Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved January 10, 2001, Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 10, 2001, at the Garden Plaza Hotel in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6:00 p.m. A video tape recording of the meeting was made and may be viewed by calling the SSAB support office at 865-241-3665.

Members Present
Jake Alexander
Shane Bellis1
Jeff Cange
Luther Gibson, Jr., Chair
John Kennerly
Steve Kopp
Steve Lewis
Avalon Mansfield1
John Million
David Mosby, Vice Chair
Bill Pardue
Pat Rush
Peery Shaffer
Kevin Shaw
Lorene Sigal
Coralie Staley, Secretary
Kerry Trammell
Scott Vowell
Charles Washington

1Student representative

Members Absent
Mary Lynn Fletcher
Tami Hamby
Darrell Srdoc2

2Second consecutive absence

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officios Present
Rod Nelson, DOE-Oak Ridge Offices (DOE-ORO)
Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO
Connie Jones, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
John Owsley, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

Others Present
Sheree Black, SSAB support office
Fred Butterfield, DOE-Headquarters
Nancy Carnes, DOE-ORO
Greg Cook, Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC (BJC)
Dennis Hill, SSAB support office
Chuck Jenkins, BJC
John Michael Japp, DOE-ORO
Pete Osborne, SSAB support office
Donna Perez, DOE-ORO
Don Seaborg, DOE-Paducah

Twelve members of the public attended the meeting.

Presentations

John Michael Japp, DOE Project Manager for the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek (UEFPC) watershed, gave a presentation on the watershed and touched on components of the proposed plan for remedial actions in and around UEFPC. Copies of Mr. Japp’s overheads were distributed and are included as Attachment 1.

After the presentation, the following questions were asked by members of the SSAB and the public.

Questioner

Question

Response (abridged)

Charles Washington Are you aware of how UEFPC became contaminated in the first place? I’ve read historical records of releases.
You didn’t mention toxicity or ambient air monitoring, and those are important factors to consider. Monitoring is ongoing in the creek and in the Clinch River. I agree with your comments about the importance of toxicity, and we’ll take them into consideration in making our presentation at the public meeting.
Pat Rush How does the 400 parts per million (ppm) cleanup level established in Lower East Fork Poplar Creek (LEFPC) relate to the 51 parts per trillion (ppt) water quality standard set for mercury by EPA? The 400 ppm in LEFPC refers to flood plain soils. The 51 ppt figure in the UEFPC interim Record of Decision (ROD) addresses water quality standards.
Does any Y-12 wastewater containing mercury cycle through the city’s treatment plant? In the early 1990s there was a concerted effort to identify wastewater sources contaminated with mercury, and it’s my understanding that any discharges to the city’s system are now below allowable limits.
Steve Lewis What treatment would be used to remove mercury from water? We have two existing water treatment facilities: for low flow we use granular activated carbon; for high flow, we start with carbon filtering, followed by a couple of other steps.
You’re actually collecting mercury? Yes. It’s in the carbon, but it’s disposed.
Do you have an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limit at Outfall 17? Historically there has been, but about a year ago negotiations between the State of Tennessee and NPDES officials in Nashville resulted in a handoff of permitting responsibilities from NPDES to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), at least for the short term.
Lorene Sigal Could you give us an estimate on when we’ll see the surface water and groundwater RODs? The schedule allows about 10 years for implementation of proposed plan actions and follow-on monitoring, so a final surface water ROD, and groundwater as well, would come later, following an evaluation of how successful we’ve been with remedial activities. We will be doing some preliminary groundwater investigations now to determine if some early actions would be prudent to prevent any offsite migration.
Jake Alexander Will the implementation of the preferred alternative negate the need to pump dilution water from the Clinch River? At the heyday of Y-12 Plant operations, the volume of water leaving the plant was about 15m gallons per day (gpd); now it’s only releasing 1–2m gpd above base flow. One of the conditions of the NPDES permit was to augment flow to bring it up to 7m gpd for the benefit of aquatic organisms.
Are you saying that all industries are required to do this? (Response supplied by John Owsley) The situation is unique to the Y-12 Plant and came about because of conditions in existence prior to when the plant came under regulation of the Water Pollution Control Act.
Has any thought been given to diverting waste flows to the Clinch River, which would serve as a larger diluting body than UEFPC? That option didn’t make it into the latter stages of consideration.
Bill Pardue I understand that the major sources of mercury are the central and western portions of the plant, which are also the areas for modernization. Can you speculate on if modernization activities might raise mercury release concerns? The enriched uranium storage facility is to be built significantly north of where the historical mercury use areas are located, so we’re not anticipating any problems.
Shane Bellis Why does the residential scenario assume that an onsite receptor would drink groundwater instead of city water? The residential scenario, which is the most conservative CERCLA scenario, was used for consistency in calculating risk. It’s highly unlikely that residential use would ever be considered.
Jeff Cange When were actions for mercury abatement begun? They were begun the early 1980s and continue to the present, although activities have diminished as mercury levels have dropped.
Considering the steady decline in the levels, wouldn’t you eventually meet remediation goals without further actions? The decline tends to level off more than the graphs illustrate. And while we’ve found the gains harder and harder to get, we can’t ignore CERCLA time lines for accomplishing remediation goals. We’re going after clear-cut objectives like treating the groundwater spring and placing caps over certain areas.

