The Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel convened at 7:00 P.M. on April 16, 2002. CAP members present at the meeting were Bud Allen, Kathy Belby, Jane Bullis, Bryan Burke, Judy Chamberlain, Peter Grogan, Lisa Jacob, Andy Mark, Betty Merring, Claude Mitchell, Doug Smyth, and Gary Wassel. Present from RVI were Jim Brandl and Duane Campbell. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross of Holt & Ross. Two guests were also present: Dr. Beecher Zollinger of White Twp. and Toby Hanna of Environmental Resources Management (ERM). Steve Ross reported that Gary Meddaugh had missed the last meeting and this one because he was convalescing from a serious illness.


Jim Brandl suggested some revisions to the draft summary of the February 19, 2002 meeting to clarify items related to the RVI environmental scorecard, the air monitoring Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP 1) and the pediatric asthma epidemiology SEP. The CAP unanimously approved the meeting summary with those revisions.


  1. RVI Status: Jim Brandl reported that there was no news on the intention of the Roche Group, RVI’s parent company, to divest its global Vitamins business, including the Belvidere vitamin manufacturing facility. The Belvidere plant will shut down Vitamin C manufacturing for the three-month period October through December, while inventory backlogs are worked off and lasalocid production is discontinued. During that period a thermal oxidizer will be installed to further reduce the facility’s air emissions, which now fully comply with all applicable permit conditions. In addition, RVI is investigating a new manufacturing process for Vitamin C, which would eliminate the use of toluene and chloroform and the plant’s emission of those two chemicals and methanol. If adopted, this new process would utilize the building where lasalocid is currently produced.
  2. Environmental Scorecard: Duane Campbell provided an update on minor operational incidents at the facility over the past month which had resulted in reports to the NJDEP’s hotline. The hotline report is attached to this meeting summary. In addition, Duane reported the facility’s methanol emissions during the first quarter of 2002 were 25% of the permitted amount, and that emissions of toluene and chloroform were also well within the permitted amounts.


Lisa Jacob reported that she and Cindy Snyder would be presenting the results of their White Township health survey to an open public meeting of their Township Committee on May 2, and would not be presenting the results to the CAP as originally planned. Instead, they will provide Steve Ross with a copy of the written summary of the survey results in advance of the May 2 public meeting, so Steve can distribute it to the CAP members.

Jane Bullis expressed disappointment that the CAP would not have an opportunity to review and comment on the summary prior to its public presentation. Doug Smyth noted that an advance report to and discussion with the CAP would have followed the scientific method more closely, allowing for questions and comments that could be used to prepare the most accurate presentation for the public meeting.

Lisa responded that she and Cindy felt they owed the first report to White Twp. because they had received the support of residents there but had not received the support of the CAP. Steve Ross pointed out that the CAP had agreed to recommend that Roche underwrite the cost of mailing the survey questionnaire to all White Twp. residents if the questionnaire was comparable to the one used by the Belvidere Environmental Commission in the view of an independent health expert, Dr. Clifford Weisel of the Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Institute (EOHSI) of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Lisa noted that the results of her survey were comparable to those of the Belvidere survey. She said she would send a summary of the results to Steve Ross for distribution to the CAP prior to the May 2 public meeting, adding that a copy had already been sent to Dr. Weisel.


SEP 1: Air Monitoring Program

Toby Hanna of ERM reported that three competitive bids had been received from air monitoring vendors in response to the bid proposal issued by Roche Vitamins. All three bids covered the complete list of priorities recommended by the CAP and contained in the Memorandum of Understanding with NJDEP, and all three exceeded the available $550,000-budget for SEP 1, about $100,000 of which has already been consumed, with the proposed budgets ranging between $630,000 and $850,000. None of the proposed budgets would address the preparatory work on which $100,000 has already been spent. Therefore, the CAP needed to review the list of priorities and advise as to what changes to make, so that RVI and ERM could meet with the bidders to clarify their proposed programs and budgets.

