Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved January 9, 2008 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 9, 2008, 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

Bill Bass

Darryl Bonner

David Branch

John Coffman

Steve Dixon - Vice chair

Hubert Gibson1

Ashlyn Hall1

Mike Haygood

Charles Jensen

Ted Lundy - Secretary

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga - Chair

Ron Murphree

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow


Members Absent

Rhonda Bogard2

Kevin Westervelt


1Student Representative

2Second consecutive absence


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaisons Present

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

Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator

Connie Jones, 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

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee

Christine Gelles, Director, DOE Office of Disposal Operations

Luther Gibson, Citizens Advisory Panel

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Norman Mulvenon, Citizens Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


Twenty-seven members of the public were present.



Low-Level/Mixed Low-Level (LLW/MLLW) Waste Disposition Strategy for the Oak Ridge Reservation

Ms. Gelles opened by saying that her presentation was a high-level overview of the waste disposition strategy for the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). She said she might not be able to

answer specific, detailed questions, but she would research any such questions and respond at a later date.


The main points of her presentation, included in Attachment 1, were:

·         DOE’s Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) Low-level Waste Disposal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

·         EM budget, planning, and project management

·         EM waste disposition planning tools

·         Oak Ridge waste disposition details and updates.


Concerning the GTCC EIS, Ms. Gelles said it was possible the scope of the EIS could be changed as DOE responds to comments that were received during the public scoping process during August and September 2007. She said there will not be specific comment responses published until the draft EIS is published.


Ms. Gelles showed a timeline for developing the EIS (Attachment 1, page 4). She said because of the complexity of developing the draft EIS and incorporating all the comments received, she believes the final EIS will not be published until 2009. Her discussion of GTCC reviewed the public scoping process and some of the alternatives that were suggested (Attachment 1, pages 4-6). She asked for specific questions related to the GTCC EIS.


Mr. Mezga – Can you explain the role of Congress with the EIS? Is it simply going to review the EIS for thoroughness or is it going to select the alternative and be the decision maker? Ms. Gelles – I don’t know what its will was in constructing that part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It’s the first instance I’m aware of where Congress has inserted itself in the NEPA process. I believe the intent is to see a summary of the EIS – specifically the provision that calls for a report that comprehensively explains the alternatives that were evaluated, although we will provide preferred alternatives. Another report required is that we identify any actions or changes necessary by Congress to enable the implementation of the preferred alternatives. Congress is the driver for the time frame. We’ve had the original statutory responsibility since 1985. We’ve made no progress since that time, so I think Congress feels some urgency for us to get on this and provide a solution for sealed sources. I think Congress is taking on some responsibility to help us achieve this goal.


Mr. Adams – Are you going to recommend a series of sites? Ms. Gelles – Yes. Mr. Adams – Are you going to recommend Yucca Mountain? Ms. Gelles – Yes. There are three disposal methods that are going to be analyzed. And there are nine specific DOE disposal locations. Oak Ridge is being considered as a possible location of near surface repositories or an intermediate borehole facility.


The next part of Ms. Gelles presentation was a ‘context’ discussion of the waste disposition strategy where planning continues to be defined. She showed a graphic of EM funding history and current FY 2009 and out-year projections to 2012 (Attachment 1, page 7). She reviewed the EM risk-based priorities used to develop the EM budget (Attachment 1, page 8). Page 9 of Attachment 1 shows a pie chart of the FY 2008 budget request. Page 10 of Attachment 1 shows the changes between out- year targets and current baseline requirements. Ms. Gelles reviewed some strategies for bridging the gap between out-year targets and baseline requirements (Attachment 1, page 11). She said each site had to revise its baselines and plans to determine the impacts if constrained at the funding within the five-year period between FY 2009-12. The new baselines had to be independently validated. She said five-year plans would be submitted after new budget requests were made. A new strategy is the out-year planning initiative which tries to determine if there are new ways to approach the EM work scope.


