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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved October 8, 2008 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 8, 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.


Members Present

Darrell Akins

Darryl Bonner

Claire Campbell1

Miranda Clower1

John Coffman - Secretary

Steve Dixon - Chair

Charles Jensen

Betty Jones

Edward Juarez

Ted Lundy - Vice-chair

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Ron Murphree

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Maggie Owen

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent


Bill Bass


1Student Representative


Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present

Pat Halsey, Department of Energy-Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO) Federal Coordinator

Connie Jones, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4

Steve McCracken, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management (EM) and Deputy Designated Federal Officer

John Owsley, Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)


Others Present

Tammy Blaine, DOE

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee

Pete Osborne, Spectrum

Kerry Trammell

Bill Wilcox


Twelve members of the public were present.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken – Pre-demolition work on the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) is expected to be completed within the next five to six weeks. That work includes determining there is no chance of a criticality incident and characterization to determine if debris from the building can be disposed at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility or offsite. Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC) is mobilizing personnel and equipment to begin demolition of K-25.


No decision has been made concerning changing the memorandum of agreement to preserve the north tower of K-25, but Mr. McCracken doesn’t think it’s feasible to save the facility because of cost and safety factors. However, he said he wants to make sure an option is in place for historical interpretation of K-25. He said a decision must be made by March 2009.


Mr. Mezga asked if a group was looking at alternatives to preserve the north tower of K-25. Mr. McCracken said DOE had not been presented any alternatives to memorialize the building.


Mr. Stow said while there had not been any organized attempts to present alternatives, he reminded Mr. McCracken that there was a minority opinion on the board’s recommendation to save the north tower of K-25 that offered some alternatives (Recommendation 167: Recommendation on Historic Preservation of the K-25 Building at ETTP).


Mr. McCracken spoke to a response being developed to Recommendation 172: Recommendation on Lessons Learned from Efforts to Preserve the North Tower of the K-25 Building for Historic Purposes. He said the gist of the response to the recommendation is that DOE agrees buildings should not be allowed to deteriorate. The response will address the issues of surveillance and maintenance (S&M), cost, safety, and historical significance.


Mr. Bonner said he would expect the response to be integrated into the real property S&M program being developed at DOE headquarters. He asked how it would be developed into a process that will ensure levels of maintenance are funded. Mr. McCracken said if it’s determined that S&M is a minimum for safety then that would be the number one priority.


Mr. Mead asked if there is an organization within DOE responsible for S&M. Mr. McCracken said S&M is the responsibility of the facility owner.


Mr. Myrick asked about preservation of contents of facilities that are slated for demolition. Mr. McCracken said it was a good point he hadn’t considered, but would be a low budget item to implement. Mr. Mezga said buildings slated for demolition are walked down for historical artifacts as part of any memorandum of agreement for historic preservation.


Mr. Olson said there needs to be some alternative for making the graphite reactor available to the public. Mr. McCracken said he didn’t know how that could be achieved since the reactor is within the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) boundaries and is not currently open to the public. Mr. Mezga noted the reactor is available to organized public tours.


Mr. Westervelt asked if DOE had done a cost benefit analysis on preventive maintenance and could the analysis be used to sell future S&M. Mr. McCracken said it doesn’t take much analysis to determine that S&M would have saved money at K-25. He said enough S&M should be done to be effective, but no more should be spent than is necessary.


Mr. Juarez asked if other sites in the DOE complex have similar problems. Mr. McCracken said he didn’t know for certain, but he said Oak Ridge is unique because it has more than half of all the facilities that will come to EM for cleanup or demolition. Mr. Mezga said a group known the Energy Facility Contractors Organization meets regularly on lessons learned on decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) projects across the DOE complex.


John Owsley – The boiler operated by Diversified Scientific Services Inc., has not yet received authorization from EPA to treat PCB-contaminated waste oil. The authorization is expected by the end of October. Mr. Owsley said the treatment rate for the boiler is determined by concentrations of contaminants of concern and BTUs that the oil contains, but the maximum treatment rate is about 100 gallons per hour.


Connie Jones – Ms. Jones said she had toured the K-25 site on this date and the area looks very different as preparations are being completed for demolition. She said the west side of K-25 looks like a different building.


Public Comment

Ms. Clower noted that Daniel Axelrod had requested to speak but had to leave before the public comment period. He left material with staff (Attachment 1).


