Summary of June 2003 Meeting of Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel

The Community Advisory Panel working with Roche Vitamins met on June 17, 2003.  The meeting convened at 7:00 p.m. and was attended by Advisory Panel members and alternates Bud Allen, Kathy Belby, Judy Chamberlain, Peter Grogan, Andy Mark, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Totsy Phillips, Doug Smyth, Joe Venesky, Stan Wilkins and Dr. Beecher Zollinger.  Mike Adams and Jim Brandl attended for Roche Vitamins.  Dr. Stanley Weiss of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey attended as a guest. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross.

Approval of May 2003 Meeting Summary

The Panel approved the summary of their joint meeting in May with the Warren-Northampton Regional Air Quality Advisory Panel (AirQAP).

Update on Schedule of Random Air Monitoring Samples

Gary Meddaugh asked Panel members to contact the Warren County Air Monitoring Program (WCAMP) contractor, Enviroplan, early in the month that they were responsible for selecting a random sampling date for volatile organic compound monitoring.  Due to the unavailability of Andy Mark, whose turn it was in June, Chairman Meddaugh picked the random sampling days for June and July.  Betty Merring will select the date for August.

Comments on Joint Meeting with AirQAP

Doug Smyth thought it was valuable to have the opportunity to hear the views of regulators, especially the NJDEP representative, on air quality issues of public concern.  He now has a better understanding of their position.  Joe Venesky, Doug Smyth and Stan Wilkins asked whether the AirQAP will be looking at all sources of air pollution, including diesel exhaust from machinery, in evaluating the causes of any air quality problems revealed by the monitoring program and Steve Ross responded affirmatively.

ISO 14001 Registration for Belvidere Plant

Jim Brandl reported that Roche Vitamins has an Environmental Management System that sets procedures for collecting data and utilizing the results.  This will be the basis for seeking registration under the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) 14001.  Jim explained that ISO has been in existence for about 15 years, since the beginning of industry’s focus on Quality.  ISO certification signifies compliance with international standards of quality that are independently audited, based on the premise that a validated quality process will insure quality in the end product and the process for delivering that product. 


The first of the quality standards was ISO 9000.  In the last five years or so, a new environmental standard of quality, ISO 14000, has been developed.  Certification in this case assures achievement of a well-defined level of environmental performance.  There has been worldwide interest by suppliers, customers and other key stakeholders in certified achievement of these quality standards.  Therefore, all of RVI’s major facilities are applying for such certification.  This entails a very rigorous, intensive process.  As part of it, the Belvidere plant will be audited by a four-man ISO team on July 21-23, 2003 to recertify the facility’s ISO 9000 compliance and certify it under ISO 14001. 


Jim distributed RVI’s Environmental Policy to the Panel members.  It provides that:


·        The company will run the plant only if it is in full compliance with environmental requirements.

·        Environmental goals must be met and will be factored into the performance ratings of all plant management personnel.

·        The company will maintain a comprehensive training program.

·        Continuous improvement is a permanent objective.

·        The company is fully committed to the chemical industry’s Responsible Care initiative, which the CAP is part of, and Pollution Prevention Code.


Pete Grogan asked how many environmental professionals are employed at the plant.  Jim replied that there were ten full-time people, but everyone in the plant has well-defined responsibilities for safety and environmental performance.  For example, every process engineer has responsibility for specified air vents and for the performance of those vents.

Status of Supplemental Environmental Projects

Jim Brandl reported that Pennsylvania DEP has been asked to supply Northampton County data on VOCs, sulfur dioxide and fine particulates using the same format as the WCAMP, so this information can be incorporated into the monthly summary reports on WCAMP results, which will be posted on the AirQAP’s website. 


Bud Allen said that the members of the AirQAP’s Benchmarks Committee were frustrated that it’s taken so long to resolve the design of those summaries, but he noted that only five months of data have been collected to date and only two requests from members of the public have been received so far.  People who request the data before the summary formats are completed will be provided with the full monthly reports compiled by Enviroplan.  Mike Adams said he wished the data could have been made publicly available much sooner, since air quality has been a community concern and citizens have a right to see the data.  Bud noted that NJDEP will have to validate the Enviroplan process for preparing the monthly summaries to certify its accuracy.


Bud reported that PPL plans on issuing their analysis of the data collected to date, which will be limited due to its reliance on only five months of data.  He was critical of PPL’s news release on the company’s settlement with NJDEP regarding its Martins Creek Plant, which did refer to the AirQAP and which drew conclusions based on the limited SO2 data collected so far by the WCAMP.  Bud noted that the AirQAP has asked PPL not to refer to the AirQAP if and when the company issues its own analysis of theWCAMP data.


Jim Brandl said that NJDEP had audited the WCAMP monitoring stations and found that the equipment was performing very well.


The discussion then turned to the status of SEP 3, the community alerting system.  The CAP agreed unanimously that this SEP was no longer relevant, since it could not accomplish its original purpose of utilizing the WCAMP data as the basis for warning at-risk residents when “bad air days” are predicted.  Instead, any warnings would have to be based on the state’s existing ozone alert system, thereby making SEP 3 superfluous.  Therefore, the CAP recommended that the funds remaining in SEP 3 be reallocated among SEPs 1, 2 and 4.  The CAP agreed that Chairman Meddaugh should send a letter to Roche and NJDEP confirming this recommendation in writing.  The CAP also agreed that at its July meeting it will discuss additional input on how the SEP 3 funds should be allocated among the remaining SEPs.


Dr. Weiss then reported on the status of the SEP 2 asthma study.  He noted that he was sending a letter to principals and school nurses thanking them for their support and asked whether the CAP would like to join him in sending that letter.  The Panel agreed that Chairman Meddaugh should send a similar letter of thanks to principals and nurses.


Dr. Weiss said that analysis of the data submitted by study participants would begin right away, after having gone through a laborious process of analysis and reporting.   It will take at least three months to develop preliminary results, which must first be submitted to NJDEP for quality control purposes before UMDNJ can finalize its analysis.


Dr. Weiss pointed out that one of the unexpected findings of the study was that many Warren County asthmatics are asymptomatic, due to their use of medications to control their condition.  The study has shown that there are very few severe asthmatics in the area.  Analyzing the role of air quality in exacerbating the conditions of the area’s asthmatics will be very time-consuming.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 P.M.