Summary of September 2003 Meeting of Roche Vitamins Community Advisory Panel

The Community Advisory Panel working with Roche Vitamins met on September 16, 2003.  Present at the meeting were Bud Allen, Jane Bullis, Peter Grogan, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Stan Wilkins and Dr. Zollinger.  Jim Brandl was present from RVI.  Larry Koehler of RVI was present as a guest. The meeting was facilitated by Steve Ross.    

Chairman’s Report

The meeting began at 7:10 p.m.  Gary Meddaugh reported that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has sent letters to the school boards, principals and nurses that supported the adolescent asthma study.  Gary recommended that the CAP recognize the contributions Kathy Belby made to the study.


Gary also reported that he had spoken with the White Twp. resident who had complained about odors he thought were coming from Roche.  Gary told him that Roche has agreed to call him at any time day or night to follow up on future complaints.  Jim Brandl clarified previous reports about wind direction during the time in question.  Due to the nature of winds in a river valley situation, they can vary greatly and the meteorological station recorded wind direction that could have moved odors, if present, from Roche to the resident’s location.  However, the winds were swirling and they could also have come from another direction at the time of the complaint. Bud Allen noted that if the winds were out of the north at that time, the odors could have come from the County landfill.

Gary noted that attendance at the August CAP meeting and this one was very poor, with neither meeting having a quorum of members present.  Gary suggested that the CAP members need to reaffirm their commitment to participate actively.  Betty Merring recommended that reminders and followup calls be sent the day before future meetings and that meeting packets be sent out on the Friday before each meeting.

Approval of July and August Meeting Summaries

Steve Ross suggested that in view of the lack of a quorum for the second month in a row, review and approval of the last two meeting summaries be deferred until the October meeting.  The CAP agreed.

Roche’s Impact on the Delaware River

Larry Koehler presented a summary of a study conducted by the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences regarding the impact of Roche’s wastewater discharge on the Delaware River.  Two studies were done, in 1995 and again in 2000.  Both found no measurable impact on the river and on its aquatic life.  In fact, fish and other aquatic life placed in a 100% concentration of the effluent discharge alone had a 100% survival rate.  Both studies were done in August, when the river is at its lowest and Roche’s discharge would therefore have the maximum impact.  The plant and its wastewater treatment facility were operating at full capacity when both studies were done.


Larry noted that water quality in the vicinity of the wastewater discharge is actually better than in the areas upstream and downstream of the diffuser pipe through which the discharge is released 150 feet into the river.  The plant received a new operating permit in June 2003 that sets even stricter effluent discharge limits than the previous permit, including a requirement to monitor 20 different volatile organic compounds.  A followup study may be done in 2005, after the transition to DSM’s ownership.

Stan Wilkins asked about the source of the foam in the river in that area.  Larry said he believes it is the result of natural processes.  He noted that the biggest pollution source is non point source pollution from farms and septic tanks.  Jim Brandl said that the Roche Belvidere wastewater treatment plant was included in the EPA study to determine best practice for “pharmaceutical” wastewater.

Press Briefing and Open House Plans

The CAP discussed plans for the October press briefing and open house.  Gary Meddaugh will participate in the press briefing hosted by the AirQAP, which will unveil the AirQAP’s website and the summary air monitoring results, and invitations have been sent to the leaders of EPA Regions 2 and 3 and the NJ and PA DEPs.   Bud Allen expressed concerns about the AirQAP’s website and its ability to include air monitoring data from Pennsylvania.  Bud asked the Roche CAP members to take a look at the website and make suggestions about ways to improve it. 


Jim Brandl explained that the Northampton County air monitoring data supplied by the PADEP, unlike the data supplied by NJDEP and the Warren County Air Monitoring Program, needs to be reformatted in order to be usable as part of the air monitoring summaries presented on the AirQAP’s website.  That reformatting could add $10,000 in cost, which someone will have to pay for.


Steve Ross reviewed his suggestions about how the open house should be organized and which members of the AirQAP and Roche CAP should be assigned to information tables.


The meeting concluded at 9:40 p.m.