Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved March 10, 2010 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 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)
Wendy Cain, DOE-ORO
Jeff Crane, EPA
Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.
Rich Higgins, Isotek Systems
Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee Citizens’ Advisory Panel
Pete Osborne, IIA
Twelve members of the public were present.
John Eschenberg – Mr. Eschenberg showed some photos and a video clip of work that has been done on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) in recent weeks (Attachment 1).
At the 2000 Complex the contractor has been focused on asbestos and radiological contamination abatement (Attachment 1, page 1). Demolition of the east end of the building is expected to begin in April. Extensive work is underway to segregate waste that can be sent to the sanitary landfill at Y-12 National Security Complex. The remaining waste will go the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) at Y-12.
At Building 3026 all that remains are the hot cell structures and accounting lab (Attachment 1, page 2). Those structures have been isolated with a heavy epoxy fixative. A contract will be awarded later to dispose of the hot cell structures.
Mr. Eschenberg showed three photos of the demolition of the 9735 Engineering Building at Y-12 (Attachment 1, pages 3-5). Mr. Eschenberg said all that remains is the building the slab.
The next two photos (Attachment 1, pages 6 and 7) show work that has been done to remove containers from the scrapyard at Y-12. The effort is clean off the scrapyard in order to characterize the soil to determine environmental hazards.
At Melton Valley (Attachment 1, pages 8 and 9) four clusters of monitoring wells are being drilled on the west side of the Clinch River to determine any offsite migration of contamination from the Melton Valley burial grounds. Drilling of the first two well clusters is 80 percent complete. Mobilization is underway for the last two clusters.
Mr. Eschenberg showed a video clip of the demolition of the last section of the west wing of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) (Attachment 1, page 10). He said all that’s left on the west side of the building are piles of rubble. About 175 trucks a day are hauling the material to the EMWMF. Mr. Eschenberg said the hardest materials to deal with are large pieces of sheet steel, such as duct work. Mr. Mead asked about using a compactor for that metal. Mr. Eschenberg said DOE no longer has the compactor, but it would have been useful for this project. Mr. Axelrod asked if the sheets are being cut into smaller pieces. Mr. Eschenberg said a new machine is being used to do that, which then rolls the pieces into smaller bales.
Mr. Eschenberg said DOE, EPA, and TDEC managers met for two days in early March as the Environmental Program Council to discuss budgets and priorities for cleanup of the ORR. One of the issues discussed was the removal of salts from the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. Mr. Eschenberg said it is a difficult problem to solve and some milestones set in a 1998 record of decision will not be met on time. He said DOE is working closely with TDEC to set new milestones for the project.
He said DOE is faced with a possible fine from TDEC for failing to properly remove excess materials from K-25 and K-27 at ETTP. The EPA and TDEC position is that DOE did not meet the commitment to remove all of the material that was characterized for disposition. As a result, Mr. Eschenberg said all three parties must do a better job of defining milestones.
Dave Adler – Mr. Adler reviewed the status of outstanding recommendations.
Recommendation 183: Recommendation on the Preferred Alternative for the Removal of Hexavalent Chromium in Mitchell Branch at ETTP – An action memorandum is being generated to initiate work on the project and a response letter to the board will be coming soon.
Recommendation 184: Recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings – DOE supports the concept. Mr. Adler said Ms. Halsey has some ideas on making the procedure more effective, which will be incorporated into the response.
Recommendation 185: Recommendation on the Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities within ETTP and Surrounding Areas: The recommendation has been forwarded to the Reindustrialization Program and a response to the recommendation will be coming from that office.
Connie Jones – Ms. Jones said there have been some temporary managerial changes in her office. Section Chief Harold Taylor has been detailed to another section and Jeff Crane is filling in for Mr. Taylor in the interim but will maintain his responsibilities as the EPA Federal Facility Agreement project manager. In regard to the managers’ meetings that Mr. Eschenberg referenced, Mr. Crane said discussions included planning commitments for 2012 and beyond. He said that while work at ETTP is a priority, EPA believes there are other environmental concerns on the ORR that need attention sooner that what DOE has planned, particularly mercury releases from Y-12 and uranium releases from Bear Creek Valley. Work to remediate those problems has been delayed and EPA is looking for opportunities to address them.
John Owsley – Mr. Owsley said TDEC is willing to work with EPA and DOE to resolve differences related to the cleanup planning schedules for the ORR. He said TDEC is looking for a balance between environmental cleanup on the ORR and decontamination and decommissioning activities at all three sites, Y-12, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and, ETTP. He said TDEC advocates level funding for cleanup that is consistent with a 2008 dispute resolution agreement.
