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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved April 14, 2010 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.


Members Present

Darrell Akins

Darryl Bonner

Steve Dixon

Bob Hatcher

Charles Jensen

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Ron Murphree, Chair

Tim Myrick

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

Josh Pratt1

Sondra Sarten

Sidney Sherrill1

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt – Vice Chair


Members Absent

John Coffman2

David Martin


1Student Representative

2Second Consecutive Absence


Liaisons and Federal Coordinator Present

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

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

Jason Darby, DOE-ORO

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Dick Ketelle, Bechtel Jacobs, Co.

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee Citizens’ Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, IIA


Nine members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – Mr. Adler reported on the progress of some projects that are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The eastern half of the 2000 Complex at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been demolished. Hazardous components have been removed and

are awaiting disposal. Bids for demolition of the western portion of the building are being accepted and work is expected to start this summer.


Mr. Adler said a contract has been awarded to demolish a group of 34 building in the central campus of ORNL. A contract has also been awarded for the cleanout and demolition of a series of hot cells at the lab.


At East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) a contract totaling about $50 million has been awarded for the demolition of the K-33 Building.


Mr. Adler said a lot work is being done among the three parties of the Federal Facility Agreement for the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), DOE, EPA, and TDEC, to agree on milestones of work to be done during 2010-14. He said funds from savings, in excess of $100 million, from ARRA projects have been identified to use on other projects. He said that money will be used on projects where earlier milestones had been missed. He said agreements have been made among the three parties for near-term projects, but he said there is still a lot work being done to identify projects in the post-2012-14 time frame. He said about half of the projects will deal with environmental media and about half focus on decontamination and decommissioning. Mr. Adler said agreements on about 25 new milestones have been reached.


Mr. Juarez asked if there were caveats on these agreements, especially related to funding. Mr. Adler said that while there have been agreements on a number of items, the three parties are trying to determine what else to agree on. He said there are projects that EPA and TDEC want done beyond what DOE is able to agree to. He said the caveat is always related to funding and what DOE is able to save on ARRA projects. He said if there are unexpected overruns on ARRA projects, DOE will not be able to follow through on what is agreed.


Mr. Myrick asked how long ARRA funds are available. Mr. Adler said by statute ARRA money is available through 2014. DOE had made commitments to use all ARRA money by 2011, but that is being loosened somewhat as sites are finding they are able to get more work done.


Mr. Murphree asked how the agreed-to milestones will be recorded. Mr. Adler said they will become part of appendices E and J in the Federal Facility Agreement.


Mr. Adler reviewed the status of outstanding recommendations from ORSSAB:

Recommendation 184: Recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings – Mr. Adler said DOE-Oak Ridge is in agreement with the recommendation. He said Ms. Halsey has suggested some ways to fine-tune the process. Mr. Adler said the response and Ms. Halsey’s suggestions will be coming to the board soon.


Recommendation 185: Recommendations on the Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities within East Tennessee Technology Park and Surrounding Area – Mr. Adler said Sue Cange will draft a response to all comments received, which will include the comments from the board. A letter will be coming from DOE explaining that process.


John Owsley – Mr. Owsley said Mr. Adler’s description of the work being done among DOE, EPA, and TDEC was a fair summation. He said TDEC has provided DOE correspondence of the state’s expectations of work to be done. There is agreement on milestones for 2010-11 and work is being done to establish milestones for 2012-14; he said the state expects the milestones in the out-years to be consistent with the 2008 dispute resolution. He said the state looks forward to seeing what DOE will offer to do in the next five years.


Connie Jones – Ms. Jones had no additional comments regarding the milestone discussions.


Public Comment

Mr. Axelrod, referencing the March presentation on the downblending of uranium-233, had asked how valuable the highly enriched uranium was that was being downblended. He provided information at this meeting (Attachment 1) indicating the uranium in one nuclear bomb could power all homes in the United States for two hours. He thought perhaps the uranium-233 at Oak Ridge could power the entire U.S. for two days. He estimated billions of dollars worth of uranium-233 and 235 are being downblended that could be used in breeder reactors to provide power for the U.S. He said he had written to Sen. Richard Lugar recommending changing the law that directs the downblending of uranium.


Mr. Axelrod also provided information in Attachment 1 regarding his proposal for a senior center that he has mentioned at previous meetings, and he repeated some recommendations he has made concerning ORSSAB Stewardship Education Resource Kit (also noted in Attachment 1).


Mr. Mulvenon encouraged the board to vote in favor of all the recommendations the board considered at this meeting.



