SUMMARY OF MAY 21, 2002 ROCHE CAP MEETING
The Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel convened at 7:00 P.M. on May 21, 2002. CAP members present at the meeting were Bud Allen, Kathy Belby, Jane Bullis, Judy Chamberlain, Lisa Jacob, Andy Mark, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Totsy Phillips, Dave Pritchard, Doug Smyth, and Stan Wilkins. Present from RVI were Mike Adams, Jim Brandl, Paul Minehart and Ron Gurczynski. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross of Holt & Ross. One guest was also present: Dr. Stanley Weiss of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).
1. APPROVAL OF APRIL 2002 MEETING SUMMARY
The CAP unanimously approved the April 2002 meeting summary.
2. NEW CAP MEMBERS
Steve Ross reported that Dr. Beecher Zollinger, the physician on call at the White Township Consolidated School, had asked to become a CAP member. Dr. Zollinger, a White Twp. resident who is retired from private practice, has attended several CAP meetings recently and has been helping the team of health experts from the Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Institute (EOHSI), UMDNJ and Rutgers University in their preparations for the asthma epidemiology study of schoolchildren (Supplemental Environmental Project #2). The CAP unanimously agreed to accept Dr. Zollinger’s request and welcome him as a new CAP member.
Steve also reported that Dave Pritchard had identified the need to replace Eric Van Horn as his alternate, since Eric is no longer a member of the White Twp. Environmental Commission (WTEC), which Dave represents. Dave’s new alternate is Mike Grossman, Chairman of the WTEC.
3. CAP COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAM
Steve Ross reported that the CAP’s website is now up and running and can be visited at www.rochecap.com. Bud Allen noted that his attempts to visit the website had been unsuccessful and that he had connected with the website of a CAP for a Roche facility in Colorado when he attempted to use that web address. Nobody else reported a similar problem. The Roche representatives said they would look into the problem.
It was pointed out that the website’s background discussion of the CAP’s history failed to note that the CAP held meetings in 1999, and Steve said he would see that this is corrected.
CAP Open House
The CAP reviewed a draft plan developed by Steve Ross for the Open House that will be held at the Belvidere High School in conjunction with the community meeting on SEP 2 that Dr. Stan Weiss and Dr. Clifford Weisel will be conducting in the school’s auditorium. Those events are now scheduled for Monday, June 17. The CAP agreed the open house should be held in the school cafeteria, which is adjacent to the auditorium, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., when the SEP 2 meeting will begin. Roche agreed to underwrite the cost of publicizing and promoting the open house by way of a mailing to all residents of Belvidere and White Twp. Doug Smith, Dave Pritchard and Gary Meddaugh reported that they had schedule conflicts on June 17 and would not be able to participate.
Dr. Weiss said that the students from Hope Twp. who attend Belvidere High School (10-20 at most) would be able to enroll in the asthma study if they wish; their data could be tracked separately and they would gain the benefits of the education on asthma that will be part of the program. He asked how to track students who attended private or parochial school, or who received home schooling. Mike Adams suggested that direct mail to all residents would be a good way to reach everyone, regardless of where the children went to school.
Steve Ross said he would coordinate with Roche and CAP members on the materials and people needed at each of the open house’s information stations.
4. WHITE TWP. COMMUNITY HEALTH SURVEY
Lisa Jacob summarized the results as they were presented to a public meeting of the White Twp. Committee, and distributed copies of the abstract and related charts to those who hadn’t already received them. She reported that the information would be passed on to Drs. Weiss, Zollinger and Weisel, so they could advise on what the next steps should be.
Jane Bullis noted that the study had elicited a significant amount of community concern about what should be done next and she expressed disappointment that no information had been presented to the Township Committee about the relevant steps that were being taken as a result of the activities of the Roche CAP, particularly the asthma study (SEP 2) and the community alert system for at-risk residents with respiratory ailments (SEP 3). Jane felt that, as CAP participants, Lisa and Cindy Snyder had an obligation to use that public meeting as an opportunity to mention those projects, so the public would have some sense of what was being done to address health concerns.
Bud Allen disagreed, noting that the Belvidere Environmental Commission’s health survey had also been done independent of the CAP, as had the White Twp. survey. In addition, Bud said many people in the community have a poor understanding of the CAP, in some cases thinking that CAP members are Roche employees.
Jane pointed out that the Belvidere survey had been launched before the CAP had been reactivated, unlike the White Twp. survey, which had actually sought CAP support. Steve Ross pointed out that Bud was not a CAP member at that time and Steve reviewed the evolution of the CAP’s consideration of the request that the CAP support the White Twp. survey. The CAP had made several suggestions on revisions to the draft questionnaire, as had Dr. Weisel, and the CAP had recommended that Roche pay for the costs involved in mailing out the survey if the questionnaire was consistent with the one used by Belvidere, so the results of the two surveys could be compared. Some, but not all, recommended changes were made to the questionnaire, and in the end Roche did pay for the mailing.
