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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved July 8, 2009 Meeting Minutes


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

Darryl Bonner

Steve Dixon - Chair

Bob Hatcher

Chuck Jensen

Betty Jones

Edward Juarez

Ted Lundy - Vice-chair

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Ron Murphree

Robert Olson

Maggie Owen

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


Members Absent

Darrell Akins

John Coffman - Secretary

Lance Mezga1

Tim Myrick

Josh Pratt2

Sidney Sherrill2


1Second consecutive absence

2Student Representative


Liaisons Present

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

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

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


Others Present

Daniel Axelrod

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)

Spencer Gross, Spectrum

Kathy Johnson, Spectrum

Norman Mulvenon, LOC

Pete Osborne, Spectrum

Dave Whitehead, Bechtel Jacobs, Co.

Laura Wilkerson, DOE-ORO


Sixteen members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – The DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) budget request for FY 2011 will be sent to DOE Headquarters soon. At this point the budget is embargoed and no information about it will be released until the president submits his budget request to Congress. The ORSSAB Recommendation 178: Recommendations on the FY 2011 DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Program Budget Request will travel with the budget request to headquarters. Mr. Adler said he had been working the Deputy Designated Federal Officer Cate Brennan in Washington, DC, on DOE’s response to that recommendation.


Mr. Adler reported that he is working on a response to the board’s Recommendation 179 on Providing Information in Quarterly Progress Reports. He said a response should be coming in about a month.


Mr. Adler reported that a number of field activities funded by money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are underway. He said a procurement action is underway for the take down of facilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Building 3026 at the lab is being stabilized and prepared for demolition. Waste at the Y-12 National Security Complex Scrapyard is being shipped for disposal. Characterization is underway at the Beta 4 and Alpha 5 facilities at Y-12 in preparation for waste disposal. Water lines for private residences are being placed for several homes on Jones Road, just west of Melton Valley. Those lines are being run so DOE can install monitoring wells on the private properties to monitor for any contamination leaving Melton Valley and going under the Clinch River.


Mr. Adler said he had contacted personnel in the Office of Science at ORNL about having someone do a presentation to the board about mercury releases. He said a presentation should be ready within a couple of months.


A public meeting on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment proposed liability settlement for damages incurred by contaminated sediment in the Watts Bar Reservoir will be held on Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m. at the DOE Information. The proposed settlement is the establishment of a conservation easement of about 3,000 acres along Black Oak Ridge. A 60-day comment period on the settlement will follow the meeting.


Connie Jones – no comments.


John Owsley – no comments.


Public Comment  

Mr. Mulvenon said that Ms. Wilkerson’s presentation will discuss the CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) Waste Disposal Facility in Bear Creek Valley. The facility is commonly known as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, but he said that designation is not found in any of the official documents related to the facility.


Mr. Axelrod left a copy of his latest statements on energy and global warming (Attachment 1). The statements address the House of Representatives Energy Bill and the president’s position calling for an 80 percent reduction in global greenhouse gases by 2050.


Mr. Axelrod left another sketch of a proposed Oak Ridge Senior Center that includes space for a DOE EM exhibit (Attachment 2).


At the June meeting Mr. Axelrod suggested two briefings on stewardship to ORSSAB and a 10-year status report on stewardship by DOE-ORO. At this meeting he suggested each remediated site should have a form containing 15 items related to stewardship (Attachment 3). He also suggested that DOE-ORO issue a 10-year status report on stewardship.


Mr. Axelrod said DOE-ORO reports that the proposed Integrated Facility Disposition Program (IFDP) would cost between $9.4 and $14.5 billion. He said in 2008 Steve McCracken, Assistant Manager for EM, said cleanup costs would be $1 billion. He asked what has changed: does the figure include the approximately $5 billion already spent for cleanup? He asked that DOE issue a clarification.


Mr. Axelrod said he had viewed the ORSSAB video on the Stewardship Education Resource Kit at the American Museum of Science and Energy. He said the video stated that some wastes left in place could be hazardous up to 1,000 years. He wondered if the statement was ‘fear mongering’ or if it was a real problem. He asked what are the wastes, where are they located, what form are they in, what quantity is present, how do they compare with background, and have risk assessments been made.



Ms. Wilkerson’s presentation concerned the CERCLA Waste Disposal Facility in East Bear Creek Valley and the Chestnut Ridge landfills near Y-12 (Attachment 4).


