Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved February 10, 2010 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 10, 2010, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.
Ed Juarez, Secretary
Ron Murphree, Chair
Kevin Westervelt – Vice Chair
Deputy Designation Federal Officer (DDFO), Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present
Dave Adler, Department of Energy-Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO) Liaison
John Eschenberg, DDFO, 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)
Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.
Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee Citizens’ Advisory Panel
Pete Osborne, IIA
Art Haugh, DOE-ORO
Eleven members of the public were present.
John Eschenberg – Mr. Eschenberg said DOE-ORO EM has received $436 million for cleanup activities for FY 2010. The president has requested $450 million for FY 2011. He said Mr. Haugh will talk more about that during his presentation. He said considering all of the budget challenges the nation faces he felt fortunate that Oak Ridge has a presidential request for $450 million, but he also believes the cleanup budget should be $500-$550 million.
Regarding recent achievements he said the west wing of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) has been demolished. For next month’s meeting he said he would show a film clip of the last portion of the west wing coming down.
Mr. Eschenberg said within the next few weeks Building 9735 will be demolished at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
At Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) the 3026 Building superstructure has been demolished and debris will be shipped off site soon. Interior work continues at the 2000 Complex. Hot cells have been covered with a protective material.
He said DOE-ORO EM perhaps has not fulfilled commitments regarding the removal of excess material at Buildings K-25 and K-27 at ETTP. Letters from EPA and TDEC have been received by EM to that effect. At issue is a portion of about 20,000 cubic meters of material that was not removed per previous agreements with EPA and TDEC. Mr. Eschenberg said when a portion of material is not removed as promised it should be determined if there was a breakdown in communication. He said when EM makes commitments it must make sure those commitments are met. He said he intends to work more closely with the regulators to make sure communication is good to ensure milestones are met.
Dave Adler – Mr. Adler reported that EM is in engaged in an informal dispute with the regulators on three projects. One is the K-1070-B Burial Grounds at ETTP where EM has requested an extension to finish the job because it has encountered about twice as much material to be removed as previously thought. The regulators have not agreed to the extension.
The second project is the groundwater treatability study work plan at ETTP. Under an agreement with EPA a more extensive characterization study will be done, but an agreement has not been reached on when that study is to be completed.
The third project is the removal of the fuel salts from the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). There is a milestone to begin the preparatory work to remove the salts from the storage tanks. An engineering study completed in December 2009 indicated the original plans for the removing the salts were not safe. EM requested another milestone in order to evaluate the work and design a new method for removing the salt. The regulators did not agree to the new milestone request.
Mr. Adler noted that work continues on all three projects, but schedules will be pushed out while a resolution is worked out among the agencies.
Mr. Murphree asked if there is a timeline for resolving the informal disputes. Mr. Adler said there is no timeline, but the agencies will work together to resolve them in a timely manner. He said a formal dispute process, which can be triggered by any of the agencies to resolve a problem quickly, does have built in deadlines for resolution.
Mr. Axelrod asked if there were provisions for eventual cleanup of MSRE in its original design. Mr. Adler said there was a design to drain the salt when the mixture was heated to a liquid state. He said the process was used several times during the 1950s and 60s to move material around in the system. Since then there has been some diminution of the tank walls that has led to the creation of additional alloys in the tank that do not liquefy when heated. That has caused some blockage of the drain lines and therefore draining the tanks has not been achieved as planned.
Mr. Adler reported on the outstanding Recommendation 182 for DOE to Endorse and Support a Stewardship Workshop. A draft response has been written that agrees with holding a workshop in conjunction with a currently planned workshop in the November timeframe in Grand Junction, Colo. That workshop was to have focused on closed sites but will be expanded to including ongoing mission sites like Oak Ridge. The date, however, for the workshop has not been set.
Connie Jones – Ms. Jones said she recently observed the transfer of converters from K-25 to the on-site disposal facility in Bear Creek Valley and was pleased with the process.
John Owsley – Mr. Owsley said at the conclusion of Mr. Haugh’s presentation he will be provide the state’s position on DOE’s priorities and budgets.
Mr. Axelrod had additional comments related to those he made at the December meeting. He asked if a stewardship workshop for Oak Ridge is being planned. If not, he again suggested that ORSSAB have two meetings on stewardship as a followup to reports issued in the 1990s by the Stewardship Working Group (plans for an Oak Ridge stewardship workshop are on hold pending a response from DOE EM Headquarters to an ORSSAB recommendation to endorse and support such a workshop). He suggested one meeting on stewardship of Bethel Valley and Melton Valley and one meeting on K-25.
