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Health Topics > Sierra-Crete Task Force

Sierra-Crete Task Force

August 28, 2002

Task Force Members

Present: Brian Balbas, Contra Costa Public Works; Ron Bernal, City of Antioch; David Berry, California Department of Toxic Substances Control; Brian Bornstein, City of Brentwood; Dr. Wendel Brunner, Contra Costa Public Health Director; Steven Carmichael, City of Oakley; Brenda DeLaOssa, staff to Donna Gerber, Contra Costa Supervisor District III; Tim Farley, staff to Federal Glover, Contra Costa Supervisor District V; Annette Guiseppi-Elie, DuPont; Martha Harnly, California Department of Health Services; Sara Hoffman, Contra Costa Office of the County Administrator; Devra Lewis, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board;

Absent: John Fuller, City of Pittsburg; Mike Yeraka, Diablo Water District;

Staff: Paul Andrews, Michael Kent, Contra Costa Health Services

Members of the Public: Stefan Edelbacher, City of Antioch Resident; Bill Faisst, Brown and Caldwell; Brian Haydon, Counsel for Teichert and Son; Julie Johns, City of Antioch resident; Kay LaCour, Cooper, White & Cooper; John Pekala, Environ Corp; Deborah Proctor, Exponent; Jane Ramsey, Antioch Ledger Dispatch; Ben Strumwasser, Public Affairs Management; Richard Wenning, Environ;

Others Present: Greg Harvey, Contra Costa County Counsel's Office;

1. Introductions

Dr, Brunner, Contra Costa Public Health Director, opened the meeting at 9 a.m.. Introductions were made and the agenda was approved as proposed.

2. Approval of the Minutes

The minutes of the July 26, 2002 meeting were approved without corrections.

3. Update on Action Items

a) Location of Roads where Sierra-Crete was Used

Brian Balbas, Contra Costa County Public Works Department, reported that they are have completed mapping the unincorporated portion of the County and Oakley. They are coordinating with Pittsburg and Antioch to transfer their data to the map, and the map should be ready to put on the County's web site in a couple of weeks.

Action Item: Contra Costa County Public Works Department will continue to coordinate the collection of this information and placement of it on the County's web site.

b) External Agency Review of the Risk Assessment Submitted by DuPont

David Berry, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, reported that his agency has completed their review and will be sending their results this week. In sum, the risk assessment requires some revisions, but the basic method and conclusions are sound.

Action Item: Michael Kent, Contra Costa Health Services, will put these comments on the web site.

c) Public Involvement and Outreach

Michael Kent, Contra Costa Health Services, asked for comments on the draft door hanger and the draft press release that will be sent when the sampling begins. Dr. Brunner said he wants the press release to say that earlier work showed no health risks, but that the new sampling will allow an independent analysis. Sara Hoffman, County CAO's office, suggested that the sentence on health risks include the concept that certain levels of exposure must occur before dioxins are harmful. Tim Farley from Supervisor Glover's office said that we don't want to alarm the public, but that we do need to fully inform the public, and that he was concerned that the tone of the draft door hanger was a little alarmist. Dr. Brunner agreed that the tone of the door hanger needed to be less alarmist.

Michael Kent asked if the group still wanted to pursue sending information out in water bill stuffers and to make a presentation to the Antioch City Council. Tim Foley expressed concern that the public might be confused because of recent political advertisements mentioning dioxin. Julie Johns, a resident of Antioch, said she didn't think that it was premature to let the public know about the issue. She said she was present when samples were taken from the street in front of her house and that she couldn't get a straight answer about what was going on, and in fact, got most of her information from a East Bay Express reporter. She was worried that door hangers wouldn't be enough. She felt that the information provided should provide more of the data.

Dr. Brunner agreed that nothing produces anxiety like a lack of information about what is going on. The goal is to give people the information without worrying them. He was willing to provide information through public meetings and through the web site. Annette Guiseppi-Elie from Dupont agreed that they want the public to be informed through the County, the media and the web sites.

Bill Faisst of Brown and Caldwell raised the concern about reaching people without e-mail, and suggested that information be put at libraries. Dr. Brunner agreed this would be appropriate.

Steve Edelbacher, a resident of Antioch felt that doorhangers were inadequate and that a direct mailing to all residents was needed. Julie Johns suggested that the information that went out should include the actual streets where Sierra-Crete was used.

The Taskforce then generally agreed that a direct mailing should be sent to residents explaining the situation.

Action Item: Contra Costa Health Services will prepare a draft direct mail piece for the Taskforce to review.

Steve Edelbacher commented that he understands that from the information we have thus far that the risks are low, but he has seen the residue for six years and knows of other cases where initially risks were perceived as low and turned out to be otherwise. But he appreciates DuPont coming forward with the information voluntarily.