Cells 1-4 of the CERCLA facility have about 1.1 million cubic yards of capacity. Cell 1 is full. To date Cells 1-4 have a total of about 660,000 cubic yards of waste disposed. Another 440,000 cubic yards of waste can be disposed before Cell 5, which is currently under construction, is available.


Ms. Wilkerson showed a chart of disposal volumes and a timetable (Attachment 4, page 4.) The chart shows the current capacity of Cells 1-4, which is about 1.1 million cubic yards. Capacity will be reached by the last quarter of FY 2010. The current design capacity for the facility is 1.7 million cubic yards (Cells 1-5). That capacity will be reached in the 2015 timeframe. Ms. Wilkerson said the most recent capacity assurance report indicates that will not be sufficient to handle waste that is in the current EM baseline, which would be about 1.9 million cubic yards of material. She said the current site could be expanded to a maximum practical capacity of 2.2 million cubic yards.


Ms. Wilkerson showed a photograph of the waste facility, which showed the outline of the existing Cells 1-4, Cell 5 under construction, and Cell 6, which would bring the facility to maximum capacity of 2.2 million cubic yards (Attachment 4, page 5). Expansion of Cell 5 is being done with ARRA funding and is expected to be complete in August 2010. A CERCLA decision regarding building Cell 6 has not been made. Ms. Wilkerson said DOE is working with the regulators to determine how best to accomplish that.


She showed the original 2006 design of the facility (Attachment 4, page 6), which would allow for a fifth cell to bring the facility to a 1.7 million cubic yard capacity but would not allow for further expansion. Attachment 4, page 7 shows the newer design of Cell 5 over the original design. The new design would allow for another expansion (Cell 6).


Page 8 of Attachment 4 shows the conceptual design including the additional Cell 6. Ms. Wilkerson said the design is within the 44-acre footprint noted in the record of decision (ROD) that established the facility.


DOE-ORO operates three other landfills on Chestnut Ridge south of Y-12 (Attachment 4, page 9). Landfill IV receives classified industrial wastes. Landfill V receives sanitary industrial wastes. Landfill VII receives construction waste. All three service Y-12, ORNL, and East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). They were constructed in the mid-1990s and are expected to be useful for about 25 years. The landfills are regulated by TDEC.


Ms. Wilkerson said money from ARRA is being used to expand Landfill V by 385,000 cubic yards, which is needed to handle additional waste from ARRA-funded projects (Attachment 4, page 10).


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


Mr. Dixon – I understand that Cell 5 at the CERCLA facility has a stream that runs next to it. Could you talk about how that affects that construction? Mr. Adler – There is not a stream next to Cell 5. On the eastern boundary of the site is North Tributary 3, which is a small seasonal stream that comes off the ridge. On the western side where the tree line ends and deforestation begins (Attachment 4, page 5) is North Tributary 5, which is west of the potential Cell 6. A key point of the expansion efforts is that it would not involve traversing another stream. One of the current cells overlies North Tributary 4. That presented some challenges that required the installation of an underdrain to allow the stream to flow under the cell and into the valley. Mr. Dixon – Will these cells be covered with an impervious liner? If so, I wonder what the square footage would be and what the storm water runoff would be. Ms. Wilkerson – As part of the conceptual evaluation of the two cells, an analysis was done of leachate generation and storm water runoff generation. If I recall correctly, it’s not significant. It’s between 3 and 4 percent for the leachate and about 4 percent for the storm water runoff. Mr. Whitehead – As we complete sections of the cell we’ll be putting interim covers over them as we open additional cells to the west, which will reduce the storm water runoff. The design of those cells looks at the overall water management. Mr. Dixon – So it’s being reengineered to handle this once the covers go on? Mr. Whitehead – The whole footprint of the cell is designed to handle water runoff. The water falling on the cell won’t go to the sedimentation basin. It’s collected in the cell and handled in the contact water ponds that are farther to the east and also in some leachate tanks. The design capacity for that is being re-checked. We’re going to add an additional leachate tank as part of the Cell 5 design.


Mr. Jensen – What is the nature of the interim cover? And ‘interim’ implies a final cover. What is the final and what is the difference? Mr. Whitehead – The interim cover sheds water so it doesn’t continue to generate leachate. You can use various things. The proposal is to use a typical plastic cover. We’re about to propose using a spray-on cementitous type liner that is easier to apply and sheds about 90 percent of the rainfall. The final cover won’t go on until the facility is completely filled in the 2015-16 timeframe. There will be a final design that will be approved and installed two or three years after the facility is filled.


