Many Voices Working for the Community
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 8, 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.
Steve Douglas - Secretary
Lance Mezga - Chair
Norman Mulvenon – Vice chair
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, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management
John Owsley, Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Becky Brunton, Spectrum
Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee
Spencer Gross, Spectrum
Mike Hughes, Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC)
Pete Osborne, Spectrum
Twelve members of the public were present
EM Program Update
Mr. Hughes and Mr. McCracken gave separate presentations on different aspects of the Environmental Management (EM) program.
Mr. Hughes gave the first presentation on an overview of work that has been done related to the four major milestones of the Accelerated Cleanup Plan.
He said the first two milestones have been reached: the disposition of all legacy low-level waste (LLW) and the remediation of Melton Valley. He said 1.3 million cubic feet of LLW had been disposed. At Melton Valley he said 279 release sites had been remediated, with 144 acres capped. He gave details each project (Attachment 1, pages 3-8).
He discussed work underway at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) (Attachment 1, pages 9-28). He said 274 facilities had been deactivated and 194 had been demolished.
He described the activities underway in preparation to demolish building K-25 (Attachment 1, pages12-19), including the stabilization of the process system through foaming and the removal and segmentation of process equipment to eliminate residual uranium. The converters, compressors, process piping, and all building debris is to be disposed in the EM Waste Management Facility (EMWMF).
Mr. Hughes talked about the change of accomplishment to demolish K-25 as a result of an accident that happened in January 2006. Work is currently underway in preparation for the change. The new method reduces the amount of time workers must spend inside the building and uses heavy machinery to demolish the building around process equipment.
Mr. Hughes said more than 5,700 cylinders containing uranium hexafluoride (UF6), have been shipped to Portsmouth, Ohio. Less than 300 remain.
The Scrap Removal Project has been completed with more than 32,000 tons of material sent to EMWMF.
The haul road from ETTP to EMWMF opened in January 2006. Mr. Hughes said he believed the road was worth the cost in terms of safety and efficiency. He said it was particularly useful in moving waste from the scrap yard, the K-29 demolition, and the K-1401 demolition.
He said EMWMF is being expanded to 1.7 million cubic yards, which should be sufficient capacity to complete all the work at ETTP as well as additional projects.
Mr. Hughes said the ultimate goal of the cleanup of ETTP is industrial use. He said about 1,000 acres at ETTP have been cleared and cleaned and are re-useable. He said there were some concerns about contamination under Buildings K-25 and K-27, but samples taken do not indicate any significant contamination. He said there is some contamination around Poplar Creek and Mitchell Branch.
At the David Witherspoon Site in Knoxville, the 901 area has been remediated and restored for use. Work is underway at the 1630 site. The goal is to begin shipping waste from that site in December 2006. Mr. Hughes said the Witherspoon project has been the most successful in terms of safety and transportation because transporters have traveled more than 500,000 miles without accident.
The final portion of his presentation showed a list of FY 2006 Accelerated Cleanup Plan documents that had been approved and documents planned for FY 2007 (Attachment 1, pages 31-34).
Mr. McCracken talked about projects Bechtel Jacobs is not responsible for. He discussed the proposed integrated facilities disposition project (IFDP), the uranium-233 (U233) disposition project, and the Transuranic (TRU) Waste Processing Facility.
IFDP is to define the scope of work to finish cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation. Mr. McCracken said the proposal is to increase from 85 facilities that are to be decontaminated and decommissioned to 207 at Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Attachment 2, pages 4-9). He said the purpose is to clean up all old buildings at Y-12 and ORNL to allow both plants to move forward with work. He said a mission needs statement has been done and has received positive response at DOE headquarters. Mr. McCracken said when the mission needs statement works its way through headquarters, the next step would be to plan the mission.
