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Exxon Fairmont Coke Works

Meeting Minutes

Fairmont Community Liaison Panel
March 4, 1999

Attendees: Barry Bledsoe, Michael Cummings, Tammy Currey, Nick Fantasia, Karen Gribben, Bea Hunter, Bruce McDaniel, John Parks, Robert F. Sapp, Wayne Stutler, Tom Vincent.

Exxon Representatives: John Hannig, Art Chin.

Agency Representatives: Richard Kuhn, Melissa Whittington, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Thomas Bass, West Virginia Divison of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

Contractor: Doug Taylor, ICF Kaiser.

Guests: Bill Byrd, Fairmont Times-West Virginian; Harold Caudill; Griff Fowler; William Jacquez; Chris Marrs, WBOY; Jim Malick; Jim Martin; Jason Morrison; Jennifer Vargo, WDTV; Alex Vincent; Jenni Vincent, Morgantown Dominion-Post; George Werkman, ICF Kaiser; Rich Wood.

Facilitator: Roberta P. Fowlkes, Ann Green Communications, Inc.

Minutes: Dan T. Londeree, Ann Green Communications, Inc.

The March meeting of the Fairmont Community Liaison Panel was called to order at 5:30 p.m. by Roberta Fowlkes, facilitator. Roberta welcomed all participants. Guests were asked to introduce themselves.

Roberta reviewed the panel ground rules with the group. She reviewed the agenda and there were no additions. The minutes from the December meeting were approved as distributed.

Unfinished Business

Communication Update

Roberta said three methods of communication with the community have been used since December -- an ad, a news release and a tri-fold brochure. She said all three asked for community feedback regarding the Fairmont Coke Works site. She said the ad appeared in papers in December and the news release has been used by newspapers, radio stations and television stations. Roberta said the tri-fold brochure was sent to 600 people who live in the general vicinity of the site. As a followup, Roberta said a letter with a progress report on the site was sent to these same 600 people in January. She said John Hannig would review the responses received from these communications later in the meeting.

Roberta asked the panel if anyone has heard specific comments about the site. Community members indicated they have heard no specific comments. Robert Sapp said he has noticed a lot of the demolition work and said there is less on the site now than before. He said the noise related to the demolition work has not been excessive.

Art Chin said he visited the site before the meeting, and hills and trees are now visible where buildings used to block the view. He said the site is looking better, and he encouraged members to visit the site if they have not done so. Jim Martin said he agrees with Art and said he watches the progress of the work every day. He said the noisiest part of the work is the backup horns on the machines.

Harold Caudill said runoff from two garbage dumps is running through the Sharon Steel property. He said the runoff from one of the landfills is entering into a creek where children fish and play. Roberta asked Melissa Whittington if she knew the location of this runoff. Melissa said she was not familiar with the area being discussed and asked Harold if the landfills were separate from the Sharon Steel property. Harold said the landfills were separate from the property but the runoff was running through the property. Melissa said the focus of the project is the property formerly owned by Sharon Steel. She said EPA can look into these landfills as a separate investigation. Harold said when he first talked to representatives about cleaning up the environment, he pointed out these landfills and was told they would be checked. He said he has not heard anything about these landfills since. Harold asked if there is someone else he can contact. Tom Bass said the State has a program that investigates abandoned landfills. He said he will get Harold's phone number so the WVDEP can contact him regarding these landfills.

Roberta said a part of the Communication Update is the talking points used for community presentations about the site. She said after receiving community feedback, a second draft of these talking points was issued with the last meeting minutes. John Hannig said he was pleased with the input received from the panel on the draft and asked the panel to come to him during the meeting break with any other changes so the talking points can be finalized. He said the purpose of the talking points is to provide an outline for presenting information about the site and the project to local community groups.

John said since the last meeting, he has gone through a set of slides of the site taken by ICF Kaiser and picked out several dozen for a presentation. He proposed to leave the slides, along with the talking points, in a place where panel members can have access to them for giving presentations. He said he will show these slides during the meeting break. John suggested that as work on the site progresses, he would add new slides to the presentation so a pictorial record of the work is available to the community.

