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Oak Ridge Reservation

Community Concerns and Communications Work Group

Historical Document

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Community Concerns and Communications Work Group

November 9, 2004 - Meeting Minutes


ORRHES Members attending:
George Gartseff (Chair), Kowetha Davidson, Karen Galloway, Jeff Hill, David Johnson, and James Lewis

ATSDR Staff attending:
Loretta Bush (phone), Marilyn Palmer (phone), and Bill Taylor

ERG Contractor:
Liz Bertelsen (phone)


George Gartseff called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was to watch and discuss a videotape produced by ATSDR's Bob Safay, who provided the video as an example of a communications tool that could be produced for the Oak Ridge Y-12 Uranium Public Health Assessment (PHA).

George Gartseff asked if the group had a chance to review the meeting minutes from the October 27, 2004, meeting. He noted that Kowetha Davidson had expressed an interest in pursuing the Web site issues, which was not presented in the minutes. Because James Lewis had not reviewed the minutes, Mr. Gartseff tabled a vote to approve the minutes until the next CCCWG meeting.

Overall Comments

George Gartseff encouraged people to bring their ideas "to the table." He believed that if people took ownership of specific issues and kept up with these issues, then the work group would be more effective. He had asked Bill Taylor to send earlier notification about this meeting to hopefully attract a larger number of attendees; however, the same number of people appeared to be present. Mr. Gartseff hoped to make the meetings as informal as possible. He wanted to use these meetings to invite discussion and to develop recommendations for ATSDR in any needed areas.

During the last meeting, Jeff Hill had suggested that a summary of topics covered during the meeting be sent to everyone on the distribution list. He noted that Bill Taylor had prepared and e-mailed a summary after the previous meeting; he thought this worked well and hoped that it continued.

Discussion of the Videotape Entitled "Preserving the History—Ensuring the Future of the Copper Basin"

Facilitator: George Gartseff, Chair

George Gartseff thought that it would be useful to see the videotape documentary—commonly referred to as "Ducktown"—before Bob Safay came to the CCCWG meeting on November 16, 2004. He wanted the group to watch the video and assess how they could apply this type of video to their efforts in Oak Ridge.

Jeff Hill had previously viewed the documentary. After watching the video, Mr. Hill spoke with Bob Safay who emphasized that he had made the product for a particular customer. Thus, the documentary may not be the type of product that they would want for Oak Ridge, but the video matched the specific needs of the subject community. Marilyn Palmer stressed Mr. Hill's comment that this documentary was produced for the Ducktown, Tennessee community, which wanted a video that detailed clean up options and the other content presented. She noted that the community was very "happy" with the product. Ms. Palmer said that Mr. Safay would show a video specific to the Oak Ridge Y-12 Uranium PHA at the November 16, 2004, meeting.

George Gartseff asked if they could watch other videos produced by Bob Safay or if he had only produced the Ducktown video. Marilyn Palmer was unsure, but stated that Mr. Safay had provided this video when asked for a sample of his work. Loretta Bush said that Mr. Safay had not produced additional videos for ATSDR, but that he had conducted extensive work for other federal agencies, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Jeff Hill said that watching the video enabled him to determine what he personally would or would not want in a video for Oak Ridge.

Following this initial discussion, the CCCWG watched the Ducktown video documentary (approximate length was 11 minutes and 35 seconds).

After the video, George Gartseff noted that the documentary contained an overview of the site history, environmental issues, some of the controls in place, and ongoing efforts in the community. He agreed with Jeff Hill's prior comment that the video contained no "real meat," but noted that the video was created early in the process. Mr. Gartseff asked the work group members what they liked and disliked about the video. In addition, he wanted to know what purposes the group hoped to serve with this type of tool, and how they anticipated using a similar video to serve their purposes.

Kowetha Davidson thought that the video had been produced for the lay audience to present the types of information that George Gartseff mentioned (e.g., site history). She did not think that the video provided information for a technical audience. Dr. Davidson noted that it took a long time for these problems to develop, and that there were different facets of community involvement that needed to be addressed in order to try and solve these problems.

George Gartseff noted that they have different audiences who need to see this video. He identified the "audience" as a key issue to resolve with Bob Safay. He asked what the group wanted a video or a series of videos to accomplish, and who they wanted to see the videos. He questioned if they used the Y-12 Uranium PHA as a starting point, whether they would need a "one video fits all" or a number of different videos for various audiences.

David Johnson stated that they needed to target in on audiences (e.g., professional, lay, technical) from different vantage points. In his opinion, they should address audiences with the greatest need and the most significant concern for "enlightenment." He thought that the information should not be "elementary," but be "easily digested." He added that papers and other scientific information could also be used for the more technical audience.

Kowetha Davidson thought that a video for Oak Ridge should focus more on health effects than on environmental restoration.

