SUMMARY OF 8/16/01 ROCHE VITAMINS CAP MEETING
The Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel convened at 7:00 on August 16, 2001. CAP members present at the meeting were Jane Bullis, Judy Chamberlain, Peter Grogan, Andy Mark, Betty Merring, Dorothy Phillips, Doug Smyth and Erik Van Horn. Present from RVI were Mike Adams, Jim Brandl and Duane Campbell. Also present as guests were Richard Davis of Madison Vector and Richard Vaccaro of ToxSolutions. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross of Holt & Ross.
Approval of June Meeting Summary
The meeting began with approval of the Summary of the July 25 meeting, with a revision noting that the Community Alert Network (CAN) has not yet been implemented and is not yet operated by the Warren County Emergency Management agency. The revised and approved Meeting Summary is attached.
CAP Contacts with Legislators and RVI Status Report
Doug Smyth reported that he had talked with Assemblywoman Connie Myers about the CAPís continued support for the Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) it had recommended to Roche and which Roche had in turn proposed to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Mike Adams reported that the DEP has conceptually approved all of the CAP-recommended SEPs that the agency had taken under advisement (air monitoring station, pediatric asthma epidemiology study, use of the CAN system to notify at-risk residents of unhealthy air quality, and creation of an airshed-wide CAP). The Administrative Consent Order was likely to be concluded in September, following which DEP Assistant Administrator Donald Patterson has agreed to participate in a CAP-sponsored community forum. Doug Smyth said he would convey this information to Assemblywoman Myers.
The CAP briefly discussed a letter that Assemblywoman Myers had received from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services regarding the asthma prevalence findings of the community health survey conducted by the Belvidere Environmental Commission. (The NJDHSS letter is attached to this meeting summary.) In response to the letterís comment that asthma rates in New Jersey are not well documented, Doug Smyth said that asthma rates are typically under-reported and the epidemiology study recommended by the CAP as a SEP would be an important step in getting a better picture. Betty Merring noted that many Warren County residents went to out-of-county hospitals for medical treatment. Jane Bullis pointed out that the letter indicated a fuller response from the state health agency would be forthcoming.
Status Report on Risk Assessment Peer Review
Peter Grogan introduced Richard Vaccaro and Richard Davis, the consultants selected by the CAP to conduct an independent scientific critique of the health risk assessment performed last year by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for the Roche Vitamins facility. Mr. Vaccaro presented a review of ERMís air modeling work and Dr. Davis evaluated ERMís risk assessment findings. (Their presentations and their Peer Review Report are attached to this meeting summary.)
The consultants noted that ERM had not performed a typical risk assessment, which is usually done in conjunction with a permit application and predicts future impacts, rather than impacts from past events. The CAPís peer reviewers identified a number of technical questions and criticisms of the ERM study but found that, in general, the health risk assessment used standard, accepted procedures to calculate a very conservative set of risk estimates that overstated the real risk of Rocheís environmental releases of the toxic chemicals chloroform, toluene and methanol. In response to a question from Doug Smyth, the consultants agreed that while they had raised a number of caveats about the ERM study, their findings supported the studyís conclusion that Rocheís emissions had not caused any harm to the communityís health.
Doug Smyth asked whether the interaction of these emissions with other environmental pollutants, such as ozone, could produce more serious health impacts than those of any of the contaminants individually. Dr. Davis replied that several studies had shown this to be very unlikely and that in general exposure to groups of chemicals isnít any worse than exposure to the most toxic of those chemicals. In the case of Rocheís emissions, the most toxic chemical released was chloroform, which would have produced noticeable public health impacts in the form of liver distress before producing any carcinogenic effects.
Mike Adams noted that this peer review confirmed the findings of a similar evaluation conducted by the New Jersey Department of Protection (NJDEP), which also found the approach and findings of the ERM study to be scientifically valid.
The CAP discussed its tentative plan to host a community forum in October. In view of the uncertainty regarding the final release date of Rocheís ACO with the NJDEP and the availability of school facilities during the October high school football season, the CAP agreed to defer a decision on the date for the forum until its September meeting. At that time the CAP will also discuss implementation of a website.
New CAP Members
The CAP agreed to invite four community residents to join the panel as new members. They are Kathy Belby of Belvidere, a Registered Nurse; Stan Williams of Belvidere, a construction designer; Lisa Jacob of White Township, a member of PURE and a candidate for appointment to the White Twp. Environmental Commission; and Bud Allen of White Twp., President of the Brookfield Homeowners Association. The CAP also agreed to invite PURE member Cindy Snyder, also of White Twp., to serve as Ms. Jacobís alternate and to request that, in view of the number of meetings he has missed, and his expressed interest in continuing as a member, Rob Aptaker designate an alternate who could attend meetings in his absence.
The meeting concluded at 9:55 p.m.