Merck & Co., Inc.
Memorandum to Participants of the Merck/NGO Project XL Meeting
To: Participants in the Merck Project XL meeting and other interested NGO Representatives
From: Kevin Curtis and Alyssa Wittenborn
Date: June 7, 1996
Re: Summary of Merck Project XL Meeting
Included in this fax are a draft meeting summary and participant list from the Merck Project XL meeting which took place on May 23. Please contact the representatives listed in the summary with any follow-up questions or concerns you may have.
On May 23, 1996, a meeting was held to provide an update on Merck's XL project to representatives of the environmental and environmental justice NGO community. In attendance were Merck staff, NGO representatives, EPA staff, state regulators, National Park Service representatives and local stakeholders in the project. This meeting was intended to provide a forum in which members of the NGO community could interact directly with project proponents, regulators and stakeholders for one of the XL projects furthest along in the Final Project Agreement (FPA) development process. A similar meeting was held on May 15th, which addressed the Intel and Weyerhaeuser XL projects. The following summary was prepared by The Keystone Center and is intended only to identify the major points of discussion raised by the May 23 meeting. Attached to this summary is a list of attendees.
A. Project Summary
The meeting began with an overview of the Merck XL project by Dorothy Bowers and Tedd Jett of Merck. To receive a copy of the overhead slides used in this presentation, please contact The Keystone Center or the company contact listed under Next Steps.
Under Project XL, Merck proposes to establish a criteria pollutant air emissions cap for its Elkton, VA facility, which is located within two km of Shenandoah National Park, a designated Class I Area. The emissions cap would be set at 1,200 tons per year (tpy), which is 1,500 tpy less than the facility is allowed to emit under current standards, and 300 tpy less than the facility's recent actual emissions. Merck also proposes to implement a project to replace its two existing coal-fired boilers with cleaner burning gas boilers of the same capacity. This change would reduce NOx and SO2 emissions which are of particular concern for the park's air quality. In exchange for compliance with this cap, Merck would be able to make production and equipment changes in the facility, which may increase criteria pollutant emissions principally VOC's, without prior regulatory approval and permit adjustments.
B. Issues raised in the discussion
The major issues and questions raised by NGO representatives in the course of the meeting involved the breadth and depth of local stakeholder input, the life of the agreement, enforcement mechanisms, establishment of the air emissions baseline and whether the boiler conversion would have occurred without Project XL.
- One NGO representative asked whether the conversion from coal to gas boilers in the facility would result in an economic savings for Merck and whether this could be enough incentive to undergo the conversion without participating in Project XL. Merck staff responded that the coal boilers are approximately 15 years old and have a life of over 35 years. Therefore, Merck is undertaking the conversion much earlier than necessary from an operational perspective. NGO representatives requested copies of any economic analysis conducted by the company on this issue.
- In discussing the indefinite life of the FPA, a few participants suggested that in the future, regulatory requirements may mandate lower levels of emissions than the cap allows. In this case, Merck would be exempt under its FPA from having to achieve these otherwise mandated levels of performance, in effect allowing them to "get away" with higher emissions levels. Merck noted that the future was impossible to predict and that the environment would benefit immediately under their proposal because of the reductions proposed under their cap.
- Several NGO representatives pointed out that because local stakeholders are not signatories to the FPA, they can not assure that their concerns with the project are addressed sufficiently. It was noted that this is a common concern that extends to several of the XL projects. One participant also questioned whether all community members interested in Merck's XL project are welcome and involved in the process. In partial response to the concern, one non-signatory participant in the Merck process noted that they were raising many concerns and that while they felt that they were "being heard" they did not feel they had the same leverage they would have if they were signatories.
- Current health risks, the shifting of risks associated with exchanging one type of pollutant for another, and the shifting of risks from one segment of the population to another were also questioned. A few NGO representatives requested that a public health assessment of the workers and the community be performed and that Merck demonstrate efforts to reduce its use of particularly toxic chemicals.
- Merck and state regulators responded to questions about enforcement mechanisms in the FPA. Current thinking on the subject is that EPA will do a site specific rule-making for the facility and that VA DEQ will develop a site specific SIP or variance. In addition, the stakeholders are in the process of reviewing a tiered monitoring and reporting system that will become more stringent as actual emissions from the facility come closer to the cap level. This will work as another incentive for the facility to remain well below the cap.
- One NGO representative asked why 1992 and '93 data were being used as the baseline for the emissions cap instead of more recent data. Merck explained that it was necessary to do this because the '94 and '95 emissions data for the facility are not representative of typical production years due to major changes in the production line that resulted in significant downtime.
In the interest of keeping communication channels open between interested parties, XL staff and companies, anyone with questions or comments concerning the Merck XL project is encouraged to contact the following people:
Tedd Jett Merck & Co., Inc. 540-298-4869
Robin Moran EPA Region III 215-597-3023
Chris Knopes EPA Headquarters 202-260-9298
In an effort to improve the efficacy of these meetings, participants of this meeting and other interested parties are encouraged to contact The Keystone Center with comments on the usefulness of this type of forum for relaying project specific information to national interest groups and others not directly involved in the project.
The Keystone Center 202-783-0248(p)/202-783-0328(f)
Participants of May 23 Merck Project XL meeting
Name Company/Organization Phone Fax
Attended the meeting
Brian Tarantino Merck 908-423-7855 908-735-1109
Julie Thomas NPS-Shenandoah NP 540-999-3499 540-999-3693
Robin Moran EPA Region 3 215-566-2064 215-566-2114
Cecil Rodrigues EPA Region 3 215-566-2683 215-566-2603
Bob Beasley VA DEQ 804-698-4115 804-698-4510
Valerie Carter Merck 908-423-7226 908-735-1160
Steve Tarnawski Merck 908-423-1931 908-423-1322
Jon Kessler EPA 202-260-3761 202-401-6637
Ellen Brown EPA 202-260-4257 202-401-0713
David Gardiner EPA 202-260-4332 202-260-0275
Maryann Froelich EPA 202-260-6038 202-260-0780
David Hawkins NRDC 202-783-7800 202-783-5917
Chris van Loben Sels NRDC 202-783-7800 202-783-5917
Kevin Curtis The Keystone Center 202-783-0248 202-783-0328
Alyssa Wittenborn The Keystone Center 202-783-0248 202-783-0328
Tedd Jett Merck 540-298-4869 540-298-4882
Dorothy Bowers Merck 908-423-6860 908-735-1109
Karen Malkin DOI, NPS 202-219-3384 202-208-4620
Ely Dorsey NEJN Howard University 202-806-1603 202-797-6393
Sanford Lewis Good Neighbor Project 617-489-3686 617-489-2482
Betty Sellers Elkton Community
Ken Scott Calvert Group
Jim Coombs Denver Research/Intel
Nancy Summers Virginia Consortium for Clean Air
Bruce Wallington Merck
Mike Kiss VA DEQ
Larry Keith Anheuser Busch
Scott Alexander Merck
Steve Clevickis Merck
Linda Milligan Southern Organizing Committee for Social and Economic Justice