Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Summary of the FY 2010 Retreat

Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board

Saturday, August 21, 2010, 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Dancing Bear Lodge, Townsend, Tenn.

 

 

 

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its annual planning retreat to:

·         develop increased understanding and commitment to the goals of the board,

·         agree on strategies for accomplishing the goals,

·         enhance working relationships by getting to know each other better,

·         evaluate the effectiveness and achievements of fy 2010, and

·         begin development of an FY 2011 work plan.

 

The retreat was facilitated by Lori Isenberg of Northwest Dynamics, Inc. The agenda is included as Attachment 1. Members attending were:

Darryl Bonner

Steve Dixon

Brianna Goodlin, Student Representative

Bob Hatcher

Betty Jones

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Ron Murphree, Chair

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

Sondra Sarten

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt, Vice-Chair

 

Members absent were: John Coffman, Chuck Jensen, Ed Juarez, Lance Mezga.

 

Others attending the retreat were:

Dave Adler, ORSSAB DOE Liaison

John Eschenberg, ORSSAB Deputy Designated Federal Officer

Spencer Gross, ORSSAB staff

Pat Halsey, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator

Lori Isenberg, President, Northwest Dynamics, Inc.

Connie Jones, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Liaison

Pete Osborne, ORSSAB staff

John Owsley, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Liaison

 

Objectives, Logistics, Keys to Success, Personal Objectives – Lori Isenberg

Ms. Isenberg reviewed the retreat objectives and asked members to introduce themselves and tell the group about something exciting that happened to them this year.

 

Review the Board’s Mission Statement – Ron Murphree

Mr. Murphree reviewed the board’s mission statement:

The mission of the Environmental Management (EM) Site Specific Advisory Board at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is to provide meaningful opportunities for collaborative dialogue among the diverse multicultural communities surrounding the Oak Ridge Reservation, EM, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Office (ORO). The Board is chartered under the EM Site Specific Advisory Board Charter. At the request of the Assistant Secretary, the ORO Manager, or the ORO Assistant Manager for EM, the Board may provide informed advice and recommendations concerning the following EM site-specific issues: cleanup standards and environmental restoration, waste management and disposition, stabilization and disposition of non-stockpile nuclear materials, excess facilities, future land use and long-term stewardship, risk assessment and management, and cleanup science and technology activities. The Board may also be asked to provide advice and recommendations on any other EM project or issue. The Board ensures early, ongoing community access to information (and its interpretation and implications) and dialogue that improves the quality of the decision-making process of EM and ORO.

 

Mr. Olson remarked that the last sentence represents a huge task, and he’s not sure the board addresses it adequately. Mr. Lundy said we make it available, and this is sufficient. Mr. Murphree said he talked to the board’s support contractor about making the ORSSAB website more user friendly, and this will help. Ms. Halsey said that just holding the board meetings is an avenue through which we address the mission statement because the public can provide comments and ask questions. Mr. Stow said the board’s main product is our recommendations, and that’s not emphasized in the mission statement.

 

Ms. Mei suggested taking out the word “may” in the second to last sentence in order to strengthen the meaning. Mr. Mead remarked that “may” typically means something very specific in the government world—as opposed to “shall” or “will”.

 

Ms. Isenberg asked members to vote on making the change using the cards she distributed earlier. Red = disagree; orange = maybe; yellow = agree somewhat; green = agree strongly. The results were mixed.

 

Ms. Halsey thought that deleting the “may” in the third sentence might be better. Mr. Olson suggested leaving the “mays” alone and instead deleting “also be asked to”. The members voted again on whether any change should be made. The consensus was to not change anything.

 

The Role of the Board as it Relates to DOE –John Eschenberg

Mr. Eschenberg thanked the members for giving up their Saturday to attend the retreat. He remarked that the board’s FY 2010 achievements represented a significant contribution to the em mission. He asked members to be aware that he doesn’t want to make onerous requirements on the board and that it’s not necessary to make a recommendation on everything. This is the fourth board he’s worked with, and this is perhaps the most active. Don’t let yourselves get burned out to meet some quota, he said. It would be more powerful to talk about the net impact or result of the board’s activities rather than just counting recommendations.

