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Madam Chairman, the full text of my report is attached and I ask that it be inserted into the record.
Mrs. MORELLA. Without objection.
Mr. BAILUS WALKER. And I will simply summarize our
Mrs. MORELLA. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. BAILUS WALKER. Thank you
Which is a reflection of the panel's concern.
First of all, I think the panel agreed with the approach that the Corps of Engineers was using to evaluate the soil. That plan was presented to the advisory panel in considerable detail, and it was our view, based on the expertise of our soil scientists, that this was a sound approach. The panel recommended also that the District of Columbia develop a very comprehensive plan; and I think earlier the District was just responding to complaints and concerns, and there was no clear-cut plan. And so our panel recommended that the District develop a comprehensive plan which would really enhance efforts to try to get an answer to some of the concerns raised by the community.
We also recommended that the District government use the soil sampling results from the Corps of Engineers as the basis for determining what additional human testing should be done. In other words, in areas or in neighborhoods on properties where there were high concentrations of arsenic or whatever contaminant, that would signal to the District of Columbia that should be testing about monitoring of the individuals who live on those hot spots.
We also recommended that the District of Columbia do another analysis of cancer trends. The presentation that was made to a panel lacked what we thought was a good comparison group. The comparison group was chosen from the census tracts next to Spring Valley, and we suggested that from a sound epidemiological standpoint, the control group should be outside of that area and under the same socioeconomic profile as the Spring Valley community.
We also recommended that the three agencies, District of Columbia, Corps of Engineers and EPA, really develop a plan for communicating the results of the environmental analysis as well as the health analysis, a plan so that the public-the community residents fully understood the scientific issues, as well as the data that was being collected. In other words, a kind of risk communication process should be developed.
Madam Chairman, those are the principal recommendations of our committee, and as I indicated, my full statement is attached. I would conclude that there is a need for a full health risk assessment of the potential exposure contaminants of the residents to the contaminants in that community. We felt that there was a need for more data before we could draw any sound conclusion with respect to health and environmental issues.
That concludes my testimony, Madam Chairman. I invite any questions that you may have.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Dr. Walker. We will address questions to you at the end of the first panel.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Walker follows:]
Bailus Walker Jr., Ph.D., MPH
Hearing on Spring Valley - Toxic Waste Contamination in the Nation's Capitol Subcommittee on the District of Columbia Committee on Government Reform
House of Representative
Chairman Morella, Ranking Minority Member Norton, Distinguished
I am Bailus Walker Jr., Chairman of the District of Columbia Mayor's
Spring Valley Scientific Advisory Panel.
I am a professor of environmental and occupational medicine, Howard University College of Medicine.
I appreciate the invitation to participate in the Subcommittee's effort to determine a range of factors regarding the chemical contamination of the Spring Valley Community. My comments will focus on the findings and recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Panel.
The D.C. Mayor, Anthony Williams, appointed the Panel earlier this year in response to the growing health and environment concerns of the Spring Valley residents.
The panel members were chosen for their technical expertise in
toxicology, epidemiology, environmental and occupational health sciences,
and soil sampling and analysis. The Panel also includes two residents of
Spring Valley who are thoroughly knowledgeable about community
attitudes and concerns, as well as the historical dimensions of the
Mayor Williams charged the Panel (paraphrasing) to review processes. and procedures underway regarding the identified and measured
contaminants in the Spring Valley neighborhood. The Mayor's Order also charged the Panel with assuring that the best available scientific knowledge is applied in seeking answers to the residents' questions.
The full text of our first report is attached. I asked that it be inserted into the record. So, I will simply summarize our recommendations, which reflect the Panel's concerns.
The Panel generally agreed with the soil sampling/testing plan proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ----- a plan which is now being implemented.
The Panel recommends that the District of Columbia Department of Health develop a comprehensive plan, the objective of which is to address concerns about exposure to, and health effects of, contaminants in Spring
Valley. Such a plan would outline an orderly process for determining
environmental health risks for residents of that community. It would also
enhance effort to determine what data
scientific and otherwise
needed to respond to residents' concerns.
The Panel recommends that the District of Columbia Department of
Health utilize the results of the soil sampling, being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as an indicator of places in Spring Valley where additional testing of humans should be conducted.
In other words, where high concentrations of arsenic or other contaminants are found in soil sites, individuals residing in close proximity
to those sites should be tested.
The Panel recommends that the District of Columbia Department of
Health redesign its study of cancer trends in the Spring Valley
neighborhoods. Cancer appears to be among the health effects of greatest concern to residents of that area.
The available human data in the literature on the health effects of
inorganic arsenic the chemical which has thus far received the most
attention in Spring Valley
is sufficient to conclude that chronic
ingestion of inorganic arsenic causes bladder and lung cancer, as well as skin
cancer. With minor exceptions, human studies for cancer are based on
populations exposed to arsenic concentrations in drinking water.
For the District's analysis of cancer trends, a more appropriate "control group" - those persons who could be classified as "unexposed" to the contaminants identified in Spring Valley soils for comparison.
should be selected
It should be noted that developmental and reproductive effects resulting from chronic ingestion of inorganic arsenic have not been demonstrated in humans a concern raised by some residents.
Finally, the Panel recommends that the three agencies
Department of Health, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and EPA ----
develop a well thoughtout plan for communicating health and environmental
based on available data (soil sampling results, health monitoring
It is the Panel's view that the data collected should be thoroughly
ensure their understanding of real or potential health risks.