Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved June 11, 2008 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 11, 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.
Steve Dixon - Vice chair
Ted Lundy – Secretary
Lance Mezga - Chair
Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present
Dave Adler, Liaison, Department of Energy-Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)
Pat Halsey, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO
Connie Jones, Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) Region 4
Steve McCracken, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for
Environmental Management (EM)
Becky Brunton, Spectrum
Spencer Gross, Spectrum
John Michael Japp, DOE-ORO
Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee
Roger Nelson, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, New Mexico
Pete Osborne, Spectrum
Dale Rector, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Fifteen members of the public were present.
Update on CERCLA Waste Cell and Landfills on the Oak Ridge Reservation
Mr. Japp provided an update on the status of the on-site waste disposal cell in Bear Creek Valley commonly known as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF). The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 1.
Four waste individual cells have been built at EMWMF. Cells 1 and 2 were completed in 2002. Cells 3 and 4 were finished in 2005. The capacity for the four cells is 1.15 million cubic yards of waste. The record of decision (ROD) that established the waste cells allows build-out to up to 1.7 million cubic yards.
Mr. Japp noted the current status of EMWMF through May 2008 (Attachment 1, page 3). He also explained the current EM baseline for disposal volumes and the timetable (Attachment 1, page 4). He said that the blue color on the graph represents waste disposed. To date about 500,000 cubic yards of waste material has been placed in EMWMF. The graph shows the amount of waste predicted to be disposed through FY 2017. The tan color on the graph indicates clean fill on top of the waste. Clean fill is material brought in from construction/demolition projects from other sites. Clean fill is used to fill in void space around the disposed waste.
Mr. Japp said the orange line called UCL-95 indicates a 95 percent confidence level of the total volume in EMWMF. It represents how much of a variance there may be in predicting the amount of waste going into the facility.
The graph shows a significant ramp-up of disposals in the next two years from about 500,000 cubic yards after six years of operation to almost 1 million cubic yards by FY 2010. That increase is due to the amount of waste that will be coming from the demolition of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).
The graph has a dark line just above the 1.15 million cubic yard capacity for the four existing waste cells. EMWMF will have to be expanded to handle additional waste from the ETTP cleanup as well as waste generated from the Integrated Facility Disposition Project (IFDP) if it is approved. The green on the graph on page 5 of Attachment 1 shows how much additional waste is forecast to be generated from IFDP.
Mr. Japp discussed the build-out strategy to address all of the waste from ETTP and the IFDP (Attachment 1, page 6). He pointed out that the EMWMF site foot-print may allow additional space to handle all of the waste from ETTP cleanup and IFDP.
Mr. Japp showed a picture that indicates the boundaries for cell 5 that would bring EMWMF to the 1.7 million cubic yard capacity allowed by the ROD (Attachment 1, page 7). It also showed a boundary for expansion to 2.3 million cubic yards. If that area were used it would create a slight re-routing of the haul road used to transport waste from ETTP to EMWMF. He said the current design plans to build cell 5 would preclude further expansion. A dialogue needs to begin now with the regulators and stakeholders to discuss how to expand EMWMF to 2.3 million cubic yards (Attachment 1, page 8). Efforts are underway now to evaluate cost and schedule to modify the current design to allow options for expansion to 2.3 million cubic yards.
After Mr. Japp’s presentation there were a number of questions. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Myrick – With the submittal of the IFDP proposal, which is heavily dependent on the EMWMF being available, you didn’t talk about the need beyond the 2.3 million cubic yards. If you look at your numbers for IFDP it’s almost the same as for the existing landfill, right? Mr. Japp – If I were to add 500,000 to 600,000 to the existing cell, based on the numbers I have seen, what I could take at this site is about 20 percent of the total of IFDP volume. Mr. Myrick – Part of the discussion of the IFDP project is if you look at the siting of this disposal facility it wasn’t the only site considered. There were other areas in Bear Creek Valley that might make sense or other areas on the reservation. What do you have to say about those other potentials sites related to IFDP? Mr. Adler – There were some other sites considered. Actually the current site was not geotechnically the best. But it is in an area that was already dedicated to waste management and the decision was made, all factors considered, that it is where the cell should have been built. Adding on to this site would be much less difficult and not require all the documentation needed to build at another site. The 2.3 million cubic yards we’re talking about coming out of IFDP is not all material that would need to go into a facility of this type. I would speculate that about half would go to the Chestnut Ridge landfill next to Y-12. Mr. Japp- My purpose tonight was to bring you up to date on the status of EMWMF and to start the conversation about a final build out. There are some compelling reasons to consider going beyond the 1.7 million cubic feet even if leaving IFDP aside. My capacity assurance at the 95 confidence levels tells me I’m over 1.7 million cubic feet, the ROD amount. From my perspective, prudence would dictate we consider enlarging the cell.
