Dr. Zwicky's Direct Testimony Under Oath to the Peoria County board Siting Committee on 2/006 at the Public Hearing at the ITOO Hall
At this time, Mr. Wentworth, does the group
that you represent have any other witnesses to present?
MR. WENTWORTH: Yes, Mr. Brown. Thank you. We have two more, the first being Dr. Gary Zwicky.
GARY ZWICKY, M.D.,
After being first duly sworn, upon his oath, testified as
follows in response to --
BY MR. WENTWORTH:
Q. Doctor, we have passed around your CV or your resume.
Could you briefly describe your education and training, what your current position is?
MR. BROWN: Excuse me. Before he does that, could you please state your name and spell
your last name?
A. Gary Zwicky, Z-W-I-C-K-Y. I am a physician in Peoria, a life-long resident in Peoria County,
second generation resident. did my medical or my undergraduate training at Tulane University in New Orleans. I did my medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I did a radiology residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago. And I have been in practice as a diagnostic radiologist at St. Francis for the last 17 years. I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. I speak as a practicing physician in this area and President of the medical staff of OSF St. Francis. I represent over 750 doctors in and around the Peoria area. And these are the very same doctors who may be called upon to diagnose and treat sequela in the event of any loss of containment of known carcinogens and neurotoxic heavy metal compounds, including lead, mercury and chromium, that are deposited at the PDC facility. I would like to read my letter that I submitted to the Board. This was titled Peoria Physicians Speak. There are few opportunities for physicians in this community to speak with one voice on an issue which potentially affects the health of our entire community. In the eyes of physicians in and around Peoria, the proposed expansion of the hazardous waste facility owned and operated by PDC represents a significant threat to all of us who live and work in Peoria County. Over the course of the last week -- and this was three weeks ago -- the Medical Executive Committees of all three Peoria hospitals representing over 750 doctors have voted to speak with the united voice to oppose the proposed expansion of this toxic waste disposal facility. Physicians in this community are alarmed about the potential short and long-term health consequences that this facility poses to the population of Peoria County. Our concerns specifically relate to the proximity of the dump to a major metropolitan area as well as its siting over the Sankoty aquifer from which we draw much of our drinking water. Specifically we fear leakage of heavy metal compounds such as lead and mercury, which are known to be neurotoxins. The physicians of Peoria County urge the Peoria County Board to deny the permit for expansion of the PDC facility. This letter was signed by myself as President of the Medical Staff at St. Francis, Dr. Parker McCrea, President of the Medical Staff at Proctor Hospital, and Dr. Steven Smith, President of the Medical Staff at Methodist Medical Center. Thank you.
Q. Doctor, are you expressing any opinion on any potential exposure pathways that are currently or in the future may emanate from the site?
A. We are most specifically concerned about heavy metal leakage from the containment.
Q. But you don't know how things are getting off the site or if they ever will get off the site, correct?
A. I don't know that.
Q. You are not a geologist or a hydrologist, an engineer, a landfill design developer, is that correct?
A. That's safe to say.
Q. Have you ever been there before to the site?
A. I have driven by it. I have not been through it.
Q. Have you read any substantial part of the Application?
MR. WENTWORTH: Thank you.
MR. BROWN: Is there any cross-examination of this witness?
MR. MEGINNES: Yes. But first I would like to object. I don't think he's been qualified as an expert to give any expert testimony. Through the line of questions he just said he hadn't read the Application, he didn't know any pathways of exposure. I mean, he's not qualified as an expert, and I would submit his testimony should simply be included in the public comment portion of this hearing.
MR. BROWN: Unless I missed something, I am not sure that he gave an opinion. I think he just said that there were some concerns, and I guess that was his statement. So to the extent your objection is that he drew any conclusions or opinions, I am not sure that that -- there is any need to rule on that objection.
MR. MEGINNES: Okay. I would like to ask a few questions.
BY MR. MEGINNES:
Q. First of all, did you spend some time and actually read this Application?
A. I did not.
Q. Have you attended the hearings since last Tuesday to try to gather some information about the
A. I have read what has been going on in the newspaper and I was here for an hour before this started.
Q. So you read the couple of articles that have been in the Journal Star?
A. Well, I think it's more than a couple over the last few months, but yes.
Q. Have you done any type of a study of the regional geology of the area?
A. I think I have answered that question. No.
Q. Have you studied the hydrogeology of this area?
Q. Have you looked at any boring logs that were submitted as part of the record?
Q. Have you looked at any of the test status, slug tests, or any of the other information included in the appendix to the Application?
A. I have looked at a list of some -- many of the compounds on the site.
Q. What were they?
A. You expect me to name all of the compounds on your site?
Q. Name what you can remember.
A. Lead, mercury, chromium, volatile compounds.
Q. I am kind of curious, where did you think that you read that there was mercury taken at the facility?
A. I believe it's in the EPA report.
Q. Actually, if you would have attended the hearing, it's been testified to there has been -- no mercury has been accepted at the facility. Would that change the letter you read if you would have known that?