Roberta pointed out to the panel that additional tri-fold brochures, without a deadline date printed on them, are available to hand out to community members. She said these materials can be used by panel members to ask for feedback about the site.

Bruce McDaniel offered that John could leave the slides at the city hall building so community members can use them for presentations. John agreed and later left the slides with
Regarding presentations given in the community since the December meeting, Nick Fantasia said he and Karen Gribben gave a presentation to the Rotary Club, and he made a presentation to the Kiwanis Club. He said both groups were very interested in the project and both were pleased with the information presented. Bea Hunter said she and Karen are scheduled to give a presentation to the League of Women Voters. She said she talked to the group about the site at the last meeting and members of the group said they would like to see the land used for recreation for senior citizens.

Project Update

John Hannig presented a project update. He noted that the words in bold print on the handout highlighted things that have changed since the December meeting. Under Site Security Upgrade, John said most of the items were already complete before the December meeting. He said the one item that has been completed since the last meeting was the fencing spur, which runs straight up the hill along the south property line to prevent trespassers from entering the property. He said work on the security guard arrangement is still in progress. He said once the work progresses to the point where the daily presence of workers is reduced, a security guard arrangement will need to be in place. He said he is searching for an experienced and bonded security firm and asked the panel to contact him if members know of anyone interested in the work.

John said the major activity on site in the last few months has been the demolition activity. He said three main contractors have been working on this portion of the site cleanup: Advanced Thermal Services (ATS), R S Guerette, and Elkins Iron and Metal. John said the first priority in all activities is safety. He said there have been no lost-time accidents or injuries to date. He said when workers and heavy equipment are on a site as old as the Coke Works Site and there are no accidents, it is a major accomplishment. He said this is a trend that needs to continue. John said all OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards have been followed, especially with regard to asbestos removal. He said the air within the buildings and also outside the buildings has been continuously monitored while asbestos removal is in progress. He said there have been no exceedances of airborne particles of asbestos outside the buildings. He said this is a confirmation of the level of care that has been taken throughout each part of the project.

John reviewed the approach taken for the demolition portion of the project. He said the asbestos contractor has been working through the buildings a few weeks ahead of the demolition crews. He said for each building, the asbestos was removed before the demolition of the building took place. He said the work has been divided into three phases (listed below):

Phase one: The coal and coke processing area, consisting of black metal buildings and conveyors arranged in a U-shape when viewed from above.

Phase two: Coke ovens, 200-foot long ovens.

Phase three: Product and byproduct processing areas, consisting of brick and black steel buildings closer to Suncrest Boulevard.

John said the original scope of work for the asbestos removal will be complete within the next two to three weeks. He said additional asbestos has been found in the boiler house and will be removed before demolition takes place. He said this finding should not affect the overall schedule of the demolition project. He said the project update previously included a March deadline for asbestos removal, but the additional findings now push this date into April.
With regard to the demolition, John said the first two phases are mostly complete. He said most of the buildings have been demolished, and there is still scrap steel to be gathered and removed. He said the third phase has not been started, aside from some small demolition needed to gain access to some asbestos. He said work will begin soon on breaking up the building foundations, and all efforts will be made to keep noise levels to a minimum. John asked the panel to note this work will begin the week of March 8. He also said crushing of brick and concrete will begin mid-March. He said previous discussions had raised the possibility that the brick and stone could be used outside the site, but plans now are to use the crushed brick and stone onsite, in light of site redevelopment needs.

John then provided an update on the site investigation. John said at the time of the December meeting, groundwater, sediment, surface water and seep sampling had not been completed. He said these tasks are now complete. He said the groundwater sampling consisted of two rounds of sampling at each well -- one in December and one in January. He said the sediment, surface water and seep sampling were completed in December and the next step is to compile and analyze the data retrieved from the field work. John said these results may be available for a preview discussion at the next regular panel meeting.

John said the next step that will follow is the EE/CA (Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis) work plan, which Exxon will submit to EPA and WVDEP at the end of March. Robert Sapp asked if the EE/CA is something to be used for site redevelopment planning. Art explained that there are several components to the EE/CA work plan. Two components are a human health risk assessment and an ecological risk assessment. He said the EE/CA work plan is a document submitted to the agencies to let them know the company's intentions and what Exxon is going to do regarding human health risk and ecological risk. He said the document submitted to the agencies will include the field studies, human health and environmental risk assessments and the interpretation of environmental data. He said all of this information will be presented to the panel to see if the community agrees with Exxon's interpretations.

