Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved January 9, 2002, Meeting Minutes

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 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
Jeanne Bonner
Ryan Burton1
Donna Campbell
Heather Cothron
Luther Gibson, Jr., Chair
Pat Hill
John Kennerly
Alix King1
Steve Kopp
Steve Lewis
Bob McLeod
John Million
Norman Mulvenon
Luis Revilla
Peery Shaffer
Coralie Staley, Secretary
Kerry Trammell
Scott Vowell

1Student representative

Members Absent

Mary Lynn Fletcher2
David Mosby, Vice Chair3
Charles Washington3

2Third consecutive absence
3Second consecutive absence

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officios Present

Lori Fritz, DOE-Oak Ridge Offices (DOE-ORO), Acting Deputy Designated Federal Official
Martha Berry, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standing in for Connie Jones
Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO
John Owsley, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

Others Present

Dave Adler, DOE-ORO
Sheree Black, Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC (BJC)
Leah Dever, DOE-ORO
Pete Osborne, BJC
Myrna Redfield, DOE-ORO
Randy Young, TDEC

Eleven members of the public attended the meeting.


Mr. Dave Adler, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Team Leader for the DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) Program, gave an overview of EM activities in Melton Valley. DOE is initiating a multi-year program for remediation of burial grounds in Melton Valley. Discussion focused on existing hazards in the watershed and how planned cleanup actions will address them. A copy of Mr. Adler’s overheads is included as Attachment 1.

The primary challenges in Melton Valley include substantial groundwater contamination, some surface soil contamination, and the release of contaminants through surface water to the Clinch River. The main remediation objective is to get contamination sources under control so that water entering the Clinch from Melton Valley comes close to drinking water standards. Major projects in FY 2002 will include removal of contaminated sediments and capping of selected areas in Solid Waste Storage Area (SWSA) 4, plugging of hydrofracture wells, transport of spent nuclear fuel to out-of-state storage, and decontamination and decommissioning of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE).

After the presentation, the following questions were asked by members of the Board and the public, and the following responses were given by Mr. Adler.


Response (abridged)

Mr. Alexander: Why was MSRE not decommissioned when the project initially ended? The reactor was kept in cold standby so that it could restarted if required. Several years passed, and MSRE was never restarted. It was subsequently transferred to the EM Program.
Mr. Trammell: How do you decide to cap an area rather than excavate? We went though the feasibility study process to weigh various alternatives. The decision on which alternatives to use was made on a combination of factors, such as public input and the availability of outlets for the waste. Excavation is very expensive and more hazardous for workers than capping. Also, most radioactivity in SWSA 4 is short-lived, so that after 200 years, most of the radioactivity would be decayed. If it were to be excavated, it would be better to do it then.
Mr. Million: What is the principal chemical composition of the MSRE fuel? Sodium, potassium, and other salts.
Mr. Kennerly: Has full approval been obtained from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for placement of any Melton Valley material there? For some materials, yes; for some, no. Contact-handled transuranic waste is approved. Approval for other material is pending. When we’re done processing the uranium, some of it may have usefulness in medical applications.
Mr. Kennerly: The original ditching system took away 80% of the leachate generation. Will the cap take care of the rest? For the most part. Placement of some downgradient trenches is planned to capture additional contamination.
Ms. Hill: What kind of capping will be done, and will it be comparable to what’s being done at the new Y-12 landfill? The SWSA 4 caps will be identical to the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) at Y-12: seven layers of geologic and synthetic materials.
Mr. McLeod: Do all materials in areas being capped reside above the water table, or are some below it? For the most part they’re above it, but some are probably below the seasonal water table during times of maximum groundwater elevation.
Mr. Trammell: Where did you say the spent nuclear fuel will go? It will go to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) for interim management and could go from there to the Yucca Mountain repository.
Mr. Alexander: Is there any projection on when Yucca Mountain will open? Ms. Fritz responded that no information was available at this time, and she offered to supply an answer.
Susan Gawareckia: Is any of the spent nuclear fuel destined for Yucca Mountain, and if not, why not? I think it is, but my job is just to get it to INEEL.
Bill Murraya: Records of subcontractors tend to get lost over time, making it hard to track long-term exposure data. Is anyone thinking about that? Yes. All subcontractors are required to comply with the exact same safety standards as prime contractors and DOE. All those records are maintained independently.
Mr. Gibson: How much burden is there on workers when they move from one subcontractor to another to declare their past exposures? They would have a burden to tell us, and we would have a burden to ask.
Mr. Murray: Is BJC keeping the records or DOE? My understanding is that the worker exposure data are being managed by an independent contractor to BJC.
Linda Gassa: At recent meetings concerning the water quality investigation at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), DOE stated that it was not DOE’s responsibility to maintain records regarding worker exposure and that it was strictly up to the contractors. The person doing the work is one of the players in the safety program system. Anyone who works for DOE is accountable.

aMember of the public

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officio Comments

Ms. Fritz thanked the ORSSAB Waste Management Committee for tackling the issue of whether or not to continue with the planned closure of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator (TSCAI) in 2003. DOE-Headquarters is reevaluating the issue, so public input to the decision is appreciated.

Ms. Fritz announced that DOE and the ORSSAB Environmental Restoration Committee will hold a public meeting on the DOE EM budget on January 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jacobs Technical Center.

Ms. Halsey made several announcements:

• Norman Mulvenon has been appointed to ORSSAB to replace E.W. Seals, who resigned before last month’s meeting.

• Ms. Halsey has been in contact with DOE-Headquarters about having someone come to Oak Ridge to meet with the SSAB to discuss the Top-to-Bottom Review. So far, she has received no response, but she has found out that Phase I of the review has been completed and will be made available in February.

• The Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) Annual Progress Report will go to TDEC and EPA by the end of January, and copies will be made available to public at that time.