Mr. Murphree – If you do expand, what are the steps? Is it simply a modification of the existing ROD? Mr. Japp – Yes. We would build off of the current ROD. There a couple of ways to change the substance of it. One would be an explanation of significant difference (ESD). The other would be a ROD amendment. The ROD amendment is a little lengthier process. Mr. Murphree- What is the status of the leachate management ESD (see ORSSAB Recommendation 158)? Mr. Japp- We have a core team meeting scheduled next week to talk about that. DOE has made a proposal that we believe is sound. What we’re trying to do is somewhat unusual. So trying to reach a consensus has been a lengthy process. Mr. Murphree – Would you use the same characterization protocol for IFDP waste as what you’re currently using? Mr. Japp – The basic process of determining which wastes are acceptable to go to EMWMF would remain the same. There would have be a waste acceptance criteria process to determine if the waste qualifies to go in EMWMF. Some of those wastes could be clean enough to go Chestnut Ridge. Mr. Murphree – Who is the operator of the landfill? Mr. Japp – First it was Envirocare, but it was bought out and became Energy Solutions. As of last fall Bechtel Jacobs, Co., took over self-performance of operating the cell.
Mr. Stow – If you use this site for IFDP, would it include wastes from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)? Mr. Japp – A component of the IFDP project would be those additional facilities and soils from ORNL. Mr. Stow – Would existing roads be used to haul that waste or would additional roads have to be built? Mr. McCracken – The plan would be to improve a road we already have that goes across the ridge from ORNL to Y-12 and use that. It needs some improvements because it’s steep on one side.
Mr. Bonner – Will it be possible to include all of the ETTP waste and the IFDP Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation and Liability Act-derived (CERCLA) waste in the cell? Mr. Japp- (referencing the chart on page 5 of Attachment 1) The blue and tan colored areas roughly correspond to the existing EM baseline leaving aside IFDP. IFDP gets a little confused because it includes some of the waste in our existing baseline for outyears, so there is some overlap. But in general the cell is now appearing to be slightly undersized for our existing cleanup list. If IFDP were to generate another 2 to 3 million cubic yards of waste, I’ve only got room for 500,000 in the cell. So would there be enough to accommodate CERCLA-derived waste from IFDP, the answer would be no. Mr. Bonner – Has the funding for long-term stewardship for the cell been adjusted for the additional build-out? Mr. Japp – The current capacity is covered under the existing agreement. That was a $14 million trust fund that we’re paying in $1 million a year. We’re at year nine in that agreement. Mr. McCracken – That agreement was based on how much would be needed for long-term care of the cell, not whether is was 1.7 million cubic feet or 2.3 million cubic feet. The agreement was not related so much to size of the cell but what would be needed to care for it long term. Mr. Bonner- If the cell was increased to 1.7 million, would that require a modification of the haul road? Mr. Japp – No. That would only happen if it were increased to 2.3 million, but it would be only a short stretch that would be redirected to the south a little (see Attachment 1, page 7). Mr. Bonner – I haven’t heard any estimates for what this would cost. Mr. Japp – If we built out to 1.7 million that would be in the neighborhood of $25 million. That would be executed in FY 2009-10. What we’re trying to decide is if we should deviate from that and build a cell 5 that would allow us to build cell 6 several years later. If you are looking at construction efficiencies you would prefer to
build cells 5 and 6 at the same time. That would probably cost in the vicinity of $45 million. That’s what we’re trying figure out and build consensus among stakeholders along the way.
Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments
Steve McCracken – Treatment of remote-handled transuranic (RH TRU) waste has begun at the TRU Waste Processing Center. Enough drums have been processed to allow the certification process to proceed for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.
Mr. Bonner noted that there were certain land notifications and deed restrictions that needed to be submitted to the county land offices related the Melton Valley closure. He said those notifications had not been submitted within the proper timeframe. He asked Mr. McCracken to comment. Mr. McCracken said he did not know the status but would check into it.
Mr. Dixon asked Mr. McCracken to comment on the status of a dispute between EPA and TDEC and DOE concerning milestones in the Federal Facility Agreement. Mr. McCracken said he, John Owsley with TDEC, and Chuck Head and Franklin Hill with EPA had come to agreement on all milestones for FY 2008-10 except four. The milestones were related to documentation to begin work and actually start work on the Alpha 4 Building and the Bear Creek Burial Grounds at Y-12 National Security Complex. Mr. McCracken said he was not authorized to agree to those milestones because budget was not available to address the work. He said TDEC and EPA’s contention was the work should drive the budget and not the budget driving the work. He said those milestones were sent to the next level of discussion, which includes Gerald Boyd, the manager of DOE-ORO, Jim Palmer, the regional administrator for EPA, and Paul Sloan for TDEC. They met about a month ago and EPA is to provide some suggestions on settling the dispute. When that information is provided the three will meet again in an attempt to settle the dispute.
