NATICK CANCER STUDY TASK FORCE
OLD MEETING MINUTES (1997, Part A)
(and some other meetings of interest)
(Last updated on December 26, 1997)

  • 1997, Part A (970313-970514, including NCSTF meetings 1-8)
  • 1997, Part B (970515-970827, including NCSTF meetings 9-16)
  • 1997, Part C (970828-971005, including NCSTF meetings 17-19)
  • 1997, Part D (971006-971116, including NCSTF meetings 20-22)
  • 1997, Part E (971117-971231, including NCSTF meetings 23-25)
  • Recent Meeting Minutes
  • Also see our members, our upcoming meetings, and our main cancer page.


    First meeting: Thursday, March 13th, 1997 (7:45-10pm, Natick Town Hall, Basement Auditorium):
    1. Organizational meeting; Chairman of Selectmen John Moran delivers members list and draft "Proposed Charge to the Cancer Study Task Force":

    2. 1. To ascertain by survey or use of existing data collection system, if cancer rates in Natick are extraordinary and if so are the extraordinary rates identifiable geographically.
      2. To determine with the assistance of the appropriate technical expertise and testing the potential cause of whatever extraordinary rates may exist.
      3. To recommend a plan to eliminate the potential causes of extraordinary cancer rates.
    3. Roger Wade will provide Town liason and support through Natick Dept. of Public Health. No reimbursement funding exists; we will request a $500 revolving fund for some reports, attendance at special meetings, etc. Roger can supply some office services including copying.
    4. Will meet every Thursday night, 7:30-9:30 pm until see need for change; same room next week.
    5. Dr. Charles Czeisler explains his proposal for a different cancer-incidences study based on mortality stats, etc. (Can we get Social-Security number correlated stats, to trace appropriate information re victims who moved from Natick?)
    6. Brief introduction by each attendee: name, special qualifications, point to home on Natick map; some attach a flagged pin to map, to identify personally-known clusters of cancer victims (a quick first look regarding a possible, accurate future survey).
    7. Three attendees from Columbia Metrowest Medical Center offer their help. Accepted.
    8. Task Force elects its officers (see above).
    9. Dick Miller mentions SSCOM RAB and current studies, distributes print-out of his new Cancer-Incidence webpage.
    10. Other meetings are mentioned: SSCOM RAB, Toxics Action '97 (see below).
    11. Dick briefly shows Feb.-released MDPH draft study re Cancer-Incidence in Natick. Catherine Rizzo proposes to let MDPH provide and deliver copies for all. Beth Donelly volunteers printing for members via Columbia Metrowest Medical Center printshop, for distribution at next meeting. The latter method is chosen.
    12. Non-members attending: Lisa Auclair, Lawrence Kaplan, M.D. (C.E.O. of Columbia Metrowest Medical Center, Framingham), Lynn Olsen, Peter Silbermann (Earthtech), Judy Weinrich.

    Meeting 2: Thursday, March 20th, 1997 (7:30-10pm, Natick Town Hall, Basement Auditorium):
    1. Discussed and confirmed: No modification required to Selectmen's draft Proposed Charge to Task Force. (See March 13th notes, above.)
    2. Updated member addresses/e-mail/special. (Only officer members' phone numbers on public listing.)
    3. Outreach plans discussed. Goals are to publicize task force issues, solicit volunteering of related information, and gather volunteer names for potential Natick cancer-incidence survey. Subcommittee assigned: Mary Brown and Tom Branham will also contact Mary Ellen Siudut for Town Election Day (next Tuesday, permission already received) and beyond.
    4. Initial report on assistance from U.S. Congressman Ed Markey.
    5. Wording for $50K State Budget line-item (proposed and agreed):

    6.  "$50,000 - via MDEP or MDPH - To provide a R.N. and other consulting aid to the Natick Cancer Study Task Force for identification and correction of extraordinary cancer risk areas."
    7. Main presentation: Roger Wade, Natick's Health Director, on Natick Town abilities, history, current status of Town data.
    8. Distribute copies of MDPH Cancer-Incidence draft study (detailed explanation next meeting; absent members: pick up your copy ASAP from Dick Miller or Roger Wade).
    9. Next meetings: Skip next week due to Holy Day conflict, plan for early presentations by MDPH and by Don Tata (Natick's consulting engineer).
    10. Non-members attending: Mel Albert (attorney).

