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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved October 12, 2005 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2005, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m. A video of the meeting was made and may be viewed by phoning the Information Center at 865-241-4780.


Members Present

Ben Adams

Rhonda Bogard, Vice-chair

Darryl Bonner

Donna Campbell

Heather Cothron

Steve Dixon

Steve Douglas

Linda Grandage

Pat Hill

Wade Johnson

Tonya Justice1

Lance Mezga

James Miller

Norman Mulvenon

Robert Olson

Ken Sadler

Kerry Trammell, Chair


Members Absent

Chris Grove

Meredith James1

Tim Myrick2

Sandy Reagan2, Secretary


1Student Representative

2Second consecutive absence


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Ex-Officios Present

Dave Adler, Ex-Officio, Department of Energy - Oak Ridge Operations (DOE-ORO)

Martha Berry, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 4

Pat Halsey, Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO

John Owsley, Ex-Officio, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)


Others Present

Susan Gawarecki, Executive Director, Local Oversight Committee

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Richard Lee, Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC)

Charlie Mansfield, BJC

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


 8 members of the public were present.



Bethel Valley Groundwater Engineering Study


Charlie Mansfield, project manager for the Bethel Valley Groundwater Engineering Study, began by saying the presentation would describe the regulatory basis for the study, the purpose and scope of the work, how the study was conducted, results, and conclusions.


He said the study was the result of actions required by the 2002 Bethel Valley Interim Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD called for completion of contamination source control actions and to monitor the effectiveness of those actions. Additional information was needed to finalize the control actions.


The purpose and scope of the study is noted on page 5 of Attachment 1.


Mr. Mansfield then turned the presentation over to Mr. Lee, task leader, who provided more detail on the study, results, and conclusions.


He showed a map of the four administrative areas of Bethel ValleyEast Bethel Valley, which includes the 7000 Area and the volatile organic compound plume; Central Bethel Valley, the main Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) campus; West Bethel Valley, which includes Solid Waste Storage Area 3; and the Raccoon Creek area.


The bulk of the work was done in the central campus of ORNL. Mr. Lee said the work plan for the study had identified 55 pre-design study areas (PDSAs) and the main campus was divided into four sections.


The field work of the study was conducted over 14 months and the activities undertaken are noted on page 8 of Attachment 1.


Mr. Lee said the result of the study in the main campus area indicated that contamination was not as bad as had been expected based on previous anecdotal evidence. He said the first thought was that the investigation was missing something, but additional information confirmed the study’s original findings.


Three areas, containing about 6,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil, do contribute to groundwater contamination that exceeds the industrial risk criteria stated in the ROD. One area is in PDSA-41A, which is related to the tank W-1A, the source of the Core Hole 8 plume (page 9, Attachment 1). The other two areas are within PDSAs 12, 16A, 24, and 25 (page 10, Attachment 1).


Mr. Lee said that discharges of Core Hole 8 with its strontium-90 contaminant are unchanged from historic information gathered in the mid-1990s. He said the Core Hole 8 plume is migrating west from its source toward First Creek. Some of the contamination is captured in an intercept system prior to reaching First Creek. Results of this study area and conclusions are noted on page 13 of Attachment 1.


He said groundwater sampling in the main campus area indicated small amounts of contamination during low-flow conditions. During times of heavy discharges from rainfall, contamination is much more diluted. He said segments of the process drain system work like a French drain so that much of the contaminated groundwater is caught and sent to a process plant for treatment. Other segments are catching uncontaminated groundwater.


Work done in the 7000 Area is noted on page 12 of attachment 1. Results of sampling in the 7000 Area are also noted on page 12.


In West Bethel Valley and the Raccoon Creek area, the study was to determine if discharges into Raccoon Creek were coming from an unknown pathway. It was determined that discharges to the creek are in the uppermost bedrock and are seasonably affected. He said the recommendation for the First Creek pathway was continued monitoring.


Mr. Lee was asked a number of questions after his presentation. Following are abridged questions and answers:




Mr. Adams – Where does, or did, the strontium come from?



Are we still making it or doing anything to increase the level of strontium?

Mr. Lee – I’m not a radiochemist, but strontium is a fission product that is prevalent at the lab. It’s mobile in groundwater and is a risk driver.


Mr. Adler – In the central campus there are no operating reactors producing fission products. These are essentially waste products associated with extraction technique experiments. Those experiments are not underway in downtown ORNL anymore.

Mr. Douglas – As a result of your findings are you going to pump and treat the contamination in the groundwater or are you going to rely on attenuation?