Ms. Gelles said DOE EM is resuming its leadership role in disposition of wastes and she explained each point in her presentation (Attachment 1, page 12). Despite the changes as a result of EM reassuming a leadership role, she said the policies for waste disposition activities remain unchanged. Those individual policies for low-level and mixed low-level waste, transuranic wastes (TRU), and high-level and spent nuclear fuel are noted on page 13 of Attachment 1.


The next part of her presentation was what DOE was doing to integrate LLW/MLLW management complex-wide (Attachment 1, page 14). As part of that management plan, Ms. Gelles said Oak Ridge had been selected as a pilot project for deploying disposition planning tools. She said Oak Ridge was chosen because it has a good history and expertise in defining low-level waste streams in detail. With multiple program offices in Oak Ridge, the flexibility of the disposition planning tools can be tested.


Ms. Gelles reviewed the Oak Ridge LLW/MLLW disposition story (Attachment 1, page 15). She said Oak Ridge disposition assets include the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator (TSCAI), and the TRU Waste Processing Facility. Oak Ridge relies on on-site disposal sites, but also ships to the Nevada Test Site, to Utah, and to various commercial treatment firms. She reviewed what had been accomplished in terms of disposal of legacy wastes, the planned operation of the TSCAI through 2009 and the programs at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for newly generated waste.


Ms. Gelles’ explained the Oak Ridge LLW/MLLW Disposition Map, beginning with the legend to the map on page 18 of Attachment 1. The disposition map for the various waste steams on the ORR is shown on pages 19-39. There are about 150 waste streams on the ORR, and all but about 25 have a fully defined waste disposition path. For every waste stream that has no path to disposal or has a path identified but with some impediments, the next step is to do risk identification and determine what it is about the waste stream that presents a programmatic risk.


Ms. Gelles explained the preliminary draft of the ‘8,000 Foot Story’ on page 40-43 of Attachment 1. She said it was EM’s attempt to capture what has to happen to disposition of wastes that are coming out of each of the projects at Oak Ridge. It is organized by the major program baseline summaries, as well as some lower-level sub-project definitions to capture geographic areas or major facilities or major waste streams.


Ms. Gelles did an overview of TRU waste disposition (Attachment 1, page 44). She said shipping Oak Ridge TRU waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is critical to keeping the pipeline to WIPP full. About 2,250 cubic meters of TRU waste is in the Oak Ridge inventory to be shipped to WIPP. What is not in the inventory is a possibility of TRU waste coming from the processing of uranium-233 from Building 3019 at ORNL. Contact-handled TRU is scheduled for shipping to begin in Spring 2008 and remote-handled TRU is scheduled for Summer 2008.


Ms. Gelles reviewed other waste challenges on the ORR (Attachment 1, page 45). Those include wastes from the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, the Shielded Transfer Tanks, and some pyrophoric material that was uncovered during remediation of Melton Valley. A team from DOE headquarters and Oak Ridge is being established to evaluate disposition alternatives for these waste streams.


Ms. Gelles concluded her presentation saying she welcomed comments on the waste disposition map.


Following her presentation, other questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Mr. Mezga – On page 36 and following it shows TSCAI as the option for those waste streams. It shows all green, but the incinerator is scheduled to be shut down in 2009. Ms. Gelles – These are just Oak Ridge waste streams and we will ensure that the incinerator continues to operate until the Oak Ridge wastes are treated. Mr. Mezga- What about the Nevada Test Site (NTS) after 2010? The things we have targeted for NTS that are green now. Does it show yellow at some point because of the uncertainty of going to NTS? Ms. Gelles- Oak Ridge right now is not scheduled to send higher activity mixed waste off site. If something were to happen in the case of K-25 decontamination and decommissioning that would result in something having a hazardous constituent and can’t be disposed as low-level waste or is not in compliance with disposal restrictions, you would then see an update. But today you don’t have any higher-activity mixed waste that isn’t scheduled to be disposed within the time frame. Mr. Mezga- The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) will generate high activity materials some with mercury contamination. How does that show up in the chart? Ms. Gelles – I don’t think SNS has projected waste streams. We created a control that sites could not put information in the system unless it was validated, approved, and funded. We didn’t want ‘what ifs’ in here while we were trying to figure out what all of our challenges were complex wide.