Mr. Owsley said he had been asked by the ORSSAB Executive Committee for a presentation on the cumulative impacts of the waste generators and processors on and around the ORR. He said he is unable to make that presentation because the state does not have a comprehensive database to allow efficient summation of the information needed for the presentation. He said each waste generator or processor receives a license to operate, which requires that the operations be protective and prevent a cumulative impact. Permits or licenses are based on individual media – air, water, solid waste, etc. The information required for a presentation is maintained in a number of different divisions and to gather the material would place a significant impact on department resources.
Mr. Axelrod repeated previous statements that he is opposed to the downblending of uranium-233 (U-233) as is being done in the U-233 Project, the topic of this meeting’s presentation. He believes more breeder reactors should be built to generate power and that the U-233 could be used to power the reactors. He said the U-233 should be moved to the Y-12 Highly Enriched Uranium Facility and secured there. Mr. Axelrod provided a copy of his thoughts on balancing the U.S. budget and nuclear weapons reduction (Attachment 2).
Mr. Garland also stated his opposition to downblending and disposing of U-233, saying thorium can be extracted from the material that can be used for medical purposes. He said there is no other ready supply of thorium for that purpose.
Mr. Tewes noted that the Department of Defense has defined the Cold War as beginning in September of 1945. He thought that was interesting considering most people consider the Cold War as beginning in the early 1950s.
Mr. Mulvenon said he objected to the board’s stated three issues to present at the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in April (see Executive Committee report). He felt stewardship should be one of the issues,
especially considering that a stewardship roundtable will be conducted and Mr. Murphree will be a panel member during that discussion.
Ms. Cain, the Deputy Federal Project Director for the U-233 Project, provided an update on activities at Building 3019 at ORNL. Ms. Cain’s presentation is considered ‘official use only’ and is not included as an attachment to these minutes.
Initially, the U-233 project was managed by the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology. The scope was to extract thorium-228 from the U-233 inventory and repackage the material for long-term storage. In FY 2006, Congress directed DOE to terminate medical isotope production and transferred the Building 3019 Shutdown/U-233 Disposition Project from Nuclear Energy to EM.
Building 3019 at ORNL is the primary repository for U-233. It is a Category 2 nuclear facility and a Category 1 security facility.
Ms. Cain said the mission of the project is to provide cost-effective, safe, environmentally compliant processing and disposal of all the U-233 in Building 3019. The highest priority of the project is on safety and quality. The vision for the project is to empty the building of all U-233 for the cost and schedule determined at the 90 percent design stage and leave an annex that can support future work for both EM and the Office of Science.
The approach to the project includes designing and construction modifications to 3019; design and construct an annex to perform drying and packaging operations; downblend U-233 to reduce attractiveness from a security standpoint and eliminate criticality; convert downblended material to a form acceptable for disposition at the Nevada Test Site (NTS); and place 3019 in a safe and stable shutdown for future decommissioning and demolition (D&D).
An evaluation of the transuranic content of U-233 between January and May 2009 determined that the processes could be simplified and the material disposed at NTS instead of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Ms. Cain said that evaluation might have slowed the process some, but determined that the work would not be as complicated as first thought.
Design of the project has reached the 60 percent stage. In September 2009 DOE completed a construction project review and review of the design, the 60 percent point reached by Isotek in August 2009. Since that time work is being done to progress to the 90 percent design stage. Ms. Cain said the design is expected to be complete this year.
Ms. Cain said the scope of the project is about 450 kilograms of U-233 in various containers. She reviewed the process of the project. The dissolution and downblending will be done in the 3019 Building, while an annex will be built adjacent to 3019 to handle the drying and packaging. She said testing is being done on a small scale to ensure the process will result in the proper characteristics and meet NTS waste acceptance criteria.
Ms. Cain reviewed the downblending process, modifications that need to be done to 3019, and piping arrangements from 3019 to the annex. For shipping she said each drum will be in an overpack. The shipping cask includes a configuration to hold 10 drum. She said there will be little long-term storage of processed material, only about 20 drums in the annex and 10 drums outside of the annex.
After Ms. Cain’s presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Olson – Do you have a different contractor for criticality and safety? Ms. Cain – Isotek Systems is our primary contractor and they have some subcontractors to support them.
