Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved January 10, 2007 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 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

Donna Campbell

Steve Dixon

Steve Douglas - Secretary

Mike Haygood

Sarah Lewis1

Ted Lundy

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga - Chair

Norman Mulvenon – Vice chair

Ron Murphree

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Sean Purdy1

Sandy Reagan

Steve Stow

Jan Teague

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent

Darryl Bonner

Heather Cothron

Sondra Sarten


1Student Representative


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, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management (EM)

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


Others Present

Daniel Axelrod

Becky Brunton, Spectrum

Susan Gawarecki

Luther Gibson

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Scott Kirk, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE)

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


Eleven members of the public were present.


Independent Verification of Environmental Cleanup at ETTP

Mr. Kirk gave the presentation on independent verification (IV) of cleanup at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). He explained what ORISE is and its association with Oak Ridge Associated Universities (Attachment 1, pages 3-4).


Since 1981, more than 600 surveys have been done in 44 states. He said IV surveys can be in-process inspections and confirmatory surveys to determine if site-cleanup criteria have been met.

He noted some of the more recent work that has been done (Attachment 1, page 6).  Mr. Kirk said a lot of work had been done in Ohio, particularly at Mound and Fernald, and at Rocky Flats, Colo. Work was done for about seven years at the K-31 and K-33 Buildings at ETTP.


Mr. Kirk said ORISE had presented a summary of IV activities at Rocky Flats to the ORSSAB EM committee in November 2006.


He said DOE has revised its environmental safety and health policy for control and release of property as a result of the work at Rocky Flats. The policy says site cleanup criteria must be clearly defined; that IV should be an independent and integral part of a site’s program for control and release of property; and IV should be an integral part of site restoration and cleanup projects.


Mr. Kirk said the board had recommended to DOE to conduct IV at ETTP and DOE had accepted that recommendation. ORISE initiated a draft statement of work for ETTP Zones 1 and 2 in April 2006. In September 2006 DOE directed ORISE to expand the scope to other environmental media around ETTP, not just soils. In December 2006, DOE approved funding and authorized commencement of work. Mr. Kirk said ORISE is ready to begin survey activities at ETTP the week of January 15. ORISE is currently developing the project plan for ETTP (Attachment 1, page 15). Work will continue for the next three years. The project has been funded for $243,000 per year. He noted that ORISE is a not-for-profit organization and only charges actual cost. If costs went above the estimated $234,000, ORISE would ask permission before charging the increased amount.


He said work at ETTP would include in-process inspections to assess quality of the contractor’s laboratory data and conformance with survey commitments in the record of decision (ROD) for cleanup. The work will also include independent verification surveys to substantiate remediation effectiveness.


Mr. Kirk said results of in-process inspections and verification are produced in letter reports for each phase of work.


He noted that IV surveys are currently underway at the David Witherspoon Site in South Knoxville. He reviewed the work being done at that site (Attachment 1, pages 10-13).


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


Mr. Adams – Do you hire subcontractors to work for you? Mr. Kirk – It’s mostly technicians when we do. We have a team of project leaders that are mostly health physicists. We do a lot of work across the country and there have been times when we didn’t have enough technicians to support the scope of work we had in place and we contracted with technicians. They go through our training and qualification program just like our own technicians.


Mr. Myrick­ – Does your statement of work include the setting of remediation goals? Mr. Kirk – No, the ROD is agreed to by the regulators. We don’t comment on that unless we’re asked to. Once the ROD is in place we just make sure the agreements have been fulfilled.


Mr. Myrick­ – So then the question is to DOE; are you going to include ORISE in setting those goals? Mr. Adler – Those cleanup goals had already been set before we entered into the relationship with ORISE to do the work. So generally its two different activities by two different groups and there’s not usually a lot coordination between the two.


Mr. Myrick­ – Will they be doing the verification for groundwater at ETTP? Mr. Adler – It will be a while before we get to groundwater, but their contract would allow that.


Mr. Olson – I’ve found missing at the presentations I’ve heard on IV any perspective of the seriousness of contamination at various sites. Missing is any comparison to background or any indication of risk to human or animal health. Mr. Kirk – The decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) process itself requires you to characterize a site before it is remediated. Therein lies the risk. It tells you what has been done before D&D has been completed. Once the cleanup is completed there are two risk levels. Those risk levels are agreed upon through stakeholder input and we measure against those levels to ensure whether or not the agreed upon levels have been met through the D&D activities.


