~ March 23, 2017 NIOSH Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health presentation by Ms. Terrie Barrie ~
Submitted by Charles Saunders, Petitioner, and Terrie Barrie, Co-Petitioner, for the Rocky Flats Special Exposures Cohort (SEC) petition, number 0192.
Thank you, Dr. Melius and members of the Board for allowing the opportunity to present the petitioner’s position before the full board votes on expanding the SEC beyond December 31, 1983. My name is Terrie Barrie and I’m the co-petitioner for Rocky Flats’ SEC petition 0192. While the work group permitted Charles Saunders, the petitioner, and I to make comments during the meetings, we were not always provided this courtesy before the Work Group voted on the various white papers and NIOSH positions. Denying this opportunity to weigh in before a vote prevented the Working Group (WG) from hearing the Rocky Flats advocates and their site experts’ objections NIOSH’s approach. Our concerns may have prompted further discussions and investigations and even perhaps a reversal of a previous position. But because the petitioners were not heard, these concerns were not addressed
For instance, the Work Group accepted, on February 9, 2017, NIOSH’s position on reconstructing dose for the Critical Mass Lab before I had the opportunity to present the petitioner’s objections and concerns to NIOSH’s revised white papers. I will talk about that in a bit.
The ten-minute time limit is not sufficient for the petitioners to relay the details of our position. While I will strive to observe the restriction, I ask that this document also be entered into the administrative record.
New Discovery for Building 460
NIOSH has on a number of occasions stated that they will review new evidence a petitioner may find. I now offer new evidence for workers from Building 460.
One aspect of this petition was the issue of radiation exposure in Building 460. I don’t remember the WG ever discussing this despite me raising the issue many times over the years. That may be because of the Evaluation Report. Page 87 states, https://goo.gl/231TLz,
Some workers may not have been monitored if it was determined that their exposure potential was below the threshold for dose monitoring to be required. Building 460 was considered a “cold” building, so dose monitoring may not have been required…The adequacy of…dose records for the development of co-worker distributions…unmonitored internal and external does has already been evaluated by NIOSH and the ABRWH for SEC-00030. (Emphasis added)
Recently, Deb Jerison investigated Rocky Flats exposures using information available on the Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource (CEDR) site. She inquired of NIOSH if they used information from CEDR for their dose reconstruction. NIOSH replied,
“NIOSH has made use of CEDR data to complete coworker studies for some sites. This includes all three Oak Ridge sites (Y-12, X-10 and K-25) as well as Rocky Flats and Hanford.” (Emphasis added)
The vague statement in the ER that monitoring may not have been required for workers in 460 implies that DCAS is unaware that there are almost 3,000 radiation records for those workers between 1985 and 1989. Half of those records show a measurable dose.
If DCAS really used the CEDR for their co-worker modes, why wouldn’t they have said something like, “We located 2,930 radiation records for workers in Building 460 and determined that…” They counted the individual urine samples in the SRDB in their white paper on data falsification, so we know they have that capability.
If I understand the ER correctly, NIOSH assigns .02 rems for missed dose from 1977 to 1992. 460 became operational in 1984. If you average out the total number of records with the total recorded dose, .02 rems is conceivably accurate for missed dose. However, and I didn’t understand this until this month, it is my opinion it would be more claimant favorable for workers in 460 to have received .05 rems as missed dose. This calculation is based on averaging out the total number of recorded dose, 70,908 mr, and divide that by the number of records in CEDR with actual recorded dose. To me and my site experts it appears that NIOSH is seriously underestimating missed dose – not only for 460 but for all workers in all buildings through 1989. And please note, there is at least one employee who worked in Building 460 who has a recordable dose but is not included in CEDR’s database.
I realize that this new evidence may cause NIOSH to take another look at their methodology to reconstruct dose. And this alone may not be sufficient for the Board to expand the class. However, it does call into question NIOSH’s ability to reconstruct dose with reasonable or even sufficient accuracy. If NIOSH missed the information in CEDR since the inception of the program, how can the claimants trust any of their conclusions?
Neutron Exposure in Building 444
Neutron exposure for workers in Building 444 are in a similar situation. Last year I asked NIOSH for guidance on the possibility that workers in 444 could have been exposed to neutrons because both depleted uranium and beryllium were present in that building. Specifically, I inquired about a NIOSH document, “Health Hazard Evaluation Report No. 96-0198-2651 authored by John Cardarelli, II, M.S., and whether it applied to Rocky Flats Building 444, since that is where the majority of the depleted uranium was located. The Cardarelli report states, “For example, an equal number of neutrons can be produced with either a large amount of low-enriched or depleted uranium (238U) or a small amount of highly enriched uranium (235U).”