Q. Now --
A. That's one neurotoxin.
Q. I am kind of curious, did you ask -- first of all, did you take a tour of the site?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ask Peoria Disposal Company for the opportunity to go out and visit the site?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ask any representatives of PDC to come and speak to the OSF medical committee before you had your vote?
A. No, I did not. And I didn't ask anyone to speak in opposition to it either. People came to me. And your company could have come to us and asked for that same opportunity.
Q. Who came to you?
A. Dr. John McLean told me about this problem. And we had some discussions in the Community Wide Medical Leaders conference that occurs quarterly. And then Dr. McLean presented in front of our Executive Committee and in front of our whole medical staff.
Q. Was there anyone else other than Dr. McLean that brought this matter to your attention?
Q. After he -- what did he do, call you up on the phone, or see you at the hospital?
A. I saw him in the hallway at the hospital.
Q. What did he say?
A. He told me he was concerned about this issue. And I told him I had an Executive Committee
meeting going on that night and he could feel free to present if he so chose. And he did.
Q. So who attended that meeting that evening?
A. The Executive Committee meeting is attended by department chairs in all of the departments at St. Francis. So there is approximately 20 of those, and then plus administrators.
Q. So how many people attended the meeting that night?
A. Probably 25 to 28.
Q. Was a general notice given to the other physicians in the hospital that are part of the medical staff that you were going to actually talk about the PDC landfill Application that night at the meeting?
A. It had already been presented to the whole medical staff at our lunch meeting, our quarterly
Q. Let's back up. I thought you told me you ran into Dr. McLean in the hallway at the hospital and he brought it to your attention and you told him he could come that night to the Executive Committee and make a presentation?
A. I met him in the hallway before the lunch meeting, not the executive meeting.
Q. You met him in the hallway before the lunch meeting. Did he come to the lunch meeting then?
Q. So he made a presentation -- what was the lunch meeting of?
A. The general medical staff of St. Francis.
Q. And at that meeting then was there any type of a vote taken?
A. There was no vote taken.
Q. And then when was it taken before the Executive Committee?
A. It was taken before the Executive Committee the first week in February.
Q. So when was -- when did you have the lunch meeting when Dr. John McLean made the presentation?
A. I would have to look at my notes to see that date.
Q. Why don't you do that?
A. The date of the lunch meeting of the entire medical staff was 1/11/06.
Q. So how long was the presentation that Dr. McLean made at the luncheon meeting?
A. Very short.
Q. How long?
A. Probably a five minute presentation, with time for some questions.
Q. Can you recall what he said during his five minutes of testimony?
A. He talked about the existence of a hazardous waste disposal facility in Peoria, that they were applying for expansion and to raise the height of the existing facility. And many of the people were shocked to hear of the existence of such an entity.
Q. Did he have a handout or hand out any material to the physicians of that meeting?
A. I don't recall if he did at that meeting or not. You could ask him.
Q. Did he share with the doctors at that luncheon that his daughter was leading the opposition to the expansion of the landfill?
A. Not that I am aware of.
Q. So after the meeting -- now, when did it come up in front of the Executive Committee?
Q. So after the initial presentation by Dr. McLean on January 11, did you try to gather some additional information about the Application to kind of better educate yourself about the siting Application?
A. I had been following the reports in the paper.
Q. Did you do anything else other than follow the reports in the paper?
A. Personally, no.
Q. Did anybody else that you are aware of at OSF?
A. I couldn't answer that question.
Q. So you didn't do anything from January 11 until February 7 to better prepare for your presentation to the Executive Committee?
A. I didn't present to the Executive Committee.
Q. So how was this matter handled before the Executive Committee?
A. Dr. McLean presented.
Q. He came again to the Executive Committee and made a similar presentation?
Q. About how long did that presentation last?
A. I wasn't at the meeting. I was out of town.
Q. Did you talk to anybody that actually was present at the meeting?
Q. Did they tell you how long the presentation lasted?
A. No, they didn't.
Q. Do you know what the vote was at the meeting?
A. I don't know what the vote was.
Q. Do you know if it was even voted on?
A. It may have been a consensus.
Q. So there may not have even have been a vote taken?
A. That's possible.
Q. Did you get any handout, or was there any handout materials circulated at that meeting that you are aware of?
A. Not that I am aware of.
Q. How many physicians normally attend the Executive Committee meetings?
A. Probably around 20.
Q. 20. You know, I know a little bit about Medical Executive Committees, having worked in the healthcare area, and it seems rather unusual for a Medical Executive Committee to delve into matters not having to do with the hospital. Don't you find this a little unusual?
A. Not at all. It's a matter to do with health.
Q. Have you taken other public issues with respect to health to the Executive Committee?
A. Yes. TB testing for the community, vaccines for flu for children.
Q. Have you taken a position on the bird flu epidemic in the world?
A. We have not taken a position, but we have participated -- the hospital has participated in disaster drills for such.
Q. I am just surprised that at any of your discussions with the physicians, you are talking with people in the hall, no one asked to hear the other side of the story.
