Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved September 12, 2007 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 12, 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.
Steve Dixon - Vice chair
Ted Lundy - Secretary
Lance Mezga - Chair
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
Steve McCracken, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for
Environmental Management (EM)
John Owsley, Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Martha Berry, Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) Region 4
Jeff Cange, Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC)
Spencer Gross, Spectrum
Mike Jugan, DOE
Pete Osborne, Spectrum
Nine members of the public were present.
Corehole 8 – Tank W-1A Removal Action Update
Mr. Cange said Tank W-1A is a 4,000 gallon, cylindrical, stainless steel tank that was put in service in 1951 to receive wastes from Buildings 2026, 3019, and 3019-B at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Attachment 1, page 6).
In 1986 the tank was taken out of service and at about the same time contamination was discovered in nearby First Creek. Rock core drillings conducted in 1991 identified a strontium-90 contamination plume. One of those drillings was designated as Corehole 8 and ever since the site is often referred to by that name.
In 1995 a removal action was conducted to install a groundwater collection system. The system was expanded during 1998-99 when additional groundwater investigations confirmed that Tank W-1A was the source of the Corehole 8 plume. Mr. Cange said the tank itself did not leak, but leakage occurred from the waste inlet line.
In 1999 EPA and TDEC accepted a plan to remove Tank W-1A. When work began samplings identified higher levels of contamination than expected. That caused a delay in the work until removal procedures could be revised.
Work restarted on Tank W-1A in September 2000. The tank was emptied and cleaned in November 2000, and soil removal activities around the site began in March 2001. In May 2001 high concentrations of transuranic (TRU) isotopes (americium, plutonium, and cesium) were discovered. In June 2001, DOE, EPA, and TDEC decided not to remove TRU contaminated soil or the tank shell until proper procedures could be devised to handle the work safely. In July 2001 the excavation area was backfilled.
While some contaminated soil was removed during the work about, 350 cubic yards of contaminated soil and the tank and its supports still need to be removed (Attachment 1, page 12). Another 25 cubic yards of TRU contaminated soil that had been excavated had been put in storage and still needs to be disposed permanently.
Although the scope of work was not completed, sampling of the site and surrounding area indicated overall declines in contaminant concentrations in groundwater, the Corehole 8 plume, and in First Creek (Attachment 1, page 14).
Mr. Cange said an engineering study was begun in June 2006 to fully characterize remaining soils to support excavation, packaging, transport, and disposal, and to determine the groundwater conditions within the excavation area. More than 300 soil analyses were taken with 63 samples sent off-site for expanded laboratory analysis for radiological and chemical contamination. The results of those samples are noted on page 21 of Attachment 1. Mr. Cange said the purpose of the sampling was to determine the area of the TRU contaminated soil. He said it was important to define the areas because when the removal action began they didn’t want to send non-TRU waste to the TRU waste disposal facility, nor did they want to send TRU waste to a low-level waste disposal site.
The engineering study determined that the excavation area will be 25 by 30 feet and will amount to 355 cubic yards of soil. About 100 cubic yards of that soil is TRU contaminated (Attachment 1, page 23). TRU soil containers will require remote handling (RH). Low-level waste (LLW) soil will not have to be handled remotely, but the LLW soil cannot be placed in the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility because it does not meet the waste acceptance criteria (Attachment 1, page 23).
The removal action scope to complete the project will include:
1. excavation, packaging, and transport of approximately 250 cubic yards of LLW soil to Nevada Test Site (NTS) for disposal (Attachment 1, page 28);
2. excavation, packaging, and transport of approximately 110 cubic yards of RH TRU soil to temporary storage;
3. Load TRU soil drums into RH canisters and load canisters into shipping casks for transport to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico (WIPP) (Attachment 1, page 27);
4. Remove, size reduce, package, and transport concrete pad and tank supports to NTS (Attachment 1, page 28);
5. Remove, size reduce, package, and transport Tank W-1A shell to NTS (Attachment 1, page 28).
Mr. Cange said the work strategy will include a detailed method of accomplishment by the removal subcontractor. The excavation and packaging will be performed in an enclosure with high efficiency particulate air filtration. He said groundwater seepage into the excavation area will be managed and an absorbent material may be needed to eliminate free liquids. Extensive coordination with WIPP and the DOE Carlsbad Field Office will be required for onsite certification and direct shipment of wastes (Attachment 1, page 29.) He said personnel from the WIPP Central Characterization Project will be on site to certify the TRU waste soil for disposal at WIPP.