Is there any pump and treat happening right now?

Mr. Lee – We haven’t made that decision. It’s really not our decision to make. It requires more discussion. I think it’s not a blanket decision. It has to be an item specific decision.


There is at Core Hole 8.

Mr. Olson – Raccoon Creek appears to be a long way from the old waste tank farm where the strontium might have come from. And no one has indicated a plume going that far. I’m curious where this is coming from.

Mr. Lee – We believe it’s coming from SWSA 3. But no, it’s not a long way by comparison of some of the other plumes we have. It’s about the same as the others.

Mr. Mezga – On PDSA 41-A, you said a transfer line leak was a probable source. What was the transfer line serving to reach the tank?

Mr. Lee – It served the floor drain in Building 3019.

Ms. Hill – You took a well and made three wells out of it at different depths. What were your findings at the depths and were there marginal differences or were they all about the same?



Does this give you some data from which you know where to start and what to do with the lower or higher depth depending on where you’re talking about?








Do you have a timeline for it?











The part about continued monitoring at decreasing frequency depending on results. If you find anything, it would appear to me that you should continue to monitor and not discontinue monitoring. Does that frequency depend on what you find?

Mr. Lee – I can’t quote numbers. I can tell you that at the Raccoon Creek exit pathway well we had strikingly decreasing contamination with depth, but the concentrations were nominally low. In the case of the 7000 Area plume, concentrations increased with depth markedly.


In the case of the exit pathway well, we’re going to monitor. There’s really no reason to do anything because there is nothing there. In the case of the 7000 Area plume, it’s premature at this point. There are some things we’d like to know from a scientific standpoint before we get into that. These are new well installations and they are ‘green,’ they haven’t matured yet. So it will take some time for that to occur.



I don’t have a timeline. Our timeline is to receive comments from the regulators on this document and finalize it. A decision as to what will be done will be made by others.


Mr. Adler – We do have a timeframe on the groundwater contamination, but it’s fairly protracted. There is a ROD for groundwater for the lab scheduled for the 2012-13 timeframe.








What I meant to say was, depending on the result we will, or will not, monitor at a different or changing frequency.


Ms. Bogard – How does your data compare with the sampling in the remediation effectiveness report (RER)?

Mr. Lee – I have not looked at the RER. The RER presents data that are reservation-wide. But just with respect to the lab, it shows changing trends over time. We didn’t have any real surprises in this investigation. So I’d say that the result of the data that we obtained is probably within the range of data that you see in the RER.


Mr. Adler – My understanding from Jason Darby who manages the RER is that the results are fairly consistent and they use each other’s data a lot. Jason will be at the Environmental Management Committee meeting next week and we’ll put that question to him.

Mr. Mulvenon – I have no question; I’m just making a comment. It was a surprise that concentrations were not as bad as we thought. I think you should stress that there was a lot of anecdotal evidence. I think that is important because the Core Hole 8 plume is not as bad as we thought. I think there are other issues in downtown ORNL that make us thankful we did this study because it brought to light some things that had a lot of anecdotal evidence behind it.


Mr. Mezga – The conclusion is that soil and groundwater contamination is not nearly as bad as anecdotal evidence suggests. Do you attribute that to exaggerated anecdotal evidence or effective remediation activities that have been implemented?







What are the implications for information on the land use restrictions in the zone in ORNL which currently operates with a 2-foot limitation on excavation rather than 10-feet, as we have in other areas, and some with no limitation?

Mr. Lee – We don’t know. You speculate, inevitably. The first thing we speculated was ‘we’re missing something.’ But we realized that wasn’t the case. We peppered some places pretty heavily. We took 40-odd samples from the north tank farm. We went to places where no one else would go in previous investigations. And I think you have to consider the possibility that between the time of the development of the anecdote and today, the contaminants have simply gone away.





I can’t speak to that.



Mr. Adler – Our current ROD calls for a general restriction on use below 2 feet at the lab because of concerns of potential exposure below 2 feet. If because of this investigation or others we can reliably determine that lower depths are free of contamination then there would be a basis for lightening those restrictions. That type of thing is happening at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), but it would have to be based on data. There will always be an opportunity to prove an area is clean and then go to deeper depths once all concerns have been resolved.

Mr. Sadler – Were strontium-90 and tricloroethene (TCE) the only two contaminants you looked at or were there others that were above the risk-based industrial standard?


You said with Core Hole 8 you compared results with historical data. Did you look at other areas; were there data that you could look to see if it had risen or fallen?