Mr. Myrick asked Mr. McCracken to respond to reports that the DOE inspector general believes the uranium-233 stored in Building 3019 at ORNL should be processed to extract thorium for medial purposes rather than be disposed. Mr. McCracken said he is to respond to the inspector general’s report. Up until about a year ago it was the job of DOE’s Nuclear Energy program to extract thorium from the uranium, but Congress directed EM to take over the program and dispose the uranium. Mr. McCracken said unless Congress redirects the disposal mandate, DOE is required follow Congress’ direction. He said currently DOE-ORO is proceeding with the design and procurement of equipment that would preclude thorium extraction. Mr. McCracken said to change direction again would be somewhat expensive.
Dave Adler – No comments
Connie Jones – No comments.
Mr. Myrick asked if EPA had any input in the WIPP proposal discussed by Mr. Nelson (see Additions to Agenda below). Ms. Jones said she didn’t believe it did because it was not a CERCLA issue but related to TRU waste, which EPA does not address. EPA would be involved in the characterization of waste that would not go to WIPP but would remain in Oak Ridge.
Dale Rector – Concerning the expansion of the EMWMF, Mr. Rector felt whichever method, either an ESD or a ROD amendment, that afforded the most public participation would be preferred by TDEC. He said TDEC does not want to cross any more streams in expanding EMWMF. He said the early design of the waste cell to expand to 2.3 million cubic yards needed additional consideration because of some groundwater issues. TDEC wants DOE to maximize the sorting and segregating of clean waste from radioactive waste from IFDP to go in the cell. Clean waste should not be mixed with radioactive waste for convenience, but should be disposed at the Y-12 Chestnut Ridge Landfills. Mr. Rector said there are also some commercial facilities as well as the Nevada Test Site
that should be considered to offset the potential need for additional capacity at EMWMF for radioactive waste.
Regarding the long-term stewardship of the site, Mr. Rector said the configuration of the new cell and the increased time the landfill would remain open before closure should be considered as well as the volume increase for adjustment of the perpetual care fund. Mr. Rector said all of his comments are things for the board to help clarify in the dialogue on the expansion of the waste cell. This whole idea has not been officially proposed to the Federal Facility Agreement parties and the input of the board to DOE is greatly valued by the state. If an entirely new facility was constructed on the other side of Tributary 5 adjacent to EMWMF it would require a separate ROD.
He reminded the board that TDEC will not accept off-site waste to be disposed on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Since the cell 5 design is significantly different from the others TDEC would want to review that design.
Mr. Dixon asked what impact the waste cell has had on the creeks in the area. Mr. Rector said the expansion has been designed to miss Tributary 5, which he believes is still in its original channel. TDEC would make sure that it hasn’t been moved and that historical water travel would not go under the planned footprint.
Mr. Mulvenon said it was important to have public input on the expansion of EMWMF. He said when the facility was first proposed there was much public participation in the decision to build it.
Mr. Mulvenon asked Mr. McCracken to comment on the status of preserving the north tower at the K-25 Building at ETTP. Mr. McCracken said Bechtel Jacobs Co., has been looking at the costs to accomplish the objectives of preserving the north tower. He said that information is due to come to him in the next week or two. When he receives the analysis he said he will better understand all the issues raised by interested parties and individuals and the feasibility of preserving the north tower. He said he should be able to address the topic better at the July meeting.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. Presentation will be Cleanup History and Progress and How ORSSAB Has Influenced the Program.
Mr. McCracken recognized outgoing board members Ben Adams, David Branch, Rhonda Bogard, and Mike Haygood for their service to the board.
The minutes of the May 14, 2008 meeting were approved.
The Nominating Committee consisting of Ms. Sarten, Mr. Stow, and Mr. Westervelt was elected.
Trip reports by David Martin and Steve Mead on the Western Waste Disposal Sites Tour were distributed (Attachments 2 and 3).
A response to Recommendations 158 and 166 was distributed (Attachment 4).
Board Finance & Process – Mr. Branch reported that the committee met in May to discuss three line items in the budget that had gone over budget. He said monies were moved from other line items to bring the accounts back into line.