    Meeting 3: Thursday, April 3rd, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, Natick Town Hall, 1st-Floor Auditorium):
    1. Discussed upcoming meeting events, necessary date conflicts with April Town Meeting.
    2. Rich Philben has resigned his membership.
    3. Discussed conference on April 5th - car-pooling, etc. Walk-ins permissible.
    4. Morse Institute Library to reopen next week, so all members can access these Web pages

    5.  1) by an Altavista search on natick and cancer, or
      2) by URL = http://www.gis.net/~dmiller/cancer.html
    6. Reported re East Natick meeting in mid-March (postponed).
    7. Reported new offer of help from U.S. Geological Survey.
    8. Discussed parallel problems at Massachusetts Military Reservation (Otis AFB, Camp Edwards); see $12 The Enemy Within, $3 special reprint of January 1997 news series by Cape Cod Times.
    9. Selectmen's action on NCSTF budget request: $1,000 was approved for our use (March 24th, Agenda Item 24).
    10. Status report: Outreach activities, Tom Branham to report on Election Day and on draft response letter to volunteers (postponed, Tom out of town).
    11. Status report: Massachusetts Legislative Budget line-item. Expect $50K item in budget (see prior meeting notes), Senators Jacques and Magnani expected to support filing by Rep. Stoddart. Member and new Selectman Jay Ball reports, will expedite.
    12. Status report: Actions by U.S. Congressman Ed Markey (postponed).
    13. Introduced new guest, Susanne Simon of ATSDR; she introduced her U.S. agency and its new Natick study. (Susanne will be our main presenter on April 17th.)
    14. Status report: Roger Wade has received the promised pancreatic-cancer death data (which tracks with incidence data) from MDPH. He has reduced most of it to street addresses, and is extending the database from 1975 to 1995 (instead of 1982-1990); completion expected in 1-2 weeks.
    15. Main presentation: Natick Water Supply System, by Don Tata, Natick's consulting engineer, and Jack Perideau, Natick Water Division.
    16. Non-members attending: Mel Albert, Jack Perideau, Peter Silbermann, Susanne Simon, Don Tata.

    Toxics Action '97 at Boston College: April 5th (9:00am-5:00pm; $20) and 6th, 1997 (workshop, $5).
    1. Many from Natick and our Task Force attended, and it was excellent!
    2. For information on this annual event, call Toxics Action Center at 617/292-4821.

    Meeting 4: Thursday, April 10th, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, Natick Town Hall, 1st-Floor Auditorium):
    1. Because of the conflict with the second night of Natick Town Meeting, this meeting was audio-taped. Members may borrow the tapes.
    2. Main presentation: Suzanne Condon and Martha Steele of Mass. Dept. of Public Health re its February-released draft report on Cancer-Incidence in Natick, plus recent progress toward early-May final report. Some statistics support by Theresa Barry of MDPH.
    3. Status report: Roger Wade (absent at Town Meeting) has reduced most (all?) of MDPH's pancreatic-cancer death data to street addresses, and is extending that database from 1975 to 1995 (instead of 1982-1990).
    4. New data re Natick cancer-incidence clusters: We began discussion of whether to map it, how/when to share this information in a sensitive and effective manner.
    5. Volunteers wanted:

    6. 1) to research old Natick data, maps, etc., re historic sources of toxic materials.
      2) to trace addresses of cancer survey people who have moved from Natick neighborhoods.
      3) to publicize our meetings.
    7. The new Morse Institute Library is open, and ready to help anyone access these Web pages

