Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 14, 2001, Meeting Minutes

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 14, 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

Jeanne Bonner
Ryan Burton1
Donna Campbell
Heather Cothron
Luther Gibson, Jr., Chair
Pat Hill
John Kennerly
Alix King1
Steve Lewis
Bob McLeod
John Million
David Mosby, Vice Chair
Luis Revilla
Peery Shaffer
Coralie Staley, Secretary
Kerry Trammell
Charles Washington

1Student representative

Members Absent

Jake Alexander
Mary Lynn Fletcher
Steve Kopp
E.W. Seals2
Scott Vowell

2Second consecutive absence

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officios Present

Rod Nelson, DOE-Oak Ridge Offices (DOE-ORO)
Connie Jones, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO
Dale Rector, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation [(TDEC) standing in for
       John Owsley]

Others Present

Sheree Black, Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC (BJC)
William Cahill, DOE-ORO
Pete Osborne, BJC
Cissy Perkins, DOE-ORO

Five members of the public attended the meeting.


Mr. William Cahill, DOE-ORO Project Manager for the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF), opened his presentation with a description of the CERCLA evaluation for the facility. A copy of Mr. Cahill’s overheads is included as Attachment 1. Mr. Cahill then described the background of the project, the status of construction, the overall schedule, and future activities.

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


Response (abridged)

Mr. Gibson: The EMWMF Record of Decision said that the wastes would be isolated, but the risk modeling was done using groundwater as the pathway. Is there anything inconsistent in that? No. We looked at a number of risk pathways, and groundwater was one of the most obvious.
Mr. Washington: Before you began design of the cell, you must have had four or five design criteria. What were they, and were they the same ones at sites in other states? The key performance criteria were the materials for construction of the cover, which needed to allow for minimal rainwater infiltration. Also, in development of the waste acceptance criteria we set the risk threshold at a hypothetical receptor’s well, and under no circumstances would contaminants at the receptor location be exceeded.
Mr. Washington: What about rainfall? Does that affect materials or design? Rainfall was a key factor in design and risk modeling; that’s why we have a cover system 14-feet thick to manage any infiltrating water. The facility is above grade to avoid waste contacting groundwater.
Mr. Washington: What about catastrophic events, such as the 1995 flooding at Y-12? The design evaluated the site location in relation to the flood plain, and I think we’re outside the 500-year flood plain area. The design criteria also incorporate seismic standards to accommodate a seismic event.
Ms. Hill: The active disposal period is 10 years. Is that how long it will take to fill it? Yes.
Ms. Hill: During that 10 years, what happens to the waste before it’s capped? If you look at the operations sequence, we will fill the initial 400,000 yd3 capacity and expand to the west. After waste is placed, we can put an interim cover over the waste, or we can start placing the final cover system over the first two cells filled.
Ms. Hill: Will liner materials react with the hazardous materials in the cell? In the design process we have to take into consideration geochemistry and how the wastes will impact plastics. The long-term performance modeling takes no credit for synthetic materials, so that’s not an issue in reliability or safety of the cell.
Mr. Gibson: Are there daily cover requirements? Yes. During operations, we have a set of procedures to follow so that only a certain width of waste is exposed.
Mr. Trammell: How much leachate do you anticipate in the interim as opposed to when the cell is capped? Our design documents looked at the exposed geographic area that could be rained upon to determine leachate capacity. I can get you references to show how that was achieved.
Mr. Trammell: Where in the process is the leachate characterized? During operations, leachate will be fed into our sumps and then on to the storage tanks, and as each tank fills we’ll sample the leachate.
Mr. McLeod: Did you use the CERCLA process to gain a permit? We don’t have a permit per se because this is a CERCLA-driven project. We have met all Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements through the CERCLA process.
Mr. Kennerly: In the late 1980s DOE had a contract with the French Atomic Energy Agency to provide information on the design, construction, operation, and performance of French cells. Was any of this information used in this project? I’m not aware of use of any of that information. Existing information we did evaluate included prior efforts on the Oak Ridge Reservation and other sites that were establishing or had established cells, such as Fernald.
Mr. Kennerly: I’d like to see that information since the French cells have been in operation over 30 years. If you can provide me the citations for those documents, I’ll be glad to obtain them.
Mr. Shaffer: What is the life expectancy of the liners? Synthetic liners have about a 1000-year life span. Natural materials function, in essence, over the life span of the facility—many thousands of years.
Mr. Shaffer: How many natural streams were changed by work on land contours during construction of the cell? We’ve impacted one section of North Tributary 4, just west of cell 2. It’s headwater contribution is channeled now into the surface water runoff channel.
Mr. Shaffer: I understand there were some runoff problems during a recent 1.7-inch rain. What would happen if you got 4 inches of rain in a short period of time? The maximum precipitation event considered during operation of the facility was either a 25- or 100-year event. The data were used to calculate the size of the sedimentation pond. We did have some runoff recently, but that was during early construction. We’re revegetating now to prevent that.
Mr. Shaffer: What’s the proximity of the cell to residential areas, and what are the buffer areas? The closest residents are in Scarboro and Pine Ridge...about a mile. Once the facility is closed it will be maintained in a fenced area. The buffer areas will be the Oak Ridge Reservation boundary.
Ms. Cothron: Will you meet RCRA operational criteria? Yes.
Mr. Mosby: Did modeling extend out to a time when the wastes would no longer be hazardous? Yes. Since we’re disposing of uranium and its byproducts, these contaminants will be around essentially forever. Therefore there will always be residual risk.
Mr. Mosby: At some point the radioactivity of these materials will be at background levels. How long will that be? Millions of years.
Mr. Mosby: Are you planning to maintain the facility in perpetuity? Yes. Several areas of the reservation will always be controlled.
Ms. Bonner: What is the maximum level of uranium that will be accepted? Ms. Perkins replied that levels for total uranium

range from 1200 picocuries per gram to 1700 picocuries per gram for various isotopes.

