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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 12, 2008 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 12, 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

Bill Bass

Claire Campbell1

Miranda Clower1

John Coffman - Secretary

Steve Dixon - Chair

Charles Jensen

Ted Lundy - Vice-chair

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent

Darryl Bonner

Betty Jones

Edward Juarez

David Martin

Ron Murphree

Maggie Owen


1Student Representative


Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present

Dave Adler, Liaison, Department of Energy-Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)

Connie Jones, Liaison, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4


Others Present

Vince Adams, PhD, DOE Headquarters

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee

Pete Osborne, Spectrum

Dale Rector, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)


Thirteen members of the public were present.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) continues to work toward gaining approval of the Integrated Facility Disposition Project (IFDP) Critical Decision 1 document. Mr. Adler said approval may come later in November.


Mr. Adler reported that a response to a question concerning the amount of curies measured in Bear Creek Valley noted in the August 9, 2008 meeting minutes action items was incorrect. A mistake was discovered in the calculations and has since been corrected (Attachment 1).

Reporting on the 17 recommendations the board had provided in FY 2008, Mr. Adler said 11 have been closed and six remain open.


Mr. Adler said DOE-ORO will likely respond to Recommendation 175 on the IFDP in the January time frame after it hears if the plan has been approved by DOE Headquarters. This recommendation was passed in October at the beginning of FY 2009.


Mr. Adler said the six open recommendations from FY 2008 should be closed by the December board meeting (Recommendation 164 on Engineering and Technology Development on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR); Recommendation 167 on Historic Preservation of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP); Recommendation 169 on Supporting an Oral History Program for the ORR; Recommendation 171 on the Waste Information Management System; Recommendation 172 on Lessons Learned from Efforts to Preserve the North Tower of the K-25 Building; and Recommendation 174 That Quarterly Project Reviews (QPRs) Be Shared with the EM SSABs).


Mr. Dixon asked about the status of providing QPRs to EM SSABs. That recommendation was crafted by the combined chairs of the EM SSABs nationwide. Mr. Adler said across the DOE complex there are mixed feelings about providing information in the QPRs. He said Steve McCracken, DOE-ORO assistant manager for EM, has reservations about sharing QPR raw data with the public. He said he was also aware of other sites that do share that information with the public. Mr. Adler did know where DOE Headquarters was in the preparation of a response to that recommendation. He said DOE-ORO has no problem sharing general cost and schedule information with the board, but prefers not to have the board’s primary interest in overseeing project management functions, but rather focus on strategic policy issues. He said DOE-ORO EM is willing to provide information on individual projects.


Connie Jones – Carl Froede, remediation project manager for ETTP, continues to evaluate the remedial investigation/feasibility study (RIFS) for remediation at ETTP. She said EPA continues to evaluate waste characterization data for the K-25 Building demolition at ETTP. The K-25 core team will meet next week to review sampling data.


Dale Rector – Mr. Rector substituting for John Owsley, TDEC liaison to the board said TDEC is currently drafting its 2009 Environmental Monitoring Plan. He reiterated Ms. Jones comments that TDEC and EPA are working closely with DOE and its contractors on characterization of waste from K-25. He said a quality waste characterization plan should come out of the discussions.


TDEC has been doing audits on waste lot profiles. A profile coming to resolution is on the Homogeneous Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). A third party contractor will recertify the profile.


Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon said he and a number of members of the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee met with Dr. Adams to talk about his role as liaison for long-term stewardship at DOE Headquarters. He said Dr. Adams appointment was the result of an ORSSAB recommendation.



Groundwater and Soil Remediation                    

Dr. Adams is the director of the DOE Office of Soil and Groundwater Remediation, which is one of three offices under the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Technology Mark Gilbertson. Dr. Adams’ responsibilities are noted on Attachment 2, slide 1. He is also the long-term stewardship liaison for DOE to the Office of EM. He said the Office of Engineering and Technology is undergoing some changes and his office will be renamed the Office of Environmental Engineering.