Ms. Mei­ – The funding for the work is through 2009. What is the basis for three years and not two or four? Mr. Kirk – My understanding is that DOE expects to have ETTP cleaned up by 2009. DOE asked us to be committed to the program for its duration.


Mr. Westervelt – When you get an initial finding, is there an opportunity for the contractor to debate or discuss that finding? Mr. Kirk – We tell the DOE field office what our results are. Usually the contractor would be involved in a teleconference. Then we would summarize the results in a letter report and submit our findings in writing. If the contractor feels the results are erroneous they can debate it with DOE and challenge us on it. That has happened periodically.


Mr. Murphree ­– What is the reporting period? Mr. Kirk – We report every time we go into the field. By comparison at Ashtabula we started that work early last year. We wrote about 20 or 30 letter reports during that time. The letter reports are then compiled into a final report.


Mr. Adams­ – Is the mapping system you used at Witherspoon the same as that used on the reservation or do you know what type of system was used to map that and how we will identify it in the future? Mr. Kirk – We do a lot of work using global positioning, although we didn’t use it at Witherspoon. Scanning measurements are correlated with the global positioning coordinate system; then there is software to graphically depict the results. Mr. Adams – Is it in 1983 North American Datum mapping system, the same that Oak Ridge is being put in? Mr. Kirk – When a grid is laid out in standard engineering protocol, we can find those grids and document what the samples are and document where the samples are located. The global positioning is just a more sophisticated method of doing that. But the standard method we use yields accurate results. Mr. McCracken – It’s really a matter of how you memorialize what you sampled and put it in a report and how does that tie back to grid system that we recognize should be the one that we use for our work. We’ll take that as an action to find out that information. We’ll make sure the coordinate system that we use in our work matches the coordinate system for any work we do.


Mr. Douglas – Is it correct to say that you’re not going behind the contractor and auditing their work, but that you’re doing your own sampling and comparing your results to theirs? Mr. Kirk – I’d say it’s both. We do a quality assurance check. For example if you had 100 records we wouldn’t look at all of them, just those that we thought would yield the best results or the most suspect results or the ones that were most important. We would look at the records, but we would also collect our own samples. Mr. Douglas – When you’re in the field do you follow DOE quality assurance procedures or your own that is audited by some other organization? Mr. Kirk – We have our own and we have a lab, too, that is audited every year. It’s looked at by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


Mr. Myrick – When will the document be available that spells out your actual plan for doing IV? Mr. Kirk – It should be available within a month. That’s when we should have it completed and give it to DOE.


Mr. Mulvenon – Could you lay out what you will do at ETTP in terms of scans, samples, reports, etc? Mr. Kirk – The contractor would send a final set of survey reports that would layout how the grid was done, the number of samples taken, the instrumentation used, and the lab results. Then we would go back to the source document, the decommissioning plan. That has all the commitments that are needed for a final status survey. We would pull out key elements and check those sorts of things to see if there are any discrepancies, and if there are we would document them. That would be an example of what we do in the paper process. We would also see how many samples were taken and see what their commitments were. For areas that we think are suspect, the base of a hill or discharge point, we would focus activities there because that’s where materials tend to accumulate. We would take samples, and if they exceeded the criteria we would tell DOE and the contractor.


Mr. Mezga – Do you take biased samples from the grid based on where you think there might be contamination and not from the center of the grid? Mr. Kirk – We do both. We do random sampling and we do biased sampling.


Ms. Bogard – I was interested in how you determine which contaminants to sample for if there are multiple contaminants. Mr. Kirk – You can do it a number of ways. For radioactive materials that are present there is an analytical method you can use. What we would use we depends on the nature of the site. Mr. Bogard – What about chemicals? Mr. Kirk – You would use the standard protocols EPA has. We have a lab that assays for radioactive materials, but we contract out for chemicals.


