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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved March 11, 2009 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 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

Miranda Clower1

John Coffman - Secretary

Steve Dixon - Chair

Chuck 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

Claire Campbell1


1Student Representative


Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO), Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present

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

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

Steve McCracken, DDFO

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


Others Present

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Norman Mulvenon, LOC

Pete Osborne, Spectrum

Bill Tewes


Twenty members of the public were present.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Steve McCracken – The first shipment of remote-handled transuranic (RH TRU) waste left the Oak Ridge Reservation on February 26 bound for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. This was a major milestone that Mr. McCracken said begins the ultimate removal of transuranic waste from Oak Ridge.


The public comment period on the Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) Major Modification has been extended to March 27.


Connie Jones – no comments.


John Owsley – DOE has completed the sediment sampling in Watts Bar Lake and that information has been provided to the Watts Bar Interagency Working Group. The group determined there was no reason to prevent the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) from dredging the Emory River above mile marker 1. TDEC is still reviewing TVA’s removal plan for how it will dredge ash that spilled into the river as the result of the collapse of a fly ash holding pond near the Watts Bar coal-powered plant in December.


Mr. Dixon asked Mr. Owsley to talk about the TDEC Response Letter (Attachment 1) on the D1 Bear Creek Burial Grounds Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan (DOE/OR/01-2382&D1; DOE/OR/01-2383&D12). Mr. Owsley said TDEC and EPA entered into a dispute with DOE two years over unfunded milestones. Four of the milestones that TDEC and EPA expected to be completed were part of those unfunded milestones and two of those had to do with the Bear Creek Burial Grounds. TDEC and EPA wanted the Bear Creek Valley work to be accelerated. Resolution of the dispute involved setting aside the unfunded milestones and additional time would be added to the cleanup. That extension was the result of additional cleanup work added to the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) work scope through the Integrated Facility Disposition Program (IFDP). Thus Bear Creek Valley work is no longer prioritized as an immediate concern so previously agreed to milestones have been postponed and further review of the documents noted in the letter has been suspended.


Mr. Owsley also said there will be a program on Thursday, April 16 called the “The State of the Creek” to discuss the condition of East Fork Poplar Creek. The meeting will be held at the New Hope Center. The presentation will be hosted by Y-12 National Security Complex.


Public Comment  

Mr. Mulvenon – Mr. Mulvenon congratulated DOE on the first shipment of RH TRU to New Mexico. He expressed disappointment that the milestones to review the focused feasibility study and proposed plan for remediation of Bear Creek Burial Grounds have been delayed.


Mr. Tewes – Mr. Tewes invited everyone to attend the reenactment Saturday, March 21of the opening of the gates of Oak Ridge to the public 60 years ago.


He encouraged DOE Oak Ridge to use some of the expected economic stimulus money for historic preservation of work that has been done over the years on atomic energy. As part of that he said there should be an independent review of currently classified information that might be made available.



Mr. McCracken said he was asked to talk about the FY 2009, 2010, and 2011 Environmental Management (EM) budgets for Oak Ridge. He noted that the government is currently operating on a continuing resolution based on the FY 2008 budget and has not received appropriation for FY 2009. He said, however, there should be no problem working with the proposed FY 2009 budget when it is received.


Figures on the FY 2010 budget are currently embargoed and not available for public release, and the planning for the FY 2011 budget has not yet begun. Consequently, he said he could not provide specific figures on any of the FY budgets.


He said when the planning begins for the FY 2011 budget the board will be involved in prioritizing the work slated for that year.


He said figures on EM budgets for Oak Ridge and what Oak Ridge will receive through the national economic stimulus package will be forthcoming.


Mr. McCracken said he could talk about how the scope of work was formulated related to the national economic stimulus package, now known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and what the scope of work is.


ARRA funding will augment the base budget of FYs 2009, 2010, and 2011. The work is defined as work that can be started and completed within that time frame. Mr. McCracken said a great deal of work has been done by ORO personnel in assigning priorities to expected ARRA funding.


He noted several considerations for ARRA funding (Attachment 2, page 3). Some work he said can begin immediately with the receipt of funds; others will require some short-term contracting. He said a goal that DOE EM headquarters has assigned is to have all the money obligated by the end of FY 2009. The EM requirement is to have the money spent by the end of FY 2011.


Mr. McCracken noted funding priorities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). They include excavation of contaminated soils around Tank W-1A; Building 3026 decontamination and decommissioning; groundwater treatment projects; and the capping of the Bethel Valley Burial Grounds. Additional priorities are noted on Attachment 2, page 5 (map on page 6). He said the cleanup of the central campus at ORNL is part of the effort to convert that area of the lab to be used as part of the Energy Park Initiative to establish private businesses there.


