Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 18, 2009 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 18, 2009, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.


Members Present

Darrell Akins

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman

Steve Dixon

Bob Hatcher

Betty Jones

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Ron Murphree - Chair

Tim Myrick

Robert Olson

Maggie Owen

Josh Pratt1

Sondra Sarten

Sidney Sherrill1

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt – Vice Chair


Members Absent

Chuck Jensen

Edward Juarez2 - Secretary

Lance Mezga


1Student Representative

2Second consecutive absence


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

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

John Eschenberg, DDFO and DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management (EM).

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

Daniel Axelrod

Jackie Noble-Dial, DOE-ORO

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Jim Kopotic, DOE-ORO

Norman Mulvenon, LOC Citizens’ Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, IIA


Seven members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

John Eschenberg – Mr. Eschenberg has been on the job as the Assistant Manager for EM for seven weeks. He said Oak Ridge has the most complex environmental challenges of all the sites where he has worked. One of his focuses over the next six months will be on cost containment. He will also focus on project management and project management principles. He said he is committed to a new sense of openness between EM and all the stakeholders and more engagement with the regulators and stakeholders.


Drill rigs have been mobilized for installing monitoring wells on the west of the Clinch River opposite Melton Valley. Cleanout of Building 3026 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in preparation for demolition is going well. Demolition is scheduled to begin later in November. Contractor mobilization for the 2000 Complex demolition is expected within the next two weeks. He said that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects underway at Y-12 National Security Complex were progressing satisfactorily.


Mr. Eschenberg said his office has been busy planning for new cleanup contractor acquisition. The Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC), contract expires December 31, 2011, and work is being done to develop the statements of work in preparation of transitioning to a new cleanup contract.


Mr. Eschenberg said he has asked BJC to submit a proposal to accelerate the completion of its contract from December 2011 to July 2011. He said doing so would allow the use of six month’s worth of ‘hotel’ costs to be used for actual work. He also said he was motivated to show that DOE can acquire a follow-on contractor within a shorter amount of time than 24 months, which is a normal timeframe for acquiring a contractor.


He said most work at K-27 at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) has been suspended in order to contain costs and because of other cost challenges at K-25. He said the job at K-25 is much more difficult than expected and work is to be focused on completing that project. There is some asbestos abatement and lube oil removal work underway at K-27. He said the follow-on contractor will be able to resume work easily at K-27.


Mr. Westervelt asked for a status report on the work at K-25 related to technetium-99 contamination. Mr. Eschenberg said EM had been provided many options for approaching the problem of tech-99 contamination in some of the sections of the K-25 east wing. He said it is believed that it is isolated in five units of the lower end of the wing. Sampling has to be conducted to confirm the boundaries and levels of the contamination. Mr. Eschenberg said his office is looking into the possibility of foaming the tech-99 in place.


Mr. Myrick asked if the stand-down of work at K-27 also stops work on other demolition projects at ETTP. Mr. Eschenberg said the question is determining the proper use of the money that was earmarked for K-27. Those options are being evaluated, but no decisions have been made. He said he hoped to be able to inform the board at the next meeting how the money is to be used. He said he trying to determine the best use for ARRA money at ETTP.


Ms. Gawarecki asked when the meeting of the Consulting Parties for ETTP Site Interpretation will be rescheduled (the meeting was to be held November 19). Mr. Eschenberg said the consulting parties were not prepared to meet because DOE needs to conduct a study for site historic interpretation. When the study is completed a meeting will be scheduled to present the options and work through those options. A last meeting will be held to present the final memorandum of understanding on the site wide historic interpretation for ETTP.


Ms. Gawarecki said it wasn’t clear to her what will be studied since a number of studies have already been conducted. She asked that he clarify that with the consulting parties. Mr. Eschenberg said he had all those studies, but there were specific questions the consulting parties want answered. He said he would share those questions with the board and Ms. Gawarecki.


Mr. Mulvenon asked if K-33 at ETTP had been released from the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee. Mr. Eschenberg said it had not been released but was being discussed as a possible demolition project at ETTP. Mr. Mulvenon asked if K-31 was being evaluated for
demolition. Mr. Eschenberg said it was not. Mr. Mulvenon said he should consider tearing both of the buildings down.


