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Public Comments

Comment 1:

The public health assessment should assign a Category D (No Apparent Public Health Hazard)level of public health hazard rather than Category C (Indeterminate Public Health Hazard) basedon the following:

(a) ATSDR confused future potential exposures with existing or future completed exposureswhen making conclusions about the site.

(b) The aggregate product is not intended to be used in ways that could result in chronic ingestionby children or in areas where crushing, blowing, or other transport mechanisms would likelyoccur.


The exposure routes described in the Public Health Assessment include past, present, and futurepotential exposure routes. Because of the lack of data on air during the early operations at MSP,it is not possible to assess exposure to past reported emissions. In addition, past use of theaggregate under a residence, on roadways at a ranch, and as fill in a residential back yard couldhave resulted in human exposure to site related contaminants. Aggregate was also used for basematerial on a roadway leading into a proposed subdivision. This use could result in futureexposure to the aggregate. ATSDR does not have any indication, other than the company'sassurance, that similar applications of the aggregate will not occur in the future. ATSDR publichealth assessments routinely evaluate exposure pathways that are possible in the future. TheMarine Shale Public Health Assessment, therefore, considered possible future exposure to theaggregate and determined that there was a lack of information on the long-term safety of similaraggregate use. Because data are not available to fully examine potential exposure pathways inthe past, present, and future, this site is correctly determined to be an indeterminate public healthhazard.

Comment 2:

The site addressed in the public health assessment is not a single site, but seven (7) distinct sites.


ATSDR considers the areas where the aggregate has been distributed to constitute releases ofsubstances from Marine Shale into the environment. Because properties of the aggregate and thesubstance releases into the environment are the same, the Marine Shale Public HealthAssessment addressed those areas where the aggregate was applied as a single site.

Comment 3:

ATSDR failed to identify receptor populations for potential exposure pathways.


The Public Health Assessment describes past, present, and future potential exposure routes. Receptor populations are those that are exposed or potentially exposed through the exposureroutes described in the Public Health Assessment.

Comment 4:

The Summary should be rewritten. The significance to the community of the "data gap"scenarios should be clearly distinguished between the ATSDR's evaluation of the Amelia facility.The reader of this section of the report should have no doubt that the agency has concluded thatair emissions are not adversely affecting their health, that their drinking water supplies have notbeen impacted by our activities, that groundwater quality is not being adversely affected, thatthere is no evidence that anyone is being exposed to contaminated surface water, soils orsediments surrounding our facility, that soils and aggregates on-site are not blowing into theiryards, schools or places of work, that the aggregate is not present in places where their childrencan eat it or where they will breathe it and, finally, that there is no data whatsoever to indicatethat MSP has had any effect on the rate of cancer, birth defects or any other disease in ourcommunity. These important facts are not clearly stated in the SUMMARY as written.


Environmental data from the early period of Marine Shale operations were not complete. Therefore, to state that there are no data to indicate adverse health effects misleadingly impliesthat the data we have are sufficient to fully evaluate this site. ATSDR found that the aggregatehad been in areas where children could be exposed or where crushing of the aggregate couldoccur. For example, the aggregate was observed on a roadway where crushing and dustgeneration might be expected to occur. To state that "there is no data whatsoever to indicate thatMSP has had any effect on the rate of cancer, birth defects, or any other disease in ourcommunity" is to miss the point about the lack of sensitivity and specificity of the tools availableto evaluate those adverse effects when using existing data. The existing health outcome datawere not at a low enough demographic level (i.e., census tract) to determine rates of disease inthe various populations.

Comment 5:

The statement on page 2 regarding "data gaps" relating to body burden in humans from long-termexposure to the aggregate should be put into context. Is anyone in the community experiencinglong-term exposure to these materials? The answer is No.


This statement was made in the context that people have the potential to be exposed to theaggregate in the past, present, or future.