Art said if there is a problem regarding a non-acceptable risk to human health or the environment, there will be a recommendation for an appropriate removal response. He said this recommendation will be presented to EPA for review, and EPA will select what removal option is best for the site. Robert asked when this review process will start. Art said the work plan will be submitted at the end of March. Melissa said data from the investigation are already being compiled, and she anticipates a quick turnaround from EPA regarding review and approval. Robert asked when the panel will be able to view the investigation results. Art said the results from the January groundwater sampling are now in the lab. He said the lab normally takes four weeks to complete the analysis, and the data are then validated by an independent contractor. He said data validation should be complete by the end of April. Art said after data validation, Exxon and EPA can begin presenting issues and areas of concern to the panel. He said the original goal was to begin removal responses by the end of 1999, and he believes that schedule is still valid. Art said work still needs to be done on the FPA (Final Project Agreement), but the FPA has in no way slowed work on the site.

Harold Caudill asked how deep the wells are that have been drilled on the site. George Werkman said the wells are up to 130 feet deep. Harold said he is asking because he has recently discovered the well on his land is contaminated. He asked if it is possible that the work at the site has affected his well. Harold said he lives about three miles from the site. Barry Bledsoe said there is a strip mine between the site and Harold's property. Harold said he did not believe the mine has ever contaminated his well. Roberta mentioned this issue may need more time for discussion and asked Harold if he would be willing to discuss it after the meeting. Harold agreed.
Bill Byrd of the Fairmont Times-West Virginian asked how much square footage was included in the buildings on site and when the demolition will be complete. John Hannig said the area may be better measured in acres than in square feet, and said the demolition should be complete by the end of April. He said the demolition began in December with asbestos removal. Completion by April would translate to a five-month demolition project. Doug Taylor of ICF Kaiser said structurally, most of the site was made up of smaller buildings. He said the square footage of what was under roof is far less than what is at the Phillips Plant. Griff Fowler told the panel which buildings are left on site as of March 4. John said the plan is to demolish all buildings except the administration building, which is now being used as an office for the contractors. He said this building will remain while contractors are doing work on the site.

Griff Fowler said he commends Exxon for the job the company is doing in cleaning up the site. He said he is proud of what the company is now doing in the community and what it has done in the past.

Project XL Update

Melissa introduced the draft of the Final Project Agreement (FPA). Tom Bass said the agencies apologize for missing their deadline in submitting the draft to the panel. He said this draft has been through several review processes. He said there are three major issues that have arisen regarding the document: 1) data validation, 2) risk assessment and 3) wetlands mitigation. He said these issues have been worked on extensively. Tom said Exxon received the document March 3, 1999 and has not had a chance to review the changes, but it was the agencies' decision to present it to the panel with the knowledge that there will be more changes by the agencies and by Exxon. Tom said he also handed out a list of West Virginia sites on the National Priority List, and said none have been closed out and removed from the list in less than 13 years.

Melissa said, although Exxon has not had a chance to look at the most recent wording changes, the major issues that have slowed the process to this point have been conceptually agreed upon.

Art said the document also must be reviewed by several groups and individuals within Exxon. Art said he, Melissa and Tom have worked long and hard on the draft FPA, but it has not been reviewed by him or his managers. He said because of this, there may be more changes to the document. He said Exxon has committed to get its comments to the agencies by March 10. He said there also may be changes suggested by panel members.

Art said the major issues of concern to the community are located in the document under sections 4.3 and 4.4. He said section 4.3 deals with what Exxon and the agencies are proposing to do. He said Project XL is about changing the way things are done. He said it is not easy to change when things have been done a certain way for 20 or 30 years. He said since the inception of Superfund in 1980, small changes have been made, but none like the ones suggested by Project XL. He said there are two areas that need to be addressed concerning change: 1) Does there need to be a change in the way things are done? and 2) What changes will be made and why are they necessary? He said all have agreed changes are needed, and now these changes must be specifically written out and addressed. Art said what Exxon puts into the FPA, the company is legally obligated to perform.