The CAP then reviewed and discussed the priority list, agreeing that the monitoring stations on Scotts Mountain (where the highest concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants are expected) and at the Belvidere High School (BHS) were essential, and that those stations should monitor for sulfur dioxide, air toxics, mercury, and fine particulates. The CAP also agreed the meteorological station on Scotts Mountain was critical, so that the source of any air quality problems could be identified, and that, for the same reason, a meteorological station at the high school was also important, especially since the meteorology equipment now at the high school was found to be uncertified and inadequate when visited by NJDEP and ERM. The other monitoring stations on the priority list, at the Warren County complex in White Twp. and at the White Twp. elementary school, were not as critical, since the BHS station is not far from those locations.

Jim Brandl pointed out that the cost of a second meteorological tower would probably exceed the available budget for SEP 1, which would leave three choices: Roche could allocate additional funds, funds could be shifted from one of the other SEPs, most likely the community alert system, or the bidders could be asked to lower their cost proposals. The CAP also suggested an additional option of asking PPL to contribute additional funds toward the cost of a BHS meteorological station, since that tower would help identify the source of any air quality problems at that highly sensitive location and could exonerate – or implicate – PPL from responsibility.

On balance, the CAP recommended that the air monitoring system consist of the two monitoring stations proposed for Scotts Mountain and Belvidere High School, the meteorological station proposed for the former, and if at all possible a second met. tower at the high school.

SEP 2: Pediatric Asthma Epidemiology Study

Jim Brandl said that the last he had heard from Dr. Weiss, one of the Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Institute’s researchers leading this study, was that he was trying to schedule a public forum sometime in May to explain the study to parents of asthmatic children. In addition, EOHSI was planning to begin a pilot program with 10 children this summer to work out all the "bugs" from the planned program in preparation for the launch of the full-scale research project later. However, none of this can begin until EOHSI receives the approval of the Rutgers University Institutional Review Board (IRB) for their study plan. Jane Bullis said that Dr. Weiss had been provided with the contact information he needed for the schools in Harmony, White and Belvidere and that it was important that the IRB’s approval be received soon.

Jim Brandl said he would follow up with Dr. Weiss to see if any further progress had been made.

SEP 3: Community Air Quality Alert System

Jim Brandl reported that the Community Alert Network (CAN) system is operational and is being administered by the Merrill Creek facility rather than the County Office of Emergency Management. The CAN system is now available for use in conjunction with SEP 3. Roche is still researching some implementation issues, including legal liability.

Steve Ross reported on the publicity plan being developed to promote this air quality alert system and recruit "subscribers" from residents of Belvidere, White and Harmony who have asthma and/or other respiratory diseases and want to be alerted when poor air quality is expected. The plan includes mailing information to all residents of the three towns, use of existing information materials on the CAN system, a flyer on the alert system for distribution in the schools and posting in municipal buildings, a brochure for use in the schools so students can bring it home to their parents, advertising in the Belvidere News and River Bend, and distribution of the materials to area retirement communities, physicians, and pharmacies.

The CAP suggested that publicity packets also be provided to the Warren County Office on Aging, the County Medical Society, and Parent-Teacher Organizations.

SEP 4: Airshed Citizens Advisory Panel

Steve Ross reported that EPA Region 3 has agreed to participate in the Airshed CAP and that the invitation letters to federal and state regulators and industrial facilities would be sent out within a week and followed up by phone calls. The letters to the other invitees would be sent out shortly thereafter, with the goal of having the first organizing meeting of the Airshed CAP in June.

The CAP recommended that county medical societies also be invited, along with the Pollution Control Financing Authority, which oversees the Warren County Resource Recovery Facility in Oxford, the town of Oxford, Brockway Plastics and Oxford Textile. However, the CAP also cautioned that it would be best to start with a more limited set of invitations in the first round, and then send out invitations to an expanded group based on the response of the core invitees.


The CAP agreed that the next community outreach initiative should be in the form of an open house that maximized the opportunity for community residents to meet the CAP members, find out about the SEPs and other CAP activities, and talk with CAP members and Roche representatives face-to-face about these and other topics of interest. If possible, this open house should be held in conjunction with the EOHSI public meeting at Belvidere High School on the asthma epidemiology study. Steve Ross was asked to develop a plan for such an open house.

The meeting concluded at 9:37 p.m.