Mr. Lee – We looked at a lot of others. I can’t say we did a full sweep in every location because there was no justification for it, but those were the two that jumped out.


Yes, we looked at those pretty hard, because you like to see a change over time; there is an expectation that things should change. But the data are fairly noisy. Water enters a storm drain when it rains. Depending on when it rained and how much and when the sampler got there, the sample may be more or less dilute.

Mr. Mezga – It was good to hear about the Core Hole 8 plume and First Creek acting as a diversion of migration farther to the west. Do you see the spring on the east side of the plant acting the same way for the TCE plume; is that intercepting all western migration?

Mr. Lee – It appears to be. We did some sampling analyses beyond the scope of the work plan and looked at White Oak Creek and we didn’t find anything.

Ms. Gawarecki – At the 7000 Area TCE plume, you said there were higher concentrations at a greater depth. Do you think there may be an undiscovered secondary deep source?


Do you anticipate that it will reappear elsewhere along a fault or some structure that might bring it back toward the surface?










Bethel Valley is a limestone valley. In your well installations and drilling have you found a lot of voids or encountered any solution cracks that seem to be transmitting a good deal of water and/or contamination?

Mr. Lee – No. We think that the plume is behaving like the Core Hole 8 plume and is migrating near the surface along a geologic strike and it’s migrating at depth on a long dip.


No, we don’t. There is a hydrochemical basement to the aquifer at the lab where the groundwater becomes saline at about 300 feet. We believe from previous investigations that that functions as a very effective basement, so we don’t expect anything below that. With respect to a structure, there is nothing nearby. This is pretty tight bedrock. It’s moving through a few cracks, both at depth and along the strike near the surface. Finding those cracks, the right ones, is a challenge.


No, we didn’t. They are present. We know that. They are particularly present on the hill near Building 3019 and the Graphite Reactor. They are far less so in the former impoundments area farther toward White Oak Creek.

Mr. Bonner – You mentioned that extraction wells were much more efficient of mass extraction than an interceptor system. The current interceptor system was placed there under what action?


Can you more fully explain the difference between an interceptor system and an extraction?










Was there any level of risk as a result of this study that would determine the priority of action. 

Mr. Lee – It was an early action.






An interceptor system is a passive system like a hole in the ground or a French drain that encourages water to passively enter. The problem is that it’s connected to our storm drain system. So when it rains that system gets flooded with uncontaminated water – millions of gallons a year that we send to process and treat. There is very little contamination in it.

An extraction well is an active system, in which you lower a pump in a hole and pump at some certain rate and volume to actively treat it.


That’s not my decision to make.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Ex-Officio Comments

Mr. Adler said the A-76 study, a governmental process to determine if some work performed by DOE Environmental Management (EM) could be contracted to the private sector, has been cancelled.


He said there had been an incident on October 11 at the haul road construction site where an excavator boom had been raised into a power line. No one was injured. An investigation is underway to determine what happened and why.


Mr. Mulvenon asked Mr. Adler if it was true that the haul road construction was over budget. Mr. Adler said the construction is costing more than the original estimate of $11 million and is now in the range of $15 to $20 million.


Mr. Adler referenced a letter in the incoming correspondence table in the meeting packet requesting an adjustment in the waste acceptance criteria (WAC) for the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) to accept some organic compounds such as cyanide. He said DOE is working with TDEC and EPA to set risk-based acceptance standards. He said no changes are being made concerning the safety of the landfill. The standards set forth in the ROD for protection of groundwater and hypothetical future users remain fixed.


Mr. Mulvenon asked how the WAC would be handled. Mr. Adler said there was established protocol. He said it involved taking the risk model for existing waste contaminants and applying the model for new contaminants. Model results are presented to TDEC and EPA for review and approval. Mr. Mulvenon asked what documentation was required. Mr. Adler said documentation would be technical submissions from DOE to EPA and TDEC and approval letters from TDEC and EPA which are publicly accessible. Mr. Adler said the ROD for the waste cell would not have to be modified to change the WAC.


Mr. Adler referenced another letter in the incoming correspondence table concerning ponds at ETTP. Remediation of the ponds, if necessary, is part of the ETTP sitewide cleanup plan. He said until recently plans were to address the ponds as part of the ETTP sitewide ROD. The contractor and DOE believe there is basis for accelerating the cleanup of the ponds within a removal action to enhance the probability that the work at ETTP would be completed on time. A proposal has been made and approved by TDEC and EPA to address the ponds as a separate, high priority removal action scope of work. Mr. Adler said an engineering evaluation/cost analysis has been scheduled in the Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) Appendix E to evaluate the various cleanup options.