Regarding the Integrated Facilities Disposition Program (IFDP), Mr. Axelrod asked when the critical decision 2 document for the project would be completed and when and if an ORSSAB meeting regarding IFDP would be held. He feels $9.4 to $14.4 billion to demolish much of the complex under IFDP is excessive. By comparison he said it would cost about $12 billion to build the Oak Ridge complex in today’s dollars. He also suggested that stewardship be part of the IFDP.
Mr. Axelrod said he has reviewed the Environmental Quality Advisory Board Oak Ridge Draft Climate Action Plan. He recommended the building of two 0.6 gigawatt reactors to save on carbon dioxide emissions produced by the City of Oak Ridge. He recommends $10 million per year over 40 years by the City of Oak Ridge to implement the draft climate action plan with suggested revisions. He suggested ORSSAB or similar group should have oversight over the plan.
Mr. Axelrod left a copy of his statement (Attachment 1).
Mr. Haugh’s presentation was on the federal budget process and priorities. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 2.
He began by explaining how the executive branch begins the budget process. Usually around February or March the DOE field offices receive a target budget to strive for from Washington. Included with the target is guidance on how to develop the budget request. The field offices solicit input from the local stakeholders and submit budget requests to EM headquarters. EM headquarters takes all the field offices budget requests and assembles a single EM budget request for the DOE chief financial officer, who develops a single budget request for DOE. The Secretary of Energy reviews the budget request and makes final adjustments before submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the September timeframe.
OMB compiles budget requests from all government agencies and consults with the president. Around September OMB provides a ‘pass back’ to the agencies indicating how much money they can expect to receive. That allows the agencies to determine what they can or cannot do with the proposed budgets and provides for an appeal for more money if needed. OMB makes its final adjustments and submits to the president, who in turn, submits his budget request to Congress in February (Attachment 2, pages 2-3).
The ORO EM share of the president’s budget request for FY 2011 is $450 million.
Mr. Haugh said the next steps are part of the legislative process (Attachment 2, page 4). After the president releases his budget to Congress it goes through the deliberation process. During the April/May timeframe the assistant secretary for EM and other EM officials will testify before House and Senate committees providing information and answering questions regarding the EM budget request. Congress then deliberates about what will go in the different programs.
Usually the House acts first and comes up with a ‘mark’ indicating what it has agreed to appropriate. The Senate then goes through a similar process and develops its budget ‘mark.’ Representatives from the two house then confer to resolve differences in the ‘marks’ and finalize a budget appropriation and send to the president to sign in the August/September timeframe. Often the budget doesn’t get to the president in a timely manner and the government operates on a ‘continuing resolution’ based on the previous fiscal year budget. The continuing resolution remains in effect until the budget gets to the president for signing. After the president signs the budget act, OMB distributes money to the various agencies.
Mr. Haugh noted that at any given time three budgets are being worked. The FY 2010 budget is currently being executed, the FY 2011 budget is being deliberated, and work will start for the FY 2012 budget as soon as guidance is received from EM headquarters (Attachment 2, page 5).
He said budget money is requested by project baseline summary (PBS), which is basically a line-item request for funding. A list of ORO PBSs is noted on page 6 of Attachment 2. They are split into defense-related and uranium enrichment decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) appropriations. Most of the money ORO EM receives is for uranium enrichment D&D. Mr. Haugh noted that of the $450 million appropriated for ORO EM about $200 million is earmarked for PBS 40, Nuclear Facility D&D at ETTP.
Mr. Haugh then talked about EM priorities nationwide (Attachment 2, page 8). Number one on the list is conducting work safely. He said priorities 2 and 3, radioactive tank waste and spent nuclear fuel storage, are no longer part of the ORO EM work as they had been completed earlier. Mr. Haugh pointed out that the listing of priorities is not necessarily in order of importance at the national level, but are simply guidelines in developing each field office budget. At Oak Ridge the top priority is doing work safely, but the next priority is funding D&D, because Mr. Haugh said it costs about $75 million a year for infrastructure, essential services, and safeguards and security where D&D is being done. Once cleanup is complete at ETTP, D&D money can be used for cleanup elsewhere on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR).
In developing budget requests, Mr. Haugh said ORO EM takes the bottom line targets supplied by headquarters in its guidance and a validated baseline is developed as a starting point for a budget request. Stakeholder and regulator input are factored into the budget request. Requirements that are above the headquarters guidelines are submitted as over target requests.