 

Mr. Eschenberg said his chief worry is the budget. The Oak Ridge EM program was built on a $550 million premise, and we are now at $436 million. Is that enough to meet commitments? No. He believes one of his chief duties is to represent the Oak Ridge program’s achievements as a way that defends the budget. So how do we show people we’re worth it?

 

Another thing he has struggled with since arriving last year is setting a clear vision for Oak Ridge. Getting off the National Priorities List would be huge. That, however, is too cosmic a vision, so he’s elected to prescribe a list of ten very specific goals. He’s also putting together a proposal to write the four-part story of em: the goal and mission, our plan, our successes, and who we are. He will share it with the board when it’s complete.

 

His assessment after a year with the board is that it’s interests are too broad. He’s looking for leverage points across the community: the board, TDEC, and so on. If we focus on four or five key issues, that may help doe capitalize the leverage the board provides in the community. The priorities he would like to see the board focus on include the budget, out-year prioritization, historic preservation, and long-term stewardship/future land use (especially the energy park initiative).

 

Mr. Hatcher asked if cleanup is a prerequisite to the energy park initiative. Mr. Eschenberg said not necessarily. But it would be best if cleanup could be done. Ms. Mei remarked that it takes a lot of money to do cleanup, but if we spend so much on cleanup it might take away from ongoing science, and ongoing science can’t wait. Mr. Eschenberg countered that when we make an investment in cleanup, such as the Building 3019 project, it’s to address a canker in the middle of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) central campus. If a release was made from the central stack, the effects would be very costly and long term. So in that respect cleanup is more important than ongoing science because science can’t go on if there’s a release.

 

Mr. Westervelt noted that cost containment is an EM goal, and he wondered how in the last year that has improved. Mr. Eschenberg said he has put a laser focus on management of K-25 and East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) cleanup, so there’s been a big improvement that has resulted in having K-25 demolition ready (except for the technetium-99 areas) by end of next year. Bechtel Jacobs has done very well, with a performance factor above 1.0, which is $25 million to the good. At Building 3019, we have a new management crew, and he’s optimistic about more certain cost estimates. He’s very pleased with where we are with management.

 

Board Operations, Review Results of Member Survey – Lori Isenberg

Ms. Isenberg said that the survey results (Attachment 2) show that the board is doing great. There’s not a train wreck we need to fix, just strengthening of what we’re already doing. You are at the point of going from great to excellent, she said. And while the board should celebrate what is working well, there are still opportunities for improvements illustrated in the survey results:

·         participation on committees,

·         measurable goals and objectives,

·         follow-up and accountability, and

·         public outreach.

 

Regarding public recognition, Mr. Olson said that eighty percent of the public doesn’t care enough to get involved, except to harp about something they don’t like. And who is the public the board should be recognized by? It’s only a very small group that cares about cleanup in Oak Ridge. Mr. Stow said the board needs to clarify public outreach—are we adequately informing the public about who we are, or does it mean are we acting as a conduit for the public to reach em?

 

Ms. Isenberg said the board could improve on the recommendation process by discussing doe responses to recommendations at its board meetings. Mr. Murphree said that responses go back to the originating committees to see if DOE adequately addressed the recommendations.

 

Mr. Dixon asked how you measure adequate participation in committees. Ms. Isenberg said each committee should define it.

 

To stimulate discussion of board activities and accomplishments, Ms. Isenberg distributed a quiz evaluating how much members know about some of the work of the SSAB (Attachment 3).

 

Committee and Board Accomplishments – Committee Chairs

The chairs of the ORSSAB standing committees presented their committees’ FY 2010 accomplishments (Attachment 4). Mr. Murphree presented overall board accomplishments (Attachment 5).

 

Following the presentations, Mr. Murphree opened discussion by saying that the board needs to assess whether the committee structure serves us vis-ŕ-vis the work plan. The real work of the board is done at the committee level, he said, so participation on committees is critical.

 

Ms. Isenberg asked if there needed to be more cross-pollination among committees. Ms. Owen said that most members were well aware of what’s going on through the reports at board meetings and because several members were on more than one committee.