Mr. Murphree – Will the ROD have to be modified to build the sixth cell? Ms. Wilkerson – The expansion is about 30 percent. We’ve been in discussion with the regulators and the consensus is an explanation of significant difference (ESD) is the approach we would follow in getting approval to expand. Mr. Murphree – Regarding ESDs, I remember an ESD that addressed how to handle leachate that might be contaminated by something that shouldn’t have gone into the cell. What is the status of that ESD? Mr. Adler – There is no reason that we have to address that right away because we have systems in place to deal with all the waste we have to manage. We have studied the way different facilities across the complex deal with this issue. Hanford has a similar situation and their regulatory path has been to process an ESD that uses some risk-based demonstrations to show the leachate produced from their facility is benign from a risk standpoint. We’re going to work with EPA and TDEC to see if we can process similar agreements for Oak Ridge.

Mr. Bonner – In terms of wastes scheduled to go in the facility, what are the types of wastes going in? Is there a difference between baseline and what is to go in under IFDP? I’m trying to get a sense of how much of this waste is amenable to compaction and this whole idea of maximizing capacity. Ms. Wilkerson – The waste is the basic demolition/remediation type debris. However, we are very conscious that we need to balance waste segregation and size reduction to make sure we get the most cost benefit and also that we maximize the existing available cell capacity. At Y-12 with the ARRA projects, we are removing all of the legacy material from the Alpha 5 facility, which is about 500,000 cubic feet, and from a portion of the Beta 4 building. That particular waste stream is an assortment of legacy material and some equipment. We’re going to segregate that waste and make sure anything that can be sent to the sanitary and construction landfills is sent there. We have four buildings in the biology complex at Y-12 that we first thought would have to go to the CERCLA landfill, but after more characterization, we have determined that a good portion of the debris from this project can go to the sanitary landfill. Of the 2000 Complex buildings that are being demolished under ARRA, about 50 percent of that debris can be sent to the landfills. In general when we prepare the waste handling plans for the projects we make sure that segregation and sorting are properly considered.


Mr. Hatcher – The effort to maximize space per unit volume is very good. Are you making a map or an inventory of what goes where in these different waste sites so if you had to go in and get something out, could that be done? Ms. Wilkerson – In general the location of the various wastes is tracked by the CERCLA Waste Facility Operations.


Mr. Stow – You mentioned the ARRA funding for these projects. Can you translate that into the number of new jobs created? Ms. Wilkerson – I think it is about 60 but I’ll have to get back to you with an accurate number.


Mr. Axelrod – A few years ago there was a very heavy rain and the waste cells didn’t function properly and had to have corrective action. Can you describe what the problems were with the original design, what the corrective actions were, and what the results were after the corrective actions were taken? Mr. Whitehead – In February 2003 we had11 inches of rain in two days. That exceeded the 25-year, 24-hour storm capacity, which is what the cell was designed for. We were able to deal with that and we didn’t have any unplanned discharges, but it stretched our capacity to the maximum. There were several activities undertaken. We worked for about a year and half looking at how to control that better and make sure we always have our maximum capacity going into any type of storm event. It was really a matter of administrative controls; trying to improve the turnaround time for analytical results so we could disposition water faster and also trying to minimize the amount of water generated by the actions that we took in the cell. We also had a challenge in December where we had quite a bit of water, but we successfully handled that. We’re confident now that the design is good. However, if you over-exceed the 25-year, 24-hour storm event you might have a problem, but we have contingency plans in place to handle higher capacities.


Mr. Hatcher – How do you establish a 10-year flood, 25-year flood, 50-year flood, etc? What is the basis of that? Mr. Whitehead – It was what was chosen as part of the regulatory process when the CERCLA Cell was designed. That was the design criteria for the type of facilities put in place. Mr. Hatcher – I assume this is some kind of statistical process. For an example, if your design is for a 10-inch rain in 25 years, how many 10-inch rains and 25-year periods is that based? Mr. Whitehead – The state has criteria for storm water runoff, particularly for landfills. We had to do the same thing at our sanitary landfills. Mr. Hatcher – Within the lifetime of the landfills how many of the events do you have to design for? Also the cover material; will it have to withstand a six-year flood 10-year flood, 20-year flood, whatever, within the lifetime of the facility? Mr. Whitehead – I may have misspoken earlier. We’re really not talking about floods but rainfall that generates a certain quantity of water. Within a 24-hour period you’re looking at having the surge capacity to slow down the velocity of water that is coming off the site and into the creek area and being able to store leachate being generated that trickles down through the cell. If you chose a 100-year event you would have to build a much larger facility. It’s a matter of designing a facility that makes economic and practical sense. Mr. Adler – The performance requirements for high rainfall events are specified in federal and state regulations. In general the performance standards we adhere to those types of things are standards provided under the hazardous waste disposal facility regulations, which were developed first at the federal level and then augmented by state requirements. Your question also asked what the basis is for how much rain might fall during a certain amount of time. I assume that is drawn from meteorological data.