Comment 6:

The next to the last paragraph on page 2 is confusing and contradictory. The first sentence pointsout that "it is not possible to link adverse health outcomes that might be present in thecommunity living near the MSP site with site-related exposures." The very next sentence statesthat "adverse health conditions might be occurring in the community that could be related toexposure to hazardous substances present in the environment." The conflict between these twosentences is obvious. If the ATSDR believes that some unidentified environmental exposures inthe area may be affecting human health they certainly have the right to say so. However, it shouldbe stated in a way that leaves no doubt that there has been no link between MSP emissions andthese alleged health effects. Furthermore, after reading the Agency's discussion of its healthsurveys (pages 27 - 34) it is difficult to see what information they have relied on to support thesecond conclusion in this paragraph.


In the Public Health Assessment, the sentences read as follows: "Using the data evaluated, it isnot possible to link adverse health outcomes that might be present in the community living nearthe MSP site with site-related exposures. The existing community health concerns and theresults from a limited evaluation of health outcome data, however, indicate that adverse healthconditions might be occurring in the community that could be related to exposure to hazardoussubstances present in the environment." While the data evaluated do not specifically linkenvironmental contaminants from MSP with adverse health effects, environmental data gaps doexist. Therefore, ATSDR cannot rule out the possibility that adverse health effects could occuras a result of exposure to site-related contaminants.

Comment 7:

The ATSDR HA provides a lengthy discussion of health outcome data on pages 27 - 34. Severalreferences to "clusters" of diseases are made with some implication that they (the diseaseclusters) may have significance to the Agency's evaluation of MSP. We would point out,however, that as noted in Investigating Non-infectious Disease Clusters a reference apparentlyused by the ATSDR in evaluating these data (reference R-19), there is a 98% probability that bychance alone a community such as Amelia will have a significantly (p = 0.05) increasedincidence of at least one of the 80 major types of cancer commonly investigated in anepidemiology study. Thus, the role of chance occurrence of disease should be clearly discussed inthis report.


The cluster of neuroblastomas that occurred in the community during 1986-1987 was of greatconcern to the petitioners in the health assessment. Appendix A in Investigating Non-infectiousDisease Clusters notes that when looking at 100 towns of the size of Amelia there is a 98%probability of a town having at least one type (out of 80 examined) of cancer cluster over aspecified period of time. Those 80 types of cancer include several relatively common cancerssuch as lung, breast, and colon. It is misleading to use the exercise in that appendix to say thatthere is a 98% probability that by chance alone a community will have a cluster of a rare type ofcancer (neuroblastoma). It is true that most cancer clusters are randomly occurring events andthe probability of finding a discernable cause is low.

Comment 8:

The HA refers to "the widespread belief (of the community) that MSP has never passed a stacktest." (pg. 6) Unfortunately, this section of the HA does little to correct the community's mistakenbelief. In fact, MSP has "passed" several stack tests, including the most recent Boiler andIndustrial Furnace (BIF) stack test conducted in June 1991, and the previous year'scomprehensive stack test conducted in June 1990. As noted in the BIF stack test results, a copyof which was provided to the Agency in December, 1991 (see reference D-137B, Tab 40),"Overall, the stack test results show that MSP's operation presents no adverse health andenvironment impact, based on the risk analysis procedures proposed by the EPA." (pg. ES-2)


This was a community concern expressed to ATSDR. ATSDR typically incorporates communityconcerns into public health assessments.

Comment 9:

Furthermore, after evaluating the MSP combustion system, the EPA concluded, "The generaldesign of MSP's combustion and air pollution control systems was judged likely to have thecapability to achieve destruction of toxic organic compounds, and particulate and toxic metalsemission levels, comparable to that achieved by RCRA permitted hazardous waste incinerators."(see reference D-1378, Tab 27, pg. 35)

In reality, the combustion and emissions control systems used at our Amelia facility arecontinually being updated and improved as new technology is developed. We are proud of whatwe have accomplished at MSP. Our system Is the most advanced solid/liquid waste combustionsystem in the world. Our one-of-a-kind process' combines state of-the-art solid waste combustiondesign with a unique gas combustion system that achieves levels of toxic chemical destructionfar beyond those required by the EPA.


This comment included as requested.