Dr. Weiss pointed out that the White Twp. survey collected data on the “prevalence” of health problems, which is different than data on the “incidence” of health problems, the latter being more scientifically accurate. He noted that Dr. Zollinger had pointed out that the accuracy and implications of the asthma data raised some concerns, as it showed there was more asthma at the high school level than at the grade or middle school level. Many children outgrow their asthma, and one would expect to see the rate decline as the kids get older.
As a cancer expert, Dr. Weiss said he was aware that the prevalence rate in the U.S. was about 3%. Noting that more than half of the Township’s residents had not responded to the survey, he said that in his experience health survey non-respondents tend not to do so because they are healthy, which would reduce the prevalence rate found by the survey when projected to the entire town. In addition, if cosmetic skin cancers were eliminated, along with people with multiple cancers (who could otherwise be counted twice), then the reported cancer rate would be reduced even further
Dr. Weiss emphasized that his comments were merely preliminary and based on his knowledge and experience, rather than on any independent study of his own. He recommended that the survey results be analyzed further, so that the appropriate medically justified followup steps could be taken to determine if they were indicative of a real problem or if they were actually indicative of cancer rates that are typical of New Jersey and the nation.
Jane Bullis strongly urged that Lisa’s PURE group inform the community about Dr. Weiss’s preliminary comments so that residents not jump to false conclusions about health issues. Bud Allen said PURE is not responsible for telling the CAP’s story and he noted that the White Twp. Environmental Commission had accepted the health survey as a starting point. Dr. Weiss said that he would need university approval in order to do any independent research as followup to the survey, but that he was able to provide comments and suggestions based on his review of the data collected so far. Gary Meddaugh suggested that the right next step was to begin collecting air monitoring data; if no harmful pollutants were found, then air quality could be disqualified as a factor in community health impacts.
Steve Ross noted that as CAP members, Cindy and Lisa did have a responsibility, as did all CAP members, to report back to their constituents on what the CAP was doing to address community concerns and issues. Steve also pointed out that everyone seemed in agreement that some followup was needed to the White Twp. health survey and that health experts needed to be involved in identifying what that followup should be. Lisa said she was planning on doing such followup.
5. SEP 4: REGIONAL AIRSHED CITIZENS ADVISORY PANEL
Steve Ross reported that Regions 2 and 3 of EPA and the PADEP had agreed to participate in the Airshed CAP, as had RVI, PPL and Nature’s Choice. In addition, invitations had gone to the NJDEP, NJ Chapters of the Sierra Club and American Lung Association, the municipal and county environmental commissions, business community, medical societies and other industrial facilities. Jane Bullis commented that the response seemed quite impressive and that the Airshed CAP would provide a unique opportunity for all of those diverse stakeholders to sit down together to discuss air quality issues.
6. SEP 1 UPDATE: AIR MONITORING PROGRAM STATUS
Jim Brandl reported that negotiations continued with the vendors who had responded to the air monitoring bid proposal and that contract discussions had resolved the funding and inclusion of everything except the fourth air monitoring station (at the County complex in White Twp.) and the second monitor for fine particulates (PM 2.5).
7. ROCHE VITAMINS ENVIRONMENTAL SCORECARD
Jim Brandl reported that due to equipment maintenance issues in the last month emissions concentrations and/or other system requirements had been exceeded in some cases, but in no case had emissions limits been exceeded. Some of these incidents were related to a power failure in Belvidere, which had led to a plant-wide power disruption while RVI shifted from the power grid to its on-site cogeneration plan to meet its power needs.
Jim said that Roche was now ready to retire emissions credits permanently and asked if the CAP thought it would be appropriate to do this in a ceremony involving the mayors of Belvidere and White Twp. as part of a CAP meeting. The CAP unanimously agreed, and recommended that a fact sheet on this matter be included as part of the handout materials at the June 17 open house.
Jim also reported that EPA was expected to impose a fine of $219,000 on RVI soon, for paperwork violations related to refrigerant maintenance records and notification to EPA of construction of the cogeneration plant. RVI had notified the NJDEP of the plant’s construction start and mistakenly assumed that was sufficient. In addition, the company had failed to seek a permit exemption for its use of natural gas as the main fuel for the facility. Even though this fuel was much less polluting than its oil-based alternative, the facility needed an exemption from the reporting requirement for nitrogen emissions, despite the fact that nitrogen oxide emissions would be far lower than the permit allowed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:55 p.m.