Mr. Stow – Where is the uranyl nitrate coming from that is used in the downblending process; how much is expected to be used and what are the percentages of the current U-233 and how far down does it have to be downblended? Ms. Cain – We will be using depleted uranium from the Savannah River site. That will be mixed with the nitric acid to be used for downblending. About 800 drums of depleted uranium will be coming from Savannah River. I don’t know what the target percentage is for downblending, but I’ll find out.
Mr. Mead – After the U-233 is dissolved and mixed with depleted uranium it’s dried. What form is it in when it’s put in the drums? Ms. Cain – It’s mixed with magnesium uranate. It’s like cake batter, but will solidify in the drum, which will be put in an overpack for transport.
Mr. Myrick – Your vision statement says you will remove all nuclear material from the building. Are you going after everything so the building will be clean when you’re finished? Ms. Cain – U-233 is the only nuclear material in the building.
Mr. Myrick – Have you completed 90 percent design? Ms. Cain – We are still proceeding toward 90 percent design. When we reach that we will do the DOE review and acceptance. The full 90 percent is planned to be finished this summer. Mr. Myrick – Do you know what cost growth has been experienced on the project? Ms. Cain – When DOE approved our baseline in 2007 it was $385 million. We’re less than $100 million from that. We’ve had a number of changes since that time, so we’re probably in the $500 million range now. The cost for construction and processing hasn’t varied significantly, but as the project takes longer there are ‘hotel’ costs associated with managing a Category 2 nuclear facility and that is an incentive to get the job done quicker. Mr. Eschenberg – We spend about $2.5 million a month in facility operations. The total project cost includes that amount of money each month. Also in the past DOE has had multiple strategies on how to solve this problem. Now we have a fixed strategy, one in which I plan to deliver as Congress has directed. This is difficult work and anytime you cut into an old facility you’re going to be surprised. Day to day our struggles are with the fire protection system, ventilation, and design basis accident questions. I think we have a level of confidence on a path forward that we can deliver.
Mr. Myrick – How clean will the building be when you leave? Will there be significant D&D work that needs to be done? Ms. Cain – I don’t know that I can adequately answer that. The systems will be flushed, and our intention is to make it as easy on follow-on contractors as possible. Most of issues are radiation hazards and not contamination hazards so I would expect it to be in reasonably good condition for it to be demolished.
Mr. Myrick- How many drums will be generated and what are the surface dose rates of the drums? Ms. Cain – That’s still being evaluated. As of today it’s expected to be about 3,000 drums. I’ll have to find out about the dose rate.
Mr. Martin – Why was all the U-233 stockpiled? Mr. Adler – U-233 was used a potential fuel for certain high-grade reactors. That may have been one reason. At the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment U-233 was the fissile material of choice to run a reactor that would hopefully produce a lot of power in a small space. Mr. Martin – Once the U-233 has been downblended enough to send to NTS, how difficult is it to upgrade it? Ms. Cain – It would be difficult. Our security folks are comfortable enough with the process not to be concerned about being able to upgrade it again. Mr. Mead – It couldn’t be done without some kind of very sophisticated enrichment process.
Ms. Mei – Of the 60 percent design process, is that both the dissolution and the drying process or is it different for the two steps? Ms. Cain – Some parts of it were farther along than others. Some were beyond 60 percent, some were just short. Ms. Mei – Earlier we heard that you would use a concentrator instead of a dryer for the downblended material. Is that a significant change? Ms. Cain – It’s a lot easier to maintain. It helps us from a processing standpoint, maintenance, and cost.
Mr. Bonner – What is the schedule for issuing an environmental impact statement? Ms. Cain – We do not have to do one. We did an environment assessment that resulted in a finding of no significant impact. We issued our third environmental assessment in January. Mr. Bonner – Talk about the use and modifications of the active ventilation systems. Mr. Higgins – In 3019 the existing ventilation system will remain intact except for where we connect for new ventilation in the hot cell. The hot cell will connect to the existing ventilation and go out to a new stack up the hill from the old stack. The new ventilation in the annex will also connect to the new stack. We will demolish the old stack after the new stack is built and system is tested. Mr. Bonner – What characterization have you done in the system to determine where radiological or chemical deposits might be? Mr. Higgins – We’ve done quite a bit of characterization in 3019. There is some contamination in the old part of the building; we’re not going to be disturbing that. We’ve done routine maintenance in the rest of the building and there is zero to very low levels of contamination in that duct work. Mr. Bonner – Are all of your milestones project management driven? Ms. Cain – That’s correct. We do not have any environmental drivers. Our main emphasis is on reducing the security footprint at ORNL because this is a significant security concern.