At this point Mr. McCracken discussed the plan to expand a groundwater monitoring system west of the Clinch River outside of the ORR. He said it is not certain whether contamination is leaving the Melton Valley burial grounds in groundwater and moving toward and perhaps under the river onto private property. Since contamination has been detected in a line of monitoring wells on the east side of the river on the ORR, to determine if contaminated groundwater is going under river DOE will establish another line of monitoring wells on the west side of the Clinch.


Some property owners west of the Clinch are being asked to allow DOE to take their private wells out of service. Continued use of the private wells could affect monitoring results from the new wells. In exchange the property owners will be put on a public water system at DOE’s expense. Mr. McCracken said while the department has budget to put the property owners on a public drinking water system, it did not have budget to install the monitoring wells. Money provided through ARRA will allow the wells to be installed.


Mr. McCracken then enumerated priorities for ARRA funding at Y-12 National Security Complex (Attachment 2, page 7; map on page 8). They include Alpha 5 legacy waste removal; West End Mercury Area storm sewer remediation; Salvage Yard cleanup and disposal; expansion of the landfill on Chestnut Ridge; and demolition of the Building 9744 and the Biology Complex Building.


Priorities at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) include completion of current FFA projects, the accelerated preparation of Building K-27 for demolition, and the demolition of Building K-33.


Mr. McCracken concluded his presentation by saying there will be increased scrutiny of how ARRA funds are used. He said ARRA funds will be tracked separately from other funding.


After the presentation, a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Ms. Jones – At the Y-12 Scrapyard, will that cleanup also include the soil or just the scrap? Mr. McCracken – We promise you that we will try to make sure it includes that. We are going to see how far we can get with it. It makes sense to do that. Let’s see how we do.


Mr. Stow – What is the characterization of contaminants in some of the ‘hot cells’ in the buildings to be demolished? Mr. McCracken – I know they have been characterized, but I don’t know what they are. I’ll have to find out and report to you.


Mr. Juarez – You mentioned you were prepared to do other projects if there were opportunities. Have you gone through the process of identifying them, and do you have contingency plans if you have a delay of a job; can you move on to something else? Mr. McCracken – There is nothing that prevents us from doing that. Sometimes we have congressional control points that prevent us from doing things. That will not exist here. We can change if problems like that occur, but it will be difficult, so we would prefer that not happen.


Mr. Stow- What is the form of technetium-99 in K-27? Mr. McCracken – We don’t know. I know that when we cleaned out Building K-31 and 33 there was tech-99 in that equipment. We learned that you have be careful using plasma arc torches, because it makes tech-99 very mobile, and we found residue of it in the rafters as a result of that work. I think the biggest risk of allowing the escape of tech-99 in K-27 is during the demolition process, not during the removal of high-risk equipment. We’ll be gaining additional experience in handling tech-99 when we begin demolition of the southeast leg of K-25, because there is tech-99 in some of the compartments there. We’ll also do an independent technical review based on what we’ve learned in handling tech-99 at other sites around the country.


Mr. Myrick – As part of the discussion of monitoring wells in Melton Valley, will a deep well be installed to monitor previous hydrofracture activities? Dick Kettelle (Bechtel Jacobs, Co.) told the EM committee that a deep well was on the books but hadn’t been funded. I was wondering if it could be part of this package. Mr. McCracken­ – I don’t know if it’s in there, but there is no reason we couldn’t do that. We need to take an action to look into that. Mr. Stow – The need for a deep well is critical. There is no way of knowing if any contamination is moving offsite without one, and I would contend it needs to go on the west side of the Clinch River.


Mr. Myrick – Are there any schedules to expand the waste cell in Bear Creek Valley using this ARRA funding over the next two years? Mr. McCracken – We’re going to expand the cell to 1.7 million cubic yards as soon as possible. We’re not going to try to go beyond that; we don’t think we need to. But we need to expand it soon because we can’t allow that to hold up this work that is coming.


Mr. Bonner – Does the demolition of these buildings also include the removal of contaminated soil? Mr. McCracken – What is currently in our plan is just the buildings. But we have talked with the state that we will carry this as far as it makes sense to go. If we take down a building and find contaminated soil underneath it we will remove the soil. We won’t stop until we get it stable.


Mr. Bonner – Could you talk more about the FFA projects for ETTP (Attachment 2, page 9)? Mr. McCracken – That includes remediating the K-1007 Ponds, digging up the classified burial grounds; taking down K-25 and K-27; and finishing up work in Zone 1.


