Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

4-c logo 100 pixels.JPG (11680 bytes)

Approved February 13, 2002, Meeting Minutes

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 13, 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
Ryan Burton1
Donna Campbell
Heather Cothron
Luther Gibson, Jr., Chair
Pat Hill
John Kennerly
Alix King1
Steve Kopp
Steve Lewis
John Million
David Mosby, Vice Chair
Norman Mulvenon
Luis Revilla
Kerry Trammell
Scott Vowell
Charles Washington

1Student representative

Members Absent

Jeanne Bonner
Bob McLeod
Peery Shaffer
Coralie Staley, Secretary

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

Sheree Black, Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC (BJC)
Bill Childres, TDEC (check spelling)
Pete Osborne, BJC
Gary Riner, DOE-ORO
Bob Sleeman, DOE-ORO

Eleven members of the public attended the meeting.


Mr. Gary Riner, Manager of the ORO Transuranic (TRU) Waste Program, gave an overview of the TRU program. A copy of Mr. Riner’s overheads is included as Attachment 1. TRU waste is defined as waste that is contaminated with alpha-emitting TRU radionuclides with half-lives greater than 20 years and concentrations greater than 100nCi/g at the time of assay.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been generating TRU wastes since World War II and is still creating new wastes today through production of isotopes such as Californium and Einsteinium, used for basic research and cancer therapy. TRU wastes are in both liquid and solid forms and are classified as contact-handled (CH) or remote handled (RH). As the designations imply, CH wastes can be handled in containers with minimal shielding between the waste and the handler; RH wastes require heavy shielding and/or manipulation by machine to protect workers.

Approximately 1100 m3 of solid CH wastes and 550 m3 of solid RH wastes are stored at ORNL. Approximately 750 m3 of TRU sludges are contained in the Melton Valley Storage Tanks. ORNL has more than 80% of the RH TRU waste in the DOE complex. In August 1998, DOE awarded Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation a $197 million firm-fixed price contract to retrieve, treat, package, and certify all legacy TRU waste at ORNL. The processing facility is currently under construction, and the project is on schedule. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2003.

Mr. Bill Childres, TDEC Waste Management Program Manager, discussed DOE’s recent proposal to remove requirements and milestones for mixed TRU waste streams from the Site Treatment Plan (STP) for Mixed Waste on the U.S. DOE Oak Ridge Reservation. A copy of Mr. Childres’ overheads is included as Attachment 2.

The STP was created to identify how DOE will treat Oak Ridge Reservation mixed wastes or develop or modify technologies to treat wastes. The STP identifies the volumes of wastes stored on site, projections for new waste generation, and milestones for treatment technologies and facilities. In years past, the STP described DOE’s plans for treating mixed TRU waste. But in October 2001 DOE notified TDEC that it was removing mixed TRU requirement from the STP, including enforceable milestones.

These wastes are scheduled to be disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, which is not authorized under its existing permit to accept RH TRU waste. In 1996, Congress amended the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act and established that DOE did not have to treat mixed TRU waste designated for disposal at WIPP to meet the LDR treatment standards. According to DOE, the Land Withdrawal Act eliminates the need for all DOE sites to manage mixed TRU waste to such standards prior to disposal at WIPP. TDEC, however, says that DOE is misinterpreting the Land Withdrawal Act and that the act refers only to WIPP and not to requirements at other DOE sites, such as Oak Ridge.

According to Mr. Childres, Oak Ridge mixed low-level waste inventories, which have a state regulatory driver, have dropped by 60% since 1995; low-level wastes, which do not have a state regulatory driver, have increased slightly over this period. The state is therefore committed to retaining mixed TRU milestones in the STP.

After the presentations, the following questions were asked by members of the Board and the public, and the following responses were given by Mr. Riner and Mr. Childres.