Mr. Trammell asked about accelerated decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of additional facilities that are no longer needed at the Y-12 National Security Complex and at ORNL. Mr. Adler said there have been no significant new budgeting developments other than work is planned.


Mr. Trammell asked about the FY 2006 budget. Mr. Adler said he had no additional information regarding the budget since the September meeting.


Mr. Trammell asked about a new contractor to operate the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator (TSCAI). Mr. Adler said he did not know of any new developments, but he would find out and report.


Mr. Douglas asked about the status of contact-handled transuranic (CH TRU) processing. Mr. Adler said Foster Wheeler is working through a readiness review to resume processing of CH TRU. He said he would find out about the start up date and report.


Mr. Sadler asked about the transfer of TRU waste from Erwin, Tenn., to Oak Ridge. Mr. Owsley responded by saying a portion of the waste had been shipped using FY 2005 dollars, but DOE was not able to ship all of the waste using existing budget. He said the remainder will be shipped using FY 2006 budget dollars.


Ms. Gawarecki asked about a flare up of pyrophoric material at the 22 Trench Area in Melton Valley. Mr. Adler said the incident occurred during excavation of a mixed waste disposal trench. He said the material will be set aside and stabilized while the remaining work proceeds. He said similar materials could still be found in subsequent excavations. Health and safety planning will be modified to account for possible future incidents.


Mr. Mezga asked Mr. Adler to bring a video of the flare up to the Environmental Management Committee meeting on October 19.


Ms. Berry, reporting for EPA, said the agency is going through the approval process for a covenant deferral for a property transfer at ORNL. Another task currently underway is the explanation of significant differences (ESD) for removing the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment auxiliary buildings from the Melton Valley Interim ROD. These facilities will be addressed within the EE/CA for the MSRE removal action.


She also said Beverly Bannister was the new acting division director at EPA effective October 1, replacing Winston Smith who has retired.


For TDEC, Mr. Owsley said he has been working on the renewal of the Tennessee Oversight Agreement (TOA) with DOE, a five-year agreement including participation in the FFA, the ambient environmental monitoring program, and oversight of DOE’s compliance with environmental regulations. He said DOE is self-regulating in dealing with radioactive materials and waste management, but it allows TDEC to review and comment on its activities. He said the oversight agreement also includes emergency response preparedness planning. DOE provides funding to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and TDEC for emergencies that could impact citizens on- and off-site of the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). He said DOE also provides funding to provide a better understanding by the local governments and the public of the past and present operations at the ORR.


The agreement expires in June 2006.


Mr. Owsley said he would not be able to attend the November meeting, and Doug McCoy, the project manager for environmental restoration, will be attending in his place.


Public Comment Luther Gibson, former ORSSAB member, noted that much D&D work is being done at ETTP. He said the Board should monitor what decisions are made regarding slabs and basements. He suggested the Board monitor haul road issues, such as traffic accessing and crossing the road. For example, he wondered how workers would be able to get to work at TSCAI if the road did not have crossing access. He also suggested the Board continue monitoring various requests to modify the WAC at EMWMF.


Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at the DOE Information Center. The topic will be an update on the haul road from ETTP to the EMWMF.


The minutes of the September 14, 2005 meeting were approved.


The Recommendations for Long-term Stewardship of Contaminated Areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation were approved.


Mr. Adler presented a plaque to Amy DeMint in recognition for her service to the Board. She recently resigned from the Board, serving from April 2002 to August 2005.


Mr. Adler introduced Wade Johnson as a new member to the Board.


Committee Reports

Board Finance – Mr. Dixon reported the committee reviewed monthly expenditures and closure of the fiscal year. He said about $63,000 remained unencumbered. Those funds were obligated to Spectrum for Board use in FY 2006. He noted new travel guidelines that were distributed at the meeting (Attachment 2). He said at the next Board Finance meeting on October 27, the committee will work through allocation of 2006 funds among the expense categories.


Mr. Miller asked why there were two labor categories on the costs table included with the meeting minutes. Ms. Halsey explained that at the beginning of the fiscal year, $264,000 had been allotted for support staff provided by Spectrum. A request was made that the Board set aside additional labor funding in 2005 to carry that support cost into 2006, because the budget is never approved before October 1. That extra funding would continue to pay for staff support in FY 2006 until the budget is approved.