Mr. Hatcher – What is the lifespan of these facilities? Mr. Adler – Under CERCLA our requirement is to maintain them in perpetuity. We had to set up a post-closure care trust fund that assures if the facility becomes compromised over time the facility would be repaired. The facility is designed to ensure there is never any significant impact to the surrounding environment. Because it is an earthen facility we must allow for repair of the facility over time.


Mr. Owsley – The criteria is established by law and the data that are used to determine that number is published in U.S. Geological Survey data. You also asked if there was any consideration for multiple periods, and my understanding of the regulations is there is no such consideration. There are variances and leniencies that are available to the regulators so that if there are unusual circumstances those variances would come into play in any enforcement of violations. But the regulations themselves do not deal with what would happen if you have multiple 25-year floods.


Ms. Gawarecki – A concern has been raised to me by a member of the public who is concerned about the amount of enriched uranium that is going into the cell even if the equipment has been foamed. There is no assurance that the foam will hold up over the thousands of years that this cell will have to secure and isolate this material. Why has there been no requirement to put a fission ‘killer’ such as boron to prevent a criticality event in the cell? Mr. Adler – Materials sent to the cell must not contain enough enriched uranium to cause a criticality event. Individual waste lots and collectively there is not enough enriched uranium placed in a location, even if the foam disappears and other things occur, to allow for sufficient concentration of uranium in a configuration that would sustain criticality. An elaborate process called a criticality incredible demonstration is done to assure that never happens. Before material goes in the cell it has to meet those tests.


Ms. Gawarecki – At Y-12 and ORNL they have routine work where they have to excavate. Occasionally they excavate through areas of modest contamination. My understanding is they are allowed to put this contaminated material back in the trench. At one point I had talked to John Owsley about sending the material to the waste cell and he indicated it would have to be analyzed and go through the waste acceptance criteria. If it’s lightly enough contaminated that it can go back in the trench why would you have to go to the expense of characterizing it to go in the waste cell? The amounts are relatively small and could be used as fill. It would serve a double benefit by removing it from the environment where people might be exposed to it and using it as fill material. I would like to see a policy where certain low amounts of lightly contaminated soil from routine maintenance operations be allowed to be sent to the CERCLA Waste Facility without going through characterization. Those areas from which they were taken from could be filled with clean backfill.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, August 12 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. There will be a short business meeting followed by discussion among board members in preparation for the board’s annual retreat on August 29.

The minutes of the June 10, 2009 meeting were approved.


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


The Recommendations on Expansion of the CERCLA Waste Facility and Sorting and Segregating of Wastes Destined for the Facility was approved (Attachment 5).

The Nominating Committee of Lance Mezga, Ms. Sarten, and Mr. Stow was elected.


The board member retreat survey was distributed (Attachment 6). Members will be contacted by facilitator Kathy Johnson for survey responses.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Ms. Owen said the committee discussed the ORSSAB FY 2010 budget, budget guidance from DOE Headquarters on SSAB participation in EM budget requests, the ORSSAB cost report, and annual retreat planning.

Ms. Owen said a round table discussion led by Mr. Lundy is being planned for Friday, August 28 at RT Lodge in Maryville. The topic is the gap between the scientific and engineering disciplines as they relate to DOE.


The ORSSAB annual retreat will be Saturday, August 29 at RT Lodge.


Ms. Owen introduced Ms. Johnson as the ORSSAB facilitator for the annual retreat. Ms. Johnson said she would be calling board members individually to elicit responses to the board member survey (Attachment 6).


EM – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee heard a report on materials in Bear Creek Burial Grounds. The committee also heard an update on demolition activities at the K-25 Building and the ponds remediation project at ETTP.


The committee also approved the draft Recommendations on Expansion of the CERCLA Waste Facility and Sorting and Segregating of Wastes Destined for the Facility (Attachment 5) that was approved at this meeting.


The committee will meet on Wednesday, July 15 at 5:30 at the DOE Information Center. The topic will be the closing of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator.


