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What the Federal EPA, Region III, has to say about Area B clean up....
This is a 55minute conference call between Fighting For Frederick team leaders and the Federal EPA
EPA Region III
Hank Sokolowski, Chief of Federal Facility Remediation
Rob Thomson, Remedial Project Manager for Ft. Detrick
Bill Hudson, Community Involvement Coordinator
Linda Miller, State and Congressional Liaison
Hank Sokolowski: Hi Randy. How are you doing?
Randy White: Oh, very well sir. I should have my secretary on the line and others that are calling in right now.
Hank Sokolowski: I hear a lot of beeping.
Randy White: I'm sorry go ahead sir.
Hank Sokolowski: I said I hear a lot of beeping. What we should probably do before we all get started is introduce each other and I will tell you what my job is and all.
Randy White: That is what I thought, but I thought we would wait and make sure everybody is on the line, so Celeste if you would like to take roll or something that might help so we know who we have on the line.
Celeste Mares: Okay, from our end we have yourself Randy, Susan…
Susan Funk: Yes.
Celeste Mares: Angie
Angie Pieper: Yeah.
Celeste Mares: Rachel are you there?
Rachel Pisani: I am.
Celeste Mares: And myself, Celeste, so that, Hank that is who we have on our end.
Hank Sokolowski: Okay and I know who Angie is, I know who the Reverend is. Susan what is your role, and what is Rachel's role?
Susan Funk: Well I handle various aspects, various elements in the foundation for Randy doing some marketing and research, primarily up in the Frederick area working on some research.
Hank Sokolowski: Okay, that is fine. Okay. On the EPA side there are two…
Randy White: Just a minute, I am sorry Hank, then we have Rachel on the phone as well.
Hank Sokolowski: Right. Rachel what is your role?
Rachel Pisani: Hello Hank. I handle PR, marketing as well as some research with Randy.
Hank Sokolowski: Okay. Good and that is it for your side I assume.
Randy White: That is correct.
Hank Sokolowski: Here at EPA there are three of us, myself, and I am going to have the other individuals introduce themselves. My name is Hank Sokolowski and if you need that spelled I can do that later on I suppose. I am the Director of Federal Facility Remediation and Site Assessment at Family EPA here in Philadelphia and I have two other individuals with me. I will let them introduce themselves to you and what they do.
Rob Thompson: This is Rob Thompson and I am the EPA Project Manager for Fort Detrick Area.
Bill Hudson: This is Bill Hudson. I am Community Involvement Coordinator for EPA Region III.
Hank Sokolowski: Okay. That is it from the EPA side.
Randy White: What happened to Linda Miller? She is not going to be on the phone?
Hank Sokolowski: I am not sure if she is going to be able to join us. Linda are you there?
EPA, FEMALE: She will be back shortly.
Linda Miller: I am sorry. Here I am.
Hank Sokolowski: Oh, okay.
Linda Miller: I am in a meeting so I am just going to be listening in. I cannot speak because I am at another client venue, but I will be listening in sir.
Randy White: Okay. That is fine. Let me ask you a question, does anyone mind us recording this because we want to take extensive notes and wanted to make sure that everyone was aware that we could record this.
Hank Sokolowski: That is fine from EPA side.
Randy White: Okay. Great. Celeste you can hit record. Alright do you want to take the lead Hank or what would you like.
Hank Sokolowski: What I was going to suggest, I mean I have a fair amount of information in terms of what they know about Fort Detrick and all, and I thought maybe it would be better if I tried to answer your questions and then in the course of answering your questions, I could give you the detailed background information at some point along those lines. Or if you prefer me to, I can also tell you where we are in the process as far as EPA.
Randy White: Here are two of my concerns, actually three. You know when all this started, it caught me totally off guard, with me losing my daughter two years ago, and then my daughter Angie who is on the phone had some abnormal tumors in her stomach and then the third final straw that broke the camel's back, was their mother, who 8 or 9 weeks ago was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Moffitt at that time they told us that this was environmental and it was certainly not genetic. Of course Moffitt is one of the leading cancer hospitals and research labs in world, so we then began our investigation, and what happened was I hired a couple of professors. We did some independent lab studies outside of Detrick, groundwater, soil testing, etc., and very shocked and surprised that three of those came back actually positive for TCE. When that happened, I then hired a couple of journalist, Susan being one of them. I got a couple others as well, to start investigating the whole Fort Detrick scenario and what happened, and how it happened, etc. We are probably are up to 400 families, __________ Road, Rocky Springs, Yellow Springs Road, _______ Lane either had cancer or a family that has died, or has cancer currently. What we are finding out more than any is the two prominent ones are brain cancer and, what is it Angie? Is it not Hodgkin's?
Angie Pieper: Yes, lymphoma.
Randy White: Lymphoma. We are finding actually a cluster of that where there were about 10 or 15 people in the same region, probably within a four block area. So, I guess my first question would be, has the EPA done an evaluation of the soil gas test and the vapor intrusion test, because some of these people have city water, but yet they are still getting sick. That would be one of my first questions.
Hank Sokolowski: Can I ask you one, before I answer that one? You said you did samples. What did you sample?
Randy White: Excuse me.
Hank Sokolowski: What did you sample? What did you find?
Randy White: I hired actually a micro, I would have to go back and look at it, but actually he specializes in and he is a professor out at USF. They tested the water, the soil, there was one other test. Somebody help me here. What other test did we find? Anybody with me?
Angie Pieper: Yes. I do not _______ with me though to tell me.
Randy White: Yeah, I do not have the report either, but the tests came back and we did with an independent lab, so that there was not any bias, so they took it to a lab in Baltimore and they came back positive for TCE , __________.
Hank Sokolowski: And this was in a home owners' area, is that it?
Randy White: Excuse me?
Hank Sokolowski: So it was in home owners' area, a number of home owners'?
Randy White: Yes it was in a home owners' area, yes,
Hank Sokolowski: Okay. Alright, let me try to answer the question you just asked about vapor intrusion. You probably know, if you looked at the site, that in 2008 the EPA proposed the area be a groundwater site for the National Priorities List and in April 2009 we had the site finalized. And since that time, actually we started in September 2008, talking extensively with the Army about the proposal that they were moving forward with in terms of examining the groundwater and they had made some assumptions that we had some difficulty with in terms of the flow rates and what type of geography they had there, actually what the formations were underneath and the groundwater and we came to the conclusion that this was karst geology. If you know anything about karst, essentially it is limestone.
Randy White: Yes, I am very familiar with that. Trust me I have had quite an education lately.
Hank Sokolowski: Okay, good. Well it is a limestone formation and stuff can travel any way, any direction basically. It is very difficult to track it down. What we have done since that time, is we have spent a lot of time trying to settle where we want to place monitors to accurately assess the contamination that is there, what is there. You know, in and around the entire site not just south or east or west, but probably in all directions. What we have come to at this point is a draft, a remedial investigation, which is part of the Super Fund process that has been put together. In fact the group, Rob who is part of it, who is a Remedial Project Manager, is meeting with the group on Monday, at which time they probably come very close, if not finishing it, to finalizing the scope of the remedial investigation. What is going to be done, where the monitors are going to be located? As a part of that, what will be included is a study of vapor intrusion since we know that TCE can be an issue with vapor intrusion. No, vapor intrusion can be a problem there.
Randy White: But let me ask you, Hank, I did not mean to interrupt you.
Hank Sokolowski: That is okay.
Randy White: Are you just testing the Area B for vapor intrusion, because you said yourself you are not sure of the flow and if this flow, lets just say Waverly Creek and goes down through the quarry, you are familiar with that area, and then under the houses you could have the vapor intrusion. Are you going to be testing that area as well or just the Area B inside the parameter of Fort Detrick?
Hank Sokolowski: No, no. We are looking at all sites. We are concerned about the sources that are in Area B, but maybe even more concerned about the contamination and where it has migrated to, and I think there was migration because of the type of geology we have there, we are looking in all directions, north, south, east and west, so, you know, I think I answered your question by basically saying that. We will be looking all over for it.
Randy White: Okay so, you can ________ Lane, some of the areas that are very concentrated.
Hank Sokolowski: Well, we are, yes we are setting up monitors in many of those areas that you mentioned
Randy White: For vapor intrusion?
Hank Sokolowski: Uh-huh.
Rob Thompson: This is Rob Thompson. In addition to vapor intrusion, we are also going to be conducting dye test studies to determine where groundwater that flows underneath Area B, where it ends up when it leaves Area B.
Randy White: But haven't you already done that according to what I read before they have done that and there was an area where they never found the dye.
Rob Thompson: EPA does not believe that it was thorough enough and we are going to ask the Army to do that again.
Randy White: Okay, okay, alright. So you are going to do another dye test. You are going to do vapor intrusion test outside of Fort Detrick?
Rob Thompson: Yes.
Randy White: Okay. Angie, what were you getting ready to say sweetie?
Angie Pieper: I was just trying to get the timeline. They had said Monday the draft would be done and then I was wondering how long the testing usually takes. How long do you test the areas for?
Hank Sokolowski: Recognize that this is a process. There is a remedial investigation and then after they do that there is a feasibility study, which would be how to address that contamination.
Angie Pieper: Right.
Hank Sokolowski: Once the group agrees on the investigation and location of monitors and all those things, the Army then will have to run a contract to hire contractors who will follow the remedial investigation plan and do the work that the group is asking to be done.
Randy White: May I interject something, we are all so sorry, our private investigators as far as vapor intrusion as well, I am sure your guys are very wise that we are posturing ourselves for a civil lawsuit here, just for the fact that we feel like _______ has not really been addressed as far as clean up and how they just went on NPL list, etc. So we have got a firm that is kind of leading us in a right direction and we are also, so it would be redundant, I mean it would kind of echo what you are doing, so we will probably find the same thing.
Hank Sokolowski: Perhaps we will, but when I said the Army has to get a contract, it is that way because of the way the law, the Superfund Law and Executive Order 12580, which was signed a long, long time ago set up the process and understand that Federal Facilities such as Fort Detrick, says the Army they are lead agency. They are the agency who conducts the investigation. However, at a site that is on the National Priorities List EPA oversees the work that they do and we actually, when we select the remedy for the site, EPA signs that remedy and until EPA signs the remedy, it is not considered a remedy. It is not nearly a deal in the sense, so we have what we call the lead regulatory role in that process, but the Army, it is funded by Congress, funded by the Army to specifically do the work that needs to be done, to study and clean up Area B.
Randy White: And again to echo what my daughter asked and I know it hard for you to say especially knowing the government, how long of a process are we talking about for results for these tests?
Hank Sokolowski: It is hard to put an exact time on it, so I do not want you to hold me to this, but off the top of my head we are probably a year away from having some meaningful results.
Rachel Pisani: This is Rachel. Are these results published? How soon could we get those results? Is that a year from having the results or is that a year from having results that you would actually be able to communicate?
Rob Thompson: When we talk a year timeframe, we are talking about the contractor going in the field, collecting the samples, sending the samples off to the lab to be analyzed and having quality assurance performed on all the results and then a draft report issued. One way you can get results, is if you come to RAB meetings at Fort Eustis they will discuss the results as soon as they are mailed, and there are also regular updates of those meetings too about where they are in the process.
Rachel Pisani: How are we notified of those? How do we…?
Hank Sokolowski: Well the base generally sets the meetings up and there is a chair and co-chair. There is a citizen who co-chairs it and they are run on a monthly basis. Rob, what day do they do it?
Rob Thompson: Well at Fort Detrick they would advertise when they will have their next Restoration Advisory Board Meeting. My suggestion is if you want to participate in RAB then you need to talk to Joe ________.
Susan Funk: They are quarterly, aren't they?
Rob Thompson: I believe they are quarterly.
Susan Funk: I wasn't sure if they were.
Bill Hudson: At the moment the Restoration Advisory Board meetings are set by the base. They go on community interest at the moment, so they have not actually set a schedule so far.
Rachel Pisani: And who was that that you said to contact? I am _______ on community interest, so in other words we would have to have the community communicate to them that they want a meeting?
Bill Hudson: No, I do not mean that exactly. They will definitely have a meeting within probably a quarter. They are not going by a quarter exactly. They are making a decision whether or not they have enough information that they want to, you know, rely to the public or so, but I would talk to Joe ______. He will give you an idea of what ________.
(EPA, Male): I am sorry. This is _______ checked in a little bit late. I am a Community Involvement Coordinator at EPA along with Bill Hudson. I wanted to make sure that everybody understands that any private property testing or results of private property testing are not releasable as far as identifying the individual properties as such. We can release information as far as trends on a particular regional examination or vapor intrusion, but we are not allowed to release individual results or individual properties. Now if you would like to get that information, you would have to get the permission from the individual property owner to release that information to you. We just want to caution you here as well.
Randy White: I'm sorry, actually we have got tremendous _______ with a lot of the property owners, and you got somebody like Dot _______ do you all know who that is? Dorothy ______.
(EPA, Male): : No, I personally do not, but what I am saying is that…
Randy White: Well hold on.
Hank Sokolowski: We are not aware of that issue.
Randy White: I am just saying you know for three years now she has been on bottled water and they told her, her water was fine.
(EPA, Male): What I was meaning, is that if you expect the Army and the EPA to issue or release to you individual property results we cannot do that. As I said we can talk about trends.
Rachel Pisani: We can get those releases from private property owners.
(EPA, Male): : I just wanted to make sure you are aware of the issue. That is all.
Rachel Pisani: Can I ask another question Randy?
Randy White: Yeah, you can ask all day long.
Rachel Pisani: One of my biggest question is if you are doing the testing and you are doing it on private property and it does come back with results similar to what we have found, what is a remedy for those individuals and what is the next action that EPA? I mean is that forwarded to the Health Department immediately? Is that is something that is notified? I mean, we are residents and you are saying it would not even been released, so potentially you have residents that are living with these toxic situations and we are not even going to communicate that to the community?
Hank Sokolowski: Let me, this is Hank again, let me get back to some of the things we were doing originally, talking about the lab and all. As Rob said and Bill, that they held these meetings and in the course of the meetings they give out a lot of information. Yes, there is some truth, there is truth to what they said in terms of confidentiality, but when there is a problem found, and the Army has done this and it is kind of like, it was the individual you were talking about, because they received bottle water. When they find a problem where there is a level above MCL, maximum contamination limit, they will provide them something. In that case it is kind of like the Army provided them bottled water and in some cases I think people may have even gotten, in the past, gotten public water supplied to them eventually.
Rahcel Pisani : Eventually they have yes, but just as the meeting was this past Monday, Fort Detrick still says they have no problem outside of Area B that has actually been proven and they are not aware of any health concerns from the community. You know obviously if they are providing bottled water to citizens they have to be aware of something that is not being communicated.
Hank Sokolowski: Well, they are aware of something. They are aware that the water that those people had was contaminated. That is why they gave them bottled water and in some cases like I said they got public water eventually. So you know when we do this work, in terms of the remedial investigation, that information, we will know if there are, what we call hits of TCE in the groundwater and we will be to, someone, probably the Army at these Restoration Advisory Board meetings will communicate that information to the general public and the people that attend the Restoration Advisory Board.
Rachel Pisani: Does the EPA have any responsibility after that to the community?
Rob Thompson: Well we are involved in understanding the whole process.
Hank Sokolowski: We are there overseeing everything that they do. Our role is to make sure that, for example, that when they send this to a lab, they are sending it to the proper lab and that the proper quality assurance procedures are being followed so that there is a proper chain of custody with the samples and things like that. So that when those results come back, those are good, solid reliable results. When we do have those results and we find that there is a problem like that, we expect, like the Army has provided bottled water, to do something, to take an action. We sometimes call that an immediate, a response, a removal action. But essentially we will make them if they do not, and I am sure, I hope they will, if they find results that are above MCL in someone's water that they would provide water in some way, shape or form and if they do not, we will make them do it.
EPA, MALE: …..all the precautions, but we cannot supply or the Army cannot supply, bottled water for people who do not have verified, or bottled or remedies for vapor intrusion, until such time as we have ______ this knowing that there is indeed some vapor intrusion in that property or there is a problem with that individual property's water. We do not go in and blanket the area and say we are going to supply bottled water to everybody in this community, if in fact not every house, we do not know for sure, that every house is being impacted.
Randy White: I would like to ask you a question. I mean I am just an outsider looking in but _________ conversation, I mean we are talking about the water that is contaminated and another year for them not knowing if it is contaminated. If it is then they get bottled water. What about all the people that are getting cancer between now and then drinking the water?
Bill Hudson: Well Randy let me just say something else too, as I understand it now, and I am going to ask Rob to confirm this, as far as I know, everyone within a certain distance of the base or anyone who has wanted their water tested, has had their water tested and in cases where they have found a problem, they have given them bottled water. Now in the cases of what we are going to do in the future, we are setting up other monitoring wells. I am not sure and we will continue to work with the Army to test water that is in testing program that they are doing right now, so when we find a problem, an action will be taken. As of now, it is my understanding is that people that have gotten water, have gotten water because there was a problem that was found and anyone that wants their water tested, can have the water tested at any point in time. They have to identify themselves that is all.
Angie Pieper: But that does not show, what if, can I just say it is common as somebody who did live in Lake Coventry, we lived there from 1995 until 2005, and we were never given notices or things like that of what was going on. Maybe, you know, you guys were holding meetings, but as the public I can just tell you I was never made aware of it. So what happens to the people that did live there. Things were happening, obviously four blocks away around the Elk Lodge, there was a bunch of contamination. Just like you guys said there was karst geology, so what happens to all of us who lived there, things were going through the air, the vapor, through our showers, our laundry, things like that. I already have one person dead, another person with renal failure, I just had a partial hysterectomy last month. I mean who knows what we can account to all this. What happens to those citizens, who lived there, was never made aware before, and now you are saying well we will test the water, they could get their water tested, but this is beyond, just as you guys said, this is beyond the water. There was karst geology and there were 2,000 tons of hazardous chemicals that were unburied, things that were seeping in the ground. Who knows if they were going into the vapor, you know, I mean you cannot tell me that just because people feel like they want to get their water tested they can. That is not going to solve the issue. It is going in through other ways and now I want to know what kind of remedy for a family like me, who did live there for 10 years, what do we have? How do we get this fixed? I mean we are already into chemo, radiation and burying people.
Hank Sokolowski: Angie that was you right?
Angie Pieper: Yes, sir.
Hank Sokolowski: I am so sorry to hear about your sister's death and the other problems that you had with cancer. It really distresses us when we hear things like that happening and it is also, you need to understand that we got involved in the process when placed this site on the National Priority List. That is when EPA formally got involved and took over. It is very difficult for me to go back and address what happened in whatever year you are talking, 1995, 1997, and 2000. We were not a direct participate in that. At that point in time, the State of Maryland, Department of Environment was the, what we call, the lead regulatory that would have been overseeing the work that the Army did and so I hope that answers your question and again I am sorry to hear about your loss.
Angie Pieper: It does. I guess I am just concerned that the people before you guys stepped in, you know last year, that the people that lived there when it was the highest, you know the highest level of contamination that was reported, the people that lived in those places, I know that now you are going to set up the monitors to check where it could have possible bled to because of the geology and things like that. But I am concerned, I am wondering, if there aren't, because I know that Fort Detrick has changed it ways of closing up things, so I am wondering you know from 10 years ago where people were effected, those traces of TCE are not going show up anymore. Are you still going to be able to test it and show that there was, you know, the vapor intrusion that led off of the quarry, the streams, the creeks, things like that. I just have, and you know beyond me, what really sparked this was I had 10 very close friends, that I grew up with and went to high school with that we all lived within 10 miles of each other and they have stage IV lymphomas, leukemia. I have a friend that has, you know her father and she is also affected and it just really upsets because I am worried that these people will not get any kind of answer. You know they are going, like you said, they have to wait another year before they can even find out if it is seeping up through into their basements and things like that.
Hank Sokolowski: Well some of what you are talking about, a lot of what you are talking about is things that have happened in the past and you know we do not know, and for that matter we may never know whether those people developed those cancers or are developing cancers as a result of the contamination that has been 10, 15, 20 years, I do not know. And I am not, we are not the Health Department so I cannot link cancer to specific environment threats, in this case TCE. What we are trying to do is trying to, you know, get what is there under control and I guess in a way trying to stop future things from occurring and if there is an immediate problem deal with it immediately right now. I think some of these questions could be answered by the talking to the State of Maryland, the Department of the Environment and they may be able to help you out with the testing that they did, that they were a part of and how they chose to deal with it.
Angie Pieper: So after the 1994 report of ________ testing positive for the TCE and PCE, am I understanding that the EPA was not notified or not involved with it. The only time you guys have been involved with Fort Detrick was as of last year or 2008.
Hank Sokolowski: That is not totally true. We had a small role, a very, I would call it a minor role. From time to time we got involved as a technical consultant, because some of the expertise that the state does not have, like for example hydrogeologists that can understand some of the things that may be we have the expertise to understand. So what you say is not totally true, but our real involvement, I mean extensive involvement, started when the site got proposed on the NPL.
Angie Pieper: Okay, I am sorry I am just trying to make myself clear, because before any of this I did not really even know about the EPA. But at 1994 when everything was tested positive, that is when, like you said, there were reports made to State Department and you are telling me you had little involvement, but my understanding was that the EPA was always supposed to be the supervisor, so are you guys only the supervisor once they are put on the NPL list or do you supervise every agency once they are testing positive for these things?
Hank Sokolowski: When the site is not on a National Priorities List, when it is not on the NPL, it is the state's responsibility.
Angie Pieper: Okay.
Hank Sokolowski: When I becomes NPL, when it gets on to the NPL it is EPA responsibilities. That is the division of labor.
Susan Funk: This is Susan. How can we just move up the process a little bit? It just seems like, you know we know that _______ had a problem with the DOT taking its time and not moving fast enough and like Angie was saying earlier, it is the timeline and now that you know and now that you are aware of the feedback that we are getting from being out there every day meeting people and hearing their stories, these are the people that just do not show up in some blanket testing. These are real people, real people of the community and time is not on their side. Is there a way that you suggest that we work together and not quite frankly, meetings like the RAB meeting I think is a really great thing, but I know for certain from sitting in meetings so many times that not a lot gets done and it is not a way to expedite something, so could there be a form? Could you come up with a process and include us in that so that we can get some definition on and some time, so we can, you know we have got to help these people. They are dying. We are walking the graveyards and there are like 600 people out there you know and this is not funny. This is their life. They are living with cancer because of something that happened a while back that was not resolved and while we all want to move forward and you are doing a good job in doing the best you can, this is a real issue, so Hank tell me how we can address this.
Hank Sokolowski: No, it is not funny. The best way you can be a constructive part of the process is by watching over it, by attending the Restoration Advisory Board meetings. You know, you can talk to us at any time. We will be glad to tell you what we know or where we are in the process. I am sure the Maryland Department of the Environment will do pretty much the same thing. I know for a fact that you have conversations with the Maryland Department of Health and I know they are concerned too, because I have spoken to them. So, I think you have a lot of people working at your issue.
Randy White: Hank, may I interject? This is Randy. You know one on these just talking, and I also flew from Hawaii up there and stayed and interviewed a lot of these people, these meetings, I am just going to be frank with you, they are told what they need to hear. They are afraid to ask questions, because they are intimidated and they are hardly ever notified is what the community is saying. There is no way notifying of it. In fact, the meeting that just came up, that just did a write up in the Gazette about, was something that if I had not initiated where the meeting was, etc., I would not have know anything about it.
Angie Pieper: We actually spoke to almost every single citizen that attended that meeting, Susie and I, and there was not one citizen that was satisfied with the answers. There was not one citizen that said that they addressed their questions appropriately, so you know it is great for them communicate to us how they are people oriented, repetitively the Colonel said people count. It is very hard for us to swallow a message from the Army saying people count, when they do not even count the people that have lost their lives over the past couple of decades and now we are going into another generation of people that, this generation are young people that are losing their life and we still have possible, we have shown contamination. We still have possible next generations being affected by this. So this is not something that we should, I mean the EPA should be all over this communicating it to people and getting this done. We have tried talking to congressmen and senators, where you said Congress dictates and Maryland State. When is the government taking responsibility and actually expediting this?
Hank Sokolowski: Well you just raised a whole bunch of questions there. Let me first try to talk to the meeting. I think you are talking about the meeting this past Monday, is that correct?
Angie Pieper: Correct.
Hank Sokolowski: That was not a Restoration Advisory Board meeting as I understood, that meaning I was not there. That meeting was intended to talk about the environmental impact statement for a building that is going to be going up, I think it is with FDA or Food and Drug Administration, or something that is going to be located at the site. I do understand also that some issues related to environmental clean up and NPL listing came up. Again the purpose of that meeting was not to do that. That does not mean people cannot bring up those sorts of things. Now I am going to let Bill go on to _____ Restoration Advisory Board meetings, talk to you about how the community gets involved and what is meaningful and how you can get your voice heard.
Bill Hudson: Since NPL listing, the Army is just ramping up right now. It has only been a year since they have been placed on the NPL, and so they are actually at this time helping the Army at this point understand what they need to do for community outreach and so far they have tried to make some changes. They currently have the meetings on base and we are working with them to have the meetings outside of the facility, so that people do not have to go through security before they can get into the public meetings. On the other hand…..
Randy White: Well how do you notify the people?
Angie Pieper: People do not even know that the meetings are occurring. There were 14 citizens there.
Bill Hudson: Again you are confusing the RAB meeting with the…
Randy White: I am not, I am talking about the RAB meeting. I am talking RAB meeting. I've talked to Ben ________, I've talked to Barry ________. I know all these people by their names and who they are, know their families and their grandchildren and they do not know the RAB meetings, so how do you notify them about the RAB meetings?
Hank Sokolowski: Randy the responsibility to make the notifications about the RAB meetings is Fort Detrick. What we want make sure is that they do community outreach in the right way, so now that we have heard what you had to say, we want to just make a point to get back to the base to make sure they are following the Community Involvement Plan that they developed as a result of the Superfund Program and that they are taking the correct measures. They should be notifying people. They should be sending out flyers. Sometimes they put advertisements on T.V. There is always…
Randy White: I am doing all that now, trust me. They are going to be aware of it now, we have got T.V. spots going on, I have a full page ad going in the U.S.A. Today. We have got the crawler on the Weather Channel, etc. Let me ask you this is _________
Angie Pieper: Who is going to be responsible?
Randy White: Well it is what it is. I mean, but I am going to make the Frederick community aware of what is going on here and I am going to send them the results of these test, but is Chuck Gordon the publicist? Is he the guy who is to let people know about these meetings?
Bill Hudson: I do not know who Chuck Gordon is.
Randy White: Well Bill aren't you over RAB meetings?
Bill Hudson: Yes.
Randy White: Well don't you know Chuck?
Bill Hudson: I do not know Chuck? I mean the name just do not….Well was it a person that you talked to?
Randy White: No, he was the one sending papers, just came out yesterday, Chuck Gordon for Fort Detrick.
Bill Hudson Well, we will look into that.
Randy White: …he notified everybody about these meetings.
Rob Thompson: Randy, let me say this. I do not know who that person is. We will try to find out for you and we will make sure that the proper notifications are made, but The Environmental Manager at the base is Bob Craig and he is the one who is responsible for coordinating all the efforts, whether it is community outreach, whether it is the contractor that is doing the work at the site, whether it is the sampling. I mean he is charge of the program and he reports to one level below the Colonel is my understanding. So ultimately he would be responsible and I will make sure that we give him that kind of feedback.
Randy White: That would be great. Now is Linda Miller still on the phone? I guess not.
Linda Miller: Yeah, I am still here.
Randy White: Linda, you have been listening to all this. I would like to hear your input. Hello?
Linda Miller: Sorry I had to, I am sorry I had to turn the mute off again. Well I appreciate the fact that you have raised all these issues and I am glad that Hank was on the phone with his staff, I'm sorry I'm in the car, to hear your concerns and he has agreed to up our participation in that. I am glad that you are raising the awareness and would be glad to facilitate in anyway I can your participation with the State, but I understand you have already talk to Secretary Wilson's staff as well as the Army.
Randy White: Let me ask you while you are the phone Linda and I have got your undivided attention, Angie how many did you say of your _______ or friends in that area now have or had cancer and what was their ages.
Angie Pieper: My immediate circle of friends, people I have know and graduated with were 10. Exactly 10 people and I graduated with them or they graduated with my sister Kristen, so they are between the ages, the oldest one was 35 and he has stage IV lymphoma right now, and all of them were on _________.
Randy White: Are you hearing that Linda?
Linda Miller: Yes I am.
Randy White: Do you understand the seriousness of what we are talking about? It seems like this is going to be a long drawn out process while people are dying.
Linda Miller: We will go back and speak, we will further answer your concerns and I agree that with Hank that the outreach and the continue community discussion is an important piece of this moving forward.
Hank Sokolowski: Randy, this is Hank again. I also think, if you have not done it already, you need to share that information.
Randy White: We are waiting for the opportunity. We are just starting to warm up. To be quite honest with you we are going to have some A-list celebrities come in and we are going to bring the news media in, etc. and then we are going to show the results of all of our testing, etc. It is going to be a 5-10 year process. I am very much aware of this, but with that there are a lot, a lot of people who are dying and people that I look in their eyes and they know that Fort Detrick is responsible.
Angie Pieper: Dad, can I say something? This is Angie.
Randy White: Sure..
Angie Pieper: I want the EPA and Fort Detrick to understand my initial call with the EPA, I was referred back to Fort Detrick and with the Maryland State Department they referred me to Fort Detrick, and like I said in the paper Fort Detrick took my concerns seriously and I did appreciate that. But just like Bill Hudson said ", because I am writing word for word, he said "it has only been a year since we have been put on the EPA", well when I, you know I have a job and within a year I would think that my employer would expect me to at least be able to draw up this draft that they are talking about for the first draft version, so it has already been a year. The draft is not even complete, which to me tells me that EPA has got the ball on being a supervisor and so now from the year that they been put on the NPL list and now we are talking about another year before the draft and testing is done, you guys have to understand that that is two years and those two years are very critical. I do not know if you have spent any time at a cancer center, and I am not saying that I am angry, but I am upset, because the past four years of my life has been watching, you know, these people with cancer and two years, that is a lot of time when cancer can only take a month or six months to kill somebody and you are talking about the community, so your just… You know to me the EPA dropped the ball on this and it is very upsetting. The draft should have been done last year, or within, you know to me it does not seem like it would be that difficult. We had our own people go up there and start testing and doing things. Granted I know it was not as thorough and they could do it in a weekend, but I am sure some kind of draft could have been drafted within six months you know to show where they are going to put these monitors, so to me it is just a waste of time. You guys are not taking it serious and that is what is so upsetting.
Randy White: Angie, I appreciate that. May I ask another question, because I have some insiders who work at Fort Detrick, when the EPA does these monitoring wells, do they hire private contractors or do they use Fort Detrick employees?
Hank Sokolowski: That is an easy question to answer. We do independent work of them. We will, what we call, split samples with the Army. So we will independently verify their results.
Randy White: No, no, no. I am talking about feeding the wells because I have four people willing to testify under oath about some of these wells that they supposedly have dug that are not functional. Also I am sure you are familiar the _________ sewer system that they have at Fort Detrick. You are familiar with that are not you?
Bill Hudson: Yes, we are.
Randy White: Did you know that there was a huge spill and that it went into the sewer system?
EPA, MALE: As far as we are aware from Fort Detrick, they closed that _______ sewer system and decontaminated it.
Randy White: That was closed after the spill.
Hank Sokolowski: Randy what is your point.
Randy White: My point is these people are willing to testify under oath that even some of these wells that they are putting in now currently are not functional. I think the gentleman I spoke to said that they had 120 they had put in and around the area, I hate to use this word, please do not take an offense to this, but it was done half ass he told me.
Hank Sokolowski: No, I do not take offense to that. If they were put in recently, we would have a lot of say over you know the construction of the well and all like, but I am not aware of any that are like that. If you have specifics and are willing…
Randy White: Well he has video, he has video. I can only give you the video. He has video of that and also contamination that was being poured out on the groundwater.
Hank Sokolowski: Well that is all good evidence that is valuable in terms of considering what the remedy should be and helps us locate the extent of contamination, how much was there and all like that. I mean this is the stuff that goes through, this is all part of the process, and we need as much information as we can get.
Randy White: Alright. Do you guys have any questions for us?
________: No I do not.
Randy White: Angie?
Angie Pieper: No, I am good.
Hank Sokolowski: Let me just say I am sorry again for your loss and we stand willing to help you out.
Randy White: Do you have any children, Hank?
Hank Sokolowski: What is that?
Randy White: Do you have children?
Hank Sokolowski: I have two, yes.
Randy White: How would you feel if that happened to your child? Would you be angry?
Hank Sokolowski: I would be horrified. It would be unbelievable.
Randy White: And then what if you were told well two years from now we may have results and possibly, you know, maybe another hundred people die?
Hank Sokolowski: I do not want to go there.
Randy White: Okay. Well that is what the Environmental Protection Agency does, that is what I am told. I am just really disappointed the way our government is handling this. It is very, very sad. So I guess the only remedy we really are satisfied with is that someone is going to do better communication as far as the RAB group goes.
Hank Sokolowski: We will take, you know, the fact you just told us and we will check into it and make sure the right communication is being made, that you are getting community input. Randy the best thing to do is become a part of the process and get involved.
Randy White: Do not worry, I am involved.
Hank Sokolowski: Attend those meetings.
Randy White: I will be involved, trust me I will be involved, but it is a long drawn out process. I understand for the EPA, what we are watching on television now is a disaster with what has happened with the oil spill, but when consider that there is 410 potential lives that are at risk right now, think about that compared to what we are watching. I mean and no one is doing anything about this. It just seems like it should be red alert, let's get in here and let's make it happen and then when I talk to the employees at Detrick, they are saying it is a joke. They are telling me it is a joke, about putting these monitoring wells in. That they are doing of half ass, that they are not getting the response back the way that they are supposed to. That they are pouring contaminated materials still on the ground, that they have video of this. I mean somewhere somebody has got to do something soon.
Hank Sokolowski: As I said, you know if you have that information, send it to the Army, send it to EPA. I can assure you that while we are involved in this process, we are going to make sure that they construct the wells the right way, that they take the sampling, that it is done the proper way, that it is handled the proper way so the samples and results are valid and that when that information comes back it makes sense. It is not all jumbled up, it is not data that is going to be questionable that people, in our terms, shoot holes in, but that it is good solid data on which we can make good solid decision about what the proper remedy at the site is. Back to your health concerns, and I know you done this, I would, you know the Health Department are the proper people to deal with those. We are not health experts. We are not doctors.
Randy White: Right.
Hank Sokolowski: So when you talk cancer and all like that, I am very concerned about it. I feel very sorry about it. I know what you said about having kids. I can feel your anguish, but you need to share that with the Health Department.
Randy White: Oh, I have. Let me ask you, are you the same group and then I will conclude this meeting, did you oversee as far as Camp Lejeune and what was going on there and the report?
Hank Sokolowski: I believe Camp Lejeune is on the NPL.
Randy White: Right.
Hank Sokolowski: It would be not in our region. That would be in the Atlanta office.
Angie Pieper: What about Fort Mead though?
Hank Sokolowski: Fort Mead is this region.
Randy White: What is happening there?
Hank Sokolowski: Oh, a tremendous amount, I mean I go on for an hour. I mean since we have gotten involved, we now have an enforceable agreement with the Army and the other parties that are involved with the site's _________ actually even the all of Congress is involved, _________. They are on an extensive sampling program, every resident within, I think, it is a 5 mile area of the base is being offered the opportunity to have their water sampled and if there is contamination at all found we give them bottled water. I mean, it is just a number of things that are going on. It is a process I understand and maybe it is not is fast as you would like to see it happen, but it is effective I believe.
Randy White: Okay. Alright, anything else guys? So we letting everyone go?
Angie Pieper: That is all I have.
Randy White: I will be calling everyone individually. Listen thank you gentlemen and thank you Linda for taking….
Linda Miller: Thank you and I am sorry I was not able to speak more, I am out at a previously scheduled event today, so thanks for everyone calling in.