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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved January 13, 2010 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.


Members Present

Darrell Akins

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman

Bob Hatcher

Charles Jensen

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Ron Murphree, Chair

Bob Olson

Josh Pratt1

Sidney Sherrill1

Steve Stow


Members Absent

Steve Dixon

Tim Myrick2

Maggie Owen

Sondra Sarten2

Kevin Westervelt – Vice Chair


1Student Representative

2Second Consecutive Absence


Liaisons and Federal Coordinator Present

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

Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator

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

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


Others Present

Susan Gawarecki, Executive Director, Local Oversight Committee

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee Citizens’ Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, IIA

Walter Perry, DOE-ORO

Tom Price, Fairfield Services Group

Bill Tewes

Jim Thiesing, Bechtel Jacobs, Co.

Russ Vranicar, DOE-ORO


Twenty-three members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – Mr. Adler said DOE-ORO had sent a letter to the State Historic Preservation Office saying preservation of the North Tower of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) was not practical. The letter said the memorandum of agreement (MOA) stipulating preservation of the North Tower, the interior walls of the ‘legs’ of the building, and the so-called ‘Roosevelt Cell’ needed to be modified. The state has concurred with DOE on that assessment and the state and DOE are working to move forward with revising or developing another MOA. Mr. Adler said the path forward is to conduct another study to examine alternatives for historic preservation at ETTP. The study will also look at the merits of a reservation-wide preservation strategy to include Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).


Mr. Stow asked who will conduct the new study and when it is expected. Mr. Adler said a company has not yet been chosen to conduct the study. He said DOE-ORO is working with the DOE historian in Washington, DC, Skip Gosling, to find a company. Mr. Adler said the plan is to have a company selected to do the study by the summer and a provide report a couple of months later.


Mr. Adler reported that DOE-ORO is not meeting established milestones related to removal of fuel salts from the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at ORNL. An engineering evaluation has been completed that concludes that the plan to heat remaining salts in the reactor, putting the liquefied salts in shipping containers, and sending the containers to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico is too risky. DOE must now determine another method for removing the salts. DOE has requested an extension to conduct another engineering study to determine another method. The state has rejected that request. Currently DOE and TDEC are in an informal dispute process in an attempt to solve the problem. Mr. Adler said the issue likely will be elevated to another layer of management, probably in February.


Mr. Adler reported a similar situation exists with a groundwater treatability study at ETTP. DOE has requested an extension to complete the study; TDEC has rejected the request and the issue will be elevated to the next layer of management.


Mr. Adler reported that the 3026 Building at ORNL has been completely demolished. Most of the debris has been sent to the waste disposal facility in Bear Creek Valley.


Congress has directed the Department of the Interior to conduct a study for the preservation and interpretation of four sites associated with the Manhattan Project for possible designation as part of the National Park Service. The park service will hold two open houses on the topic on Tuesday, January 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The park service will provide more information at the open houses and solicit public comment on the issue.


Connie Jones – No comments. Mr. Murphree asked Ms. Jones about a letter from EPA Acting Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg to Ms. Margaret Jones of Louisville, Ky., concerning environmental justice issues in the Scarboro community near Y-12. Ms. Jones said the letter (Attachment 1) had just been received and was provided to staff who will record it in incoming correspondence.


John Owsley – No comments. Ms. Gawarecki asked about the Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for the Record of Decision for the Disposal of Oak Ridge Reservation Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 Waste (DOE/OR/01-2426&D1). The ESD explains the need to expand the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) in Bear Creek Valley. Ms. Gawarecki’s question specifically related to the waste acceptance criteria and perpetual care for the facility.


Mr. Owsley said the ESD states there should be no impact to the waste acceptance criteria by increasing the size of the facility. He said TDEC asked DOE to provide details to support that assumption.


He said DOE did not address a perpetual care fund in the ESD. The fund is a separate agreement between DOE and TDEC. Mr. Owsley said DOE will have to address that before the TDEC will concur with the ESD.


Public Comment

Mr. Perry announced that he will be leaving the DOE-ORO Public Affairs Office to be the district director for the Small Business Administration in Nashville. He expressed gratitude to members of the board for the work they have done over the years.


Mr. Mulvenon asked the board members to listen carefully to Mr. Thiesing’s presentation on technetium-99. He said he had reviewed the presentation and thought there might be ‘surprises.’ He suggested those members with technical backgrounds should ask questions.


Ms. Gawarecki reminded the board of a public meeting on Thursday, January 14, 2010, on an environmental assessment for the transfer of land and facilities at ETTP. She said a similar type of transfer had been done in 1996 at the nearby Horizon Center. But she said that DOE is not following up on requirements it has said it would enforce concerning the stipulations of the land transfer at the Horizon Center. She urged everyone to attend the public meeting and become familiar with the issues of transferring an entire site rather than individual parcels from DOE to other entities, especially in light of the cleanup activities currently underway at ETTP and subsequent stewardship requirements.



