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Thursday, January 17, 2002

Brush Wellman criticizes agency's role


News Herald reports


GENOA -- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's participation in an activist meeting on beryllium Tuesday "smacks of collusion," said a Brush Wellman spokesman Wednesday.

"I don't know what they've done, but attending as a guest of an activist group when they're supposed to be beyond reproach in terms of scientific independence and an unbiased first party smacks of collusion, and that's just plain wrong," said Pat Carpenter, Brush Wellman spokesman.

The ATSDR is a federal non-regulatory agency that has stepped in to study the effects of beryllium on workers and community members around the Elmore Brush Wellman plant.

No one at the ATSDR could be reached for comment Wednesday.

The agency was requested by U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine after Ohio Citizen Action Program Director Amy Ryder called him.

It conducted a consultation in October, but officials said they could not reach a conclusion on health concerns because of insufficient data.

In October, ATSDR representatives announced at an Elmore meeting they would conduct a follow-up exposure investigation, talking to volunteers in 30 local households.

Because of low participation at the October meeting, ATSDR representative Loretta Bush returned to Tuesday night's meeting in Genoa sponsored by Ohio Citizen Action to ask for more volunteers.

Only about 10 people have volunteered so far, and the agency is looking for more Brush Wellman workers, nonworkers close to the plant and nonworkers far from the plant to participate in the study, she said.

The ATSDR will set up an appointment to come into the volunteer's home to conduct swipe samples. The entire process takes about two hours.

The sampling is anticipated to begin in March or April, with the final report to be issued in April or June.

The sampling and interviews are conducted confidentially, so when the final report is released, all identifiers are removed.

Carpenter said Wednesday his company is not against the investigation, but wants it to be fair, with random samples and a properly constructed control group.

"That's what Brush Wellman would expect of the U.S. government," he added.