Regarding the U233 project, Mr. McCracken said the mission need is to dispose the uranium stored in Building 3019 at ORNL to eliminate nuclear criticality safety and security concerns (Attachment 2, page 11). He noted that the topic was raised at the last two ORSSAB meetings. He said the Congressional mandate was clear to terminate the thorium extraction for medical isotopes and to have DOE EM dispose the material. He said if taking the thorium out of the uranium would better aid in the uranium disposition, he would have to go back to Congress to explain why thorium extraction is being done. If, however, thorium is being extracted for the purposes of medical isotopes, that is not the mission of EM. He said extracting thorium does not aid in material disposition and adds risk to the job.
Mr. McCracken said the next step at Building 3019 is to retrofit the building so the U233 can be processed and taken out of storage.
He said he would be going before DOE Assistant Secretary for EM James Rispoli to get permission to proceed with the project. Mr. McCracken said when the U233 is removed from the building, 3019 will be demolished. He said that will be a difficult process and will be the last of the IFDP projects at ORNL.
At the TRU Waste Processing Facility, work will begin to build the portion of the plant to process remote-handled (RH) TRU waste, which will be disposed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Mr. McCracken said the intent is to begin processing solid RH TRU by the end of the calendar year and to begin work on RH sludge by the end of 2007.
He said the contract to operate the facility was changed from a firm fixed-price contract to a cost recoverable contract to allow for uncertainties in processing TRU wastes. As part of the contract change, the ownership of the facility would be transferred from Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation to DOE.
After the presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Stow – There were some deep monitoring wells dug thousands of feet from the hydrofracture wells in Melton Valley. The monitoring wells intercepted the injection zone and some extremely contaminated groundwater. At the time it was impossible to establish the lateral extent of that contamination zone and there was evidence of contamination in the rock column above the injection zone. What has been done to characterize the lateral extent of the contamination, and what has been done to isolate and contain the contamination? Mr. McCracken – I don’t know the answer to the first part of your question, and I’m quite certain nothing has been done to contain the contamination. We still have the groundwater decision to be made out there. Mr. Adler – I do know they have closed all those wells, so they no longer serve as pathways for transportation of contamination. I don’t think they have identified any practical way of containing it. Mr. McCracken – I will take that as an action item and get back to you.
Mr. Myrick – Could you comment on the disposition of nickel that was reported in the paper? Mr. McCracken – Converters were used to enrich uranium. The guts of the converters are inorganic membranes that are made partially of nickel. So these converters are full of barrier material and nickel. We intend to dispose of the converters whole and not try to extract the nickel. It is our belief that the value of the nickel is not worth the risk and cost to cut open about 3,000 converters to extract it. However, it was done for buildings K-29, K-31, and K-33, but those converters had to be cut open anyway because they were too big to transport. That nickel was extracted and is in storage to be recycled.
Mr. Myrick – What is happening to the cylinders that are being shipped to Portsmouth? Mr. McCracken – Portsmouth is building a facility to reprocess what’s in those cylinders. This is also an example of informal equity between the states. We are shipping our cylinders to Ohio and we burn some of their oil and carbon material at the incinerator.
Mr. Myrick – On IFDP, did we get any dollars this year or in next year’s budget to begin planning the work? Mr. McCracken – The two houses of Congress had an additional $15 and $19 million in their respective budgets for IFDP. An appropriation has to be made with that additional money for us to make any meaningful progress in the IFDP this year.
Mr. Mulvenon – I’ve heard that there may be some problem with the 2008 budget that may result in ETTP not being finished in 2009. Mr. McCracken – We don’t know what the president’s budget is. There is speculation there could be some problem with it. But the budget doesn’t come out until February. I can’t talk about it until it does. We asked for more than enough money to do everything. Now it’s a matter of what the president decides should be in the budget and then it has to go to Congress.
Mr. Mezga – Regarding the TSCA Incinerator, it was said that 1.5 million pounds of waste would be incinerated this year. How much of that is on-site versus off-site? Mr. Hughes – This coming year, most of it will be off-site material. Mr. McCracken – The question is, whose stuff is being burned first, ours or from off-site? Most of the off-site material comes from Portsmouth, but we like burning their oil, because it burns great. The solids we have that don’t burn well, but you throw oil on it and it burns great, so we have a strong desire to bring in the Portsmouth oil. Mr. Owsley, however, makes sure that the department’s interest and the state’s interest are in alignment.