Donna Perez, DOE Site Manager for the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), gave an update on the recent fluorine leak at ETTP Building K-1302. The source of the leak has been identified, and a plan is being prepared to verify the concentration levels to which all fluorine tanks in the building have been purged. Additional purging or treatment will be required.

Fred Butterfield gave an overview of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and discussed conflict of interest issues pertaining to members of SSABs. Mr. Butterfield is Special Assistant and Senior Technical Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Budget in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management. Mr. Butterfield’s overheads are included as Attachment 2.

Following the overview, Mr. Butterfield and Nancy Carnes of the DOE-ORO Chief Counsel’s Office responded to questions on conflict of interest.

Questioner

Question

Response (abridged)

Bill Pardue Is it fair to say that if a large percentage of a given community is composed of persons who are associated with DOE that a large percentage of that community’s SSAB should likewise be composed of those individuals? Mr. Butterfield: If you have a community like Los Alamos or Oak Ridge that substantively came into being because of DOE missions, then this may be the case. The presumption is that these individuals are able to take objective stands on issues and provide objective recommendations and advice.
What types of actions are necessary to remove a conflict of interest? Ms. Carnes: Actions range from disclosure, at a minimum; from there, resolution may be just that the matter was noted for the record. It may be appropriate in other circumstances for members to recuse themselves. Removal from the Board would only result from repeated and undisclosed conflict of interest.
Charles Washington The guidance says that "Members should not participate in Board business or discussions..." Did this come from the body of law relating to conflict of interest, or is it paraphrased? Mr. Butterfield: This came from the DOE-Headquarters Office of General Counsel. I think the reason "discussions" is in there is because in many boards there are no votes. In addition, just influencing discussion may sway the other members’ views on an issue.
Steve Kopp Are subcommittee meetings subject to public information notification requirements? Mr. Butterfield: No. According to guidance, subcommittee meetings are not covered by the act’s requirements that the public be notified. Subcommittees do not act on their own; decisions must be forwarded to the entire Board for approval.
Is there anything in the FACA guidance stating that DOE should not try to influence SSAB decision-making? Mr. Butterfield: I’m reasonably sure there’s a line about that somewhere in our guidance.
Steve Kopp I strongly disagree with the precept that contractor employees must be appointed to SSABs by exception (that is, a letter of exception is required). This assumes an inherent conflict, when in fact, the person in question may not have any relationship with the EM Program. I think this shows that conflict of interest issues should be handled by local boards. Mr. Butterfield: In my opinion, the notion of openness and impartiality trumps local control. We’re not saying that an individual has a conflict, but because they’re a contractor employee, we’re noting them as having that potential.

Ms. Carnes: Handling this at the national level deflects the perception that a conflict exists by keeping standards at a uniform level. The intent is to protect the integrity of the Board and protect against even the taint of conflict of interest in the eyes of the public. Disclosing the nature of your employment gives us a change to review it before your appointment, and everyone in the community knows up front. The reality is that when the fact is known outside the Oak Ridge community that the Board is composed heavily of contractor employees, the reaction is suspicion. Disclosure is crucial to helping the Board rise above that.

Jake Alexander If DOE’s concern is to be above suspicion, why not simply state that contractor employees may not be appointed? Mr. Butterfield: We think that’s the sledgehammer approach, and we believe that we’d be depriving ourselves of people whose only crime is being employed by a government contractor.
Do you plan to add the phrase "as a class of entities" to the guidance? What is the intent of that phrase? Mr. Butterfield: Yes, we intend to add it.

Ms. Carnes: It refers to actions that may be taken that may influence a whole group of businesses rather than just one.

If DOE were to adopt a policy that were to put ninety percent of contractors out of a job, would Board members be precluded from protesting that policy by virtue of being with a class of entities? Mr. Butterfield: I think that would fall under the purview of that definition.
Should employees of the contractor that prepared the proposed plan for UEFPC recuse themselves from discussions on that plan? Ms. Carnes: Disclosure is the first step, but recusal would depend on the individual’s participation in the plan. Being the author would be different from someone whose duties are unrelated to preparation of the plan. The criteria are intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis.
Are there any guidelines for when recusal is appropriate? We haven’t written down anything beyond what’s in the guidance. Decision-making should be on a case-by-case basis.

