Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

4-c logo 100 pixels.JPG (11680 bytes)

 

 

 

Summary of the FY 2009

Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board

Annual Retreat

 

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) met Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the RT Lodge in Maryville, Tenn., for its
annual retreat.

 

The purpose of the meeting was to:

·    Review FY 2009 board and committee accomplishments

·    Determine carryover activities for FY 2010

·   Review topics to consider in FY 2010 from the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

·   Determine issues to consider in FY 2010 from results of the Stakeholder Survey

·   Discuss ways to improve board processes

 

Attending the meeting were:

 

Dave Adler, ORSSAB DOE Liaison

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman, ORSSAB Secretary

Steve Dixon, ORSSAB Chair

John Eschenberg, DOE-Oak Ridge Assistant Manager for Environmental Management

Spencer Gross, ORSSAB Staff Support

Pat Halsey, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator

Bob Hatcher

Kathy Johnson, Facilitator

Betty Jones

Connie Jones, ORSSAB EPA Liaison

Ed Juarez

Ted Lundy, ORSSAB Vice-Chair

David Martin

Steve McCracken, ORSSAB Deputy Designated Federal Officer

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Ron Murphree

Tim Myrick

Bob Olson

Pete Osborne, ORSSAB Staff Support

Maggie Owen

John Owsley, ORSSAB TDEC Liaison

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt


After an initial welcome by facilitator Kathy Johnson, Mr. McCracken introduced John Eschenberg to the board as the new DOE-Oak Ridge Office (ORO) Assistant Manager for Environmental Management (EM). Mr. Eschenberg was the vitrification plant manager at Hanford, Wash. Mr. McCracken is helping him transition into his new job at Oak Ridge, as Mr. McCracken is working toward retirement within the next few months. Mr. Eschenberg will also become the new Deputy Designated Federal Officer for the board.

 

Mr. Eschenberg said this is his fourth DOE posting. He also worked at the Savannah River Site, Los Alamos, and Hanford. He has a background in the U.S. Navy and in the medical field. He said he feels strongly about the EM program and worked closely with the Hanford Advisory Board, a sister organization
to ORSSAB.

 

Review the Role of the Board as it Relates to DOE

The first item of business was to discuss the role of the board as it relates to DOE. The stated purpose of the board is to provide independent advice and recommendations to DOE-ORO on its environmental cleanup program on the Oak Ridge Reservation. But Mr. McCracken said the board has a broader role. “There has never been a successful cleanup operation across the DOE complex that didn’t have a public component,” he said. “The board must communicate the issues to the public in ways that it understands.

 

“What must happen is for the board to make recommendations to enable the agencies (DOE, EPA, and TDEC) to make decisions. So it needs to know what the thoughts of the community are.”

 

Mr. McCracken said the board helps DOE make decisions and it reminds DOE when decisions need to be made, what is important and what’s not. “I hope the members of the board know that DOE cannot succeed without a group like this,” he said. “We must get your input to do our jobs.”

 

Mr. McCracken commented that when cleanup work is going well and there is no controversy the public is less involved. He said he doesn’t want the public or the board to become complacent about work being done on the reservation.

 

Mr. Myrick said he didn’t think the board was an accurate cross section of the public. He wondered if the representation of the board should better reflect the makeup of the public.

 

Mr. Olson said, “We are members of the public who care enough to serve. Others don’t participate unless there is something controversial going on.”

 

Mr. Mezga said, “Each of us makes a decision about how we spend our time. People spend time with things they have time to work with. The public is looking to the board to help it focus on important issues.”

 

Ms. B. Jones said, “The public is curious about the board. Perhaps they need some opportunity to be involved.”

 

Mr. Westervelt said in his work talking with local newspapers through the board’s Public Outreach Committee it is apparent to him that the board needs a way to communicate with the public where they live. Mr. Olson pointed out that he thought it was a major accomplishment that the Public Outreach Committee was able to establish a relationship with Frank Munger, columnist with the Knoxville News Sentinel who covers DOE. In the past it was felt Mr. Munger did not take the work of the board seriously. Since meeting with him references to the board have increased in News Sentinel articles.

