Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved April 14, 2004, Meeting Minutes

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 14, 2004, at the DOE Information Center 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 Information Center at 865-241-4780.

Members Present

Jake Alexander
Dick Berry
Rhonda Bogard
Donna Campbell
Amy DeMint
Luther Gibson
Barbara Kosny1
Bob McLeod
John Million
David Mosby, Chair
Norman Mulvenon, Vice Chair
Luis Revilla, Secretary
George Rimel
Atur Sheth1
Christopher Smith
Kerry Trammell

1Student representative

Members Absent

Ben Adams
Heather Cothron
Pat Hill2
John Kennerly
Linda Murawski2

2Second consecutive absence

Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officios Present

Dave Adler, Ex Officio, DOE-Oak Ridge Offices (DOE-ORO)
Pat Halsey, Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO
Connie Jones, Ex Officio, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Steve McCracken, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, DOE-ORO
John Owsley, Ex Officio, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

Others Present

Jeannie Brandstetter, Spectrum
Jim McBrayer, Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC (BJC)
Pete Osborne, BJC

Five members of the public attended the meeting.


BJC President Mike Hughes, in Oak Ridge for about three months, offered the Board his perspective on work being done at Oak Ridge, and in particular how it compares to sites in Hanford, Savannah River and Idaho. Similar issues are legacy waste, legacy operations and having a number of set-aside facilities that have begun to deteriorate.

Hughes said although workers did a good job managing and treating waste with the technology available to them during the Cold War, the legacy created then has to be dealt with now.

Mr. Hughes made several points during his talk:

·         Operation of the CERCLA disposal cells at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility is a “golden nugget” for Oak Ridge. The ability to hold the permit and operate daily in a compliant manner will be what keeps clean-up operations on schedule. If operations at the cell slow, everything else stops.

·         He has experience working with advisory boards from his tenure at Hanford and is accustomed to providing data and communications to subcommittees for technical discussions. He looks forward to supporting similar efforts in OR.

·         Since his arrival here, he has been involved in devising an execution strategy for completing the Accelerated Closure Contract. The work is very doable by 2008, and Mr. Hughes is working to ensure “the gates”– regulatory approval, funding, DOE approval, sufficient personnel – are open so work can begin. That execution plan is ready for review by DOE.

·         Shipments of DUF6 cylinders were delayed because BJC did not have approval from the state of Ohio and DOE to begin moving the ANSI-compliant cylinders. When they began shipping, four or five a day were begin shipped. Now 12 a day are shipped. The goal is to eventually ship 20 per day.

·         Another high priority for BJC is the Documented Safety Analyses, which is the nuclear authorization basis for K-25 and 27. The current authorization basis allows some work to be done, but BJC wants to do more intrusive work on piping and converters which can begin with a new nuclear safety analysis. He expects the plan to be completed by July and authorized by September. He mentioned foam technology now being tested that may allow quicker, cheaper and safer disposal.

·         BJC and DOE are working with the state historical preservation officer to determine which, if any, of the building at ETTP should be preserved for their historical value. With that determined, some work to take down identified facilities has begun.

·         Projects such as the upcoming ROD Amendment for Trench 5 & 7 in Melton Valley and the ETTP Zone 2 ROD are very important and will continually need input from the Board.

·         The overall safety record has improved in the years since BJC has been on the site, but accidents and injuries are not at zero. He is urging employees to get and be safe 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

After Mr. Hughes’ remarks, the following questions were asked by members of the Board, and the following responses were given.




Response (abridged)

Mr. Gibson – How much is does execution strategy dependant on getting directives changed – those that might not make sense for an operating facility versus a cleanup project?

We are challenging some areas. When the plants were operating to a deactivation state we maintained them in a certain manner and performed routine surveillance and maintenance. We truly stepped down from that based on where we are today and where we are going. Do the facilities need to be maintained in that manner or can we isolate the facilities, cut the utilities, and be able to maintain in safe manner until decommissioned? If we can do that, then we can take dollars and get on with demolition and cleanup. With piping the assumption was you had to physically cut the piping and mine all the materials out. An alternative with foaming would allow you to dispose of them differently.

Mr. Gibson – I knew you had an RFP out but I wasn’t aware a test was being planned.

We went out and told folks in the vendor community to solicit input and demonstrate technology to see if it would work. We ran three different tests at old tower shielding area. The components used were mockups and surrogate types of equipment. We’ll write up the results of those tests and see how they’re going to work with our criteria.

Mr. Gibson – One of the things we had here in the past was Site Technology Coordination Group. That activity is currently not funded locally. Some of us would like to see that restored if we’re going to have things like this.