Environmental Management – Mr. Mezga said an update was given on the transfer of TRU waste from Erwin, Tenn., to Oak Ridge. A presentation was made on the 2005 Remediation Effectiveness Report (RER). He said there was a discussion about how the committee would participate in the five-year review issued in March 2006. The committee was asked to review the current RER so members will be able to make substantive comments on the five-year review. He said he has talked with Mr. Mulvenon, chair of the Stewardship Committee, about developing and integrated review of the RER with the Stewardship Committee. At the next meeting, a presentation will be made on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the K-1007 Ponds Enhancement Alternative.


Public Outreach – Mr. Mulvenon reported for Ms. Cothron. He said the ORSSAB 10th anniversary celebration had been successful, but noted low turnout by former members. The committee recommended that some of the materials from the celebration be put on display at the DOE Information Center. He reported that the teacher workshop for the Stewardship Education Resource Kit has been postponed until February. He said that work continues to enhance the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy. The committee also discussed outreach activities to public schools.


Stewardship – Mr. Mulvenon said the committee is working with DOE in coordinating publicity about the Stewardship Education Resource Kit. He said Jeff Crane of EPA had given a presentation on the delisting of certain parcels on the ORR from the National Priorities List. The next meeting will be Tuesday, October 18 at the DOE Information Center. The program will be a presentation of the first draft of the Long-term Stewardship Implementation Plan.


Executive – Mr. Trammell reported on his recent trip to the SSAB Chairs’ meeting in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He said Idaho National Laboratory has some significant waste issues, but the lab is 45 miles from Idaho Falls. He said Idaho Falls and Oak Ridge have similar issues, but the proximity is much closer in Oak Ridge and has a greater impact on the immediate Oak Ridge community. He said Doug Frost, the Designated Federal Officer, talked about SSABs getting more involved with intergovernmental agencies. Related to that, Mr. Mulvenon will be attending a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, which will address many of the same waste issues being dealt with by SSABs. He said the committee looked at updated milestones by the FFA members for FY 2006-08. He said planning is underway for ORSSAB to host the spring chairs’ meeting in April 2006.


Mr. Trammell encouraged members to study the correspondence table and the EM projects update table in the meeting packets.


Board Process – Ms. Bogard reported for Ms. Reagan. She said the committee looked at the results of the annual meeting and prepared its work plan. The committee discussed the mentoring process and a mentoring plan has been developed and sent to the Executive Committee for comment.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said in FY 2005 ORSSAB travel had been handled through the DOE travel manager. At the same time several changes were made within travel manager that were not successful. As a result there had been many problems related to reimbursement of travel expenses. She said more work has been done to alleviate the problems. She, too, noted the updated travel guidelines and procedures (Attachment 2). She noted a change in procedure that the travel voucher must be completed by the traveler, with assistance of the travel coordinator, within five days of completion of travel. She said Tina Pooler is now the new travel coordinator. Ms. Halsey made no claim that traveler’s would be reimbursed within a certain amount of time.


Ms. Halsey said she had requested a facilitator for the Environmental Management and Stewardship Committees. As contract officer representative she cannot direct Spectrum concerning whom to select as a facilitator. Mr. Osborne is the point person in finding a facilitator and is working with the chairs of the two committees.


Additions to the Agenda

No additions.



Mr. Johnson was absent for all votes.

Ms. Cothron was absent for votes on motions 10/12/05.2 and 10/12/05.3



Mr. Mulvenon moved to approve the meeting agenda. Ms. Hill seconded and the motion carried unanimously.



Ms. Hill moved to approve minutes of the September 14 meeting, Mr. Olson seconded and the motion carried unanimously.



Mr. Mulvenon moved to approve the Recommendations for Long-term Stewardship of Contaminated Areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Mr. Bonner seconded, and motion carried unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Adler to provide the current status/schedule for the major readiness reviews underway/planned.
  2. Mr. Adler to provide the most current start up schedule for the Foster Wheeler TRU waste processing facility. Status: Foster Wheeler is currently undergoing a Corporate Operational Readiness Review. DOE will then do a Line Management Assessment, followed by a DOE Operational Readiness Review, set to begin November 14. Assuming no issues arise, CH solids processing would begin in late November or early December.
  3. Mr. Adler to provide to the Environmental Management Committee a video of the flame up at 22 Trench. Complete. Video was shown at the October 19 meeting.
  4. Mr. Adler to determine status of acquiring new contractor to operate TSCAI.
  5. Mr. Adler to ask Jason Darby how results of the Bethel Valley Groundwater Engineering Study compared to the 2005 RER.


Attachments (2) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.