Mr. Tewes – At the last meeting the board voted for an alternate method of preserving the history of K-25. Is there money in this plan for that? Mr. McCracken – There are four recommendations on historical preservation that I owe the board answers to. I’m going to set up a meeting, or series of meetings, near the end of the month to discuss what it is we’re going to do for historical interpretation of K-25. That meeting (or meetings) will be public. Those meetings will also answer the four outstanding recommendations the board has sent.

Mr. Westervelt – On the issue of contamination in Melton Valley there is the issue of if strontium-90 was detected in the monitoring wells. Mr. Owsley – In the DOE monitoring wells on the east side of the Clinch River there are measurable amounts of strontium-90. On the other side of the river in those privately-owned wells that are drinking water wells TDEC may be seeing extremely small levels of strontium-90. These levels are at or below the lowest limit of the detection equipment we have. There are analyses that cause us concern, not so much of what we can see, but because of our inability to measure it. We will continue to look because strontium-90 in a properly constructed well would be indicative of DOE ORO operations contamination. There is strontium-90 in the environment from nuclear fallout at very low numbers. It is unlikely that you would see it at depth in a properly constructed well. So we have not detected levels of strontium-90 on the west side of the Clinch River in any defensible manner. But we will continue to look and improve our methods of detecting the material. In any event, the levels we are seeing are well below drinking water standards for strontium-90. So even if we find it, it would not be a health issue; it would be a DOE monitoring issue.


Ms. Gawarecki – I’m wondering if the ARRA money can be used for decontamination of artifacts and the demonstration cell at K-25 for historical purposes. Mr. McCracken – It hasn’t been in our planning to date. Ms. Gawarecki – I understand there is still some waste at ETTP that has no pathway for disposal. If there is work to characterize it or pre-treat it I think it should be prioritized a little higher. Mr. McCracken – Unless I’m mistaken, it is in the Bechtel Jacobs contract to rid ourselves of that material before they leave in 2011. Ms. Gawarecki – The LOC also has a concern about the remaining sodium shields at ETTP, which is a hindrance to redevelopment of ETTP. Those three things I’ve just mentioned, I believe, have a higher priority than the demolition of K-33. Mr. McCracken – We’re trying to balance the objectives of the stimulus package. We’re trying balance risk and landscape change. We’re trying to do a lot of things to show that we are using this money well. Ms. Gawarecki – Has the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee formerly told EM that it is not interested in marketing K-33 to private industry?  Mr. McCracken – I don’t know that they have formally, but they have informally.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, April 8 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The main presentation topic will be on transuranic waste processing.


The minutes of the February 11, 2009 meeting were approved.


The response to the EM SSAB Recommendation That Quarterly Project Reviews Be Shared with the EM SSABs was distributed (Attachment 3).


The TDEC Response Letter on the D1 Bear Creek Burial Grounds Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan (DOE/OR/01-2382&D1; DOE/OR/01-2383&D12) was distributed (Attachment 1).


The Recommendation on the National Historic Preservation Act at U.S. DOE-ORO was approved (Attachment 4).


The motion to vote on the two consecutive absences of Mr. Coffman and Ms. Sarten was removed from the agenda since they were in attendance at this meeting.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reported that expenses were running in line with the board’s approved budget. The committee approved travel requests for Mr. Martin to attend the TDEC Waste Management Conference in Gatlinburg and for Mr. Bonner to attend the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in Augusta, Ga.


EM – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee held a joint meeting in February with the Stewardship Committee on groundwater exit pathways. Some of those issues were discussed at this meeting concerning the establishment of additional monitoring wells on the west side of the Clinch River.


The next meeting will be March 18 and the committee will discuss possible recommendations on the budget priorities outlined at this meeting. All board members and Stewardship Committee members will be invited to that meeting.


The committee will also review Recommendation 171 on the Waste Information Management System to determine if the response is adequate, and it will discuss any possible comments on the FFA Major Modification.


Public Outreach As a followup to the committee meeting with Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, Mr. Stow provided a presentation on the board to the Oak Ridge City Council at its March 9 meeting.


Committee representatives continue to have meetings with local media outlets. The committee is working to set up meetings with The Oak Ridger and the Clinton Courier.


The Oak Ridge Earth Day celebration will be on Saturday, April 25 in Bissel Park. Mr. Westervelt asked for volunteers to help staff the ORSSAB exhibit.


Stewardship – Ms. Sarten reiterated that the committee had a joint meeting with EM in February.


The March meeting has been cancelled because committee leadership will be attending other meetings out of town.


The committee will meet again on April 21. The meeting topic is a review of the 2008 Remediation Effectiveness Report.