Mr. Mulvenon noted that DOE-ORO has a new contract with BJC. He asked if the $1.48 billion contract was for the demolition of K-25. Mr. McCracken said the contract includes all things that have been under the BJC contract, including operation of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator, conducting S&M at other sites, and delivering transuranic waste to the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. No new cleanup activities at K-25 will begin, other than those already underway. Mr. McCracken said he could provide a breakdown of the contractual agreement. Mr. Mulvenon requested a new figure to demolish K-25. He also expressed disappointment that DOE did not ask for alternatives to preserve the north tower of K-25. Mr. McCracken disagreed saying that DOE had requested alternatives but none had been provided. Mr. Mulvenon said he hoped the critical decision 1 for the Integrated Facility Disposition Project (IFDP) is approved, but also hoped no cleanup money is used to get the critical decision 2 approved.


Mr. Wilcox said the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association has previously provided some alternatives to preserve the north tower of K-25, but noted the serious problems DOE has stated in saving the building. He said the association will be presenting some additional options to preserve the history of the site.


Mr. Trammell said he had read the response to Recommendation 165: Recommendation on Conducting Future Verifications of Cleanup. He asked if independent verification (IV) is part of the planning process for IFDP. Mr. McCracken said in his response that guidance from DOE headquarters directs that IV will be done on any property designated for transfer beyond DOE control. He indicated IV would be done on a case by case basis, but that IV would likely be done at most cleanup sites unless there was a reason not to. He reiterated that any cleanup is done to industrial standards.


Mr. Trammell asked if IV would be initiated early in the cleanup process. Mr. McCracken said IV would have to be done immediately upon completion of a cleanup activity.


Mr. Murphree said the response to the recommendation referred to properties to be released to private development. The guidance Mr. McCracken referenced says IV should be done on properties transferred from EM to another entity. Mr. Murphree said Mr. McCracken’s formal response to the recommendation was more restrictive. Mr. McCracken said the intent would limit the amount of property where IV would be done, because he said some property would likely never leave DOE control. He went on to say that more IV would be done, not less.



Federal Budget Process                                      

Ms. Blaine and Mr. McCracken provided the presentation on the federal budget process. The main points of the presentation are in Attachment 2. She said the process is rather complicated and at any given time DOE is dealing with three years of budgets, all in different phases of development.


She began by reviewing the steps in developing the DOE budget (Attachment 2, slides 2 and 3). Budget targets are provided to the various field offices in step 1 of the process. After the field offices submit budgets to DOE headquarters, the budget discussions are embargoed until the budget is sent to Congress by the president. Any changes made on the budget are not shared with the public during the embargo period.

Ms. Blaine then reviewed the steps in the budget process after the president submits the budget to Congress (Attachment 2, slide 4).


Ms. Blaine said the sequence noted in the congressional process is the ideal progression, but she said it often does not proceed in that way. In October when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is supposed to apportion funds to the various federal agencies, a budget often has not been agreed to and the agencies must operate on a continuing resolution. Agencies are provided a portion of funding but not full funding until the budget process is complete.


Ms. Blaine showed a chart of the federal budget cycle (Attachment 2, slide 5) that shows where the 2009, 2010, and 2011 budgets are in their respective development. The federal government is currently operating on a continuing resolution for FY 2009 to March 6. Ms. Blaine said with the upcoming presidential election it is not clear when the FY 2009 budget will be formally approved. She said the continuing resolution also affects the development of the FY 2010 budget, because at this time the departments would be expecting a pass back from the OMB indicating what their budget allocations would be, which the offices use in preparing future budgets. She said this year OMB did not ask for a typical detailed budget but only high level estimates for what is requested.  


Ms. Blaine discussed project baseline summaries (PBS) and how they might be adjusted (Attachment 2, slide 6). Each PBS is a project in the Oak Ridge EM budget, and each PBS is a congressional control point. Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Portsmouth have D&D appropriations in addition to defense appropriations. She said money allotted to PBSs cannot be moved to other PBSs without congressional approval. Oak Ridge has more budget control points than other sites, which further limits how money can be moved among PBSs.


Mr. McCracken reiterated that the field offices are given a target to begin formulating their budget requests. If the target matches the field offices’ validated baselines then developing budget requests is relatively straight forward. If the target doesn’t match the validated baseline, work must be done to readjust priorities for each PBS. He said in Oak Ridge his office works with EPA and TDEC to set priorities. Then the office determines what items it must have that are above target to meet its obligations, e.g. milestones in the Federal Facility Agreement. He said his office will have meetings with headquarters on the budget request and perhaps adjust the target level.


Mr. McCracken referenced slide 7 of Attachment 2, which shows highest risk-based priorities and lower priorities for DOE EM. He said the first point of minimum safety and essential services is the only high priority item for DOE EM in Oak Ridge. He said that is where S&M would go if it was determined to be a high priority to conduct operations safely on the ORR.