Mr. Darby’s presentation was on the 2010 Remediation Effectiveness Report (RER). The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 2. The 2010 document reports on data gathered and analyzed during 2009.


The first RER was conducted and 1996. The purpose was to gather data from all the environmental cleanup projects on the ORR and evaluate progress toward a stated goal, such as in a record of decision (ROD). The RER evaluates the status of ongoing activities, reviews monitoring results for the fiscal year, evaluates effectiveness of remedial actions, reviews stewardship activities, and recommends any changes in monitoring (Attachment 2, page 2).


Mr. Darby reviewed some of the high points of the 2010 RER. The Big Springs Water Treatment Facility in Upper East Fork Poplar Creek near Y-12 National Security Complex continues to capture significant amounts of mercury from the creek.


In Bear Creek Valley the uranium flux goal that was established in the Bear Creek ROD has not yet been met at the designated integration point. Mr. Darby said North Tributary 8 is a significant source of uranium flux into Bear Creek and at the integration point.


At ETTP about two-thirds of the west wing of the K-25 Building was demolished in 2009. Four predominately uncontaminated and 11 low-complexity facilities were demolished and the debris hauled to the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) in Bear Creek Valley. Remedial actions at ETTP included the pumping of groundwater contaminated with hexavalent chromium from Mitchell Branch. Excavation of the K-1070 burial grounds continued in 2009. The Groundwater Treatability Study at ETTP was conducted during 2009. A large part of the Ponds Remediation Project was completed. The K-770 Soils Remediation and Zones 1 and 2 soils work continued in 2009.


In Bethel Valley, Mr. Darby said there were continued reductions of mercury concentrations in White Oak Creek following a maintenance action in the Building 4501 basement at ORNL. In Melton Valley goals that have been set continue to be met as a result of the hydrologic isolation of the Melton Valley Burial Grounds.


Mr. Darby provided additional details for each area. In Upper East Fork Poplar Creek the key remedial actions include the East End Volatile Organic Compound Plume pump and treat action and the Big Springs Mercury Treatment System. Both systems are reducing offsite contamination. He showed maps of monitoring stations and graphs of rainfall that affects the amount of mercury concentration that are recorded (Attachment 2, pages 6-8).


In Bear Creek, the principal surface water contaminants are uranium and nitrates. He noted again that North Tributary 8 is a significant source of uranium contamination in Bear Creek. He said uranium flux in North Tributary 3 near Boneyard/Burnyard has increased slightly. He said work is being done to determine the reason for the increase.


At ETTP the demolition of the west wing of K-25 generated 5,500 truckloads of debris. Fifteen hundred compressors and 700 converters were disposed at EMWMF. Pre-demolition activities continued in the east wing of K-25 and began in the K-27 Building. Three high-risk buildings were demolished – K-1231, K-1233 and K-413.


The K-1007-P1 Ponds Remediation Project was essentially finished although some stocking of fish continues.


In general monitoring of groundwater and surface water at ETTP indicates conditions are stable.


Mr. Darby reviewed that status of soils in Zones 1 and 2 at ETTP. The map and chart indicate those exposure units where additional work is needed or no further actions are required (Attachment 2, pages 13-14).


Key actions in Bethel Valley include the Building 4501 basement remedial action and the ongoing Core Hole 8 remediation. Surface water, groundwater, and aquatic biota monitoring are ongoing activities in Bethel Valley to determine the effectiveness of actions. Mr. Darby said the Core Hole 8 collection system did not perform as expected as a result of some mechanical problems. Corrective actions are underway.


In Melton Valley ROD actions were completed in 2006. Performance monitoring includes surface water quality and evaluation of effectiveness of hydrologic isolation of the burial grounds. Aquatic biota is monitored for ecological recovery. Melton Valley ROD water quality goals for the most part have been met (Attachment 2, page 22), even with heavy rainfall. Mr. Darby said heavy rainfall doesn’t seem to affect the monitoring results.


Mr. Darby discussed stewardship implementation and verification activities (Attachment 2, page 24). Controls include physical, engineering, and administration controls. Land use controls are prescribed in the various decision documents and collected in a stewardship activity summary (Attachment 2, page 25) and are implemented in site specific plans. A check sheet verifies that controls are implemented.


Mr. Darby reviewed some RER off-site results (Attachment 2, page 27). He said mercury concentrations in fish in Lower East Fork Poplar Creek continue to exceed EPA criteria. He said research continues to try to understand why that is happening. In Lower Watts Bar, Clinch River, and Poplar Creek, PCB concentrations in fish are trending downward. Mercury concentrations in fish in Lower Watts Bar are below EPA criteria.