Mr. Mead – I notice there about 30 waste streams that have zero as their volumes. Ms. Gelles – Some of those are placeholder waste streams for future Integrated Facility Disposition Project waste. It may be that we have wastes, but we don’t know what the volumes are and we don’t want to lose track of it. It’s also possible that it’s such a small volume that it doesn’t round up to 1, but I don’t think that is the case.


Mr. Dixon – Are these entries on any kind of timetable? Ms. Gelles – No, that’s the goal. We know what waste is out there. Now we’re trying to define what scope has to be performed. The schedule comes as the next step. This is the scope definition step. The waste volume is the first part. The narrative description is the next part, then comes schedule development.


Mr. Myrick – You said ORNL was to take back responsibility for its wastes in 2009. Does that include the liquid and gaseous systems? Ms. Gelles – That will remain with EM.


Mr. Lundy – When will we see the next version of the disposition roadmap? Ms. Gelles – Today was the first day the Oak Ridge staff had a chance to look at it. We need to give them time to think about what they will be able to do to get us to the next step. The data set in the Waste Information Management System (WIMS) should be available in March. I don’t know when the final ‘8,000 Foot Story’ will be finished. I hope in a year we’ll have a schedule for Oak Ridge waste management.


Mr. Branch – On page 12 where you talk about zero tolerance, is anything else done besides sending a shipment back if anything is sent incorrectly? Ms. Gelles – It depends on the details of the circumstance. If it was a labeling issue, probably nothing is going to happen. If it was sent to a site that led to regulatory action at the site that received the waste stream it could lead to a suspension of shipments and an extensive review of processes.


Mr. Owsley – You talked about developing cases for improving waste management and cleanup activities in accordance with your prioritization, as well as working on strategies for national disposition. What is DOE’s plan for including states in both of those activities? Ms. Gelles – I can speak to our intent to involve the states’ intergovernmental groups in the development of our national disposition strategy and we are committed to having it developed in a public forum. That’s why the national disposition strategy is a draft document. As each revision is made available and is ready for review we make it available to the stakeholders and to the states to provide comments on that document. It was first shared with SSAB chairs a little more than a year and a half a year ago. I do envision that kind of cooperation will continue in the development of the national disposition strategy. It’s why we developed WIMS so anyone could have access to it. In terms of development of those other cases, with one being a compliance driven case, I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s something that’s being undertaken in the 2010 planning process. I believe many of the sites have an interactive process where they share information in the budget process before it becomes embargoed by the administration. I suspect this sort of information will be part of that of that interaction, but I don’t know the exact answer. The question is when is the right time, who are the right players, and how can that conversation continue productively while no one yields their regulatory authority because we do have signed compliance agreements and Federal Facility Agreements. Mr. Owsley – On your planning documents where a date is identified will there be any indication whether or not the regulatory agencies have approved that date? Ms. Gelles – I’ll give you an example of what we did at Rocky Flats. We developed integrated schedules that showed the movement of all waste and materials off the site. Some of the wastes were related to the Rocky Flats Waste Treatment Plan, but the Rocky Flats cleanup agreement was a very holistic agreement that governed everything that happened at that site and there were rolling milestones. So to the extent that there was a milestone that was related to those campaigns, those milestones were included in the schedules as an activity. So there was acknowledgement of our compliance obligations. As we developed a schedule for Oak Ridge to the extent that there was a site treatment plan milestone for specific mixed waste streams, that would be part of the schedule. Milestones need to be part of our plan. We require our contractors to develop compliance baselines. We work to develop a compliant budget request each year. But where budget requirements exceed what the president can give us, that’s a situation we found ourselves in for the first time because we have this gap between our requirements and our targets. So far we’ve been able to get past that, but I don’t know if it will become a complex-wide crisis in years to come. I think this next budget cycle will tell us something.