Dr. Adams said he wants his office to assume a strong leadership role in developing technology and new approaches in solving environmental problems. The vision and mission of his office is noted on Attachment 2, slide 3. He said the most important part of the mission is to reduce project risk and uncertainties.


The challenges his office deals with are unprecedented (Attachment 2, slide 4). He said the focus had been on winning the Cold War with not as much focus at that time for the consequences of the work to the environment. Part of the challenge at some sites is trying to achieve a level of cleanup that is not practicable so technical impracticability (TI) waivers are employed or the use of monitored natural attenuation (MNA), which may include some enhancements. Use of TI waivers and MNA however must be agreed to by the regulators.


Dr. Adams said his office is responsible for developing state-of-the-art tools for remediation such as sampling/characterization, trying new remedial approaches, advancing predictive models, and long-term monitoring.


One of the top priorities is developing communication tools to share with Congress and stakeholders (Attachment 2, slide 8). For instance every project will have a fact sheet that explains the problem and what is or will be done. A groundwater database has been developed and is being updated. Dr. Adams said DOE Assistant Secretary for EM, Mr. Rispoli, uses the Plume Map/Assessment/Score Card Booklet as aids for his appearances before Congressional committees and other stakeholders. An example of what is included in the score card booklet is the Oak Ridge plumes map (Attachment 2, slide 9). The score card booklet has a similar page for each site in the DOE complex. The page has a map of the plumes and descriptions of each plume, what the contaminants are, and what is being done to remediate. Slide 10 of Attachment 2 shows the Oak Ridge plumes assessments, which notes where the plumes are, who the contractor is, the major contaminants, plume status, regulatory status, and treatment status.


Slide 11 of Attachment 2 is a page from a contaminant database. Dr. Adams said he developed the format to formulate remediation strategies for individual contaminants across the complex rather than trying to remediate sites with similar contaminants using various techniques. He also showed a page of the groundwater database (Attachment 2, slide 12) that lists a contaminant, such as uranium, the sites where it is in place, and a blank column that will indicate the strategy to be employed for remediation.


Dr. Adams reviewed some groundwater and soil remediation approaches and solutions (Attachment 2, slides 17-26).


Regarding long-term stewardship Dr. Adams said he is still learning and had a good meeting with members of the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee prior to the board meeting. He said long-term stewardship is a major part of his responsibilities under the Office of Engineering and Technology.


Mr. Dixon asked Dr. Adams to summarize the status of the Oak Ridge plumes, particularly those that are migrating offsite. Mr. Adler said he could answer the question. He said the plumes in the Y-12 plant area are within the boundary of the ORR and are not moving offsite. He said they may become steady state and are the subject of a long-term research program.


The plume exiting to the east contains volatile organic compounds. Use restrictions prevent anyone from using the groundwater in that area without permission. A system is in place in an attempt to attenuate most of the plume before it leaves the site.


The plumes to the southwest are primarily under ORNL and relatively static. They are the subject of a network of interception systems designed to relieve the loading of contaminants in the source water. That system will likely be used until the source of the contamination can be removed.

In Melton Valley there is a lot of contaminated groundwater. A hydrologic isolation project in Melton Valley has been completed to eliminate continued degradation of groundwater that includes capping and downgradient isolation of trenches around waste sites.


One plume that has not undergone active remediation is the most southwest component of the Melton Valley plume that is headed toward the Clinch River. A network of wells is in place to determine the leading edge of the plume. The last set of wells has been reached by the plume. An extended network of monitoring is being established to track it.


There are a series of plumes around ETTP that are the result of spilled solvents and old burial grounds. That area is the subject of a groundwater treatability study being done prior to the approval of sitewide decision for ETTP. Mr. Adler said it will probably be a couple of years before a decision is made on how to handle the plumes at ETTP.


Mr. Adler said there are no plumes presenting any imminent health threat. There are plumes on site that have degraded groundwater to the point that it is not suitable for drinking water.


Dr. Adams then referenced slide 10 of Attachment 2 that comments on the status of each plume.