 

Mr. Bonner said the Stewardship Committee is looking for more members. Some of the current community members are elderly and may not be able to participate much longer. Process-wise, the committees need to do a better job of educating new members to engage them and bring them up to speed so they can function as issue managers. Mr. Murphree agreed that we need more members on Stewardship because the issue will move up in prominence as we transfer more property to the private sector.

 

Mr. Stow wondered what the committee structure is like at the other SSABs. Mr. Halsey said it is generally available on the web, but she will ask staff pull the information together and distribute it to the board.

 

Ms. Isenberg asked if the board has too many meetings and if all members are notified about them. Mr. Olson noted that most of the board members are very busy, and if there is no presentation or good agenda topic for a meeting then it should be canceled, as he did with the EM committee meeting in August. There’s no law that you have to meet.

 

Mr. Stow mentioned that four long-time members will be leaving ORSSAB next June, so the board will be hit with a loss of corporate knowledge. We need to be aware of that as we restock our membership, he said, and get these new members into committees. Mr. Olson said we need some historical training on issues for new members. Ms. Halsey said that as we go into this new year, the budget issue will require a lot of education. We have funding to bring in independent advisors that can help us analyze the budget and other issues and help us figure out how to communicate these issues to the public. Ad hoc committees are a good way to tackle this type of issue, she said.

 

Mr. Hatcher seconded Mr. Olson’s suggestion about transferring corporate memory to new members. There really is no training on the history and long-term issues of the board. A training session would be good while more experienced members are still here.

 

Mr. Martin though it would be beneficial to review the applications from the last recruitment drive and begin the process of determining which of them would be good replacements for the departing members. This way we can ask them to start working with our committees and come to board meetings. Ms. Halsey cautioned that we need to consider diversity and cannot tell people this far in advance that they will be appointed. We routinely encourage all applicants not seated on the board to participate in our board and committee meetings. They are also put on our mailing list, so they receive regular mailings from us.

 

Ms. Isenberg recapped what she heard from the morning discussions:

·         be aware of turnover and find ways to transfer knowledge,

·         make committee meetings meaningful,

·         discuss committee structure more, and

·         discuss getting potential new members involved.

 

Public Environmental Survey – Pete Osborne

Mr. Osborne presented a summary of the 2010 survey results (Attachment 6). The survey collects two types of data: it gathers information on what people know about the board and what they think about avenues for public input to the cleanup program, and it also asks them to rank some of the top cleanup issues facing DOE. We received 218 responses to the survey this year, which represents a 25% increase from 2009.

 

The results of the issue rankings are very consistent with what was reported last year. The top two concerns are again long-term stewardship and contaminated groundwater monitoring and reduction of contamination being able to leave DOE property. In third position again is the Integrated Facility Disposition Program, followed by economic development of ETTP. The only real change this year was historic preservation, which moved up from 8th position to 4th, with education, Bear Creek Burial Grounds, and transportation rounding out the list in the same order they were in last year.

 

Mr. Stow asked if the other SSABs do a similar survey. Mr. Osborne said he thought not, except for Paducah, which recently created a survey very similar to ORSSAB’s. Mr. Stow suggested that this question be added to the analysis of the other boards’ committees.

 

Mr. Bonner asked how we’re reporting the survey results back to the community. Mr. Osborne said that a news release is issued each year summarizing results. It’s sent to the local papers and published in the board’s newsletter.

 

Board Topics – Dave Adler, Connie Jones, John Owsley

Mr. Adler, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Owsley discussed issues provided to the board by DOE, EPA, and TDEC, respectively (Attachment 7). The issues were submitted for the members to consider incorporating into the board’s FY 2011 work plan. Issues were also provided this year by the Local Oversight Committee’s Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP).

 

Mr. Adler presented four DOE topics:

  • Provision of input into the FY 2013 budget development effort
  • Selection of a path forward for Molten Salt Reactor Experiment salt inventory
  • Historical preservation at ETTP
  • Offsite groundwater

 

Provision of input into the FY 2013 budget development effort

Mr. Adler said that ORSSAB’s annual participation in this effort will remain important, particularly given the tight fiscal environment anticipated in upcoming years and the related necessity to establish program priorities strategically.

 

Mr. Dixon remarked that we don’t have an effective way for the public to communicate their budget priorities. It’s impossible to get the details out about projects and priorities, as defined by doe locally and nationally. The timetable shifts every year, too. If we’re going to have input, we have to organize a consistent method and responsibility to do this budget input process.