Executive Committee – Mr. Dixon referred members to the committee minutes in the meeting packets. He noted that a letter will be written to Johnny Moore to request a presentation to the board on mercury contamination.


Mr. Dixon, Mr. Lundy, and Mr. Bonner will be attending the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in Augusta, Ga., March 18-19. Mr. Dixon reviewed ORSSAB’s top three issues of concern and one accomplishment that will be presented at the meeting.


The top three issues are:

          Issue #1: Reestablishing national EM priorities with consideration of SSAB involvement and higher prioritization of risk reduction through decontamination and decommissioning

          Issue #2: Identification and surveillance and maintenance of buildings that may have possible historical significance

          Issue #3: Stewardship responsibilities at ongoing mission sites – locally and across the DOE complex.


The accomplishment is: Support for IFDP and the consequent FFA modification.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported on the status of several outstanding recommendations. She reiterated Mr. McCracken’s comments during his presentation that a meeting will be scheduled to discuss historical preservation of K-25 and that the four outstanding recommendations related to historic preservation will be addressed at that time. Formal responses should be received by the April or May meeting.


She noted that a response to Recommendation 171 on the Waste Information Management System had been received and was included in the March meeting packets.


Ms. Halsey noted that all remediation work had been completed at the David Witherspoon 1630 site in South Knoxville. The state was satisfied with its walk-through of the site.


She noted a workshop on the Energy Park Initiative will be held at Pollard Auditorium at Oak Ridge Associated Universities on Thursday, March 12 (Attachment 5).


Additions to the Agenda

Mr. Coffman reported on the Waste Management Symposium in Phoenix, Ariz. Four members of the board attended the conference – Mr. Coffman, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Mezga, and Ms. Sarten.


The conference was generally focused on ARRA what it was and what its goals are. He noted that sites would be funded to 80 percent and the remaining 20 percent would be held back until it was determined how well sites were utilizing the funding.


Mr. Coffman said Gerald Boyd, manager of DOE ORO, discussed the IFDP and said he was expecting funding on the program soon.


Mr. Coffman provided a presentation on the board at the conference.




Mr. Coffman moved to approve the minutes of the February 11, 2009 meeting. Mr. Myrick seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Bonner moved to approve the Recommendation on the National Historic Preservation Act at U.S. DOE-ORO. Mr. Juarez seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. McCracken will provide an overview of the new BJC contract and the dollar amounts for the various projects. Carryover from October 8, 2008.
  2. Mr. McCracken will find out how much or what percentage of U-235 has been recovered from the K-25 Building. Carryover from December 10, 2008.
  3. Mr. McCracken will determine the contamination in the hot cells in buildings to be demolished at ORNL.
  4. Mr. McCracken will determine if a deep monitoring well will be drilled to check for contamination from hydrofracture injections.
  5. Mr. McCracken will determine what form technetium-99 in Building K-27 is in.



  1. Mr. Adler will determine how much transuranic waste is in Trench 13. Complete. The following information is taken from “White Paper – Evaluation Options for Retrieval and Disposition of Trench 13 Material, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee,”BJC/OR-2370, page 4, 1.3 Waste Volume: The original volume of waste placed into Trench 13 consisted of eight 55-gallon drums and one 30-gallon drum. Each 55-gallon drum has a volume of about 7.4 cubic feet or about a third of a cubic yard. Hence, the eight 55-gallon drums placed into Trench 13 would, if completely full, contain slightly less than 59 ft3 of waste (about 2.2 cubic yards). Adding in the 30-gallon drum with its volume of 4 cubic feet gives a total theoretical volume of 63 ft3 of waste as originally place (~2.3 cubic yards). Spillage of one or more of the drums has distributed the waste in the soil, which has probably resulted in a volume of waste plus contaminated soil that is two or three times as large as the initial waste volume (i.e., 5-7 cubic yards). The estimated quantity of material enclosed by the shielding blocks that currently surround the trench is approximately 30 cy, which includes the containers, the containerized and loose wastes, clean and contaminated subsurface soils, and the several feet of stabilizing material placed over the top of the of the trench after the August 2005 incident.
  2. Mr. Adler will see if the Bechtel Jacobs study on Trench 13 remediation options is available for review. Complete. The White Paper – Evaluation Options for Retrieval and Disposition of Trench 13 Material, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee,”BJC/OR-2370” is available for review.
  3. 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. Complete. Discussed at this meeting.
  4. Another presentation to the board will be pursued in order to gather additional information related to the proposed recommendation on the specific NHPA activities at DOE-ORO. Complete. This action was negated by virtue of approval of the Recommendation on the National Historic Preservation Act at U.S. DOE-ORO at this meeting.


 Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.