Mr. Haygood – Looking at the Witherspoon site and similar sites, how does the general public know that the contaminants haven’t migrated beyond the specific site you’re testing? Mr. Kirk – If DOE asked us to independently verify those areas beyond the site we would. DOE hires a contractor to do the work and they characterize it. They do the historical site assessments to determine the potential for contaminants that might be present at a site, and that guides their characterization effort. Mr. Haygood – Is it possible that some of the contaminants could migrate 200, 300 yards, a half mile and the public not be aware of it? Mr. Adler – Technically it’s possible, but more likely the public is concerned, as is DOE and other regulatory agencies. In this case some contamination had migrated to other property and that was a very early focus. One of the first things we do at these sites is look at the exit pathways.


Mr. Stow – To what extent do you sample groundwater and surface water? Mr. Kirk – We have the capabilities to do that work if it’s part of the compliance program and there is a need for an independent assessment of those results. If groundwater is there that would be part of the regulatory scoping process for the cleanup criteria for groundwater and the nature and extent of contamination. Mr. McCracken – ORISE has generally been hired to determine if source removals have been effective. In general it usually applies to soil areas. For groundwater and things that we’re monitoring for a long period to determine if there is migration, we have a very extensive environmental monitoring program that’s audited by the state and EPA and that’s generally where that type of activity takes place. It isn’t usually ORISE. If I had a concern about radionuclides or something like that, I might go to them for a special task. But generally this is to determine if source removal has met a defined end point for health and safety, and that’s usually for soils or surfaces of structures you’re trying to reuse.


Ms. Mei – Do you foresee any specific issues or challenges for ETTP? Mr. Kirk – It’s a large site. That’s a challenge. And again we’d do a quality assurance check. We wouldn’t survey the entire facility. We would look at those areas that have the greatest potential for risk.


Mr. Axelrod – In the $234,000 per year for three years, what was the basis for the cost estimate in terms of radioactive samples per year, and number of non-radioactive samples per year? And what percent of the $234,000 is for contingency for unexpected follow-ups? Mr. Kirk – We based our estimate on the initial scope of work for Zones 1 and 2. We know how long it takes us to typically do our work, and we know the number of man hours that it takes. We know how long it takes to write our reports. We estimated the number of samples that we would be analyzing for chemical and radioactive materials, and we know the laboratory costs for those. We took that first year estimate and determined we’d be doing the same scope of work for years two and three. I don’t know the number of samples we estimated, but I can get that for you. Mr. Mezga – I think what’s more important than the number in the estimate is the number identified in the work plan and that will be available to us. Mr. Axelrod – Please send that to me when it’s ready.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken: Mr. McCracken welcomed three new members to the board: Mike Haygood, Ted Lundy, and Jan Teague.


He reported that EPA and TDEC have agreed to the Explanation of Significant Differences to remove the shielded transfer tanks from the Melton Valley Interim ROD. A fact sheet on the change and a public notice will be issued soon. One of the tanks contains transuranic waste. The other four could contain high level waste and will go through a waste incidental to reprocessing study to determine how the contents should be disposed. Mr. McCracken said it will take several years to complete that study.


He reported that three casks thought to contain cesium-137 were found at the K-770 Scrapyard at ETTP. The casks have been removed from the site and taken to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for characterization. Mr. Mezga asked what the surface readings were on the casks. Mr. McCracken did not know but will find out and report at the next meeting. Mr. Mulvenon asked if he thought any other casks or something similar might have been disposed at the on-site waste facility. Mr. McCracken said he had no reason to believe anything like that had been disposed at the facility. Mr. Adler noted that sensors detected readings at the scrap yard and similar protections are in place at the waste cell, so any material with unacceptably high levels of radioactivity leaving ETTP should be detected either upon exit or on arrival at the waste cell.


Mr. Mulvenon asked Mr. McCracken if asbestos abatement had been completed at Building K-25 at ETTP. Mr. McCracken was not sure but offered to find out. Mr. Mulvenon also asked if work had been stopped at Building K-27. Mr. McCracken said that it had. Mr. Mulvenon asked if there were funding issues to continue work at ETTP. Mr. McCracken said there could be budget problems in the coming years. He said the scope of work has been increased as a result of work at Building 3019 at (ORNL). There have been increases in the cost of high risk work, primarily at K-25. Work is currently being concentrated at K-25 because the building is in such poor condition. Mr. Mulvenon asked if the end date for work at ETTP has been pushed to 2012. Mr. McCracken said the completion date will pushed back some, but the 2012 date probably refers to taking down Buildings K-31 and K-33 if they are not leased.