George Gartseff noted that they are "behind the curve in community involvement" and added that not many people are attending meetings. He said that they have a draft communications plan for the Cancer Incidence Assessment that will be available shortly, but that the assessment would not be released until mid-spring. Mr. Gartseff said that their timeline shows several PHAs coming out, which they have not really communicated. He said that they possibly needed a video to publicize their efforts to the community and increase community involvement—not necessarily publicize their results.

According to George Gartseff, Bill Taylor had noted that Bob Safay could possibly produce multiple videos. Dr. Taylor believed that this was part of the discussion about "next steps" that was taking place in ATSDR's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. He did not think that ATSDR had developed scripts for other videos, and added that planning other videos would depend on the effectiveness of this initial video.

James Lewis thought that the Ducktown video focused primarily on remedial efforts and the history of problems in the community. Based on the Oak Ridge Dose Reconstruction and videos already produced, he said that they still "don't know what's happened." He thought that it was "almost ridiculous" to try and explain what has happened in the community after being here for 3 ½ years. He did not believe that ATSDR had "programmatically defined" its role in the community, and thought that the agency has not been close to defining its role since conducting round table town meetings. During these meetings, Mr. Lewis said that ATSDR raised expectations about addressing health outcome issues in the community and identifying concerns among community members. In the absence of knowing the community's concerns, Mr. Lewis found it difficult to see how ATSDR could attempt to market this type of product.

Jeff Hill wanted to know who hired Bob Safay and about the instructions provided to him. Marilyn Palmer did not know the complete story because she was brought in during the last phase of this process. She said that Mr. Safay was developing the video on his own time in response to an earlier question about producing other videos. She thought that developing additional videos would depend on how receptive the community was to the first video on the Y-12 Uranium PHA. Based on feedback that ATSDR receives, the agency could possibly produce videos for other PHAs. She explained that ATSDR had already produced fact sheets, prepared flyers, and conducted a poster session; this was another avenue to disseminate ATSDR's message to the community. Bill Taylor added to Ms. Palmer's statements. He said that Mr. Safay is an ATSDR employee. He indicated that the idea to produce this video resulted from viewing other videos that were made in the area, such as those detailing East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC). Dr. Taylor noted that these types of videos are communication tools and future videos would depend on how this video is received.

James Lewis assumed that no historical information presented in this manner nor similar type videos were probably available for the Ducktown community. He said that a small community may need these types of items produced, but that they have "enough videos" and products of this nature for Oak Ridge. Mr. Lewis preferred to review already existing videos and curtail them to meet their needs. Bill Taylor, however, pointed out that there is no video already produced for the Y-12 Uranium PHA. Dr. Taylor added that this was a starting point for the video's subject matter, which they would see next week. Jeff Hill asked if they would be able to see the video. Because it was not completed, Dr. Taylor understood that Bob Safay would present clips of the video to the CCCWG at the next meeting; Marilyn Palmer said that Dr. Taylor was correct. Dr. Taylor explained that they have been talking about other means to communicate messages because they are dealing with many groups of people; this video is another way to communicate with the public.

George Gartseff asked if they were reaching the appropriate audiences and a sufficient number of people, and if they were stimulating interest in their activities. Mr. Gartseff noted that Mr. Lewis had brought up "needs." He wanted to know if Mr. Lewis was referring to community needs or that they needed a video to address the community's needs. Mr. Lewis brought up an example of Herman Cember, an ORRHES member, who was unaware of the issues in Scarboro—the community associated with the Y-12 Uranium PHA. Mr. Lewis believed that these concerns, issues, and needs were not conveyed internally. He did not know how they could be effective if they did not know the specific issues and needs of the affected community. He believed that a video should be designed to match these needs. Mr. Lewis mentioned that a video had been developed for Scarboro, but that it never "hit the table." He thought that the attempt to produce a video was "nice," but that he was unsure about the script. Mr. Lewis noted that if ATSDR was trying to support a product that it had produced, then this was fine. However, if ATSDR was trying to support all components of the PHA (as he interpreted them to be), then the video needed to be designed around identifying and addressing the community's issues and needs.

George Gartseff noted that Bill Taylor had used the term "our message." Mr. Gartseff thought that they needed to determine their message. He said that they might have multiple videos, but noted that time and costs were also involved. If they had one video, he wanted to know what the group hoped that the video would accomplish. If more videos are produced at a later time, then they could "fine tune" these as they are released.

Jeff Hill was originally concerned that ATSDR had asked someone to prepare a script and a product without their involvement. He said that they needed to identify their customer, decide what type of product they wanted, choose the message of the video, and determine how to use the video.

