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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved September 14, 2005, Meeting Minutes


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

Steve Dixon

Steve Douglas

Linda Grandage

Chris Grove

Pat Hill

Meredith James1

Tonya Justice1

Lance Mezga

Norman Mulvenon

Robert Olson

Ken Sadler

Kerry Trammell, Chair


Members Absent

Heather Cothron

James Miller2

Tim Myrick

Sandy Reagan, 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)

Pat Halsey, Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO

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

Connie Jones, Ex-Officio, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 (EPA)


Others Present

Paul Clay, Bechtel Jacobs Co. (BJC)

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Lynn Sims, BJC

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


11 members of the public were present.



Overview of the Risk Assessment Process


Ms. Sims divided the presentation into two parts, first defining risk and what it means and discussing the risk assessment process used on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) to determine if particular sites require remediation.


She said risk is defined as the chance for injury, damage, or loss.  She said to put oneself at risk is to participate voluntarily or involuntarily in an activity that could lead to injury, damage, or loss.  She then went through various everyday risks and what contributes to risk (Attachment 1, pages 3 and 4).


She then explained why risk assessments are done on the ORR.  DOE is responsible for cleaning up the reservation under the Comprehensive, Environmental Restoration, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and it is required to assess the impact of contamination on the reservation. It does that through a CERCLA risk assessment.


She said the objectives of the risk assessment are to determine if action needs to be taken at a particular site.  She said there are four steps in the risk assessment process: data collection and evaluation, toxicity assessment, exposure assessment, and risk characterization.


After data are collected and evaluated, an exposure assessment determines who or what is subject to exposure or may be in the future.  The assessment looks at the sources of contamination and possible receptors of effects of contamination.  It also looks at all the possible pathways to the receptors.


Ms. Sims noted that baseline risk assessments have been done for the majority of the areas on the reservation.  She pointed out the watershed divisions where assessments have been done and the scenarios of exposure for each area.


After determining the exposure assessments, an estimate is made of chemical intake within a number of parameters to include chemical concentrations, ingestion rate, exposure frequency, exposure duration, and body weight.  From that information an estimate is made of exposure concentration.


In the toxicity assessment phase, Ms. Sims said new data are not typically developed, but are taken from the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database.  


In the risk characterization step, information is taken from the exposure assessment and the toxicity information, and the two are combined to determine risk.


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




Ms. Bogard – When you’re looking at non-cancer risk, are you using an acute exposure scenario?


It is chronic, but it’s not a per day…?

Ms. Sims – No.  It’s chronic.




It’s over that same exposure period, but it’s chronic.

Mr. Adams – Who is the audience for this information?

Ms. Sims – This is the information we would use to determine if a site needs to be cleaned up.  This information goes into a remedial investigation/feasibility study.  From that report we evaluate certain alternatives. If there is excess cancer risk, the site gets remediated

Ms. Hill – Most of the information you’ve given has to do with cancer, and you indicated that some of the toxicity deals with the immune system.  I assume that you do have some data on things other than cancer?

Ms. Sims – There are two components: one was carcinogenic and one was non-carcinogenic.  The non-carcinogenic was all non-cancer.  So we take two sets through the process.

Ms. Hill – You said there was no new data on toxicity.  Why is that?  Doesn’t the toxicity of some chemicals change over time?

Ms. Sims – We use the IRIS database.  The toxicity values in it are widely accepted values.  The EPA says we can use those values.  They are updated frequently, and when they are we use the most recent update.

Ms. Hill – Were there any risk assessments done in surrounding areas of the reservation since some of it travels by air and water?

Ms. Sims – If you look at page 12, number 8 in your handout you’ll see that that is Lower Watts Bar Lake.

Mr. Douglas – Does the modeling technique that is now used take background into consideration, or does it assume a background of zero every time?








I guess there is a possibility you could have a risk lower than background?

Ms. Sims – We do not subtract that background out during the data evaluation/data collection phase.  If something is at background, we have an agreement with EPA that we do not pull that information out.  We actually carry it all the way through the risk assessment process into the risk characterization and we quantify it.  At the very end we identify if it is at background or not.  At that time we will pull it out if it is deemed to be at background.