A. No one asked me.
Q. Do you remember talking -- did you talk to anybody else about this other than Dr. McLean?
A. I probably did, but I can't give you names.
Q. Well, do you think it was more than two?
Q. More than five?
A. Dr. Vidas is here. I spoke with him.
Q. More than five?
Q. Now, I believe that you were asked by your attorney about what pathways of exposure you were particularly concerned about. Do you recall that question?
Q. And what pathways are you concerned about?
A. Groundwater contamination through leachate.
Q. Is there any other pathways you are concerned about?
A. Well, that's the one we are mainly concerned about.
Q. Your concern is based upon your brief conversations with Dr. McLean and what you read in
the Peoria Journal Star?
A. My concerns are based on my training also of neurotoxicity of heavy metal compounds.
Q. But you really haven't taken the time to study the Application or come to this hearing to really find out much about the facility, have you?
A. To the depth you have, no.
Q. Would it change your opinion if you had heard an expert hydrogeologist state that after 500 years, the groundwater at the compliance boundary of the facility, the only contamination would be that the water would be slightly salty?
A. I guess I would have trouble understanding how a hydrologist could predict 500 years in the
Q. But assuming he had that expert within --
A. I am not willing to assume that.
Q. You are not willing to assume that, even though if you had been here you would have heard
somebody testify to that effect?
A. I may have heard it, yes.
Q. And what do you have to rely on to question that expert's opinion other than what you read in
the Peoria Journal Star and your brief conversation with Dr. McLean?
A. Do you want to restate that question?
Q. I said, what are you relying upon to question that expert's opinion other than your brief conversations with Dr. McLean and the reading of the articles in the Peoria Journal Star?
A. I am not questioning any expert's opinion. I wasn't here to hear the testimony.
Q. Okay. Looking quickly at your resume, now, are you a radiologist?
Q. I gather that you read -- what do you do as a radiologist at the hospital?
A. I read body and musculoskeletal magnetic resonance imaging and computer tomography.
Q. You use those readings to make diagnoses of patients?
A. To diagnose cancer, musculoskeletal ailments, neural diseases, those things.
Q. When you diagnose a patient, I gather you try to gather as much information as you can about
the patient before you make a diagnosis?
A. I do.
Q. That includes, what, reading the x-rays, for example, or the readouts of the MRIs?
A. Well, it includes reading the patient's history, knowing why the exam was ordered.
Q. What else do you rely upon?
A. My medical knowledge and training and experience.
Q. Well, I guess to kind of put this in laymen's terms, it seems to me you made a diagnosis on the PDC landfill expansion without even making an attempt to gather any information whatsoever about the facility. I am kind of surprised that you would do that as a physician.
A. I'll tell you, I am a little surprised too that somebody can propose that a plastic liner lasts for a thousand years.
Q. Well, how would you know about that? You don't know anything about it.
A. Well, I'll tell you what, everyday experience of everybody in this room with conventional plastics says otherwise; that they become brittle and they break over time.
Q. So just your everyday experience makes you an expert on HDPE landfill liners, is that correct?
A. No. But we are experts in scientific methodology, in studying problems. And hypotheses are put forward and then you prove or disprove the hypothesis. In the case of the plastic liner, your
hypothesis is that this is going to last for a thousand years. How can you prove it?
Q. We heard probably the United States' best expert on this testify, and he actually gave a very
detail explanation on that was his personal opinion. I don't think we have any more questions for
BY MR. BROWN:
Q. Dr. Zwicky, we heard earlier today, and I think you might have been in the hall when one of the witnesses said that heavy metals at any kind of concentration pose a health threat. Would you agree with that statement?
A. I couldn't give you a specific concentration.
Q. Would you agree with that statement at any concentration?
A. I don't have an opinion on that.
MR. BROWN: Any questions from the Subcommittee?
BY MR. BAIETTO:
Q. Dr. Zwicky, is there any studies being done, been done to your knowledge, of this area in relationship to what you are testifying against?
A. The only study I am aware of is from the American Cancer Society with data through 2004 that
states that Peoria County has a significantly higher than average risk of cancer compared to other counties in the state.
Q. But is that specific to what is going on at PDC landfill? Is there any knowledge there that they are causing the problem?
A. No. There is no way that you could connect those directly.
MR. BAIETTO: Thank you.
MR. BROWN: Mr. Wentworth, do you have any redirect?
MR. WENTWORTH: Nothing further.
MR. BROWN: Okay. Dr. Zwicky, thank you. You are dismissed.
posted by Merle Widmer @ 3:49 PM 8 comments
Reprint of a "Letter to the "Editors of the Peoria Journal Star" 4/5/06
“Emotions Clouds Landfill Decision” by Dr. Stephen J. Smart is reprinted here with the permission of Dr. Smart. The letter reads as follows “When we initially became aware of the Peoria Disposal Company Landfill expansion, we were concerned but knew few of the facts. However, after my wife and I spent two hours at the landfill meeting with PDC and touring the facility, we are very comfortable with their proposal.