the minutes. Bill told the group that there are three different situations that he and Melissa have identified and Bill provided an explanation as to how they would like to handle each situation. Bill Taylor told the group that he welcomed their feedback about each situation.
- One situation occurs when a speaker submits modifications to the draft
minutes of their own presentation for the purpose of clarification.
As an example, Karl Markiewicz added some words for clarification to
the draft minutes of his own presentation at the PHAWG meeting on May
19, 2003. Bill Taylor told the group that he did not see this situation
as presenting controversy except for the fact that the group has not
seen the modifications. Bill proposed that in situations like this,
he will inform the group of the modifications. The group then has the
opportunity to read the modifications (or have them read) and discuss
them if they would like.
- Another situation occurs when someone submits corrections to another
person’s presentation. Bill Taylor told the group that in situations
as these, the audio tapes will be reviewed and if a correction is warranted
due to inaccuracies in the content of the minutes, the correction will
be made. Bill Taylor felt that if the tapes are reviewed, this situation
would not be controversial. Bill also told the group that these types
of changes would be handled in an expedited manner.
- The third scenario that Bill Taylor described is a technical disagreement over material presented in a work group presentation. Bill provided two possible examples of outcomes for this situation.
In the first example, Gordon Blaylock had changes to the draft meeting minutes that concerned Paul Charp’s presentation before the PHAWG on May 5, 2003. Gordon presented his corrections to the draft meeting minutes during the May 19th meeting. The PHAWG approved Gordon’s corrections. After the May 19th meeting, Gordon’s changes were presented to Paul Charp. Paul Charp reviewed the changes and concurred with Gordon Blaylock’s comments. With this example, Bill was reporting Paul Charp’s concurrence to Gordon Blaylock’s corrections.
The second example that Bill Taylor provided was strictly hypothetical. Bill told the group that if Paul Charp had disagreed with Gordon’s Blaylock’s comments, Bill would report Paul’s non-concurrence and the current meeting minutes would document the disagreement and present the differing technical arguments. Bill Taylor said the group would then discuss ways of resolving the differences.
Regardless of the situation that occurs, Bill Taylor told the group that there is a process to propose changes to the draft meeting minutes that should be followed. If any person has changes that they would like to incorporate into the minutes, the changes should be submitted in writing for distribution to PHAWG members or presented orally at the meeting. The submitted written changes can become an item on the agenda that will be discussed by the group. If a person does not want to submit the changes in a written form, they must present the changes in person during the meeting. There will be no changes or corrections to the draft minutes unless the specific changes are discussed in the work group meeting and the changes are voted on by the work group members.
James Lewis provided the group with a brief history of the minutes, reminding the group that there have been a number of problems dealing with generating meeting minutes. James feels that it is important that the concept of meeting minutes is defined. James Lewis stated that at the beginning of the work group process, minutes were defined as defined by Roberts Rules of Order. At the same time, the work group never committed to producing verbatim minutes or a transcript. Rather, the work group has opted to create what James refers to as an “Abbreviated Record of Discussion”. James Lewis feels that it is important that people understand that there is flexibility and that the record will not be verbatim but still will not be as brief as minutes produced by what is defined by Roberts Rules of Order. The purpose of the Abbreviated Record of Discussion is to identify the level of work that is going on and to capture community concerns. James told the group that from a COWG perspective, it is helpful to have community issues and concerns within the body of the minutes.
Tony Malinauskas wanted to know what happens to the audio tapes from the meetings. Bill Taylor told Tony that the tapes stay in the office and that they are public and anyone can listen to the tapes if they wish.
James Lewis stated that any person with major issues and/or changes to the minutes must compare the written word to the audio tapes in the Field Office. James Lewis also suggested a procedure for challenges to the minutes. James said that any person who has challenges about the minutes should first come into the office and listen to the tapes. Next, they should compare the tape against the minutes. If the person still has concerns they should contact Bill Taylor or the work group Chair and sit down and discuss challenges to see if changes are warranted. If it is decided that changes to the minutes might be warranted, those challenges should be brought before the work group.