Kowetha Davidson thought that they needed to consider the targeted audience in general—not necessarily only the geographical area. She believed that this type of information was not for targeting a small group of people; it was more for informational purposes to reach a large number of people who want to know the history of Oak Ridge, what is occurring now, and ramifications that resulted from past operations. She noted that a 10-minute video would not enable them to cover a large amount of information. If they needed to be comprehensive, then they had to decide how to briefly and succinctly communicate the document's results to the public.

James Lewis commented that they might only be focusing on the components of the PHA that "certain people want to focus on." However, this may not be what the community would like to see in a video. He said that they needed to consider the components of the PHA that would be of most interest to community members. Mr. Lewis believed that an emphasis needed to be placed on health issues because these were of most importance to the community. He said that people want to know, "What does that mean to me in my community." Mr. Lewis said that ATSDR's "attempts to avoid getting to that issue" have caused people to not attend meetings. He said that if ATSDR wanted to reach the audiences with the issues, then ATSDR needed to focus on the issues. He wanted to see an example where ATSDR had gone into a community, focused on the issues, provided a presentation on the public's "core issues," and obtained the community's feedback.

Kowetha Davidson explained that there are two components—exposure and outcome—that cannot be separated. If these were separated, then they would only be telling "half of the story." She noted that the community may want to know outcomes, but that they had to show the exposures and the outcomes. She said that they had to be honest with the community and could not "mislead the public" in any way. She pointed out that they cannot let people think that they are making a connection if a connection cannot be made.

James Lewis brought up effective communications. He thought that sometimes people were so interested in accuracy that they never "communicate anything to the community." Mr. Lewis thought that there was an art to balancing these two components. He said that ATSDR was "continuing to protect, hide, and not face key components." He said that it was "sometimes a given that people feel they've been exposed," but that ATSDR needed to deal with these health issues.

Kowetha Davidson reiterated that they had to "focus on accuracy." They needed to communicate with the public, but they "do not want to communicate wrong information."

James Lewis said that it was an "insult to the community" when sensitive information is not presented to lay people because it is thought that they would not understand the data. He thought that the numbers should be shown and that the results should be explained to the community.

George Gartseff did not believe that James Lewis and Kowetha Davidson were expressing opposite points of view. He heard that they needed to be upfront with the community about their activities. He summarized that Dr. Davidson believed that they could address the needs when they have the facts and evidence to support responses. However, when data are unavailable, then they are unable to draw conclusions to respond to the issues. Mr. Gartseff hoped that ATSDR would help them communicate the missing pieces of information. He believed that Mr. Lewis wanted the community's perspective represented in the video.

James Lewis wanted to know ATSDR's perspective, expectations for this effort, and its targeted audience. He also wanted to know the content and focus of the script. He thought that ATSDR should present this information to them directly and not discuss these aspects in "generalities." George Gartseff suggested that Mr. Lewis bring these questions to the next meeting and discuss them with Bob Safay.

Bill Taylor said that ATSDR staff are currently. Until this point, the script was an entirely internal effort. Dr. Taylor noted that Jack Hanley and other ATSDR staff were providing input on the script and working on a script with Bob Safay.

Jeff Hill hoped that ATSDR is hearing the message that they want to be a part of the process. He does not want the agency to bring them a completed product. Bill Taylor hoped that ATSDR staff participating in this effort will hear the message as well.

Kowetha Davidson thought that they would be reviewing the materials that Bob Safay had produced during the next meeting. James Lewis thought that it would have been beneficial to have received the script prior to tonight's meeting. He added that this displayed "questionable management practices." Jeff Hill hoped that the script was still in the development phase. Bill Taylor believed that the script was still being produced.

George Gartseff was unaware that a product was in process until this meeting. He heard three main issues among the group: 1) audience is key, 2) audiences' concerns need to be addressed, and 3) accuracy of information has to be present. He asked the group what they wanted the video to communicate. He pointed out that the needs assessment "resulted in nothing." He noted that with this history, it was difficult to convey to the community that they are "on top of things" and addressing their needs.

David Johnson pointed out that they were hearing about a product that was already being produced. He read from ATSDR's statement of values, noting references to "service" and "trust." Mr. Johnson read the following description related to service: "We pledge to understand and meet the needs of our stakeholders," and the following related to trust: "We commit to being honest and ethical in all our communications and actions." Mr. Johnson believed that ATSDR "seldom truly implemented" these values. He noted that ATSDR has a "sorted past" and is now a "seven-headed monster." He believed that ATSDR needed to factor in these intangibles (e.g., trust) when conducting outreach efforts.

James Lewis said that many people believe that community concerns are data and that they needed to assure that they captured these concerns. He added that the absence of these data may determine if the community accepts the information presented in the PHA. Kowetha Davidson asked if they wanted to discuss general concerns or concerns specific to the Y-12 Uranium PHA. George Gartseff pointed out that the Ducktown video did not address community concerns, but presented an overview of environmental issues. He wondered if they should "interview the man on the street," use a "top 10 list," or utilize a combination of these tactics.