Mr. Haugh noted that ORO EM received almost $500 million in FY 2009. ORO EM also received $755 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in 2009 to be used over two years. In FY 2010 ORO EM received is $436 million, which was to be expected in light of Recovery Act funding. Mr. Haugh said when Recovery Act money runs out after FY 2011 work that got underway at Y-12 and ORNL will slow somewhat.
After Mr. Haugh’s presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Juarez – Are PBS numbers used consistently across the complex and what is the approval process for moving funds from one PBS to another? Mr. Haugh – PBS numbers are used throughout the DOE EM complex. In terms of moving money from one to another it depends on the authority Congress provides in any given year. Sometimes we can just go to headquarters and ask to move money so long as it remains within congressional intent.
Mr. Myrick – The last couple of months the EM Committee has been trying to determine, which was confirmed tonight, if ETTP is getting most of the EM budget. That doesn’t leave a lot for work that needs to be done at Y-12 and ORNL. Even though we have a number of $75 million going to ETTP we still don’t have enough information to determine if that is the most important work that we need to be spending money on. We say we want to finish work at ETTP because we’re spending $75 million a year to keep working there. So are we willing to put on hold for another 10 years or so other work that needs to be done to finish work at ETTP? To me that’s the real question for the EM Committee and the board to determine. Is that the right investment to make? Mr. Eschenberg – As we finish work processing transuranic waste, that is $60 million that we’ll be able to put in other cleanup work. In relation to the Uranium-233 Project, in the next few years we have pretty high capital expense at the peak part of the project. As capital expenditures are reduced we will just have operations. And while that is still a lot of money, operations will be considerably less than the capital expenditures. That will allow for more money to go into cleanup. And at ETTP as we demolish K-25 and K-27 that will also reduce budget pressure and free up more money for cleanup. So when those three projects are completed in the next three to four years you’ll see more money available for cleanup work that needs to be done on the reservation. Mr. Myrick – We need to see those figures to see how long we are going to wait before we can get to the work many of us think really needs to be done, and if the $75 million can be reduced. As K-25 is demolished is there a better way of spending that money? I think any recommendation we make will revolve around that issue and we haven’t gotten enough information to do that.
Mr. Olson – To continue with what Mr. Myrick is saying, this board has made recommendations about not allowing other buildings that need to be demolished to deteriorate to the point that they could become more of a problem to demolish, much like what has happened with K-25, which would be unfortunate.
Mr. Adler – We’ve been trying to come up with a way of sharing information that is not embargoed and we can provide to the EM committee. We took what were then the figures to plan for EM work and ran them against the priorities, as Mr. Haugh has explained, and laid out schedule charts to show how the sequencing would be done. That was done against planning targets we thought to be the case, but the numbers were lower than what the president gave us a couple of weeks ago. We now have redo all of that against a new planning target. We will share that information with you, but it is just a projection. The costs of the various projects have varying degrees of rigor. We’re still trying to pin down the costs for some very big ticket projects. It won’t provide estimated costs for individual projects and it won’t provide planning targets. It does provide the best projection of the impacts current priorities guidance and projection of funding levels have on projects.
Mr. Lundy – At the Intergovernmental Conference in New Orleans, Assistant Secretary Triay said she hoped the detailed decision making would be done at the operations level. Are we seeing some of that? Mr. Haugh – I’ve seen some of that because even though we need to keep working at ETTP and disposing of transuranic waste and U-233, we’ve been told that work at Y-12 and ORNL is up to us to prioritize.
Mr. Stow – Regarding PBS 11Z, the downblending of U-233 at Building 3019, my recollection is we received an unfunded mandate to do that work. Has that been addressed or are we moving money from other projects to do that work? Mr. Haugh – We did receive the U-233 project in 2005. In the FY 2010 budget we received about $38 million to do that work and $50 million for FY 2011. But our targets weren’t increased as a result of getting funding for U-233.Mr. Eschenberg – That project in our portfolio is worth $477 million. But I don’t know what it’s actually going to cost. We are trying from a project management perspective to understand what the design is and what the technical risks are before we estimate and communicate what it’s going to cost.
Mr. Axelrod – Is there a demarcation between what we’re doing now and when IFDP starts? Mr. Haugh – There is a line between the existing baseline and the IFDP. IFDP is a plan to address all the work that remains to be done at Y-12 and ORNL. It does not include ETTP, transuranic waste processing, or the U-233 Project. Mr. Axelrod – When does IFDP start? Mr. Haugh – Portions of it began with some Recovery Act work at Y-12 and ORNL.