Steve McCracken – Your point is a good one. We could have and should have let you know what we were doing on that. Three things trying to accomplish: there’s holdup material that has to be removed. When we cut something and see something, we’ll remove it. What this foaming can do for us is it can keep residual material in the pipe. The security of this stuff when you’re trying to move it around is a big deal to our security people. They don’t want other people to get their hands on it or see it, and this provides a convenient way to avoid that and maybe make easier for us to move this stuff around.

Mr. Hughes – I don’t know about the funding for your activity, but what we can do is let you know when we’re doing things like this.

Mr. Gibson - Why are we doing a ROD Amendment instead of an Explanation of Significant Difference for Trenches 5 & 7 in Melton Valley?

Connie Jones, EPA – We think that allowing a ROD Amendment and doing full public participation will not affect the schedule.

Mr. Berry – You should keep cracking at the technical gurus about what they know and what they don’t. An example is asbestos. You don’t do anything with most asbestos and there’s a whole industry that has ripped off the country. This is the same kind of thing.

We’ve had very good experience with using retirees and folks who have been in operations in the plants but in my experience those folks are getting harder and harder to find because of the delayed cleanup. They’ve been extremely valuable in reconstructing some of the history on what really happened with things that just weren’t documented.


Mr. Mulvenon – When the closure contract was in negotiation and was finally signed there was a lot of fancy footwork going on to explain what the “challenges” were and how we were going to make up this “shortfall.” We’ll watch you; we want to have a clear understanding when you create opportunities to reduce that shortfall… trying to get around some regulations or compressing times or being able to reduce surveillance and maintenance. We’ll cheer that, because that’s a big money-saver. We’d appreciate it if you’d be straight with us.

You have my commitment is to have no surprises. There will be a few, but the idea is to communicate early, honestly. In the subcontract community folks know the scope that’s coming down and where we need help, where we don’t. We have nothing to hide. What we’re really going to do is look for help. Our opportunities are straightforward as far as generating savings - some we will be successful on; others will be a little bit tougher. Usually when you get the teams in place and they start actually doing the work they will outperform and outgenerate if you sat in a room and kept studying the plan. Our idea is to get out, get working, and give them authority along with responsibility. The craft and skilled workers will do as well as they did when they were operating the plant and they’ll beat us.

Mr. Mulvenon – I’d like to thank whoever is responsible for finally getting the cylinders moving to Ohio.


We also will cheer getting the authorization basis documentation for K-25/27. We give you our whole-hearted support on that.

There were a lot of people responsible for the cylinders. This is tough work. If we wait until the end of the job in ’08 to celebrate, that’s way out there. We need to celebrate often, recognize early and say thank-you more because there are a lot of people contributing. If you’ve got a victory, take a little bit of time out and celebrate.



Deputy Designated Federal Official and Ex-Officio Comments

Mr. McCracken made two announcements:

·         He congratulated and thanked student Board members Barbara Kosny and Atur Sheth. It was the last meeting for the high school students. Mr. McCracken told the pair that the time they have volunteered to the Board has a “huge effect” on how DOE does its work. Both were given plaques for their contributions. Ms. Kosny said she appreciated the opportunity to be involved with passionate and determined people and have a voice in decisions. Mr. Sheth said he was glad to give back to the community while gaining knowledge about environmental issues affecting the area.

·         He also noted that the start of cylinder shipments is a significant achievement for ORO.

Mr. Adler made three announcements:

$    DOE is preparing to distribute a letter to regulators on how anticipated budget shortfalls will affect its milestones. He said there is not yet a need to request or predict a change of milestones, and DOE’s plan is to stick to its present schedule.

$    There will be a public meeting at 6 p.m. April 22 in the Vestel community of south Knoxville to discuss the Witherspoon sites cleanup activity. He said a priority will be discussing transportation routes.

·         DOE initially hoped to document changes to the ROD for Trenches 5 & 7 with an Explanation of Significant Difference because they believed that allowed for a scheduling advantage. EPA urged that a more appropriate documentation protocol would be a ROD Amendment. Now DOE is working with EPA to identify and develop a ROD Amendment to offer the same schedule that an ESD could. Expectation is for public review to begin at the end of May and last 30 rather than the standard 45 days. A public meeting would follow in June.

Mr. Owsley informed the Board that Doug McCourt will attend the May Board meeting in his stead.

Ms. Jones made three announcements:

·The Dynamic Verification Core Team is not ready for the May presentation. The team will meet May 11 to review lessons learned from tests already completed, and she offered that the team might present its findings to the Environmental Management Subcommittee in May or on a later date to the full Board.

·John Johnston and Jay Bassett are leaving EPA’s Federal Facilities Branch to take positions with the RCRA Branch.