Mr. McCracken reported on penalties against Duratek for discharging contaminants into Bear Creek rather than into holding ponds. Heavy rains in September 2002 overwhelmed the holding ponds for rainwater runoff and a decision was made to discharge the water directly into Bear Creek. That decision led to the fines against Duratek.


Dave Adler: Mr. Adler reported on the status of two outstanding recommendations to DOE-ORO. He noted a copy of the response to Recommendation 151- Logistics for the 2006 Remediation Effectiveness Report/5-Year Review Public Meeting was distributed to board members prior to the meeting (Attachment 2). He said DOE and the regulators are working to resolve comments on the document and a D3 version will be issued.


He said a response to Recommendation 152 – Recommendations on the Notice of Contamination and Future Use Limitations in Melton Valley is being prepared and should be available at the February meeting.


Connie Jones: EPA has submitted comments on the Remediation Effectiveness Report/5-Year Review and is hoping to resolve those comments with DOE soon. DOE has requested an extension on submitting the D3 version of the report. An extension has been granted to March 1.


Ms. Jones said EPA has been working internally to better improve oversight of DOE activities at ETTP, particularly related to D&D. She said characterization continues at ETTP. She said when the congressional budget is resolved the work will resume and corresponding documents will be produced related to cleanup activities.


John Owsley: No comments.


Mr. Mezga asked both Ms. Jones and Mr. Owsley what reaction EPA and TDEC had to fines against Duratek. Mr. Owsley said that in the view of TDEC’s DOE Oversight Division there was no environmental damage as a result of the discharge and there were no punitive actions taken by the state. He said DOE provided an implementation plan to correct the problems. Mr. Owsley said from the perspective of the TDEC Oversight Division, the issue was resolved. He said he did not know of any fines until they had been announced in the media. Mr. Owsley said the majority of the fines were placed in a TDEC fund to clean up an abandoned radiologically contaminated facility on Bear Creek.


Ms. Jones said she would get more information on EPA’s perspective on the fines and report at the next meeting.


Public Comment

Mr. Axelrod said he had received the DOE Strategic Plan. In a letter to Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman he said he felt it was inferior and more of a mission statement than strategic plan. He said he made some specific recommendations on the plan to Secretary Bodman. He supplied a copy of the recommendations (Attachment 3) to Mr. McCracken to forward to Secretary Bodman.


For the benefit of new members, Ms. Gawarecki introduced herself as executive director of the Local Oversight Committee and explained its mission.


Mr. Gibson said he had intended to share information about the Perma-Fix conference in Nashville with the board, but he had to return home early because of a medical emergency. Mr. Gibson said that he has not been able to determine if unreviewed safety questions (USQ) are still being generated by DOE. Mr. Adler has a continuing action to report to the EM Committee on USQs. Mr. Adler said he did not report on USQs at the last meeting, but he would check to see if they are still being generated.


Mr. Gibson said he had seen the burn plan for the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator and thought the plan was ‘challenging’ because of the waste and permit constraints. He said he would like more information on the waste streams and run some of his own numbers. He said he wasn’t sure the state had enough data through its waste receipt and study protocol, nor perhaps was it the state’s job to duplicate the contractor’s analysis. Mr. Owsley said the plan calls for the incinerator to process twice the amount of waste that it has been processing. He said the decision to accept waste streams will be made on a case-by-case basis.


Announcements and Other Board Business

The next board meeting will be Wednesday, February 14, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation topic will be “DOE National Low-Level Waste/Mixed Low-Level Waste Disposition Strategy.”


The minutes of the December 13, 2006, meeting were approved.


Committee Reports

Board Finance – The committee did not meet in December. Mr. Dixon said the committee will convene again on January 25 at 5 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.


