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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved May 12, 2010 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m.


Members Present

Darrell Akins

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman

Steve Dixon

Brianna Goodlin1

Bob Hatcher

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Lance Mezga

Josh Monroe1

Ron Murphree, Chair

Tim Myrick

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt, Vice-chair


Members Absent

Charles Jensen

Gloria Mei

Sondra Sarten


1Student Representative


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

Douglas Chatham, EPA

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Norman Mulvenon, LOC, League of Women Voters

Pete Osborne, IIA

Ezequiel Velez, EPA


Five members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

Dave Adler – Drilling of monitoring wells on the west side of the Clinch River is nearing completion as well as the last retrofits of private wells. Mr. Adler said the work should be finished by the end of May and monitoring to begin in June. These wells are being installed to monitor for possible contamination coming from Melton Valley under the Clinch River and into groundwater on private property on the west side of the Clinch.


Mr. Adler said half of the Building 2000 Complex at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been demolished. About 60 truckloads of debris have been disposed at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley. A contract has been awarded to demolish the balance of the complex. Mr. Adler said the project is ahead of schedule, and the building should be completely demolished in November.


Mr. Adler said most of the projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are coming in under budget. He said if significant amounts of money remain from completed projects it will be used for other demolition and environmental cleanup work. Mr. Martin asked why so many projects were coming in under budget. Mr. Adler said the original estimates were conservative and good bids were received from contractors.


The DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) budget request for FY 2012 has been submitted to DOE Headquarters. The request was accompanied by a letter from DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for EM John Eschenberg that included recommendations from ORSSAB, EPA, and TDEC on the budget request. Mr. Adler said budget discussions are now embargoed by DOE Headquarters and figures will not be seen again until the president’s budget request to Congress is released in January 2011.


Mr. Adler reviewed the status of outstanding recommendations from ORSSAB to DOE. The board has sent five recommendations to DOE in recent months. No responses have been issued yet. He said responses to Recommendation 184: Recommendation to Establish a Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings and Recommendation 185: Recommendations on the Environmental Assessment for the Transfer of Land and Facilities within East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) and Surrounding Area are ‘imminent.’


Connie Jones – DOE, EPA, and TDEC have agreed on a path forward to begin sampling for contamination of the K-33 Building at ETTP. Once a draft sampling and analysis plan has been submitted work can begin on preparing the building for demolition. Mr. Bonner asked if the demolition project included tie-lines to other facilities. Ms. Jones said the tie lines had been severed previously and are not part of this scope of work.


John Owsley – no comments.


Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon said members of the board should be pleased with the results of the recent EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting that ORSSAB hosted.


Mr. Axelrod said he had recommended at the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting held in Oak Ridge on April 28-29 that a national stewardship trust fund of $50 million should be established. Regarding Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) stewardship, he suggests a cost summary table and a video on stewardship.


He said ORSSAB should carefully examine the estimated cost of the proposed Integrated Facility Disposition Program of $9-$15 billion. He felt the estimate is unreasonably high.


Mr. Axelrod believes $100 billion should be spent per year on energy in the U.S. He promotes the construction of 300 gigawatt nuclear power plants to supply energy.


He noted that the former Fernald site in Ohio has a visitor’s center and he believes a similar center should be built in Oak Ridge.


Mr. Axelrod referenced the recent heavy rains in Nashville and said he had previously suggested a stewardship design criteria that could handle 10-24 inches of rain over a 24-48 hour period.


A summary of his comments are in Attachment 1.


Ms. Gawarecki said the LOC has reviewed the Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to the Record of Decision (ROD) for Bethel Valley. The LOC believes the changes mentioned in the ESD should be an amendment to the ROD.  She said the changes, particularly changing land use from unrestricted to recreational and extending the cap over the burial grounds, are significant enough to warrant a ROD amendment. The LOC has recommended that DOE reconsider and hold a public meeting on the issue.