Art addressed the issue of the integration of a remedial approach and a removal approach. He said removal action means addressing something that is an immediate threat, while remedial action means addressing something that is more long-term. He said historically, Superfund has dealt with removal and remedial actions separately, and Project XL is combining the best parts of the two approaches. Art said this is the reason EPA, WVDEP and Exxon have been able to work together so efficiently to move along with the cleanup process. He said the FPA contains a more formal description of the combination of remedial and removal action, and the goal is be finished with the site in five years instead of ten or twenty years.

Art said a second integral part of the FPA is the human health risk assessment. He said many people have asked questions regarding what health issues may be present due to what occurred on the site in the past. Art said the human health risk assessment focuses on what now exists on the site and what impact it may have on human health. Art said the FPA follows the basic format used by EPA, which includes the type of contamination on the site and what the potential is for people to be exposed to contamination. Art said another part of the human health risk assessment considers who will be on the site in the future, e.g., residents in homes, workers in businesses, children involved in recreation. Art said the final part of the assessment looks at toxic effects of the chemicals on site. He said integrating these components together gives a quantitative estimate of potential risk to human health.

Art reviewed the concepts behind an acceptable level of risk. He said an acceptable level deals with a level of risk so low that there likely will not be a problem with respect to human health. Art gave an overview of how EPA reached its acceptable levels of risk based on measurable numbers. He said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started with one in 100 million (10-8) excess cancer risks in a population, but found this number to be too hard to measure. He said the agency then decided on one in one million (10-6). Art said the task of developing an acceptable level of risk for Superfund sites had to be completed because it is technically impossible to take every molecule of contamination out of the ground. He said because there is no way to go back in time and prevent this contamination from happening, companies now do everything they reasonably can to clean up the contamination that exists. He said the decision of what is going to be done as far as moving dirt and cleaning up a site must be quantified. EPA currently uses a risk range of one in 10,000 (10-4) to one in one million (10-6) as being acceptable.

Art said the number chosen for an acceptable level of human health risk for the Fairmont site is based on what Exxon and the agencies thought would be best, and on input from the community. He said another factor in deciding on the acceptable level of risk was how the site will be used. He said an industrial use is recommended because if buildings and concrete are put on the site, the chance of exposure to contamination below ground level is very low. He said residential use is not recommended. Art said another factor in developing the level of risk was the uncertainty in the science of risk assessment.

Art said the number that will be used as a starting point for risk assessment is one in 10,000 (10-4) excess cancer risk. He said decisions about how site cleanup will progress will be based on this number. Art said this number is a starting point because Exxon does not see the site cleanup as an inflexible process. He said the number is needed so work can begin based upon an acceptable level of risk, but if the 10-4 target risk level is determined to be inappropriate, then Exxon, EPA and WVDEP will revisit the risk assessment process.

Roberta asked Art to explore what 10-4 excess means. Art said there always exists a background level of cancer in a population, whether or not it is related to a specific factor. He said the lifestyles of individuals may determine this background level. A 10-4 target risk level is equivalent to one excess cancer above the existing background cancer rate in a population of 10,000 individuals. He said if there is contamination on the site that can cause cancer, this contamination will be cleaned up so that it results in only one more cancer than the background level that already exists. Since there will most likely be less than 10,000 persons employed at the site in the future, the chances of measuring this level of increased cancer risk is very low.

Nick Fantasia said the Marion County area tends to have a higher rate of cancer than surrounding areas, and asked Art if this has been taken into consideration. Art explained that the acceptable level of risk is based on one cancer in addition to what already exists in the community. He also explained that this one excess cancer is due to someone being on the site. He said the level of risk does not deal with excess cancers in the community, but instead deals with an excess cancer caused by time spent on the site. Nick said if the site is redeveloped for industrial use, the chance of someone coming into contact with contaminated soils or groundwater is so low that there should be no excess cancers caused by the site. Art agreed but said there is no guarantee of exactly what the site will be used for or how it will be developed. He said this is the reason an acceptable level of risk must be developed.

