With a contract signed between Rhodia and the HPA, we wanted to know what this proposed Human Health impact study really consisted of and what small pieces of information may be buried within the legalise. “Confidentiality clauses” can often be used in cases such as this to supress results that may not be favourable to the contract sponsor- in this case Rhodia.
WHAT DID WE ASK AND WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
- FOR A COPY OF THE COMMERCIAL CONTRACT
We asked a number of detailed questions which were not originally answered in the request. In light of some of the information provided in the contract, we sought further clarification on a couple of issues. The questions asked and the HPA additional response are shown below.
1. Do Rhodia have a clause within the contract whereby they can edit, amend, omit, alter, redact or change or have the right of veto as to any material within any DRAFT versions of the HPA report which they consider to be injurous or problematic for them as a company, BEFORE it is submitted in a draft or final version to any third party, including the PCT group steering group who may further wish to amend or alter the content BEFORE it is made public? I note that it is stated that the customer-Rhodia have “ownership of the results”, and it is to they who the HPA are submitting the full report, before it is made public to anyone else.
No. There is no clause within the contract that allows Rhodia editorial input to the Report. The HPA will produce a report that will be issued to Rhodia. As you correctly state the report will be owned by Rhodia.
2. Is there any clause within the contract whereby types, quantities and mixtures of chemicals within the lagoon sediment or surrounding land or water communicated to the HPA by Rhodia or others in data sets will not be included in the final report to be made publicly available?
No. There is no clause within the contract that outlines the format or content of the Report. The HPA will present what information it considers appropriate to support the findings of the Report. Any data sets provided to HPA by Rhodia shall be provided for the purposes of this contract only and shall remain the property of Rhodia. Whilst the Report is likely to refer to the data supplied, the release of any data sets shall be at the discretion of Rhodia.
3. Is there any clause within the contract that prohibits the HPA from releasing ALL data sets provided to them by Rhodia or from others to the public, regardless of their inclusion in the final HPA report?
No. However, information provided to the HPA for the sole purpose of undertaking this study would be subject to the Section 41 exemption under the FOI Act for “information provided in confidence”.
Can you confirm that there is a diffence between task 9 “the report” which will be provided in one electronic and one paper copy, and task 11 “the results of the report” which appear to be provided to the PCT group to look at. Will the full report be made available to them and local residents also, or is this at the discretion of Rhodia?
The HHRA (Human Health Risk Assessment) will form part of the final report that is provided to Rhodia. The HHRA will also be submitted to the Steering Group for discussion in accordance with Task 9 of the contract. Task 11 is a recommendation which is subject to the approval of Rhodia, who are the owners of the report.
In this context “results” refers to the report which will incorporate the work of the contract, the HHRA and the feedback on the HHRA from the Steering Group undertaken as part of Task 8.
4. Could you also confirm if there have been any variations to this contract since it was signed, as per allowed within the contract?
There has been one contract variation, extending the duration of the contract by a further 12 months.
We asked a further question concerning this variation in contract. This was
“Could I request what prompted this extension and was this at the request of Rhodia or the HPA. Could I request the communication between the HPA and Rhodia which explains why this contract variation was considered necessary. Will this also delay the report
The HPA replied for a final response.
“The contract was due to expire on 31st Dec 2010. HPA contacted Rhodia after the initial expiry date because the work had not been completed as Rhodia had not provided HPA with the data required to undertake the work. HPA suggested an extension to June/July 2011 but at Rhodia’s request the revised expiry date was agreed as 31st December 2011. As this is an extension of 1 year then this will have an impact on the report.”
They also supplied redacted emails
and a redacted letter.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
In summary to the questions asked, Rhodia supplied the information to the HPA concerning data sets after a long delay which resulted in the report being delayed for several months. The work undertaken for this followed almost exactly the same work carried out by URS and sub contractors Lankelma in 2009. This would give Rhodia a very good idea as to where to not sample if the results for certain areas had already yielded high levels of certain chemicals, particularly white phosphorus. The 2009 study was alleged to be for the purposes of installing a trial geotextile membrane in certain areas, yet these chosen areas could well have been the areas known to contain hotspots of p4 in the sediment- particularly around the pipe discharge points. Using a different contractor (ERM) in the subsequent testing for the HPA study, these covered areas would not be repeated for the HPA data sets, thus avoiding the high levels found in the pre test test.
This remains our view, until such time as Rhodia release information concerning that mentioned in the Lankelma study write up.
They were clearly not just there to monitor depths.
There is no reason provided by Rhodia for the delay in providing the HPA with the information that they required to complete the study, which they had signed under contract in section 8 “customers obligations”.
Task 7 in the contract reveals that computers were used to model the risks to human health.
As revealed in the letter to Rhodia dated 9th May 2011, the cost of this study exercise cost Rhodia £13,475 plus VAT.
To a muti billion euro company like Rhodia this is chicken feed. Buying good publicity through a favourable report, which they have directly influenced costs very little to a member of the chemical industry, especially when public relations are concerned it is a “small amount” to pay.