Charles Washington stated that he agrees with James Lewis and that in his observation and interaction with other organized bodies, the meeting minutes capture the essence of the discussion and not every little thing that goes on.
For clarification purposes, Bill Taylor told the group that the minutes that are being created in the Field Office capture more than the minimum and contain some paraphrasing.
James Lewis feels that it is important that the procedure for the minutes allow the freedom to capture community concerns.
Kowetha Davidson pointed out that some of the past problems with the minutes have been when people want to add things such as explanations to the minutes. This has been a problem when the explanations did not occur during the meeting. Bill Taylor responded to Kowetha Davidson by saying that a small amount of material for clarification will be allowed, but other changes must be discussed at a work group meeting or submitted in writing for distribution to work group members for their approval or disproval.
James Lewis stated that ATSDR should develop a procedure for the Abbreviated Record of Discussion and the procedure should be presented as a standard operating procedure.
Kowetha Davidson felt that any procedure that is developed should become a Guidelines and Procedures Work Group issue. James Lewis agreed that the procedure developed by ATSDR should be presented to the Guidelines and Procedures Work Group.
Action Items Regarding the Discussion of Meeting Minutes
A standard operating procedure regarding ORRHES work group draft meeting minutes will be developed by an ATSDR employee and presented to the Guidelines and Procedures Work Group.
Minutes from the April 7, 2003, Meeting
Bill Taylor provided the work group with examples of changes to the minutes that Karl Markiewicz had suggested.
- Page 4, under the heading of Groundwater Screening Summary Statistics
Handout, 3rd paragraph, 5th sentence
In the draft minutes the sentence reads: Also, the calculation assumes that people drink two liters of water per day from the surface water or groundwater.
Karl’s change would result in the sentence reading: Also, the calculation assumes that people drink two liters of water per day from groundwater and 0.5 liters from surface water.
- Page 5, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence
In the draft minutes the sentence reads: The entire row should contain an asterisk and a footnote saying noncancerous, or saying not applicable so that a dose is not implied.
Karl’s change would result in the sentence reading: The entire row should contain an asterisk and a footnote saying noncancerous, or saying not applicable (NA) so that a dose is not implied.
- Page 7, last sentence
In the draft minutes the sentence reads: The last column will be changed to read, “Does the estimated exposure dose exceed the noncancer health guideline?”
Karl’s change would result in the sentence reading: The last column will be changed to read, “Does the estimated exposure dose exceed the noncancer screening health guideline?”
- Page 8, 2nd paragraph, last two sentences
In the draft minutes the sentences reads: Karl does not have a problem using risk if there is an explanation to how it was calculated. Karl referred to the ATSDR Health Physicists for any additional comments about the use of risk.
Karl’s change would result in the sentences reading: Karl does not have a problem using risk if there is an explanation to how it was calculated (i.e., for chemicals during the screening process). Karl referred to the ATSDR Health Physicists for any additional comments about the use of risk for radionuclides.
Charles Washington stated that the change on page 4 is a major change because it is a change in quantity. Bill Taylor agreed that the change is both a change in content and a clarification.
Charles Washington suggested that the correction on page 4 be described in a following paragraph. Bill Taylor reminded the group that the change on page 4 is not necessarily a correction of what Karl said, it is a correction of the meeting minutes, the group can vote on the minutes as corrected if the group wishes to do so.
James Lewis feels that issues such as changes in quantities should be brought to the work group’s attentions.
Kowetha Davidson stated that she would like to see footnotes on the corresponding pages of the minutes if material is added.
The group agreed that with the exception of the change to page 4 of the minutes, Karl Markiewicz’s changes are administrative and serve as clarification.
The May 19, 2003 PHAWG meeting minutes were accepted with Karl Markiewicz’s modifications.