Mr. Tewes – Even after the U-233 is downblended you still have pretty nasty material; something that terrorists might like to acquire. Do you have adequate security at ORNL for that? Ms. Cain – The ‘nastiness’ of the U-233 is from a dose standpoint and chemical characteristics. There will not be a security concern or a criticality safety concern once the material has been downblended. Mr. Tewes – It wouldn’t be adequate for a dirty bomb? Ms. Cain- I don’t believe it would. It’s not a security concern once it’s downblended.
Ms. Owen – Do you have any responsibilities for the B side of 3019? Ms. Cain – We do now. That portion of the building has been transferred to Isotek, so the project is managing the entire 3019 Building, but we don’t have any plans to use that side of it. Ms. Owen – I know the B side has some issues with perchloric acid in the duct work. You’ve not found that in the A side, as far as being shock sensitive? Ms. Cain – Not that I’m aware of.
Mr. Olson – The state of Utah has been upset because of technetium-99 in depleted uranium being sent from Savannah River. Will that development cause you any problems? Ms. Cain – We don’t believe so; we’re monitoring that as it develops. The tech-99 is in trace elements that don’t impact shipping here and we don’t expect it to impact our processing, but we’re keeping an eye on it.
Mr. Axelrod – How many 1 gigawatt breeder reactors could the U-233 provide the seed for and what kind of processing would be required to make it available for seed material? It’s an alternate option I think needs to be addressed. Ms. Cain – I don’t have the answer to either of those questions. We’re moving forward with the Congressional direction to dispose of the material.
Mr. Murphree – What is the classification of the material when it is shipped off site? Ms. Cain – It will be low-level waste. There may be some small portions of mixed low-level, but the final form will be classified as low-level. Mr. Murphree – What about the low-level liquid waste? Ms. Cain – It will go into the ORNL low-level liquid waste process system. Mr. Murphree – And you’re sure we won’t have any problems with tech-99? We’re moving that stuff around in the piping and people are sensitive to the problems we’re encountering with tech-99 at K-25. Ms. Cain – I’ll make a note to get additional information on that.
Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reported that the committee met on February 25 and noted that all expenses are in line. He said there is some carryover from the previous year that will be added to the FY 2010 costs table.
He reminded board members of the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in April that will be hosted by ORSSAB. A reception for participants will be held on April 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the American Museum of Science and Energy. A buffet dinner will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. To help defray costs of the reception ORSSAB members were asked to offer donations. Members who would like to provide hors d’oeuvres are welcome to do so.
Mr. Juarez said other plans for the Chairs’ meeting are
progressing. Mr. Murphree encouraged members to attend the meetings, which will
be held April 28 and 29 at the DoubleTree Hotel in
EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on February 17 and heard a presentation on the closure of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator at ETTP. The committee felt no recommendation was warranted on the closure of the facility. The committee also heard an update on activities at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.
The committee had a lengthy discussion on landlord costs at ETTP and how it impacts the DOE Oak Ridge budget. Mr. Olson said that discussion led to the crafting of the draft recommendation on the DOE Oak Ridge FY 2012 budget request. The recommendation was not considered at this meeting for lack of a quorum. It will be discussed again at the upcoming EM meeting on March 17 for possible revision. Mr. Olson invited all board members to attend that meeting to participate in the budget recommendation discussion.
Public Outreach – Ms. Owen reported that the committee met on February 23 and discussed presentations that were made to the public. Mr. Myrick made two presentations to classes at Hardin Valley Academy on February 8 and February 26.
The committee reviewed the Advocate newsletter editorial plan for the spring issue and received an update from staff on the progress of the ORSSAB museum exhibit update at the American Museum of Science and Energy.
The committee decided to have exhibits at EarthFest on April 17 and Earth Day on April 24. Ms. Owen asked for volunteers to help staff the exhibits for two-hour shifts.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the committee met on February 16 and had an initial discussion on the delisting process for removing clean portions of the ORR from the EPA’s National Priorities List. There will be additional discussion on the topic at the March 16 meeting. There was also a related presentation on a proposed DOE Oak Ridge geographical information system.
The committee approved a draft recommendation that DOE accept the Long-term Stewardship Implementation for Oak Ridge. Again, lacking at quorum at this meeting the recommendation will be placed on the April ORSSAB agenda for consideration.
The March 16 meeting will include a review of the revised “Why Stewardship” presentation.