 

Mr. Myrick said the board needs to encourage the public to become involved in different ways. Mr. Mezga said perhaps one way would be to change the look of the ads that run advertising the monthly meetings.

 

Review Roles of Committee and Board Liaisons, the DDFO, Federal Coordinator and Staff

Ms. Halsey’s presentation (Attachment 1) explained the roles and responsibilities of the committee and board liaisons, the deputy designated federal officer (DDFO), herself as federal coordinator, and the ORSSAB staff.

 

Ms. Halsey noted that there will likely be changes in committee liaisons in FY 2010. Mr. Olson said his has appreciated the straightforwardness of the liaisons and the DDFO and hopes that will continue.

 

Ms. Halsey said her responsibilities have increased because the board has been generating more work. She said the board’s efforts to institute an oral history program for Oak Ridge has led to the creation of the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (COROH) and Networking Oak Ridge Oral History (NOROH), and she remains active in those programs. A planned stewardship workshop in the spring of 2010 has also added to her workload.

 

Mr. Lundy said the formation of an ad hoc committee to learn more about the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation and how the board may utilize its expertise will likely add to her duties as well.

 

Mr. Myrick asked if her DOE responsibilities as a federal project director would affect her role as federal coordinator. Ms. Halsey said if the board members notice any ill-effects to let her know.

 

Mr. McCracken said no one is more dedicated to the role of federal coordinator than Ms. Halsey. He said she shepherds the work of the assistant manager of EM as it relates to ORSSAB and makes sure things stay on track and are addressed.

 

Returning to the topic of oral history, Mr. Bonner said he wasn’t sure everyone in the community knows about COROH. He said perhaps that is part
of public awareness.

 

Mr. McCracken said DOE is producing a 15-minute video about the oral history program. He said he hopes Inés Triay, DOE Assistant Secretary for EM, will become a ‘champion’ for oral history at the headquarters level.

 

Mr. Stow said there are plans to do a whole series of oral history tapings in Oak Ridge. Mr. Mead said there are links to Y-12 oral histories on the
Y-12 website.

 

Mr. Olson said he hopes Mr. Eschenberg will become an ally in Oak Ridge with historic preservation.

 

Ms. Halsey concluded this portion of the meeting by announcing that MCH Corporation will become the new staff support contractor for the board effective
September 1.

 

The board members expressed their appreciation to Mr. Osborne and Mr. Gross for their work as staff support.

 

Review and Evaluate Results of Stakeholder and Member Surveys

Mr. Westervelt reviewed the results of the Stakeholder Survey (Attachment 2). He said the survey had been revised somewhat from 2008 and distribution had been increased. Responses also increased from 80 in 2008 to 163 in 2009. Approximately 800 surveys were distributed by mail or direct distribution at presentations, Earth Day, Secret City Festival, etc.

 

Mr. Westervelt said the Public Outreach Committee continues to work to get the survey out to more people. He felt like inroads were being made to make the public more aware of the board.

 

Concerning the board member survey there was discussion about board member participation. Ms. Johnson noted that some board members are more active and ask more questions at board meetings. Also, some members who do not have technical backgrounds may feel intimidated by discussions and are reluctant to participate. Mr. Mezga said there is nothing preventing members from asking questions and asking for help. He said if they are not willing to learn the issues and the language there is little other board members can do to help.

 

Review of Public Outreach

Mr. Osborne provided a summary of all the public outreach activities the board has done through the Public Outreach Committee in FY 2009 (Attachment 3). He showed a chart comparing ORSSAB public outreach activities to the seven other SSABs that indicated ORSSAB does far more outreach than
other boards.

 

Refining the Committees: 2009 Accomplishments, Carryovers, and Structure

Ms. Johnson asked the group to break into smaller groups to review accomplishments and carryover activities for each committee. They were also to consider any new ideas for the next fiscal year.

 

Committee accomplishments and carryovers for the committees for FY 2009 are listed in Attachment 4. New ideas to consider that came out of the break-out sessions are below.

 

Board Finance & Process

·   Review the board’s mission statement and how changing it might affect the bylaws

·   Discuss how to get community input on the DOE-ORO EM budget

·   In reviewing the EM budget, focus on project priorities rather than dollars

·   Conduct a comparison of EM funding across DOE sites.

