Many Voices Working for the Community
Summary of the Annual Planning Retreat
Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board
Saturday, August 9, 2008, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Whitestone Country Inn
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) met for its annual planning retreat Saturday, August 9, 2008 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Whitestone Country Inn near Kingston, Tenn.
In attendance were:
Dave Adler, Liaison,
Department of Energy-Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)
Becky Brunton, facilitator, Spectrum
Claire Campbell (morning session)
Steve Dixon, Vice-chair
Spencer Gross, staff, Spectrum
Pat Halsey, DOE Federal Coordinator
Connie Jones, Liaison,
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Ted Lundy, Secretary
Lance Mezga, chair
Pete Osborne, staff, Spectrum
John Owsley, Liaison,
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Ms. Brunton explained the ground rules of the retreat and also encouraged active participation. She introduced Mr. Myrick who conducted the opening activity for the day.
Mr. Myrick on several occasions has made presentations to Oak Ridge High School science classes about the public participation and the role of ORSSAB in cleanup decisions on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
His activity was an abbreviated version of the presentation he makes at the high school, discussing the public involvement in the remediation decision for the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek in the early 1990s, which was contaminated by mercury releases from the Y-12 National Security Complex. He said this decision help prompt the need to establish ORSSAB in 1995.
In his high school presentations, Mr. Myrick gives the background of the problem and offers the same remediation alternatives that were provided during the original discussions. Just as he does in high school presentations he asked participants at each table to decide the best solution to the problem.
After 10 minutes of deliberation each table reported its decision. Mr. Myrick then reported what the actual decision was, which was a combination of all three of the alternatives.
He said the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek decision was a model of how a Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) decision should be made, a cooperative effort among DOE, EPA, TDEC, and the public. The exercise was to show how the board is a key player in cleanup decisions acting as a voice for the public.
The Role of the Board and How It Can Be More Effective
Mr. Adler said the board should not hesitate to ask for information and it should discuss topics thoroughly and be comfortable with the recommendations it makes.
He said the board should question DOE, EPA, and TDEC about any differences they may have, that it would be helpful for the board to understand the various viewpoints.
He suggested that for FY 2009 the board should perhaps focus on larger issues, such as historic preservation of facilities, rather than generate several recommendations that may cover some of the same issues.
Roles of the Federal Coordinator, the Deputy Designated Federal Officer, and the Agency and Committee Liaisons
Federal Coordinator – Ms. Halsey said it is her job to supply all the resources necessary for the board and its committees to do its work. When a presentation topic is indentified by the board or committees she is the initial contact to get in touch with the proper presenter.
Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO) – Ms. Halsey said the DDFO, Steve McCracken, the DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management, is responsible for attending all ORSSAB meetings as spelled out in the Federal Advisory Committee Act charter that establishes ORSSAB. If he cannot attend his designate, Mr. Adler, must be in attendance. If neither can attend the meeting should not be held. The DDFO also reviews and approves the board’s annual work plan.
TDEC Liaison – Mr. Owsley said his role is to provide the state of Tennessee’s perspective on cleanup issues. His office is responsible for oversight of DOE cleanup operations. He said DOE is subject to all environmental regulations except radiological regulations, where DOE is self-regulatory. TDEC also has environmental oversight responsibility for the Oak Ridge Office of Science and the Oak Ridge National Nuclear Security Administration.
Mr. Owsley said he also has a role in emergency response.
He said CERCLA was set up to deal with past problems. He said the public must understand risk and the controls to manage risk. TDEC looks to the public and the board to help decide how much risk is acceptable in cleanup decisions.
EPA – Ms. C. Jones said her role also was to provide EPA’s perspective on cleanup issues. She said EPA is the agency that has CERCLA responsibility and to make sure the provisions of the act are followed. She said the Federal Facility Agreement for the Oak Ridge Reservation among DOE, EPA, and TDEC ensures provisions of CERCLA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act are implemented.
She said the public must stay engaged with what’s happening in the community, because public acceptance of remediation is necessary.
Results of Member Survey
Prior to the retreat Ms. Brunton surveyed members of the board to obtain their perspectives about how the board functions. The main points of the results of the survey are included in Attachment 1.
She said in general members were satisfied with the workings of the board. However, most members felt the public did not recognize the board sufficiently. She said the question is “is it important whether the public recognizes the board and if so what strategy is needed to obtain public recognition?”
She asked the participants to discuss at their tables the importance of board recognition by the public and that the public knows what the board does and how to address the issue if it is important.
