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Oak Ridge Reservation

Oak Ridge Reservation: Public Health Assessment Work Group

Historical Document

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Public Health Assessment Work Group

November 4, 2002 - Meeting Minutes


ORRHES Members attending:
Bob Craig, Kowetha Davidson, James Lewis, and LC Manley

Public Members attending:
Gordon Blaylock

ATSDR Staff attending:
Burt Cooper, Jack Hanley, Sandy Isaacs, Bill Murray, Jerry Pereira (phone)

Contractor attending:
Gayla Cutler


  1. Minutes from October 21, 2002, meetings - Bob Craig
  2. Update on the Public Health Assessment Project Plan - Sandy Isaacs, Burt Cooper, Jack Hanley
  3. Present Data Sources Used for the Focused Public Health
  4. Assessment on Y- 12 Uranium Releases - Jack Hanley
  5. New business

Purpose: Bob Craig called the meeting to order and welcomed Gayla Cutler to the Oak Ridge Field Office.

Minutes from October 21, 2002 Meeting

Bob Craig asked for comments. No one responded. Kowetha Davidson motioned to approve the minutes and LC Manley seconded the motion. No discussion followed. The October 21, 2002 minutes were unanimously approved.

Update on the Public Health Assessment Project Plan

Presenter: Jack Hanley


Jack Hanley presented an Overview of the Oak Ridge Reservation Public Health Assessment Project Management Plan. However, it is still in draft form because input is wanted from the PHAWG and ORRHES. A focused PHA will be developed for each chemical/topic listed in the overview, i.e., Chemical Screening (Current Exposure and Past Exposure), Y-12 Mercury Releases, PCB releases, TSCA Incinerator, Iodine Evaluation, Evaluate Radiation Doses to Whole Body, Y-12 Uranium Releases, K-25 Uranium Releases, White Oak Creek Releases, and Other Radionuclides (Current Exposure).

The basic steps of the Public Assessment Process are: (refer to overhead)

  1. Exposure Evaluation: Evaluate Environmental Contamination and Identify Exposure Pathways.
  2. Health Effects Evaluation: Conduct screening analysis, identify pathways and substances requiring further evaluation; conduct weight-of-evidence analysis.
  3. Draw public health conclusions.
  4. Recommend public health actions
  5. Prepare public health assessment documents.

Site information will be obtained during steps 1 and 2. Community involvement/ outreach/response to community concerns will be sought throughout the process.

Bob Craig asked about getting a commitment from DOE, EPA, etc., for getting an action plan. LC Manley commented that he has not seen any progress toward undoing the damage done at Scarboro. A lot of data has been collected but no action has resulted. James Lewis remarked that the EPA and “some of the others” do not identify what their charter is. Jack Hanley reminded the group of the three 1999 Public Health Working Group meetings where “We agreed to work with all the groups/agencies in getting done what needs to be done, that the ATSDR will coordinate the efforts of all the agencies.” Sandy Isaacs remarked that, if no follow-up action is needed, this will be stated in PHA. She suggested we go to the agency that should take responsibility for a particular health aspect.

Jack Hanley then explained the “Generic Process for Focused Public Health Assessment” for each contaminant (refer to the overhead). The first step is the assessment. We will give ourselves 90 days for most of the assessments. When we begin the assessment, we will provide a list of references that we plan to use to the PHAWG so they can provide input. If someone has information or data that we could use, we would like to have the data at the beginning of out assessment and not after we complete our assessment. We will always be open to new data. We will determine whether or not it will have an impact on our work. After the initial three (3) months, we will give a verbal presentation of our methods and findings to the PHAWG. The individual PHAWG members can provide comments during the meeting or during the comment time period by filling out forms, e-mails, etc. If people have concerns, they should fill out a concerns form. (Concerns forms are available at the ATSDR Oak Ridge Field Office.) Then ATSDR and the Work Groups can track them. After ATSDR addresses comments from the PHAWG members in the draft PHA, the DOE Classification Review of the draft PHA allows DOE 15 working days to make sure we are not releasing anything we should not be releasing. This is a DOE requirement. The DOE Classification Review and the Internal ATSDR Review will be done concurrently.

In step eight, the draft PHA is mailed to the PHAWG and other agencies. ATSDR will present the written draft PHA to the PHAWG and the PHAWG will have two meetings to develop comments on the draft PHA for the ORRHES to recommend.

James Lewis asked how much time would elapse between “Mail draft PHA to PHAWG/ Agencies,” and “PHAWG Continues Discussion of draft PHA.” The PHAWG/Agencies Comments on draft PHA due in 30 days.

ATSDR will review the comments from the PHAWG/ORRHES and the agencies and prepare a public comment PHA. The public comment PHA is mailed to the ORRHES and public for comments.

