Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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 Approved June 14, 2006 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2006, 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

Wade Johnson

Sarah Lewis1

Gloria Mei

Norman Mulvenon

Tim Myrick

Sean Purdy1

Robert Olson

Kerry Trammell, Chair


Members Absent

Steve Douglas

Dorothy Dunn2

Chris Grove

Lance Mezga

Sandy Reagan, Secretary


1Student Representative

2Second consecutive absence


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaisons Present

Dave Adler, Liaison, Department of Energy – Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)

Connie Jones, Liaison, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 4

Steve McCracken, Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO), DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management

John Owsley, Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)


Others Present

Daniel Axelrod

Becky Brunton, Spectrum

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


Nine members of the public were present.



Melton Valley Overview

Mr. Skinner’s presentation was a status report on the remediation activities at Melton Valley (Attachment 1).


He said an area of about 1,000 acres had been set aside in Melton Valley as a waste disposal site for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). About 200 of the 1,000 acres were used for waste management. Methods of disposal were shallow land burial, liquid waste trench disposal, seepage pits, and deep well injection.


Mr. Skinner said the work being done under the Melton Valley Interim Record of Decision (ROD) will be finished on schedule by September 2006.


The remedy involved three solid waste storage areas (SWSA) for shallow burial of low level waste, four pits and three trenches that received liquid low level radioactive waste, and two hydrofracture facilities for deep well injection of liquid low level waste.


The principal actions were hydrologic isolation or capping of the SWSAs, which included downgradient collection trenches on SWSA 4 and 5 and storm water diversion trenches on SWSA 4 and 6. Grouting was used to remediate Trenches 5 and 7, while Trench 6 was capped. The final principal action was soil and sediment removal at several areas.


Mr. Skinner said remediation and capping of SWSA 4, which encompasses about 30 acres, is complete. That work included the removal of soils and sediments from the Intermediate Holding Pond. The holding pond material was disposed at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF). The former holding pond site is now in the early stage of wetland development.


SWSA 5, which covers about 50 acres, will be finished in about a month. The west end has been capped and is covered with topsoil. The liner has been placed on the east end and is ready for topsoil and seeding. The downgradient trench has been installed and is operational.


Mr. Skinner said work on SWSA 6, about 40 acres on the far western end of the area, is complete except for one small action that was added late in the project. That work should be done in a few weeks.  


Work has been completed on hydrologic isolation of Seepage Pits 2, 3, 4, Trench 6, and the site of a leak from Trench 7. 


At the Transuranic Waste Retrieval Project, Mr. Skinner said removal of all wastes in the 22 trenches is complete except for Trench 13, which will be remediated at a later date. A flameup of pyrophoric material during excavation led to the decision to delay completion of Trench 13. Mr. Skinner said the remediation of the trenches is not part of the Melton Valley ROD, but is a consent agreement with the state of Tennessee to remove the material in the trenches and treat it at the Foster Wheeler Transuranic Waste Processing Facility.


He said the area inside the enclosure at Foster Wheeler is being prepared for use as a future storage site. The area outside the enclosure is being graveled for vehicle staging. The remainder of the site will be recontoured and seeded.


Concerning decommissioning and decontamination (D&D) activities, Mr. Skinner said liquid removal and characterization of shielded carriers inside an enclosure at the 7841 Scrap Yard has begun. Material is being sorted and sent to either EMWMF or an offsite disposal site.


Thirty nine storage vessels have been grouted and transported from the scrap yard to EMWMF. A hydraulic shear mounted on a track hoe is reducing the size of scrap. Eight dump trucks have transported size-reduced metal to EMWMF. Mr. Skinner said cleanup of the scrap yard will be the last project accomplished in Melton Valley.


Mr. Skinner said demolition continues at the New Hydrofracture Facility, along with cutting and capping of 112 well heads. Rubble and wellhead sections are being disposed at EMWMF.


Mr. Skinner said there has been no decision concerning the main facilities of the Homogenous Reactor Experiment (HRE), but ancillary facilities surrounding it are being demolished.  The shield plugs from HRE have been removed and the charcoal absorber has been grouted. HRE will be removed later under a subsequent decision document.


