Ninth 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: Have you had access to the health physics log books?
Bob Whitcomb: What we looked at today was foreign government information.
Tom Widner: Yes, we have gone through thousands of log books, some health physics, and we have extracted some records that are in the database and the DOE Reading Room in Albuquerque.
Public: These documents are important.
Tom Widner: We have found that the log books are a good source of basic data.
Public: Incidents with plutonium and other contamination incidents that took place are in the log books. They include the amount and what was released.
Regan Burmeister: The quality of information in the log books is usually better than that seen in latter (summary level) reports. We have free access to log books. They are in some cases unclassified.
Public: What about surveys? There were times we had spills that may have rolled out the door.
Regan Burmeister: These are often noted in log books.
Public: You need to look at the log reports get more reliable information. The weekly and monthly reports are not written by the people doing work. They are watered down. They don't want the information getting out.
Public: Structure workers, supervisors, section leaders, rewrite again. They "sugar coat" before going to the division leader. Notebooks are kept by the person doing the experiment. They tell the truth in these reports. They put exactly how and what happened.
Public: When you get down to the section reports, they should be more accurate.
Bob Whitcomb: We have had experience looking at weekly reports, and work for others, and foreign reports.
Public: You don't know where the skeletons are located. We can tell you where to look. LANL likes documents, but they shred; they hide.
Bob Whitcomb: We need your input and feedback.
Public: LANL didn't check carpool calls. One janitor brought home contaminated clothes in the carpool. That isn't reported.
Tom Widner: We've seen a lot of reports where contaminants were carried home.
Public: Regarding stack releases, are you familiar with giraffes? If releases are over a certain amount, they were just thrown out. Filters are often closed off.
Peter Malmgren: We want access to operational information for practical reasons. How can workers get compensation? How can you help us facilitate getting access to information they need?
Tom Widner: We are trying to streamline the process. We are getting information out as fast as we can.
Public: We can't get access to unclassified controlled nuclear information.
Tom Widner: We're not seeing that (UNCI) much at LANL compared to other DOE sites. We are trying to identify and use what we can release to the public.
Public: Have you seen the documentation from when the TIGER team came out? It is in the basement of CMR.
Public: How about incident reports in the medical section? The report high dosage, or cuts received on contaminated on equipment or high levels in urine.
Tom Widner: We are taking note of health records.
Public: When will you be into the linear accelerator, LAMPF?
Tom Widner: This is a new area that Jack Buddenbaum has just recently begun investigating.
Public: Thyroid cancer is still unexplained. How can I learn about the nature of materials and processes of uranium targets since the beginning? There was an incident in France where there was a target release of radionuclides. Can you change the database to capture the isotopes? Another important one is xenon. Where did the iodine that was produced go? I found documents about Omega West Reactor radionuclides (including iodine) that were helpful. These documents are in the database but I have to go to Albuquerque to look at the documents.
C.M. Wood: I asked the contractor how much it would cost to scan the documents. It would cost less to send a CD. But we don't want to become librarians for DOE.
Public: Germantown has documents on CD regarding materials disposed of in Area G. It might be a good place to send someone.
Tom Widner: Yes, also the national archives and other collections will be searched.
C.M. Wood: We have a list of places that has records pertaining to LANL and DOE sites in general. I agree we have to look at all places. We have visited the Germantown facility on previous occasions.
Public: I would like to go back to Peter's point. You can help them and us by providing full-text searching in the database. I have gained information out of Las Vegas. I have just sent the lady there an e-mail, and she offered to send me a CD. Using that database helped a man with mercury poisoning. I found five memos that were used for his case.
Bob Whitcomb: We let NIOSH know what is relevant to them. We let them know so they can include the documents in their information. We make note of documents that contain information relevant to workers.
Public: Have you checked the Los Alamos medical center?
Bob Whitcomb: I know about Project Sunshine, which was concerned about strontium-90 fallout.
Public: This was not fallout, but releases.
Bob Whitcomb: Hopefully we can find some confirmatory information.
Public: How about unauthorized autopsies?
Tom Widner: We are reviewing data about autopsies.
Bob Whitcomb: Was this related to litigation?
Tom Widner: Not to my knowledge.
Public: What criteria are used to determine if the study moves forward past the document retrieval phase?
Bob Whitcomb: There are no regulations that set a point, no guidance is in place. That is why we bring it to the attention of the public. When information gathering is complete, we will have to determine if we can go forward with the information in hand. We expect a lot of public involvement in that decision.
Public: We are concerned about that. I think this is the biggest meeting that has happened so far.
Bob Whitcomb: This is a process. We need people to follow it, to let us know if we are following the right paths.
Public: We are still saying that we need another reading room here. You will get more participation.
Bob Whitcomb: We are still pushing for another. Albuquerque was the easiest one to get done, but we are still pushing DOE to establish another.
Public: This is very important for people of northern New Mexico. How loud do we have to talk?
Public: We are uncomfortable with DOE controlling reading rooms. It seems like institutional flypaper. They probably have someone that notes what you are interested in. Oak Ridge has bar codes. A grass roots effort may be the best way around that. Give us a CD, and we can set up our own system.
Public: You seem to focus on the environment and are ignoring worker compensation issues.
Bob Whitcomb: We are giving information to NIOSH.
Public: I would be interested in seeing your Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Why can't NIOSH get one?
Bob Whitcomb: Our MOU is on the CDC Web site, and is updated every five years.
Public: Richard Espinosa shared some meeting dates dealing with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. These included an August 8 stakeholder meeting for the Special Cohorts aspect of the of NIOSH program. The next advisory board meetings are August 16 and 17 in Cincinnati, and then October 15 and 16 in Santa Fe.
Public: What are the purposes of these meetings? Are they required?
Mr. Espinosa: The establishment of special cohorts is the purpose of the meeting [Special cohorts are groups of people who are eligible for benefits under EEOICPA if, after covered employment, they contracted a number of specified diseases].
Public: Will you be talking to workers and technicians?
Bob Whitcomb: We are working with Peter Malmgren, who is addressing that. We have interviewed workers at other sites.
Tom Widner: We are also going to be stepping up our interviews. First, we are getting familiar with the history of LANL so we can intelligently conduct interviews. We will be conducting interviews in addition to those being conducted by Peter.
Bob Whitcomb: If you would like to be part of the interviewing process, let us know.
Public: There was a dump truck that was contaminated and they just drove it into the dump and buried it. I know a couple of guys that were truck drivers. I still remember those things.
Public: What is the issue with the documents being at Zimmerman? Who is making that decision?
Tom Widner: Zimmerman is the official DOE reading room in the area. DOE is required to support a reading room in the area. We are pushing for another that would be closer.
Bob Whitcomb: We provide well categorized, easy to locate documents. All the documents are already cataloged, we need someone to provide shelf space.
Peter Malmgren: To update you on the Oral History Project, I have 109 transcribed interviews that will be placed in the NM State Archives at Santa Fe. Some of the interviews are anonymous. Most have names. They will be available in about a year.