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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Historical Document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

February 7, 2005 - Meeting Minutes


ORRHES Members attending:
George Gartseff (Chair), Bob Craig, Kowetha Davidson, Jeff Hill, David Johnson, Tony Malinauskas, and LC Manley

ATSDR Staff attending:
Loretta Bush (phone), Jack Hanley (phone), Marilyn Palmer (phone), Susan Robinson (phone), Bob Safay, and Bill Taylor

DOE Staff attending:
Tim Joseph

Public Members attending:
Lynne Roberson (phone) and Danny Sanders (phone)

TA Consulting, Inc. (contractor):
Amy Adkins

ERG Contractor:
Liz Bertelsen (phone)


George Gartseff called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was for Bob Safay with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to present the latest version of the Y-12 Uranium Public Health Assessment (PHA) video. The group also heard information about ATSDR's Web site development.

George Gartseff had not reviewed the minutes from the meeting on January 25, 2005, which Bill Taylor had distributed earlier that day. Susan Robinson did not attend the last meeting, but added an addendum to the meeting minutes to address aspects related to ATSDR's Web site development. Her discussion is summarized below. Mr. Gartseff decided to postpone talking about the minutes until the next CCCWG meeting.

Web Site Development Update

Presenter: Susan Robinson, ATSDR

Susan Robinson provided the group with an update. She said that the site had been scheduled for delivery at the end of September or in the first week of October 2004. According to Ms. Robinson, Wilma López, the ATSDR project lead for the Web site, presented the site details to ORRHES during its September 14, 2004, meeting. At this time, some Subcommittee members directed Ms. López to delay the launch until missing minutes from 2003 and 2004 were incorporated into the site. Ms. Robinson explained that it took some time to obtain all of the minutes, but that they were all collected and sent to ERG in late December 2004. In addition, she said that due to the work groups being reconfigured, it also took time to obtain the formal descriptions of the new work groups.

Susan Robinson said that ATSDR expected to launch the site during the week of February 21, 2005. The site would include the minutes and the new work group descriptions. Ms. Robinson said that other related items needed to be discussed (i.e., outstanding issues about adding content to the site), but that they should add an agenda item to a future CCCWG meeting to cover the Web site in more detail. George Gartseff would inform Ms. Robinson if there was room on the next meeting agenda. She wanted the CCCWG to know that a lot of work has been done on the site. She emphasized that the site was not only delayed due to converting files; the site was also delayed because ATSDR was responding to ORRHES members' requests.

Y-12 Uranium PHA Video

Presenter: Bob Safay, ATSDR

Bob Safay said that he and Jack Hanley have been putting a lot of work into the video. Mr. Safay has shown the video to many people at ATSDR and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he has made changes based on their comments. He explained that the video contained some unfinished parts, such as the footage of air monitoring stations. He obtained this footage today, however, and would incorporate it into the next version. In addition, Bill Cibulas had requested that Mr. Safay modify the text in the third section of the video to place a larger emphasis on toxicology. Dr. Cibulas wanted the video to describe how ATSDR derives certain levels and show that ATSDR does more than obtain data and compare it to comparison values (CVs).

Bob Safay said that the video was about 36 minutes long and had three parts that 1) provide an introduction to Oak Ridge, 2) address the Y-12 PHA, and 3) explain data associated with the PHA. The material would be available in a "menu-driven" DVD format with each segment containing its own menu. Videotape versions would also be available. Mr. Safay presented the video to the group between 5:47 and 6:23 pm.

Bob Safay will present the video on February 17, 2005, to senior management at ATSDR and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He thought that the videos were a good idea and that communities use them. He has made videos for EPA that are site-specific for removal actions and emergency response. He said that when EPA has full public meetings, the video is played continuously so that people can see the video and then talk to representatives (e.g., ATSDR, EPA, state officials). He noted that this was the first time ATSDR produced a video for a community, and he wanted to distribute as many videos as possible to the communities surrounding Oak Ridge.

Bob Safay said that a questionnaire would be included when the DVDs are sent to communities. He explained that it is difficult to measure whether people are reviewing the PHAs. He stated that the agency needs a way to measure if it is being effective in disseminating messages to communities. By sending a questionnaire, ATSDR can hopefully determine if it is being effective. He added that a "big lack" has always existed between what the agency knows and what they want the community to know. He believed that the video was a mechanism to deliver messages to the public. Mr. Safay is not in community education, but an ATSDR senior regional representative. Nonetheless, he creates videos so that information can be distributed to communities in a format that they will understand.