Art said people have to be exposed to contaminants and chemicals for cancer to develop. He said people walk around every day with household chemicals but are not afraid because these substances are contained in bottles and other types of containers. He said people are not afraid, because if there is no exposure, there cannot be any risk.

Melissa said some material will be removed from the site, and what is left will be cleaned to the level Art is talking about. She said additional measures will be taken to prevent exposure to any contamination still on the site. She said the 10-4 is a benchmark and a starting point. She said the overall plan for the site will include a plan for every part of the site, not just what is and is not removed. Nick asked if the overall plan for the site will include deed restrictions and restrictions on development. Melissa said the plan is not to preclude too much use of the site, but there may be a need for deed restrictions. Nick said in reading the FPA, if future excavation is a concern, then covenants will preclude any concerns related to redevelopment. Tom Bass said there will be deed restrictions on the landfill area that is capped, because the cap's integrity cannot be compromised.

Art said institutional or engineering controls will be put into place to cut off pathways of exposure to contamination. He said examples of these are restricting excavation below ground level, using proper personal protection equipment during excavation and restricting use of groundwater on the site.

John Parks asked why one in 10,000 was chosen as a starting point. He asked why one in 100,000 was not chosen. Art said because risk assessment is not an exact science, it is necessary to start at the lower end. He said future use of the site and population size were factors in arriving at this number. He said if there are not going to be 10,000 people on the site, then measuring one in 10,000 is highly improbable. He said it will be impossible to measure one in 100,000 because there are not going to be that many people on the site. Art said technical feasibility also is a factor. He said achieving a zero level of risk is generally not technologically feasible and usually not necessary.

Roberta asked Art if the carcinogenic risk referred to any type of cancer. Art said that the risk assessment will examine all types of cancer believed to be caused by the contaminants found at the site. The combined risk of cancer associated with all the contaminants detected at the site should not exceed the 10-4 target risk level.

Bill Byrd asked if Exxon believes that the future use of the site will be industrial, and if so, what is a legal definition of industrial? Art said there is a clear legal difference between industrial and residential, but there are several different uses that fall under industrial use. He said commercial uses fall under industrial use, but the site will not be used for a day care center, for example, because this use would mean children would be involved in recreation on the site.

Griff Fowler complimented Art for a wonderful job explaining technical information in layman's terms. He said he knew several men who worked at the site when it was in use who have lived to be between 90 and 100 years old. He said he has reached the age of 80, and he worked at the site and around chemicals quite often.

Roberta asked if there were any more questions regarding the risk assessment. Doug Taylor explained there are three categories when doing risk assessments: residential, recreational and industrial. He said recreational has two subcategories: passive and active. He said an example of active recreational use would be a playground where there may be children playing in the dirt, and an example of passive use would be something like a wildlife habitat or a jogging trail. He said industrial use does not necessarily mean a plant of some kind, but could mean warehousing.

Art reviewed the site redevelopment section of the draft FPA. He called attention to a chart after page nine of the FPA. He said Exxon consulted several redevelopment companies to determine what would be a reasonable strategy to use to attract interest in developing the site. He said Exxon has no intention of redeveloping the site for its own use. He referred to the chart and said right now the project is in the site assessment stage. He said the documentation to be prepared in the redevelopment plan will be in such detail that anyone interested in developing the site can see for themselves whether their plans for redevelopment are feasible. He said the site assessment looks at the project from an engineering standpoint to identify limitations for redevelopment. He said Exxon is doing everything it can to make sure the demolition is done in such a way that redevelopment options are not diminished. He said the real estate market overview will address what is feasible to put on the site and who will be attracted to the land for future development. He said input from the community will be an integral part of what will go onto the
site in the future.

Art reviewed the remaining components of the chart, including market options, real estate market analysis, financial analysis and disposition strategy. He said part of the financial analysis is future economic benefit of the site for the Fairmont community. Art said additional detail about site redevelopment is provided in the FPA.

Art said the landfill areas will not fall under the risk assessment because they will be handled separately. He said these areas may be consolidated and capped. He said the oxidation pond may be removed and the area re-graded. Also, the Area of Contamination (AOC) concept will allow Exxon to handle all waste areas as one single area. He said the risk assessment step is not needed for these areas because the need to better manage the wastes in these areas is recognized, and work will begin soon. He said handling these areas as one will allow for more efficient management of the area.