Discussion of Recent Media Coverage Related to EPA comments
James Lewis feels that the recent EPA media coverage has created a controversy within the community. James stated that it is important that the group work to eliminate future problems regarding this issue. James reminded the group that in the past, ORRHES has had many problems interacting with Federal agencies regarding timeliness and conflicting interpretations. James then asked that someone provide some information about the current EPA media situation.
Jack Hanley described the current media EPA situation. Jack provided the group with the background of the Uranium PHA comments from EPA headquarters. Jack stated that ATSDR has been working with the PHAWG since November 2002 on the evaluation of the Y-12 Uranium releases. An initial draft was put out in December of 2002. The PHAWG put comments together and sent the comments to the ORRHES. ATSDR received the subcommittee’s comments in March 2003 at an ORRHES meeting. ATSDR received EPA Region IV comments in ATSDR’s official records room. ATSDR received EPA Headquarters unofficial comments via email.
Charles Washington asked Jack Hanley to define the term “official.” Jack Hanley explained to Charles that ATSDR had only received an email from EPA Headquarters. The comments were not formally submitted to the ATSDR records room which ATSDR asks everyone to do. ATSDR has not received a hard copy of the comments in the record room and thus does not have EPA Headquarter comments on official letterhead or with an official signature. EPA Headquarter comments came two days after the release of the Public Comment version. Many of the issues in the document from EPA Headquarters have already been addressed in work group and subcommittee meetings prior to releasing the Public Comment draft.
Jack Hanley told the group that although the EPA Headquarter comments were not received officially, all EPA comments will be addressed.
Jack Hanley let the group know that ATSDR received the Region IV Cover letter dated March 27, 2003 on May 9, 2003. Jack read directly from the Cover letter. EPA concurs with the assessment’s conclusion that the available data does not indicate the presence of uranium releases that constitute a past, current or future health threat for the Scarboro Community (See attachment). Jack Hanley pointed out that the EPA Region 4 comments are in conflict with EPA Headquarter comments.
Jack Hanley told the group that the reason that the conflicting statements have become a controversy is because a local reporter picked up the unofficial emails. Some of the ATSDR staff had a telephone meeting with the reporter and gave the reporter background information about the EPA comments and told the reporter about the conflict within EPA. ATSDR staff also explained that some of the differences reflected in the EPA Headquarters’ comments reflected the different mandates and approaches of ATSDR and EPA. However, in his article, the reporter made the choice to not include the information that ATSDR provided.
Jack Hanley told the group that the bottom line is that ATSDR will address each and every concern from EPA Headquarters. In fact, ATSDR feels that they have already addressed most of the EPA Headquarters’ comments.
James Lewis stated that the same agency should not produce conflicting reports. It is paramount to get to the bottom of the current EPA issue. James went on to explain that this type of issue hurts the ORRHES efforts because ORRHES and the work groups are forced to restart previous efforts. James Lewis said that as a recommendation he would like to invite EPA Headquarters staff to an ORRHES meeting for the purpose of learning how they operate. James feels that this is an opportune time to get issues out on the table and to get them resolved.
Tony Malinauskas stated that there are basically two issues regarding EPA. The first issue is that there needs to be some clarification on who speaks for EPA at ORRHES. The second issue is who represents EPA to ATSDR.
Kowetha Davidson stated that if a recommendation is submitted, ORRHES should recommend that all EPA comments regarding the Public Health Assessment’s go through the Region 4 office so that the subcommittee members and the community members are not confused.
Bill Taylor reminded the group that ORRHES and by extension the work group, is an advisory committee to Health and Human Services. Bill told the group that if the group is discussing making a recommendation to EPA, they can certainly do that. However, the group should consider that their purpose is not to make recommendations to EPA.
Tony Malinauskas feels that in view of the embarrassment that the EPA reports caused, ORRHES can ask ATSDR to request EPA to deal through the appropriate Regions.
Charles Washington agreed with Tony Malinauskas because conflicting reports are confusing to the PHAWG and the community.