Mr. Darby said next year, in addition to the annual reporting, DOE will be issuing the CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation and Liability Act) Five Year Review. This review will not only determine effectiveness but protectiveness of the actions that have been done.


After Mr. Darby’ presentation a number of questions was asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.

Mr. Myrick – Can you talk more about the problems with Core Hole 8? Mr. Ketelle – The extraction system that was installed in 1995 now has 15 years on it, and we were finding that some of the control components were becoming unreliable. So the pumping is challenged, especially when we go into wet weather seasons. We detected process firewater line leaks up in the plant area that added water to the plume source area. That added to the mass of contamination that has to be dealt with on the receiving end in the plume collection. We’re in the process of developing documentation to put in additional groundwater extraction wells to allow a better capture of the plume out of the bedrock so it doesn’t get into the infrastructure, the storm drains, and streams. The water leaks have been addressed but there is still residual water moving around. Mr. Myrick – Now that the car dealership is out of business where there is contamination from East Fork Poplar Creek are you thinking of going in and remediating that area? Mr. Adler – The expectation in the ROD is that we watch the land use and if there is a shift in the land use we would go after it. Right now there are no plans to go in and tear up the parking lot. We could take a look at it. I’m not sure what the volumes and costs would be.


Ms. Mei – Do the remediation goals for a project ever change? Mr. Darby – They could change. That’s where the Five Year Review looks to see if the remediation is meeting the goals of the ROD and if they are still protective. The goals could be changed if DOE, EPA, and TDEC agree on the changes.


Mr. Jensen – Given the leaching that we’ve seen is it possible to back-calculate to determine the mass of contaminants? Does it indicate we’d be pumping 40 years or 4,400 years? If it’s 4,400 does that affect the decision making process in Bear Creek? Mr. Adler – In Bear Creek we have leach collection systems under the area of the concrete blanket that most people think of the Bear Creek Burial Grounds. But there are no groundwater pumping systems there. The leach collection systems will be in place as long as contaminated leach comes from the base of the burial grounds and that could be a very, very long time. We are about to sign on to a couple of decision and design efforts to try to implement some interim measures in Bear Creek Valley. The original ROD called for some system, perhaps a wetland, to attenuate contamination coming from the S-3 Ponds at Y-12 through North Tributary 3. That action was never implemented. We’ll set a milestone to come up with a design for that. There is a second effort to come up with a focused measure to drive down the contamination coming from North Tributary 8. In the long-run we have to decide what to do about the burial grounds comprehensively. That decision has been a tough one to make and is probably a few years away.


Mr. Mezga – How are flux goals determined? Mr. Darby – It’s based on risk; a residential scenario. It’s a 1x 10-5 risk. Mr. Mezga – How does that compare to the water quality standards? Mr. Owsley – I’m not certain there is a water quality number for uranium, but it is a heavy metal and has a toxic effect and does show an effect on the biota in Bear Creek. Mr. Adler – Basically we postulated that sometime in the distant future someone might take up residence within eyesight of the Bear Creek Burial Grounds. We set a pretty ambitious goal saying that person should be able to live by the creek and use the water and not see a risk in terms of 1x10-5, which is a very low risk. I would say it’s lower than for a lot of drinking water standards. Water that would come out of standard water fountain could be 10 and sometimes 100 times riskier than what we set for the uranium in Bear Creek. Right now we’re not meeting that goal; we’re missing it by a factor 3, 4, or 5. But it’s a pretty ambitious goal for a receptor that doesn’t currently exist. We’re still looking at things to try to meet the goals anyway. The level we’re using is keyed to human cancer risk, which is usually lower than would be detrimental to aquatic life. So I don’t think the uranium levels we’re talking about here would have any acute effect on aquatic life. It’s just a postulated probabilistic cancer risk associated with long-term exposure to a hypothetical receptor. Mr. Mezga – From the state’s perspective, if that flux goal is met have we met the overall protection for Bear Creek? Mr. Owsley – I’d reiterate Mr. Adler’s point – it’s assumed that you would, but the water quality criteria are for the protection of several uses, one for aquatic life.