·Mr. Gibson has agreed to be the contact for EPA’s Lila Llamas for reconciling the Board’s comments on Soil Vapor Results for Winter Sampling for Buildings K-1007, K-1225, K-1330, K-1400 and K-1580 at ETTP.

The agenda was approved unanimously with the addition of a Board Process Ad Hoc Committee update as Item F. under Committee Reports.

It was announced that Pat Hill is due to undergo major surgery and will miss several meetings. Mr. Mosby asked that the Board be kept updated on her condition.

Public Comment


Announcements and Other Board Business

Minutes of the March 10, 2004, Board meeting were unanimously approved without change.

The Board approved “Comments on Soil Vapor Results for Winter Sampling for Buildings K-1007, K‑1225, K‑1330, K-1400, and K-1580 at ETTP” (Attachment 1).

The Board approved “Recommendation on Proposed Change to Remediation Strategy for Trenches 5 and 7 in Melton Valley” (Attachment 2).

A lengthy discussion ensued. Mr. Trammell asked Ms. Jones if EPA pushed for a ROD Amendment to involve the public or if the impetus was that the change is fundamental. She said EPA believed and DOE came to agree that this is a fundamental change.

Mr. Mulvenon pointed out that after an ESD was done on the ROD for the EMWMF, DOE agreed that all future ESDs would undergo public review. He thus questioned the need for a ROD Amendment for a single operable unit. A ROD Amendment will cause a crowd to assemble at the Proposed Plan meeting and provide an opportunity to change the entire ROD.

Mr. McCracken urged the Board to go ahead and recommend that an ESD is the preferred choice. DOE developed the change with the belief an ESD would suffice because the change is not fundamental, but is incidental. He said DOE was concerned primarily about stunting the schedule, because generally a ROD Amendment takes longer than an ESD. But streamlining the ROD Amendment schedule allayed DOE’s schedule concerns. If it can be demonstrated that a ROD Amendment can be done on the same schedule as an ESD, Mr. McCracken said, it’s a “good thing to do.”

Mr. Owsley agreed that the Board should submit its recommendation, saying the state’s primary position was that any change be submitted to the public for review and comment.

Mr. Gibson said he is more concerned about level of documentation and questions being answered. The defense of the change should be done as rigorously regardless of which decision document is used.

Mr. Smith said based on descriptors of non-significant changes and what he knows about in-situ vitrification versus grouting, a ROD Amendment would be a waste of resources. He said he suspects the schedule will slip with a ROD Amendment.

Mr. Owsley said from the state’s perspective, the expenditure of resources would be the same whether it’s a ROD Amendment or and ESD. But a ROD Amendment ensures the utmost public participation, and the state wants to avoid public outcry over the lack of public participation similar to what occurred following an ESD to the EMWMF. Mr. Mulvenon said the state, EPA and DOE skipped the necessary public participation component for that ESD, which led to that particular conflict.

With an ESD there is a public notice and the opportunity to request a public meeting. With a ROD Amendment there is a public meeting.

Mr. McCracken said one way the decision could have been written would be merely to say DOE is going to stabilize the material and then leave it up to competition to decide how it’s done. There is precedent for going a bit further and actually identifying what the technology is. One of the biggest reasons the project is being revisiting is cost. If he can reach the objective at a price less than original bids of $55 million, he feels bound to do so. 

Mr. Trammell said because there is a now a formalized process with an ESD, DOE is setting a precedent where in future ESDs might be turned into ROD Amendments. 

Ms. Jones said just a portion of the scope ROD is being amended, which doesn’t open the entire ROD to change. She did plan to share the Board’s concerns with her management.

Ms. Bogard said she was concerned that the comments put forth were an exact duplicate of those sent to DOE by the Local Oversight Committee. She also lamented that she had not been given the opportunity to review and/or comment on the proposed comments before the meeting at which she was asked to vote on sending them to DOE. Mr. Gibson said he was on both committees, and that explained the duplication of effort. He also said he welcomed any ideas for how to increase input from one committee to another.

The Board moved to send “Comments on the Focused Feasibility Study for ETTP Zone 2 Soils” (Attachment 3) back to the EM Committee for further study.

Committee Reports

Board Finance – At its March 24 meeting the committee reviewed the ORSSAB February Cost Report (Attachment 4) and a travel request. The committee also reviewed a draft letter to Jessie Roberson explaining plans by DOE-ORO to move ORSSAB support from BJC to an 8(a) contractor and requesting support for additional funding (Attachment 5). Ms. Halsey said a Request For Proposals had been issued by DOE directly to Spectrum, Inc., the 8(a) contractor to replace BJC in supporting the board. Ms. Halsey explained that if 8(a) costs are sufficiently low that additional FY 2004 funding is not needed, she will amend the Roberson letter appropriately.

