Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved December 9, 2009 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2009, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.
Ron Murphree - Chair
Kevin Westervelt – Vice Chair
Edward Juarez - Secretary
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)
Sid Garland, Bechtel Jacobs, Co. (BJC)
Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.
Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee Citizens’ Advisory Panel
Pete Osborne, IIA
Tony Poole, BJC
Seven members of the public were present.
John Eschenberg – Mr. Eschenberg said the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator (TSCAI) ceased operations on December 2. It will now go through a year-long closure process.
Demolition began on the wooden structure at Building 3026 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on Saturday, December 5. Demolition should be complete by the end of December.
Mr. Eschenberg said demolition of buildings in the 2000 Complex at ORNL has begun with the removal of universal waste (fluorescent lights, mercury switches, etc.).
The FY 2010 appropriation of $436 million has been received by DOE Oak Ridge EM. That is less than what was received in FY 2009. Mr. Eschenberg pointed out that Oak Ridge has received $755 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA), so taken in total with the FY 2010 appropriation he felt ‘fortunate’ with the funding level. He does expect funding challenges beyond FY 2011 when ARRA funding has been exhausted.
Mr. Eschenberg said ARRA funds to be shifted from pre-demolition work at the K-27 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) will likely be used to demolish the K-33 Building at the site. Demolition of K-33 would take about three years. Some material in the building will have to be removed to another facility before demolition can begin. He noted that both EPA and TDEC preferred the money to be used on higher risk projects.
Mr. Eschenberg said demolition on the west wing of the K-25 Building is progressing well. He said about three units remain to be demolished, which should be complete by the end of the year. Debris will be sorted and segregated and shipped for disposal by early spring 2010.
He said there are challenges in the North Tower and East Wing regarding pre-demolition work. The issue of technetium-99 contamination in the lower part of the East Wing will be the presentation topic at the January ORSSAB meeting.
As mentioned at the November meeting, Mr. Eschenberg said the BJC contract ends December 31, 2011. BJC is the DOE Oak Ridge prime cleanup contractor. Work is underway to accelerate the termination of the contract by up to six months. He said accelerating the contract would allow more money to be used toward cleanup work. He hopes to have a timeline for a obtaining a new cleanup contractor by the January meeting.
Mr. Olson asked where debris from K-33 would be disposed. He is concerned about available space in the landfill in Bear Creek Valley. Mr. Eschenberg said he thought the bulk of the waste can go to the sanitary landfill on Chestnut Ridge near Y-12 National Security Complex.
Dave Adler – Mr. Adler said Susan Gawarecki, Executive Director of the Local Oversight Committee, had asked for correspondence related to historic preservation at ETTP that was discussed at the November meeting. Mr. Adler provided the correspondence to staff to send to Ms. Gawarecki and circulate to the board (Attachment 1).
Mr. Murphree asked if there are problems with any of the ARRA projects. Mr. Adler said in general all projects are going well. He said the procurement process for contracts to demolish about 30 buildings at ORNL is still underway.
Concerning the Melton Valley Monitoring Wells Project, not as many property owners have allowed monitoring wells to be placed on their properties as DOE had hoped. An alternate plan will be implemented, but Mr. Adler said that should not compromise the project. Mr. Hatcher asked if property owners along Jones Road are still drawing water from their wells. Mr. Adler said as far as he knew they weren’t; there would be no reason for them to since they have been connected to a public water supply.
Mr. Hatcher asked if sampling was still being done in the wells. Mr. Owsley answered the question saying TDEC has sampled about 20 wells. About half of those are within the operable unit where the Federal Facility Agreement parties (DOE, EPA, TDEC) are conducting a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) investigation. Those wells are adjacent to the Clinch River and DOE has an agreement with the property owners to provide them with water in exchange for taking those wells out of service. The other wells are outside of the operable unit. The property owners continue to use those wells and TDEC monitors them. Mr. Owsley said sampling of those wells has indicated pH levels of about 9. Mr. Hatcher asked if pH levels in wells along Jones Road are still in the 10+ range. Mr. Owsley said the state has not monitored the wells immediately adjacent to the river. He said DOE has agreed to monitor those wells but data have not yet been collected. Mr. Owsley explained that the 10+ pH levels were measured in 2007, a fairly dry year, and those levels have not been repeated since, but levels have been measured above 8.5 consistently.
Mr. Stow asked if sampling was done to detect radionuclides and nitrates. Mr. Owsley said sampling had been done, but nothing was detected above protection standards. Mr. Adler said DOE will continue to analyze for radionuclides and nitrates.