Discussion after showing the video

Bob Craig addressed the statement that the atomic bomb was made in Oak Ridge. Dr. Craig said that the bomb was made in Los Alamos not in Oak Ridge, but that fuel for the bomb (especially the Hiroshima bomb) was made there. In addition, Dr. Craig stated that the video discusses iodine 131 in White Oak Creek, which is incorrect. Jack Hanley noted that this would need to be reworded to reflect that the PHA covers iodine 131 from X-10. Dr. Craig also noted that Tim Joseph mentions mercury. Dr. Craig explained that mercury was not there during the war, but that they had a large amount of silver at that time; he said that mercury came in the early 1950s. Dr. Craig suggested that the video indicate when log scale graphs are used so people know how far the levels truly were from the screening limits. Dr. Craig believed that the video was "great," "very clear," and that it "makes the case over and over again."

LC Manley asked if Bob Safay planned to speak with any of the Scarboro children who were studied by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. He thought that it would be beneficial to follow-up on these children who were found to be sick. Mr. Safay would look into obtaining this type of footage. Mr. Manley explained that he knew of one child who was supposedly very sick during the study, but was now one of the better players on the high school football team. He believed that including this type of follow-up in the study could help "get rid of the stigma that Scarboro is a bad place to live."

Tony Malinauskas believed that the comparison of different kinds of doses was helpful, but that "strictly speaking" it was "comparing apples to oranges." He noted that a dose someone receives from an x-ray is not equivalent to doses people living in Denver receive or doses calculated in the Y-12 PHA. Bill Taylor said that these are different kinds of radiation; Dr. Malinauskas concurred. For example, Dr. Malinauskas said that a whole-body dose is completely different than a dose to a specific organ. He thought that a "frame of reference" was needed. Jack Hanley would discuss this with Paul Charp (ATSDR), but he said that Dr. Charp calculated whole-body doses and that the background doses were whole-body doses. Dr. Malinauskas said that this was untrue for x-rays; Mr. Hanley said that this was an exception.

Tony Malinauskas wanted the doses to be put into perspective. Bob Craig believed that having levels for people living in Denver provided a good example, and thought they could possibly remove the x-ray or put it into context. Dr. Malinauskas suggested including "caveats." Dr. Craig believed that this made a strong argument. Kowetha Davidson thought that when most people consider radiation, they are likely to compare doses with those that they would receive from their doctors' offices. She thought it would be helpful to note that the amount of radiation a person would receive is lower than he or she would receive from an x-ray. Dr. Malinauskas said, "But that's wrong."

Jeff Hill stated that the video had to be appropriate for both a lay person and an expert. Bob Craig believed that it made a good comparison for a lay person. Mr. Hill asked why they could not use "simple statements" to discuss whole body versus a target organ. Tim Joseph suggested adding other comparisons, such as using a gas stove inside a house. Tony Malinauskas thought that these types of comparisons would be "more meaningful."

LC Manley asked how they were dealing with alpha versus gamma emitters. He said that they were basically discussing uranium in Scarboro, which was something that would not harm a person until it was ingested "one way or another." Tony Malinauskas asked if roentgen equivalent man (rem) accounted for differences in radiation. Bill Taylor replied, "rem used for whole-body dose takes into account the sensitivities of target tissue and the type of radiation (alpha, beta, and gamma)." He added that the "measure of the exposure is called a dose," but that the "calculation itself is not a dose" as stated in the video.

Jeff Hill said that they first talk about chemical exposure, but that he does not perceive iodine 131 as a chemical. Bob Safay explained that the video discusses radiation and chemical effects. Bill Taylor added that heavy metals, such as uranium, cause chemical effects, which differ from radiation effects.

Jeff Hill was displeased that the video did not indicate that more PHAs would be released and that ATSDR would be looking at the "overall picture." Bob Craig said that this was mentioned in the beginning. Tim Joseph suggested that this be added to the end as well; Jack Hanley agreed. Dr. Craig said that the future PHAs could be categorized by facility.

Kowetha Davidson noted that they say that more PHAs will be released in the beginning of the video; she asked if they would say that additional PHAs would be released or that additional videos would be released at the end of the video. She said that this would make ATSDR commit to producing the videos. Jack Hanley said that they would use "PHAs" in the terminology. Bob Craig said that they should indicate that no problem exists with uranium and that ATSDR will prepare additional PHAs. Jeff Hill feared that if they "disappear," the video would leave the impression that there has never been and never will be a problem in Oak Ridge.

Jack Hanley asked if there should be more videos. Kowetha Davidson believed that ATSDR should release more of them. Mr. Hanley asked if the video was effective in communicating the overall process. Bob Craig replied, "Absolutely."

Tony Malinauskas thought that the local television broadcasts could use the video. Bob Craig said that Channel 12 would "be happy to do it," and added that the Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Association would like the video. Dr. Malinauskas believed Knoxville stations might also be interested.

