Los Alamos Historic Document Retrieval & Assesment

Project Description
Project Team
Public Meetings
Database Link
Introduction Summary

First Public Meeting
Public Comments / Questions and Answers

(These statements are NOT direct quotes. All statements are paraphrased. "Team" refers to either one or more members of the project team who responded to a questions or comment. )

Public: Is this study separate from the human radiation studies project?

Team Response: Yes

Public: Are you going to use the records identified by this group (human radiation studies project team). It seemed like a comprehensive study.

Team Response: We will hopefully avoid duplication of effort, but will have access to all records, and will probably use some of their work.

Public: Is the size and make up of this audience typical?

Team Response: Yes and no. Affiliations of most audience members are unknown. Usually a large number of people from the site attend the first meeting. As the study proceeds they expect to attract a wider audience.

Public:Woman is concerned about study. She conducted this kind of work from 1973-80. Based on her experience, she doesn't think the team will be able to come up to speed fast enough to LANL. For example, there are many acronyms and place name changes. It will take 2-3 years to make associations. Her work involved site-specific monitoring. Doesn't know how the team can complete the study in three years and obtain appropriate conclusions.

Team Response: This is a cost reimbursement type of contract. At Hanford and Fernald, contractors performed directed searches to locate documents related to specific topics. The result was not satisfactory from a public credibility standpoint. To start, the LANL study will be a systematic look at all records. The team doesn't know what they will find or how many records there are. The government and contractors will make adjustments as necessary.

The study will begin with initial prioritization of records. No releases will be discarded- all data will be kept. Then the team, working with public, will make decisions. If the team is going down the wrong road the public, who knows that, needs to point this out. Prioritization is important but not the final answer. It is also important to determine what is "off site." "Off site" is hard to define for Los Alamos, and has changed over the years.

Public: How do you handle data from interviews and personal comments as compared to historical documents?

Team Response: Anonymity maintained when necessary. Interviews can fill holes in paper trails. For example, when procurement records couldn't be found, and interview explained that a blanket contract was in place. Interviews can tell where to go look for the appropriate written documentation.

Public: How do you evaluate the data? Memory vs. records?

Team Response: Gaps appear. Won't be able to get all answers. Will characterize findings based on uncertainties.

Interviews may point to a set of records or information that we may not have thought to pursue, such as personal office records.

Public: The way I addressed quality of information from an interview was to keep comments in mind. Didn't report information until I found a paper trail. Another method was to take a bunch of people to the site and let them bounce ideas off each other.

Public: EPA and NRC have addressed prioritization of information, placing on a scale such qualities as trustworthiness and good recollection to poor recollection.

Team Response: Never used a formal process for evaluating interviews. Will consider your process.

Team Response: The team as a neutral agenda. It wants to do good science and make the information available.

Public: How far are you going to go in the screening process? Will you identify source terms at this point?

Team Response: The actual source term will be identified in the second phase, if it is conducted. This first phase is a qualitative at this stage. The second stage (if done) will be more quantitative. It is too big of a job to do at this point. Can't go into great detail at this point. This is a general screen. If nothing else is done, providing the project database itself will have been a good service. Useful documents. Capture relevant documents before they are possibly destroyed. Safeguard information in case of fire or other problem. Even after this information gathering phase, if further work is done we will not stop looking for records. The nature of things is that something will be missed. Always continue to look.

Public: Is there a way you will measure credibility and public acceptance? Do you have experience that you achieved the public acceptance?

Team Response: The Fernald job is almost completed, and a formal evaluation is now planned. Feels that the community believes we've done the very best job possible. It's not perfect.

Can put you in touch with subcommittee members. This area needs to decide what it wants to do. The Fernald committee had decided it didn't need to spend more money (such as for epidemiologic studies) based on the CDC work.

Public: Can the committee have options between an epidemiologic study and health services, or is it an option to do both?

Team Response: It wasn't an either/or question. The Fernald committee decided it would be a waste of money to do another study. What they decided made the most sense to them based on what information they were given.

Rosters of public groups are available. Ask people what they thought.

Public: Regarding getting permission for former employees to speak: Los Alamos is a company town, New Mexico a company state. People have economic ties to LANL. Can the team get broad permissions so that individuals don't have to stand up and seek permission?

Team Response: If this is an issue, we need to work together to find a resolution. During our last visit here, this was discussed as an issue. We will investigate.

Public: Is there a precedent set from other sites for such permissions?

Team Response: No. Individuals had agreed not to release information. At an annual banquet they were given permission to cooperate during the banquet. At another retiree event, clearance was given for that day to speak to us. For more detailed information, we needed to get individual permission.

Public: Interviews are a valuable historical source. Will they be available?

Team Response: Information from interviews will be part of database.

Public: Interviews flush out information.

Team Response: We agree 100%. At the same time, individual rights will be protected.

Public: Have you considered that conflicting interests will pick a portion of your reports to cause public dissention? Have you thought of anything to change that?

Team Response: We welcome all input on avoiding this sort of problem. We want to get the community to become involved. We want liaisons with various committees. We want everyone to know what everyone is doing. We want to know what their needs and goals are. If the community decides it needs a committee, we hope it can build a diverse committee.

Public: Dose reconstruction: Example tritium: how general do you get or how detailed?

Team Response: First we look at the total picture, considering amounts released, handling of problem. Then, based on results, may try to compartmentalize and analyze in more detail. If a high potential of risk is involved, a release is studied in the most detail possible. Will identify missing components too, that may keep us from evaluating some releases in more detail.

Public: Know one family that has suffered health consequences thought to be associated with father's work. He probably won't talk to you. However, if blanket permissions are received and there is an appeal to the community to help identify problems, you may get more response.

Public: How far will you go--100-mile radius or specific street in identifying risks?

Team Response: We will go as far as the data will allow. For example, in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon residents who lived in the domain during a time period can contact the Washington State Department of Health, who will estimate risk encountered on an individual basis. I don't know of any other site doing that. At Fernald, did more of a population-based risk analysis. Depends on the data and the community.

  Home Description Team
  Meetings Contacts Database
  Publications Experience Outreach
For more information contact Tom Widner