Ms. Gawarecki said a revised memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding site interpretation at ETTP has been released. She said the MOA was noted as a revision and not a draft and the cover letter does not state that comments are requested from the consulting parties (which includes ORSSAB) even though she said comments were expected. The LOC has asked for an extension of the comment period to June 1. She said the revision of the MOA was done without input from the consulting parties. She felt that was improper. She said the MOA includes changes for ETTP from the original MOA and also expands to other parts of the ORR.


She also expressed concern over the DOE-ORO EM budget. She fears some milestones for environmental remediation of soil and groundwater could be delayed. LOC agrees with EPA and TDEC that DOE should re-evaluate its emphasis on demolition work and allocate more funds to environmental concerns.


In response to some of the comments, Mr. Murphree said the board should consider reviewing the ESD for Bethel Valley as well as the MOA for site interpretation at ETTP. Regarding stewardship he noted a national stewardship workshop will be held in Colorado in November. He said a recommendation from the board expanded the workshop to include a discussion of stewardship at ongoing mission sites.



Ms. C. Jones introduced the program by saying that in the late 1990s, the Health Effects Subcommittee of ORSSAB had similar concerns about the cumulative effects of waste processors in the area. In developing this presentation EPA looked at some of the same counties. She referenced a map showing locations of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted facilities in the area (Attachment 2). RCRA requirements are delegated to the state of Tennessee for implementation. Ms. Jones also referenced a contact list of responsible TDEC offices (Attachment 3).


Mr. Velez began the presentation by saying that the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities reported annually by certain covered industry groups and federal facilities (Attachment 4, page 3). Facilities report annually for the preceding calendar year. More than 23,000 facilities report on about 650 chemicals and chemical categories.


Not all facilities are required to report. A facility must be covered under a primary standard industrial certification code or be a federal facility. It must employ at least 10 workers or have 20,000 worker-hours per year. It must have manufacturer or process or otherwise used toxic chemicals above certain thresholds (Attachment 4, page 4). Mr. Velez showed a chart of covered industrial sectors (Attachment 4, page 5). He emphasized that TRI does not include all releases that may occur in a community.


Mr. Velez said there are three thresholds for reporting releases: a facility must manufacture or import more than 25,000 pounds of a chemical in the reporting period or it must have processed more than 25,000 pounds in a year or it must have used more than 10,000 pounds of chemical in a year (Attachment 4, page 7). Some highly toxic chemicals have lower reporting thresholds (Attachment 4, page 8).


Mr. Velez then showed a series of charts related to releases in the 13 area counties (Attachment 4, pages 11-13). Mr. Hatcher asked the source of carbon disulfide (Attachment 4, page 13). Mr. Velez did not know, but offered to find out. Mr. Myrick asked the source of chlorine at ETTP noted on page 21 of Attachment 4. Mr. Adler did not know the answer but offered to find out.


Mr. Bonner asked why toxic uranium is not tracked. Mr. Chatham said one of the reasons it’s not tracked is that it is not very widespread. He also said uranium is highly regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said the reason uranium is not tracked in the TRI is decided by those working with TRI in Washington, DC, who go through a process of determining what chemicals to include. Mr. Velez noted that there is a process to petition to add chemicals to the inventory.


Charts on pages 14-21 of Attachment 4 note waste management activities.


Prior to Mr. Chatham’s portion of the program Mr. Velez said a number of years ago EPA began using a computer model to determine relative risk to humans from industrial releases. The computer model looks at the amount of chemical releases, the toxicity of the chemical, fate and transport, route and extent of human exposure, and potential number of people affected.


Mr. Chatham said once all the amounts of chemicals are reported to TRI the question becomes ‘how are releases compared?’ He said the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) accounts for amounts released, toxicity, and the potentially exposed population. The RSEI model calculates relative risk for two media: air and water.