Mr. Skinner said the Shielded Transfer Tanks remediation has been placed in the Balance of Reservation cleanup scope and will be postponed to a later date. He said the D1 version of the Post Construction Completion Report for Well Plugging and Abandonment has been submitted to the regulators for approval. 


The progress of various in situ grouting activities in Trenches 5 and 7 and the HRE fuel wells are noted on page 17 of Attachment 1. Almost all activities have been completed or are scheduled for completion by the end of June.


Concerning the soils and sediments remediation of Melton Valley, Mr. Skinner said inactive pipeline remediation had been completed as well as excavation of contaminated soil in the A-106 low level waste line near Melton Valley Drive. Some excavating, site restoration, and verification surveys are still underway.


Mr. Skinner said there are no open waste pits left at ORNL. He said all low level waste pits and ponds have been removed. The four ponds at the High Flux Isotope Reactor were drained, sediments removed, and contents hauled to EMWMF. The sediments of the process waste sludge basin were relocated to the old hydrofracture pond and mixed with those sediments. That pond has since been grouted and capped. Mr. Skinner said the HRE pond that used a cryogenic barrier was allowed to melt and the sediments removed.


Mr. Skinner said one of the remaining actions regarding soils and sediments is to complete the final verification survey. Any soil found to have contamination levels above the release criteria will be removed. He said little is being found, probably the result of decay over time. He said removal of the engineered test facility and lysimeters at SWSA 6 began the end of May, and site recovery continues at remediation sites.


Mr. Skinner enumerated a number of goals for the Melton Valley remediation and the status of each goal (Attachment 1, pages 28-32). He said remediation action objectives are noted on the left hand side of the table, which relate to applicable areas of Melton Valley. The right-hand status side of the table notes goals that have been achieved and others that will take time to achieve as a result of remediation activities, such as lowering of contamination levels in surface and groundwater over time.


For some specific areas of Melton Valley no decisions have been made regarding remediation, such groundwater, long-life constituents, sediments in White Oak Creek and White Oak Lake Embayment, HRE, and the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. Mr. Skinner said the intent was to determine if the large-source remediation actions worked, and then decide what decisions should be made for the Melton Valley watershed.

A summary of accomplishments in the Melton Valley remediation is noted on page 33 of Attachment 1.


Mr. Skinner said the next step in the remediation of Melton Valley will be completion of the remedial action report due the first quarter of 2007.


After the presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.




Mr. Axelrod – What is the amount of curies remaining in the remediated areas?

Mr. Skinner – I don’t have an estimate of the number of curies remaining. With the remedial investigation of SWSA 5 we had an estimate of about 2 million curies that had been disposed. That has decayed over time, but I don’t know what the remaining number is.

Mr. Adams – You have done a lot of different types of work in Melton Valley.  Have folks at other DOE sites been interested in what has been done here?

Mr. Skinner – During the SSAB Chairs’ meeting in April, we took them on a tour of the reservation, and we received a number of comments that indicated they were impressed with the work that had been done.


Mr. McCracken – I think there is a lot of recognition across the complex and at the congressional level of the difficulty of the work that has been done and what has been accomplished. 

Mr. Myrick – How much money was spent on this project?

Mr. Skinner – It cost more than we wanted. It’s going to be about $200 million. Let me put that in perspective. If we were to have removed all the waste and taken it to a western disposal site, it was estimated to be $1.6 billion. We had some delays due to weather, materials cost us more, and we wanted to finish in a timely fashion so you pay more for the work. But we’re pretty close to the original estimate.


Mr. McCracken – With the exception of the hydrofracture and the incident on Highway 95 (strontium spill), there have been very few bumps in the road on this job. And I think the money spent to do the work is accountable to the material and labor.

Mr. Axelrod – I have suggested that the fifth hour of the lesson plans of the Stewardship Education Resource Kit cover stewardship, which would include 25 slides indicating where wastes remain in place. I refer to the summary of in situ grouting (Attachment 1, page 17), which shows where and what was done in Trenches 5 and 7.  I would recommend a one or two slide presentation summarizing location of waste, quantifying what you think is left in place, what is the status, what can go wrong, what emergency actions would be taken, and what the cost of that emergency would be. I use Trenches 5 and 7 as an example of that summary.