Public Outreach Mr. Westervelt thanked those members who staffed the ORSSAB booth during the Secret City Festival on June 20. About 25 Stakeholder Surveys were completed at the booth.


Mr. Stow provided a presentation about the board and the DOE EM program to the West Knoxville Optimist Club on June 25.


The committee is working to update the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy to show how DOE’s EM cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation is benefiting from ARRA funding. Mr. Westervelt said the committee may recommend to the board funding to upgrade the exhibit.


Stewardship – Ms. Sarten reported that the committee discussed actions to assist TDEC in monitoring applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements for stewardship at the June meeting. That discussion will continue at the July 21 meeting.

The committee will also begin looking at FY 2009 accomplishments in preparation for the
annual retreat.


Executive Committee – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee met on June 25. At the meeting Federal Coordinator Pat Halsey reviewed guidance from DOE Headquarters on participation of SSABs in formulating site EM budget requests. She said a change in the guidance is that sites may not share funding targets with stakeholders or advisory boards because that information is embargoed once requests are sent to DOE Headquarters. She said Quarterly Progress Reports should alleviate concerns the board may have about the change in guidance.


The committee also approved the agenda for this meeting and discussed the upcoming annual retreat.


Center of Oak Ridge Oral History Report – Mr. Stow reported that the Oral History Advisory Board did not meet in June in lieu of the Secret City Festival. The advisory board had tables set up at the festival to provide information about the center. Mr. Stow reminded the board that the center for oral history is being administered by the Oak Ridge Public Library. He said the library is in the process of hiring an individual to work exclusively with the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History.


He said plans are underway to interview Bill Tewes, who has appeared before the board on several occasions. Mr. Tewes has expressed concerns that some classified information related to K-25 might be lost. Interviews regarding classified material must be done by a person with ‘Q’ clearance in an area that is approved for classified interviews. Mr. Stow said the center is working to make arrangements to conduct such an interview with Mr. Tewes.


Mr. Stow said DOE-ORO is developing a list of former DOE employees to be interviewed.


The next Oral History Advisory Board meeting will be July 16.


Federal Coordinator Report – no report.


Additions to the Agenda




Mr. Juarez was not present for the motions.



Mr. Mead moved to approve the agenda. Ms. Mei seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



The motion to consider the two consecutive absences of Mr. Jensen was taken off the agenda since he was in attendance.


Mr. Dixon said he had been in contact with John Coffman who also had two consecutive absences. Even though Mr. Coffman missed two meetings and was not present on this date he indicated to Mr. Dixon that he would like to continue as a member. The board took no action concerning Mr. Coffman’s absences. Mr. Coffman’s number of absences will be reset to one (this meeting).



Mr. Olson moved to approve the minutes of the June 10, 2009 meeting. Mr. Lundy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  



A Nominating Committee of Lance Mezga, Ms. Sarten, and Mr. Stow was nominated.

Mr. Mead moved to approve the committee. Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Olson moved to approve the Recommendations on Expansion of the CERCLA Waste Facility and Sorting and Segregating of Wastes Destined for the Facility (Attachment 5). Mr. Murphree seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.


Action Items


  1. 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.
  2. Mr. McCracken will determine the contamination in the hot cells in buildings to be demolished at ORNL. Carryover from the March 11, 2009.
  3. A board meeting topic on establishing new Integrated Facility Disposition Project jobs for the next five years will be scheduled in the August-September time frame. Carryover from May 13, 2009
  4. Ms. Halsey will check to see if DOE Headquarters will provide a written response to Recommendation 178: Recommendations on the FY 2011 DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program Budget Request. Carryover from May 13, 2009
  5. Ms. Halsey will advise the board when a new support contractor is in place. Carryover from May 13, 2009
  6. Mr. McCracken will bring a sample of the ORNL and ETTP webpages showing contractors who will be hiring for ARRA work. Carryover from June 10, 2009



  1. Staff will forward information on the DOE EM Headquarters teleconference on soil and groundwater remediation to all board members. Teleconference has been rescheduled for July 23. Board members have been advised of the change.
  2. Ms. Wilkerson will get the number of new jobs generated from the expansion of the cell. Complete. Staffing will range from 40-60 people during the expansion.
  3. Mr. McCracken will ensure that the description of how gaseous diffusion barrier material was developed will be preserved for historical purposes. Complete. Mr. Adler reported at this meeting that arrangements are being made to conduct interviews with Bill Tewes on this topic as part of the oral history program.


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