Environmental Management - Mr. Gibson reported that Gary Riner attended the committee’s March 17 meeting to discuss remote‑handled transuranic waste disposition at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Mr. Riner told the committee that processing at the new Foster Wheeler TRU facility began the last week of January. About 130,000 gallons have been processed and shipped to the Nevada Test Site for disposal. Potential schedule problems could hinder Foster Wheeler’s progress. Also at the meeting, updates were provided on the ETTP Side-wide Record of Decision, a sediments workshop, and historic preservation. The Capacity Assessment Remedial Action Report will not be ready for the committee’s April meeting. Instead, the committee will examine ETTP Soils Core Team update and the site-wide ROD for Zone 2 Soils. In May the committee will address the ROD Amendment for Trenches 5 & 7 in Melton Valley.

Public Outreach - Mr. Rimel reported that the committee is meeting with officials of the American Museum of Science and Energy April 29 to view what is on display at the museum and discuss updating the information.

Stewardship - Ms. Campbell reported that at its March 16 meeting the committee discussed a DOE Grand Junction Office-sponsored workshop on long-term stewardship the week of June 7–11 in Las Vegas. Mr. Adams plans to give the “Two Counties, One City” presentation he helped develop for a poster session at the Waste Management 2004 conference. He distributed a draft travel request for the committee’s information. Mr. Adams met with Gerald Boyd recently, and Mr. Boyd said that DOE-ORO will fund and maintain long-term stewardship activities at the Oak Ridge Reservation, with the exception that ETTP may transition to the Office of Legacy Management. Mr. McCracken also voiced this at the meeting, although he said the information had not been confirmed. Mr. McCracken is scheduled to attend the April Stewardship meeting for a follow-up to his Dec. 5 meeting with committee members.

Ms. Sigal gave a brief report on her ORSSAB-sponsored trip to the long-term stewardship workshop held March 16 by the National Academies of Science Board of Radioactive Waste Management. She saw a need to discuss the need for implementation studies of institution of long-term stewardship. In most cases presentations addressed their problems, with not much said about approach to Long-Term Stewardship for their sites. Her own presentation emphasized Part 3 of Draft Implementation Plan and the committee’s desire that the NAS Board formulate an over-arching plan. She said only member of the NAS committee who understood their requests. That group will meet and develop a Statement of Task which Ms. Sigal will turn over to the Stewardship Committee for review and comment. She stressed the importance of attending such meetings to continue to make the site’s needs known. She also urged the Board to thank Mr. McCracken for pushing to signature the Oak Ridge Strategic Plan for Long-Term Stewardship. She said being the only site with such a plan signed gives OR the ability to move ahead with a draft implementation plan.

Executive Committee - Mr. Mosby reported the support contract had been discussed. He deferred discussion to Ms. Halsey for details. He also reported that the committee discussed the “homework assignment” for the Spring EM SSAB Chairs Meeting in Washington D.C. (Attachment 6).

Mr. Mosby said correspondence sent from individual Board members should be clarified so that it cannot be misinterpreted by recipients as representative of the entire Board’s view. It is acceptable to identify oneself as a member of the Board, but it should not be implied that a single member’s opinion is endorsed by the entire ORSSAB.

Board Process Committee – Mr. Revilla said the Board Process Ad Hoc Committee will begin planning the retreat at its next meeting. All members are welcome to participate. The committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 21 at the DOEIC. The retreat is currently set for Saturday, Aug. 7.

Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey made two announcements:

·         The Public Involvement Plan will be available the week of April 19 at the DOEIC. Comments are due May 17.

·         A “bridge” contract for SSAB support is in place until the 8(a) contract is in place. She expects the contract to be finalized by mid-May.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.


Mr. Revilla moved to approve the minutes of the March 10, 2004, Board meeting. No second was required on the motion, and it was unanimously approved.

Mr. Gibson moved to approve “Comments on Soil Vapor Results for Winter Sampling for Buildings K-1007, K‑1225, K‑1330, K-1400, and K-1580 at ETTP” with some editing. No second was required on the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Gibson moved to approve “Recommendation on Proposed Change to Remediation Strategy for Trenches 5 and 7 in Melton Valley.” No second was required on the motion, and the motion was approved. Mr. Alexander voted against the amendment.

Mr. Gibson moved to return “Comments on the Focused Feasibility Study for ETTP Zone 2 Soils” to the EM committee. No second was required on the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Revilla moved to endorse “Key Issues – Oak Ridge SSAB.” No second was required on the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

Luis Revilla, Secretary


Attachments (6) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.