Mr. Skinner – We’ll work with the Board concerning how we need to respond to your comment.


An important part of the remedy for Melton Valley is the inclusion of land use controls. We’ve just completed the land use control implementation plan for Melton Valley. It will be publicly available and will highlight a number of things Mr. Axelrod brings up. There will be the need for continued monitoring of the performance of the remedies and making sure they are maintained and functioning as intended.

Mr. McCracken – How will we be able to locate each of these things we’ve done so we can find them in the distant future as we do stewardship?














I would suggest that Mr. Adams come back in about a year and confirm with a survey that we’ve located these areas on a grid system, so there is some confidence we have the stuff located in a manner that we’ll be able to find it with a great deal of confidence. I think it’s important for the Board to ask that question and be shown how we do that.


Mr. Adams – An idea to think about is to use a coded tape that could be inserted in the ground at these locations and could later be found with an electronic reader.

Mr. Skinner – If a land use control is applied to a particular piece of ground, you have to identify it and place its location in county land records. Part of the requirement of the land use control implementation plan and the ROD is to put a notation on ownership records that describes an area of ground where waste remains. A metes and bounds survey will show where it is. That is a public record away from DOE and will remain in the public records indefinitely.


For small areas like pipelines and valve boxes, if there is ever a thought of transferring that land, DOE is responsible for notifying any subsequent user what is left in place. For now, the land record notices would be on the principal source threat – the SWSAs and the trenches.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Mr. McCracken thanked Mr. Trammell and presented him a clock with a plaque in recognition for his service to the Board. Mr. McCracken also congratulated the Board and the Stewardship Committee for receiving the 2006 Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award from EPA. He also thanked Ms. Jones for nominating ORSSAB for the award.


Mr. McCracken discussed proposed changes to the D&D at K-25/K-27 facilities at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). He said an information sheet outlining the changes has been provided to the Board and sent to the regulators for review. He said Jack Howard, project manager for the K-25/K-27 D&D would address the Environmental Management Committee in detail at its July 19 meeting on the proposed changes. Mr. McCracken said he would address the Board about it in general terms at the July 12 Board meeting. Mr. McCracken said he believed the new approach to the D&D will address the kinds of questions that are important to the Board, such as how a different demolition approach will not cause harmful airborne material or would damage equipment that would be a detriment to cleanup standards. He said he believed the expense of the new method would be no more than the approved alternative.


Mr. Trammell asked if Mr. McCracken had any information about the proposed ethanol plant at K-31 and a racetrack at ETTP. Mr. McCracken said he was primarily concerned with cleanup of the area and had little knowledge of either proposal.


Mr. McCracken said a memo had been received from the DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management James Rispoli directing DDFOs to work with the local SSABs to make sure they are in compliance with the EM SSAB charter.


Mr. Adler said the D2 version of the engineering evaluation/cost analysis for the K-1007 Ponds at ETTP has been sent to the regulators for comment. He said the public comment period on the document should be coming up in about four weeks. Mr. McCracken added that there are two things to address concerning the pond – what the remedial action would be and when it would be done. He felt there was a way to meet everyone’s interest and concerns. He said DOE needs to know if there are concerns that the ponds may be recontaminated if a decision to remediate is made prematurely. He said DOE would be responsive to comments of stakeholders.


Mr. Adler said responses to outstanding recommendations are in the concurrence chain and should be available for the July meeting. He gave a brief status of each recommendation:

  • Recommendation on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Process (NRDA) – DOE is committed to continue applying NRDA requirements to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act process.
  • Recommendation on Independent Verification at ETTP – DOE is in discussion with Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education to conduct independent verification at ETTP. Mr. Adler said that work should begin in fall of 2006.
  • Recommendation on the Fact Sheet for the Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD) for the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment – Mr. Adler said the fact sheet has been revised and is more easily understandable. The ESD D1 version has been sent to the regulators for comment and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the ESD after the regulators review it.
  • Recommendation on Long-term Stewardship on the Oak Ridge Reservation – Mr. Skinner is preparing the response and will report at the Stewardship Committee meeting on June 20.