The FY 2009 budget for the board has been submitted to DOE but no response has been received. However, the budget is expected to be comparable to the FY 2008 budget.
Mr. Branch said he had inquired about the possibility of board purchases being taxed exempt. Ms. Halsey reported that it appears the board is exempt from paying sales tax.
EM – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee received a briefing at its May meeting on the operation of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator and an update on cleanup activities at ETTP. The next meeting will be June 18 when the committee will hear a presentation on newly generated waste on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The committee will also consider two recommendations on the Waste Information Management System and on surveillance and maintenance of facilities targeted for demolition.
Public Outreach – Mr. Westervelt said the committee has additional presentations scheduled for the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee on July 29 and with East Tennessee Economic Council on August 1.
The board will have a booth at the Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge on Saturday, June 21.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said at its June meeting the committee will discuss lessons learned on the K-25 historic preservation efforts and may develop a recommendation on handling future discussions of historic preservation. The committee will review a draft of the Long-term Stewardship Directive that’s being developed. If available at meeting time, the committee will review a revised annotated outline for the annual Remediation Effectiveness Report.
Executive – Mr. Dixon said Ms. Halsey reported at the May committee meeting that representatives of DOE, EPA, and TDEC had met in an attempt to resolve a current dispute among the three agencies. She reported some progress had been made in the resolution negotiations (see Mr. McCracken’s comments above).
Oral History – Mr. Stow reported that the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History is now being actively managed by the Oak Ridge Public Library. A logo has been designed and the center will have a booth at the Secret City Festival June 20-21 publicizing the purpose of the center and the oral history program. The center is working to schedule new oral histories to be recorded. The $7,000 that ORSSAB pledged to the program has been transferred to program.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey reported on the status of outstanding recommendations:
Recommendation 154: Recommendation on Reaffirmation of DOE Secretarial Policy to Provide Stewardship at Ongoing Mission Sites with Residual Contamination – Vince Adams has been appointed the point of contact for long-term stewardship at sites with continuing missions. He has been asked to provide the details of his responsibilities, but has not yet responded.
Recommendations 158: Recommendation on the EMWMF Explanation of Significant Difference for Leachate Management Information Sheet – DOE responded to this recommendation at this meeting (Attachment 4). DOE will chemically analyze leachate from the EMWMF to determine if it requires management as a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act hazardous waste or can be managed using less expensive requirements applicable to non-hazardous waste. Consistent with ORSSAB’s recommendation, DOE will submit this proposal to EPA and TDEC for approval.
Recommendation 164: Recommendation on Engineering and Technology Development on the Oak Ridge Reservation – The recommendation will be sent to DOE headquarters for guidance on how best to involve the board in prioritizing and selecting engineering and technology development for the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Recommendation 165: Recommendation on Conducting Future Verifications of Cleanup – The response is being worked within DOE-ORO.
Recommendation 166: Recommendation on Preparing Future Explanations of Significant Differences – DOE responded to this recommendation at this meeting (Attachment 4). DOE said continuing operation of the Central Neutralization Facility at ETTP provides a near-term management option for any hazardous leachate generated by EMWMF. The Central Neutralization Facility was scheduled to close earlier, but will remain open and this change will be noted in the explanation of significant difference for managing leachate collected from the EMWMF.
Recommendation 167: Recommendation on Historic Preservation of K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park – Mr. McCracken addressed this recommendation during the public comment period (see above).
Recommendation 168: Recommendation on the FY 2010 DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program Budget Request – Ms. Halsey asked that the recommendation be closed without a response. She said DOE cannot appropriately address the recommendation until the FY 2010 budget is received from the president. She said DOE could discuss the points of the recommendation with the Board Finance & Process Committee.
Recommendation 169: Recommendation on Supporting an Oral History Program for the Oak Ridge Reservation – A response has been written and is going through the concurrence chain within DOE-ORO.
Recommendation 170: Recommendation on Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for East Tennessee Technology Park - The response is being worked within DOE-ORO.
Ms. Halsey reported that three new members have been appointed to the board and will attend the July meeting.
She reminded the Nominating Committee that board officers may only serve two years in the same capacity. However, after two years they may be elected to a different office. For instance Mr. Mezga, who has served as chair for two years, may not be re-elected as chair but could serve as secretary or vice-chair.
Ms. Halsey asked Mr. Osborne to report on the status of a risk-assessment training seminar. Mr. Osborne said he had sent an email to all board members advising them of the training on July 15 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The training will be held in lieu of the July Stewardship Committee meeting. Mr. Osborne asked that members advise him of their intent to attend the training by close of business June 16. It will also be announced at the June EM and Stewardship meetings and members will be asked to indicate their interest in attending the training.
