SUMMARY OF 1/30/01 ROCHE VITAMINS CAP MEETING
The business meeting of the revitalized Roche Vitamins Community Assistance Panel convened at 7:00 p.m. on January 30, 2001. Sixteen members were present: Anthony Amato, Rob Aptaker, Jane Bullis, Judy Chamberlain, Peter Grogan, Andy Mark, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Claude Mitchell, John Negri, Frank Nugent, Dorothy Phillips, Doug Smyth, Roy Uhlman, Eric VanHorn, and Gary Wassel. Present from Roche Vitamins were Mike Adams, Duane Campbell and Jim Brandl. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross.
The meeting began with a welcome to the returning and new members of the revitalized CAP from Mike Adams, the plant manager for Roche Vitamins, followed by a round of introductions from each of the meeting participants. Mike then reported on the public meetings held by Roche in December on the status of the facilityís environmental compliance issues. Several CAP members expressed interest in seeing the list of questions asked at those meetings, and the answers developed by Roche. In addition, the CAP recommended that Roche hold a second round of public meetings to respond to the issues raised and provide a status report to the community. Mike suggested that the CAP consider sponsoring such a meeting to reinforce their role as the communityís representative on these issues, and the CAP agreed to consider this suggestion.
Mike also provided the CAP with a status update on those issues, focusing on past, present and expected future emissions of chloroform, toluene and methanol, and technology and process improvements currently under way to minimize such emissions. Chloroform emissions have been significantly reduced already and are expected to fall below permitted levels by March 2001. Toluene emissions are now below permitted levels. The plantís unexpected methanol emissions will be reduced by more than 85% as a result of a system of pollution prevention and pollution control measures now being implemented at the plant. The unanticipated methanol emissions represent a concern for the entire fermentation industry and may be the subject of a national EPA action warning.
The CAP recommended that Roche notify the community when the enhanced pollution control and pollution prevention systems are installed. Mike Adams suggested that the CAP would play a valuable role by reporting to the community on the status of Rocheís environmental improvement program, to reinforce the CAPís role as the ongoing community interface with the plant. He suggested that the CAP could utilize a website Roche would design for this purpose.
In response to a question regarding the health risks of the facilityís emissions, Mike pointed out that Roche had commissioned a health risk assessment by a professional consulting firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), and this firm had concluded that the risks were negligible based on a scientific assessment. This conclusion was corroborated by an independent scientific critique by Dr. Bernard Goldstein, director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, in response to a request by the Easton Express-Times. Mike said he would be receptive to providing the CAP with funds to engage a qualified scientific consultant to conduct an independent peer review of the ERM risk assessment. The CAP suggested that a town-wide meeting on this issue would benefit from an independent presentation of such conclusions by a consultant engaged by the CAP.
The CAP expressed strong interest in expanding its focus to include all industrial facilities with impacts on Warren County, rather than limiting its focus solely to Roche Vitamins. Mike Adams said he would do whatever he could to support the CAP in achieving this expanded focus. The CAP agreed to invite other industrial facilities to participate, including BASF and PPL. Steve Ross noted that the national environmental group Environmental Defense maintained a website called Chemical Scorecard which compiled Toxic Release Inventory and other data available from EPA, and Steve said he would print out information about industrial TRI releases in Warren and Northampton counties as a starting point for the process of identifying industrial facilities of interest.
In discussing a series of items related to the way the CAP should operate, the group agreed to meet monthly, on the fourth Tuesday of each month, to elect a chairperson at its next meeting, on February 27, 2001, and to consider adopting a set of bylaws and a mission statement to guide its future activities. The meeting concluded at 9:15 p.m.
Action items for the future were as follows: