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Advisory Board to NIOSH Virtual Meeting Report December 8-9, 2020

December 21, 2020

December 21, 2020

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The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health held a two-day virtual meeting on December 8-9, 2020.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Department of Labor and Department of Energy gave an update on their statistics.

Sanford Cohen and Associates (SC&A), the Board’s technical contractor, gave an update on the petitions for Y-12, Santa Susana Area IV and the De Soto facilities.  For the Y-12 petition, SC&A explained that a round of worker interviews was completed mid-November.  Those interviews are being reviewed by the Department of Energy. Then they will go to the interviewees for approval.  NIOSH said they will have their report on the addendum to the petition the middle of 2021.

SC&A agreed that NIOSH can reconstruct dose for Area IV and the De Soto facilities, but that conclusion is dependent upon the several dose reconstructions under development.  There also are continuing the investigation the residual contamination period.

LaVon Rutherford gave an update on the Special Exposure Cohorts (pages 1-14).

NIOSH/DCAS Presentation: Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Update (cdc.gov)

  • Petitions that qualified for Board review:
    • Pinellas Petition SEC-0256
    • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Petition SEC-0221
    • Y-12 Plant Petition SEC-0250
  • One petition is in the process of being qualified:
    • Pantex Petition SEC-0258
  • The Advisory Board reviewing Petitions for:
    • Savannah River Site Petition SEC-0103
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory Petition SEC-0109
    • Sandia National Laboratory Petition SEC-0188
    • Idaho National Laboratory Petition SEC-0219
    • Argonne National Laboratory Petition SEC-0224
    • Area IV Santa Susana Petition SEC-0235
    • Metals and Controls Petition SEC-0236
    • DeSoto Avenue Facility Petition SEC-0246
    • Reduction Pilot Plant Petition SEC-0253
  • Potential 83.14 Petition (for when NIOSH has detected they may not be able to reconstruct dose):
    • West Valley Demonstration Project

After this Mr. Rutherford gave an in-depth explanation of the process by which SECs are qualified (pages 15-30). NIOSH/DCAS Presentation: Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Update (cdc.gov)

The Board requested additional information on the Review Panel and the processes used by the Review Board to help them better understand why some petitions do not qualify, as some of the petitions are extremely complex.

Brad Clawson, the chairman of the Savannah River Work Group gave a presentation on the Savannah River site which recommended a SEC be approved by the Board for subcontractors at SRS from October 1, 1972 to December 31, 1990.

Advisory Board Presentation: Savannah River Site (SRS) Work Group Recommendation for SEC Class Consideration (cdc.gov)

Tim Taulbee from NIOSH disagreed and stated that they could reconstruct dose, implying that the petition should be denied.   NIOSH/DCAS Presentation: Dose reconstruction feasibility for subcontractor construction trades workers at the Savannah River Site (SRS) – SEC00103 (cdc.gov)

 

The Board’s contractor, SC&A, presented and discussed problems with SRS dose reconstruction, SC&A Findings on ORAUT-RPRT-0092: Bioassay Data for Subcontracted Construction Trade Workers at SRS (cdc.gov)  The attorney for the Petitioner also disagreed with NIOSH and gave reasons why dose could not be reconstructed.

The Board ran out of time to vote on the SRS SEC and the meeting ended promptly at 5 PM.  The meeting ended at this time because the Designated Federal Official was unable to stay past the scheduled meeting time, which in effect ended the meeting abruptly.  An attorney from the Office of Special Counsel also intervened in the proceeding, adding confusion to the meeting, by requesting a letter be prepared ahead of time rather than proceeding with the normal order.  It is clear that the Board’s efficiency and work is suffering from the lack of a Board Chairman.  The Board has been without a chairman since the death of Dr. Jim Melius on January 11, 2018. Obituary for Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health’s Chair, James Melius, M.D., Dr.P.H.. Dr. Melius (cdc.gov)  The Board voted to table the vote until their next meeting on February 24, 2021.