Mr. Olson asked if ARRA prioritization is separate from the prioritization process for projects under the Integrated Facility Disposition Program (IFDP). Mr. Eschenberg said he did not know. He has not focused on IFDP yet. Mr. Adler said ARRA scope was previously part of IFDP. Projects that could be done quickly, with little risk, and with increased employment were pulled out of IFDP scope and made ARRA work.


Dave Adler – no comments


Connie Jones – Ms. Jones said a number of community groups had met with Acting Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg on October 27 to discuss environmental justice issues. She said Mr. Meiburg had received a letter from a representative of the Oak Ridge Scarboro community voicing concerns about emissions from the nearby Y-12 plant and possible related health impacts on Scarboro. She said a response to the letter is expected from Mr. Meiburg before the first of December.


John Owsley – no comments


Public Comment

Mr. Axelrod had a number of questions that he hoped Mr. Kopotic would address in his presentation on White Oak Dam. His questions are noted in Attachment 1.


Mr. Mulvenon said the LOC has written a letter to Mr. Adler asking that a stewardship workshop be held in conjunction with the Spring EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting, which will be hosted by ORSSAB. He also asked that board members support the proposed recommendation for DOE EM headquarters to endorse a stewardship workshop that the board voted on at this meeting (see Announcements and Other Board Business and Motions).



Mr. Kopotic’s presentation was on the White Oak Dam and Sediment Control Structure. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 2.


He began with a brief history of ORNL where the Graphite Reactor produced plutonium during World War II. He said the engineers and scientists at ORNL were ahead of their time in thinking about a waste management program for their work. Waste from the project flowed from Building 3019 to the Gunite Tanks and the Surface Impoundment Units, where most of the contaminants were captured. Some waste was expelled into White Oak Creek, but a dam was built farther downstream to slow the flow of the creek and allow contaminants to settle out into the sediment. Over time clean sediment has covered contaminated sediment.


Mr. Kopotic showed a timeline of activities from 1941 to 1992 (Attachment 2, page 5). He said as a result of the remediation of Melton Valley, the Gunite Tanks, and the Surface Impoundment Units the amount of contamination going into White Oak Lake has been greatly reduced. He said the most recent Remediation Effectiveness Report indicated drinking water standards had been achieved at the confluence of White Oak Creek and the Clinch River.


Mr. Kopotic’s presentation noted the purpose of White Oak Dam was to contain radioactive sediment in White Oak Lake and minimize the spread of contamination off the Oak Ridge Reservation. An estimated 200 curies of radioactive material exist in the lake sediment today. Most of the constituents, primarily cesium and strontium, are short half-life materials (about 30 years) and decay has reduced the quantity of radioactive constituents by more than 60 percent (Attachment


2, page 10). Mr. Kopotic said the estimated time for the materials to decay to acceptable levels is about 300 years.


The White Oak Embayment Dam, constructed in 1992 at the confluence of the creek and Clinch River was built to enhance sediment settling but also to prevent fluctuations of the water level in White Oak Creek as a result of storm flows and Tennessee Valley Authority power operations upstream on the Clinch River (Attachment 2, page 11).


Mr. Kopotic said an annual inspection of the White Oak Dam and Embayment Dam is done by DOE with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). BJC inspects the dams quarterly. Daily inspections are done during heavy rainfall events. Mr. Kopotic said a more extensive five-year inspection is done as well.


In 2008 FERC identified two areas for future consideration to assure continued integrity (Attachment 2, page 13):

·   Structural condition of the original box culvert and coffer dam

·   Overtopping of White Oak Dam


Mr. Kopotic noted some enhancements (Attachment 2, page 14) being considered for White Oak Dam included:

·   Grout the box culvert to reduce risk of embankment collapse

·   Extend and armor the upstream and downstream slope of White Oak Dam to increase stability and eliminate erosion

·   Remove trees and growth along the bank of White Oak Lake.


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


Mr. Olson – You talked about a storm that would cause overtopping of the dam. Do you know what the frequency of that would be? Mr. Kopotic – The dam was designed for a 100-year flood, which is 2,000 cubic feet of water per second. The dam would certainly withstand that. The reference to over-topping relates to a state requirement of addressing probable maximum precipitation in a six-hour period. A dam of this size if it were regulated by the state would be required to withstand a one-third probable maximum precipitation storm event, which is fairly severe. The dam would have to withstand about 8,000 cubic feet per second. The FERC inspector recommended that we look into how to make the dam able to withstand that kind of flow and we are looking into that.