Mr. Martin – Do we know how much Recovery Act money is left? Mr. Eschenberg – Of the $755 million, we’ve expensed at about 20 percent; money that has been paid. We’re obligated for about $600 million. We have to get the money obligated by the end of this fiscal year (September 30). We have an objective of having the money expensed by September 2011. We have to be mindful of how we sequence the work and what I call the de-staffing glide slope. At the end of September 2011 I don’t want to have a big drop of work force when work is completed. Here in Oak Ridge we’ve been mindful of using small businesses through indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts. That has slowed our obligating recovery act money because those contracts take longer to finalize.
Mr. Lundy – When I first heard about the downblending of U-233 I thought it was an unwise decision. Now that I’ve heard what its costs ORO EM I think it’s even more unwise. I wonder what we can do as a board to reverse that decision. Mr. Myrick – That project was given to us by an act of Congress. To change that you would have to get Congress to change its directive.
Mr. Stow – For comparison purposes do you know what the appropriations are for the other sites like Hanford and Savannah River? Mr. Adler – For Savannah River, the FY 2011 budget request is $1.217 billion; for Hanford’s Office of River Protection it’s $1.858 billion; for the Hanford Richland Operations Office it’s $973 million. Mr. Eschenberg – What would be insightful is a history of budget figure trends over the last 10 years. That’s something we have and I can get that to you.
The discussion of budgets and priorities concluded with comments from Mr. Owsley providing TDEC’s position on the ORO EM budget. He said TDEC has been in dispute with DOE on a number of occasions regarding budgets, priorities, and schedules and resolution agreements have been reached each time. The latest resolution was in 2008 and one of the disputes that led to that agreement was the U-233 Project. He said DOE took money from its EM budget and put toward the U-233 Project and asked TDEC and EPA to change milestones set out in the Federal Facility Agreement to accommodate the U-233 Project. He noted that Congress did mandate that EM dispose of the U-233, but he said EM Headquarters gave the project to Oak Ridge without funding. Mr. Owsley said TDEC considers its agreements with DOE to include DOE Headquarters.
Mr. Owsley said TDEC agreed to the dispute resolution in 2008 that there would be a consistent level of funding for completion of cleanup on the ORR. He said it is the state’s position that DOE is not complying with that resolution agreement. He said the funding provided for FY 2010 and requested for FY 2011 is inconsistent with the dispute resolution which basically said
“milestones will, to the extent practicable, be based upon level funding.” DOE EM’s national budget for FY 2009 was approximately $6 billion and DOE EM Oak Ridge received approximately $499 million. DOE EM’s national budget for FY 2010 is approximately $6.5 billion and DOE EM Oak Ridge was allocated $436 million. DOE EM’s national request for FY 2011 is in excess of $6 billion and the proposed allocation for DOE EM Oak Ridge is $450 million. TDEC does not agree to accept less funding at DOE EM Oak Ridge when DOE receives level and/or increased funding at the national level.
Mr. Owsley said TDEC is willing to work with DOE EM and is preparing a new schedule based on planning budgets that are consistent and have a balance between environmental media and D&D cleanup. He said in 2002 EPA and TDEC agreed to an Accelerated Cleanup Plan, which is basically the same agreement the agencies are being asked to agree to now - to delay cleanup work at Y-12 and ORNL to complete work at ETTP. He said history has shown that DOE does not utilize savings from closing sites to complete cleanup work at other sites.
Ms. C. Jones said DOE, EPA, and TDEC will be negotiating budget priorities. She said the managers of the three agencies will be working out what can be implemented in Oak Ridge regarding budget and projects.
Mr. Murphree noted that EM priorities presented during Mr. Haugh’s discussion do not mention compliance with milestones nor consistent and level funding. He said Oak Ridge funding compared to EM priorities appears to be ‘upside down.’ He agreed with Mr. Myrick that more information is needed by the board to make an informed recommendation on the FY 2012 ORO budget priorities.
Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee met on January 28 and accomplished all items on its agenda. He noted the board’s budget is in order.
He referenced the Abbreviated Quarterly Project Reports in the meeting packets and described how the report was set up. He reminded the board that this report had been requested by the committee to share with the board quarterly. Included with the report is the table of Federal Facility Agreement Appendix B milestones that relate to the items in the quarterly report.
