Los Alamos Historic Document Retrieval & Assesment

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Introduction Summary

Twelfth Public Meeting
Public Comments / Questions and Answers

(These statements are NOT direct quotes. All statements are paraphrased.)

Public: What is the term of the new contract, and how did the stand-down affect the contract?
Phil Green: The new contract just happened to be awarded on the fiscal year. It will be a five-year contract. Initially, Tom estimated the amount of work that can be done. Work can change as we get better access to documents for review. It is safe to estimate that the next 12-month period, beginning in September, will be the period of our greatest access and progress. In subsequent years, as the puzzle builds-- when we find corners and edges, we can focus on materials or operations that become more evident as areas that need to be studied. During the next year, we expect to award $1.5 million to continue this effort.
Tom Widner: The Lab has about an equal amount of funding to support the project to support including classification reviews and providing of escorts.

Public: Did the stand down cost the project money-will there be problems to roll over funds?
CM Wood: The work delay didn't hurt this project that much. I issued a task order to have Shonka Research Associates in Atlanta scan and process a "backlog" of documents that had accumulated. The stand-down had some benefit. We worked with the new regime that had to write new rules that improved access to the documents. The process developed should make the study more defensible at end of the project. I would like to get all the documents reviewed and moved off-site. Then we can continue the work off-site. Previously, the document summary form had to be filled in before a document could be released. Now we can write the title and cursory information without having to write a full abstract before release. We don't need an escort to write the abstract anymore.

Issues pertaining to document review: Escorted access with two person limit; Prescreening by document ?owners?; Categories of deniable information; Reviews by title alone; Process to appeal when records withheld; Access to reports issued by other entities; Classification reviewer availability

Slide 25 of 36

CM Wood: The Lab has a list of the collections contained in the Archives. Each collection may include 30-45 boxes. We have reviewed the titles. Some of these titles clearly state the contents of a collection, and we could determine if the collection needed to be reviewed at or not. Some of the titles are unclear, so we have indicated that the box needs to be checked to determine if the entire collection needs to be reviewed or not.

When they got to the microfiche, they would pre-review the collection. They found that much of the information contained in the microfiche is worthless. So during our process, we first look at titles, then we look at the documents and apply specified criteria to determine what must be reviewed. For example, if we determine a collection contains payroll records, we don't need to look at those records.

Public: I was surprised that the recently released ATSDR health appraisal report states that the health risk from LANL does not warrant further study.
Tom Widner: We understand that ATSDR is addressing doses from current conditions, and will defer to what this CDC/NCEH study finds regarding historical releases and health risks.
Phil Green: I am not a scientist, and I cannot speak to their assertions as to what is significant. I asked for their report, which was a technical review. I went through it, looking to see how our project was referenced. What I got out of it, is that they did say there was no health risk for people living near the site. But it hedged by saying that our report may change their evaluation. Our project is mentioned throughout the document.

Public: One of our concerns is that previous drafts noted possible effects. This newer version appears to be a sanitized version.
Phil Green: I noted the executive summary did not address the concerns of the community, but the full report does in my opinion. That document should be available to you.
CM Wood: I have not read the report yet, and I have not followed their work. I can bring one of those guys to our next meeting. There is a division of labor--they do a health risk study, we do a dose reconstruction. I can set up communication either through e-mail or by attendance at the next meeting.

Public: You mentioned that the next venue would include records at other LANL divisions. How well are the records from the other divisions represented in the Archives?
Tom Widner: Most of the records that I have seen in the Archives are older records. It is difficult to track the changes in the names and organization of Lab divisions and groups over the years. We plan to talk to people from other divisions to find out what records they have.

Public: What is the percentage of documents that have been deemed worthy to review?
Tom Widner: Generally, in the Archives, we have selected 30-40 percent of folders. In some collections, we have identified almost 100 percent. Some documents are clearly not relevant, for example, "Oppenheimer family photos."

Public: Several years ago I reviewed a collection of occurrence reports that was housed in a vault at TA-35 in ESH-12 under the custody of John Voltin. I don't see them referenced in your accidents and incidents table. Will you come out with a chronology of off-site incidents based on the occurrence reports?
Tom Widner: We reviewed that incident report collection as part of our review of ES&H Division records. To date, our chronology of accidents and incidents is based on Health Division reports. We will expand the chronology to include incidents from the files you are referring to if they are relevant to off-site releases and are not already included. A majority of incidents involve personal injuries or contamination within buildings, with no obvious route for off-site exposure.
CM Wood: I agree we should work at developing a chronology. I have had access to Department of Energy (DOE) unexplained occurrence reports. Most, I admit, are like a foot run over or a hurt back. Anything of consequence is included in our study because there is a lot of supporting information available. Therefore, we are not as excited about the collection as we originally anticipated.

Public: I reviewed the collection in ESH-12 for my dissertation, focusing on the 1970s. In the 1970s, there were about 90 incidents that do appear to have resulted in off-site releases.
CM Wood: These significant incidents are usually documented in multiple reports and correspondence.

Public: Not always in detail. I hope you folks take each release and apply your expertise to see if the records are useful to compare to reports. I agree that most information is worker related.
CM Wood: We do continue to flag information relevant to worker related issues, and share it with NIOSH.

Tom Widner: Thanks for coming. Please sign and request a copy of the Interim Report if you have not received one. We will stick around to talk to you individually if you so desire.

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