James Lewis said that in addition, he would like a person from EPA Headquarters to come explain their process and to give ORRHES an idea of their stances on certain issues.
Kowetha Davidson added that it is important to know who the person is at EPA Headquarters who sent the email and the position of that person at EPA Headquarters.
Tony Malinauskas then asked who originally sent the email from EPA Headquarters. Jack Hanley told Tony that the person who sent the email was Lowell Ralston. Jack Hanley also told Tony Malinauskas that ATSDR has followed up and is in the process of figuring out the status of Lowell Ralston’s comments.
James Lewis said that it is important that ORRHES know the breakdown of the EPA process and that EPA should explain their process and give ORRHES an overview.
Bill Taylor said that it may be more appropriate for ORRHES to send a letter on their own and not through ATSDR because ATSDR has its own view and is trying to resolve the issue through administrative contacts. Bill agreed that ORRHES has a legitimate concern.
Kowetha Davidson stated that ORRHES can invite EPA. However, Kowetha feels that ORRHES can not invite EPA Headquarters without inviting EPA Region 4 as well. Charles Washington and James Lewis agreed with Kowetha’s remarks. Kowetha Davidson also mentioned that ORRHES already has a track record established of inviting government level administrators to the ORRHES meetings.
Melissa Fish read the following motion into record:
It was recommended that an invitation be extended to EPA Headquarters and Region 4 to attend an ORRHES meeting for the purpose of addressing concerns related to the Oak Ridge sites and for discussion of EPA procedures used when interacting with ATSDR and ORRHES.
The motion passed.
Review and Update of the PHA Project Plan
Bill Taylor passed out copies of an adjusted project plan schedule which contains key dates for two Public Health Assessments (See Attachment). The adjusted project plan includes some changes from the previous project plan schedule. Bill Taylor explained to the group that in the previous project plan, there was overlap between the release and discussion of the White Oak Creek and the Mercury PHAs. In the adjusted schedule, White Oak Creek and Mercury have been separated to allow more time for preparation of the Mercury PHA.
James Lewis is concerned about “slippage” and asked how much “slippage” would result from the adjusted project plan schedule. Bill Taylor explained that as far as he can recall, the previous schedule listed both the White Oak Creek PHA and Mercury PHA to be presented to PHAWG on August 4th. Thus, the adjusted schedule would result in a one-month delay of the Mercury PHA PHAWG presentation.
James Lewis expressed his concern about the tight schedule that ORRHES is already dealing with. James also mentioned the importance of the coordination of activities. He asked if the adjusted project plan schedule would put the group in a crunch. For example, will the adjusted project plan schedule result in PHAWG having an entire stack of things to compute at the end of the process?
After reviewing the adjusted project plan schedule, Tony Malinauskas stated that he would like to see the adjusted schedule contain a date for PHAWG comments to be emailed to other members so that the comments are available before the PHAWG meeting presentation on August 18th.
After some discussion it was decided that PHAWG members should submit their comments about the White Oak Creek PHA by the end of the day on Wednesday, August 13th. The August 13th date will allow PHAWG members almost 21/2 weeks from receiving the document to get their comments in for distribution. The goal is to have the PHAWG comments compiled in a manner that will allow for organized discussion on August 18th. The comments can be finalized on September 2, 2003.
James Lewis made several comments about the red cover distribution of the PHA. He asked how ATSDR handled the red cover distribution and asked if distribution was limited. Jack Hanley responded to James by explaining that if a person attends a work group meeting and requests a copy of the red cover PHA they may have one. Anyone who reviews the red cover document can submit a list of comments to the PHAWG. Once the comments are submitted to PHAWG the comments become PHAWG comments rather than individual comments. The list of PHAWG comments relating to the PHA is presented to ORRHES and the PHAWG comments become ORRHES comments.
James Lewis still feels that the red cover PHA distribution process needs to be explained so that everyone is clear about the process.
Kowetha Davidson made the following motion:
I move that the modifications as listed in the adjusted project plan schedule are accepted.
The motion passed.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.