Comment 10:

The discussion of Destruction Rate Efficiency (DRE) presented in the first paragraph on pg. 9could easily leave the reader unfamiliar with this highly technical field with the impression thatthe ATSDR has doubts as to whether a 99.99% DRE is, in fact, protective of human health. Wewould ask the ATSDR to clarify their position on this issue. If they believe that a 99.99% DRE isnot protective of human health they should so state, but we would request that they provide fulldocumentation of the scientific basis for this conclusion. This view would clearly conflict withthe current EPA position which was recently stated as follows:

A 99.99 percent destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) standard for principal organichazardous constituents (POHCs) in waste feeds will ensure that constituents in the waste are notemitted at levels that could pose significant risk in virtually all scenarios of which the Agency isaware. (Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 35, pg. 7146, February 21,1991)

We would also request that since the HA raises the issue of products of incomplete combustion(PlC), that the assessors fully and accurately address this issue. That HA currently states,"However, that (99.99% DRE) approach does not necessarily ensure that all other non-feedproducts of incomplete combustion (PICs) in stack emissions will be insignificant. PICs couldinclude partial breakdown products of the parent waste feed compounds, as well as recombinantnew species that may be as or more toxic than the original waste constituents." (pg. 9) Thesestatements could raise concern in the mind of the reader by incorrectly implying that MSP isemitting harmful levels of these "more toxic" species into the air. The HA fails to mention,however, that in the carefully researched opinion of the EPA, PICs are adequately controlled bylimiting flugas carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon (HC) concentrations.

Limits on flue gas concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and, specified, hydrocarbons (HC)will ensure that combustion devices operate continuously at high combustion efficiency and emitproducts of incomplete combustion (PICs) at levels that will not pose adverse effects on publichealth and the environment. (Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 35, pg. 7146, February 21, 1991)

MSP fully complies with the CO and HC emissions limits specified by the EPA, and the ATSDRHA should so state. In addition, MSP continuously monitors stack emissions for both of theseparameters to insure compliance.


A 99.99 percent destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) is an arbitrary regulatory standardcurrently used by EPA. While ATSDR generally agrees that this standard is protective of publichealth, ATSDR bases its decisions on the examination of actual monitoring data and the bestcurrent information available.

Although carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are good indicators of performance, there is stillsome debate as to the efficiency by which PIC's are reduced to levels that will not pose adversehealth effects. In addition, DRE measures only waste feed constituents and does not necessarilyaddress non-principal organic constituents. As previously stated, ATSDR does not arbitrarilyaccept indicators of performance without examining actual data and, therefore, does not baseconclusions on regulatory limits.

Comment 11:

On page 18 of the HA, reference is made to the "presence of other sources of similar pollutantsthe area (as reported in the TRI data for the area in 1987 and 1988)." The SUMMARY makesreference to adverse health conditions that "could be related to exposure to hazardous substancespresent in the environment." We believe that data from the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory(TRI) should have been more fully discussed in the MSP HA. This opinion is supported byATSDR's own Public Health Assessment guidance procedures.

As noted in the ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual health assessors must usethe Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI), and EPA database, as a tool for determining thefollowing information:

  • additional sampling needs;
  • additional sources of contamination in the area;
  • amounts and names of contaminants that have been released by the site facility and others in the vicinity;
  • analysis of contaminants not found on the EPA Target Compound List and/or additional contacts for site information, environmental data, community health concerns, and health outcome data.

(Source: ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual pg. S10; emphasis added)

In information provided to the ATSDR in December, 1991 (see reference D-137B, Tabs 34 - 38)TRI data were presented to show that MSP is a minor emitter of chemicals as compared to otherindustries in St. Mary's parish and the State of Louisiana as a whole. For example, in 1988 atotal of 5,900,130 pounds of chemicals were emitted by reporting industries into the air of St.Mary's parish. MSP reported 1988 emissions of 26,176 pounds; this quantity amounted to only0.4% of the total emissions for the parish. Similar comparisons could and should have been madeby the ATSDR, particularly since they apparently believe that community health may have beenadversely affected by "hazardous substances present in the environment."


Petitioned Public Health Assessment (August 17, 1992):

p.13 ".... A review of the 1987 and 1988 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) confirmed that there areother industrial chemical releases in the area, which are considered in this public healthassessment."

