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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 14, 2007 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 14, 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

Rhonda Bogard

Darryl Bonner

David Branch

John Coffman

Steve Dixon - Vice chair

Hubert Gibson1

Ted Lundy - Secretary

David Martin

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga - Chair

Ron Murphree

 Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent

Ben Adams2

Ashlyn Hall1

Mike Haygood

Charles Jensen2

Jan Teague


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

Becky Brunton, Spectrum

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee

Luther Gibson

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

John Kennerly

Norman Mulvenon

Pete Osborne, Spectrum

Kerry Trammell


Four members of the public, other than those listed above, were present.



K-25 Building Historic Preservation

Mr. McCracken’s presentation was on discussions that have been taking place over several years related to preservation of at least part of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) for historical purposes. The highlights of his presentation are in Attachment 1.


Mr. McCracken said in March 2005, DOE agreed through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among a number of interested parties, to preserve the north tower of the K-25 building, clean it out, and install a new roof. He said that would be the DOE EM contribution to the site for historical preservation. He said EM would evaluate the feasibility of retaining the operations floor and equipment. The east and west vault walls would be retained and used for murals depicting the history of the site. The site would also have markers to indicate the footprint of the east and west legs of the building after that portion of the building had been demolished. DOE also agreed to retain one each of the four sizes of compressors and converters, and, in particular, retain the so-called Roosevelt Cell. DOE would also retain selected artifacts from the building and conduct a series of oral histories.


Mr. McCracken said the Partnership for K-25 Preservation then developed several conceptual models of how the site would look. It included a recreation of at least one process unit in the building along with a museum that would interpret other activities that took place at the K-25 site.


As years went by problems arose about preserving the building as planned.  As part of the demolition process some parts of the building are being shored up to keep areas from collapsing before the work is done. Roof deterioration is another problem, which allows water to leak in and cause additional damage. The floors, support columns, and corbels are in poor condition. Mr. McCracken said the operating floor in the north tower cannot remain in place because it is unsafe.


Mr. McCracken said the building was built to wartime standards and the design is not compliant with current codes. The columns and vault walls are not anchored, the support steel is not seismically qualified, fire protection is inadequate for public use, and the electrical systems are old.


He said what had originally been planned for in the MOA is no longer very feasible. Costs to do the work have increased, but more importantly, safety issues are the greatest concern. Mr. McCracken said the question now is how to meet the commitments of the MOA under the current circumstances.


Mr. McCracken said it is his job to seek the advice of a cross section of the community to get ideas about what to do with the north tower and still preserve some historical significance. He said it DOE’s responsibility to make a recommendation within the next few month to the signatories of the MOA. He asked that the ORSSAB consider the issue and formulate advice that he could use in developing his own recommendation to the signatories of the MOA.


Mr. Mezga asked if he had a cost estimate to do what was planned in the MOA. Mr. McCracken said he had a detailed estimate of what the current costs are to do the work and what it would cost to take the building down.


Mr. Bonner noted that Mr. Stow, who is the ORSSAB representative as a consulting party to the signatories of the MOA, will provide a briefing to the Stewardship Committee on November 20 about the topic. Mr. McCracken said he would provide the cost information to the Stewardship Committee when it met on November 20.

Mr. Olson asked what happens after DOE makes its recommendation. Mr. McCracken said the consulting parties would decide what to do.


Mr. Olson noted that if the process to make a decision is prolonged the building could fall down before a decision was made. Mr. McCracken said DOE would not allow that to happen; that it would do whatever is needed to keep the building standing, although it may not be in a condition that would allow it to be used safely.


Mr. H. Gibson said it was important to do something to preserve the significance of what was done at K-25. Mr. McCracken said something would be done; it was just a matter of deciding what it would be.


Mr. Owsley noted that DOE is responsible for meeting Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requirements for cleanup as well as National Historic Preservation requirements. If the building is left in place it must meet CERCLA requirements for safety. He said, however, the TDEC has made it clear that cleanup dollars will not be taken from other projects and used for historic preservation purposes at K-25. If additional money is needed to implement historic preservation at K-25 that money would have to come from some source other than DOE EM.


Mr. Mezga asked if K-25 is on the National Historic Register. Mr. McCracken said it was and that a number of facilities at K-25, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory were on the national register. He said there is a difference between being on the national register and being a signature facility, but he was not familiar with the difference.


Mr. Mezga asked what the reaction was of MOA signatories and consulting parties about the condition of the building. Mr. McCracken said he felt they understood the problems and that some decision has to be made, but there was no consensus about what to do. His hope is to get enough input from the community to make a decision that will be acceptable.