Additions to the Agenda
Roger Nelson is the chief scientist for WIPP in New Mexico. He was in Oak Ridge at the time of this meeting and was asked by Mr. Martin to attend the meeting and talk about WIPP.
Mr. Nelson said WIPP is a deep geologic repository for contact-handled (CH) and RH TRU waste. WIPP is about 2,000 feet deep in a salt formation that dates to the Permian Era.
WIPP is regulated by three agencies. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) controls shipments of waste to WIPP. EPA regulates how waste is characterized and how the repository operates over the long term. The New Mexico Environment Department regulates all of the waste disposed in WIPP.
Mr. Nelson said he was asked to talk about a proposal to use lead-lined containers to transport RH TRU to WIPP. Currently RH TRU must be handled differently than CH TRU. RH TRU is shipped to WIPP in canisters overpacked by lead-lined shielded casks. When they reach WIPP the canisters are removed from the casks, taken underground one-half mile, and placed in the walls of the disposal rooms. The space in the rooms is used to store CH TRU.
Handling RH TRU is time consuming and expensive. The proposal is to package the RH TRU in lead-line drums, which would provide enough shielding so that the waste could be handled as CH waste.
Mr. Nelson said Oak Ridge is an attractive site to use the shielded containers because most of the RH TRU that WIPP will receive will originate in Oak Ridge. None has been shipped yet from Oak Ridge, but shipments are expected to begin in Fall 2008.
After Mr. Nelson’s comments a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Myrick – What percentage of the RH TRU would still require being handled remotely? Mr. Nelson – It would make up about 40 to 50 percent of the inventory. There will still be some disposal in the walls, but it would be a lot less and would be a much more efficient operation. The amount of waste shipped in shielded containers would be reduced by about a factor of three. We would be able to ship three times more per shipment in the shielded container configuration as we can in a cask.
Mr. Mead – I think the members of the board need to understand that the handling of RH TRU is a very complex operation. It takes a lot of time and money using complicated equipment. The other thing I’m trying to confirm is that there is a lot of potentially contaminated lead in Oak Ridge that could be used to line these containers. It would serve a dual purpose of getting rid of this lead while using it to shield the containers. Mr. Nelson – Oak Ridge has the most lead to do that. And the lead is not being released for any other purpose than to be used as shielding.
Mr. Adams – Who is opposed to this idea? Mr. Nelson – There are anti-nuclear activists who would like to see WIPP shut down. One of the arguments of the anti-nuclear community is that long-term disposal of waste is not possible to isolate the material long enough for it to decay over hundreds of millions of years.
Mr. Murphree – The material that is shipped to WIPP, is it all of DOE and Department of Defense origin? Mr. Nelson – WIPP can only accept defense-related TRU waste.
Mr. Stow – I know the issue of brine migration was an issue in dealing with spent fuel. Is there an issue at WIPP in relation to brine migration moving toward the waste canister? Mr. Nelson – If you’re talking about heat generating waste, the waste disposed at WIPP is not high-level waste and the wattages are significantly lower than what you’re thinking about. The wattages are limited by what can be shipped during transit. The shipping container we use is permitted at a very low wattage.
Mr. Mead – What has to happen to get this proposal authorized? Mr. Nelson – Three things. First is an application to the NRC to ship a shielded container in a standard CH shipping cask. We’ve done all testing necessary to demonstrate it is possible and that it can withstand a hypothetical shipping accident. That application has been made. We must also have approval from EPA. We have made a planned change to EPA that demonstrates that the lead benefits the repository because it improves the long-term performance. The third thing to happen is to get a permit modification with the state
of New Mexico. New Mexico will only consider a modification request when permission has been received from the NRC and EPA. We hope to get those approvals this year.
Mr. McCracken – What Mr. Nelson is talking about would help us a lot here in Oak Ridge. He has been talking about this for awhile, but the timing had to be right and now is the right time. We want to get behind this because it is a significant benefit to all of us.
Mr. Dixon suggested that the EM committee consider what Mr. Nelson discussed and determine if a recommendation on the topic is feasible.
Ms. Bogard was not present for the votes.
Mr. Myrick moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Bass seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Mei was not present for the following votes.
Mr. Lundy moved to approve the minutes of the May 14, 2008 meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Olson moved to approve the nominations for the Nominating Committee, consisting of Ms. Sarten, Mr. Stow, and Mr. Westervelt. Mr. Myrick seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Adams asked if staff could prepare a chart for the nominating committee showing member terms.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
4. Staff will develop a chart for the nominating committee indicating member terms. Completed 6/13/08
Attachments (4) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.