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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved April 8, 2009 Meeting Minutes


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

Bill Bass

Darryl Bonner

Claire Campbell1

Miranda Clower1

John Coffman - Secretary

Steve Dixon - Chair

Chuck Jensen

Betty Jones

Edward Juarez

Ted Lundy - Vice-chair

David Martin

Steve Mead

Lance Mezga

Ron Murphree

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Sondra Sarten


Members Absent

Gloria Mei

Maggie Owen

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


1Student Representative


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

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

Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO Federal Coordinator

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

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


Others Present

Eric Everett

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Fred Heaker, EnergX

Earl McDaniel

Bill McMillan, DOE-ORO Federal Project Director for the Transuranic Waste Project

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee-Citizens’ Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, Spectrum


Sixteen members of the public were present.


Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – DOE-ORO Environmental Management’s (EM) share of funding ($755 million) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has not yet been received but is expected soon. Mr. Adler said EM has completed all the tasks necessary to receive the money. Arrangements are being made to initiate projects that have been identified for funding.


A consulting parties meeting on historic preservation activities at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), Y-12 National Security Complex, and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will be held at the DOE Information Center on May 5 and 6. The first day will focus on the path forward for historical interpretation of the K-25 Building at ETTP. The second day will focus on National Historic Preservation Act compliance at Y-12 and ORNL. Invitation letters to the consulting party participants will be mailed soon.


Mr. Adler reported on the status of five outstanding recommendations from ORSSAB to DOE. He said it is the intent for DOE-ORO to respond to all of the outstanding ORSSAB recommendations on historic preservation shortly after the consulting parties meeting on May 5 and 6. All of the recommendations are related to historic preservation or dealing with buildings that may have historic significance.


Mr. Bonner said at last month’s meeting Steve McCracken, DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for EM, briefed the board on the ARRA stimulus package. He asked what projects DOE-ORO had proposed to headquarters for ARRA funding. Mr. Adler said he asked staff to email to all board members a news release from DOE headquarters and a fact sheet that outlined those projects (Attachment 1, emailed to the board on March 31). He said there has been much material developed showing that DOE-ORO has the business management systems in place to ensure the money is spent with a high degree of accountability. Mr. Adler said when the project proposals are approved by headquarters he will ask staff to forward that information to the board.


Mr. Bonner said it was his understanding that if some projects could not be addressed there would be a list of other projects the ARRA money could be used for. He asked what those other projects might be. Mr. Adler said the plan is to execute contracts to allow the use of excess money or, if there is an inability to proceed on the original plan, to use the money on other projects. As an example he said a provision is in place at ORNL to use any excess money available after building demolition to proceed with soil remediation.


Connie Jones – Work continues to demolish the K-25 Building at ETTP. Ms. Jones said about 50 trucks a day are hauling demolition debris to the waste cell (known as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility) near Y-12. She said the hope is to increase that number to about 75 trucks per day.


John Owsley – no comments.


Public Comment  

Mr. Mulvenon encouraged the board and visitors to listen carefully to the presentation on transuranic (TRU) waste as Mr. McMillan will talk about how ARRA funds will be used for that project.



Mr. McMillan said his presentation would be an update of the status of the TRU waste processing on the Oak Ridge Reservation and how ARRA funding will be used to accelerate the project.


Mr. McMillan began by explaining that TRU waste is a special class of radioactive waste with isotopes above the atomic weight of uranium. It has concentrations of at least 100 nanocuries per gram of waste with a half-life of more than 20 years. TRU waste is hazardous because of the alpha radiation associated with it. While alpha radiation is easily shielded it is a serious health hazard if ingested or inhaled.


He said the project has had a perfect safety record of six years without a lost work day. The total workforce dose rate was less than 5 REMs for 2008.


TRU waste work scope includes four primary waste streams: supernate, which was completed in September 2004; contact-handled (CH) and remote-handled (RH) debris and soils; and RH sludge (Attachment 2, page 3).


The TRU Waste Processing Center is currently processing CH and RH debris and soils. The start-up quantities were 1,500 cubic meters of CH and 600 cubic meters of RH. Processing of CH TRU waste began in December 2005; RH TRU processing began in May 2008.


Processing of 2,000 cubic meters of sludge is scheduled to begin in early 2013, although ARRA funding could result in moving that up about a year.


