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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved October 10, 2007 Meeting Minutes


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

William Bass

Darryl Bonner

David Branch

Steve Dixon - Vice chair

Hubert Gibson1

Ashlyn Hall1

Mike Haygood

Ted Lundy - Secretary

David Martin

Lance Mezga - Chair

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Steve Stow

Jan Teague

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent

Ben Adams

Rhonda Bogard

John Coffman2

Charles Jensen

Gloria Mei

Ron Murphree

Sondra Sarten


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

Luther Gibson

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Mike Hughes, Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC)

Norman Mulvenon

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


Sixteen members of the public were present.



EM Program Update

Mr. Hughes provided an update of activities of the Accelerated Cleanup Project to date. The main points of his presentation are included in Attachment 1. He discussed BJC and subcontractor safety performance and project milestones. Project milestones included the completion of work in Melton Valley, the removal of uranium hexafluoride cylinders, the cleanup of the K-770 Scrapyard, completion of the Haul Road, and various other activities at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).

Mr. Hughes discussed the current status of decontamination and decommissioning of Buildings K-25/K27 and work being done at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE).


He also talked about reindustrialization at ETTP, the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator (TSCA), waste management and transportation, the handling of transuranic wastes (TRU) at the TRU Waste Processing Center, the handling of PCBs and mixed waste, and progress being made offsite at the David Witherspoon Site in Knoxville. Concerning the incinerator, Mr. Hughes said it will continue to operate through 2009 and an evaluation will be made then to determine if it will continue operations.


During and after Mr. Hughes’ presentation, a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Mr. Stow – Are you still working toward the goal of preserving the north tower for historical purposes? Mr. Hughes – We continue to work under the memorandum of agreement (regarding Site Interpretation at ETTP) to save the things we need to save and allow DOE the time to make a determination of how much of the north end can be saved. Mr. McCracken – DOE has agreed to try to save the inner retaining wall and the north tower, clean out the tower, and put a new roof on it. That would be a starting point for historical preservation. We need to look at cost and we need to provide as much time as we can for this to play out in a way that is best for historical preservation. We are going through a series of three meetings. These meetings are to look at this idea, and based on the information we have to try to make the right decision.

Mr. Mezga – Of the 2.5 million pounds of waste forecast to be burned in the TSCA Incinerator (Attachment 1, page 14), how much of that is Oak Ridge generated waste? Mr. Hughes – I don’t know that figure, but I will get it for you. The priority, though, is that our wastes are burned first. Mr. McCracken – I know we need about another year to work off our wastes.

Mr. Mezga – Regarding the additional buildout of the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF), will that additional space accommodate wastes generated from the Integrated Facilities Disposition Project (IFDP)? Mr. McCracken – We have a number of people looking at that trying to figure what needs to be segregated and what can go in the EMWMF and what must go to the demolition landfill. But it has not been determined. Mr. Owsley – It is the state’s position that there will be enough capacity in the EMWMF to handle the additional waste, provided that DOE diligently characterize and segregate all wastes to make sure that only the waste that needs to go in EMWMF will be sent there, that clean waste will go to the Y-12 Sanitary Landfill and high activity wastes go offsite, and also a minimum amount of clean fill is used so that no space is wasted.


Mr. Mezga – Regarding the disposal of newly generated mixed and low-level wastes, in looking at the figures you provided (Attachment 1, page 17) it looks like what is being disposed is going down and what is going into storage is going up. Is that a trend? Mr. McCracken­ – Yes. When it comes to newly generated waste we have to figure out what to do with the funds we have available. Number one is mixed low-level waste because it is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and we must deal with that material first. Low-level waste, which we can safely and legally store, is second. What you’re seeing is the trend we’ve been dealing with. That is inadequate funds in that particular program baseline summary to do all the things we want to do. Low-level waste is generally a lower priority. If you look at the five-year plan you’ll see a plan for working that off. It will never return to levels that existed before we did the legacy waste removal activity; not even close to it.

Mr. Mulvenon – You made no mention of the costs associated with taking down K-25/K-27. Do you think you have it under control so it doesn’t go higher than what is currently forecast? Mr. Hughes – I don’t think it will go higher. We made a significant shift this last year, which brought out the true condition this building is in, and as a result, the additional work that was having to go into it. I think we have it bounded well and have the right team out there, and assuming we don’t get disrupted with things we can’t control, I think we can bring it down within the budget and schedule we have currently estimated.