Mr. Bonner – What about the sodium at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) as well as at ORNL? Ms. Gelles – Since that is not radioactive material it would not fall in the category of low-level/mixed low-level radioactive waste. Mr. McCracken – That material has not been included in the waste inventory because even though it is included in our baseline for dealing with it, it hasn’t yet been decide whether we can still recover it and use it or whether it should be a waste form, so it wouldn’t fit in the waste inventory yet.


Ms. Mei – You mentioned the EM risk-based priorities. Those are not incorporated into the disposition map, is that right? Ms. Gelles – Those risk-based priorities that I showed you (Attachment 1, page 8) is the over arching approach as to how EM organizes and plans and allocates its limited budget among the wide range of activities we’re responsible for. The programmatic risk codes that are identified by waste streams are a totally different paradigm and it only pertains to the mixed low-level waste.


Mr. Mulvenon – One of the slides showed out-year targets and current baseline requirements (Attachment 1, page 10). Why is there such a gap between the targets and the baseline requirements?  Ms. Gelles – It’s the status of the national budget and deficit and the fact that we’re fighting a war and have an energy crisis. The secretary of energy is trying to help with part of that solution by virtue of his energy plan. The department’s resources are being taxed and the department’s share of the federal budget is being pinched because of those other priorities. I think it’s important to note that EM continues to fare fairly consistent, so it could be worse.


Mr. Mulvenon – How are we going to handle the TRU inventory that is in place in Oak Ridge? It’s my understanding that it’s difficult to get that inventory re-done. Ms. Gelles- There is a statutory limit to WIPP that says only 175, 600 cubic meters of TRU can go into WIPP. That’s OK because we’re finding we can probably live with that statutory limit.


Mr. L. Gibson – Back on to the WIMS database, you’re not identifying the commercial contractors. Would you consider putting that information in there as contracts are awarded? The role that Oak Ridge plays complex-wide is very important in taking wastes that come here to be treated at permitted facilities. I think the support you attribute to the community would mean a lot more if some of these activities were publicized more. Ms. Gelles – Thank you.


Ms. Gawarecki­ – You said TSCAI had a burn plan configuration control. What is that? Ms. Gelles – Last year we moved from an annual burn plan to a lifecycle program plan because we’re trying to manage continued use of the incinerator in an organized integrated systems fashion. That lifecycle burn plan is under a configuration control so that if a site wanted to add a waste stream to the burn plan we would have to demonstrate that there is no other treatment alternative, that it doesn’t impact the overall schedule of the incinerator, and the site needs to pay for the extended schedule. Ms. Gawarecki – Given the age and condition of the incinerator, the burn plan seem aggressive or overly optimistic. How do you plan to address this? Ms. Gelles – Part of the configuration control is that we track the performance against the burn plan schedule. It is aggressive, but I believe realistic. We worked hard to develop the plan to assume a realistic availability to the facility. When we had unplanned outages in 2007 we were still able to treat more than a million pounds of waste, which was a record. We may not have met every detail of the burn plan, but having an aggressive schedule and managing what the impact is of a delay, keeps us focused that would mitigate a slip to the end date of the burn plan.