Mr. McMillan said the Integrated Facility Disposition Program could add some additional TRU waste to the work scope from additional decontamination and decommissioning projects. Waste from the Building 3019 project at ORNL could also be added to the scope.


Mr. McMillan provided an update of CH and RH operations to date. He said 345 cubic meters of CH have been processed; 43 cubic meters have been processed this fiscal year (Attachment 2, Page 5). The first of three shipments of CH TRU to date was sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico in September 2008. About 35 more shipments are scheduled before the end of 2009. More than 600 drums of waste soils have been processed and upon final certification approval are ready for shipmen tto  WIPP.


The first shipment of RH TRU was sent to WIPP in February 2009. Three shipments have been made to date with another 30 or so scheduled for the remainder of the year. In addition, other RH activities included the design and installation of a process system for removing bulk liquids from the hot cells. Mr. McMillan said one of the challenges encountered has been the discovery of groundwater in casks holding RH waste. A process had to be designed to remove the water, which ranged from 30 to 350 gallons per cask.


Mr. McMillan clarified the statement that has been used frequently that Oak Ridge has the largest inventory of RH TRU waste in the DOE complex. He said that is true for inventory on site. But he said once the sludge waste is processed it will no longer be classified as TRU waste, but as low-level waste and will be sent to the Nevada Test Site (NTS) and not to WIPP. He said the sludge waste has now been taken off the RH inventory. As a result Oak Ridge technically no longer has the largest inventory of RH in the DOE complex.


He said $80 million of ARRA funding has been assigned to the TRU waste project. That will accelerate CH and RH debris processing by about a year. It will also allow moving the sludge processing up about a year.


The plan is to begin a second CH and RH production shift in July 2009 (Attachment 2, page 21). That would implement two 12-hour shifts Monday through Thursday. A third logistics/support shift is planned for January 2010. That would be a 12-hour shift running Friday through Sunday.


Mr. McMillan reviewed the status of milestones for both CH and RH TRU (Attachment 2, page 24). All CH milestones have been met or are projected to be met. The initial shipping milestone for RH TRU was met, but the processing milestones for FY 2009 will have to be renegotiated.


He provided an update on an idea proposed to use shielded containers to ship RH TRU as CH TRU. Work is still being done on the proposal, but Mr. McMillan said processing of RH TRU in Oak Ridge will likely be almost complete before the shielded container idea is approved. However, if it is approved before RH processing is complete it would be evaluated for use.


After Mr. McMillan’s presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Mr. Myrick – How many extra people will be hired with the expanded shifts? Mr. McMillan – About 70 will be hired for the second shift. The third shift is anticipated to have about 60, but that is dependent on what the new contractor will propose.


Mr. Lundy – Is there a possibility that the hiring process will run into a limit of personnel who are qualified to do the job? Mr. McMillan – I don’t think so. The baseline had a ramping up to a second 8-hour shift anyway. In preparation for that, EnergX had a job fair and about 2,000 applicants came. I understand they’ve already identified people they want to hire, but they can’t hire them until the funding comes through.


Mr. McDaniel Would you repeat what you said about the bench scale sludge development? Were you using surrogate sludge or the actual Melton Valley sludge? Mr. McMillan – We started using the surrogate sludge to check the mixture on the solidification part of it. We’ve used actual samples from the sludge tanks to perform additional testing on the binding of the radionuclides and the solidification. We’ve done it on a large scale, in 55-gallon drum tests, with a contractor in Montana. Mr. McDaniel You can dilute this from TRU waste to low-level waste? Mr. McMillan – Solidification technology is a much more certain approach to managing this sludge waste than the original method we were using to dry it. We worked a lot with WIPP saying the solidification methodology by adding grout and so forth is a safer way from a dose perspective; it’s a better way to do it to get it packaged and shipped. The process of the treatment itself is what’s leading to the reclassification. We’re not doing it to dilute the waste. We’re doing it to process it for a safe form for disposal. The final waste form will be the package as it’s developed for disposal. When you look at the weight of that package and the TRU content in it, it will fall below the 100 nanocuries per gram limit.