Melissa said there will be changes to the dispute resolution section. She also pointed out that there is an opportunity for someone on the panel to be involved in the dispute resolution process.

Roberta asked what is involved in moving forward on the approval of the FPA. After discussion, panel members agreed to meet March 11 to give feedback to Exxon, EPA and WVDEP. Melissa mentioned again that the most important parts of the FPA for community members to read are sections 4.3 and 4.4. She said after the meeting on March 11, she will take the panel's input and insert it into the FPA. She said the FPA will then be reviewed by Exxon, EPA and WVDEP. She said the FPA will be published in the Federal Register, and a public comment period of 30 days will follow. Melissa said the FPA will be submitted to the Federal Register on April 2. She said three weeks should be enough time to incorporate any public comments, which means the signing ceremony can take place at the end of May. [Note: After the meeting, Melissa received clarification that the notice of the availability of the FPA for public comment will be published in the Federal Register, not the FPA itself. A copy of the FPA will be placed in the Marion County library repository.]

Roberta said she will mail copies of the FPA to members not present. Melissa said major changes to the document by Exxon will be reviewed with the panel at the March 11 meeting. Art pointed out that regardless of the schedule of approval for the FPA, progress continues on the site. Doug Taylor said the instructions sent to members not present should include alternative methods of communicating comments in case some members may not be able to make it to the March 11 meeting. Roberta said she will include instructions to call the 800 number to leave comments, to send comments in writing or to give comments to another panel member.

New Business

Survey Results

John Hannig reviewed the stakeholder survey results. He said five tri-fold brochures were received, two phone calls were made to the 800 number, three letters were received, and one e-mail was received. Regarding future use of the site, John said the majority of the feedback asked for a clean, job-producing use of the site. He said several responses indicated a desire for recreational use. John said feedback indicated communication about the site to this point has been good. Regarding how fast the site should be brought into use, John said responders indicated the site should be returned to use as quickly as practical. John said responses about demolition emphasized continuing work in a safe manner.

Offsite Subcommittee

Robert Sapp explained the idea of an offsite subcommittee. He said there are two major areas of concern: 1) site redevelopment and 2) health risk. He said not all questions concerning these subjects have been able to be answered in the panel meetings, and still a great deal of time has been taken during the meetings to handle these discussions. He suggested a subcommittee be formed to deal with these issues. He said there are still concerns about migration of contamination off the site, and the neighborhoods around the site need to be a focus of discussion. He said this committee can be a committee where neighbors, such as Harold Caudill, can voice concerns, then the committee can use the resources of the panel to check into these concerns. Robert said the panel has excellent resources in Exxon, EPA and WVDEP. He said this will provide a way to sort out issues and provide a summary to the panel.

Robert said four members of the panel are currently interested:

Tom Vincent
Ron Swope
Michael Cummings
Tom Grabb

Art also agreed to be a part of the subcommittee. Robert said a lot of time and money can be spent on outside resources, but he would like to see the panel resources used first because they are familiar with the site. He said if these resources are satisfactory then no outside resources will be necessary, but if a second opinion is needed then outside resources may be consulted.

Stakeholder Survey

John Hannig said he received a call from Carol Wiessner of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, a non-profit environmental group conducting a series of surveys with the University of Minnesota about Project XL. He said Carol learned about the Fairmont Coke Works Site from the EPA web site. He said the goal of this effort is to evaluate Project XL by sending surveys to community stakeholder groups, like the Fairmont Community Liaison Panel. He said the group is looking for feedback to improve Project XL for the future. He said he received a copy of the survey and noticed some questions will be better answered after the FPA is completed. It was agreed the survey will be placed on the agenda for a summer meeting, after the FPA is complete.

Next Meeting

The next regular meeting will be April 1. An agenda for this meeting will be formed at the March 11 meeting.

Comments from Guests

Harold Caudill suggested the area where the administration building is located could be used for recreation for young people. He said this area was never used industrially. Roberta thanked Harold and others for their comments.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

Next regular meeting: Thursday, April 1, 1999
5 p.m. refreshments
5:30 p.m. meeting

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