Mr. Dixon asked as plans to remediate the plumes are developed are those plans transmitted to contractors to implement in the field. Dr. Adams said the plumes undergo an annual review and priorities are adjusted. He said a person in his office is dedicated to the Oak
Ridge plumes and works closely with personnel at Oak Ridge.


Mr. Bass asked Mr. Adler to comment more about Mitchell Branch, noting that some efforts for remediation have not been successful. Mr. Adler said Mitchell Branch is a small stream that flows out of ETTP. Volatile organic chemicals have been detected in the stream that exceed the level for ambient water quality criteria for protection of aquatic life. Some steps were taken to alleviate that problem. Those efforts had minimal effect. Another problem has been detected related to the presence of hexavalent chromium. An additional measure has been undertaken to deal with that and there has been about 90 percent reduction of chromium. In the long-term the issue will be resolved through the decision to deal with groundwater at ETTP. It will be sometime before a decision is made. Mr. Adler said the solution may range from monitoring to active removal of the source of the contamination.


Mr. Mezga commented on slide 9 of Dr. Adams’ presentation noting that a number of steps taken to remediate contaminated groundwater plumes at ETTP were ineffective. He said while there has been some successes it was important not to lose sight of protecting the groundwater. He asked what the reaction was to that information noted on the slide. He said the nature of the geology on the ORR allows groundwater to leave the site fairly quickly and because decisions on remediation are a couple of years away something needs to be now. Even though pump and treat techniques are not as effective, as Dr. Adams noted in his presentation, Mr. Mezga said pump and treat may have to be done in the interim.


Mr. Rector said the state constantly emphasizes the nature and extent of contamination and the state feels much more work needs to be done. He said part of delaying approval of the ETTP RIFS is related to the nature and extent of contamination. He said the state’s environmental monitoring plan emphasizes exit pathways.


Ms. Jones said the slide indicates a concern of how close one of the plumes is to the site boundary of ORR. If the plume leaves the site it is an issue that has to be resolved right away. She said there needs to be interim evaluations and actions implemented to make sure the plume does not leave the site because if it did it would trigger more problems than just those on the site.


Mr. Adler said it was unlikely DOE will forget the importance groundwater and there are monitoring systems in place by DOE and TDEC. He said EPA and TDEC comments on resequencing of work related to IFDP are basically ‘don’t forget groundwater.’ He also noted a focus of ORSSAB for FY 2009 is on groundwater and exit pathways. He said while final decisions for groundwater are years out there will be interim decisions and actions for groundwater.


Mr. Stow said it has been sometime since the board received an update on the status of picket well monitoring in Melton Valley. Mr. Myrick said there is a joint meeting in April with the EM and Stewardship Committees on the picket wells.


Mr. Olson noted Dr. Adams said the slide of the plumes was a communication tool. Mr. Olson said while it was an effective tool, because it contained so much negative information and had no mention of solutions it might be a bad tool to share with the public.


Mr. Rector said a follow-up question to Dr. Adams’ presentation might be how does ORR compare to other sites with moving groundwater plumes and the risk to the public. He said Hanford has a plume moving toward the Columbia River, but the Clinch River already has contamination in it. He wonders if those comparisons have been made to financial decision makers in Washington. Mr. Dixon said another part of that question is the degree of risk the contaminants have that are getting into the river.


Mr. Dixon asked that the EM committee consider Dr. Adams’ presentation for any possible follow-up comments or recommendations.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, December 10 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The main presentation topic will be on Trench 13 in Melton Valley.


The minutes of the October 8, 2008 meeting were approved.


The minutes of the November 3, 2008 Stewardship Education Subcommittee were distributed (Attachment 3).


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Lundy noted that the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution until at least March 2009. He said the committee received a follow-up response to the board’s recommendation on the FY 2010 EM budget provided by Ms. Halsey.


The committee reviewed the board’s September and October expenses as well as a travel request. All pending action items for the committee have been closed.


Mr. Mezga noted that responses to a survey of members on the FY 2008 board retreat were almost universal in saying retreat materials and location were good. Many suggestions were made to try to restructure the retreat to allow more time for board member interaction.