Executive – The committee met on February 25. Mr. Murphree said the committee decided on the three top issues for Oak Ridge to be presented at the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in April. They are:
1. Budget and associated milestone issues
2. The K-25 Building technetium-99 problem and the $1 billion price for K-25 D&D
3. The re-compete of the Oak Ridge EM program contract.
The committee chose as a board accomplishment the positive response from DOE Oak Ridge to generate an Abbreviated Quarterly Project Review. The major board activity is the planning for the Chairs’ meeting.
Mr. Murphree said the committee wanted to be able to provide comments on the request for proposals for the new prime cleanup contractor for the ORR. An ad hoc committee will be formed to study the request for proposals when it is available. Mr. Murphree asked for volunteers to serve on the committee. Mr. Akins and Mr. Olson agreed to serve. Mr. Murphree said he would like to have at least three members on the committee and asked for other board members to consider serving.
Mr. Murphree noted the chart of the history of budget allocations across the DOE complex (Attachment 3), which closed an action from last month’s meeting for Mr. Eschenberg.
Mr. Stow reported that the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History is meeting monthly and is working to identify people to interview and collect those oral histories that have already been done. Mr. Stow said a qualified librarian has been hired to manage the project at the Oak Ridge Public Library. He said about a dozen new oral histories have been taped in the last few months. Another effort of the project is to have all interviews digitized to speed up the research process for those accessing oral histories in the future. Mr. Stow said DOE is doing interviews with persons who have knowledge of classified work done during the Manhattan Project and the Cold War years. Those interviews will be declassified to the extent possible and turned over the Oak Ridge Oral History project.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be an “Overview of the Remediation Effectiveness Report.”
The minutes of the February 10, 2010, meeting were approved.
A second reading was held on the Amendment to the ORSSAB
(Attachment 4). A motion to accept the amendment was approved.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey repeated Mr. Juarez’s request for any donations to help defray costs for the Chairs’ meeting reception. She said DOE Headquarters has made it clear that it is inappropriate for any other entity or business to pay the costs of a reception or dinner for Chairs’ meeting participants. She said it has to be an ORSSAB effort or not be held.
Additions to the Agenda
No additions were made to the agenda, but lacking a quorum to consider recommendations, motions for recommendations were removed from the agenda. They will be placed on the April 14, 2010, agenda.
Mr. Murphree moved to approve the agenda with motions for recommendations deleted. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the February 10, 2010, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Murphree moved to approve the Amendment to the ORSSAB Operating Instructions (Attachment 4). Mr. Martin seconded and the motion was approved unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
1. Ms. Cain will get additional information concerning possible technetium-99 contamination in the U-233 project.
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. Complete. Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was originally designated to prepare K-27 for demolition will be used to demolish K-33.
2. Mr. Adler will determine how technetium-99 that was extracted from the purge cascades in K-25 was disposed. Complete. Tech-99 from the purge cascades was put in compressed gas cylinders and stored in Building K-27. They will be dispositioned as part of the K-27 demolition preparation.
3. Mr. Eschenberg will bring a film clip of the demolition of the west wing of the K-25 Building to the March meeting. Complete. Film clip presented at this meeting.
4. Mr. Eschenberg will provide a history of budget trends at the various sites over the last 10 years. Complete. Spreadsheet provided at this meeting (Attachment 3).
5. Mr. McCracken will provide a report on the evolution of how the DOE EM program developed. Complete. Ms. Halsey provided a draft timeline at the October meeting. The information is as accurate as can be determined.
6. Mr. Eschenberg will provide the board a timeline for selecting a prime cleanup contractor. Complete. An ad hoc committee of the board will be formed to study the request for proposal for a new contractor. The draft request timeline calls for a new contractor to be in place by March 2011.
7. 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. Complete. The presentation has been placed on the Executive Committee’s list of potential presentation topics. The Executive Committee will determine when this presentation will be appropriate for the Board’s meeting.
8. Mr. Kopotic will check into the availability of any studies done on White Oak Dam regarding any subsurface structures. Closed. No one with Bechtel Jacobs, Co., Surveillance and Maintenance Project Water Quality Program nor in Mark Belvin’s ORNL site office has any knowledge of any surveys regarding subsurface structures.
9. Ms. Cain will determine the surface dose rate for drums of downblended U-233.
Complete. The contact dose rate for the drums is 5 rems per hour. The drum overpack reduces the contact dose rate to 40-50 millirems per hour.
10. Ms. Cain will determine the percentage of U-233 enrichment currently in inventory and what the target percentage is. Complete. The current U-233 enrichment range for material to be processed is 75 to 100 percent U-233. The target enrichment after downblending is less than 1 percent U-233.
Attachments (4) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.