Many Voices Working for the Community
Summary of the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board
August 11, 2007
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) met for its annual planning retreat on August 11, 2007 at Rothchild Catering in Knoxville, Tenn.
Ben Adams, Secretary
Dave Adler, Liaison, Department of Energy – Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)
Becky Brunton, Spectrum
Luther Gibson, former ORSSAB member
Spencer Gross, Spectrum
Pat Halsey, Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO
Steve McCracken, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management
Lance Mezga, Chair
Norman Mulvenon, former ORSSAB member
Pete Osborne, Spectrum
Sandy Reagan, former ORSSAB member
Ralph Skinner, DOE-ORO
Ms. Brunton convened the meeting at 8:30 a.m. and welcomed everyone. She turned the meeting over to Mr. McCracken who introduced Mr. Bass as a new board member.
Mr. McCracken made some opening remarks saying board members should be thinking about the coming year. The year will bring some administrative changes, pressures on the budget, and a plan for the balance of work to be done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex (Integrated Facilities Disposition Project). He said the board will be able to provide comments or recommendations to DOE on those issues.
Mr. Mezga welcomed the group saying it would prioritize suggested topics provided by DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). Those topics would be assigned to committees and some may come back to the board as recommendations.
He also said the retreat is a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, particularly since there were so many new members.
Ms. Brunton reviewed the agenda for the day. She encouraged everyone to speak freely, that there were no bad ideas, and for topics that come up outside the scope of the retreat would be placed in a ‘parking lot’ for later consideration.
The theme of Ms. Brunton’s presentation was involvement in the work of the board and to what degree.
She used the metaphor of obtaining different colored martial arts belts as one gained experience and took on more responsibility. Different colored belts indicate skill levels and competency that progress over time.
New members are at a white belt level. As they gain experience and take on more responsibility they would progress through yellow, green, brown, and black belts.
Ms. Brunton asked the participants at each table to come up with responsibilities and assign them a belt color.
The results included (no order of importance):
· Attend meetings
· Read emails related to board activities
· Vote on issues
· Choose areas of interest/join committees
Shared with yellow
· Get to know other members
· Welcome new members
· Reflect community interest
· Read material before meetings
· Learn acronyms
· Interact with key players
· Encourage public outreach
· Ask questions
· Learn scope of Environmental Management Program
· Learn cleanup program organization
· Learn board organization
· Take tour of the Oak Ridge Reservation
· Stay committed to the board
· Respect diverse opinions
· Be adaptable
Share with green
· Understand financial aspects of the board
· Take trips for the board
· Represent the board
· Become familiar with regulations
· Research issues
· Become a committee officer
· Become familiar with governmental agencies (federal, state, local)
· Become an issue manager
· Make presentations
· Participate in a public meeting
Share with brown
· Write a recommendation and present to the board
· Search for and use resources
· Attend Site Specific Advisory Board chairs’ meeting
· Participate in an outreach activity (e.g. Secret City Festival)
· Outreach presentation
· Train/mentor new members
· Serve as an elected officer
· Receive specific training
· Understand the workings of DOE
· Understand the issues
The role of the board as it relates to DOE
Mr. McCracken said the role of DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) is to carry out the mission of cleaning up the Oak Ridge Reservation. The purpose of the board is to influence the outcome of DOE’s work by providing guidance that will make the correct outcome more likely. He said the board should make sure DOE reaches its objectives.
Mr. McCracken said budget will be a big issue in FY 2008. The board could have an impact on the budget process.
He said the sequence of doing the billions of dollars worth of work must be determined. DOE and the regulators are not always in agreement on the sequence of work. The board can provide input on the sequencing of work, because when citizen input is provided it’s easier for the agencies to agree.
Mr. McCracken said the board could also provide input on how work is designed and executed. Work will get more difficult over time and more work will be brought into EM’s scope.
He went on to say that board members who do not have technical backgrounds should not be hesitant about expressing opinions on DOE’s work. He said the board as a whole has impressive credentials and members should apply the skills they have to the EM Program. He said one person or group can affect decisions made by the government.
Roles of committee and board liaisons, the Deputy Designated Federal Officer,
and the Federal Coordinator (attachment 1)
Ms. Halsey explained that the ORSSAB is one of seven local boards that make up the EM Site Specific Advisory Board. The EM SSAB has a Designated Federal Officer who delegates responsibilities to the Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO) at each site.
The role of the DDFO is to approve the board’s agenda, attend the meetings, make sure records are maintained, certify the minutes of the meetings, prioritize issues, make sure the board generates a work plan and approves it, and appoint a Federal Coordinator to assist him or her.