While RSEI is a screening tool that assesses potential health impacts from industrial chemical releases, Mr. Chatham pointed out that the tool does not provide risk assessments. Regarding toxicity of a chemical, Mr. Chatham said the RSEI model uses either the acute chemical toxicity of a substance or the carcinogenic toxicity. The model uses the higher of the two; it does not add them together. Of the potential number of people affected, Mr. Chatham said RSEI breaks down the potential population by various age groups and sex.


Mr. Chatham referenced some handouts provided prior to the meeting indicating strengths and limitations of RSEI (Attachment 5) and important caveats (Attachment 6).


RSEI uses an air dispersion model for airborne releases. Mr. Chatham explained that for each release from each facility, RSEI calculates air concentration for each 1 kilometer x 1 kilometer cell in a 101 kilometer x 101 kilometer grid around the facility (Attachment 7, page 7). For water releases, RSEI calculates water concentrations in streams as far as 200 kilometers downstream. It also finds downstream drinking water intakes (Attachment 7, page 7). Fish ingestion is calculated within 80 kilometers of an outfall. Mr. Bonner asked how conservative the air dispersion model is. Mr. Chatham said the model takes into account the average annual meteorology. Mr. Velez said the heights of stacks of plants are taken into account as well as the amount of concentration of toxicity and from that standpoint the model is quite conservative.


Mr. Chatham showed an example of a grid map for ETTP (Attachment 7, page 8). The different colors show the concentration range for chlorine.


Mr. Chatham showed a series of charts for releases (Attachment 7, pages 9-15). On page 9, the jump in pounds of releases from 1997 to 1998 is the result of additional sectors being added. Mr. Velez noted that the information only goes out to 2006 because no information was available for 2007 and 2008. Mr. Chatham noted that while most of release amounts were via air (page 9), most of the relative risk is via water (page 10).


After the presentation additional questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.


Mr. Martin – How is RSEI information submitted? Mr. Chatham – It is totally TRI data. Once the facilities report to TRI, the RSEI group takes that information and incorporates it into the model. Mr. Stow – Where do the original data come from that go into this model – DOE, EPA, TDEC? And if so how can you be certain that you can compare one data set from one sampling to another sampling? Mr. Chatham – The release data come from TRI reporting facilities with the limitations that go along with that. We’re constantly doing data quality looking for outliers. For chemical toxicity, there are a number of agency standard toxicity databases.


Mr. Myrick – We wanted cumulative impacts from the different incinerators in the area, especially related to radioactivity. I still think that’s one of the things we’d like to have, the cumulative impacts of radioactive wastes. Mr. Velez – That’s one of the limitations of TRI; it doesn’t do cumulative analysis.


Mr. Bonner – How is this information applicable to cleanup on the ORR or is it just applicable outside of that context? Mr. Chatham – Generally it’s applicable outside of that context, but there may be some information that this group could use. Mr. Velez – What we try to do is provide you information of a holistic overview of the 13 counties’ releases and waste management activities and break it down by counties, chemicals, and facilities and give you something to think about with the possibility of maybe looking in a different direction from what you have before. Based on this information does it support the direction you were going or is there another possibility that you might have missed by not seeing all of the data from TRI, not only from amounts but relative risk. Mr. Owsley – To determine cumulative impacts using TRI data is difficult at best and the state doesn’t have the resources to do that, but each individual license and permit is based on protecting the public at the boundary of the facility and a maximally exposed individual next to the facility. Those limits are conservative in nature and intended to be protective or to prevent the cumulative impacts on individuals who are exposed to more than one release.


Mr. Hatcher – Can you give us an example of a TRI reporting facility? Mr. Chatham – The definition of a facility is a single operating unit that has a physical location that meets the threshold criteria that we talked about earlier (Attachment 3, pages 4 and 7). There are manufacturing facilities, steel mills, chemical manufacturers, etc.