Mr. Mulvenon – U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) still has a building inside the ‘U’ of K-25. Is that building causing you problems? Mr. McCracken­ – I don’t think USEC is causing us any problems. That’s not to say we’re not causing USEC some problems from time to time. We have a very old radiation/criticality accident alarm system out there. Every time it rains that thing goes off and everyone, including the personnel at USEC have to evacuate. That’s a significant disruption to them because they’re trying to get their centrifuge up and running. We just worked out a way today to avoid continuing to impact them with these spurious alarms. Mr. Hughes – I agree with Steve. USEC has had no impact on the way we do our work.


After Mr. Hughes completed his presentation, Mr. McCracken talked about activities underway that are not part of BJC’s contract. He also expanded on some comments made by Mr. Hughes.


He noted the safety record for work being done is ‘outstanding.’ He said the average .4 annual lost workdays is well below industry averages. He said there was a celebration on this date at the MSRE for the 1455 days without a recordable or lost workday injury.


Mr. McCracken said the salts remaining in the reactor will be reheated soon so the uranium-233 (U-233) can be removed. He said there will be lessons learned at MSRE that will be applied to future work.


Mr. McCracken talked about the TRU Waste Processing Facility (Attachment 2). He said the mission of the facility is to treat supernate (complete) and treat the contact-handled and remote-handled TRU waste. He noted that 100 cubic meters of remote-handled TRU soils from Tank W-1A at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will not be handled at the Waste Processing Facility as indicated on Attachment 2, page 2.


Mr. McCracken discussed the U-233 Disposition Project at Building 3019 at ORNL. Since being asked by Congress to disposition the U-233 in Building 3019, a critical decision (CD) document 2-3A has been approved, meaning the baseline has been approved as well as procuring equipment to do the work. In the meantime preparations have been made to receive the sodium fluoride traps, which stores U-233, from MSRE

He said a 60 percent design review will be done on Building 3019. The building has been redesigned from being an isotope recovery facility to a U-233 storage and disposition facility. A 90 percent design review will follow.


Regarding the IFDP, Mr. McCracken said the CD 0, which stated the need to do the work, has been approved. That leads to CD 1, which defines the work in detail and gives a cost estimate. The CD 1 is scheduled for completion by Spring 2008.


Mr. McCracken said the Shielded Transfer Tanks in Melton Valley will go through a waste incidental to reprocessing review, which will determine a disposal pathway.


He said decision documents are being developed for soil cleanup at ORNL, scrap yard removal at Y-12, and a feasibility study and proposed plan for Bear Creek Burial Grounds.


After Mr. McCracken’s presentation, a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Mr. Mulvenon – How is the work in Building 3019 being paid for? Mr. McCracken­ – It is a line item in the appropriated funds for that purpose. It is fully funded to meet the baseline for that job.


Mr. Mulvenon – Were there any new projects affected by the continuing resolution? Mr. McCracken – If you mean new starts, under a continuing resolution you are not allowed to have new starts. I don’t think any of the work we’re doing today is considered a new start.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken: Mr. McCracken reported that there is a temporary moratorium on shipping wastes from the TRU Waste Processing Facility. He said as material comes through the facility it is characterized to determine if it is TRU waste. He said much of it turns out to be low-level waste, which is then sent to Nevada Test Site (NTS) for disposal. One drum of material sent to NTS was assayed incorrectly and was TRU waste. A moratorium on shipping to NTS from all sites has been instituted until it can be demonstrated that the problems of characterization have been solved. An audit team from DOE Headquarters and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico (where TRU waste is disposed) was complimentary of the corrective actions and certification program of the TRU Waste Processing Facility. He said the audit team would recommend that the moratorium on Oak Ridge wastes be lifted.


Dave Adler:  Mr. Adler said a response to Recommendation 158 on leachate management at EMWMF is expected soon.


Connie Jones: no comments.


John Owsley: Mr. Owsley said TDEC has received from DOE a proposed Appendix J revision to the Federal Facility Agreement. He said the proposed Appendix J and an extension request for the waste treatment plan milestones for processing TRU wastes are being reviewed.


Mr. Mezga asked if it was true that DOE, EPA, and TDEC were going into formal dispute resolution over the Appendix J proposal. Mr. Owsley said at this point the proposed Appendix J was not acceptable to the state and formal dispute was likely.


Public Comment

Mr. Gibson said he attended a workshop with other SSAB representatives in 2003 on TRU wastes and they toured WIPP in New Mexico. He said other SSAB representatives could point to the wastes in WIPP that had been sent from their sites, but Oak Ridge did not, and still does not, have any TRU wastes disposed in WIPP. He also noted that Oak Ridge has the largest inventory of remote-handled TRU in the DOE complex, but none has been sent from Oak Ridge but Idaho has been able to ship remote-handled TRU before Oak Ridge.


