NATICK CANCER STUDY TASK FORCE
OLD MEETING MINUTES (1997, Part E)
(and some other meetings of interest)
(Last updated on February 4, 1998)

  • 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.


    Meeting 23: Monday, Nov. 17th, 1997 (7:30-9pm, NTH, 1st-Floor Auditorium, 13 E. Central St.):
      Moderated by Jill Miller, minutes by Carol Scannell.

      Attendees (*=Steering Committee, **=Non-members):
      Mel Albert**, Tom Branhan*, Mary Brown, Dick Miller*, Jill Miller, Ron Ordway**, Carol Scannell*, Peter Silbermann**.

      Agenda Items:

    1. Our Nov. 10th presentation to Selectmen was reviewed. It went well, elicited few comments. One error was noted in the original Status Report handouts: 15 ppm and 5 ppm should read ppb, instead. Task Force will schedule another visit with Selectmen to review draft mapping, etc.
    2. Review of Nov. 3rd discussion with Dr. John Krikorian was limited, due to absences of Beth and of our detailed minutes notes. Bring minutes to next regular meeting, when topic will be continued.
    3. Dick delivered ordered copies of book, Living Downstream.
    4. Response to US ATSDR study report, presented Oct. 19th at SSCOM RAB: Dick to draft response, subject to approval of steering committee. Express wish for data on Natick infant health problems, etc. Tom's related question for Don Tata: How extensive was use of private groundwater wells in any part of Natick within the past 30 years?
    5. Historical research: Dick explains that effort has been stalled for months. Natick Historical Society now agrees to include our request in its December (?) mailing, but does not invite our live request for information and volunteers at its next meeting.
    6. Volunteer projects: Jill reports that volunteers are working well. About 2/3 of the Town Clerk's Office data-gathering (for cancer-caused deaths, not cancer as "other condition") is complete. Interest was expressed in recording the signing physician's name from death certificates; after discussion, probably not useful.
    7. Jill presents new graphs re (total annual) pancreatic, breast cancer and leukemia mortality in Natick.

    8. The Wethersfield pancreatic cluster came and went, but townwide it is fairly constant and probably rising.
      In answer to Mary Ellen's question at the prior meeting, "Did Natick experience the famous "blip of 1974" in its own breast cancer data?", Jill responds that our data is based on mortality; since that blip only affected incidence reporting, our information doesn't answer that question.
    9. Mapping project: Peter has no new mapping, could do more types now or await further data. We decide to wait for more Town-Clerk data, and for the Assessor's property-locations database which was due months ago from Bob Palmer. Dick will ask Jay to expedite the latter.

    10. Peter wants help, per suggestions of Dr. Krikorian, to update his originally-assumed cancer groupings. Jill will attempt to solve that with Peter, then they will ask Dr. Krikorian to confirm their work.
      Jill reviews some of Dr. Krikorian's comments:
      Cancers can be grouped into solid tumors (latency period 10-20 years), lymphomas (11-15 years) and leukemias (about 5 years). Lymphomas were more likely to develop where there's a depression of the immune system, such as HIV or organ transplants or chemotherapy. Cancers grow faster (and are more significant to our study) in children than in the elderly.
      Dick reminds Peter to apply "ROY G. BIV" color gradation method on new graphs.

      Deferred items:

    11. Later, Dick will submit past bills for reimbursements to volunteers.
    12. Later, Tom and Carol will propose revised letter to volunteers.

    13. Action items:

    14. Dick to bring old mappings to future meetings.
    15. Dick to report re US ATSDR, etc.
    16. Jay, Dick to expedite database from Bob Palmer.
    17. Peter, Jill to address cancer-code and -grouping issues.
    18. Jill to report re volunteers status.
    19. Jill to bring Krikorian minutes from our Nov. 3rd meeting.
    20. Jill to present additional %-cancer graphs (multiple copies).
    21. Dick to schedule, then present mapping to Selectmen.
    22. Mel Albert will moderate the next meeting.