Mr. Douglas – Is the methodology the same for radioisotopes as it is for chemical assessment?

Ms. Sims – Yes, it’s the same methodology, except that it is on cancer.

Mr. Mezga – Page 12 of the handout shows the watersheds, and page 13 shows the scenarios that were considered in the exposure assessment.  There are large parts of the reservation that are not designated by watershed.  What are the plans, if any, for assessment of the rest of the reservation?




Is there an equivalent map that shows the entire reservation that ties back to an exposure assessment?

Mr. Adler – There are plans; some of them already completed to ensure every acre of the reservation has been subject to some assessment as to whether or not there is residual contamination or hazards.  Much of that has been done.  Areas where we believe there is little chance for contamination may not go through as intense an examination, but no area will go unaddressed.




Mr. Mezga – Does IRIS consider potential synergistic effects of combinations of different chemicals in determining risk or is it in each individual component?


Have any studies been done using multiple chemicals, chemical/radionuclide combinations and assessing their impact?







The point of concern that I have is when you start looking at immune system effects, there has not been as much work done as there has been on carcinogenic effects of hazardous chemicals and radionuclides.

Ms. Sims – Primarily it’s individually unique to each component.




I know studies have been done.  If you look at the entire process, a lot of the toxicity values have a lot of uncertainty factors and modifying factors on them, so they are already up by 100- or even 1000-fold.  However, if you get in a situation that it was known that two chemicals have those effects that would be something you would include in your toxicity assessment.


As part of a five–year review, a lot of this information that goes into those effects gets looked at again.  We go back and look at the basis these assessments were done on, and when flow factors or reference doses change we go back and see if that constitutes any potential recommendation to change the remedy.

Mr. Olson – This is more of a comment than a question, and it might be considered as a future topic.  I would like to know more about the risk of remediation. Workers become contaminated, and trucks spill stuff on the roads that can be absorbed by the public.  I’m convinced that in the past there have been cases where the risk of remediation was greater than the risk of doing nothing.


Mr. Grove – Other than the 95 percent confidence level you spoke about, is there any consideration taken in for a special population such as an individual with developmental disabilities, the elderly, or people on medication?

Ms. Sims – It’s still 95 percent.

Mr. Bonner – When you described the risk assessment process, you indicated that risk of isotopes is driven by carcinogenic effects.  How are the toxicities of heavy metals associated with, say uranium? How are they evaluated in the process?


What then, drives the decision making process, the carcinogenic effects or the toxicity; how would that be weighed?

Mr. Sims – With heavy metals if there is a carcinogenic effect and a non-carcinogenic effect; you carry them both through the process.





Both will drive it if they are over that risk range. They will both have to be figured in the feasibility study.  Both will have to be cleaned up.

Mr. Sadler – The one in 10,000 action level – is that self-imposed for this facility or an EPA standard?


You clean up to 10-6. Is that a residential- or industrial-based standard?

Ms. Sims – EPA standard.




It could be either/or.  Typically in the risk assessment process, you get risk assessment and then risk management.  We’re the data crunchers.  We don’t get into risk management.  We present the results to the parties at hand – EPA and TDEC.  They look at the results and go through the various scenarios.  They study the cost and so on, and pick the applicable scenario.

Ms. Hill – You may find data carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic on any specific component.  Would that go into one database or two?


If I want to find out which is which, could I only go to one database and find out whatever information I wanted?



Ms. Sims You have a carcinogenic value and a non-carcinogenic value that you would carry through.


Yes.  We also use the Health Evaluation Assessment Summary Report that will get into somewhat more detail about the specifics of effects.  There are may different sources to find that information.



Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Ex-Officio Comments

Mr. Adler said smoke that came from the same building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) where a sodium fire occurred in May 2004 was from a tarpaulin covering a box containing sodium and was not a similar sodium fire as had occurred previously.  He said it was not known why the tarp began to smoke, but an investigation was underway to determine the cause.  Paul Clay, BJC, said responsibility for managing the sodium had been assumed from the subcontractor involved in the May 2004 incident and was now the responsibility of BJC.  He said the focus of the work is to stabilize the sodium so it will no longer react and catch fire. Once the material is stabilized it will be removed from the site.


Mr. Adler said steel for the haul road bridges would be arriving in the next few weeks.  He said there will be some lane closures on Highways 58 and 95 while the bridges are put into place.  He asked that anyone driving in the construction zone to drive slowly for worker safety.


Mr. Adler said plans to return management of newly generated wastes (NGW) to waste generators is not progressing as quickly as had been hoped.  He said the new target date to have Y-12 National Security Complex assume responsibility for its NGW was now 2007, and no date has been set for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to assume NGW disposition.


Mr. Trammell asked about some transuranic (TRU) waste that will be shipped from a facility in Erwin, Tenn.  Mr. Adler said there were about 200 drums of contact-handled TRU waste that will come to Oak Ridge for storage and treatment at the Foster Wheeler TRU Waste Processing Facility.  It will eventually be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.  He said he get a fact sheet on the transfer and distribute to the Board at the next meeting.  Mr. Owsley noted that since it was in-state DOE waste that the state had no objections to the transfer.  He said the state has a long-standing policy against accepting out-of-state waste for storage.  However, he said when a path forward is gained for the shipment of remote-handled TRU waste, the state would not be opposed to having out-of-state remote-handled TRU waste treated in Oak Ridge and shipped from Tennessee for final disposal.


Mr. Trammell asked about a planned reduction in work force at BJC.  Mr. Adler deferred to Mr. Clay who said there were plans for both voluntary and involuntary reductions in force.  He said the voluntary reductions would be offered to long-time employees nearing retirement who would be eligible for full retirement benefits.  He said the reduction is a sign of some cleanup work nearing completion.  He also said there was a change in the worker mix from more planners and engineers to people doing the remediation.


Mr. Trammell asked about the A-76 process, which is a government procedure to determine if federal jobs can be contracted to private enterprise.  Mr. Adler said there was little to report except that the request for proposals may be issued by the end of September.


Mr. Owsley said DOE is seeking a permit under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System for Y-12 to discharge liquid wastes into surface water.  A public hearing will be held on the request Thursday, September 22, at 7 p.m. (Attachment 2). The meeting will be held at the TDEC offices at 761 Emory Valley Road in Oak Ridge.  He invited all interested parties to attend.


Ms. Jones said the EPA is currently finalizing and approving the remedial action work plan for the K-1070 B and C/D Burial Grounds at ETTP.  She said approval of the concrete staging for the Building K-25 footprint should be complete by the end of September.  She said DOE has recently submitted an update to an explanation of significant differences addressing decisions and modifications in the final Melton Valley Record of Decision.


Public Comment

Luther Gibson, a former member of the ORSSAB, asked if any documentation was needed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the transfer of the TRU waste from Erwin, Tenn., to Oak Ridge.  Mr. Adler said DOE had to comply with NEPA, but he did not know what, if any, documentation was needed.


Mr. Gibson’s question prompted several others from Board members. 


Mr. Mezga asked if Erwin was included in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for moving waste.  Mr. Owsley said the EIS was not detailed to identify individual sites.  Mr. Mezga also asked where the waste would be stored.  Mr. Clay said it would go into the same storage area where contact-handled TRU waste is currently stored.


Mr. Bonner asked when the waste would be shipped.  Mr. Clay said if everything goes well it should be shipped by the end of September.


Mr. Bonner also asked if any exemptions were needed for Oak Ridge to receive the material.  Mr. Adler said that he did not know of any, but that he would find out and report.


Mr. Douglas asked if the waste being shipped would lose its identity as belonging to Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) and becoming part of the Oak Ridge inventory.  Mr. Adler said the waste was generated by NFS on behalf of DOE and belonged to DOE.  He said it would become part of the Oak Ridge inventory when it arrived.