Agency liaisons to the committees and to the board provide the regulatory diversity of the EM mission. DOE, EPA, and TDEC liaisons to the board provide agency opinions, suggestions for topics to consider, and to participate in board discussions.
The committee liaisons are DOE and contractor representatives who provide guidance and expertise, participate in committee discussions, and coordinate experts for presentations.
The Federal Coordinator supports the DDFO in his role and provides the administrative support to the Board, such as overseeing records management and annual reports.
Results of the member survey – evaluating the effectiveness and achievements of the board
Ms. Brunton summarized the results of a survey she conducted of members prior to the annual meeting. Her summary is noted on pages 4-11 of Attachment 2.
Some comments by participants were made on portions of her summary.
Ms. Brunton said there is about a 25 percent turnover of the board annually.
One of the participants said that was not a bad turnover rate if compared to the corporate world.
There was discussion if members who leave the board before their terms expired were being truthful about their reasons for leaving. It was noted that perhaps some people want to join the board for the prestige of the appointment only to discover there is a great deal of work involved.
One participant suggested interviewing applicants prior to appointment. Another suggestion was to interview members who leave the board before their terms expire about 30 days after they resign to try to determine their reasons for leaving. An idea was presented to have alternate appointees in place so vacancies could be filled quickly.
A comment was made that the board should do more to get before the public. The group was reminded that in years past board meetings have been held in surrounding communities.
Whom does ORSSAB serve?
It was noted that ORSSAB serves not only the citizenry it represents, but also DOE headquarters, which chartered the board through the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and DOE-ORO EM because it requests recommendations from the board.
While not part of the presentation, a member asked to explain the term ‘embargo,’ which has been used recently, primarily related to budget discussions.
Mr. McCracken explained that there are times when things can’t be shared with the board related to budget because DOE can’t get ahead of Congress or the Executive Branch in discussing budgets. Information that is classified can’t be shared, and contract issues with contractors can’t be discussed.
Mr. McCracken said often information is available to share, but DOE may not be aware of the board’s interest, in which case it should ask for information.
Suggested presentations included:
· End Uses – How did we get to this point?
· Update on the status of Building 3019
· Update on the status of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment
· Update on Corehole 8 (already scheduled for September 2007)
· Update on the status of the Integrated Facilities Disposition Project – March timeframe when critical decision 1 should be approved
· Update of progress made by the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee at East Tennessee Technology Park
· Status report on plat mapping in Melton Valley
· Report on results of independent verification of cleanup at East Tennessee Technology Park
· Status of the EM Program
· Report on groundwater concerns/watersheds
· Report on health and safety of work being performed
· Report on the 2007 Remediation Effectiveness Report
As a result of Ms. Brunton’s presentation, some ideas emerged that were put in the ‘parking lot’ for further discussion:
· An online discussion board where members could make comments on issues, recommendations, presentations, etc.
· Place committee minutes on the ORSSAB website rather than including in the monthly meeting packets.
· The EM Projects Update table provided in the meeting packets is presented without context. Going over the table at board meetings would be more useful especially to new members.
· New member orientation should include a discussion of the DOE Information Center.
· All members should receive the Public Involvement News and the eNewsletter from DOE public affairs.
Accomplishments of the board and committees in FY 2007
The afternoon session began with summaries of accomplishments made by the board as a whole and its individual committees (Attachment 3).
Key issues for the coming year
Mr. Osborne presented the results of the 2007 Stakeholder Survey (Attachment 4).
Mr. Adler led the group through the various issues provided by DOE, EPA, and TDEC. He then facilitated assigning those topics to the various committees (Attachment 5).
The last item of business for the day was requesting each member to declare which committee they wanted to join.
Committee membership includes:
David Martin (tentative)
Oral History Subcommittee
Stewardship Education Subcommittee
Kevin Westervelt (not in attendance, but current member of the committee)
Summary of the day
Ms. Halsey said the committees will take the assignment of issues (Attachment 5) and develop their individual work plans for FY 2008. They could incorporate the assignments, or not, and they could include their own topics. If committees chose not to accept assignments they would be returned to the Executive Committee.
She said work plans need to be finished by the end of September.
Mr. Mezga said the participation of members at the meeting was a good indication that members were committed to the work of the board.
He thanked the three former members of the board, Mr. L. Gibson, Mr. Mulvenon, and Ms. Reagan, for attending and participating. He also thanked Mr. Adler, Ms. Halsey, Mr. McCracken, and Mr. Skinner for participating from DOE.
The meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.
Attachments (5) are available through the ORSSAB Support Office