Mr. Westervelt asked if work has to be implemented within a schedule after a decision is made. Mr. McCracken said that was true, but he did not specify the timeline. He said some work has been avoided until a decision is made. For instance, he said nothing has been done to preserve the Roosevelt Cell because it is heavily contaminated. The option is to look for a similar cell as a substitute that is not so contaminated.


Mr. Trammell asked what the square footage is of the north tower. McCracken said about 200,000 square feet. Not all of the building would be used as a museum. He said a museum would be built within the confines of the north tower.


Mr. Trammell asked if there is any potential of reindustrialization of other parts of the building. Mr. McCracken said he would have to talk to Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee about that.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken: Mr. McCracken said the shipment ban on waste to Nevada Test Site has been resolved. A recommendation has been made to resume shipments from the TRU (transuranic) Waste Processing Facility to Nevada.


At the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment work began last week to remove fuel from Tank 2. That was completed on November 13. He said work will begin after the Thanksgiving holidays to remove fuel from Tank 1.

Mr. Mulvenon asked if once the fuel is removed from the tanks, if work will be suspended before removing the remaining salts. Mr. McCracken said with the removal of the fuel from the tanks resolves issues associated with criticality and off-gas. The remaining salt is very radioactive and the plan was to remove and store the salt until a disposition path is found. The first attempt failed to remove salt while still in a molten state from Tank 1. Mr. McCracken said DOE should reconsider the technologies available to remove the salt and be more aggressive about finding a final disposal path.


Mr. Owsley noted that a record of decision is in place to have the salt removed from the tanks. A milestone for that removal has been missed. He said while DOE has a proposal to change the schedule, it is not the state’s position to change the schedule. Mr. McCracken countered saying DOE is not proposing to change the record of decision to remove the salt.


Mr. Mulvenon said he had read that the cleanup contract with Bechtel Jacobs, Co., has been extended. He felt there should be more oversight of the contract by DOE and should not be an open-ended contract. Mr. McCracken said the contract was not being extended. He agreed that it was open-ended meaning that it is a completion contract and not a scheduled contract. DOE has suggested that a scheduled end date with a scope of work be included in the contract. Priority would be given to high risk cleanup both at ETTP and at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Lab.


Mr. Dixon asked if there were national priority standards that DOE should be following. Mr. McCracken said as a Superfund site the entire Oak Ridge Reservation is on the National Priorities List. Those elements that resulted in being placed on the list must be addressed. He said the sequence in which the work is done is what is being discussed.


Mr. Mezga asked if the Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) had milestones spelling out the sequence of work on the reservation. Mr. McCracken said the FFA has three-year rolling milestones and some have been missed, most of which are the result of lack of funding. DOE and TDEC are in discussions to reset those missed milestones.


McCracken said Bechtel Jacobs president and general manager Mike Hughes will be leaving his position in Oak Ridge. He will be replaced by Paul Divjak.


Dave Adler:  No comments


Connie Jones: No comments


John Owsley: Mr. Owsley commented on Mr. McCracken’s remarks about FFA milestones above. He said TDEC and EPA did dispute DOE’s FY 2009 milestones. He said they required more work to be done in FY 2009 than DOE proposed. DOE accepted the additional milestones with the understanding that there would be good faith negotiations to address missed milestones in FY 2007, as well as disagreements in the FY 2008 and FY 2009 milestones. Those negotiations thus far have been unsuccessful.


Mr. Owsley said DOE proposed additional milestones for FY 2010, but they were considered insufficient by TDEC and EPA. He said they are preparing to issue a statement of dispute on the proposal. To date there are no enforceable milestones in Appendix E of the FFA for FY 2010 nor is there any agreement on sequencing of work in Appendix J of the FFA for the remainder of work to be done on the reservation.


Mr. Owsley said TDEC is also in dispute with DOE on the treatment of TRU waste. DOE requested an extension for the processing of contact-handled TRU. TDEC denied the extension and DOE is disputing the denial. He said the state is prepared to provide additional time, but not as much time as DOE has requested. He also said the state expects DOE to ask for more Congressional funding than DOE is willing to request.


Mr. Owsley said DOE has requested a time critical removal action for the removal of chromium from Mitchell Branch. The state considers that a water pollution control permitting issue. The TDEC Water Pollution Control Division is the lead agency and TDEC is not certain that a time critical removal action is the proper response. TDEC has not yet responded to DOE’s request.


Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon said he did not understand how the funding of work at ETTP has ‘gone the way it has.’ He said he was expecting to see work begin on remediation of the ponds at ETTP and learned that work was not going to start as planned. He objected that money for work in Zones 1 and 2 and other projects is being redirected to K-25 decontamination and demolition.  Mr. McCracken said money has not been redirected. He said there is not enough budget money available to do all the work so use of available funding is a matter of priorities and the K-25 project has the highest priority at this time.


Mr. Gibson reminded the board of the upcoming PermaFix Conference in December held in Nashville.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, December 12, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be the “Status of K-25/K-27 Decontamination and Decommissioning and the “Status of Appendix E & J Milestones for the East Tennessee Technology Park and Other Projects.”


The minutes of the October 10, 2007 meeting were approved.


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 was approved (Attachment 2).


Recommendation 160: Recommendation on Independent Verification of Locations of Waste Sites in Melton Valley was approved (Attachment 3).


The proposed bylaws were approved (Attachment 4).


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – The committee reviewed the FY 2007 and 2008 costs tables. The 2007 costs were about $346,000 leaving a $4,000 surplus. With a carryover from FY 2006 the board has about $36,000 remaining.


Mr. Dixon said the committee expanded its mission statement to include board process activities and changed its name to Board Finance and Process. He said the work plan has three parts including board finance, retreat planning, and EM budget and prioritization activities. He said the budget prioritization will be based on a model used at the Hanford site.


Mr. Dixon asked Ms. Brunton to brief the board on a follow-up survey she did on the annual retreat.


She said topics have been identified that have been taken to the Executive Committee for consideration. Some of those items have already been implemented, for instance, distributing the Public Involvement News to all board members.


She said for the most part participants felt the retreat went well except for the retreat site. Respondents would like to have a more comfortable, relaxed setting for the next retreat. Most participants recommended that the EPA and TDEC liaisons to the board attend the retreat. Participants felt the exercise identifying skill levels for participation was helpful. Other suggestions included having more breakout sessions with smaller groups to allow for more personal interaction with members; review the roles of DOE, EPA, and TDEC in relating to the board; and breakout sessions for planning activities for the coming year.


Mr. Mezga asked if there was a suggestion for a two-day retreat. Ms. Brunton said one person suggested that. A quick straw poll was taken of membership at this meeting and more than half were opposed to a two-day retreat.


Ms. Halsey suggested that a site for the 2008 meeting should be chosen quickly and asked for any suggestions to be sent to the Board Finance and Process Committee.


EM – EM had a combined meeting with Stewardship in October to hear a presentation on contamination detected in picket wells in Melton Valley. Neither committee took action on the presentation but determined to monitor the situation and revisit in 2008.


The committee also heard an update on the remedial investigation/feasibility study for ETTP. The committee will engage ARCADIS to do another review of the remedial investigation/feasibility study D3 version.


The committee cancelled its November meeting.


Public Outreach – Mr. Westervelt said the committee discussed doing presentations before a wider audience beyond governmental agencies. A presentation to the Clinton Rotary Club has been scheduled for December 4. The committee is pursuing a presentation to the Roane County High School. Mr. Bass and Ms. Sarten are working on a presentation to the Loudon County School Board.


Mr. Westervelt said staff has prepared a draft of the FY 2007 annual report for the committee to review. The plan is to deliver the annual report by the end of November.


Mr. Mezga asked if the presentation made to groups could be posted on the ORSSAB website or made available for members to review. Staff took an action to post the presentation.


Mr. Bass said presenters should remind audiences that they can participate on committees without having to be members of the board.


Stewardship – As noted above, the committee had a joint meeting with EM on contamination of picket wells in Melton Valley.


In its regular business session the committee approved a draft recommendation to ask DOE to have an independent verification performed to confirm waste site locations in Melton Valley (approved at this meeting).


The November meeting will include more discussion on historic preservation at the K-25 site. Also on the agenda is a status update of filing of property record notices on remediated parcels in Melton Valley with the Anderson and Roane County registrars of deeds.


Stewardship and EM will have a joint meeting in January on the 2007 Remediation Effectiveness Report.


Mr. Olson commented on the presentation at the joint EM/Stewardship meeting on contamination in picket wells saying that three members of public attended the meeting to learn if their drinking water was safe. He felt like they went away frightened because of the conflicting information they heard from DOE and TDEC representatives at the meeting. Mr. Olson thought it was an opportunity for more public outreach from either the board, DOE, or TDEC to try to inform the public about issues such as possible contamination in drinking water.