George Gartseff asked about ATSDR management's review of the video. Bob Safay indicated that Marilyn Palmer, Bill Cibulas, Loretta Bush, and Jack Hanley had seen the video. Mr. Hanley said that Paul Charp had seen it as well. Mr. Safay added that the current video was about 99.9% of how the final product would look. He approximated that 20 people would be reviewing it, including Henry Falk (Director of the National Center for Environmental Health [NCEH]), Tom Sinks's (acting head of ATSDR) deputy, Sherri Berger, Bill Cibulas, and others from NCEH/ATSDR. After Mr. Safay makes changes based on their comments, he could present the video to the CCCWG again.

Jack Hanley asked if the video should be presented at the next ORRHES meeting following management approval. Bob Craig believed that the video should be presented. Kowetha Davidson said that when the video is released at the Subcommittee meeting, it is released to the public. Jeff Hill said that there "may be strong comments" and he would want these comments heard prior to the video's release to the public.

George Gartseff questioned the part of the video that indicates there is no problem. He believed that this was a "departure" from the specific language that ATSDR uses in the Y-12 PHA. He asked if ATSDR's management would object to the language in the video. Jack Hanley explained that the PHA uses the term "no apparent public health hazard." Bob Craig noted that the "apparent" was removed from the language in the video. Mr. Hanley stated that ATSDR has five official health hazard categories. The five categories are: urgent public health hazard, public health hazard, indeterminate public health hazard, no apparent public health hazard, and no public health hazard. Mr. Hanley said that "no apparent public health hazard" means that people had exposures, whereas "no public health hazard" indicates that people had no exposures.

Jeff Hill suggested including these definitions at the end of the video. Jack Hanley appreciated Mr. Hill's comment, but indicated that they were trying to avoid using internal agency language. He said that many ORRHES members have expressed concerns in the past about ATSDR using "government language." Mr. Hanley noted that they could clarify the wording used in the video. He read the section that they were discussing from the script, "Many different scientists and many different studies have concluded that no one has or no one will be harmed by past or current uranium releases from the Y-12 plant." Mr. Hanley said that they would look at this conclusion category to make sure that the document and the video were aligned.

Kowetha Davidson stated that ATSDR could probably say that this "can occur," but that the agency should not say that this could "never" occur based on current levels. Jeff Hill believed that saying "no one has or will" was "strong language." Mr. Hill said that you cannot defend the statement that "no one has," but that they know that "no one should." Bob Craig said that they were referring to the context of the studies. Mr. Hill said that based on the studies, "no one should" be harmed. George Gartseff said that this brought them back to "individual versus public." Dr. Davidson said that this needed to be put into the context of the public; it should not be on an individual level. Jack Hanley said that they would work on this language to make sure that it does not sound as absolute.

Bob Craig said that they did not want to "back off too far" because the "levels are many orders of magnitude below" screening limits. Bill Taylor said that when they speak to the public, they cannot say that something did not and will not cause harm. Jack Hanley summarized the definition of no apparent public health hazard: "People could be or would be exposed, but the levels of exgposure are not expected to result in adverse health effects." Tony Malinauskas told Mr. Hanley not to use the word "apparent." Dr. Taylor indicated that this ATSDR verbiage was covered in the first three questions that Bob Safay asks in the video. He asks the following:

  1. Was uranium released into the environment?
  2. If so, were people in nearby communities exposed to the uranium?
  3. Did exposures occur at levels that could cause health problems?

Kowetha Davidson said that they needed to use "not expected" or similar language. George Gartseff encouraged Jack Hanley and Bob Safay to review the script before showing the video to management to make sure that the wording was "not simplified too strongly," and added that they do not want to mislead the public.

Kowetha Davidson thought that the video was a "great thing." George Gartseff believed the video was much improved since the last time they had seen it.

Jack Hanley discussed the long-term use of the video. He said that summary documents would be available. He added that someone could show parts of the video and hand out supplemental materials at a small group meeting. He noted that specific questions could be captured and provided to ATSDR so that the agency could respond. He indicated that ATSDR is always willing to consider any new relevant material as well. Mr. Hanley believed that the video was a "long-term mechanism" for presenting the material.

Kowetha Davidson thought that people should be able to fill out the questionnaire on line. She also believed that it would be "very effective" to have a video for each PHA, and she envisioned a package of all the PHAs. She wished that there was enough time to have the videos available when the PHAs were released. Bob Safay believed that the feedback received from the community and ORRHES would "go a long way" in having management follow-up on this type of effort.

George Gartseff said that everyone liked the tool. He wanted to ensure, however, that the video did not conflict with Loretta Bush's overall communication plan or vice versa. Jack Hanley said that the video was another tool that the agency could incorporate into the overall communication plan on PHAs.

George Gartseff asked that Bob Safay and Jack Hanley keep the CCCWG abreast of any developments from the management meeting. Mr. Safay reiterated that he would show the video to the committee members before showing it to the public. Mr. Gartseff adjourned the meeting at 7:00 pm.

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