Mr. McLeod: Who’s providing quality assurance? Weston and Associates is providing quality assurance for construction; Golder and Associates is providing quality control.
Ms. Gawarecki: Is there a movement to put RCRA waste in the cell? We haven’t done anything in our design and performance modeling to prohibit that, but there is not an active plan to go out and solicit that material.

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officio Comments

Mr. Nelson reported that President Bush had signed the DOE Environmental Management (EM) budget Monday. The Oak Ridge "plus up" in Decontamination and Decommissioning Program funds was $30M; for defense spending it was also $30M. At this level, Mr. Nelson said the EM Program will meet all regulatory milestones. Projects are being prioritized, and a public budget meeting will be held soon.

Mr. Nelson said the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) Phase 2 water study has been placed on hold. Funding to continue the project in 2002 was $1.5M to $2M, and at the present time the EM Program has greater priorities. Work on Phase 1 results will be finalized and will be available at the Information Resource Center.

Mr. Nelson discussed the recent letter from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) concerning EM Program safety. The letter requested an assessment of the program, and BJC and DOE are performing an independent assessment and a programmatic review to prepare for that. The letter also asked for justification of work smart standards because BJC’s contract did not include all DOE orders (commercial standards were used instead). A third request was for assessment of the BJC Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS). DOE revoked validation of the BJC’s system because expectations for continuous improvement were not being met. DOE will reevaluate when BJC is ready. The last issue concerned upgrading DOE capabilities and training and getting safety personnel on staff. This issue is being addressed.

Mr. Shaffer asked if DOE-Headquarters’ revocation of DOE-ORO’s delegation of authority to validate the ISMS will have an impact on what EM Program work can be done. Mr. Nelson replied that DOE-Headquarters’ revocation of authority to validate safety documents was made across the DOE complex and did not relate to the ISMS issue. Headquarters’ intent is to reissue the delegation of authority to all sites by November 21.

Mr. Washington asked Mr. Nelson for an update on activities regarding the December 2000 fluorine leak at Building K-1302. Mr. Nelson offered to supply a report at the December meeting.

Mr. Washington asked Mr. Nelson to supply the incident report from the 1959 explosion in Building 3019 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Mr. Nelson responded that the incident happened before creation of the EM Program in 1989, but he would see what information he could find.

Ms. Halsey made three announcements:

• DOE responses to several recent ORSSAB recommendations are in the meeting notebooks.

• The D2 Public Involvement Plan for the Oak Ridge Reservation has gone to the regulators for approval. A notice will go out to the public when the D2 is approved.

• DOE received approval on the D2 2001 Remediation Effectiveness Report/CERCLA Five-Year Review. A D3 version will be issued because of some editorial changes and to include a certification letter from Leah Dever.

Public Comment


Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Monday, December 10, at the Garden Plaza Hotel in Oak Ridge. The presentation will be a panel discussion of safeguard and security measures for the Oak Ridge Reservation.

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

Ms. Cothron, Mr. Peery, and Mr. Washington gave reports on recent activities of the Environmental Restoration, Stewardship, and Waste Management committees, respectively. Ms. Campbell gave a report on the "Oak Ridge Success Story" Ad Hoc Committee. Mr. Osborne gave a report on public outreach.

Mr. Gibson gave a report on Executive Committee activities:

• The joint SSAB Groundwater Workshop in Augusta, Georgia, has been rescheduled for January 31–February 2.

• The Spring 2002 SSAB Chairs’ Meeting in Cincinnati has been tentatively set for April 18–20.

• A stakeholder’s forum on alternative technologies to incineration will be held in the near future. Information on the forum is located in the incoming correspondence section of the meeting notebook.

• Jessie Roberson responded to concerns expressed at the Fall 2001 SSAB Chairs’ Meeting about the DOE "Top-to-Bottom Review" (see the correspondence section of the meeting notebook). Mr. Gibson recommended that the Environmental Restoration Committee look at the issue to see if it deserves comment.

• The Executive Committee agreed at its October meeting to continue reviewing travel requests as they are made and decide what to do about any shortfall in travel funding should that situation arise. Mr. Mosby asked that staff supply a running tab of travel expenses at each Executive Committee meeting. Mr. Trammel asked that the Executive Committee review Ms. Dever’s response to ORSSAB’s request for a seat on the DOE Land Use Planning Group.

The meeting adjourned at 8:53 p.m.

Attachments (1) to these minutes are available upon request from the SSAB support office.



Ms. Staley moved to approve the minutes of the October 10, 2001, Board meeting. Mr. Shaffer seconded the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

Coralie A. Staley, Secretary


1 Motion

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