Mr. Olson asked about any developments regarding the contractor for the Transuranic Waste Processing Facility. Mr. Adler said a contractor continues to operate the facility and schedules are being maintained.
Connie Jones – At the November meeting Ms. Jones said EPA Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg had met with groups regarding environmental justice. EPA had received a letter from a citizen in the Oak Ridge Scarboro community expressing concerns about harmful emissions from Y-12. A response letter was expected by the first of December, however, the response has not been issued because the EPA Regional Office wishes to issue all response letters at the same time. She hopes the letters will be issued prior to the Christmas/New Year’s holidays.
Ms. Jones said process issues discussions will be held during January/February 2010 on the FY 2012 EM budget. She said the discussions will focus on remediation projects that need to be addressed post-ARRA funding.
John Owsley – Mr. Owsley had no comments but offered to answer questions.
Mr. Martin asked if TDEC was monitoring gas wells to determine if they were causing any problems with groundwater. Mr. Owsley said gas wells are monitored through TDEC’s geology division, but he was not aware of any gas wells being drilled in the Jones Road area. Mr. Hatcher said almost all oil and gas exploration is being done on the Cumberland Plateau and farther west.
Mr. Mulvenon said he read the fact sheet on the Explanation of Significant Differences for Expansion of the DOE-ORR (Oak Ridge Reservation) Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) and was ‘disappointed’ that the fact sheet addressed the name of the facility in ‘such a cavalier way.’ He hopes the actual explanation of significant differences addresses the name of the landfill more completely. Mr. Mulvenon’s contention is that the name ‘Environmental Management Waste Management Facility’ is not used in the record of decision (ROD) that established the landfill and future document searches using that name might not lead back to the ROD.
Regarding the presentation on Mitchell Branch Mr. Mulvenon said he hoped to learn the source of the contaminating chromium.
At previous meetings Mr. Axelrod recommended board presentations on long-term stewardship. He again recommended two presentations on stewardship. He also recommended a presentation on the Integrated Facilities Disposition Program to explain the estimated cost of the program, which was stated to be $9-$15 billion through 2036 in the latest edition of the DOE Oak Ridge Cleanup Progress Report.
Regarding global warming, Mr. Axelrod said both Congress and the president have recommended reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050. He said he supported reduction of 50 percent by 2050. He recommended Oak Ridge and other key DOE sites should propose a 40-year carbon dioxide reduction program. He recommended that DOE EM SSABs or new local committees should oversee long-term efforts at eliminating global greenhouse gases. He provided notes on his comments (Attachment 2).
Mr. Garland’s presentation was on Mitchell Branch at ETTP and efforts to reduce chromium contamination in the stream. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 3. Mr. Garland took questions during his presentation.
Mr. Garland said storm water management is based on watersheds and there are several sub-watersheds at ETTP (Attachment 3, page 3). Mitchell Branch runs through the industrial portion of ETTP and over the years has received intentional discharges from operations as well as storm water runoff. As a result TDEC has listed Mitchell Branch as a quality impaired water body from PCBs and channelization. Historical operations have released volatile organic compounds and radionuclides into the stream.
A number of CERCLA actions have been taken to improve the water quality of Mitchell Branch. Those actions are noted on page 6 of Attachment 3. The most recent action in 2008 was a time-critical removal action for hexavalent chromium.
The current CERCLA action being proposed is to develop a long-term solution to reduce the release of hexavalent chromium into Mitchell Branch to maintain ambient water quality criteria at .0011 mg/L. Levels as high as .78 mg/L were measured in the stream in 2007 (Attachment 3, page 7).
Mr. Garland noted a number of CERCLA actions that have been or will be taken that could impact Mitchell Branch (Attachment 3, page 8). Mr. Garland explained that by removing soils and demolishing buildings groundwater flow could be affected, which in turn could affect what groundwater goes into Mitchell Branch and the elements of contamination the groundwater brings with it.
Mr. Garland showed an aerial photograph of Mitchell Branch and Storm Drain 170 that empties into the stream (Attachment 3, page 9). In 2007 it was discovered that levels of hexavalent chromium exceeding ambient water quality levels were entering the stream from Storm Drain 170 and the backfill around the storm drain. The removal action was taken to capture the contaminated water going into the stream. The water is being treated at the Central Neutralization Facility (CNF), which also treats waste water from TSCAI. Since TSCAI has shut down, the CNF will be closed by the end of FY 2010 and will no longer be available for treatment of captured water from Storm Drain 170. As a result a long-term solution to remove chromium from the water in Mitchell Branch must be found.
