The Community Advisory Panel working with DSM met on January 20, 2004.  Present at the meeting were Bud Allen, Jane Bullis, Mike King, Gary Meddaugh, Betty Merring, Totsy Phillips, Joe Venesky, and Dr. Zollinger.  Mike Adams, Jim Brandl, Joe Gentile, Jim Roseberry, and Tony McHugh were present from DSM.  Dr. Stan Weiss, Dr. Clifford Weisel, and Nate and Marianne Gould attended as invited guests.  The meeting was facilitated by Kelly Henry, Ross PAG. 


Approval of December Meeting Summary

The meeting began at 6:55 p.m. The Panel approved the December meeting summary.


Chairman’s Report

Gary Meddaugh thanked DSM for the holiday dinner.  He reported that he continues to receive hard copies of the Warren County Air Monitoring Program (WCAMP) reports and keeps them on file for anyone who would like to review them.  He does not plan to distribute hard copies since the reports can be accessed via the WCAMP website. 


Noise Issue

In acknowledgement of and as a courtesy to Mr. and Mrs. Gould, the agenda was re-ordered to discuss their noise concerns first.  The Goulds began by thanking DSM and the CAP for inviting them to participate in the meeting. Mr. Gould then reviewed his concerns and the history of the Goulds interaction with DSM in pursuit of addressing those concerns.


The Goulds purchased their property in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania in 1990; their farm is located directly across the river from the plant. It is their perception that in general the noise has increased over the years, although the types and causes for the noises have differed.  Mr. Gould acknowledged that DSM has always responded promptly and courteously to the “dozens and dozens” of calls he has placed over the years.  Mike Black of DSM has openly shared with the Goulds the decibel readings he takes at their property line. The noises have affected their ability to sleep (Mr. Gould works a 12-hour shift and often sleeps during the day), to entertain out-of-doors, and even live their lives indoors undisturbed.


Based on discussions with DSM, the Goulds understand there are two separate causes for the two distinct noises they hear. The “constant irritating ringing” is caused by the co-generation facility.  The periodic blasts of noise are caused by the resumption of the fermentation process.  The former noise causes the greatest concern and irritation.  Mr. Gould is a retired policeman from Elmwood Park, NJ, which is also the host community to a Marcal plant.  Mr. Gould claims that Marcal has a similar co-generation plant that does not emit the same level of noise; he suggested that someone from DSM contact Marcal to identify possible ways to reduce the noise.


Mike Adams acknowledged the history of the concerns and thanked the Goulds for attending the meeting.  He confirmed the Goulds’ understanding of the issue and stated his conviction that some relief could be brought to the situation. 


Mike reported, and Tony McHugh confirmed, that DSM was already in the process of evaluating the muffler system on the fermentation process and updating their muffler packages, which would result in some noise reduction. Mike went on to state his belief that other adjustments to the fermentation process, specifically to the fermenter and air compressor exhaust systems, could be made immediately to reduce the noises the Goulds described and also alter the timing of the noise to coincide with the Goulds’ waking hours instead of when they sleep.


Mike stated that the “constant ringing” noise from the turbine may be more difficult to address, although DSM was looking into the options available.  The turbine operates 24/7, which is why it is constant.  DSM has hired a contractor to perform a noise evaluation of the plant and provide them with recommendations.  A report is forthcoming.  Mike promised to keep the Goulds informed of what actions DSM will be taking and their intended results.


Security at DSM

Jim Roseberry, DSM Security Manager, presented on security measures in place at the facility to enhance site security.  DSM is a “closed-gate” facility, with only two gates, one of which is manned 24/7.  There is no on-site parking. One gate is for employees and visitors; the other is for vendors and contractors only. Truck traffic is strictly regulated; each truck driver is required to provide several forms of documentation including their license and manifest, as well as be accepted by a DSM point-of-contact.  Employee access is also restricted within certain areas of buildings.  Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is utilized throughout the facility and utilizes 32 cameras.  A DSM escort must accompany all visitors.


Betty Merring asked about DSM’s ability to thwart someone with malevolent intentions but who had the proper paperwork.  Jim Roseberry said that a truck walk-around is conducted, but the freight itself is not inspected.  Someone with the intent to cause harm could possibly get through.  However, precautions and protections are in place to contain a situation – some of which cannot be discussed openly.  During Code Orange, the state police stop by the plant once a day to report on potential threats and inspect the site.  DSM is notified by CCNJ of any FBI warnings and contingency plans are put in place as needed.


Betty asked about access to the facility from the river.  Jim Roseberry responded that the site is 100% enclosed by fencing and that the boat ramp access road is outside the site fence.


Status of SEP 2  

Doctors Weiss and Weisel provided an anecdotal overview of the stringent and time-consuming data validation process underway since the study concluded in June 2003.  They opened their presentation with confirmation that the study’s results (i.e., an analysis of the correlation between asthma events and SO2 and PM2.5 levels, respectively) would be available in spring 2004. Dr. Weisel underscored the extreme importance of validating the data through step-wise analysis so that in the end there would be complete confidence in the study’s results.