EM – Ms. Bogard reported that EM and Stewardship held a joint meeting on December 14 to hear a presentation on groundwater remedies at ETTP. At the regular EM meeting that followed, the committee reviewed the fact sheet on the explanation of significant differences to remove the shielded transfer tanks from the Melton Valley ROD. The committee also reviewed the response to Recommendation 150 on the proposed method of D&D of Buildings K-25 and K-27 at ETTP. The committee gave informal comments on both documents to Mr. Adler. She said the January meeting topic has been changed to hear a report on the Field Research Center. She said the center will be the topic of the television program “Modern Marvels” on the History Channel January 24.


Public Outreach – At its December meeting the committee discussed historic preservation at ETTP. The committee also reviewed a revised poster for the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.


The committee updated its six-month planning calendar. Meetings with the Roane County mayor and the Oak Ridge City Council were also discussed.


Mr. Stow and Mr. Mezga encouraged the three new members to attend Public Outreach Committee meetings for a few months.


Executive – The committee did not meet in December. Mr. Mezga said the committee will be discussing travel requests for members to attend the SSAB Chairs’ meeting in March. He said no one is currently planning to attend the Waste Management Conference in Tucson, Ariz. He asked anyone interested in attending to contact staff. The Executive Committee will meet on January 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.


Board Process – The committee did not meet in December. The committee will meet again on January 25 at 4:30 at the DOE Information Center.


Stewardship –Ms. Campbell said the committee met after the combined meeting with EM on December 14 and discussed some action items as noted in the meeting minutes. She said the committee will meet on January 16 to discuss environmental notations on land records in Anderson and Roane Counties. The committee will also consider a private act from the state legislature that would ensure the filing and cross referencing of environmental notations and accompanying maps in the county land records.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey noted that with addition of three new members, the board is at the full contingent of 20. She noted Mr. Douglas is instituting a new orientation process for new members.


Additions to the Agenda






Mr. Dixon moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Myrick seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Myrick moved to approve the minutes of the December 13, 2006 meeting. Mr. Dixon seconded. The motion passed with Mr. Lundy abstaining.


The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


Action Items


  1. DOE will address the board’s concerns about providing a public forum on the disposition of uranium at Building 3019 at ORNL. Complete.  A public meeting was held on January 8 at the DOE Information Center on the change to the environmental assessment for Building 3019.
  2. Mr. Adler will determine if any hazardous wastes or PCB constituents will be generated during downblending at Building 3019. Complete. Mr. McCracken reported at this meeting that no secondary waste is expected to be generated. Any secondary waste generation would be during the D&D of the building.
  3. Mr. Adler will determine if some of the less radioactive uranium-233 in Building 3019 can be handled more economically. Complete. Mr. McCracken reported at this meeting that DOE believes that it would not be cost effective to try to handle the less radioactive material differently. He said all of the material will be handled the same.
  4. Ms. Halsey will look into the possibility of having Christine Gelles address the board on the National Waste Disposition Strategy. Complete. A presentation on the waste disposition strategy is scheduled for the February meeting. Mr. Adler reported that Ms. Gelles is expected to attend the meeting.
  5. Mr. Adler will report when the next well monitoring results from Melton Valley are available. Complete. Mr. Adler reported at this meeting that the monitoring results will be available this spring.
  6. Mr. Adler will report about placement and depth of the line of monitoring wells in Melton. Valley. Complete. Mr. Adler reported at this meeting that wells were placed in potable water at about 500 feet, well above brine that the hydrofracture systems pumped into. He said the reason for doing that was to determine what, if any, migrations from injection zones were getting into potable groundwater. The wells were to determine if there was any upward migration from the brine into potable water and if it was moving toward or under the Clinch River.
  7. Ms. Jones will report on EPA’s most recent comments on the Remediation Effectiveness Report at the January meeting. Complete.  Ms. Jones reported during her comments at this meeting.




1.       Mr. McCracken will report on an engineering study on the north building at the K-25 plant at ETTP.

2.       Mr. McCracken will determine what type of mapping coordination system is used on the Oak Ridge Reservation and make sure the system used by ORISE to grid map ETTP is compatible.

3.       Mr. McCracken will report on the surface readings of the casks found at the K-770 Scrapyard.

4.       Staff will send the work plan for IV at ETTP to Mr. Axelrod when it is available.

5.       Mr. McCracken will find out if asbestos abatement at K-25 has been completed.

6.       Ms. Jones will get information on EPA’s perspective on the fines assessed Duratek.


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