Mr. Garland said during the source investigation to find the chromium a groundwater plume was found that contained chromium (Attachment 3, page 11). After finding the groundwater plume a conceptual site model was developed to restrict the flow of the groundwater into Mitchell Branch (Attachment 3, page 12). While it is known where the groundwater plume is, it is not known where the chromium source is that is feeding into the groundwater. Mr. Garland said the hydrology and geology around ETTP make it very difficult to trace the source of the chromium.
Mr. Hatcher – How did you establish the upward flow of the groundwater? Mr. Garland – A number of wells have been drilled in the area looking for elevations of water and the contaminants. From that we were able to determine the upward flow.
Mr. Stow – My recollection is that area is characterized by a karstic terrain and topography. Is there any evidence of interaction between the deep karst flow and the surface system? Mr. Poole – The whole rim around the plume is getting down into the groundwater. That’s how it is known that the groundwater was coming up through the bedrock in that area. So there probably is interaction with the karst. Mr. Stow – If there is an interaction then the source of the chromium could be anywhere. Mr. Poole – That is the challenge. It would be a very difficult investigation. Mr. Stow – At K-25 they had to bring in massive amounts of fill dirt and at other places they had to remove dirt. Do you know which this is? Mr. Poole – That’s what makes this even more challenging. Mitchell Branch ran in the general area where the plume is. It was moved over so there is an old channel bed there. So all of that is going on, as well as cut and fill in the same area.
Mr. Garland said the engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) addresses the issue of source removal and that option was eliminated consideration because of the difficulty and expense of finding and remediating the source. He said millions of dollars could be spent looking for the source and perhaps never finding it.
Mr. Garland explained the time critical action to restrict chromium going into Mitchell Branch (Attachment 3, Page 13.). A grout wall was built in the backfill behind Storm Drain 170 to prevent the flow of chromium. The grout wall also backs up the flow of groundwater, which is taken out by the extraction well, sent to the CNF for treatment and then discharged into the Clinch River. He said the method is effective as ambient water quality is maintained in Mitchell Branch. Sampling is done regularly and provided to TDEC and EPA to show that water quality is being maintained.
Mr. Garland said in lieu of CNF closing a determination had to be made as to what discharge standards would be if the groundwater is treated. He said that CNF is a permitted facility with discharge limits. When CNF closes, treating water in Mitchell Branch would become a CERCLA project and would no longer require a permit under the Clean Water Act. He said the current CNF discharge limits would no longer be applicable. Mr. Owsley clarified saying CERCLA provides for the administration portion of a permit, but the substantive requirements of the permit are to be met, so the requirements are the same. Mr. Garland said BJC worked with TDEC to develop discharge limits (Attachment 3, page 14). He said they were achieved by looking at ambient water quality levels in the Clinch River then calculating back to determine discharge limits into Mitchell Branch. He noted on the chart that in addition to chromium in the groundwater there are levels of trichloroethylene and uranium. He said treatment options had to be developed that would address all three of those contaminants.
Mr. Hatcher – What is the valence state of the uranium? Chromium is 6. I was wondering if uranium is 6 or what it is. Mr. Garland – I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll have to find out.
Mr. Garland said uranium is not addressed by the
Clean Water Act but is addressed through DOE Order 5400.5, which says if uranium
concentrations are at 1 or above they must be treated. Concentrations of uranium
are currently at .86, so it’s not required that uranium be treated, but it still
is being considered in the treatment options. Mr. Owsley said the limits for the
Clinch River are very conservative because of the dilution. The same water going into Mitchell Branch would not be acceptable.
Mr. Garland then discussed treatment options (Attachment 3, page 15). He said many alternatives were discussed but seven were chosen for consideration that were best suited for the circumstances. He said the removal actions were evaluated on effectiveness, implementability, and cost. Based on those criteria alternative 3 is the recommended alternative (Attachment 3, page 17) for reduction of chromium. It would use the existing grout wall and extraction well. Chemical reduction would convert hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium, which is non-toxic. The air stripper at CNF would be used to reduce the volatile organic compounds.
Mr. Hatcher – What does the chemical reduction process consist of? Mr. Garland – You lower the pH and then add a reducing agent to convert from hexavalent to trivalent chromium. That’s the basic chemistry.
Mr. Axelrod – Have you seen a decline in the amount of chromium in the water? Mr. Garland – No. It fluctuates quite a bit, but there has been no downward trend.
Mr. Lundy – If there is an extremely dry season, do you run into problems with dilution with it going into the Clinch River? Mr. Poole – In working with TDEC we used the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System calculations. Those are designed around low flow situations. What you’re seeing is based on the dry duration, worst case scenario.