Ms. Gawarecki – We know that TSCAI will be probably shut down in 2009; we know Portsmouth will be decommissioning; we know the Integrated Facility Disposition Project could be implemented, yet there is no projection of those waste streams into your tools. How are you going to handle that? Ms. Gelles – Managing the impact of those challenges is the reason our office exists. It’s to manage complex-wide planning and assure there is a credible disposition plan that considers the availability or non-availability of such facilities. On page 40 (of Attachment 1) of the first line of the 8,000 Foot Waste Story is the TSCAI story. It’s an oversimplification but in there is a couple of boxes about the lifecycle burn plan. We’re working with Steve McCracken’s office on a business case that considers whether it’s in the department’s best interest to invest in upgrades and extend operations to address Portsmouth and Paducah’s future streams as well as any others. Or is it better to put our resources in seeking commercial alternatives? The business case is still being developed but we’ve been working on it for more than two years. When this is fully developed you’ll see the federal efforts that are focused on just that sort of issue.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken – Mr. McCracken reported that EM received a $54 million increase in its 2008 budget for decontamination and decommissioning at ETTP. EM also received an increase of $3 million to complete work at the David Witherspoon Site in Knoxville. An additional $10 million was received for work to remove uranium-233 at Building 3019 at ORNL.


Regarding the dispute with Federal Facility Agreement parties on cleanup milestones, Mr. McCracken said the first level of discussions with EPA and TDEC are scheduled for January 15 and 16. He said the increase in funding for work at ETTP should help resolve the issue.


Mr. McCracken said that the situation with water getting into some of the process systems at the K-25 Building is under control and does not appear to present a risk.


Work at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment continues although a bit behind schedule. He said uranium should be removed from the last tank in about two weeks.


Dave Adler – no comments.


Connie Jones – no comments.


John Owsley – no comments.


Public Comment

Ms. Gawarecki said there will be a presentation on “Geology and Hydrology of the Oak Ridge Area and the History of the Location of the DOE Facilities” at Pellissippi State Technical Community College on Monday, January 14 at 6 p.m. Mr. Stow is one of the presenters.


Mr. Mulvenon said the Citizens Advisory Panel is seeking additional members. Anyone interested in joining should contact him or Ms. Gawarecki.


Mr. Gibson said Ms. Gelles had reported a budget shortfall for EM-related work at the December Perma-Fix conference. He said her presentation at this meeting confirmed what she reported at that meeting. He said about 700 of the drums shipped from Portsmouth, Ohio to Oak Ridge remain to be processed. He said perhaps that is good trade-off for the thousands of cylinders of depleted uranium hexafluoride cylinders that were shipped to Ohio for disposal from Oak Ridge.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, February 13, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be the “EM Budget and Prioritization Review.”


The minutes of the December 12, 2007 meeting were approved.


The November/December EM Projects Updates were distributed (Attachment 2).


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Adams reported that Mr. Branch was elected vice chair of the committee. Mr. Branch said he has begun work on planning for the annual retreat but nothing has been finalized yet.


EM – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee received an update on engineering and technology developments on the ORR from Elizabeth Phillips at the December meeting. The committee approved two draft recommendations that will come before the board in February. They are a recommendation on preparing future explanations of significant differences and a recommendation on conducting future verifications of cleanup.


The committee approved its FY 2009 budget request. The January meeting will be a combined meeting with Stewardship to get a briefing on the 2007 Remediation Effectiveness Report. ARCADIS will also brief both committees on its review of the D3 version of the remedial investigation/feasibility study for ETTP.


Public Outreach – The committee cancelled its December meeting and rescheduled all business for January.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the committee heard presentations from Bill Wilcox of the Partnership for K-25 Preservation and the American Museum of Science and Energy on historic preservation of the K-25 Building at ETTP. He said a tour of K-25 is planned for Saturday, January 12 for some of the Stewardship Committee members to see the building first hand. The committee will be developing a recommendation to DOE on historic preservation of the building. Separate subcommittees have been established to plan a public meeting on K-25 Building preservation and to develop a recommendation on K-25. Those subcommittees will meet Thursday, January 10 at 3:30 at 5 p.m. respectively at the DOE Information Center.


Stewardship Education Subcommittee – Ms. Sarten reported that the subcommittee reviewed lesson plans for Stewardship Education Resource Kit and discussed updating and adding slides to the presentations.  