I had a call with a NIOSH representative on 6/10/16. I was told that NIOSH was aware of possible neutron exposure from depleted uranium. He said he seemed to remember seeing a document in the SRDB about it and would try to send a copy of that document to the Work Group and the petitioners. He also explained that the HEU in the DU would need a catalyst of some kind to start emitting neutrons
NIOSH’s email to the WG on 3/10/2017 states, “A search of the Site Research Database (SRDB) has found no documents indicating that there was a neutron monitoring program in Rocky Flats Building 444.” They also stated that they located a little more than 60 documents in the SRDB related to Building 444 but none were relevant. Ms. Jerison’s review of CEDR shows 874 records for workers who were monitored and had neutron exposure between 1984 and 1989. At least 64 of those records showed 100 mr or more of neutron exposure. Obviously, there was some kind of monitoring program for the workers in 444.
NIOSH’s email of 3/10/17 also states, “Therefore, it would take about 1,000 kg of DU in intimate contact with Be to give a dose rate of 1 mrem/hr at a meter.” I cannot offer documented evidence, however, two site experts informed me that there were two possible scenarios where these two elements would have come in close contact. One would be on the shipping dock and the other would have been through the exhaust system, which could have exposed every worker in 444.
Rocky Flats had an annual inventory of over 300 metric tons of DU between 1984 and 1988, with three of those years exceeding 400 metric tons annually. To me this means it was likely that at least 1,000 kg of DU was present on any given day. https://www.osti.gov/opennet/forms.jsp?formurl=document/press/pc19.html It also confirms the information former Rocky Flats workers provided to me that there were “tons and tons” of DU.
If NIOSH used CEDR for their dose reconstruction program for Rocky Flats, why is the information contained in that database not reflected in the SRDB? I would also like to advise the Board that the Department of Labor’s Site Exposure Matrix now shows that plutonium was present in 444. The SEM is based on DOE records.
How can the Rocky Flats claimants accept the accuracy of NIOSH’s dose reconstruction when there is doubt not only whether documents were intentionally destroyed, as previously asserted, but with this conflicting information?
I will be happy to supply the spreadsheets developed by Ms. Jerison to the Board upon request.
Issues NIOSH says were closed out in July 2007 vote by Board
NIOSH responded to my question during the Santa Fe board meeting concerning the lack of documentation closing out the investigation of 2 safety concerns they identified in 2007 that may have affected dose reconstruction. In an email to the Work Group on March 9, 2017 NIOSH concluded that this issue was “ultimately closed with the AB [Advisory Board] vote on the SEC00030-RFP vote and class recommendation in July of 2007. “
Excuse my bluntness but that reasoning is illogical and not based on the facts. In July of 2007, the Advisory Board also voted on NIOSH’s ability to reconstruct dose for thorium, U-233, and neptunium. Yet, 6 years later NIOSH reopened those issues and recommended to expand the class thru 1983. The Advisory Board agreed with that recommendation. If those issues were reopened under this petition, why has NIOSH and to some degree the Work Group put a kibosh on discussions or investigations into numerous other issues raised in our petition.
I would also like to point out that the safety concerns discussed in 2007 did not include the possible criticality which occurred in 1986, https://rockyflatsambushedgrandjury.com/wp-content/uploads/R19861117-TF-Audits-771-774.pdf or the falsification of plutonium weights on run sheet, https://rockyflatsambushedgrandjury.com/wp-content/uploads/R1985-087-SC.pdf
Further discussion on metal tritides was also shut down. During the 3/17/15 WG meeting, SC&A asked, “And, finally, what about tritides? They seemed to have showed up in the SRDBs, and where does that fit into the picture?” At the end of the meeting NIOSH responded, “And we’ll look at the tritides, as well.”
But NIOSH did not. It does not appear that tritides was ever thoroughly investigated or discussed by the Work Group. Instead, the explanation that this issue was decided in July 2007 was given during the 2/9/17 Work Group meeting and it was decided that this issue was no longer on the table.
Since the 3/17/15 meeting I have researched the presence of metal tritides at Rocky Flats. I found a few documents that are indicative that metal tritides were indeed at Rocky Flats. One is a 1976 internal letter from Ed Vejvoda, Rocky Flats was looking into the possibility of accepting plutonium that had greater tritium content than 10 microcuries. The letter describes processing 100 kg of plutonium oxide containing 3000 micrograms of tritium into metal. I provided this document to NIOSH. Another document is Rocky Flats document titled, “Tritium Permeation in Passivated 304L Stainless Steel.” https://goo.gl/eezpBs The third document I located was from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, https://goo.gl/Ld6kPu. This 1999 report provided an update by DOE on their “policy approach on radiation protection measures for metal tritides and organically-bound tritium.”