Mr. Everett – The NTS can only accept mixed low-level waste for a certain amount of time. What’s the plan for that waste stream beyond that time? Mr. McMillan – Mixed low-level waste for the NTS is permitted through 2010. I think we’ll still have some waste to deal with after that time. DOE is looking at other outlets in Texas, Utah, and at Hanford, Washington. Most of our work should be completed with the accelerated schedules. But we may be jeopardized if the other outlets aren’t available to us. Mr. Bonner – As I understand it disposal of low-level waste at NTS is a potentially limited option also because of the legislation of how that land was set aside. Mr. McMillan – I think you’re referencing the issue that DOE and the state of Nevada are working on regarding a land withdrawal act to no longer allow waste disposal at NTS. I can’t speak directly to that, but reports from DOE headquarters are they are nearing a resolution to that problem. I didn’t know that applied to low-level waste. I thought it just applied to mixed waste. Mr. Bonner – Regarding the RH waste that had water in it, is there a percentage of that dried waste that turns out to be CH and not RH? Mr. McMillan – Yes. Especially in the pre-1979 group, almost 100 percent of it has turned out to be CH. In the whole population, we’ve estimated 40 percent or so that would turn out to be CH just because of the age of the waste and the decay that occurs and the fact that when the waste was originally packaged the standards for TRU were different when it was 10 nanocuries instead of 100. The newer waste in the 1979-91 group and the post-1991 group are going to be almos 100 percent RH.


Mr. Mezga – Are there any issues associated with WIPP’s ability to accept the waste on an accelerated schedule? Mr. McMillan – The biggest slowdown has been the development of the acceptable knowledge documentation. On the CH side where we have a lot of different waste streams, and some of those are only a few containers, they have to go through the same acceptable knowledge development process for a few containers as they do for a large quantity of known material.  We may do the remediation and the processing steps and have it ready for that final run through the system, or at least getting the non-destructive assay results and conducting the data review before it can be shipped. WIPP is adding resources through their ARRA funds as well to help support this on a complex wide basis.


Mr. Mulvenon – If groundwater is getting into the concrete casks, that water will also leave the casks. What happens to that water? Mr. Adler – There has been a lot of work done around those trenches including the groundwater beneath the trenches and the downstream surface water conveyances. In general, those trenches have not had much impact on the groundwater underneath the site or the surface water, probably because of the nature of the clay or the attenuation of the contaminants in the clays. That’s what the data shows. Mr. Mulvenon – You also mention the water in the casks was low-level and could be treated at the waste water treatment facility. Mr. McMillan – There was a sampling campaign done to check for an EPA standard of ‘no longer contains’ determination. We evaluated the data against the data in the ‘no longer contains’ table to confirm they were less than the limits for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act constituents in that table. Mr. Heacker­ – The ‘no longer contains’ determination applies to environmental media. There was no process record of disposal of liquids in the casks, so there is a method you can use to test and screen against these risk standards to make a ‘no longer contains’ ruling for the list of components.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, May 13 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The tentative presentation topic will be on the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation.


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


The Recommendation on the on FY 2011 Environmental Management Budget Request was approved as revised during discussion (Attachment 3).


Copies of The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management were distributed to board members.


Ms. Campbell and Ms. Clower were recognized for their service as student representatives.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez said the committee reviewed the board’s budget and it is on target to date.


The board’s annual retreat will be Saturday, August 29 at the RT Lodge in Maryville, Tenn. The regular board meeting will be held Wednesday, August 12 at the DOE Information Center. That eliminates the need for a board meeting immediately following the retreat meeting. The August 29 meeting will be focused on discussion of board structure and other items leading into the retreat.


Mr. Juarez said some members wished to stay overnight at the lodge on Friday, August 28. Those who wish to stay overnight should contact staff for room reservations. Mr. Lundy has volunteered to lead a discussion of the Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management for any members staying at the lodge that night.


Mr. Juarez said Mr. Lundy suggested that The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management be purchased and presented to all current members and to new members as part of their orientation. Mr. Lundy said the handbook had been provided to the participants of the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting and he thought it would be a useful tool for all board members.


Mr. Juarez asked Mr. Mezga to talk about the committee’s discussion regarding the response to Recommendation 174: Recommendation That Quarterly Project Reviews (QPRs) Be Shared with the EM SSABs. Mr. Mezga said the response to the recommendation was that QPRs would not be provided to the SSABs because the QPRs contain business sensitive information. Mr. Mezga asked if there was an easy way for that information to be deleted and the balance of the information provided to the boards. Mr. Adler said the QPRs report on project management data. He suggested the board identify the information it is interested in receiving. DOE would have the option of agreeing to provide it or not. He said DOE-ORO’s approach to providing that information is through summary and less frequently than quarterly. He said perhaps such information could be made part of the annual retreat. He felt like the board was getting QPR-type information on progress and budgets of major projects underway either at board or committee meetings.