Mr. Theising provided the presentation on technetium-99 contamination in the K-25 Building at ETTP. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 2. Five units of the lower east wing of K-25 show significant levels of tech-99 contamination.


Tech-99 is a high yield fission product of uranium that was introduced into the K-25 diffusion cascades as recycled uranium from Hanford, Wash. It was introduced as a trace element in the recycled uranium (less than 4 parts per million). There are about 32 kilograms of tech-99 estimated to be mostly in the lower purge cascades of K-25. Chemical compounds of technetium, pertechnetyl fluoride and technetium hexafluoride are present in K-25. The technetium fluorides are moisture sensitive and form pertechnetic acid when exposed to moist air. The acid is corrosive and will produce hydrofluoric acid when it comes in contact with steel.


To isolate technetium from uranium hexafluoride, purge cascades were established in K-25 to capture the technetium. Tech-99 is water soluble and migrates readily. Mr. Thiesing said this migration causes concerns from a health physics standpoint, contamination control in demolition, and disposal. The conclusion is that open air demolition will require source term removal or effective immobilization of tech-99.


Mr. Thiesing said while tech-99 is a rather benign radiological emitter it has a long half life of 212,000 years (Attachment 2, page 6). Mr. Thiesing noted that the waste acceptance criteria for the EMWMF are somewhat restrictive for tech-99, while the criteria for the Nevada Test Site (NTS) are much more liberal. As a result, material contaminated with tech-99 cannot be disposed in the EMWMF, but can be shipped to Nevada for disposal. But there are issues of cost and safety in transporting waste material to Nevada.


Sampling that has been done over the years indicates most of the tech-99 contamination in K-25 is in the two lowest units of the east wing; the three units above those have lower but noticeable concentrations of tech-99 contamination.


Mr. Thiesing said a pilot study was done to learn how to handle tech-99. A summary of that study is noted on page 8 of Attachment 2. He said tech-99 can be dealt with, but if it gets out of control it presents hazards to workers and possibly the public after it goes into a disposal facility. Measures for controlling the technetium are noted on page 9 of Attachment 2.


The plan for K-25 is to demolish two non-contaminated units above the tech-99 contaminated areas to isolate the tech-99 contaminated units from the rest of the east wing so demolition can continue. All process gas and piping larger than 3-inches diameter and larger will be foamed. Fixative will be applied to high contamination areas of the structure and external surface of components. Also the use of scrubbers or other controls will be evaluated during vent, purge, and draining of process gas components. The amount of material on the ground during demolition will be minimized and a robust storm water protection program will be implemented. Mr. Thiesing said a new technique needs to be developed for patching process gas components.


Mr. Thiesing said additional sampling will have to be done in the east wing of K-25 on the order of several thousand samples to more accurately determine the extent of tech-99 contamination.


Mr. Martin asked what the estimate of waste from K-25 will be sent to NTS. Mr. Thiesing at this point the data are not available to make an estimate. Mr. Martin asked if any information was coming from Nevada as to the ability to handle volumes of waste from Oak Ridge. Mr. Adler said capacity at NTS is not a problem; for Oak Ridge it is a cost and implementation issue. Mr. Thiesing said the rules for shipping fissile materials have been modified. Only two B-25 shipping containers can be loaded on a 50-foot flat-bed trailer.


Mr. Jensen asked if the tech-99 problem was an emerging issue and if so how it happened. Mr. Thiesing said one of problems is the change in shipping regulations that has increased the cost of shipping the material by a factor of seven to Nevada. Mr. Thiesing also said as more investigation was done into the problem of tech-99 contamination more was learned about the difficulties in handling it.


Mr. Olson asked when tech-99 was extracted earlier from the cascades how it was disposed. Mr. Adler said he did not know the answer but offered to find out. Mr. Olson said that information might be helpful in helping the board determine other matters to consider related to tech-99.


Mr. Murphree asked about the possibility of trying to remove tech-99 from the contaminated areas prior to demolition. Mr. Thiesing said to go into the building and try to remove tech-99 would be another order of magnitude of increased cost. He also said the products of the decontamination would also have to be disposed in Nevada.


Mr. Murphree asked what the K-25 Building will look like at the end of the Bechtel Jacobs contract (set to end in December 2011, but could end as soon as July 2011). Mr. Thiesing said the North Tower and the east wing will remain. The west side will be demolished except for the interior wall of the west wing, which at some point will have to be demolished. It is already in danger of falling down and has collapsed in some places.