Of the other priorities supplied by EM, most of Oak Ridge’s priorities are in the lower rankings (solid waste, transuranic and mixed/low-level waste, treatment, storage, and disposal; soil and groundwater remediation; nuclear facility D&D, and non-nuclear facility D&D).


Mr. McCracken said since the government is operating under a continuing resolution, DOE-ORO is telling its contractors to operate under the current year’s budget or the previous year’s budget, whichever is lower.


Mr. Mezga asked how the board would be able to formulate a meaningful recommendation to DOE-ORO on the FY 2011 budget considering all the uncertainty of the FY 2009 budget, which in turn affects the FY 2010 budget. Mr. McCracken suggested returning to the November meeting to explain how his office sees the work unfolding throughout the year under the continuing resolution.


Mr. Dixon noted that DOE expects stakeholder input on the budget between December and March. He said the board can’t provide any recommendations on the budget without something to review from DOE. He asked Mr. McCracken when the board would receive a document and when it would have to get comments to DOE-ORO. Mr. McCracken said that last year his office didn’t receive budget guidance from headquarters until the budget request was almost due. He said if he can get more time for ORSSAB to review the budget targets he will. He said he could only give the target budget to the board as soon as his office receives it, and the board will have to review it and comment as quickly as possible. He said even if the target budget doesn’t come from headquarters in December he could still meet with the board to go through priorities and select those that will fit within the budget DOE-ORO expects to receive.


Announcements ad Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, November 12 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The main presentation topic will be “Groundwater and Soil Remediation” (tentative).


The minutes of the September 10, 2008 meeting were approved.


The Recommendation on the IFDP was approved (Attachment 3).


Mr. Akins was introduced as a new member to the board.


Mr. Dixon’s trip report to the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting was distributed (Attachment 4).


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reported that Ms. Owen is the issue manager for the FY 2009 annual retreat. She is working with facilitator Becky Brunton to get additional responses from board members on the FY 2008 retreat. The committee approved travel requests for Ms. B. Jones, Mr. Murphree, and Ms. Owen to attend the Intergovernmental Conference in Utah in November.


EM – The committee had a presentation on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process at its September meeting. The committee will get an update on the status of the remedial investigation/feasibility study at ETTP. The committee will also work on developing a statement of work for a technical adviser to review the focused feasibility study and proposed plan for the Bear Creek Burial Grounds. The issue of groundwater cleanup at ETTP will also be discussed.


Public Outreach – Mr. Juarez said the committee will have a booth at the Health Physics Society Vendor’s meeting in December. The committee is looking into becoming a member or associate member of that organization.


Mr. Myrick said he is working with Oak Ridge High School to organize a tour of the ORR for advanced placement science students on October 16. He said because of the size of the group one more chaperone is needed. Ms. Owen volunteered to assist.


Mr. Dixon said a group from the committee met with Frank Munger of the Knoxville News Sentinel for the purpose of opening better lines of communication between the him and the board. Mr. Munger may make a presentation to the board in the future.


Stewardship – Ms. Sarten reported that Jim O’Connor, the city manager of Oak Ridge, attended the September meeting. The discussion was about the city’s role in stewardship on the ORR. Mr. O’Connor indicated the city’s role in stewardship is limited primarily because that function is not funded.


The September meeting will be a discussion of Applicable, Relevant, and Appropriate Requirements.


Executive – Mr. Dixon said he, Mr. Bonner, and Mr. Lundy attended the EM SSAB chairs’ meeting in Washington in September. He referred to their trip reports in the meeting packets for details and he provided his trip report at this meeting (Attachment 4).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported on the status of five outstanding recommendations:

      Recommendation 164: Recommendation on Engineering and Technology Development on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The EM response letter is being prepared. Mark Gilbertson at DOE headquarters will add additional information as to how stakeholders can play an expanded role. A response is expected in a couple of weeks.


      Recommendation 167: Recommendation on Historic Preservation of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park. See Mr. McCracken’s remarks in DDFO comments.


      Recommendation 169: Recommendation Supporting an Oral History Program for the Oak Ridge Reservation. Mr. McCracken is working with the National Nuclear Security Administration/Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to establish a framework in which they will work together on the topic of oral histories. The response to the recommendation will come after discussions are completed with them. Ms. Halsey is working with DOE-ORO EM to determine who needs to be interviewed for oral histories. Ms. Halsey is also working to compile some existing oral histories into a representation to show what oral histories are and how they can be used. Ms. Halsey has earmarked funding from DOE-ORO EM to help support the oral history program.


      Recommendation 171: Recommendation on the Waste Information Management System. A response has been written, but needs revisions.


      Recommendation 172: Recommendation to the DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management on Lessons Learned from Efforts to Preserve the North Tower of the K-25 Building for Historic Purposes. See Mr. McCracken’s remarks in DDFO comments.