The participants discussed the topic for about 15 minutes and came up a list of ideas to increase public perception.
The following ideas (or problems) were presented (in no order):
· Media day – invite local media where the workings of the board could be explained
· Do more in the community
· Send recommendations passed by the board to the media
· No consistent airing of meetings broadcast on cable
· Lack of understanding of terms
· Provide clear information on the board’s mission and its independence
· Member selection is the important aspect of representing the public
· Have Mr. Myrick provide more class presentations
· Bring a friend to a meeting
· Expand Public Outreach Committee
· Seize opportunities to explain ORSSAB
· Re-evaluate the public stakeholder survey
· A person does not have to be a board member to participate on the committees
· Personal invitation to media representatives to attend meetings
· Change name (i.e., from Site Specific Advisory Board to Citizens Advisory Board)
· Invite applicants to the board who were not seated to attend committee meetings
· Move public comment period earlier in the board meeting
· Send public service announcements about the board to broadcast media
· Loss of media visibility
· Legacy issues critical
· Rotate meeting locations
· News Sentinel support
· Is staff support being maximized?
· DOE should share in the promotion of the board
After public awareness ideas were presented, Ms. Brunton continued her review of the member survey. The survey indicated that not all members agreed with the survey statements that roles and responsibilities were clearly defined, that board members held each other accountable, that each member was fully committed to the board’s work, and viewpoints of all members were equally valued.
She reminded the group of last year’s retreat analogy of how each member acquires skills similar to those acquired by people who practice martial arts, where the novice wears a white belt and as skills and knowledge are gained different belt colors are awarded.
She reviewed the skills necessary for each member to wear a different colored ‘belt’ (Attachment 1, pages 12-18). She asked each member to self-evaluate themselves as to their skill levels and pick colored lapel pins that match their levels.
Ms. Brunton then briefly reviewed the roles of issue managers and touched on points to help facilitate the successful work of the board (Attachment 1, pages 21-24).
Review of FY 2008 Committee Accomplishments
The afternoon session of the retreat began with a review of committee accomplishments during FY 2008.
Those accomplishments are noted in Attachment 2.
Key Issues to Guide Work for FY 2009
This portion of the retreat identified issues provided by the public through the Stakeholder Survey, by DOE, EPA, and TDEC, and board members that should be considered by the board and its committees in FY 2009.
Mr. Osborne began the discussion by reviewing the results of the Stakeholder Survey (Attachment 3). Issues of concern by the respondents are noted on pages 4-7 of Attachment 3.
Mr. Adler, Ms. C. Jones, and Mr. Owsley then reviewed their lists of topics they proposed the board should consider in FY 2009. All of those issues are noted in Attachment 4. Mr. Owsley provided a more detailed explanation of TDEC’s suggestions in Attachment 5.
After DOE, EPA, and TDEC reviewed their suggested topics for the board to consider in FY 2009 the group made committee assignment for each issue. Those assignments are noted in Attachment 6.
Ms. Brunton then reviewed some issues identified by board members (Attachment 7).
While not considered work plan issues, the group identified some other items to consider for FY 2009:
· Use a white board in the DOE Information Center during meetings to explain and visualize concepts.
· Add portions of the July 2008 risk training workshop in the Stewardship Education Resource Kit.
· Use technical assistance in considering the Bear Creek Valley remedial investigation/feasibility study (also suggested by DOE in its proposed topics for FY 2009).
Ms. Brunton asked new members if they knew on which committees they would like to serve for FY 2009. Ms. Jones and Ms. Owen said they would serve on the Environmental Management and the Board Finance & Process Committees. Mr. Juarez said he would serve on the Board Finance & Process and Public Outreach Committees. Ms. Clower was undecided.
The balance of the participants did not indicate any change in committee membership.
Ms. Halsey said the issues identified by DOE, EPA, and TDEC will be taken before the proper committees at their August meetings. Issues identified in the member survey and Stakeholder Survey will also be available for reference in developing committee work plans. The committee will assign topics and issue managers to their work plans including time frames for consideration. The committee work plans will be forwarded to the Executive Committee for review. The Executive Committee could send the work plans back to the committees for additional work. The goal is to provide a board work plan, which is composed of all the committee work plans, to Steve McCracken, the DDFO, who will approve the board work plan.
Mr. Mezga said in addition to developing work plans at their August meetings the committee will elect chairs and vice-chairs for FY 2009.
Mr. Mezga and Ms. Halsey thanked everyone for attending and participating. The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m.
(Attachments available through the ORSSAB Staff Support Office)