ATSDR agrees that a more detailed discussion of TRI data may have been appropriate forinclusion in the petitioned public health assessment for Marine Shale Processors, and as suchproposes that the petitioned public health assessment be revised as follows. However, the basicinterpretation of available TRI data as stated in the August 1992 petitioned public healthassessment remains unchanged.


Toxic Chemical Release Inventory

Under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (SARA, TitleIII), the manufacturing industry is required to report to EPA annual releases of over 300 toxicchemicals (both routine and accidental) into the environment. Section 313 authorizes EPA tomaintain this data, known as the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI), in a computerizeddatabase which is accessible to both Federal and State governmental officials, as well as thegeneral public. Manufacturing facilities, as defined in the Standard Industrial Classification(SIC) codes 20-39, which have the equivalent of 10 or more full-time employees and which use alisted toxic chemical in an amount greater than the specified threshold for manufacture, import,processing, or otherwise use during the calendar year, are required to estimate their annualrelease of those toxic chemicals into the air, water, and land. In addition, facilities subject to theSection 313 reporting requirements are also required to report their on-site treatment activities, aswell as their estimated transfer of toxic chemicals to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs)and off-site treatment and disposal facilities.

The TRI database for reporting years 1987 to 1991 was searched for chemical releases reportedby industrial facilities located within St. Mary's parish, including the Marine Shale Processors'facility. Lead, methyl ethyl ketone, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and xylenes were the onlycontaminants of concern reported as released to the environment by sources in St. Mary's parish;1,1,1-trichloroethane was the only contaminant which was reported to be released solely byMarine Shale Processors. Therefore, the off-site environmental data referenced in this publichealth assessment with respect to these contaminants may or may not be attributable to theMarine Shale Processors' facility.


Marine Shale Processors26926,18086,408178,1403,569,059
St. Mary' Parish4,554,2733,752,6554,500,5365,090,0067,692,827

1 (lbs/year) - total environmental releases (air, water, underground injection, and land)
2 Toxic Chemical Release Inventory, U.S. EPA (SARA Title III, §313)

Comment 12:

We disagree with MSP with regard to the TRI you cited, as documented by our response to anMSP comment in the permit termination proceedings. Simply put, data MSP furnished EPA inconnection with permit modification requests suggests that MSP's stormwater dischargesprobably contain priority pollutants far in excess of the one pound of silver indicated by MSP's1988 TRI report. A copy of the pertinent portions of EPA's response to MSP's comments isenclosed for your information.


ATSDR is fully aware of the limitations associated with the TRI data. The data contained in theTRI file are submitted to EPA by industrial facilities in compliance with Section 313 of theEmergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986. Maintenance of the TRIdatabase, enforcement of the TRI reporting requirements, and assurance of the accuracy of thedata which is provided to the public via the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) TOXNETsystem are the sole responsibility of EPA. ATSDR does not and cannot verify the validity of theTRI data.

Comment 13:

The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for MSP is cited in the "Documents Reviewed" section (D-23). Permit modification requests submitted by MSP to this office and EPA indicate the quantityof toxic metals being discharged from this facility is significantly different then reported in the1987 and 1988 TRI. Therefore, the validity of the reported TRI for MSP is controversial. EPAaddressed the TRI issue in a public document in response to the proposed termination of MSP'sNational Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. A copy of this comment isenclosed for your consideration.


See response 12.

Comment 14:

The water permits branch has approximately 40 to 50 thousand pages relating to MSP, of whichit is estimated that 5 to 10% contain data relating to the quantitative nature of the discharges. Your "Documents Reviewed" section does not contain any reference to this data. There arenumerous reported values that we feel would merit your consideration.


In the process of completing a public health assessment, ATSDR reviews all data provided to us. ATSDR requested pertinent information on the Marine Shale site during several meetings withthe state and the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, after completion of the initialrelease draft of the Public Health Assessment, state and federal agencies were given theopportunity to review and make comments on the document. During this period, comments onthe Marine Shale Public Health Assessment and additional information on the site were providedto ATSDR. ATSDR reviewed the comments and information and incorporated them into thePublic Health Assessment.