EM – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee discussed a possible recommendation on the DOE-ORO EM FY 2011 budget request at its March meeting. The committee also received information from Mr. Adler on a time critical removal action for Building 3026 at ORNL.


At the April meeting the committee will be briefed on the planned expansion of the waste cell near Y-12. The discussion will include sorting and segregating of waste that goes in the cell.


Public Outreach Mr. Bass noted that one of the responsibilities of the committee is to help recruit student representatives for the board. Committee members have visited Oak Ridge High School and Hardin Valley Academy to talk to students about the role of student representatives on the board. Mr. Bass said Ms. Clower went with the group to visit Hardin Valley Academy and after the presentation the students asked her a number of questions. Mr. Bass thought her presence was beneficial in engaging the students about serving on the board.


Earth Day activities will be April 25 at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. Mr. Bass said board volunteers are needed to staff the ORSSAB booth. He asked anyone interested in staffing the booth for a couple of hours should contact staff for scheduling.


Stewardship – The March meeting was cancelled because committee leadership was unable to attend. Ms. Sarten said the committee will meet on Tuesday, April 21 and hear a presentation on the 2009 Remediation Effectiveness Report.


Executive Committee – Mr. Dixon said he, Mr. Bonner, Mr. Gross, Ms. Halsey, Mr. Juarez, and Mr. Lundy attended the EM SSAB Chairs meeting in Augusta, Ga., in March. He asked members to read the trip reports included in the meeting packets for details. The trip also included a tour of the DOE Savannah River Site.


He said presentations at the meeting were made by Ines Triay, DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for EM; Merle Sykes, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Planning and Budget; Mark Gilbertson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Technology; Frank Marcinowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Compliance; and others. Dr. Triay has been nominated by the president to the position of Assistant Secretary for EM to replace James Rispoli.


Mr. Dixon said he was persistent in getting more information about how EM priorities for cleanup are established. It was decided to have someone from DOE Headquarters discuss it in more detail at the fall meeting in Idaho.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported approvals have been received from DOE Headquarters for board members who are up for re-appointment.


On Thursday, April 16 at New Hope Center, TDEC will have a presentation on the state of East Fork Poplar Creek.


Ms. Halsey noted a letter in the meeting packet from Ines Triay (Attachment 4) concerning ARRA funding received by EM and some of the qualifiers for what that money is to be used.


Ms. Halsey referenced the EM Project Update report in the meeting packets (Attachment 5, page 2 listed with Building 3026 in the March column) that noted a Time-Critical Removal Action Report has been generated to remove two buildings and the stack immediately behind the 3019 Building at ORNL.


She said the Time-Critical Removal Action Report for Building 3026 has been signed and added to the Administrative Record, which is available at the DOE Information Center.


Additions to the Agenda





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


Mr. Coffman was not present for the following motions.



Mr. Lundy moved to approve the minutes of the March 11, 2009 meeting. Mr. Bonner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Myrick moved to approve the Recommendation on the FY 2011 Environmental Management Budget Request as revised during discussion (Attachment 3). Mr. Olson seconded and the motion was approved with 14 voting ‘yea’ and 1 voting ‘nay’ (Mr. Mezga).


The meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Staff will forward approved project proposals, funded by ARRA, to the board when available.
  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. Carryover from the March 11, 2009.
  4. Mr. McCracken will determine if a deep monitoring well will be drilled to check for contamination from hydrofracture injections. Carryover from March 11, 2009



  1. Mr. McCracken will determine what form technetium-99 in Building K-27 is in. Complete. Russ Vranicar, Federal Project Director for the K-25 Decontamination and Decommissioning Project provided information on March 30, 2009.  See Attachment 6 for details. In summary the chemical forms of technetium-99 include pertechnetyl fluoride and technetium hexafluoride. These fluorides react with moist air to produce pertechnetic acid in the K-25 process cascades. Attachment 6 was also provided to board members via email April 9.
  2. Mr. McCracken will provide an overview of the new BJC contract and the dollar amounts for the various projects. Closed. This action is negated as a result of additional funding received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Attachments (6) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.