Mr. Garland reviewed the next steps (Attachment 3, page 18) for choosing a remediation solution. Public comments are due on January 25. The EE/CA and the alternatives will be considered at the December 16 EM Committee meeting.
Ms. Jones noted that in regard to past CERCLA actions (Attachment 3, page 6) where Ponds 1407 B/C were closed she said those two ponds were closed under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act and there was not a full CERCLA evaluation. She said it was not possible to sample the bottom of the ponds. She wanted the board to understand that the past CERCLA actions were neither thorough nor complete. Mr. Garland said there is a chance the ponds will need a subsequent action for residual contamination, but that decision has not been made.
Ms. Jones also noted that the Mitchell Branch interception trench action was closed under CERCLA, The action did not achieve the remedial goals and was terminated. The final action will be addressed by the ETTP site-wide ROD.
Mr. Axelrod – On your discharge limits chart (Attachment 3, page 14) where are those measurements taken? Mr. Garland – They are taken at the well where the water is extracted.
Mr. Axelrod – Are these the maximums in order to meet the Clinch River discharge limits?
Mr. Garland – We took the maximum number that we would ever see. Since the numbers fluctuate so much maximum numbers were chosen. Mr. Axelrod – How much is this work costing? Mr. Garland – The capital cost for the preferred alternative 3 is $69,000, the annual operation and maintenance cost is estimated to be $212,000, and the 30-year un-escalated cost is $6,600,000. The cost for alternative 2, which is direct discharge into the Clinch River, is very little less ($56,000 capital cost; operation and maintenance and 30-year costs are the same). Mr. Axelrod- How long
will you have to treat the groundwater? Mr.
Garland – For estimating purposes we assume
Mr. Olson – When the chromium is converted to trivalent and released to the Clinch River, does it stay trivalent or can it revert to hexavalent? Mr. Garland – It should stay trivalent because it is pretty stable. Mr. Poole – Trivalent is the natural state. Even in the short run from Mitchell Branch to the Clinch River it is already converting.
Mr. Hatcher – You said you don’t know the source. Since most of the chromium in nature is trivalent, do you assume that the hexavalent is from a man-made source? Mr. Garland – Yes, it was used at ETTP.
Mr. Martin – How big is the grout retaining wall? Mr. Poole – It basically is a 10-foot collar around the storm drain. It’s 4-5 feet tall and about 10 feet long. Mr. Martin – What kind of flow rate do you expect to treat? Mr. Garland – We’re running about 10 gallons a minute now. We’re sizing it for about 20 gallons a minute.
Mr. Stow – Has someone searched records and talked to employees who worked at ETTP during that time to determine the source of the chromium? Mr. Poole – We went through historical records and interviewed a number of individuals. The likely source was the recirculation of the water system and the firewater system. So the chromium was injected into lines throughout the Mitchell Branch Watershed, and that’s what makes the source investigation difficult. Leaks got into the deep aquifer and interacted with the limestone, and then there is a pocket or a pool that is bleeding out. That’s the problem; there are so many pipelines and so much area that makes it a difficult source investigation. As far as the industrial processes used at ETTP, chromium was not an original primary metal, so that’s why we think it was associated with the water systems.
Mr. Lundy – Hanford is also dealing with chromium. I’m wondering if potential solutions there have been interfaced with ours to see if there is any mutual benefit. Mr. Poole – We have looked at that. Part of the problem we have is that a lot in Hanford’s is in situ. Our in situ area is only 40-50 feet from Mitchell Branch so it doesn’t give us much reaction time. So the comparisons are a little different.
Mr. Murphree – Is there a plan for the replacement of CNF or is there a need for a replacement of CNF? Mr. Adler – At that site there is no need; there are no ongoing missions that generate waste water after the closure of TSCAI that requires a facility of that size. Mr. Murphree – Where does the leachate from the EMWMF go? Mr. Adler – It can go to a number of facilities. Right now it’s going to the plant at ORNL. It’s possible that in the future if we have an aggressive groundwater extraction and treatment system we’ll need wastewater treatment capabilities at ETTP. Those systems would be built as part of the remedy at ETTP that deals with groundwater.
Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reported that the committee met on December 1 and discussed the board’s FY 2011 budget. All standing committees will submit their FY 2011 budget requests after their December meetings.