ATSDR is willing to review additional pertinent information. In particular, if other agencies areaware of contaminant levels above those already reviewed and which will alter the public healthimpact of the site, ATSDR requests that this information be provided to us. ATSDR will addressthis information in an appropriate follow-up to the Public Health Assessment.

Comment 15:

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality possesses numerous files concerning thequantitative nature of MSP's discharges. The "Documents Reviewed" section (D-64) of theabove referenced ATSDR document refers to "Water Data. St. Pe', April 14, 1988." It is unclearto this office if all of LDEQ's data has been fully researched.


See response 14.

Comment 16:

We do not concur with your characterization of instream mixing in the vicinity of MSP's outfall. Although MSP has often claimed a vast amount of mixing occurs as a result of tidal action, tidalaction does not appear to be major influence on the receiving stream, which is hydrologicallycomplex. Both EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality believe anyinstream mixing near MSP's outfall is probably influenced far more by randomly independentvariables such as discharge velocity, wind, boat traffic, and lock operation than by tidal action.


Bayou Bouef is linked with the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Palourde, giving considerable spacialdilutional capacity. ATSDR, however, does recognize that the temporal dilutional capacity ofBayou Bouef may not be equivalent to its spacial dilutional capacity. Random independentvariables such as discharge velocity, wind, boat traffic, and lock operation nay have moreinfluence on dilution than tidal action.

Comment 17:

ATSDR refers to Bayou Bouef as exhibiting a "tremendous dilutional capacity." Although thehistorical flow data for Bayou Bouef is limited, the conclusion that there exists a "tremendousdilutional capacity" in that waterbody is highly questionable.


See response 16.

Comment 18:

Total Lead, Cadmium, Barium, and Arsenic levels of sediment samples from Bayou Boeuf areincluded in the ATSDR comment. Sediments can serve as a source of metals for the watercolumn and can affect the benthic organisms residing in the sediment. At this time, there is nonational sediment criteria for metals. The Chemical Manufacturer Association (CMA)publication, Metal Bioavailability provides guidance for sediment quality criteria. This criteriawas developed by the Pugent Sound Estuary program. The CMA metals concentration aredefined as apparent effects thresholds (AETs). AETs provide a range of acceptable limits onmetals concentrations in sediments that have been found not to adversely affect bethnicorganisms. This office feels that the metal concentrations reported in the ATSDR document,when compared with the CMA's sediment quality criteria are of such a concern to warrant furtherinvestigation of possible health effects.


As stated in the Public Health Assessment, a potential for human exposure to contaminated fishhas been identified, however, data were too limited to determine the sources of suchcontamination. If benthic organisms do represent part of the food chain to which humans areexposed, ATSDR would clearly support any State efforts to perform additional fish sampling. ATSDR would then be willing to work with the State to review this data in relation to possiblehuman health effects.

Comment 19:

The concentrations of certain metals in MSP's surface water discharges continue to be of concernto LDEQ. This office contends that these concentrations violate the water quality standards asestablished by Louisiana Administrative Code 33:IX.1113 for Bayou Bouef or exceed technologybased limits.


ATSDR evaluates data for human health effects via ingestion, inhalation, and food consumptionon a site specific basis regardless of whether certain metal discharges violate State water qualitystandards. ATSDR received limited data on surface water quality. ATSDR evaluated the publichealth impact of the MSP site in relation to drinking water sources and recreational water uses. Based on available data, ATSDR determined that human exposure to surface watercontamination in Bayou Bouef is not likely to be of public health concern.

Comment 20:

This Office concurs with ATSDR's statement: "Off-site water contamination could originatefrom contaminated surface water runoff from a site, movement of contaminated groundwater offsite, spills or leaks to adjacent sites, and discharges to adjacent receiving waters." In the samedocument, ATSDR seems to contradict the above statement. This Office is concerned withATSDR's statement: "Contaminated site soils at MSP are not likely to migrate off-site,particularly if left undisturbed." In 1989, Woodward-Clyde Consultants prepared a groundwaterreport for MSP. That report stated that groundwater beneath MSP persistently trends towardBayou Bouef.