Mr. Myrick asked about the status of the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement. Mr. Adler said an interim conservation easement is in effect for three years. A cost report on the easement has been passed among DOE and the other NRDA trustees and the conclusion is the compensation for resource damages is fairly equitable. He said the state recognized that the capacity of biking and hiking trails in the conservation easement was limited. DOE has agreed to allow expansion of the area for building hiking and biking trails. He said a teleconference is scheduled the week of June 19 to finalize details. Mr. Owsley said the state has issued a management plan for additional trails and possible canoe access to East Fork Poplar Creek. Mr. Trammell asked how the work was being paid for. Mr. Owsley said TDEC is looking to DOE for support of $20,500 a year and an additional $16,300 per year in in-kind support. He said TDEC may also look to volunteer help for trail building and maintenance.


Ms. Jones said EPA had awarded ORSSAB and the Stewardship Committee the Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award. During the meeting, the EPA assistant administrator of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Susan Bodine, phoned into the Board meeting to offer EPA’s congratulations on the award. The award is national recognition for individuals or groups for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection. The award was based on the development of the Stewardship Education Resource Kit and the process to track contaminated land parcels in county and city property records.


Ms. Jones said Ms. Cothron and Mr. Trammell will receive the award at the keynote luncheon on June 29 in Milwaukee, Wis.


She said EPA has approved the removal action report for the Y-12 Plant East End Volatile Organic Compound Plume (DOE/OR/01-2297&D1) and concurs with TDEC on the start-up of the Big Spring Water Treatment System at the Y-12 National Security Complex.


Mr. Owsley said he had participated in two DOE sponsored conferences that included state and tribal government working groups. He said conferences focused on waste management, cleanup criteria, and long term stewardship. Mr. Owsley said participants encouraged DOE to focus on maximizing cleanup efforts and minimizing the use of institutional controls for risk management. He said the groups also discussed the use of the NRDA to compensate for lost natural resources and the budget to address the issues.


Mr. Trammell asked how Tennessee is doing compared to other states in regard to waste disposition. Mr. Owsley said he believed the state is fairing well. He said some states are waste generators while others are waste receivers. He said Tennessee is working to treat and dispose its own waste on site and is open to treating other states’ waste provided residuals are disposed out of state.


Public Comment

In response to a question about a proposed racetrack at ETTP, Mr. Axelrod recommended the track be built in Crossville, Tenn. He provided a recommendation to the Board that the Oak Ridge Reservation be transferred from DOE to the Department of the Interior, except for DOE plant facilities (Y-12, ORNL, ETTP, etc.), research areas, and areas designated for future growth of the existing DOE plants. The full text of his recommendation is Attachment 2.


Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, July 12, 2006, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be provided by EPA Region 4, on “CERCLA, RCRA, NEPA, and Other Regulations.”


Ms. Brunton said she would be conducting a survey of all Board members in preparation for the annual meeting in August. She distributed a list of topics she will be covering in the interviews (Attachment 3).


The Nominating Committee consisting of Mr. Adams, Mr. Dixon, and Mr. Mulvenon was elected unanimously.


The minutes of the May 10, 2006, meeting were approved.


Committee Reports

Board Finance Mr. Dixon said Ms. Halsey had reported on the carryover from FY 2005. As a result, the Board may have some FY 2006 to carry over into FY 2007. The technical adviser for ETTP remedial investigation/feasibility (RI/FS) was discussed. Mr. Dixon asked Mr. Myrick to report on the technical adviser’s scope of work. Mr. Myrick reported that Arcadis has been contracted to provide a report on the engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) for the K-1007 ponds at ETTP. This is a change from the original scope of work, which was to be a study of the RI/FS, but since that document has been delayed Arcadis was asked to review the EE/CA in the meantime. He said Arcadis may be asked to begin work on the RI/FS when it is available.


EM – Mr. Myrick reported that the committee heard a report on the waste acceptance criteria and the operation of the underdrain at the EMWMF. He said 1.4 million cubic yards of material is expected to be disposed at the waste cell. He said materials going into the waste cell meet the waste acceptance criteria. The committee will receive an annual update on the operations of the cell.