    SSCOM RAB: Tuesday, Nov. 25th, 1997 (7:00-9:00pm, NLabs Officers Club, so. of Kansas St.):
    1. Inspection tour of new, demonstration clean-up facilities. Two wells (more to come?) deliver toxic-plume groundwater to this new building, in which water cleanup is effected by major filter and aeration equipment with safeguards. Many points in the process are sampled, then analyzed in an on-base laboratory which was also visited. Dick and Jill were present, and suitably impressed with this stage of the process. Its effectiveness will determine a final plan and future level of analysis.
    2. Review of NCSTF Status Report to Selectmen. Copies of our Nov. 10th report were mailed to RAB members with their minutes and meeting agenda. Dick reviewed our status, and addressed the common issues. No significant new questions arose.
    3. Contaminated soil removal. A large volume of Chlordane-contaminated soil has been excavated and piled under a large tarpaulin, awaiting removal on an emergency basis. All were surprised to hear, from the contractor in charge of this removal, that it may leave as early as Monday, Dec. 1st, to one of two "bidding" receiver sites: Plainville, or Natick! Natick had not been considered as a possibility at prior meetings, and NLabs appeared as surprised as anyone that the ex-Town Dump, now a landfill but slated to become a public golf course, now is included. Dick and Marco Kaltofen expressed astonishment that Natick was a bidder, and will discuss this issue with Natick officials.

    Meeting 24: Monday, Dec. 1st, 1997 (7:30-9:30pm, NTH, 1st-Floor Auditorium, 13 E. Central St.):
      Attendees (*=Steering Committee, **=Non-members):
      Mel Albert**, Tom Branham*, Mary Brown, Dick Miller*, Jill Miller, Catherine Rizzo, Carol Scannell*, Peter Silbermann**, Mary Ellen Siudut.

      Agenda Items:

    1. Peter Silbermann reported that expediting database delivery from Bob Palmer apparently was successful. He now has 434 additional addresses linked for mapping. Combined with 700+ previously mapped, this totals about 1,100 data points. This represents all but 152 addresses which cannot be located on the Assessor's maps. These problem addresses can be up to 20 years old, and may refer to buildings/homes that have been torn down or renumbered. Charlie Thrasher, ex-Natick Postmaster, has volunteered to help with historical information on addresses, previous buildings and land uses; he may be helpful in locating these remaining names. Peter Silberman will produce an updated (sensitive-data) map and bring it to our next meeting.
    2. Jill will be providing another 200+ death-certificate names, where cancer was an "Mentioned Condition" but not the primary cause of death; these also need matching at Town Clerk's Office.  Thus, this phase of our project could total 1300+ data points when done.
    3. Executive Session (re sensitive-data issues).
    4. Carol and Mary Ellen requested a new agenda item re a Dow Chemical site Public Information Program (PIP) meeting to be held in the Wayland Town Building this Thursday, Dec. 4th, at 7:30pm. After discussion and general planning, Dick will prepare, with electronic participation by Jill, Mary Ellen, Tom and Mel, a NCSTF letter. Carol, Mary Ellen & Jill will attend, listen, take notes & Jill will present NCSTF statement. (Jill has generated the graphs linking local towns to a 1974-75 cancer event. Dick probably will be unable to attend, due to a conflicting meeting).
    5. Dick presented his draft for a NCSTF public-comment letter to US ATSDR regarding its report presentation at the Oct. 19th SSCOM RAB meeting. Suggestions were adopted. Dick will edit and distribute electronically for approval (Tom, Mary Ellen, Mel) before sending it to ATSDR.
    6. Dick reported on the SSCOM RAB meeting of Nov. 25th. It began with a tour of the new cleanup facilities for cleaning groundwater contamination. The water is sucked up from two underground wells, adsorbed onto charcoal and volatized. Then the exposed airstream is forced thru charcoal.  The water and air are tested at various stages throughout the process. Dick commented that is it a very impressive facility: the biggest around, DOD has invested a lot of money and installed a lot of safety controls. Currently testing four times daily, but this will be reduced over time.