Mr. Gibson – It was mentioned that there was some uniqueness about Building 3019 being a category 2 hazard. I’m familiar with the safety basis of a category 2 facility at Y-12, and I’m wondering what your definition is. Mr. McCracken – It’s the same, it’s just that 3019 is the oldest in the world.
Mr. Axelrod – After $5 million and 13 years by 2008, will Oak Ridge Reservation cleanup meet the stewardship goal of residual contamination not being a problem, with monitoring the only thing to worry about? If your answer is no, please provide an 11x17-inch summary explanation with a copy for ORSSAB. Mr. McCracken –It has never been our belief that we would meet all the stewardship requirements on the reservation by the end of 2008. At one time we had hoped to meet the requirements at ETTP, but under the current baseline that would take it out to 2009. At ORNL and Y-12 the schedule was always 2015. If we accept all these new baselines under IFDP it will run it out to about 2020. At Melton Valley, we’ve met the requirements of the interim record of decision. That means we’ll monitor that site for about 10 years to make sure the remediation is working, and then at that time we would determine if we’ve met the stewardship requirements. The 11x17 you asked for would say that.
Mr. Axelrod – I would still like to have those comments in writing. In comments I’ve made earlier concerning the Stewardship Education Resource Kit, I haven’t seen an answer to the question ‘what is it we are being stewards of?’ How about an 11x17-inch summary table of that and in the same context stating where the material is? Mr. McCracken – I agree with what you’re saying. At some point, we should be able to look at a picture and be able to locate on a map every area that requires stewardship and it should be done in a way that we don’t forget where it is.
Mr. Trammell – Regarding the disposition of waste from K-25 and K-27, are there any materials that don’t meet the waste acceptance criteria for EMWMF and would have to be shipped out west, and if so, what is the disposition pathway and timing for that material? Mr. McCracken – No doubt there will be more going out west that we thought because of technicium-99 that we’re finding throughout K-27. That material will have to go out west. In addition there are two sections of K-25 that have technicium-99 and will probably have to go west. The trick at K-27 is getting the equipment out without contaminating the structure, which is not currently contaminated, so we can dispose the building debris onsite. We have a cost estimate in our baseline. I’ll have to find out what the estimated volume is and report to you. The material would go to the Nevada Test Site because it’s classified.
Ms. Gawarecki – Regarding the UF6 cylinders, my recollection is there were about 7,000 cylinders originally. Mr. Hughes said about 6, 000. What happened to other 1,000? Mr. McCracken – About 500 of those were empty, but I don’t know where they went. I think they went to the Nevada Test Site. Mr. Hughes – We can find out where they went.
Ms. Gawarecki – Regarding the characterization maps at ETTP, was that soils only or did it include groundwater? Mr. Hughes – Only the soils.
Ms. Gawarecki - How many trips per day are made on the haul road on average? Mr. Hughes – We are averaging 70 per day. As we approach the height of work we need to get up over 150 and close to 200 trips per day. Mr. McCracken – There have been over 10,000 trips on the haul road to date. For K-25 alone it will take about 55,000 trips.
Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments
Steve McCracken: Mr. McCracken said the environmental assessment for Building 3019 would have to be modified to say that thorium extraction would no longer be done. He said the environmental assessment would be out for public comment, but a meeting had not yet been scheduled.
Mr. Douglas said he had reviewed the draft “DOE National Low-Level Waste/Mixed Low-Level Waste Disposition Strategy” and noted there seemed to be little consideration of treatment of wastes on site and simply sending wastes to commercial facilities for treatment. Mr. McCracken agreed saying DOE has traditionally felt it was better using commercial operations to treat waste rather than building its own. He said he hadn’t seen where it would save much money to treat wastes on site, particularly if treatment plants had to be built. He offered to invite Christine Gelles of DOE to address the board on the national waste disposition strategy.