    8.  1) by an Altavista search on natick and cancer, or
      2) by URL = http://www.gis.net/~dmiller/cancer.html
    9. Budget items: Must be for approved uses. Can turn in at meeting for reimbursement by check (normally at next meeting).
    10. Discuss upcoming meeting events: April 17th scheduled, 24th proposed, MDEP requested but not yet available. Time needed for business, as well. No date conflicts identified except possible Town Meeting continuation to next Thursday.
    11. Outreach activities: Tom Branham will report at next meeting on Election Day sign-ups, draft response letter to volunteers, and online solicitation of public input.
    12. Brief report on Toxics Action '97 conference on April 5th: excellent, worth a later in-depth report.
    13. Carol Scannell will report at next meeting re East Natick meetings.
    14. First discussion of Dow Chemical (MDEP Tier 1A) pollution site by Rte. 30 and Oak St. in Cochituate. Tom Maglione of NED/Dow Neighbors explains; their MDPH report due in June. Our groups will coordinate.
    15. Status report: Massachusetts Legislative Budget line-item for Natick Cancer Study. $50K line item is in printed draft budget (reworded from prior meeting notes). Senators Jacques and Magnani will support filing by Rep. Stoddart; Dick Miller and Selectman Jay Ball to meet with them and Sen. Stan Rosenberg, Co-Chairman of Joint Ways and Means Committee.
    16. Postponed status report re support by U.S. Congressman Ed Markey.
    17. New question: EMF risks under power lines (residences, schools)? It is a valid question, but opinions will vary. MDPH will provide further information.
    18. Non-members attending: Theresa Barry, Susanne Condon, Tom Maglione, Lucas Mearian (Middlesex News), Mark Schneider, Susanne Simon, Martha Steele, Don Tata, Michelle Jalbert.

    Meeting 5: Thursday, April 17th, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, Morse Institute Library, Main Hall):
    1. This meeting was in conflict with the fourth session of Natick Town Meeting.
    2. Main presentation: Susanne Simon of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (617/223-5526, SXS2@CDC.gov), re ATSDR's general role and its current Natick Health Study. Its draft report on NLabs and some other Natick health issues should be ready for presentation to NCSTF about mid-May, and at the SSCOM RAB meeting on May 27th.
    3. Volunteers:

    4. 1) to research old Natick data, maps, etc., re historic sources of toxic materials (Joe Fallon).
      2) to trace addresses of cancer survey people who have moved from Natick neighborhoods.
      3) to publicize our meetings (Carol Scannell).
    5. Non-members attending: Tom Maglione, Don Tata.

    Meeting 6: Thursday, April 24th, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, NTH, 1st-Floor Auditorium, 13 E. Central St.):
    1. Recommended reading for main presentation: The Enemy Within: The Struggle to Clean Up Cape Cod's Military Superfund Site, by Seth Rolbein (Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, Orleans MA, 1995).
    2. Main presentation: J. Michael Norris of the U.S. Geological Survey (MA/RI Office in Marlborough, MA) and Don Walter (one of that office's hydrologists, working at Cape Cod). USGS provided the underground water measurement and analysis for the massive groundwater pollution abatement efforts underway at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (Otis Air Force Base and Camp Edwards on Cape Cod). USGS can provide similar services in Natick, and demonstrated how useful a carefully-tuned regional groundwater model by an independent agency can be. We (Dick Miller and Marco Kaltofen with Tom Branham and Don Tata) will help them to determine what data already exists in Natick, and how much additional work would be required.
    3. Roger Wade has been sick for several weeks, and thus his anticipated map of preliminary data re pancreatic-cancer deaths in Natick will be delayed 1-2 more weeks. He probably will miss most of our upcoming meetings. He will meet with Dick Miller in advance of each meeting; Dick has requested that another Health Dept. officer attend in Roger's place.
    4. Related concerns re direction and pace of Task Force. Mary Ellen Siudut reports a cancer researcher's belief that pancreatic cancers are not caused by environmental factors and have long gestation period; she questions whether that linkage is worth pursuing. Marco Kaltofen will find the cited articles, and says he'll also bring articles promoting a link with local carcinogen plus (water-borne or other) immune-system inhibitor.
    5. Discuss upcoming meeting events: We are about to shift from presentations to consideration. April 24th scheduled, 31st proposed, MDEP requested but not yet available (try to coordinate MDEP talk with Natick Conservation Commission). SSCOM was invited to present but probably won't. No need for oncology presentation at this time.
    6. Outreach activities: Tom Branham reports that Election Day sign-ups yielded about 15 volunteers, he will bring draft response letter for follow-up. How to best utilize volunteers?
    7. Letter from Suzanne Condon, MDPH: They have administered follow-up questionnare to 18 known informants from earlier death certificates of 1982-1992 Natick pancreatic cancer cases. Can Task Force help MDPH locate the 15 other informants (the appropriate death certificates are attached)? Several are immediately noted as doable, and members will report back; we will attempt to locate the others, as well.
    8. Carol Scannell arrived late from an East Natick meeting, reported on upcoming Maffei public meeting on May 5th. She will provide details later.
    9. Tom Maglione unable to attend tonight, but phoned that his group supports idea of Natick Library becoming a repository for Dow Chemical (MDEP Tier 1A) pollution site info: to do so, write letter to MDEP with 10 Natick signatures requiring a PIP at Natick Library. Marco Kaltofen says that is not necessary, he will arrange it for us.
    10. Non-members attending: Mel Albert, Jessica Graham (Eastern Research Group, for ATSDR), Marco Kaltofen (SSCOM RAB), J. Michael Norris (USGS), Ken Soderholm (Natick Conservation Commission).