Mr. Axelrod – Can you talk more about the non-time critical removal action for chromium reduction in Mitchell Branch and the cost for this? Mr. Ketelle – I don’t know what the annual cost is for the pump and treat. The pumping activity is very inexpensive. It’s just the cost to operate the pumps. The Central Neutralization Facility is the treatment medium. There were costs addressed in the documentation for this non-time critical removal action that included a cost evaluation so that information is available in the document. Mr. Axelrod – When you say long-term pump and treat, how long a term are you talking about? Mr. Ketelle – For that hexavalent chromium plume we’ve not been able to locate the source, but it’s apparently coming from beneath buildings upgradient of Mitchell Branch. We think it’s going to subside with a few decades, but not knowing what the mass is it’s difficult to project the life of the project. Mr. Adler – We’ll take an action to find that cost. I’ve seen it. I know it’s less than $100,000 and more in the area of $20,000 a year. Mr. Axelrod – I’d recommend that DOE and the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee take a closer look at stewardship for the long term, particularly pumping and treatment for all of the stewardship sites.


Mr. Mezga – What is the expected lifespan for the engineering controls in Melton Valley and how does that compare to the remaining inventory of stored materials there? Do we have to go through another round of capping/re-capping at some point? Mr. Adler – The annual operations and maintenance for Melton Valley is in the range of $1 to $2 million a year. That is hoped to be enough to deal with cap maintenance, the hydrological drainage system maintenance, and some cap repair. If we do a good job of maintenance those caps should last for a long, long time. The contaminants that we’re measuring at White Oak Dam are largely fission products, which have relatively short half-lives. In 200-300 years activity in Melton Valley should be reduced to benign levels. But even then there will still be lead and other heavy metals that last forever. So it’s a remedy that will be maintained forever for those things that don’t go away. But the more hazardous materials in Melton Valley will go away through natural decay. The cost of excavating the material and sending it elsewhere was so high you could take a fraction of that cost and put it in the bank and let the interest pay for the cost of operations and maintenance to leave it where it is.


Mr. Owsley – I’d like to point out that there has not been a final decision for Melton Valley. It was an interim decision to deal with short-lived radionuclides. How to deal with the remaining risk that will essentially remain forever has yet to be determined. That is the difference between Melton Valley and Bear Creek Valley. In Bear Creek Valley we can’t put in an interim remedy and allow a significant portion of the risk to go away. A decision in Melton Valley to deal with long-live radionuclides has not been made.


Mr. Mulvenon – Regarding the S-3 Ponds is there any indication that bioremediation worked? Mr. Darby – That was a separate Office of Science activity but I’ve heard it said that there were some things that were evaluated that looked promising.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee met on March 25 and reviewed the board’s financial status and found everything to be in order.


The committee discussed the upcoming ORSSAB retreat to be held in Townsend, Tenn., in August. The planning committee for the retreat is working with Ms. Halsey to determine a facilitator for the meeting.


Mr. Dixon reported on the activities related to the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting, April 27-29, which is hosted by ORSSAB. There will be a tour of the ORR for meeting participants on April 27; a reception will be held that evening beginning a 6 p.m. at the American Museum of Science and Energy. That will be followed by a buffet dinner for those who have registered for the dinner. Mr. Dixon advised anyone planning to stay for dinner that the cost will be $23. He said ORSSAB will be providing hors d'oeuvres and asked anyone wishing to make a donation to help off-set the cost should see staff.


Mr. Dixon said the meeting agenda for the April 28-29 Chairs’ meeting is still being revised. About 70 people are expected to attend the meeting.


Board Finance & Process will not meet in April. It will meet again on Thursday, May 27 at 5 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.


EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on March 17 and had a follow-up discussion from the March 10 ORSSAB meeting regarding uranium-233 downblending at Building 3019 at ORNL. The committee decided no recommendation on the project is needed at this time.


The committee provided informal comments to Mr. Adler on the information sheet on the Explanation of Significant Differences for the Record of Decision for Interim Actions in Bethel Valley.


The committee heard an update on the status of dispute discussions between DOE, EPA, and TDEC regarding missed milestones.


The committee will not meet in April. It will meet again on May 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the DOE Information Center and plans to have an update on activities underway on the reservation that are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Public Outreach – Mr. Owen reported the committee met on March 23 by teleconference and reviewed its planning calendar. The committee discussed having the outgoing student representatives, Mr. Pratt and Ms. Sherrill, write an article for release to the local newspapers describing their experiences as student board members.


The committee will participate in the Earth Day celebration at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge on Saturday, April 24.


The committee heard an update from staff on the progress of constructing a new museum kiosk exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.


The committee will meet at the DOE Information Center on May 25 at 5:30 p.m.