That led to a protracted discussion about DOE and TDEC getting together prior to such meetings and trying to agree on what will be said so as not to confuse or alarm members of the public. Mr. McCracken said if there wasn’t an effort by DOE and TDEC to agree on subject matter that affects the public’s health then open any presentation should be done very carefully.


Mr. Owsley noted that TDEC has sampled property owners’ wells for contamination and provided the results to them. Mr. Olson said such information must be put in perspective so the owners understand the meaning of the results.


Ms. Sarten said she knew one of the three members of the public who attended the meeting, and she offered to talk to him about his reaction to the presentation. Mr. Mezga recommended that Mr. Owsley’s comments on well sampling should be communicated by the Environmental Management and Stewardship committees, and he asked that the committees consider making a joint recommendation on the well sampling topic.


Executive – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee developed the agenda for this board meeting, and approved travel requests for Mr. Coffman and Ms. Sarten to attend the Waste Management Symposium in February. The committee also approved training for staff and closed four outstanding action items. He referred members to the minutes of the meeting for details.


Mr. Stow reported that the Oral History Subcommittee held a workshop on possibly developing a comprehensive oral history program for Oak Ridge. He emphasized that ORSSAB is not looking to run an oral history program, but is simply acting as a facilitator to start a program. The next step is to meet with a DOE-ORO representative to get cooperation on the project. An advisory committee is being formed to take on the responsibility of going forward with developing an oral history program. The committee will consist of 10 local organizations and two individuals interested in Oak Ridge history.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported on the status of two outstanding recommendations. Regarding Recommendation 152 on the Notice of Contamination and Future Use Limitations in Melton Valley, Ms. Halsey said DOE had agreed to use the format of the notice that the board had recommended. She said Ralph Skinner has delivered the notice to the DOE-ORO Public Affairs Office. The notice will be presented at the November 20 Stewardship Committee meeting for review. When the notice is reviewed and approved, DOE will send another response closing out the recommendation.


Regarding Recommendation 158 on the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility

Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD) for Leachate Management, Ms. Halsey said another meeting is scheduled with EPA the first of December to work out wording on the ESD. She said DOE will respond to the recommendation after the meeting.


Mr. Mezga asked Ms. Halsey to report to the board on the outcome of the meeting.


Mr. Mezga asked about the status of Recommendation 154 for DOE to provide stewardship at ongoing mission sites. Ms. Halsey said she would check on the status of that recommendation with Melissa Nielson at DOE Headquarters.


Mr. Mezga asked if anything had been reported by DOE Assistant Secretary for EM regarding stewardship at sites where EM has completed work and has turned the site back to its host. Ms. Halsey said she had not seen anything but would ask Ms. Nielson.


Ms. Halsey said the DOE Public Involvement Plan had been approved. A public notice has been prepared to inform the public of the document.


Additions to the Agenda





Mr. Lundy moved to approve the minutes of the October 11, 2007 meeting. Mr. Bonner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Myrick moved to approve the Recommendation 159 on the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C Low-Level Radioactive Waste. Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Olson moved to approve the revised bylaws. Mr. Dixon seconded. The motion passed 15 for, none against, one abstention (Ms. Bogard abstaining).


The meeting adjourned at 8: 40 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Hughes will determine the amount of Oak Ridge waste to be burned in the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator in FY 2008. Complete. Mr. Hughes provided the following breakdown on October 18, 2007:

Out-of-State   6,594,558 pounds 72%    
Oak Ridge - BWXT  58,932 pounds 1%     
Oak Ridge - EM - CERCLA 201,434 pounds 2%     
Oak Ridge - EM  2,274,810 pounds 25%    
Total Pounds    9,129,734   

Mr. Hughes’ email was forwarded to Board membership on October 19, 2007.            

  1. Ms. Halsey will send DOE proposed bylaws revisions by email to board members. Complete.
  2. Staff will include DOE proposed bylaws revisions in the November meeting packet. Complete.
  3. Mr. McCracken will supply costs for taking down the north end of K-25 prior to the November 20 Stewardship Committee meeting. Complete 11/20/07
  4. Staff will send the ORSSAB outreach presentation to members. Complete 11/15/07



  1. Ms. Halsey will report to the board the outcome of the meeting in December with EPA related to Recommendation 158 on the ESD for Leachate Management at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility.
  2. Ms. Halsey will check on the status of Recommendation 154 with Melissa Nielson at DOE Headquarters.
  3. Ms. Halsey with check with DOE headquarters on any stewardship work being done at sites where cleanup has been completed.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.



Attachments (4) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.