    Meeting 7: Thursday, May 1st, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, NTH, Room 307, 13 E. Central St.):
    1. (At this meeting, Task Force main focus shifts from guest speakers to consideration.)
    2. Mary Ellen Siudut questioned whether to further define our goals. The original "Charge to the Cancer Study Task Force" (which we accepted without change at Meeting 2) is:

    3. 1. To ascertain by survey or use of existing data collection system, if cancer rates in Natick are extraordinary and if so are the extraordinary rates identifiable geographically.
      2. To determine with the assistance of the appropriate technical expertise and testing the potential cause of whatever extraordinary rates may exist.
      3. To recommend a plan to eliminate the potential causes of extraordinary cancer rates.
      We propose only these minor clarifications: in 1., change "or" to "and/or", and in 2., to insert commas after "determine" and "testing".
      A first wide-roving discussion of interpretations and scenarios followed. Generally agreed: The study is not limited to Wethersfield. Pancreatic cancer may or may not have environmental causes. We will try not to lock onto one interpretation prematurely. (Following advice in letter from Martha Steele of MDPH.)
    4. Status report: Roger Wade has not yet provided his extended Natick cancer database (1975-1995, instead of MDPH's 1982-1990) to Peter Silbermann for volunteer mapping by EarthTech. Dick Miller to expedite this, and to ask that all data except names be transmitted, for a general database which can produce various mappings in future.
    5. New data re Natick cancer-incidence clusters: The Task Force decided not to publicize names or mapped data at this time. Later, can explore ways to share this information in a sensitive and effective manner.
    6. Locating of 15 pancreatic-cancer case prior informants for MDPH (see Meeting 6). NCSTF members have been e-mailed this list for personal inputs. It is sensitive, so do not publicize. (Tom Branham mapped these 15 as a random experiment, and it does provide a non-random pattern in time.)
    7. Budget items (see Meeting 4): Reimbursement requests submitted by Tom Branham for Election Day volunteer materials ($15), by Dick Miller for some copying expenses ($2).
    8. Discuss upcoming meeting events: MDPH Study on May 8th; MDEP presentation May 22nd if okay with Bob Campbell, otherwise on May 15th (need time for business). Natick Cable Channel will publicize MDPH meeting. Arrange presentation by epidemiologist (John Krikorian?). Date conflicts: Can move to Tues. or Wed., re Roger Wade's schedule conflict? Voted to stay with Thursday nights at least through June. (Although certain Wednesdays could be possible.)
    9. Use volunteered user-input form for our Cancer Webpage? After discussion, this good project was vetoed (at this time) to reduce risk of contaminating a later survey..
    10. Carol Scannell announced major East Natick ex-kids reunion in late June. Appointed her and Maureen Graham, RN, to explore how/whether to encourage inputs from attendees.
    11. Status report re Massachusetts Legislative Budget. Our $50K House Budget line item (#4510-0600) is in print. Senators Jacques and Magnani have supported filing by Rep. Stoddart; Dick Miller and Selectman Jay Ball met with them and aides of Sen. Stan Rosenberg, Co-Chairman of Joint Ways and Means Committee, on April 17th. Believed to be on track. Dr. Richard Clapp has expressed interest in this potential project, expects to meet with us in late May.
    12. Pesticide Usage (new question, passed on to Roger Wade): Past history of pesticide usage in Natick? Any potential linkage?
    13. Non-members attending: B.McCavert?