Soil is addressed as a separate media in the public health assessment and should not be confusedwith water contamination. Taking into consideration physical elements of wind, stormwaterflow, and natural occurrences, ATSDR concurs that a potential migration off-site may occur dueto these circumstances. Therefore, this sentence has been removed from the Public HealthAssessment.

Comment 21:

MSP pled guilty in Federal District Court to criminal violations of three environmental statuteson September 19, 1990. Count One involved MSP's activities of knowingly storing hazardouswaste without a permit. This activity violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act(RCRA). Count Two involved MSP discharging contaminated run-off water, waste chemicals,materials remaining from the burning of hazardous and other industrial wastes, degreasers, anddetergents into Bayou Bouef without a permit. This is in violation of the Refuse Act of 1899. Count Three charged MSP with sinking a barge, filled with material remaining from burninghazardous and other industrial wastes, into Bayou Bouef. This activity is in violation of theRivers and Harbors Act of 1899. MSP received a criminal fine of $1,000,000 for theseviolations. In addition to this criminal plea, MSP has been cited with five (5) notices ofviolations, four (4) orders and ten (10) compliance orders by LDEQ since 1985. Therefore, thisOffice strongly disagrees with ATSDR statement: "Throughout its operating history, MSP hasbeen subject to various environmental and safety inspections." and "Reports of those inspectionsindicate the facility has not been cited for major violations."


Thank you for this information. Records reviewed by ATSDR did not indicate such violations. Since these violations do exist, it would have been appropriate to notify ATSDR during theinitial release comment period. These statements were inserted into the Public HealthAssessment for informational purposes only and have no direct impact on public healthconsiderations. Therefore, the last statement from the above paragraph will be deleted from thePublic Health Assessment.

Comment 22:

I am writing to express my feelings and to comment on the health evaluation of Marine ShaleProcessors in Amelia, Louisiana. My Husband, children, and I have been residents of thiscommunity for nineteen years; we have invested in property and have a business here. For thesereasons and because I want Morgan City to remain an environmentally safe, healthy place for ourchildren and us to live and for, perhaps, later our grandchildren to live, I do not want a hazardouswaste disposal plant operating in our area. I fear a "Love Canal incident" evolving in years tocome for the following reasons:

1) We have already experienced five incidents of childhood cancer in this community. Althoughit was not able to be proven as being the cause, at the time that Marine Shale began burninghazardous waste, the facility was cited for not being in compliance and fined. Unsafeincineration was noted.

2) Over the years, Jack Kent has fought the authorities bitterly and has supposedly upgraded hisprocess to be in compliance, but the fact remains that he came into this parish under the falsepretenses of recycling and was actually burning hazardous waste materials unlawfully andwithout a permit. A former employee of MSP went on record (in an article in our localnewspaper) to state that at various times (at night, for example) MSP has burned materialswithout proper filters and out of compliance with regulations. If Kent's sale to Laidlaw goesthrough, I fear that we will become a dumping ground for hazardous waste from all over thenation and, probably, the world without regard for the environment, safety, or health of ourcommunity.

3) I do not believe that the tests done for the health assessment have been sufficient. Publichealth records should be evaluated for an extended period; local doctors' comments should beconsidered. The long-range effects of air and water contamination could take years to surface. Additionally, tests have been unable to prove that the aggregate which is piled on the side of ourhighway is safe.

4) I fear that the authorities will not be able to monitor MSP weather Jack Kent or Laidlaw ownsit.

Thank you for the efforts that you are making to evaluate this situation here in St. Mary Parishand for considering my comments.


The Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) of ATSDR reviewed the Public HealthAssessment for follow-up health activities. HARP recommended that additional communityhealth investigations be conducted in the area regarding the types of symptoms and diseases inthe population. In addition, the panel recommended that an education program be carried out toadvise local public health professionals of the nature and possible consequences of exposures tocontaminants in the environment. These activities should provide additional information on thehealth of the people in the community.


1. The selection of pollutant species for the ambient air monitoring seems reasonable in that itshould be representative of VOCs associated with incoming feed material; the selection shouldalso contain several substances known to be associated with incomplete combustion (e.g.,chloroform and benzene) (R-30).

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