Marilyn Palmer thought that the group was raising good points and said that she would talk to Bob Safay about their concerns during the following week. She explained that she had seen a small part of a draft script late last week, but that the script would be different than what she had seen. Ms. Palmer noted that ATSDR's writers and editors had reviewed the draft script. She had not formed an opinion of the script, and thought that it was difficult to interpret the script and its message without the corresponding video footage.

George Gartseff suggested that Marilyn Palmer warn Bob Safay that they would be bringing up these questions. They would want to discuss concepts pertaining to the audience, the content, and issues presented in the video. He added that any advance information would be helpful to the group.

James Lewis wanted to point out that a product was being developed and a draft script was being prepared; however, the work group had not provided any input to ATSDR. He thought that this showed "something about how they operate." He asked if ATSDR thought that people would return to meetings after hearing the way this situation was handled.

Kowetha Davidson did not mind nor view it in a negative manner that they had not seen a script up to this point. In fact, Dr. Davidson stated that she was unfamiliar with video production and wanted a prototype to examine and critique. She noted that they could not provide advice unless they had something to evaluate. Jeff Hill agreed if ATSDR's intent was to show them a draft. Dr. Davidson thought that it would eliminate bias since they were not reviewing a product before Bob Safay was able to explain the concepts behind the material. James Lewis thought that a draft or outline should be submitted to the group beforehand.

Loretta Bush was listening to the work group's dialogue, which primarily concerned community involvement issues. Ms. Bush did not want to "add any fuel ... to the fire," but she wanted the group to know that she was unaware that a video was being produced until she read the last meeting minutes. She noted that she has asked many of the same questions that have been brought up by the work group, but she did not have any of the facts. She was unsure who requested the information. Jeff Hill and David Johnson thanked Ms. Bush for sharing her comments with them.

Karen Galloway asked if ATSDR will prepare one video for the Y-12 Uranium PHA, and then based on how this document is received, prepare other videos for additional PHAs. Bill Taylor replied that producing more videos will depend on a number of factors. He said that if ATSDR was releasing three PHAs simultaneously, then they may not have separate videos for all of the PHAs. Ms. Galloway asked if these would be done based on geographical area or contaminants affecting the same area. Dr. Taylor was unsure; however, the Y-12 Uranium PHA is the focus and subject matter for the video currently being produced. Ms. Galloway said that focusing on all contaminants that affected a particular community might be a more beneficial approach than focusing on each PHA. She thought that ATSDR should consider focusing on community risks rather than risks from individual contaminants. Dr. Taylor explained that the original concept was to identify a different tool to communicate the results of the Y-12 Uranium PHA.

George Gartseff wanted to condense the different concepts into a manageable format for the video. He agreed with Kowetha Davidson that it would be helpful to begin with a prototype, but he hoped that it was not nearly completed. He said that the group would be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the video during next week's meeting. Mr. Gartseff thought that they could use a video for different purposes, but was unsure if a PHA-specific video was the appropriate strategy.

James Lewis commended Susan Robinson (ATSDR) on how she worked with the former Communications and Outreach Work Group (COWG) on the Web site restructuring effort. Mr. Lewis said that Ms. Robinson did a wonderful job presenting the information to the group, obtaining the work group members' input, and providing feedback to the group. He suggested that people refer back to the meeting minutes because Ms. Robinson's approach should be a template for handling these efforts.

George Gartseff thought that James Lewis had a good idea to integrate the video and other tools, such as the Web site. Mr. Lewis appreciated these comments, but said that they needed to go back and review the minutes to see what the previous discussions entailed. Karen Galloway liked the idea of integrating the various tools. Kowetha Davidson was unclear on how a 10-minute video could be integrated into a Web site. Ms. Galloway explained that they were recommending integrating the concepts that were applied to the Web site, such as suggesting information that should be easily accessible and presented initially on the site. Mr. Lewis also noted that a pictorial summary of all of the facts should be extracted from the Web site. He believed that the Web site and the video should contain corresponding information.

Marilyn Palmer would forward the COWG meeting minutes to Bob Safay and other concerns expressed during this meeting. She noted that the former COWG had made good suggestions for the Web site and the layout of the site. James Lewis noted that the site may not be up-to-date. Karen Galloway suggested talking to Susan Robinson because she may not have updated the site, but would have the recent information.

George Gartseff said that the group would appreciate receiving materials and knowing what Bob Safay would be bringing in advance of the next meeting. If he had a script beforehand, then Mr. Gartseff wanted them to see it. He believed that there were several broad needs that ATSDR had to address; however, he was hearing that people were concerned that ATSDR would not address these needs at this state in the process.

George Gartseff adjourned the meeting at 7:00 pm.

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