After Mr. Cange’s presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Olson – I have this mental image that you’re going to have a small backhoe out there digging up this material and it’s going to be wet. Mr. Cange – We’ll amend the soil in clay. We will keep our excavation dry. As we’re digging soil up if it is wet we’ll add something to it like Portland cement and mix it in to dry it out. The main issue with that is when you add material it results in expansion and the more boxes and drums you have to fill. We’re hoping that with this year’s reduced rainfall we’ll have less water coming into the hole.
Mr. Olson – I have another image of this stuff being spread around on the outside of the drums and you have to clean them. Mr. Cange – You have to have precautions in place. Things have to be lined and wrapped. You put liners in the drums that come out over the drum so as you put stuff in the drum the outside is protected. And we would use a small bucket or specialized bucket for loading material into the hopper that feeds the drums or boxes. That kind of thing is easily managed; you just have to think about it before you start. We can’t have any contamination on the outside of a container.
Mr. Myrick – Are you going to be using the on-site TRU Waste Processing Facility – the Foster Wheeler facility? Mr. Cange – No. The WIPP Central Characterization Project will certify the material as it goes into the drums and it’s ready to ship.
Mr. Myrick – The board would be interested in knowing how much has been spent up to this point dealing with the problem and how much it’s expected to cost to complete the project. Mr. Cange – BJC has spent about $6 million for prior removal action work. But that doesn’t include groundwater work. Mr. Jugan – DOE had spent about $3 million on performing readiness reviews and the sample work. The last estimate we had for the remaining sequencing of work was about $25 million. A lot of that is the expense of the canisters and the transportation to WIPP and NTS.
Ms. Mei- You mentioned that the work will be done in an enclosure to prevent people from seeing what you’re doing. Is that also to prevent any possible spread of contamination? Mr. Cange – Absolutely. There is a sidewalk nearby that people will be using. If the soil dries that has alpha contamination like americium or plutonium, that dust can become airborne. That’s unacceptable so we contain within an enclosure. The only things that come out of the enclosure are clean containers of waste.
Mr. Bonner – You indicate 800-900 drums of TRU waste will be excavated. Given the water content of the ‘muck’ is that going to be an issue; does that 800-900 assume you added absorbent material to dry out the material or will it exceed that number, and if you have do you have sufficient capacity to store that material? Mr. Cange – The 800-900 numbers are based on the fact that when you dig up soil you have an expansion of material. So you figure about a 25 percent expansion factor and add another 10 percent for adding a drying agent. The addition of those two numbers is where we come up with the estimate of 800-900 drums. If the number does grow, it’s not a problem of space available for disposal, but it does impact the schedule for how long it takes to get rid of it. Because the shipping casks only hold three canisters, for every additional three canisters you have you add another 4,000 mile round trip to WIPP in New Mexico.
Mr. Bonner – What does the removal action say about the amount of residual material you can leave? Mr. Cange – The action memorandum requires the soil to be removed around the tank down to the bedrock. We’re not digging down to reach a certain soil contamination level like we did in Melton Valley. And because we did 55 soil borings we have a good idea of where the rock is so we’re confident of our volume numbers.
Mr. Bonner – Has there been a Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) milestone update for this action? Mr. Adler – We currently have milestones to start and complete the project next year. However, under this method of accomplishment we can’t do it that quickly. The new approach has lower life-cycle cost, but has a longer duration. So even if we started the work tomorrow it would not be completed in FY 2008. I think the current projection is for two, two and half years of work. Mr. McCracken – The original idea was to dig the material up, put it in bigger bulk containers, send it over to the TRU Waste Processing Facility, and store it there. At some point it would be repackaged, certified, and shipped west (to WIPP). We asked the question ‘why would we do that?’ Why go through those steps when it is fairly easy to have it certified as it’s excavated and then ship it west. While I haven’t looked at the cost estimates, intuitively it would be less expensive to do it that way.