Executive – The committee did not meet in December.


Oral History Subcommittee – Mr. Stow said he, Mr. Adler, and Ms. Halsey met with Dave Allen of DOE-ORO to talk about the concept of an oral history organization to coordinate and consolidate Oak Ridge oral histories. Mr. Allen was supportive of the idea. Mr. Stow said he and Ms. Halsey have prepared materials for Mr. McCracken to make a presentation supporting the oral history program to DOE-ORO manager Gerald Boyd. Mr. Stow said an advocacy/oversight group has been formed to develop a comprehensive oral history program for Oak Ridge. The group will meet for the first time January 24 at the DOE Information Center.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said two recommendations had been added to the ORSSAB website that are not on the Recommendation Tracking Chart in the board meeting packets. Those recommendations were signed collectively by the chairs of the seven SSABs around the DOE complex. The recommendations are a Recommendation for EM SSAB Participation in the EM Budget Process and a Recommendation for Long Term Stewardship Incorporation into New EM Projects and Legacy Waste Decisions. She said those interested in the budget process should read the recommendation on budget to see what information the chairs have requested. Reading the recommendation would help members understand the budget process better and they would be better prepared for the February board meeting. Mr. Mezga said there will be a planning session for the February meeting that will include himself, Mr. Adler, Ms. Halsey, and Mr. McCracken. Any board members interested in attending the meeting should email Mr. Mezga to be informed of the meeting date, time, and place.


Ms. Halsey said DOE cannot respond to Recommendation 158 on the Explanation of Significant Difference for Leachate Management until it meets with EPA on the issue. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.


Recommendation 159 on the Intent to Prepare an EIS for the Disposal of GTCC waste was referenced in Ms. Gelles’ presentation. She said she had seen the recommendation, but there would probably not be a response to it until the draft GTCC EIS is published, which could be as late as 2009.


Ms. Halsey will be responding to Recommendation 160 on Independent Verification of Waste Sites in Melton Valley soon.


Ms. Halsey said a final map is being prepared that relates to Recommendation 161 on Developing a Stewardship Map Showing Remediated Areas with Waste Left in Place. A response to the recommendation will be provided at the February meeting.


Ms. Halsey said the January Advocate newsletter has been published, mailed, and placed on the ORSSAB website. She said the Cleanup Progress Report for 2007 will be published soon and will be sent to board members.


Additions to the Agenda





Mr. Lundy moved to approve the minutes of the December 12, 2007, meeting. Mr. Bass seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Ms. Halsey will report to the board the outcome of the meeting with EPA related to Recommendation 158 on the ESD for Leachate Management at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility. Carried over from November 14, 2007. Status. Meeting with EPA has not been held.
  2. Ms. Halsey will check on the status of Recommendation 154 with Melissa Nielson at DOE Headquarters. Carried over from November 14, 2007.
  3. Ms. Sarten will talk to the member of the public she knows who attended the well sampling meeting to ask about his reaction to the presentation. Carried over from November 14, 2007
  4. Mr. Adler will report on the briefing provided to Mr. McCracken to support oral histories by DOE-ORO.



  1. The Environmental Management and Stewardship committees will consider addressing Mr. Mezga’s recommendation that Mr. Owsley’s comments on well sampling be communicated to the public, and they will consider making a joint recommendation on the well sampling topic. Stewardship Committee transferred the issue to the Public Outreach Committee. The EM Committee chose not to issue a recommendation, but asked Mr. Adler work with core teams and TDEC to make sure future presentations with potentially controversial topics are handled prudently.
  2. Ms. Halsey will inform Christine Gelles to expect a question on Recommendation 159 at the January meeting. Complete.
  3. Staff will contact Mr. Jensen to determine reasons for two consecutive absences. Closed. Mr. Jensen attended this meeting.


Attachments (2) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.