Response (abridged)

Mr. Washington: Where is most of the TRU waste stored? Mr. Riner: It’s all at ORNL.
Mr. Washington: What elements comprise the TRU, and what are their half lives? Mr. Riner: The TRU is mostly plutonium-238, plutonium-239, and americium, with half lives of millions of years.
Mr. Washington: What is chance of the waste migrating offsite? Mr. Riner: Not very probable. The CH waste is a greater risk because it’s stored in Butler buildings. The RH TRU is in bunkers, and liquid wastes are in secure tanks.
Mr. Washington: What is the condition of the bunker containers? Mr. Riner: The TRU is in concrete containers.
Mr. Washington:, What dangers are posed in a catastrophic event? Mr. Riner: The safety analysis reports show that in natural events like a tornado there’s little risk of off-reservation contamination to the public.
Mr. Washington: What are risks and costs of moving the waste to offsite disposal? Mr. Riner: We’ve looked at shipping the waste, but the problem is that no transport mechanisms exists for most of it, and treating it to be safe for transport meets the requirements of disposing of it at WIPP.
Mr. Washington: In the event that economic conditions take up all EM monies appropriated, what is the likelihood that the material would be safe here for the next 15 years? Mr. Riner: I think we’d be safe if the waste stayed as it is.

Mr. Childres: It’s important to remember, though, that DOE has defined these wastes to be among the most hazardous and risk-bearing in the DOE complex.

Ms. Hill: Is there more RH waste here because it’s well contained or because there’s just more here? Mr. Riner: There’s more here in part because our tank waste was generated through experimental activities, rather than through production, as at Hanford and other sites. Other sites have far more CH waste.
Mr. Kopp: I’ve looked at this issue, and it seems to me that DOE’s taking a self-serving position. I can’t speak for the entire Board, but I’d like to see TDEC hold DOE’s feet to the fire and stick to the schedule that’s in place now. No response.
Mr. Kennerly: Could you give us an idea where WIPP stands in regard to accepting the RH waste? Mr. Riner: We called Carlsbad (New Mexico) Monday, and they’re scheduled to submit a permit modification to the state of New Mexico in the next 6 months. Following submittal, the assumption is that we will go through 2 years of public comment, debate, and court cases.
Susan Gawarecki: WIPP has limited capacity for RH, and my concern is that we might miss the window of opportunity if it takes too long to open for RH. Also, Idaho’s plan to ship massive amounts of CH to WIPP may lessen our ability to send material there. For those reasons, our organization (the Local Oversight Committee) opposes removal of milestones from the STP. No response.

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officio Comments

Ms. Fritz reported that the reassignment of forty percent of DOE EM Senior Executives has been announced to better leverage the unique talents available and to stimulate new thinking and creative solutions to cleanup challenges. Changes of local interest are as follows:

• The current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology, Gerald Boyd, will move to Oak Ridge to fill the Assistant Manager for EM position vacated by Rod Nelson. Mr. Boyd’s vacated position will be filled by James Owendoff.

• A new position, to be filled by William Murphie from DOE-Headquarters (DOE-HQ), is being created to manage the Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky sites.

• Mark Frei, the Idaho Operations Office Field Manager, will be the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Site Closure. The Oak Ridge EM Program reports to the Office of Site Closure at DOE-HQ.

Ms. Fritz announced that a public meeting on the FY 2004 budget requirement case development will be held on February 14 at 5:30 at the Jacobs Engineering building. The Top-to-Bottom Report and the FY 2003 budget guidance will also be discussed at this meeting. Gerald Boyd will attend.

Ms. Halsey introduced Mr. Sleeman, who gave an update on the 2003 President’s Budget. A copy of Mr. Sleeman’s handout is included as Attachment 3. The Oak Ridge Reservation received an FY 2002 appropriation of $389 million. The amount requested in the 2003 budget is $369.4 million or almost $20 million less. The $369.4 million figure represents "base funding" for Oak Ridge, but all DOE sites have the opportunity to get additional funds from a proposed $800 million Accelerated Cleanup Reform Account. The reform account is an innovation DOE Headquarters has proposed as a way to inspire creative thinking at the local DOE offices and encourage the cooperation of regulatory agencies. Those sites that come up with new ways to accelerate cleanup, reduce risk, and improve costs and schedules may get to augment their budgets with a share of the $800 million.