Mr. Dixon noted that the planning committee for the Spring EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting was held on January 14 and another is scheduled for February 11. He said a final agenda for the chairs’ meeting is near completion. Lori Eisenberg who facilitated the fall meeting in Idaho will be the facilitator for the spring meeting in Oak Ridge. Mr. Dixon said a reception and buffet dinner will be held at the American Museum of Science and Energy from 6 to 8:30 p.m. He said the reception will be free, but there will be a charge for the buffet dinner. Invitations to attend the chairs meeting have been sent to the mayor of Oak Ridge, as well as local DOE personnel, and stakeholders.
Plans for a tour of the ORR as part of the meeting should be finalized in March and a website to take meeting registrations is being developed by the ORSSAB contractor MCH and is scheduled to go live on February 15.
Ms. Owen reported that she, Ms. Halsey, and staff visited the Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend, Tenn., as a possible site for the ORSSAB annual meeting in August. She said it is a very good location for the meeting and the planning subcommittee will pursue having the meeting at that location.
EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on January 20 and heard a report on the expansion of the waste disposal facility on Bear Creek Road and the sanitary landfills on Chestnut Ridge near Y-12. The committee also heard a report from Mr. Adler about the engineering study to remove fuel salts from MSRE. Mr. Olson said since it’s unknown at this time how to proceed with the removal of salts from MSRE the committee chose not to make any recommendations on the problem.
The committee heard information regarding IFDP sequencing and prioritization. Mr. Olson said discussions regarding IFDP at that meeting and what was heard at this meeting regarding budget prioritizations indicate that neither the committee nor the full board is satisfied with the information available to be able to make a recommendation on the FY 2012 budget.
The committee had a discussion on a draft recommendation on a phased approach for addressing potential off site contamination from Melton Valley. The draft was discussed and amended and approved as amended. However, one of the committee members was not entirely comfortable with the changes and requested the recommendation be discussed again to work out the wording. The recommendation will be considered again at the February meeting.
Public Outreach – Ms. Owen said the committee met by teleconference for its January 26 meeting and discussed presentations to Hardin Valley Academy, the Kiwanis Club of Knoxville, and the Rotary Club of Farragut. The committee decided to have a booth at Earth Fest in April at Pellissippi State Community College.
The committee received an update from staff on the new kiosks being designed for the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.
The committee approved the draft recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings, which was approved at this meeting.
The next meeting will be at the DOE Information Center on February 23 at 5:30.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the committee met on January 19 and discussed a path forward for the Stewardship Education Resource Kit. The committee determined not to make any further changes in the kit.
The committee continued to review the draft Stewardship Implementation Plan for the ORR. The committee will discuss a draft recommendation on the plan at the February meeting.
At the February meeting the committee will discuss in more detail a white paper describing the process to remove portions of the ORR from the EPA National Priorities List.
The committee will also get a report on a proposed DOE-ORO global information system.
Executive – Mr. Murphree reported the committee met on January 28 and approved the board’s budget request to DOE-ORO for FY 2011.
The committee approved a letter to EPA requesting a presentation in May concerning the environmental impact of waste generators and processors in and around the ORR. The committee also approved the topic for the March meeting.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be an “Update on Building 3019 Uranium-233 Processing.”
The minutes of the January 13, 2010, meeting were approved.
The motion to vote on the two consecutive absences for Mr. Myrick and Ms. Sarten was removed as both were in attendance.
A first reading was held on the Amendment to the ORSSAB Operating Instructions (Attachment 3).
The recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings was approved (Attachment 4).
The recommendation on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities within East Tennessee Technology Park and Surrounding Areas was approved as amended during deliberations. The original recommendation is Attachment 5. The approved amended version is Attachment 6.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey noted two meetings had been held in January by the Department of the Interior concerning the possible establishment of a national park site commemorating the Manhattan Project. The proposed plan suggests a site to be established at Los Alamos, N.M. She said individuals can make comments to the department requesting Oak Ridge inclusion as part of the park. She noted a letter written to Carla McConnell, Project Manager, that could be used as a model (Attachment 7), and she encouraged anyone supporting Oak Ridge as part of the Manhattan Project park site should write letters to the Department of the Interior.
Additions to the Agenda
Mr. Olson moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Hatcher seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the January 13, 2010, meeting. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Olson moved to approve the recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Meetings (Attachment 4). Mr. Lundy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Bonner moved to approve the recommendation on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities within East Tennessee Technology Park and Surrounding Areas. Mr. Mead seconded. During discussion of the recommendation some revisions were made (Attachment 6). The motion as amended was approved unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Attachments (7) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.