Mr. Gibson suggested the board have some training in the waste certification process to understand how it affects schedules. Mr. McCracken agreed with Mr. Gibson’s suggestion.


Mr. Mulvenon said the end points of characterizations are recommendations to DOE.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, November 14, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be “Low-Level/Mixed Low-Level Waste Disposition Strategy for the Oak Ridge Reservation.”


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


Lacking a quorum to vote on recommendations and bylaws changes, the board was unable to vote on Recommendation 159: Recommendation on the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C Low-Level Radioactive Waste or the proposed bylaws.


Committee Reports

Board Finance – Board Finance Committee minutes for October 1 were distributed at this meeting (Attachment 3). Mr. Dixon reported that the committee completed all items on the October agenda. He said the board finished FY 2007 under budget with a carryover of about $32,000.


The committee discussed expanding its role to serve as the planning body for the annual retreat. The ad-hoc board process activities have also transferred to the Finance Committee. That was recommended to and approved by the Executive Committee. The committee’s name has been changed to Board Finance and Process to indicate its expanded role.


Mr. Dixon said DOE Headquarters has asked for input on the EM budget, which was the result of a recommendation made by the SSAB Chairs. He said the committee will work to gather input from the board on the EM budget and submit to DOE Headquarters.


EM – Mr. Myrick reported that the September presentation was on independent verification of cleanup at ETTP.


The committee approved a recommendation on a notice of intent to conduct an environmental impact statement on the disposal of Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive wastes. The original recommendation asked to have Oak Ridge removed as a possible disposal site. After the meeting some of the EM committee expressed dissatisfaction with the recommendation. The recommendation was revised to indicate some GTCC may be acceptable for disposal in Oak Ridge, but for the most part the geology of the area was not conducive for the majority of GTCC waste. The revised recommendation was to be voted on at this meeting, but a quorum was lacking for consideration.


Mr. Myrick said the next meeting will be combined with the Stewardship Committee on October 16 to hear a presentation on contamination of picket wells in Melton Valley.


Public Outreach – Mr. Westervelt reported that he had been elected vice-chair of the committee and Ms. Teague had been elected chair. Ms. Teague later said she would be unable to serve, so he has stepped into chair’s role.


He said the committee discussed trying to make presentations to governmental agencies and community groups downstream of Oak Ridge that had not been contacted in some time. Efforts will


be made to do presentations in Loudon County. He said the committee hopes to make presentations before more civic groups in the future.


The committee discussed revising the newspaper ad so that it can also be used to publicize the committee members’ availability to address groups about ORSSAB and the EM program. Mr. Mezga reminded the board members that they do not have to be a member of the Public Outreach Committee to present programs to groups.


Mr. Westervelt said the committee is considering participation in the Knoxville public television station WKOP fund raiser. When the date of the fund raiser is confirmed board members will be asked to volunteer to help in the station’s fund raising telethon.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported the committee discussed the development of a long-term stewardship map to be displayed in the DOE Information Center. He said the committee will consider a proposal to verify locations of waste areas that have been remediated in Melton Valley at the October meeting.


Executive – Executive Committee minutes for October 1 were distributed at this meeting (Attachment 4). Mr. Mezga reported briefly on the SSAB Chairs’ meeting in Paducah, Ky. He said Assistant Secretary of Energy James Rispoli gave a presentation on the budgeting process and technical review process to get some projects back on track that have been delayed.


Mr. Mezga said anyone interested in helping to plan the FY 2008 annual retreat should contact Ben Adams, chair of the Board Finance and Process Committee, which is now charged with planning the event.


Mr. Stow reported on the activities of the Oral History Subcommittee. He said a workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 11 to discuss how Oak Ridge oral histories might be consolidated in one location for easy access for researchers and others interested in Oak Ridge history. He expects about 30 people representing different organizations to attend.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said DOE headquarters had supplied proposed revisions to the ORSSAB bylaws (Attachment 5). She said she would supply copies of the revisions to all board members by email. Headquarters revisions will be included in the next monthly board meeting packet.


Ms. Halsey reminded the group that the DOE Information Center is a tobacco-free facility.


She said the D2 version of the Oak Ridge DOE Public Involvement Plan will be sent to the regulators for final approval. When the D2 is approved the public will be notified that it is available for use.

Additions to the Agenda





Mr. Olson moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Lundy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



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


The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.

Action Items

  1. Mr. Hughes will determine the amount of Oak Ridge waste to be burned in the TSCA

Incinerator in FY 2008.

  1. Ms. Halsey will send DOE proposed bylaws revisions by email to board members.
  2. Staff will include DOE proposed bylaws revisions in the November meeting packet.



Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.