Dave Adler: Mr. Adler said DOE has responded to Recommendation 150: “Proposed Method of Accomplishment for Decontamination and Decommissioning of Buildings K-25 and K-27 at ETTP.” A copy of the response was distributed at the meeting (Attachment 3). Mr. Mezga asked the EM Committee to review the recommendation to determine if the response was adequate.
Connie Jones: Ms. Jones said the resolution of comments from EPA to DOE on the Remediation Effectiveness Report/CERCLA 5-Year Review has been narrowed down to one substantive issue. The issue has to do with DOE’s reevaluation of its actions in the Clinch River and if those actions are protective of ecological habitat. EPA has asked DOE to clarify how its actions have helped protect the ecological habitat.
Ms. Jones said EPA is reviewing the DOE draft Notices of Contamination and Future Use Limitations in Melton Valley. She said EPA has noted some areas in the draft that may require revision.
She said DOE milestones for 2009 have not been resolved with EPA and TDEC. She said DOE has committed to develop a better planning process for out year milestones, which would include the current fiscal year, plus three-year commitments.
Ms. Jones said EPA is modifying the clean parcel determination for the water treatment plant at ETTP. Regarding the covenant deferral request on the fire station, EPA submitted comments and DOE asked if it could go to public comment on the request. EPA received the revised request and she didn’t know if the revised document had incorporated the first round of comments or the results of the public comment period adequately. She said the latest submittal is being reviewed. She said she would provide copies of the revised comments on the water treatment plant and the fire station.
She said EPA has asked DOE to evaluate any impact to adjacent land regarding a clean parcel determination for the water treatment plant and the covenant deferral request for the fire station.
She said the ORSSAB would be copied on any further comments by EPA on reindustrialization at ETTP.
John Owsley: Mr. Owsley said DOE and TDEC have agreed on a process to discuss the 2009 milestones, but have not yet agreed to milestones as presented by DOE. He said those milestones are in dispute.
He noted a letter of congratulations from Gov. Bredesen to the board on its receiving the Citizens Excellence in Community Involvement Award. The letter was included in the November meeting packet.
Mr. Gibson noted a correction to the October 11 minutes to reflect that the EM Advisory Board charter should be compared to the SSAB charter, rather than to the Federal Advisory Committee Act charter.
Mr. Gibson said he would be attending the Perma-Fix conference in Nashville in December and would share any information he received with the board.
Mr. Trammell said he attended the public meeting on the K-1007 ponds remediation proposal. He said for the most part the public was in support of the preferred alternative. He noted that TDEC and EPA are in support for the alternative. EPA considers it an experiment and a possible alternative to use at similar sites if the preferred remediation is adopted and is successful. He also noted that DOE is ultimately responsible, and if the remediation doesn’t work it would fall back on DOE to take corrective action.
Announcements and Other Board Business
The next board meeting will be Wednesday, December 13, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation topic will be “Plans for Independent Cleanup Verification at ETTP”
The minutes of the October 11, 2006, meeting were approved, with one correction to reflect that the EM Advisory Board charter should be compared to the SSAB charter, rather than to the Federal Advisory Committee Act charter.
Recommendation 151: “Recommendation on the Remediation Effectiveness Report/CERCLA 5-Year Review Public Meeting” was approved, with one addition to include the statement: “The review should clearly identify critical changes in site conditions or monitoring trends affecting site stewardship goals.”
Recommendation 152: “Recommendations on the Notice of Contamination and Future Use Limitations, and Intent to Provide Notations on Ownership Records in Melton Valley” was tabled and sent back to the Stewardship Committee for clarification of wording.
To have more time for discussion, the proposed changes to the ORSSAB bylaws was tabled until December.
Mr. Mezga noted Mr. Douglas’ trip report to the Energy, Technology, and Environmental Business Association conference in Knoxville (Attachment 4).
Board Finance – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee met on October 26 and addressed all items on its agenda. No changes were made to the budgets.
EM – Ms. Bogard reported that the committee heard a presentation on the re-accumulation of low‑level waste on the reservation and learned there were some funding issues associated with its disposition the last two fiscal years. Sodium disposition will be the topic of the November meeting.