Ms. Gawarecki asked about isolating the contaminated part of K-25 from the non-contaminated part. Mr. Thiesing said the decoupling is done so the non-contaminated portion of the east wing can be demolished while work is done inside the tech-99 area. He said if it were not isolated no one could work in the tech-99 area for safety reasons and later on personnel may or may not be able to go back in the building. Otherwise, he said, the whole east side of the building would have to be demolition ready before work could begin to take down any part of the east wing. Ms. Gawarecki was concerned that by cutting through the building would make it structurally unsound without additional bracing. Mr. Thiesing said by leaving five units before the decoupling is made should leave the units structurally sound enough to allow work to continue inside those remaining units. He said workers may or may not be able to get into units adjacent to the cut that isolates the contaminated units.


Ms. Gawarecki asked if when the tech-99 contaminated areas are ready for demolition would the building be taken down around process equipment and then sorted and segregated or if the process equipment would be taken out of the building before demolition. Mr. Thiesing said the building would be taken down around the equipment and the debris would be separated much like is being done on the west wing. Ms. Gawarecki asked how debris would be separated between uranium-contaminated equipment and technetium-contaminated equipment. Mr. Thiesing said equipment that has been pre-designated as going to NTS will go there. That equipment just needs to be separated from material going to the EMWMF.


Ms. Gawarecki asked how much of the K-27 Building is contaminated with tech-99. Mr. Price said sections 4022-4029 have tech-99 contamination above the waste acceptance criteria for EMWMF.


Ms. C. Jones commented that the K-25 Core Team has not received all data to make decisions about how to segregate material. She said information presented at this meeting is apparently from discussions that have occurred between Bechtel Jacobs and DOE. She said EPA is still working through some of the details of the demolition approach. Mr. Thiesing acknowledged her comments and said all the intrusive sampling will have to be done in order to make the case for the plans noted earlier to control tech-99. The ideas Mr. Thiesing presented at this meeting are suggested plans and no regulatory approval has been given to proceed with these plans.


Mr. Tewes asked if any plans had been made for the decontamination and decommissioning of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, which likely has a more severe problem with technetium than at K-25/K-27. Mr. Thiesing said no plans have been made related to Paducah. Mr. Vranicar said DOE Oak Ridge doesn’t make plans for Paducah but the two offices communicate with each other and Oak Ridge shares lessons learned with Paducah.


Mr. Thiesing said neptunium and other trace fission product elements were introduced into the cascade systems when recycled uranium was introduced in K-25. He said there is not enough neptunium in the system to be quantified. He said intrusive sampling that has been done so far has not been able to detect neptunium in any appreciable amounts. He said if amounts can’t be quantified it is probably not enough to exceed any waste acceptance criteria for the EMWMF.


Mr. Murphree asked the board members if there should be any development of comments or a recommendation on this topic. Mr. Mezga said any of the plans discussed at this meeting will occur after the Bechtel Jacobs contract ends and will be addressed by another contractor. He suggested another briefing on the topic at a later date to determine if the board should take any action.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reported that the committee met by teleconference for December. It updated its work plan and reviewed financials, which are in good order. He reported that the individual committees have submitted or will submit their budget requests for FY 2011.


EM – Mr. Olson reported that committee heard a report on sequencing and prioritization of work through the Integrated Facilities Disposition Program. He said the report was not complete because all budget figures are unavailable. He said the committee will receive more information at the January 20 meeting.


The committee had a presentation on chromium releases in Mitchell Branch at ETTP and proposed alternatives to remedy the problem. The presentation resulted in a recommendation by the committee to accept the preferred alternative to reduce chromium in Mitchell Branch. That recommendation was passed by the board at this meeting (Attachment 3).


The committee had a discussion about the Melton Valley Groundwater report authored by Dick Ketelle and Craig Rightmire. Mr. Olson said that discussion will likely result in a recommendation that DOE do additional investigation of groundwater contamination in Melton Valley.


Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones reported that she, Ms. Owens, and Mr. Westervelt attended the Health Physics Society meeting in Knoxville on December 10. Stakeholder surveys were distributed to the attendees. Ms. Jones said Ms. Owens also distributed surveys at her work place and received 26 completed surveys.


The committee reviewed its six-month planning calendar and reviewed a draft proposal for calling special board meetings. The committee work plan was updated and the committee budget request was discussed. The committee also reviewed an artist’s concept for a new ORSSAB display at the American Museum of Science and Energy.


Stewardship – The committee heard a presentation by Ms. Halsey concerning removing portions of the Oak Ridge Reservation from the EPA National Priorities List. A white paper on the topic has been distributed to the members to review, and the committee will discuss the topic more at an upcoming meeting.


The committee received another revision of the Stewardship Implementation Plan. Members made comments on the plan, which will be incorporated into another revision and reviewed at the January meeting.