Mr. Hatcher – You said the water at the confluence of White Oak Creek and the Clinch River is meeting drinking water standards. Does that mean the contaminants are in the sediment and covered by clean sediment? Mr. Adler – That’s a reason the flux of contaminated sediments is greatly diminished because it’s covered by clean sediments. But it’s primarily due to the shutdown of sources of contamination upgradient of the creek. The remediation of Melton Valley appears to have had a big impact because the contaminated groundwater that was going into the creek has been cut off. The waste has been isolated from the groundwater.


Mr. Stow – I seem to remember some high resolution geophysical studies done on the dam to look for subsurface structures or void areas. Do you know anything about that? Mr. Kopotic – I’m not aware of anything like that, but I’ll check into it.


Mr. Martin – Are any enhancements to the dam scheduled? Mr. Kopotic – Nothing is budgeted. But if any ARRA projects at ORNL come in under budget I plan to go to Mr. Eschenberg and see if any remaining funds could go toward the dam.


Mr. Murphree- It would seem that over time the lake would fill with sediment and as it became shallower there would be a greater chance of over topping the dam. Do you have any records that the lake is becoming shallower? Ms. Dial – We are seeing an increase in the bed of the sediment retention structure before the water flows into the Clinch River. That’s raising the water level at the tail of the dam. We don’t think that is a problem as long as we armor the dam and make sure the dam remains stable and we manage the level of the water on both the upstream and downstream side of the dam. Mr. Stow – The original depth of the lake was about 6 feet, so it has filled up quite a bit.


Mr. Hatcher – When the dam was built was there any design for a seismic event; has there been any retrofitting for that? Mr. Kopotic – There was no design for a seismic event nor has it been retrofitted for that possibility. It was originally a roadbed and they created the dam by blocking up the box culvert. We can look into that, but the main concern as a result of the inspections is over topping.


Mr. Martin – Has anyone looked at re-routing the White Oak Watershed around the lake? Mr. Adler – That would be tricky to do given the topography of the area. To the south is Chestnut Ridge, which goes up about 500 feet from the creek and to the north is the Melton Valley remediation area and you don’t want to disturb that. There has been a little stream re-routing to accommodate the Melton Valley remediation


Mr. Westervelt – There is a study underway that argues that water pressure might have contributed to the failure of the earthen dam that caused the coal ash spill at Kingston because there was inadequate drainage in the oldest part of one of the dams. Has anything like that been looked at for the White Oak Dam? Mr. Kopotic – That was evaluated in the most recent FERC inspection. So the engineering studies say that’s not a concern. Also in 1980 concrete blocks were placed in the tow of the dam to help stabilize it. One thing we’re considering is increasing the width of the dam. But the situation in Kingston is totally different than the situation we have with White Oak Dam.


Mr. Axelrod – Have there been any studies about the effects downstream and how serious they might be if the dam failed? Mr. Kopotic – No studies have been done, but we’re going to do that. We’re going to do one based on what would happen if the dam ruptured and a lot of water escaped plus one where water was released on a smaller scale. We’ll determine what the effects would be and how far downstream the effects would be.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon said that the Abbreviated Quarterly Progress Reports will be available to the board at the December meeting.


The EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting planning subcommittee met on November 4 and went over a long checklist of activities to be accomplished prior to, during, and after the meeting. The subcommittee also drafted a skeleton agenda for the chairs’ meeting. ORSSAB will be hosting the spring chairs’ meeting April 27-29. The meeting location will be the DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Ridge. A chairs’ meeting steering committee consisting of DOE EM Headquarters representatives, EM SSAB representatives from the other seven SSAB sites, and the ORSSAB planning subcommittee will meet by conference call on December 3 at 3 p.m.


Mr. Stow has offered to provide a historical presentation on Oak Ridge as part of a reservation tour on April 27.


Mr. Dixon said Mr. Akins has been in contact with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, which is interested in hosting a reception for the chairs’ meeting participants.