Stewardship – Mr. Pratt reported that the committee heard a presentation from committee member Lorene Sigal on a new stewardship presentation called “Long-term Stewardship for Contaminated Areas on the ORR.”


Mr. Pratt reported that ORSSAB had received a favorable response from DOE Headquarters regarding the board’s recommendation that a national stewardship workshop be held. A workshop is scheduled for November 16-17 in Colorado. Mr. Bonner and Messrs. Roger Macklin and Norman Mulvenon of the Stewardship Committee indicated interest in attending.


Mr. Pratt said the committee will meet on Tuesday, April 20 at 5:30 at the DOE Information Center. At the April meeting the committee will review the current Stewardship Map and work being done on an associated reference book. Mr. Murphree will present a draft presentation on stewardship in Oak Ridge as part of a stewardship roundtable during the Chairs’ Meeting.


Executive – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee met on March 25. An ad hoc committee consisting of Messrs. Akins, Jensen, Martin, and Olson has been formed to review the request for proposals for a new follow-on prime clean-up contractor for the ORR. They will begin review of the request for proposals as it becomes available from DOE.


Mr. Stow reported that a new draft memorandum of agreement to memorialize the K-25 Building at ETTP has been issued. The agreement calls for a feasibility study by a third party to make recommendations on how best to commemorate the K-25 Building. The study will also take a broad examination of historic preservation of the ORR. The study is scheduled to be issued on June 30.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be “Cumulative Aspects of Waste Processors In and Around the DOE ORR.”


Mr. Pratt and Ms. Sherrill were recognized for their service to the board as student representatives for FY 2009-10.


The minutes of the March 13, 2010, meeting were approved.


The Recommendation on a Phased Approach for Addressing Potential Off-Site Contamination in Melton Valley was approved (Attachment 3).


The Recommendations and Comments on the Long-Term Stewardship Implementation Plan for the Department of Energy-Oak Ridge were approved as revised (Attachment 4).


A Recommendation on Updating the DOE Five Year Plan (Attachment 5) was discussed and it was decided to present the recommendation during the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting, April 28-29 in Oak Ridge. If it is not approved by the combined EM SSAB Chairs it will be discussed again at some future ORSSAB meeting.


The Recommendation on the FY 2010 DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program Budget Request was approved as revised (Attachment 6).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey recognized board members Ms. Owen and Mr. Stow for helping with aspects of planning the Chairs’ meeting, specifically Ms. Owen’s work to provide hors d'oeuvres for the reception on April 27 and Mr. Stow for providing presentations for the tour participants during lunch and again at the Graphite Reactor at ORNL.


Ms. Halsey said she would staff the Chairs’ meeting registration table on the morning of Wednesday, April 28. She asked anyone interested in helping should report to the DoubleTree Hotel prior to 8 a.m. She invited all members to attend the meetings and listen to the proceedings.


Ms. Halsey said the DOE Public Involvement Plan is to be updated in 2010. The draft plan is available and she said any board members wishing to review the plan and offer comments were welcome to do so. She asked staff to forward to document to all members.


Additions to the Agenda




Mr. Hatcher moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the March 13, 2010, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Hatcher moved to approve the Recommendation on a Phased Approach for Addressing Potential Off-Site (Attachment 3). Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Bonner moved to approve the Recommendations and Comments on the Long-Term Stewardship Implementation Plan for the Department of Energy-Oak Ridge as revised (Attachment 4). Ms. B. Jones seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



During discussion of the Recommendation on Updating the DOE Five Year Plan (Attachment 5) it was suggested that perhaps the recommendation should go before the combined chairs of the EM SSABs, who will be meeting on April 28-29 in Oak Ridge. Should the recommendation not be approved by the chairs it would come back for consideration by ORSSAB at some future meeting. Mr. Lundy moved to have the recommendation go before the EM SSAB Chairs’. Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Lundy moved to approve the Recommendation on the FY 2010 DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program Budget Request as revised (Attachment 6). Mr. Mezga seconded and the motion passed with 17 members voting ‘yea’ and one voting ‘nay’ (Mr. Juarez).


The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.


Action Items


1.   Ms. Cain will get additional information concerning possible technetium-99 contamination in the U-233 project. Carryover from March.

2.   Mr. Adler will determine the annual cost to operate the pump and treat process for hexavalent chromium in Mitchell Branch.



1.   Staff will forward the draft DOE Public Involvement Plan to board members. Complete. Plan was forwarded to members on April 15, 2010.


Attachments (6) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.