At its next meeting the committee will discuss a recommendation on the Integrated Facilities Disposition Plan. It will discuss any possible comments or recommendations on the 2006 Remediation Effectiveness Report. The committee will also hear a preliminary review of the EE/CA for the K-1007 Ponds at ETTP from Arcadis.


Mr. Myrick said a tour of Melton Valley was cancelled in May. After some discussion June 28 was chosen as the new date.  Stewardship Committee members will also be invited on the tour.


Public Outreach – Ms. Cothron said preparations are being made for a booth at the Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge June 16-17. Plastic bags have been purchased and will be handed out at the festival. Board representatives will staff the booth from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.


Representatives of the committee met with Jeff Smith and Karen Downer in the manager’s office at ORNL. She said another meeting is set with George Dial, president of BWXT Y-12 to talk about the mission of the Board.


Ms. Cothron said a new Advocate newsletter is forthcoming and the stakeholder survey will be mailed soon and will be handed out at the Secret City Festival. She said the distribution for the survey has been expanded.


Stewardship The committee did not meet in May. A field trip of Melton Valley was scheduled to be led by Mr. Skinner but had to be cancelled. Another trip has been scheduled in conjunction with the EM Committee on June 28.


At the June meeting, the committee will hear a report on an outstanding recommendation on long-term stewardship on the Oak Ridge Reservation and a report on a long-term stewardship directive. The directive is the methodology used to get the long-term stewardship plan into place.


Executive – Ms. Bogard said committee facilitation will be discussed at the July meeting. She said the committee decided to make a review of outstanding recommendations a permanent agenda item for the monthly Board meetings.


Board Process – Mr. Mulvenon reported for Ms. Reagan. The committee continues planning for the annual meeting August 12 at Pollard Auditorium. The agenda for the meeting has been finalized. Board members will be contacted by Ms. Brunton to respond to a survey concerning the effectiveness of the Board. This is a similar survey as was done prior to last year’s annual meeting.


Mr. Mulvenon said Ms. Brunton had completed a survey of membership regarding mentoring. The committee reviewed the report, which indicated general satisfaction with the mentoring program.


Mr. Mulvenon said the ORSSAB bylaws must be revised to be in compliance with the EM SSAB charter. Revision of the bylaws will be on the October agenda.


Federal Coordinator Report

No report.


Additions to the Agenda

No additions.




Mr. Adams moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Mulvenon seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Dixon moved to approve the minutes of the May 10, 2006 meeting. Mr. Myrick seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.


Action Items

  1. Mr. McCracken will report on the resolution of comments made by EPA on the K-1007 Ponds EE/CA. Complete. DOE has responded to comments and a D2 version has been sent to the regulators.
  2. Mr. McCracken will forward Mr. Axelrod’s question concerning the future of molten salt reactors. Complete. Inquiries should be sent to Johnny Moore, DOE Acting Assistant Manager for Science, PO Box 2001, Oak Ridge, TN, 37830.
  3. Mr. McCracken will report when Foster Wheeler begins processing Oak Ridge generated contact-handled TRU waste. Complete.  Processing began on May 11.
  4. Mr. McCracken will see if someone from Y-12 can speak to the Board concerning plutonium contamination of uranium. Complete. The National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) office was contacted and provided the following information: NNSA has an active project established to ensure that the appropriate radiological and safety controls are in place to protect the worker and environment as suspect uranium materials are analyzed to determine if any detectable level of plutonium surface contamination exists. The materials are not waste and will be made available for reuse in national security programs (e.g., Naval Reactors) or in excess highly enriched uranium projects (e.g., down-blended to low enriched uranium for reuse). NNSA considers this activity a high priority and will complete this work in FY 2006 - 2007. 
  5. Mr. McCracken will keep the Board informed on the start date and the estimated cost of completion for new work outside the accelerated closure plan. Status. Mr. McCracken reported on the Integrated Facilities Disposition Plan at the May meeting.  The plan has not yet been approved by DOE Headquarters.
  6. Mr. McCracken will report to the Board on new plans and costs to demolish K-25. Status. Mr. McCracken will provide a report at the July meeting.
  7. Mr. Skinner will work with the Board to address Mr. Axelrod’s suggestion for additional slides in the Stewardship Education Resource Kit.


Attachments (3) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.