    7. Dick distributed copies of our NCSTF Status Report to Selectmen to the RAB, and discussed our work.
      Discussed the large pile of chlordane-contaminated soil which is about to be removed from NLabs. Surprisingly, the Natick Dump/Landfill/proposed golf course seems to have bid to take this dirt! Charlie Sisitsky, Natick's Director of Public Works, did not authorize this, and is investigating.
    8. Next meeting will be Dec. 15th. These agenda items will be postponed until then:

    9. Review Nov. 3rd discussion with Dr. John Krikorian (Jill)
      Follow-up re Dr. Krikorian's visit (Jill)
      Follow-up re Dow Chemical Site PIP meeting (Jill)
      New Mapping (Peter)
      Review Nov. 24th visit with Selectmen (Mary Ellen)
      Discussion of task force status and direction (Dick)
    10. We will not have a meeting on Dec. 29th. We need list of Selectmanís meeting dates to schedule our own 1998 meetings. Would Roger and others prefer other than Monday meetings?

    11. Deferred items:

    12. Later, Dick will submit past bills for reimbursements to volunteers.
    13. Later, Tom and Carol will propose revised letter to volunteers.

    14. Action items:

    15. Dick to bring old mappings to future meetings.
    16. Dick to report re US ATSDR, etc.
    17. Peter, Jill to address cancer-code and -grouping issues.
    18. Jill to report re volunteers status.
    19. Jill to bring Krikorian minutes from our Nov. 3rd meeting.
    20. Jill to present additional %-cancer graphs (multiple copies).
    21. Tom will moderate the next meeting.

    Public Info. Program re Dow Chemical site: Thursday, Dec. 4th, 1997 (7:30pm, Wayland Town Bldg.):
    Meeting 25: Monday, Dec. 15th, 1997 (7:30-9pm, NTH, Room 205, 13 E. Central St.):
      Moderated by Tom Branham, minutes by Carol Scannell and Mary Ellen Siudut.

      Attendees (*=Steering Committee, **=Non-members):
      Tom Branham*, Dick Miller*, Jill Miller, Carol Scannell*, Peter Silbermann**, Mary Ellen Siudut, Roger Wade**.

      Agenda Items:

    1. Dick presented our 1998 meeting schedule (all Mondays in 1st-Fl.Aud, except as noted): 1/5, 1/20 (Tues., Rm. 205), 2/2, 2/17 (Tues., Rm. 205), 3/2, 3/16, 4/6, 4/20, 5/4, 5/18, 6/1, 6/15. But tonight's meeting had to be moved from the auditorium, and it appears that some of these also will conflict with the Selectmen's schedule. Dick will check, and adjust accordingly.
    2. Dick distributed two new Mass. Dept. of Public Health publications to members and to Library:
    3. Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Massachusetts, 1987-1994
    4. Cancer in Massachusetts Women, 1982-1994
    5. Peter Silbermann was unable to print new mapping before this meeting, but will deliver to Dick later this week. The new mapping should include about 1,135 data points, with some improvement in identification of cancer types although further improvements are due later. Peter cannot attend our Jan 5th meeting.
    6. Jill reported on the Dec. 4th Dow Chemical site PIP meeting, as did Carol and Mary Ellen. Tonight Carol distributed copies of a Middlesex News article, re the meeting and Jillís presentation. At the PIP meeting, Jill presented a statement from the NCSTF (see it above) and also made personal comments. Neighbors' comments centered on their disapproval of the proposed destruction of 130 vials of unidentified chemicals, also included complaint that drainage from a Dow sump pump was never tested. Tonight Carol and Mary Ellen expressed concern that Dow Chemical may have had adverse effects on Natick residents, water quality, etc. Our task force generally feels that MDEP should take steps to answer these questions rather than to ignore them. Jill and Mary Ellen plan to submit their own public comment letters, as well.
    7. On December 10th, Dick sent an official NCSTF public comment letter in response to the US ATSDR study report which was presented at the SSCOM RAB meeting of Oct. 19th. Copies already went to some, and Dick will send a copy to EPA.
    8. The discussion and post-mortem of the Nov. 24th visit with Selectmen was postponed.
    9. Discussion of task force status and direction was postponed; Dick, Mary Ellen and Roger mentioned concerns to be addressed. Mary Ellen wants more thought re neighborhoods downstream from Dow: near Nonesuch Pond, Jennings Pond and Morse Pond. Peter Silberman asked that we consider the upcoming stages of the mapping project: types of mapping, additional data needs, etc. (For greater readability, we'll color-code with six or less easily-differentiated colors.)
    10. The review of the Nov. 3rd discussion with Dr. John Krikorian was postponed because Mary Brown and Catherine Rizzo were not present. Jill has tentatively organized the cancers into logical groupings, and will contact Beth re having Dr. Krikorian review this list.
    11. Roger Wade reported on private-drinking-well usage in Natick. There is concern because a small number of properties in East Natick near the Dow Chemical site either are on wells or have been until recently. There are no private dug (shallow) wells in use for drinking water in Natick. Roger thinks there are only about 24 private wells in use for drinking water in all of Natick. Probably, these wells never were tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and after initial tests no further testing is required for private wells. To determine when and where wells may have been used in Natick, our volunteers or the Health Department could research old water billing records for their starting dates for service at various addresses. It would be expensive to test private wells in northeast Natick for VOCs, but Roger thinks the residents would not have to pay for this. All agreed that this needs further  attention and discussion. Roger will have more information at our early-January meeting.
    12. Dick has not yet had substantive contact with the Natick Historical Society. He plans to submit a short article explaining our activities and requesting help from members to identify historical uses that may have environmental impact.
    13. Jill reported that the volunteer projects have slowed down for the holidays. She and Carol may phone some volunteers re research between Christmas and New Year.
    14. Jill presented additional cancer-death-rate graphs. (Previously these were misnamed, "percent-cancer mortality graphs"; as described in the new MDPH reports, "rate" is used where multiple time periods are compared.) For the four adjacent high-cancer towns about 1974, Jill has taken a closer look by calculating and graphing 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year moving averages for the prior, direct data. That applies an increasingly strict test to see whether the change is a "strong" one. The 1974-75 rises in Natick and Wayland seem unusually persistent.
    15. Roger stated his interest in our apparent success using mortality data rather than incidence data. Natick DPH stopped tabulating this data in the early 1980s, when MDPH started collecting incidence data. But he thinks we're going in the right direction, and he's glad that NDPH didn't discard the old mortality data. Dick added that mortality data is considered valuable by some other agencies, and that it has been very useful here.
    16. Jill and Tom agree that it would be desirable to age-adjust the cancer mortality data we are reporting. Although the new MDPH reports (see above) describe this step, they don't supply a method. Jill will ask MDPH how it calculates this adjustment.
    17. We will not have a meeting on Dec. 29th.  Jill will moderate our January 5th meeting.

    18. Deferred items:

    19. Later, Dick will submit past bills for reimbursements to volunteers.
    20. Later, Tom and Carol will propose revised letter to volunteers.

    21. Action items:

    22. Dick will adjust meeting rooms as necessary, ask Carol to notify others..
    23. Dick to send our ATSDR public comment to EPA.
    24. Dick to bring old mappings (and Peter's new ones) to future meetings.
    25. Peter, Jill to address cancer-grouping issues.
    26. Roger to report re private-drinking-well options.
    27. Jill to report re volunteers status.
    28. Jill to bring Krikorian minutes from our Nov. 3rd meeting.
    29. Jill will moderate the next meeting.