Brian Balbas reiterated the need to move quickly because in the unincorporated area they are holding off on fixing roads while the investigation is happening. Br. Brunner confirmed that that he has talked to Supervisor Glover about it and recommended not to fix the roads until we know what type of protection the workers will need to take to protect them and the surrounding community. Brian also reminded the group that the Water District was already digging up roads where Sierra-Crete was being used to fix water pipes. Dr. Brunner acknowledged the need to do this to prevent residents from being without water, and observed that this is one more reason why sampling needs to be completed as soon as possible. Annette Guiseppi-Elie added that the Material Safety Data Sheet has information about the appropriate personal protection workers should wear while working around Sierra-Crete.

Julie Johns asked if the dioxins were corroding the water pipes. Dr. Brunner said that pipes have been corroding, and that there were on-going law suits to determine the cause, but that the dioxins in the Sierra-Crete were not the cause. Julie Johns then asked if the drinking water would be tested for dioxins. Dr. Brunner said there was no plan to do so because it doesn't seem possible to contaminate the water, even if there is a leak in a pipe, because of positive water pressure.

4. Review of the Sampling Plan

Paul Andrews, Contra Costa Health Services, presented the draft sampling plan that had been prepared by a small workgroup made up of himself, DuPont, Environ, Exponent, Brown and Caldwell and DTSC. This plan only addressed surface and sub-surface soil sampling and sampling of Sierra-Crete. Surface water runnoff sampling would be addressed in a later plan. The plan looked at risks to residents, workers, and groundwater, and would provide a profile of the different types of dioxins present. Paul said he would like any comments on the draft plan returned to him by next Tuesday.

Richard Wenning of Environ added that they developed the plan following EPA guidelines, using previous sampling to establish the goals. The purpose of taking the particular samples identified is to meet the goals of the sampling plan.

Devra Lewis, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, stated that dioxins usually aren't a groundwater issue because they usually bind to soil particles. She also didn't believe this was a major surface water issue based on the information available to date, but she is going to stay involved with the future surface water sampling to make sure.

Steve Edelbacher asked what special protective clothing the people collecting the samples would wear. Richard Wenning responded that they would be wearing gloves.

Paul Andrews explained that they would be compositing samples to get more coverage but that they would keep the discrete components of each composite in case they wanted to later sample them individually.

Steve Edelbacher asked if they would be sampling some of the places DuPont originally sampled to compare the results. Paul Andrews responded yes.

Steve Edelbacher asked if the reason the material migrated through the asphalt was known. Paul Andrews responded no, only that it is a calcium based compound.

Richard Wenning mentioned that the dioxins were at very low levels, and because of already present background levels of dioxin, they have to be very careful in their sampling technique.

Greg Harvey, Contra Costa County Counsel's Office said he observed in one sub-division water in some of the cracks, and not a white powder, He felt the sampling plan should focus on these areas in that subdivision. Also, when the time comes to study the surface water issues, the catch basin in this area should be sampled.

Devra Lewis asked for the samples to be composited, if they would be collecting enough sample to keep some in reserve if they needed to resample the original individual samples. Paul Andrews felt they would.

Julie Johns then described the situation on her street in terms of the numbers and location of cracks. She expressed her concern that kids were playing in areas where cracks were present and that their cars were track material into the garage where kids played in the winter. She wanted the risk assessment to take into account this level of exposure. Dave Berry, DTSC, said that the risk assessment done by DuPont did take these types of exposures into account, but that he would look closely at this issue when the new risk assessment is done. Dr. Brunner then explained how risk assessments generally take into multiple exposures when determining safe levels of contamination.

Julie Johns also wanted to know if there is a difference in how younger children take up dioxins into their bodies vs. older children. Dr. Brunner responded that the answer to that question wasn't known.

Dr, Brunner then clarified that the plan called for more samples in Antioch because the temporal distribution of the Sierra-Crete was well known there, and knowing the concentration over time of dioxins in the Sierra-Crete was one of the goals of the sampling. Since the City of Antioch is going to be drilling holes to test the physical properties of Sierra-Crete anyway, the decision was made to coordinate sampling.

Brenda DeLaOssa, staff to Donna Gerber, Contra Costa Supervisor District III, asked how many samples Contra Costa Health Services would analyze. Paul Andrews responded that they were still deciding, but that they would definitely take a sample at each location.

Steve Edelbacher suggested the public information include the timeline of when results would be known and the risk assessment completed.

Kay LaCour, Cooper, White & Cooper asked if other individuals could observe the collection of samples. Paul Andrews said yes, as long the numbers didn't create a safety problem with the traffic. Annette Guiseppi-Elie added that the collection of samples would be thoroughly documented.

Dr. Brunner closed the meeting at 11:00.

5. Set next meeting time and Agenda

The next meeting will be Friday September 27, 2002 from 9:00 to 11:00 in the Antioch Police Station Community Room at 300 "L" Street in Antioch.

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