Environmental Management – Mr. Olson reported that the committee heard a presentation on October 21 about a groundwater treatability study underway at ETTP. The committee decided not to draft a recommendation on the topic, but it will continue to monitor the progress of the study.


The committee cancelled its November meeting since the board meeting was moved to the normal EM committee meeting night.


At the December meeting the committee will discuss prioritization of remaining IFDP scope, will hear about an engineering analysis/cost evaluation for reducing chromium discharges in Mitchell Branch, and Mr. Olson and Mr. Stow will talk about a report written by Dick Kettelle on Melton Valley groundwater.


Public Outreach – Ms. Owen reported the committee met on October 27 and discussed the six-month planning calendar and the committee’s work plan.


The committee will have an exhibit on December 10 during the annual vendor’s meeting of the Health Physics Society at Rothchild’s Catering in Knoxville.


The committee reviewed changes to the Stakeholder’s Survey and discussed writing the next guest editorial to provide to local newspapers and for publication in the Advocate newsletter.


Committee members Darrell Aiken, Steve Mead, and Steve Stow have been working on a process for calling special board meetings. Mr. Mead provided a copy of the draft procedure (Attachment 4). Mr. Mead asked for any comments on the plan prior to the next board meeting.


The committee will meet on November 24 by way of teleconference.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said the committee will discuss a path forward for the Stewardship Education Resource Kit at its December 15 meeting. The committee will also hear a presentation on delisting clean parcels of land on the Oak Ridge Reservation from the National Priority List.


Executive – Mr. Murphree said he will be participating in the bi-monthly EM SSAB Chairs’ conference call on November 19 and following the conference call he will be making a few remarks at the 20th anniversary celebration of the DOE EM program at the 2714-G Conference Center.


Mr. Murphree noted trip reports in the meeting packets from himself, Mr. Lundy, and Ms. Owen from the Intergovernmental Conference in New Orleans.


Oral History – Mr. Stow said the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History has begun conducting interviews. The center plans eight interviews by the end of the calendar year.


The center’s steering committee, of which Mr. Stow is the ORSSAB representative, will meet on November 19. He noted that the center has hired a part-time person to work exclusively on the center’s projects.


Mr. Stow showed a brief video that describes the work of the center and another longer video about the history of K-25. These videos are examples of how the oral histories recorded by the center can be used.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2009, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be “The Mitchell Branch Collection System.”


The minutes of the October 14, 2009 meeting were approved.


The Recommendation to Endorse and Support a Stewardship Workshop was approved
(Attachment 3).


The motion for a second consecutive absence for John Coffman was removed as Mr. Coffman was in attendance.


Mr. Dixon was recognized for his service as chair of the board for FY 2009.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said all comments related to the Fact Sheet on the Explanation of Significant Differences for the Record of Decision for Disposal of Comprehensive Response, Compensation and Liability Act Waste of 1980 have been incorporated into a revised fact sheet and will be available soon at the DOE Information Center.


Additions to the Agenda

Mr. Bonner introduced the Recommendation to Endorse and Support a Stewardship Workshop.



Mr. Westervelt moved to approve the minutes of the October 14, 2009, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Lundy moved to approve the Recommendation to Endorse and Support a Stewardship Workshop (Attachment 3). Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Eschenberg will inform the board how money designated for use at K-27 will be used since work has stopped at K-27.
  2. Mr. Eschenberg will circulate questions from the Consulting Parties on the ETTP Site Wide Historic Preservation that are to be answered in a DOE study regarding historic interpretation of ETTP.
  3. Mr. Kopotic will check into the availability of any studies done on White Oak Dam regarding any subsurface structures.
  4. 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. Carryover from May 13, 2009.
  5. 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.      Ms. Wilkerson will get the start and completion date for work in the Biology Complex at Y-12. Complete. Initiation of hazardous material abatement (Buildings 9211, 9220, 9224, and 9769) – 12/2009; complete demolition of 9769 – 3/2011; complete demolition of Buildings 9211, 9220, 9224 – 9/2011.

2.      Mr. Adler will rewrite the Fact Sheet for the Explanation of Significant Differences for the Record of Decision for Disposal of Comprehensive Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Waste of 1980 to be more easily understood by the general public. Complete. An executive summary of the fact sheet has been prepared and will be part of the revised
fact sheet.


Attachments (4) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.