EM – Mr. Myrick reported that the committee heard a presentation on a treatability study to be done for groundwater remediation at ETTP. He said that study will not be completed for a couple of years. The study will help DOE determine what action to take to remediate groundwater at ETTP.


Mr. Myrick said the committee had a good discussion with EPA representatives Jeff Crane and Carl Froede and TDEC representative Roger Petrie on cleanup standards to use at ETTP, whether they be based on maximum contamination levels or alternate concentration limits. He said there was agreement that the implementation of a TI waiver should not be employed as a remediation solution.

He said the state has the ability to reclassify the groundwater at ETTP that would facilitate remediation but reclassification of groundwater has to be recognized by EPA. EPA has no intention of approving the RIFS for ETTP, because Mr. Froede feels it might allow DOE too much leeway in not fulfilling its obligations later on.


At the November meeting the committee will hear a presentation from Mr. Adler on restructuring and resequencing of work related to IFDP.


Public Outreach – Mr. Westervelt reported he and Mr. Stow will be staffing an ORSSAB display at the Health Physics Society Vendor’s Meeting in Knoxville on December 9. Staff is working to schedule a meeting with committee representatives and Darrel Richardson, the editor of the Oak Ridger, and Stan Mitchell, the editor of the Oak Ridge Observer. The committee identified nine civic organizations in Anderson County for future presentations.


The committee will review the draft FY 2008 annual report, which will be published in December.


Mr. Myrick reminded the board that he, Maggie Owen, and Mr. Adler led a large group of science students from Oak Ridge High School on a tour of the ORR in November, and a newspaper article ran in the local papers on that tour and other work the board has done with high schools.


Stewardship – Ms. Sarten reported that at its October meeting the committee heard a presentation on applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs). The presentation was an overview on the requirements and how they are used. It served as a background to prepare members for the November program presented by TDEC representatives on how the board can help TDEC monitor ARARs and if they are being observed.


At the November meeting there will be a followup report on the City of Oak Ridge’s role in stewardship on the ORR.


She said members of the committee had a meeting earlier on this date with Dr. Adams on his role as long-term stewardship liaison to EM at DOE headquarters. She said another meeting is scheduled with him in March before the full committee. Mr. Dixon asked that a briefing of the meeting with Dr. Adams be placed on the Stewardship agenda for November 18.


Stewardship Education Subcommittee – Ms. Sarten said she and committee member Donna Campbell and Mr. Osborne met with Lenoir City High School science teachers recently about the Stewardship Education Resource Kit. She said they were very interested in the kit.


Executive – The October meeting minutes were not available but Mr. Dixon said the committee discussed presentations for future board meetings. Mr. Westervelt suggested the presentation on Trench 13 at Melton Valley for the December meeting.


Federal Coordinator Report

Federal Coordinator Pat Halsey was not in attendance. Mr. Adler spoke on her behalf during his comments


Additions to the Agenda





Mr. Coffman moved to approve the minutes of the October 8, 2008 meeting. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 7:47 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. McCracken will provide an overview of the new Bechtel Jacobs contract and the dollar amounts for the various projects. Carryover from October 8, 2008.
  2. 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. Carryover from October 8, 2008.
  3. Stewardship Committee will be briefed on meeting with Vince Adams at its November meeting.
  4. The EM committee will consider any possible comments or recommendations related to Dr. Adams’ presentation.



  1. Mr. McCracken will provide details of the additional budget expected to be allocated to DOE-ORO for FY 2009.  Carryover from July 9, 2008. Closed. The additional FY 2008 funding for ETTP was spread over the following projects. Some were funded to start up during 2008; others in 2009 and 2010.

·   Zone 1 remedial action completion

·   Zone 2 remedial action

·   Additional balance of site facilities decontamination and decommissioning (D&D)

·   ETTP ponds

·   Main plant D&D

·   Remaining facilities D&D

·   ETTP sitewide groundwater treatability study

·   Poplar Creek Facilities D&D

  1. 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. Closed. A document cleared for public use is now available.
  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 a draft recommendation at its November meeting.


Attachments (3) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.