Public Outreach – Mr. Mulvenon reported that the committee visited the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy. He said the committee was also looking at updating the museum exhibit, as well as the ORSSAB brochure.
Executive – Mr. Mulvenon reported that the committee approved the recommendations and the bylaws revisions for this month’s board meeting. The committee also set the presentation topic for the December meeting.
Board Process – Mr. Douglas said the committee will meet on November 30. The tentative start time is 4:30, but could be changed.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said the committee approved the two recommendations that were brought to this board meeting. The next meeting will include a presentation on a draft long-term stewardship implementation plan and long-term stewardship directive.
Mr. Mulvenon said the Stewardship Education Subcommittee met on November 3 and developed a mission statement. He said a focus group meeting to discuss the Stewardship Education Resource Kit had was cancelled. He referred members to the minutes (Attachment 5) that were distributed at the meeting for details.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey had no comments.
Additions to the Agenda
Ms. Cothron was not present for all votes.
Mr. Stow moved to approve the minutes of the October 11, 2006 meeting. Mr. Adams seconded. Mr. Mezga moved to amend the minutes to note a correction made by Mr. Gibson. Mr. Myrick seconded the amendment. The amended motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Dixon moved to approve Recommendation 151: “Recommendation on the Remediation Effectiveness Report/CERCLA 5-Year Review Public Meeting.” Mr. Douglas seconded. Mr. Myrick moved to amend the recommendation to include the statement: “The review should clearly identify critical changes in site conditions or monitoring trends affecting site stewardship goals.” Mr. Adams seconded. The amendment passed unanimously. The amended motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Mulvenon moved to approve Recommendation 152: “Recommendations on the Notice of Contamination and Future Use Limitations, and Intent to Provide Notations on Ownership Records in Melton Valley” as offered and to direct DOE to correct any language that is not clear and precise and to closely follow the recommended form (Attachment 1 in the recommendation) as a guide for the final notice. Mr. Adams seconded.
Mr. Douglas moved to amend the recommendation portion to read “We suggest DOE use the format and style prepared by the Stewardship Committee” instead of “We suggest DOE use the version prepared by the Stewardship Committee.” Mr. Mulvenon seconded. The amendment passed 13 in favor and 1 opposed (Ms. Bogard opposed).
Mr. Bonner moved that the additional wording Mr. Mulvenon proposed in the original motion to approve the recommendation be voted on separately as an amendment to be included in the recommendation. Mr. Adams seconded. Before a vote was called there was additional discussion in an attempt to clarify confusion concerning what was being offered as a motion and what was an amendment. Mr. Douglas then moved to table the recommendation and send back to committee for clarification of wording. Mr. Myrick seconded. The motion passed 10 to 3 (Mr. Bonner, Ms. Campbell, and Mr. Mulvenon opposed).
Mr. Mulvenon moved to approve the revised bylaws. Mr. Olson seconded. Ms. Bogard moved to reject all proposed changes to the mission statement. Mr. Olson seconded. The amendment passed, 8 voting for (Mr. Adams, Ms. Bogard, Mr. Bonner, Ms. Campbell, Mr. Myrick, Mr. Olson, Ms. Reagan, and Ms. Sarten), 3 voting against (Mr. Dixon, Mr. Douglas, Mr. Murphree), and 2 abstentions (Mr. Mezga and Mr. Mulvenon).
Mr. Bonner moved to amend the wording of the mission statement, which retains original language as passed by the previous amendment, to include the words ‘long-term stewardship’ to the sentence that reads ‘The Board is dedicated to providing informed recommendations and advice to the Department of Energy Environmental Management Program regarding environmental restoration and waste management, as well as land use and economic development of contaminated areas.’ ‘Long-term stewardship’ would be inserted after ‘as well as.’ Mr. Myrick seconded. The motion passed 11 for, 1 opposed (Mr. Murphree), and 1 abstention (Mr. Douglas).
Ms. Bogard moved to table further discussion of the bylaws. Mr. Myrick seconded. The motion passed, 12 voting for, with 1 abstention (Mr. Douglas).
The meeting adjourned at 9:23 p.m.
Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.