Mr. Mezga – In looking at your last chart (Attachment 4, page 16) there is an order of five difference of relative risk of Y-12 National Security Complex and every other facility on the list. And it all seems to come from mercury. Maybe we need to look at that problem a little closer in the EM Committee.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon said the committee did not meet in April, however, the Abbreviated Quarterly Project Reports (Attachment 8) were distributed. Mr. Mezga said the report contained a lot of good information and asked how the information would be used. Mr. Dixon said the report is available as a tool for the committees to use. Mr. Murphree said the report could be placed on the board’s agenda as a discussion item. Ms. Halsey said the original intent was for the Finance & Process Committee to use the report to note trends and use as an aid in developing recommendations on prioritizations. She reiterated Mr. Dixon’s point that information found in the report could be used by the various committees.


EM – The committee did not meet in April. Mr. Olson said the committee will meet again on May 19 and will receive an update on the status of Recovery Act projects on the ORR.


Public Outreach – Ms. Owen said the committee met by teleconference on April 22 and reviewed plans for participating in the Earth Day observance at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. The committee reviewed the six-month planning calendar and talked about the updated ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy. The committee also discussed topics and timelines for an op-ed piece to send to local newspapers.


The committee reviewed the distribution of the Public Environmental Survey. Mr. Akins said the DOE Public Affairs Office has offered to allow distribution of the survey via the office’s email list. The survey must first be put in a format that can be easily emailed. Mr. Akins is looking into formatting the survey for email distribution.


Ms. Owen said volunteers are needed to staff the ORSSAB booth for the Secret City Festival on June 18-19. She had a sign up list for board members to volunteer for time at the booth.


The committee will meet at the DOEIC on May 25.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said the committee reviewed Mr. Murphree’s stewardship presentation that he gave at the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting Stewardship Roundtable on April 29. The committee made comments and suggestions to improve the presentation.


The committee will meet on May 18 and receive a presentation on the 2010 Remediation Effectiveness Report. The committee will also review the 2010 DOE Public Involvement Plan.


Executive – The committee did not meet in April, but Mr. Murphree took the opportunity to thank board members and staff for planning and participating in the EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting.  


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn. The presentation will be “Long-term Stewardship for Contaminated Areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation.”


Ms. Goodlin and Mr. Monroe were introduced as new student representatives to the board.


The Abbreviated Quarterly Project Report was distributed (Attachment 8).


The minutes of the April 22, 2010, Public Outreach Committee meeting were distributed (Attachment 9).


The minutes of the April 14, 2010, meeting were approved.


The motion on Mr. Coffman’s second consecutive absence was removed from the agenda as Mr. Coffman was present.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said the Stewardship Committee is assisting her in reviewing the 2010 DOE Oak Ridge Public Involvement Plan. She asked if anyone would like to look at the plan and offer comments, input would be appreciated.


She reminded the board of the national stewardship workshop that will be held in November in Grand Junction, Colo. Funding is available to send about four people from the board to the meeting.


Additions to the Agenda




Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the April 14, 2010, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.


Action Items


1.   Mr. Adler will determine the annual cost to operate the pump and treat process for hexavalent chromium in Mitchell Branch. Carryover from April meeting.

2.   Mr. Velez will determine the source of carbon disulfide as noted in his May 12 presentation.

3.   Mr. Adler will determine source of chlorine releases in 2008 at East Tennessee Technology Park.



1.   Ms. Cain will get additional information concerning possible technetium-99 contamination in the U-233 project. Ms. Cain provided the following information on May 7, 2010:
Analytical characterization from Savannah River of the depleted uranium oxide reflected a technetium-99 average of .1313 Ci/m3 and a maximum of .2495 Ci/m3. The final product from the uranium dissolution and downblending process is anticipated to be disposed at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). For comparison purposes, the NTS Waste Acceptance Criteria includes a table of action levels for waste characterization and reporting. The value for technetium-99 corresponds to 0.0865 Ci/m3. The project has been working with NTS as it prepares a preliminary waste profile for their review. This is expected to be complete later this summer, and the project will continue to monitor this issue for potential impacts.


Attachments (9) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.