The steering committee planning the Spring 2010 EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting held a planning conference call on December 3. A first draft of the Chairs’ meeting agenda was discussed. Comments from the meeting have been incorporated into a second draft agenda. The next steering committee call will be January 14, 2010 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The local Chairs’ meeting steering committee met immediately after the conference call and discussed logistics for the spring meeting. Discussions are underway with a prospective facilitator for the chairs meeting. Ms. Halsey said that board member Darrell Akins is having discussions with the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce about hosting a reception for the participants of the Chairs’ meeting. The reception could be held at the Chamber office or at the American Museum of Science in Energy.
Environmental Management – Mr. Olson reminded the group that the committee did not meet in November since the board meeting was moved to the committee’s regular meeting night to avoid a conflict with Veteran’s Day.
The committee will meet on December 16 and will discuss sequencing of remaining scope in the Integrated Facility Disposition Program, the Mitchell Branch EE/CA, the Melton Valley Groundwater Report by Dick Ketelle, and a review of materials that possibly relate to remediation of the Bear Creek Burial Grounds. The committee will also formulate its FY 2011 budget request.
Public Outreach – Ms. Owen reported the committee discussed its six month planning calendar at its November 24 teleconference. Members of the committee will have an exhibit at the Health Physics Society vendor’s meeting on Thursday, December 10 at Rothchild’s Catering in Knoxville.
The committee discussed the draft process for calling special ORSSAB meetings. That document has been sent to all board members requesting comments.
The committee heard a report on updating the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.
The committee will meet again on Thursday, December 17 at the DOEIC.
Stewardship – Mr. Martin reported that the committee received from Mr. Garland the text version of the revised Stewardship Implementation Plan for the ORR at its November 17 meeting. A number of comments on the plan were provided and Mr. Garland will submit another draft to the committee at its December 15 meeting.
Executive – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee held its November meeting on December 1 to avoid a conflict with the Thanksgiving holiday. The December meeting date has been moved to January 5, again to avoid holiday conflicts.
The committee discussed board presentation topics for January and May 2010.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2009, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be “Technetium-99 at K-25.”
The minutes of the November 18, 2009, meeting were approved.
The motion for a second consecutive absence for Ed Juarez was removed as Mr. Juarez was in attendance.
The revised information sheet for the Explanation of Significant Differences for Expansion of the DOE-ORR Environmental Management Waste Management Facility was distributed (Attachment 4).
The minutes of the Public Outreach Committee meeting for November 24, 2009, were distributed (Attachment 5).
The minutes of the Board Finance & Process Committee meeting for December 1, 2009, were distributed (Attachment 6).
The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting for December 1, 2009, were distributed (Attachment 7).
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey reviewed the status of outstanding recommendations.
Recommendation 181: Recommendation on the Fact Sheet for the Explanation of Significant Differences for the Record of Decision of CERCLA Waste, Oak Ridge, Tenn. – Comments on the fact sheet have been incorporated (Attachment 4). A notice has been generated advising the public of the availability of the fact sheet. That notice will be published in local newspapers after a review by EPA and TDEC. A formal response letter will be sent to the board with the revised fact sheet.
Recommendation 182: Recommendation to Endorse and Support a Stewardship Workshop
– Ms. Halsey said EM Headquarters is currently working on a response. Mr. Adler noted that Headquarters is considering holding a stewardship workshop this summer in Grand Junction, Colo. The focus is currently on closed sites, but there is discussion of including stewardship at ongoing mission sites. Mr. Murphree asked if a response to the board’s recommendation will come prior to the spring EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting. Ms. Halsey said Headquarters tries to respond within three months. She expects a response by the end of January 2010. Mr. Murphree said an item has been placed in the draft Chairs’ agenda to discuss stewardship. He said a stewardship workshop is also being planned at Hanford, Wash.
Ms. Halsey said that DOE EM Headquarters has asked that the board member appointment process begin in January or February. She said she is committed to getting membership appointment packages to headquarters by February 1. Members up for reappointment will be contacted in January to determine their interest in continuing to serve on the board.
She said Tim Myrick will complete his third term in June, so at least one new member will be appointed to the board this fiscal year.
Mr. Martin referenced last month’s meeting presentation on White Oak Dam saying a report will be issued about the effects downstream of White Oak Creek if the dam ever failed. He thought that would be a report the board would be interested in receiving, but he wondered how the board would know when it is issued. Ms. Halsey said that an item will be placed on the action item tracking chart that she and staff maintain. Mr. Martin requested that similar items that come out of board meetings be tracked as well.
Additions to the Agenda
Mr. Murphree asked for approval of the agenda by a show of hands, and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Westervelt moved to approve the minutes of the November 18, 2009, meeting. Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.
Attachments (7) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.