Following general discussion of conflict of interest issues, Mr. Butterfield and Ms. Carnes responded to examples that had been submitted to them in advance of the Board meeting:

Example

Response

1. Board member belongs to an organization that has adopted a position on an issue under SSAB deliberation. Disclosure is recommended. Just belonging to an organization does not require recusal.
2. Board member brings a proposal for consideration for Board approval that could affect activity being performed under a DOE contract. We assumed that the member works for the contractor. In that case there should be immediate disclosure and probable recusal.
3. Board member works for a subcontractor that may submit a future proposal on one of the alternatives being considered in a proposed plan under review. Disclosure is recommended, with possible recusal at some future time.
4. Board member was involved in preparation of a report under review but identifies his contributions. Disclosure and recusal are recommended because this falls into the "fox and henhouse" category.
5. Board member is being compensated by his employer for his participation in Board activities. On the surface it seems that this is not a conflict, but additional consideration may be required.
6. Board member has an association with any party to be affected by Board action that is not known. Broad disclosure of associations is required.
7. How can a potential conflict of interest be removed? It depends on the conflict, and it can run from disclosure to removal.
8. Members who work for a contractor and vote on issues related to their company: (a) they’re directly involved in the work, (b) they give advice on work related to their company. If they are directly involved, it seems it would have a direct and predictable effect, but the issue should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
9. A contract will affect their employment during a potential layoff on an issue the Board is considering. Same response as number 8.

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officio Comments

Mr. Nelson welcomed new ORSSAB members Kevin Shaw, John Million, and John Kennerly, and he introduced Don Seaborg, Paducah Site Manager; and Greg Cook, BJC Public Affairs Office, who were attending this evening’s meeting.

Mr. Nelson announced that the Annual Site Environmental Report has been issued, and a meeting to present the results to the public will be held Thursday, January 11, at Jacobs Engineering.

Mr. Nelson advised Board members that David Michaels, Acting Director of the DOE Office of Worker Advocacy, had responded to the ORSSAB recommendation on compensation for sick nuclear workers. The response may be found in the correspondence section of the Board notebooks. Mr. Washington asked Mr. Nelson if DOE is still accepting applications for compensation from sick nuclear workers. Mr. Nelson was unable to answer specifically, but he offered to get an answer from the DOE safety organization.

Ms. Halsey invited Board members to a brown bag seminar on revisions to the DOE Public Involvement Plan to be held at noon on Tuesday, January 16, at the Information Resource Center.

Ms. Jones reported that EPA, TDEC, and DOE have been working on a pilot program at ETTP for merging Reindustrialization Program objectives with environmental management issues. A document concerning the program is being reviewed now. All issues concerning the proposed plan for UEFPC have been resolved except for the land use control implementation procedures.

Public Comment

Mr. Norman Mulvenon, Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Panel of the Local Oversight Committee, remarked that while the original UEFPC ROD was very broad-ranging, the plan presented this evening was extremely narrow in scope. This change in scope is a clear example to him of how stakeholders are not being involved in key and critical points in the decision-making process.

Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, February 14, at the Garden Plaza Hotel. Joe Nemec, President and General Manager of BJC, will present a status report on management and integration contractor activities.

Minutes of the December 13, 2000, Board meeting were approved pending resolution of a question regarding whether or not Mr. Srdoc had attended the meeting.

Ms. Sigal reported that the Stewardship Committee is developing a white paper on requirements in CERCLA documents. Upon its completion, the paper will come before the Board for approval.

The meeting adjourned at 10:05 p.m.

Attachments to these minutes are available upon request from the SSAB support office.

Motions

M1/10/01.1
Ms. Rush moved to approve the meeting agenda. Mr. Mosby amended the motion to delete items IX (Committee Reports), and X (Memos and Other Reports). Mr. Pardue seconded the motion, but the motion failed to carry, 2 in favor (Mr. Mosby and Mr. Gibson), 14 opposed. Mr. Washington moved to approved the meeting agenda as written. Mr. Kopp seconded the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved. (Mr. Shaw was absent for both votes.)

M1/10/01.2
Mr. Mosby moved to approve conditionally the minutes of the December 13, 2000, Board meeting pending resolution of the question regarding whether or not Mr. Srdoc had attended the meeting. The motion was unanimously approved. (Mr. Shaw was absent for the vote.)


Respectfully submitted,
Coralie A. Staley, Secretary

CAS/plo

Attachments (2)

Action Items

1. Mr. Nelson will respond to Mr. Washington’s question about whether or not DOE is still accepting applications for compensation from sick nuclear workers. Completed 1/25/01. The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 established a program to provide compensation to employees of DOE and its contractors. Actual eligibility criteria for the program remain to be defined and will be established by program administrators over the next year. Until that time, claims for benefits cannot be accepted. The DOE Office of Worker Advocacy will release updated information to potentially affected workers as it becomes available. To contact the office, call 1-877-447-9756, or see their web site at http://www.eh.doe.gov/benefits.

2. Staff will determine whether or not Mr. Srdoc attended the December 13 Board meeting and amend the meeting minutes accordingly. Completed 1/16/00. Mr. Srdoc did not attend the meeting, and the minutes were so amended.

1 Motion

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