The Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel convened at 7:00 P.M. on June 18, 2002. CAP members present at the meeting were Bud Allen, Kathy Belby, Jane Bullis, Pete Grogan, Mike Grossman, Andy Mark, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Totsy Phillips, Cindy Snyder, Gary Wassell, Stan Wilkins and Beecher Zollinger. Present from RVI was Duane Campbell. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross of Holt & Ross.


The CAP unanimously approved the May 2002 meeting summary.


The CAP discussed the results of the June 17 open house that they hosted at the Belvidere High School. The direct mail campaign to Belvidere and White Twp. failed to reach many residents. Steve Ross noted that about 60 people attended, in addition to CAP members and Roche participants. This was roughly comparable to the number that attended last year’s CAP-sponsored community forum, which utilized advertising in the River Bend.

In response to expressions of disappointment about attendance at the open house, Mike Grossman noted that during his recent campaign for the White Twp. Committee he found that the issues involved in Roche’s environmental compliance were no longer of as much concern to residents as they once had been.

Bud Allen said he thought it was inappropriate for Roche to have had a display focused on its products, the “commercial” nature of which was out of keeping with the information the event was intended to communicate about the CAP’s activities and the issues it was working on. Since there is already confusion in the community about the distinction between Roche and the CAP members, it will be important in future to help emphasize the CAP’s independence by preserving some separation between the citizen volunteers working on the CAP and Roche.

In discussing other ways that the CAP could inform residents about its activities Steve Ross suggested that an exhibit at the County Fair might be worthwhile. However, after discussion it became clear that the event was attended by large numbers of people from outside the area and would entail a substantial effort by CAP members to assure staffing at the exhibit during the Fair.

Stan Wilkins suggested the CAP revisit the idea of having meetings away from Roche’s site. Gary Meddaugh suggested that meetings continue at Roche during the summer, since many public facilities are unavailable during that time, and that offsite meetings begin in the fall. Betty Merring reminded the CAP that before its reactivation in 2001, the Panel used to invite a high school student to participate, which may be a practice worth resuming.

Steve Ross said he would work with Roche to identify alternate facilities such as a local library, municipal building or school.


Stan Wilkins suggested that if the University of Medicine & Dentistry (UMDNJ) researchers doing the adolescent asthma study were having trouble recruiting the ten or so students needed for their pilot study, CAP members could help by contacting residents they know who have asthmatic children and suggesting that they enroll.

The CAP agreed this was a good idea and Dr. Zollinger said that residents interested in enrolling could contact him and he would put them in touch with Dr. Weiss or Dr. Weisel at UMDNJ.

Betty Merring suggested that the Belvidere and White Twp. Environmental Commissions could help by urging local merchants to donate merchandise that could be given as rewards to children who participate.

The CAP then discussed ways to maximize community awareness of the asthma study and how to participate. The Panel agreed that information about the study, including the UMDNJ-developed survey form, be included in the packet handed out to all students during the first week of school. This should be preceded by inclusion of study information in the late summer mailing that the high school sends to parents.

Kathy Belby suggested that there be a moderator for the next UMDNJ public meeting on the asthma study, which will probably be in September, to assure that the meeting isn’t dominated by a few residents who focus on questions that are off-topic.

Pete Grogan reported that the chairman of the Warren County Environmental Commission was concerned that there was an apparent conflict of interest in UMDNJ’s conduct of the asthma study because Roche was a corporate contributor to the University. Stan Wilkins responded that the asthma study was more related to power plant emissions than Roche’s operations and he didn’t see any conflict of interest. The CAP members agreed that they saw no conflict of interest.


Duane Campbell reported that EnviroPlan, a New Jersey-based firm, had been selected as the vendor for the air monitoring program. Not only are they highly qualified, they were also the low bidder. Nevertheless, the budget they submitted indicated that there would be shortfall of about $80,000 in the funds available to support the SEP 1 program recommended by the CAP, including three air monitoring stations (at the Belvidere High School, Scotts Mountain and Warren County municipal complex near Country View Village) and two meteorological towers. While construction of the air monitoring system was expected to begin in late July, installation of a meteorological station at the high school may require Planning Board approval, which could introduce some delay.

Roche believes there is enough funding in the SEP 3 budget for the community alert program to make up the shortfall while leaving enough money to fund a viable alert system. Duane explained that money for SEP 3 could be saved by reducing administrative costs, such as the full-time employee covered by the budget, who could be replaced by a Roche employee, and by finding a way to focus the alert system on residents of Belvidere, White Twp. and Harmony. While a method had not yet been developed to define a “bad air day” beyond the already available ozone warnings reported by the news media, Duane noted that NJDEP was working on a way to combine projected pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide and others in some kind of pollution index. Gary Wassell said SEP 3 would be very important if such an index was developed, but if not it would merely duplicate what is already available.

Recognizing that this needed to be resolved before the July 16 CAP meeting in order for the air monitoring program to begin in a timely way, after some discussion the CAP designated Gary Meddaugh and Gary Wassell to serve as a subcommittee to meet with Roche to discuss how and whether the SEP 3 budget could help fund the air monitoring program while also supporting a viable community alert system for use when air quality is expected to be unhealthy.

Betty Merring suggested that PPL be asked to contribute additional funding, since part of the shortfall was needed to fund the meteorological tower at the high school, which would help identify the source of any pollutants. Bud Allen said that as a member of the Martins Creek Plant Advisory Committee he was in frequent communication with Tom Eppehimer, the Plant Manager, and he would send Tom an email conveying that request.


Steve Ross reported that after the May CAP meeting, Roche had requested that he facilitate the scheduling of a meeting of CAP representatives and the sponsors of the White Twp. health survey with medical and health experts to discuss appropriate next steps regarding the survey’s results on cancer prevalence. After discussions with Jane Bullis, Dave Pritchard, Lisa Jacob, Claude Mitchell, and Drs. Zollinger and Weiss, Steve had succeeded in scheduling a meeting of all parties on June 10.

At that meeting, the health experts (John Hawk and Claude Mitchell of the County Health Dept., Dr. Zollinger of White Twp., and Dr. Weiss of UMDNJ) had agreed that the appropriate next step was to analyze further the data collected by the survey to determine if the demographics of respondents reflected the demographics of the Township and the state for such factors as age and length of residence. The survey sponsors were to provide the Health Dept. with their computer data and the Department would undertake the additional analysis. Cindy Snyder reported that she had not yet had a chance to make the data available.


Duane Campbell reported that in the past month Roche had emitted small amounts of methanol below the allowable rate due to equipment problems.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.