The major structural change to the EM budget is that is now apportioned into five categories:

1. Site closure/activities with regulatory documents

2. Material and waste stabilization

3. Surveillance and maintenance activities

4. DOE-wide environmental/corporate services

5. Other (agreements in principal, post-retirement medical benefits, reindustrialization)

Ms. Pat Rush, a former ORSSAB member, asked Mr. Sleeman if security requirements at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) had been changed recently such that Oak Ridge city personnel no longer have access to the state right-of-way to get to utility infrastructure. Mr. Sleeman was unable to respond but offered to supply an answer.

Ms. Halsey made four announcements:

• Mary Lynn Fletcher has resigned from the Board because of health concerns.

• EPA and TDEC are in the process of approving the Public Involvement Plan D3. It’s at the Information Resource Center now.

• DOE has leased a new facility to house the DOE Public Reading Room and the Information Resource Center. The SSAB monthly meetings and committee meetings will be held there, probably beginning in April.

• The Federal Facility Agreement project managers meeting was held this afternoon to discuss Appendix E milestones for FYs 2002, 2003, and 2004. So far, only 17 of the 51 milestones have been agreed to by the three parties.

Public Comment

Mr. Bill Pardue, a former ORSSAB member, thanked the Board for its participation in the preparation of An Environmental Guide to Oak Ridge, Tennessee–Understanding the Impacts of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

Announcements and Other Board Business

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

Minutes of the January 9, 2002, Board meeting were approved without change.

The Board approved a letter endorsing comments previously submitted by members of the public to DOE-HQ on the DOE-HQ Long-Term Stewardship Strategic Plan (Attachment 4).

The Board approved a motion to allow the publishers of An Environmental Guide to Oak Ridge, Tennessee – Understanding the Impacts of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War to acknowledgment ORSSAB’s participation in preparation of the document.

Mr. Alexander, Mr. Million, and Mr. Washington gave reports on recent activities of the Environmental Restoration, Stewardship, and Waste Management committees, respectively. Mr. Gibson gave a report on Executive Committee activities, which included mention of the ORSSAB retreat on August 2 and 3. Also, members were encouraged to finalize travel requests for the remainder of the year so that travel budgets could be managed and requests prioritized, if necessary. Mr. Osborne gave a report on recent public outreach activities, which included briefings to local field representatives of the following officials: Senators Frist and Thompson, Congressmen Duncan and Wamp, and Governor Sundquist. Mr. Trammell gave a report on the recent meeting of the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee.

The meeting adjourned at 9:04 p.m.


Mr. Mosby moved to approve the minutes of the January 9, 2002, Board meeting. Mr. Washington seconded the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved. (Mr. Kopp was absent for the vote.)

Mr. Million moved to approve endorsement of comments previously submitted to DOE-HQ by members of the public on the DOE-HQ Long-Term Stewardship Strategic Plan. Ms. Hill seconded the motion.

Mr. Alexander moved to amend the motion to send the comments back to Stewardship Committee until Ms. Halsey can find out if DOE is still pursuing legislation on long-term stewardship and then comment on the February 28 version of the document. Mr. Kennerly seconded the motion to amend, and the motion failed by a vote of none in favor, 14 against, 1 abstention (Mr. Alexander).

The original motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Kopp moved to approve acknowledgment of ORSSAB participation in the preparation of An Environmental Guide to Oak Ridge, Tennessee—Understanding the Impacts of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War. Mr. Vowell seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by a vote of 11 in favor, 4 opposed (Mr. Alexander, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Revilla, Mr. Washington).

Respectfully submitted,

Coralie A. Staley, Secretary


Attachments (4) to these minutes are available upon request from the SSAB support office.

Action Items

1. Mr. Sleeman will supply Ms. Rush with an answer to her question about whether right-of-way access requirements at ETTP had been changed recently.

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. Carryover item from 1/9/02

1 Motion

ORSSAB Home List of Meeting Minutes