    Meeting 8: Thursday, May 8th, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, NTH, 1st-Floor Auditorium, 13 E. Central St.):
    1. Main presentation: Martha Steele of Mass. Dept. of Public Health presented its completed Natick Health Study report (including new data): Assessment of Cancer Incidents in Natick, Massachusetts (1982-1992).

    2.  
      This report updates the draft one which was presented at the controversial Feb. 25th meeting at U.S. Army Natick Laboratories. The completed version was described using overhead slides, copies of the printed report were distributed to all attendees, and a lengthy question-and-answer period ensued. Some questions were answered by Theresa Barry, the principal investigator for this MDPH project.
      Unofficial Overview: A long-awaited and good presentation. This study of cancer incidences in Natick is expanded (from 1982-1990) to 1982-1992, and the data was analyzed across the eleven years as well as in two sub-periods, 1982-1986 and 1987-1992. As before, it looks only as close as Natick's six Census Tracts; specific addresses are kept confidential from the public and even from the Natick Health Director.
        Natick on the average shows no increased rates of cancer incidences. Females experienced slightly higher rates, but no cancer type was significantly elevated for Natick as a whole.
      Natick's six Census Tracts show several significant issues, only one of which is localized within a Census Tract:
    3. Martha Steele reminded us that cancer is many diseases, not one, and that very little is yet known about most of them. Best answers often are a long way from reliable ones, and more information is sought. MDPH does not recommend that its findings be interpreted as final ones, will continue its study of Natick on an as-needed basis, and will stay tuned in to the US ATSDR phase-one report due on May 27th and to further developments in our community.
    4. The public has 30 days -- until June 9th -- to submit comments. A copy of the new MDPH report is on file at the Natick library. If you are a member of the Natick Cancer Study Task Force and missed this meeting, you can pick up your report copy and Q&A hand-out from the Natick Health Department, or at our next meeting. John McHugh at U.S. Army Natick Laboratories will have copies available for SSCOM RAB members.
    5. Surprise event: The MDPH was presented with some new Task Force data, as well. Roger Wade's compilation of cancer deaths in Natick from 1975-1986 (pancreatic cancer deaths 1975-1995) has been completed. On a volunteer basis, Peter Silbermann of Earthtech has just converted that into a computer database (names removed, other data retained) of 756 records. Perhaps by our next meeting, Peter expects to present some first mappings of this different, twelve- and twenty-year span of data.
    6. Non-members attending: Mel Albert, George Bargamian, Theresa Barry (Mass. Dept. of Public Health), Robert Campbell (Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection),  Barbara Chinetti, Mark Gallagher (U.S. Congressman Ed Markey),  Doug Hanchett, Mike Hering, Tim Hopkins, Jerry Keefe (U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency), Adam Last (SSCOM RAB), Lynn Last, Chad Lewis, John McHugh (U.S. Army Natick Laboratories/SSCOM RAB), Lucas Mearian (Middlesex News reporter), Rebecca Saybolt (Mass. Sen. Cheryl Jacques), Don Seiffert (Natick TAB reporter), Peter Silbermann, Susanne Simon (U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), Ken Soderholm (Natick Conservation Commission), Martha Steele (MDPH), Lucas Talarico (Natick Bulletin reporter), Katie Tucker.