Mr. Bonner – What is the priority of this action? Mr. McCracken – This is a high priority work for several reasons, but that’s not to say we have sufficient budget to do it. It’s a high priority because it’s an FFA milestone. It’s also important because it’s a way of filling the pipeline to WIPP on RH TRU. They have to get the RH TRU into WIPP within a certain time-frame in order not to lose the space they have available for storing RH TRU. The issue becomes whether we can afford to do it next year. The cost-issue is being impacted, not the least of which is work being done at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment
Mr. Lundy – Will you be doing the procedure writing for the subcontractor to follow and how will we know the subcontractor is knowledgeable enough to know what to do? Mr. Cange – We have screened three subcontractors based on prior work they have done with TRU material. And when you get to execution of the work our proposal will certainly demand they demonstrate an ability to do the job in accordance with the applicable controls and requirements that we will impose. There are a number of BJC and DOE procedures they have to follow and are contractually required. They have to prepare detailed work packages for the field work that demonstrate they understand the hazards and complexities of the work so they can do the work safely and efficiently. There are redundant areas of oversight of subcontractors related to everything associated with the work including preparation, staging, logistics, emergency planning. Mr. McCracken – That is a category 2 nuclear facility and that means that it rises to a DOE operational readiness review. I can assure you that process coupled with the interest the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has will ensure that you have the right people and processes necessary to do the work.
Mr. Mezga – What is the estimated time to get the drums shipped? Mr. Cange – We’re looking at four to five shipments per week of 12-15 drums, so a year and half to two years if there are no problems. But some of it is beyond our control because we relying on other entities. Mr. Mezga – Will the drums be put in casks and then put in storage prior to shipment or will they be put in storage and then placed in the casks prior to shipment? If that’s the case you would need a cask loading facility somewhere. Mr. Cange – We haven’t completed our analysis of that. If we can get the casks we would load the drums in the casks first to prevent double handling.
Mr. Mezga – If you store the drums or casks, what are the surface dose rates coming off the drums and casks? Mr. Cange – We really won’t know that until we get them loaded, because the material is not homogeneously distributed around the container. It depends on how much mixing we have to do for moisture control and other things that would dictate what the dose rate is in a given drum. Once the drums or casks are in storage there will be shielding on them. Part of operating the storage facility is managing that dose, posting it appropriately, and keeping people away from it.
Mr. Mezga – This relates to the source removal action. Do we have to wait for the groundwater record of decision (ROD) before we know about the plume? We are going to remove the contamination source. Are we going to let nature take care of the groundwater or are we going to do a pump and treat of the groundwater? Mr. Adler – The existing signed ROD for the laboratory requires that we do a collection of things related to groundwater. One is to go after the sources of contamination of groundwater. There are also requirements in the ROD to select from a range of alternatives for groundwater capture and treatment. On the west end of the plant that ranges from upgrading and maintaining an existing system that captures groundwater prior to it flowing into First Creek. Another option is some groundwater extraction at that end of the plant. A sensible approach prior to taking that step is to take this action, wait a year or two to see what effect it has, and then decide to upgrade the existing system or replace it. There are actions that will occur but probably won’t happen for a few years. Mr. Cange – The plume is currently being pumped. There is an extraction well at 4411 (Attachment 1, page 15) and there are a set of interceptor trenches and drains that intercept the groundwater. When we remove the source, the contamination just won’t disappear because all the stuff is still in the ground.
Mr. Adams – Are you counting on Yucca Mountain to receive any of the waste? Mr. Cange – No.
Mr. Dixon – What contaminants are going into the creek now? Mr. Cange – Mostly strontium. That’s the most soluble contaminant we have now. There is some uranium. Mr. Dixon – Is that level a hazard to anything and if so what is at risk? Mr. Cange – The level of contamination going into the creek has dropped off dramatically, something like 90 percent since 1995. First Creek runs into White Oak Creek, and White Oak runs into Melton Valley and eventually to the Clinch River. I don’t really know the risk numbers that have been assigned to this. Mr. Adler – Even with the 90 percent reduction it’s at a level higher than we want. That’s the justification for the action. It’s not at levels that directly impact biota in the stream and there is no contact use of the stream so human exposure is pretty limited.