Ms. Berry gave an update on recent FFA manager activities (Attachment 2).

• Records of Decision (RODs) are close to resolution for Bethel Valley, Upper East Fork Poplar Creek, and ETTP Zone 1. The FFA parties have reached agreement on Bethel Valley and Upper East Fork Poplar Creek, and the RODs should be signed in the very near future. Land use control issues were resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. The ETTP Zone 1 ROD is in D1 version. TDEC has already submitted comments, and EPA should have theirs in by the end of January.

• DOE’s proposal for FFA Appendix E milestones for 2002, 2003, and 2004 will be submitted to TDEC and EPA on January 15. TDEC and EPA will then negotiate those milestones with DOE.

• EMWMF construction is nearing completion, and the facility should begin operations in March. Some projects are already in the queue to send material, such as soils from the Intermediate Holding Pond, Boneyard/Burnyard, and K-1070-A at ETTP. Decontamination and decommissioning project materials from ORNL and ETTP will go there in future years.

• Jimmy Palmer has been named as the EPA Regional Administrator.

Ms. Lorene Sigal, a former ORSSAB member, asked Ms. Berry if Mr. Palmer could be invited to address the Board at a future meeting. Ms. Berry said that she would relay the request but that it should be followed up with a letter from the Board. Mr. Gibson said it would be added to the next Executive Committee agenda.

Public Comment

Bill Murray of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), announced that the ATSDR Oak Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee is accepting nominations for new members.

Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, February 13, at the Garden Plaza Hotel in Oak Ridge.

Leah Dever, DOE-ORO Manager, introduced Lori Fritz, Acting Assistant Manager for EM, who will serve as acting Deputy Designated Federal Official until a permanent replacement is found for Rod Nelson, who retired from DOE in December.

Minutes of the December 10, 2001, Board meeting were approved without change.

The Board approved recommendations on the DOE evaluation of the proposed closure of TSCAI in FY 2003 (Attachment 3).

The Board discussed Ms. Fletcher’s three consecutive absences from ORSSAB monthly meetings and voted unanimously to excuse those absences.

The Board discussed the status of suggestions for accelerating cleanup work and reducing life cycle costs that had been presented for approval at the December 10, 2001, ORSSAB meeting and which had subsequently been sent back to committee for further work. The Board voted to postpone indefinitely those suggestions and will consider further comment on the topic when additional information on the Top-to-Bottom Review is available.

Mr. Alexander, Mr. Kopp, and Mr. Shaffer gave reports on recent activities of the Environmental Restoration, Stewardship, and Waste Management committees, respectively.

Mr. Gibson gave a report on Executive Committee activities:

• Planning for the next SSAB Chairs Meeting, which is being held in Cincinnati, Ohio, is about to get underway. Doug Sarno will coordinate planning for the event on behalf of the Fernald Citizens Advisory Board.

• The Alternative Technologies to Incineration Stakeholder Forum is scheduled for June 7–8 in Denver.

• For the February Board meeting presentation, the committee agreed to request a presentation from DOE-Headquarters on the Top-to-Bottom Review. Modernization of the Y-12 Plant was proposed as a backup.

• Three tasks for Mr. Sarno were approved:

— Develop a strawman recommendation and background information for Waste Management Committee on the proposed TSCAI closure

— Review draft TSCAI web site and fact sheet materials for the Waste Management Committee

— Develop strawman comments for the Stewardship Committee on the Long-Term Stewardship Strategic Plan

• The next Executive Committee meeting has been set for Monday, January 28. Several committee members will be attending the SSAB Groundwater Workshop at the Savannah River Site, so the meeting was moved from its normal fourth or last Thursday slot. The EM budget meeting on January 24 also conflicted with the normal meeting date.

Mr. Osborne gave a report on recent public outreach activities, and he previewed a draft commercial that had been developed to run during broadcast of the Board meeting presentations on local cable access channels.

Mr. Bill Pardue, a former ORSSAB member, reported on the status of the "Oak Ridge Success Story" project. A final draft should be ready in a couple of weeks. A decision will be made next week on whether to ask participating organizations for endorsement or simply recognition of their participation.

The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.


Ms. Staley moved to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2001, Board meeting. Mr. Alexander seconded the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved. (Mr. Kopp was absent for the vote.)

Mr. Alexander moved to approve the recommendations on the DOE evaluation of the proposed closure of TSCAI in FY 2003. Mr. Kopp seconded the motion. Mr. Mulvenon moved to amend the motion to include the statement "Pending the information requested in this recommendation, ORSSAB makes no recommendation for continued operation or shut down at this time." No second was received on the motion to amend. The original motion was approved by a vote of 15 in favor, 2 opposed (Mr. McLeod and Mr. Trammel).

Mr. Alexander moved that the Board postpone indefinitely until additional information is available suggestions for accelerating cleanup work and reducing life cycle costs. These had been presented for approval at the December 10, 2001, ORSSAB meeting and were sent back to committee for further work. Mr. McLeod seconded the motion, and the motion was approved, by a vote of 15 in favor, 1 opposed (Mr. Mulvenon), and 1 abstention (Mr. Revilla).

Respectfully submitted,

Coralie A. Staley, Secretary


Attachments (3) to these minutes are available upon request from the SSAB support office.

Action Items

1. The Executive Committee will discuss inviting Jimmy Palmer to a future Board meeting.

2. Mr. Cahill will supply an answer to Mr. Trammell’s question about determining EMWMF leachate capacity. Carryover item from 11/14/01

3. Mr. Cahill will supply Mr. Kennerly with copies of the French waste cell documents. Carryover item from 11/14/01

4. Ms. Fritz will supply Mr. Alexander with information on the status of opening the Yucca Mountain Repository.

1 Motion

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