 

Environmental Management

·   Help set priorities for the Integrated Facility Disposition Program

·   Monitor Frank Munger’s News Sentinel blog for public comments or EM-related issues

 

Public Outreach

·   Include a question on the Stakeholder’s Survey related to the Stewardship Education Resource Kit

·   Include a question on the survey about the importance of individual input on EM issues

·   Include a question on the survey about the awareness of a public comment period

·   Ask people to fill out a Stakeholder’s Survey when presentations are made

·   Provide notices of board activities to contractors beyond Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Y-12 National Security Complex, e.g. Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contractors

·   Try to engage Roane County residents especially those who live farther away from the Oak Ridge Reservation

·   Make a presentation to the East Tennessee Economic Council

·   Clarify the role of the DOE-ORO Public Affairs Office as it relates to the board’s public outreach activities. Is there a network source?

·   Consider calling a special meeting when issues/crises come up

 

Stewardship Committee

·   Stewardship Education Subcommittee – Subcommittee should reach out more to science classes in local schools.

 

Board Processes – How Things Get Done

During this portion of the meeting a number of ideas were discussed related to board processes.

 

1.       There was additional discussion about the process for calling special meetings if there was some urgent issue to discuss. Mr. Adler cautioned against not going faster than the DOE Public Affairs Office in handling crises or matters of urgency. He also asked who had the authority to call a special meeting. Ms. Halsey said enough time has to be allowed prior to a board meeting for a meeting announcement to be placed in the Federal Register. Mr. McCracken suggested the Executive Committee discuss how to handle called meetings.

2.       Another suggestion Ms. Halsey made was for the Stewardship Committee to consider meeting less frequently.

3.       Use electronic capabilities more to speed interaction.

4.       Work to put the Stewardship Education Resource Kit into local schools (this could be hampered because of curricula required by the state already in place).

5.       Rotate meeting locations.

6.       Define committees by location – ORNL, East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP),
Y-12. Mr. McCracken cautioned against ‘stovepipe thinking’ and not looking at the EM picture in a broader sense. A suggestion was made to split the EM Committee into areas of responsibilities. Mr. Myrick disagreed saying the committee shouldn’t be split into smaller groups.

 

Key Issues to Guide Work for the Upcoming Year

On behalf of their respective agencies, Mr. Adler, Mr. Owsley, and Ms. C. Jones provided suggestions for the board to consider in FY 2010 (Attachments 5,
6, 7).

 

Other issues were identified for consideration through the board member and Stakeholder surveys. Those issues were written on flip chart pages and posted around the room. Board members were asked to vote on the importance of each issue by placing a colored sticker next to the issues. The results are as follows:

 

Expansion of the onsite waste disposal facility in Bear Creek Valley – 12

Prioritization of Integrated Facilities Disposition Program beyond 2011 – 8

Disposition of sodium at ETTP – 6

Tracking status of picket wells in Melton Valley – 5

Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator; where will those wastes go after closure? – 4

Building 3019 at ORNL – 3

Makeup of the board – 3

Could the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation be of assistance in engineering studies – 3

Molten Salt Reactor Experiment – 2

Transuranic Waste Processing Center – 2

Long-term Federal Facility Agreement Appendix J Strategic Cleanup Plans – 2

Indentify clean areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation and remove them from the National Priorities List – 2

Trench 13 – 1

FY 2012 budget recommendation – 1

 

All of these issues, including topics suggested by the three agencies, will be put before the various committees at their next scheduled meetings. The committees will choose what items to include on their work plans for FY 2010.

 

Next Steps

As noted above, Ms. Halsey said the committees will formulate their work plans from issues identified above and any carryover and ongoing topics from FY 2009. The DOE and contractor liaisons will help the committees determine the proper time frames for addressing each issue.

 

Ms. Halsey said the committees will assign issue managers and assistant issue managers to the work plans.

 

The committees will also elect new chairs and vice chairs for FY 2010.

 

Closing Remarks

Mr. Dixon and Ms. Halsey thanked everyone for attending the FY 2009 retreat and wished everyone a productive FY 2010 on the board. The meeting adjourned
at 3:45 p.m.

 

 (Attachments available through the ORSSAB Staff Support Office)