The committee heard a presentation on the status of the Stewardship Education Resource Kit and had a preliminary discussion on the path forward for the kit. The future of the kit will be discussed more at the January meeting.


Executive – The committee approved the agenda for this meeting and the topic for the February meeting (Environmental Management Program Budget and Prioritization).


The committee approved sending a letter to EPA requesting a presentation in May on waste generators in and around the Oak Ridge Reservation.


The committee approved an expenditure for the construction of a new kiosk at the ORSSAB exhibit at the museum to highlight EM, stewardship, and historical information related to the Oak Ridge Reservation.


Mr. Murphree said a letter has been written to DOE asking for an extension from January 29 to February 15 for comments on the Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities at ETTP. The extension will allow time for the board to review the document and make comments. He reminded the board of the public meeting on the document on Thursday, January 14, 2010, at 5 p.m.


Mr. Murphree reminded the board of the meeting on January 26 that Mr. Adler spoke of earlier concerning designating Manhattan Project sites as part of the National Park Service. That meeting will be held in two sessions at the DOE Information Center from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, February 10, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be Environmental Management Program Budget and Prioritization.


The minutes of the December 9, 2009, meeting were approved.


The motion to vote on the two consecutive absences for Mr. Jensen and Mr. Mezga was removed since they were in attendance.


The recommendation on the Preferred Alternative for the Removal of Hexavalent Chromium in Mitchell Branch at ETTP was approved (Attachment 3).


The ORSSAB FY 2009 Annual Report was distributed (Attachment 4).


The DOE-ORO FY 2009 Cleanup Progress Report was distributed (Attachment 5).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported on outstanding recommendations:

·    Recommendation 181: Recommendation on the Fact Sheet for the Explanation of Significant Differences for Expansion of the Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation and Liability Act Waste Facility – comments from the recommendation were incorporated into the fact sheet and a formal response to the recommendation has been written and sent to the board.

·    Recommendation 182: Recommendation that DOE Endorse and Actively Support a Stewardship Workshop – a response is being developed.


Ms. Halsey reported that a first conference call to begin agenda development for the spring EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting had been held in December. Another call is planned for Thursday, January 14 at 3 p.m. to continue agenda development. She invited board members to call in if they wished.


Ms. Halsey said the charter that established the EM SSAB is renewed every two years, and the next charter renewal will include a provision that the Deputy Designated Federal Officer (John Eschenberg), the DOE liaison to the board, Mr. Adler, or the Federal Coordinator, Ms. Halsey, attend all committee meetings. She said Mr. Adler will be the DOE official to attend EM Committee meetings, and she will be the DOE official to attend the Stewardship Committee meetings.


Reappointments and new appointments packages to ORSSAB must be submitted to DOE Headquarters by the end of January or first of February. There will be at least one new appointment this year to replace Mr. Myrick, who is term limited and scheduled to leave the board in June.A replacement has been identified to take his place.


Additions to the Agenda




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


Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the December 9, 2009, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Olson moved to approve the recommendation on the Preferred Alternative for the Removal of Hexavalent Chromium in Mitchell Branch at East Tennessee Technology Park. Mr. Martin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Adler will determine how tech-99 that was extracted from the purge cascades in K-25 was disposed.
  2. Mr. Eschenberg will provide the board a timeline for selecting a prime cleanup contractor.
  3. Mr. Eschenberg will inform the board how money designated for use at K-27 will be used since work has stopped at K-27. Status. Mr. Adler reported at this meeting that a final decision has not been made. He said DOE Oak Ridge is waiting to see what the final FY 2011 budget will be before making a decision.
  4. Mr. Kopotic will check into the availability of any studies done on White Oak Dam regarding any subsurface structures. Carryover from November meeting.
  5. A board meeting presentation will be scheduled regarding development of the Critical Decision 2 package for Integrated Facility Disposition Program work in FYs 2012–17. Status. The presentation has been placed on the Executive Committee’s list of potential presentation topics
  6. Mr. McCracken will provide a report on the evolution of how the DOE EM program developed. Status. Ms. Halsey provided a draft timeline at the October meeting. However she said the information is incomplete and she will continue research.



  1. Mr. Garland will determine the valence of uranium in the extraction wells related to discharge limits at Mitchell Branch. Complete. Mr. Garland provided the following information on January 4, 2010: The most likely valence state of the uranium in the chromium seep water is 6+ (hexavalent uranium) based on the solubility of the uranium that is being collected in the groundwater plume.
  2. An item to track the availability of a study to determine effects on White Oak Creek if the White Oak Dam fails will be placed on the DOE Open Action Tracking Chart maintained by Ms. Halsey and staff. Complete. Item added to the Open Action Tracking Chart and is reviewed bi-weekly.


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