Mr. Murphree asked for clarification from Mr. McCracken about the response to Recommendation 170:  Recommendation on Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study for East Tennessee Technology Park. Mr. Murphree said the response indicated that the use of maximum contaminant levels (MCL) as a cleanup standard for groundwater might be negotiable with EPA. Mr. McCracken said EPA has said that alternate concentration limits (ACL) cannot be used for making remedy decisions. That means the alternatives are cleanup of groundwater, allow natural attenuation to remedy the problem over time, or invoke a technical impracticability waiver which says the problem can’t be remedied. Mr. McCracken believes that treatability studies to be conducted at ETTP will indicate the groundwater cannot be cleaned up. That leaves technical impracticability as a decision for groundwater at ETTP, but Mr. McCracken said he has never seen technical impracticability accepted as a decision.


Mr. Mulvenon said the Local Oversight Committee recommended to EPA that ACLs be used as a cleanup standard for groundwater at ETTP. He said EPA responded that the state determined that the groundwater at ETTP was a possible source of drinking water and that MCLs had to be used as a cleanup standard.


Mr. Owsley said the state of Tennessee does have a groundwater classification that allows the use of ACLs.


Ms. Jones said Jeff Crane with EPA is planning to attend the EM Committee meeting on October 15 and that the committee should ask for clarification of the issue at that time.


Ms. Halsey said the focused feasibility study and proposed plan for the Bear Creek Burial Grounds was submitted to EPA and TDEC. She said, however, the document as not gone through classification review for public release. Mr. Mezga asked if the official use only document provided to the regulators is available to those who are cleared to review official use only documents. Ms. Halsey said she wasn’t sure and would find out.


Additions to the Agenda





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


Mr. Jensen, Mr. Stow, and Mr. Westervelt were not present for the following motions.



Mr. Coffman moved to approve the minutes of the September 10, 2008 meeting. Mr. Juarez seconded and the motion passed with16 voting to approve and one abstention (Mr. Akins).



Mr. Myrick moved to approve the Recommendation on IFDP. Mr. Mezga seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. McCracken will provide details of the additional budget expected to be allocated to DOE-ORO for FY 2009.  Carry over from July 9, 2008
  2. The Stewardship Committee will review the National Historic Preservation Act presentation from September and determine if any comments or recommendations are warranted. Status. Stewardship Committee will discuss at its October meeting.
  3. Mr. McCracken will provide an overview of the new BJC contract and the dollar amounts for the various projects.
  4. Ms. Halsey will determine if those cleared to review official use only documents can review the Bear Creek Burial Ground focused feasibility study and proposed plan.
  5. Mr. McCracken will make a presentation to the board to review budget priorities and select those that will most likely fit in the target budget request for FY 2011.



  1. Mr. Owsley will determine the capacity to treat waste at the Diversified Scientific Services facility in Roane County. Closed. While the actual treatment rate of the boiler depends on the concentrations of permitted contaminants and BTUs in the oil being treated the maximum treatment rate is around 100 gallons per hour. 
  2. Ms. Vasquez will find out if the report on the status of structures at federal facilities, particularly those on the ORR, is publicly available. Closed. Executive Order 13287, Preserve America, requires that federal agencies report on their progress in implementing the Executive Order by September 30, 2008. There have been two previous reports completed by the DOE Headquarters Office of History and Cultural Resources Division. This report is coordinated by the DOE Federal Preservation Officer, Chief Historian Skip Gosling. The report includes input from ORO, as well as other field offices throughout the department. The first report was completed in 2004, and a more comprehensive report was completed in 2005 (with a requirement to provide additional reports every three years).  Oak Ridge provided input to DOE Headquarters for the 2008 report; however, the report has not been distributed at this time. The department is also required to provide input to the Department of Interior on its National Historic Landmark, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Graphite Reactor. This information is published on the Department of the Interior website and can be found at the following address:
  3. Mr. McCracken will check on the status of land record notices and deed restrictions in Melton Valley being filed with the Roane County Register of Deeds. Closed. Jason Darby reported at the August 19, 2008 Stewardship Committee meeting that the first Notation on Ownership Record for Notification of Closure of Melton Valley Burial Grounds had been submitted to the Roane County Register of Deeds.
  4. The Executive Committee will review the effectiveness of the format change to the board meeting agenda. Closed. No additional changes were made to the agenda format. However, Mr. Westervelt said at the September Executive Committee meeting that it should be made clear to the public that the public comment period prior to the presentation is strictly for general comments and that the time immediately following the presentation is only for comments and questions related to the presentation. It was decided that reports on the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History would not be a standing committee report, but only listed as a bullet under the Executive Committee report when something pertinent on oral history is available.


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