Mr. Murphree – You’ve talked a lot about pumping groundwater and intercepting groundwater. I haven’t seen anything about preventing groundwater from reaching this contaminated plume of material to begin with. Mr. Cange – If we put a cutoff wall around the tank it would still be hard to demonstrate that we had isolated water from reaching the area given the complexity of the groundwater flow. Mr. Adler – Back when we were thinking about what to do about this tank we were looking at systems that would get the water out of the way and other systems that would get the waste out of the water. The decision was to remove the source from the groundwater because it’s such a strong source and was believed to have the best chance of success. This job is all about getting the source out of the groundwater as opposed to taking measures to try to manage groundwater so it doesn’t go into the waste. We did a lot of that at Melton Valley, but at Tank W-1A it’s specifically a source removal action.
Mr. Martin – Are the trees in the area of the removal site hot? Mr. Cange – Certainly in the area of the water table plume they could be pulling up strontium. Most of the area is developed, but there are a few trees. Mr. Adler – There were areas at the lab where that problem did exist and those trees have been cut down.
Mr. Martin – What is your level of certainty that there is just one point of leakage? Mr. Cange – We have high certainty that is was just the tank connection.
Mr. L. Gibson – There is an alternate shipping container that some of the other sites have used for RH TRU that holds more than the one you’ve mentioned here. Have you looked at that? Mr. Cange – We have. We haven’t been given the final approval that it can be used. If it’s available we will use it. It holds 10-15 drums.
Mr. L. Gibson – In the table of analytical results (Attachment 1, page 21) you have a total of TRU isotopes, but the total of plutonium-241 is higher than the total of TRU isotopes. Is there something about 241? Mr. Cange – It’s not transuranic. Mr. Mezga – It has to do with the half-life. Mr. Cange – The average or maximum on any given sample isn’t necessarily the numbers that came up with that TRU number. The 396 (total TRU isotopes, Attachment 1, page 21) is the highest number of TRU isotopes we detected. It may not have been that the sample that had 113 nanocuries of americium was in the same sample with the 396 and vice versa.
Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments
Steve McCracken: Mr. McCracken said he has been working the last month to get the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment ready for defueling. He said he will send a letter soon to the contractor and the leader for the DOE operational readiness review that the project is ready for review. He said the review will begin on September 17 and will take about two weeks. He said he will know at the end of the review if everything is in order to begin to defuel the reactor safely.
Mr. McCracken said he would like to return at a later date to explain cost increases and schedules related to the demolition of buildings K-25 and K-27. He did say that the first part of the building to be demolished is about to be declared criticality incredible, which indicates the revised plan to demolish the building in order to protect workers better is a viable plan. He said if one section of the building is declared criticality incredible, then such a designation for the rest of the building should come as well.
Mr. Mezga asked Mr. Murphree, the chair of the Environmental Management Committee, to determine if it would like to have a presentation on the status of work at K-25 as its December presentation as noted on the committee work plan or if the program should be elevated to the full board.
Mr. Bonner asked how the adjustment of FFA milestones could be impacted in FY 2008 if the federal government is forced to operate under continuing resolution as it did in the first part of FY 2007. Mr. McCracken said discussions underway do not anticipate a continuing resolution in FY 2008. He said under the FY 2007 continuing resolution money was being received in four-week increments and it had a huge impact on the work being done on the Oak Ridge Reservation. He said it would be difficult to anticipate what the impacts would be under another continuing resolution in FY 2008. He said he does consider how to handle work if a continuing resolution is put in place.
Dave Adler: no comments
Martha Berry: Ms. Berry said EPA is waiting on the latest version of priority adjustments to FFA milestones.
John Owsley: Mr. Owsley said TDEC is also waiting on DOE revisions to Appendix J of the FFA, which is long-term schedule for cleanup. He said TDEC and DOE have been unable to resolve differences to date on those milestone revisions, but hopes resolution will be achieved soon.