“The Assistant Secretaries for Environmental Management (EM) and Defense Programs (DP) requested from the Site Managers across DOE, information needed to identify if there are facilities, other than Mound, where there exist current or future needs to work with metal tritides or organically-bound tritium and to identify past and present radiation protection practices for dealing with such compounds. A set of specific questions allowed DOE to understand the extent and nature of issues related to STCs. The evaluation of field data was performed jointly by EM, DP, and Environment, Safety and Health (EH).
Rocky Flats was one of four sites which responded that they expected DOE to “to issue policy, guidance. or manual of good practices for STC radiation protection programs.” And let’s not forget about one interview conducted by the FBI on June 11, 1991 and provided to NIOSH. The former worker, who was a chemical engineer, stated, “the tritium site was separate. Due to the ongoing practice of conducting Classified Projects at Rocky Flats, tritium was produced and disposed of at the plant, in the area of the 207 ponds.” (Emphasis added)
I get that there were secret projects at Rocky Flats and completely understand the need for secrecy. NIOSH’s white paper on metal tritides at SRS, issued January 9th of this year acknowledges that some of the processes and materials are still classified. However, ignoring the evidence or even the fact that metal tritides was even present is a miscarriage of justice and a betrayal of the workers who did their part to protect all of us during the Cold War.
To restate the comments I made in Santa Fe, if NIOSH cannot reconstruct dose for the presence of metal tritides because they did not know the type of tritides present at the site. Page 16, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/pdfs/abrwh/pres/2014/dc-gasec218072914.pdf. There is strong evidence that metal tritides was present at Rocky Flats. NIOSH has yet to acknowledge the fact that Rocky Flats workers were exposed to metal tritides. And contrary to the guidance in OCAS-IG-003, NIOSH has not identified the type or types of metal tritides that they were present at Rocky Flats and develop a method to reconstruct dose.
Critical Mass Laboratory Revised White Paper
I consulted with Dr. Rothe, the senior scientist at the Critical Mass Lab (CML). You may remember he participated in a number of meetings and was interviewed by NIOSH. He voiced a number of concerns with the November 2016 white paper, “Reassessment of Internal Radiation Dose from Sources at the Rocky Flats Critical Mass Laboratory” . For instance, NIOSH focused only on HEUN. He reminded me that CML also had 375 kg of very old Pu because it was rich in Am-241. He also explained that workers would have been exposed to HEUN when there were no experiments being conducted. He said that the CML staff was required to inventory HEUN “which would have exposed workers to 4 months of daily hands on contact with irradiated radioactive material.” He also questioned NIOSH’s assumption that the average experiment lasted 70 minutes. He believes this is a low estimate. He contends that about 15 to 20 minutes would be devoted to the “slightly super and slightly subcritical conditions” alone. It would not have been safe to just ramp it up to just below criticality too fast. He also recalls a few experiments which were ”intentionally kept at or near criticality for hours.”
I was struck by this statement on page 30,
“However, NIOSH has found no indication that confirmatory bioassays were performed for employees involved in clean-up of any of the accidental UNH spills. Fission and activation products, which decay primarily by beta/gamma emission, are not likely in any case to have been detected by bioassay intended to detect alpha particles emitted by uranium or transuranic radionuclides.”
Why couldn’t NIOSH locate bioassay for these workers? Was the bioassay protocol violated? Did Building 123 misplace the urine and fecal samples? Were the bioassay records destroyed? And if fission and activation products can’t be detected by bioassay, how does NIOSH plan to reconstruct dose for beta/gamma exposures for these workers?
Magnesium Thorium Alloy Issue/Former Workers Continue to Come Forward
Cold War Patriots generously sent an email to their Rocky Flats members, on my request asking two questions – “Do you know or have documents on magnesium/thorium alloy plates or metal tritides?” This was a “Hail Mary” effort on my part. I never expected to receive any information. Yet a few people did respond. 2 people said yes, they knew there was magnesium/thorium alloy in building 440. A total of four RF workers have now testified to either me, Dr. McKeel or the Board and NIOSH that there was magnesium/thorium alloy plates used in Rocky Flats Building 440, the Transport Modification Center (“Mod Center”). The mag-thor arrived at Rocky flats as large sheets and then was machined and used as brackets and supports to modify the transport vehicles (ATMX DOE rail cars series 500 and 600 and secure semi-truck trailers). You will note that Building 440 was also considered a “cold building”. But, according to Ms. Jerison’s analysis of CEDR, about 8% of the workers in that building have radiation dose records.
You may remember that a former Rocky Flats worker came forward during a Board’s public comment period with his knowledge of the use of magnesium/thorium alloy and had a secure interview.
You may also be aware of the joint Barrie-McKeel white paper on Mag-thor which was provided to the Rocky Flats WG shortly before the February 9, 2017 teleconference. This paper was posted and it is quite possible that the WG did not have sufficient time to review it.