Dr. Weisel pointed out that while the number of actual participants in the study was limited, the extended number of days during which data was collected enabled them to have a complete data set. They have an approximate total of 5,000 data points. Some data will fall out through the validation process, but there is confidence that the final set of usable data will still be adequate if not substantial.  For example, the number of usable data was narrowed by running the time analysis model, which basically correlates the value of SO2 releases to the hour of study.  Luckily, most of the data was within the timeframe of the peak SO2 releases (2 p.m.-early evening). 


Mike King asked if the doctors had contacted PPL to identify the reason for the increased SO2 releases during this timeframe.  Dr. Weisel said no contact was made nor is it planned until the study is completed.  However, he expects it is based on the plant’s cycle time, which may have resulted in increased power generation during that time of year.


Dr. Weisel explained that outlier analysis was conducted in both directions (i.e., finding explanations for data anomalies that are either high or low vis-à-vis typical measurements for any one participant) and provided anecdotal examples of some of the challenges they faced during the validation process.


They have started running two statistical programs, one to look at the acute effects of releases on symptoms and one to look at the lag issue, or chronic effect, of releases.


Gary Meddaugh inquired if there would be both a preliminary and a final report issued.  Dr. Weiss responded that a preliminary report would be issued to DSM, the DSM CAP, and NJDEP for review and comment. Response to comments was discretionary. They would then publish their final report.


The question was asked if the University’s Institutional Review Board had any additional requirements.  Doctors Weiss and Weisel were only required to provide semi-annual status updates on recruitment and release of the data.  The IRB’s sole focus is to protect participants’ rights to privacy.  That’s why each participant is assigned a case number and names are not released.


Joe Venesky asked why the study focused on SO2 and PM2.5 and not on DSM-generated emissions. Dr. Weisel responded that SO2 and PM2.5 are proven lung irritants and that DSM emissions were not.  He also stated the focus of the study was a decision made by the CAP.


Doctor Weisel clarified that the study is not looking at causation, only at the extent to which SO2 and PM2.5 serve as potential exacerbators to asthma symptoms.


DSM Environmental Scorecard

Jim Brandl reported that since the December CAP meeting there had been two minor reportable incidents.  One was a dust collector that emitted 0.5 lb of cornstarch and the other was a carbon adsorber system malfunction that resulted in an ethanol release of
13-30 lbs/hr. for approximately 4 hours.


Jim reported that DSM had three full years of results since they’ve been tracking releases and the downward trend is impressive.  There were only 35 incidents in 2003, down from 88 incidents reported in 2001.


Jim clarified that DSM has not needed to apply for new permits for the new fermentation process because existing permits covering fermentation are still valid.


Jim provided details on a December 2003 incident causing a near-fatality of an American Wrecking employee during demolition of a building on-site.  DSM requested and facilitated an OSHA investigation of the incident.  The investigation was of American Wrecking, not DSM, since the former was the employer.  No violations resulted from the investigation. All precautions had been taken, which is what saved the worker’s life.  DSM will be copied on the report when it is issued.


CAP Membership

Gary Meddaugh noted the resignation of four members at the end of 2003 and suggested that the group decide if additional members should be sought and if so, asked for thoughts on how the task could best be accomplished.


Dr. Zollinger suggested the Warren County Freeholders be contacted and asked to send a liaison. There was no consensus on pursuing this suggestion.  The group agreed that a new member representing the Belvidere community is warranted; current membership is comprised of four representatives from White Township, three representatives from Belvidere and three from Warren County.  Jane Bullis recommended, and the group agreed, that an advertisement soliciting interest from Belvidere citizens be submitted to the local newspaper.  Jane agreed to draft copy for the group’s review.  Jane also restated her intention to work with Belvidere High School to identify a student representative and perhaps a teacher representative as well.


Joe Venesky confirmed that he is now the official representative of the White Township Environmental Commission and identified his alternate as Ernest Mass (contact information was provided to Ross PAG).


Other Business

Joe Venesky asked about the status of DSM’s ISO 14000 certification.  Jim Brandl reported that DSM received their ISO 14000 certification and ISO 9000 re-certification in July 2003.


Gary Meddaugh asked the CAP to think about the issues they wanted to cover in 2004 and with those issues in mind consider if moving to a bi-monthly meeting schedule would better serve the CAP’s purposes.  He noted that there were not enough members in attendance for two consecutive meetings in the fall and offered the change in schedule as a potential way to improve attendance.  He acknowledged that moving to a reduced meeting schedule could potentially cause a break in the continuity of the group’s discussion and therefore have the opposite effect of further reducing attendance.  The group agreed to think about what should be the issues covered in 2004 and discuss the meeting schedule further at the February meeting.


Jane Bullis reported her recent attendance at a Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) planning meeting and suggested one topic of possible interest for the CAP would be reviewing the DRBC Water Resources Plan and providing DSM with recommendations on how they can respond to the plan’s call for institutional cooperation.


Kelly Henry announced that the upcoming CAP Fest sponsored by the Chemistry Council of New Jersey (CCNJ) is scheduled for February 26.  Jim Brandl said that DSM would again be sponsoring a table for those members who would like to participate.  He will send an email out to all members asking for their interest and a response.  The deadline for registration is February 18. 


The meeting concluded at 9:15 p.m.