Mr. Bonner asked at what point Oak Ridge would take responsibility for the waste.  Mr. Clay said that NFS was responsible for loading and shipping the waste to Oak Ridge and that it would become Oak Ridge’s responsibility when it passed through the gates.


Mr. Gibson also encouraged Mr. Trammell and Mr. Mulvenon, who will attend the Chairs meeting in Idaho Falls later in the month, to listen to the other Boards and try to identify common problems.  He said he felt like each Board focused on local issues and did not look at common problems shared with other Boards.


Announcements and Other Board Business

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, October 12, at the DOE Information Center.  The topic will be on the Bethel Valley Groundwater Study.


The minutes of the August 13, 2005, meeting were approved without change.


Committee Reports

Board Finance – Mr. Dixon referenced the meeting minutes and said the Board was well within its budget.


Environmental Management – Mr. Mezga said at the September meeting he was elected chair of the committee, and Tim Myrick was elected vice-chair.


Topics in the committee work plan for the first quarter of the fiscal year include presentations on the 2005 Remediation Effectiveness Report, the National Resource Damage Assessment, a haul road update, independent verification at ETTP, and land use after cleanup at the David Witherspoon site. Mr. Trammell interjected that he had recently learned that independent verification will take place at the Witherspoon site.


Mr. Mezga said at the September meeting the committee developed a list of waste disposition issues to be presented at the Site Specific Advisory Boards Chairs meeting in Idaho Falls (Attachment 3). 


Public Outreach – As vice-chair of the committee, Mr. Douglas reported in Ms. Cothron’s absence.  He said the 10th anniversary celebration of the ORSSAB at the American Museum of Science and Energy September 12 went well, and he mentioned the updated ORSSAB exhibit at the museum.  Work continues on updating the video included in the Stewardship Education Resource Kit.  He also said the committee discussed publication of the fall edition of the Advocate newsletter, participation in the ORNL Volunteer Fair, and a bicycle ride through the ORR.  He said anyone interested in making presentations to local high schools and civic organizations about the ORSSAB should contact a committee member.


Stewardship – Mr. Mulvenon said that Mr. Bonner, as vice-chair of the committee, would act as chair at the next meeting, which will include a presentation on delisting of uncontaminated land on the ORR from the National Priorities List. He said a recommendation will be submitted that asks DOE to take action on previous stewardship recommendations that were never addressed.


Mr. Mulvenon said at the August committee meeting a presentation was made on long-term surveillance and maintenance of remediated sites.  The committee also heard reports from Mr. Adams and Ralph Skinner, DOE, on their recent trip to the American Nuclear Association conference held in Denver. The committee also worked on its work plan, which still has a number of open dates for presentations.


Executive – Mr. Trammell reminded the Board that he and Mr. Mulvenon would be attending the fall SSAB Chairs meeting in Idaho Falls, September 21-23.  He referred the Board to the list of top waste disposition issues and top site issues in Oak Ridge that would be presented at the meeting (Attachment 3).  He reminded everyone that the Board has offered to sponsor the next Chairs meeting in April 2006.


Board Process – Ms. Bogard reported for Ms. Reagan.  The committee did not meet in August.  She said the committee will set its work plan at a rescheduled meeting time of Wednesday, September 28, at 6 p.m.  She said the work plan will be developed from the stakeholder survey that was conducted earlier in the year, from the results of the annual meeting in August, and from unfinished business from fiscal year 2005.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said there are two vacancies on the Board, and she hopes to have those filled by the next meeting.


Additions to the Agenda

No additions.




Mr. Douglas moved to approve the agenda.  Ms. Hill seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.



Mr. Adams moved to approve the minutes. Ms. Hill seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Adler will check to see what documentation is required for the transfer of TRU waste from Erwin to Oak Ridge. A NEPA category exclusion was developed.
  2. Mr. Adler will distribute a fact sheet on the Erwin transfer to ORSSAB membership. Complete.  An NFS Waste Fact Sheet was distributed to the Environmental Management Committee on September 21, 2005.


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