Bob Craig stated he thought that “ORRHES and Public Comments Due” is rather late in the project, and that ORRHES does not get the PHA before the public. Kowetha Davidson also expressed concern about a lack of time for ORRHES review. James Lewis voiced concern about communicating with the public.

Jack Hanley used the timeline for the PHA focused on the mercury releases to answer their questions. He said the draft PHA on mercury would be sent to the PHAWG on August 4, 2003. The PHAWG could bring a recommendation to the ORRHES when we present the public comment draft PHA at the November 11, 2003, subcommittee meeting (in response to Kowetha Davidson’s comment). Jack Hanley also said there are four months between the time when the subcommittee sees the public comment draft in November 2003, and when we come back to present the final PHA on mercury to the ORRHES in February 2004.

Hanley continued that the first written draft would be mailed on July 28, 2003, to the PHAWG. They have seven months until February 2004, for the PHAWG to make recommendations to the ORRHES and, if not PHAWG, the ORRHES can make recommendations. Kowetha Davidson expressed concern about the PHAWG’s making official recommendations to ATSDR. Bob Craig suggested making a resolution that PHAWG will present their comments and recommendations to ORRHES. He wants ATSDR to take the PHA directly to ORRHES. Jack Hanley agreed to change the project plan to address her concern and add a step for the PHAWG to develop recommendations for the ORRHES.

James Lewis thinks that, before anything released to the PHAWG, ATSDR should inform ORRHES that the draft will be released to the PHAWG at the preceding subcommittee meeting and add a statement that “PHAWG continues discussion of draft” or that their recommendation go to the subcommittee. He also suggested that, at each ORRHES meeting, the Project Manager summarize the key issues and action items regarding the PHA, including the status of the draft focused PHAs, what draft documents are being released to whom, when, and for what purpose.

Jerry Pereira said the key point from the project management perspective is that ORRHES would be accountable in terms of time frame issues, that ORRHES and the Agency’s “feet are being held to the fire.” PHAWG can bring issues forward to ORRHES. James Lewis commented, “Seven months ago we identified this.”

Jack Hanley referred back to the project plan and said that when the focused PHAs are completed, ATSDR will prepare an executive summary of all of the focused documents. He gave an update on the current screening for chemical exposures that Karl Markiewicz is doing and the tasks to be done and when the work would be presented to the PHAWG.

Present Data Sources Used for the Focused Public Health Assessment on Y- 12 Uranium Releases

Presenter- Jack Hanley

The first focused PHA will be done on Y-12 Uranium releases. He mentioned that EPA was presenting their sampling data and findings from Scarboro. In December 1998, ATSDR told Scarboro community members that once EPA completed their sampling we would evaluate the data. We hope to complete this document relatively quickly.

He stated we’re going to look at Oak Ridge Environmental Information Systems (OREIS) and Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) data, i.e., uranium releases in Scarboro, Woodland, and other areas; all are off-site releases. We are providing a list of references that we will use. Before the next subcommittee meeting, we will give a verbal presentation to the PHAWG on the preliminary assessment. We hope to mail out a document for review before the December 31, 2002, which is the date indicated on the timeline. The draft PHA will be presented to the PHAWG on January 21, 2003. The PHAWG, ORRHES, and the public will have a number of opportunities to present their comments on the document over the next several months.

Gordon Blaylock asked if the uranium releases to water and sediments would be looked at. Jack responded that we will look at air also. The Oak Ridge Health assessment Steering Panel (ORHASP) looked at air releases up to 1995. We will follow up from 1995 to now on the air releases. ORHASP looked at releases to East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) up to 1992 and then estimated releases to 1995. We will fill in the gaps there also. Jack said they did not look at Bear Creek in the Oak Ridge Dose reconstruction (ORDR) but we can pull up that data also and see how far back it goes.

There was discussion about releases from a waste pit on Y-12 that was cleaned up. Jack emphasized that we are concerned only about off-site releases. Bob Craig said the releases now are minimal compared to 10 years ago. Jack Hanley said, when we do K-25, we will see if there was an overlap. When the screening was done for the ORDR, there was minimal overlap on uranium releases from Y-12 and K-25. We will re-examine that issue when we do K-25.

James Lewis said give people key dates for review of the draft documents. Jack Hanley responded that we will put up key target dates for subcommittee meetings and when the PHAWG has to get its recommendations to the subcommittee. The Community Involvement Branch will do this. Bill Murray suggested that this task be assigned to the Communications and Outreach Work Group (COWG).

James Lewis suggested that the “Exposure Evaluation” be put into the Public Health Assessment task completion schedule. This was information laid out in the PHA Guidance Manual. Jack said the agency has a website on the PHA process which is out for public comment. It explains the PHA and will assist community in understanding what we are doing about exposure pathways, etc. Jack said if anyone is interested in where we are going they should check the website.