Mr. L. Gibson noted a meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in Knoxville on September 14, 2007 (Attachment 2).
He also gave an overview of the Local Oversight Committee (LOC), its purpose, membership, issues, and meeting time and place (Attachment 3).
Mr. Mulvenon said there are number of complex issues that the board should monitor such as Tank W-1A, the K-25/K-27 demolition, and the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. He advised all members to go on a tour of the reservation to see these places and advised the board to study the issues and provide recommendations to DOE.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, October 10, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be “EM Program Update.”
Mr. McCracken introduced Mr. Branch as a new board member.
The minutes of the August 11, 2007 meeting were approved.
Recommendation 158: Recommendation to Adopt 2007 DOE Public Involvement Plan was approved (Attachment 4).
The board heard the first reading of proposed revised bylaws (Attachment 5).
Board Finance – Mr. Adams reported that he had been elected chair of the committee for FY 2008. He reported the committee reviewed the FY 2007 costs table.
The committee reviewed travel requests for Mr. Dixon, Mr. Lundy, Mr. Mezga, and Mr. Gross to attend the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting in Paducah, Ky.
EM – Mr. Murphree reported he had been elected chair of the committee for FY 2008. Mr. Myrick is the vice chair.
The committee approved the draft version of Recommendation 158 that the board approved on this date.
The committee developed its FY 2008 work plan.
Mr. Murphree said the presentation for the September meeting will be an update on independent verification at East Tennessee Technology Park. He said the committee may also discuss a possible recommendation to DOE on a notice of intent to conduct an environmental impact statement for the disposal of Greater Than Class C low-level waste. The Oak Ridge Reservation is one of the sites that is proposed as a disposal site for the waste.
He said EM and Stewardship will have a joint meeting in October to hear a presentation on the contamination of picket wells in Melton Valley.
Public Outreach – No report. Mr. Stow, chair of the committee, was absent from the meeting.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said he had been re-elected chair of the committee for FY 2008. Mr. Martin was elected vice- chair.
At its August meeting the committee heard a presentation on what infrastructure at East Tennessee Technology Park will be transferred to the City of Oak Ridge when cleanup of the site is complete.
The committee partially completed its work plan for FY 2008.
At the September meeting, he said the committee will discuss development of a stewardship map to be displayed in the DOE Information Center
Stewardship Education Subcommittee – Ms. Sarten said the committee is working on revising the lesson plan slides in the Stewardship Education Resource Kit to be more interesting for young people to view. She said some other materials in the kit are being updated and a comment card will be sent teachers who have the kit requesting feedback on how they use the kit. The committee is also working to develop a stewardship video.
Executive – Mr. Mezga said the committee discussed the proposed revised bylaws and how they would be presented to the full board membership at this meeting, proposed Recommendation 158 that was approved at this meeting, and the board’s three top issues to be presented at the SSAB Chairs’ Meeting in Paducah, Ky.
The committee talked about some of the ideas that came out of the annual meeting and decided to have staff include committee meeting minutes on the ORSSAB website.
Mr. Mezga had noted that the board no longer has a representative on the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee and has no direct link to the Citizens Advisory Panel of the LOC. To help keep ORSSAB members informed of the actions of the LOC, ORSSAB staff was asked to forward LOC agendas and meeting minutes to board members each month.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey said DOE appreciated the recommendation passed by the board supporting publication of the DOE Public Involvement Plan. She said TDEC has approved the plan, but EPA has supplied some comments. She said the D2 version of the plan should be published in October.
She said a tour of the reservation for new board members has been scheduled for Saturday, October 13. Dave Adler will lead the tour.
Additions to the Agenda
Mr. Adams moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Bonner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Lundy moved to approve the minutes of the August 11, 2007 meeting. Ms. Bogard seconded and the motion passed 17 approving with 1 abstention (Mr. Branch).
Mr. Adams moved to approve Recommendation 158. Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
1. The EM Committee will decide if it wishes to leave the update on the status of K-25 demolition on its December work plan or have to topic moved to the full board.
Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.