Earlier today, Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane held a brief hearing in Parkersburg, so that members of the C8 Science Panel would have to explain in a public forum the reasons for their announced three-month delay (see here and here) in releasing final results of their examination of the chemical’s impact on the health of Mid-Ohio Valley residents.
Until late last month, Science Panel members were publicly sticking to their promise that the last of their “probable link” determinations would be done and released by the end of July. Now, they say it will be the end of October before this work is completed and results relayed to area residents. Here’s the reason, as explained by the Science Panel:
The primary reason that we were not able to fulfill our commitment to meet the deadline of July for all the assessments was that we underestimated the painstaking process of resolving several assessments that are very close to the balance between presence or absence of a Probable Link. The process of preparing a Probable Link assessment involves generating data from our own research, integrating that information with studies conducted by others, careful evaluation and deliberation, and then writing a document to summarize the evidence and explain our reasoning. The process of assessing the evidence and composing the documents is far more demanding than we had anticipated at the outset, and each disease is handled separately.
In each case we have had to examine the data we have, consider consistency with published data where available, confer on how to make the results more definitive and, where necessary, go back to the data for additional analysis. For diseases which are borderline between yes and no, this necessitates additional effort, sometimes in several cycles. For all diseases, but especially those for which the evidence places them close to the “more probable than not” threshold, the process demands substantial time. In judging whether to try to truncate that level of scrutiny and rush through the remaining diseases, including some of the most important ones of concern, versus incurring a delay in order to be sure that each of the reports received our full attention, we have chosen the latter.
Lawyers for residents and for DuPont Co. seemed to accept this explanation, and neither side offered any criticism of the panel’s delay. Judge Beane, though, did say:
It’s frustrating when deadlines are set and then those deadlines are not met. The people who live throughout this community are wanting to know and we set these deadlines for a reason.
And if October comes and there’s another delay? Judge Beane said:
If it continues to be an issue, with whatever means I have to look into that, I will.