Bob Craig and Kowetha Davidson discussed using the same format. James Lewis suggested using “Summary Chart” from the Guidance Manual. Jack said we need to put this in a simple display so that everyone will understand it. Kowetha Davidson said to put this up on a calendar.

Jack Hanley explained that after uranium, the next focused PHA will be on mercury. Formats, whether calendars, etc., do not really matter. Jerry Pereira said that, regardless of the format, they all have to have the same information. Bob Craig said the COWG should take on this task.

Jack Hanley said that one key point from tonight’s discussion is that we need a statement in the project plan about the recommendations. Bob Craig emphasized that the PHAWG is not making recommendations but they are communicating with ORRHES who makes the recommendations. This should be our standard operating procedure. Hanley said that there will be procedures for comments and target dates will be established.

Kowetha Davidson wanted to reiterate that the February meeting is the only opportunity to comment. Jack said that was because this document was expedited. Burt Cooper explained that we condensed the time frame to get a document out by the end of 2002 and this time frame is not typical. More review time will be available for future documents. Sandy Isaacs said that this is also related to the EPA sampling program undertaken in 1998.

James Lewis said if this works well, it can serve as an example for the future. Kowetha Davidson said this is an opportunity to see if it works without taking 10 months to find out. Sandy Isaacs said we have the PHAWG “to do” list and that maybe we would want to use this format for the calendar.

Summary of Agenda Item #2: We want to add a statement about PHAWG taking recommendations to ORRHES. Once the dates are locked, discuss dates for PHAWG and ORRHES. We need input from the Communications and Outreach Work Group (COWG). We need a high level process sheet. Burt Cooper said this puts large burden on Jack Hanley, the health assessors, and management to meet these deadlines as well as for PHAWG and ORRHES to meet their schedules. There will be considerable pressure to meet these deadlines. Bob Craig said we asked for it. James Lewis said we have to make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place to complete the work on schedule.

Item #3 on agenda: Jack Hanley went over the sheet “Data Sources used for the Focused Public Health Assess on Y12 Uranium Releases.” He stated OREIS only goes back to about 1994 for the electronic reports and he’s trying to go further back, not just for Scarboro, but for others that we are trying to get information on.

As part of the process, James Lewis said we need to get a list of concerns and issues to publicize what we know and what we don’t know about a particular contaminant. This is part of the generic message we want to give early on when we start our process. We need to summarize as of this date what we know, what the big ticket items are, and what’s been challenged. If your concern is not included, get it in the pot by a given date. This goes back to item #2 and #3 on the agenda. Jack agreed.

Jack Hanley said Florida A&M data put out on the table without explanation and EPA has not released their data about the radiation. He said EPA has not discussed the health issues related to uranium – they are letting ATSDR do that. He plans to attend the EPA meeting in Scarboro. There was more discussion about the EPA data and what they do with it.

Bob Craig suggested that this (uranium PHA) be put on the website, if you have public data about uranium releases get them on the website now. Kowetha Davidson agreed with this. She further stated that a press release should be developed. Bob Craig asked Kowetha to make a resolution announcing that if you have information on uranium say it now or forever hold your peace.

Kowetha Davidson said this should go to the Communications and Outreach Work Group to develop a press release instead of making a resolution. Bill Murray said Paul Parson of the Oak Ridger covered ORRHES/ATSDR work closely. His successor, R. Cathey Daniels has not shown similar interest in our activities. Jack Hanley suggested contacting the editor. Bob Craig said suggested to COWG they invite Ms. Daniels to meet, or go talk to her and bring her up to speed.

Item 4, New Business: Bob Craig asked Gordon Blaylock if Owen Hoffman plans to come to these meetings again, as they are experts in risk assessment.

Jack Hanley said when we look at uranium we will consider SENES when drafting the assessment. James Lewis said we need to get comments in an organized manner so we can deal with them.

Summarize: Passing to COWG (Item#2) they will develop easy way to make a calendar. Also consider recommending to ORRHES and that ORRHES recommend to ATSDR to prepare a press release that they are doing a health assessment and request anybody with information to bring it forward. Also draft a generic press release. Put it on the website. Talk to reporter R. Cathey Daniels at the Oak Ridger.

No further new business. Meeting adjourned at 7:02 p.m. The next meeting will be Nov. 18, 2002. There will be a presentation by a thyroidologist, Dr. Hershman, from Los Angeles. He will be calling in at the Nov. 18, 2002, PHAWG meeting. He is presenting to the entire subcommittee at the ORRHES meeting on December 3, 2002.

(Put on next agenda – put out as an e-mail): What cancer data do the PHAWG want from the TN Dept. of Health Cancer Registry from Toni Bounds.

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