I am convinced that, like metal tritides, that a large quantity of Mag-thor was present at Rocky Flats. Indeed the petitioner, Charles Saunders, remembers these 4 feet by 8 to 10 feet long plates. Mr. Saunder’s recollection, along with the other Rocky Flats former workers who came forward confirm the sworn affidavits provided by the 14 Dow Madison, IL workers. These affidavits attested that these Dow Madison workers saw or new about the Mag-thor shipments to Rocky Flats.
NIOSH never outlined how they reconstructed dose at RF for thorium as a large quantity of 4 ft x 8 to 12 foot long plates that 14 Dow Madison IL workers did issue signed and notarized sworn affidavits stating they saw or knew about mag-thor alloy shipments to RF in Colorado.
And, according to Ms. Jerison’s analysis of CEDR, about 8% of the workers in that building have radiation dose records. Building 440 was also considered a “cold” building.
And, yes, metal tritides were present. One person remembered that some waste drums she characterized had solid metals containing tritium. Another worker said he knew of 5 co-workers who were involved with tritides. Unfortunately, all 5 are now deceased. A worker remembered the gettering system, which was intended to capture any tritium released from site returns. He said the machinery never operated. I checked with a different worker who worked in 776 a few years later and he, too, remembers the machinery but never saw it operating.
I first thought to ask the new contacts for an affidavit, but then I decided not to. Why should I put these people through the trouble of typing up an affidavit, finding a notary to affirm the statement is true, send it to me so that I can forward to NIOSH, only to have those statements rejected and those workers insulted? NIOSH didn’t believe Dr. Rothe; they didn’t believe the worker who came forward admitting she was instructed to destroy records; they didn’t’ believe the worker who previously provided information to the Board on the use of magnesium/thorium alloy plate in 440; they didn’t believe Jon Lipsky, the former FBI agent who led the raid on Rocky Flats; they didn’t believe Joan Stewart when she explained record falsification during her interview; they didn’t believe the Dow Madison workers who supplied sworn affidavits about shipments of magnesium/thorium alloy plates to Rocky Flats; and they didn’t believe the many former workers who submitted affidavits and testimony for the first Rocky Flats SEC petition.
I would be remiss if I did not, once again, bring NIOSH’s position (one accepted by the Work Group), that they can reconstruct dose neptunium after 1983 by using plutonium bioassay. Yet, the Board decided to extend the LANL SEC years to the mid 90’s in part because of a DOE document which states plutonium bioassay cannot be used to reconstruct dose for neptunium exposure. If NIOSH can’t reconstruct neptunium dose for LANL, the gold star standard for DOE facilities, using plutonium bioassay how can they assert they can for Rocky Flats?
I respectfully disagree with the Work Group’s conclusion that the Cobalt 60 issue is closed. NIOSH stated during the 2/9/17 teleconference that the entity which has possession of this source had additional information that could only be discussed in a secured atmosphere. To my knowledge that secured interview has not occurred. If there is further information about this source which may affect dose reconstruction, it is not claimant friendly nor possibly scientifically valid to close out the issue of potential exposure to this source. If NIOSH has consulted with the entity and determined that there is nothing to be found, then a statement must be made. The Rocky Flats workers deserve nothing less.
I agree that this investigation has been time consuming. The petitioner and I make no apologies for raising the issues of falsification or destruction of records. Nor do we apologize for locating evidence and presenting to NIOSH and the Work Group for an honest evaluation. Details about Rocky Flats were previously overlooked during the petition 0030. And in fact, the first Evaluation Report for this petition erroneously omitted the fact that there was a neptunium production line.
The last issue I would like to address for this meeting is the SEC years that are to be voted on. Petition 00192 claimed the class should be identified for all workers from April 1952 through February 15, 2005. NIOSH qualified this petition from January 1, 1972 through December 31, 1989, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/rocky.html. A Special Exposure Cohort class was added to include workers from 1952 through December 31, 1983. The Board is expected to vote, today, on all years after 1983. Yet the issues affected the workers after 1989 have not been fully explored nor investigated. These workers will not have had the benefit of an honest review of the issues under the evidence submitted under this petition – record destruction, tritium, e.g.
NIOSH has failed to provide reasonable and factually based evidence to support their position to reconstruct dose for the Rocky Flats worker post 1983. The uncertainty of whether documents were investigated and used for the methodology alone should give pause to the Board before voting to not expand the SEC class. Omissions of factual evidence by NIOSH, which is readily available to the public, should also give the Board pause before voting to deny expanding the class.
The Rocky Flats workers deserve a thorough review of all documentation, not just the ones that fit within pre-determined position that they can reconstruct dose. I believe the evidence and arguments the petitioner and I have previously submitted and submit today clearly shows NIOSH cannot accurately reconstruct dose. I ask that you vote to expand the class through 2005.