 

Mr. Adler agreed. We need to focus on the big picture and on Oak Ridge’s priorities. Allow us to get the conversation started, he said, and we’ll get information out to people at the appropriate level of detail. We can start the conversation right away if we don’t get down into the weeds. It’s important to send to Headquarters what DOE-Oak Ridge and the public have agree upon regarding what needs to be done. This is more crucial than getting input on specific budget allocations.

 

Mr. Dixon remarked that the Board Finance & Process Committee can’t do this job with just two people. Mr. Olson thought an ad hoc committee might be the way to go. Mr. Adler said he thinks it’s more of a full board discussion rather than a committee topic.

 

Molten Salt Reactor Experiment salt inventory

DOE maintains a significant inventory of radiological contaminated salt in three vessels located at the reactor facility in Melton Valley. An engineering study, currently underway to evaluate long-term disposition alternatives for this material, is expected to be completed in January 2011. Once this study is completed, DOE would like to receive ORSSAB’s recommendations on how to proceed with management of the material.

 

Mr. Westervelt noted that this was on last year’s doe topic list. Mr. Adler said DOE did a study back then, but now we’re engaged in another study now that should give us a path forward that we can attach a schedule and cost to. Last year’s study told us to back off our previous plan because it was fraught with peril.

 

Historical preservation at ETTP

Mr. Adler said that as a complement to the ongoing consultation process for historical preservation activities at ETTP, DOE requests that ORSSAB take time to review evaluations underway to help DOE select appropriate preservation measures for the site. These evaluations are expected to be completed late in the fall of 2010 and will provide an independent assessment of a range of preservation options.

 

Offsite groundwater

A series of newly placed groundwater monitoring wells in both Bethel Valley and Melton Valley will begin to yield water quality data during FY 2011. Presentation of these results to ORSSAB should be anticipated on approximately a quarterly basis. After a year’s worth of data has been obtained, it would be useful to evaluate what, if any, additional steps should be taken to ensure the safety of offsite groundwater resources.

 

Ms. Jones presented three EPA topics:

  • Management and disposal of hazardous waste and materials
  • Implementation of Bear Creek Valley response actions
  • Comprehensive Oak Ridge Reservation cleanup plan

 

Management and disposal of hazardous waste and materials

The historic retention of waste material from various cleanup projects without benefit of timely and appropriate disposal has created large inventories on the Oak Ridge Reservation. This issue is particularly true for various wastes/waste streams stored at ETTP where materials have been the subject of recent environmental citations by the State of Tennessee. Additionally, the accumulation and reprocessing of waste and equipment in areas dedicated to the re-industrialization program may be creating inventories of material that could negatively impact the DOE environmental management budget at the reservation.

 

Ms. Jones said that M&EC received some violations this year that generated this topic.

 

Implementation of Bear Creek Valley response actions

Currently, no response actions are planned under the 2000 Bear Creek Valley Phase I Record of Decision until 2017. Response actions, except for the Boneyard/Burnyard, were originally deferred under the 2002 Accelerated Cleanup Plan. The plan intended the deferred response actions to be initiated after 2008 as part of the Balance of Program response actions. Further deferral to post-2017 was not anticipated. Currently, the uranium levels are not protective based on associated risk as defined in the Record of Decision. Although this matter is the subject of dispute in the long-term Federal Facility Agreement Appendix J strategic plan, no schedule currently exists to ensure the contaminant levels are approaching acceptable levels within an acceptable timeframe to ensure the remedial action objectives are being properly achieved.

 

Mr. Bonner said this was taken off the table last year because no action is planned, so why do we need to proceed now? Ms. Jones said that it’s back on the table because of changes in reservation monitoring for offsite releases. Mr. Eschenberg agreed that Mr. Bonner is correct: the state and epa went into dispute with doe about this, and it was taken off the table because an agreement was reached to review Appendixes E and J to include Bear Creek Valley actions. Regulators never got that opportunity, so this issue needs to be balanced in importance with other priorities, such and D&D work and the Building 3019 project.

 

Comprehensive Oak Ridge Reservation cleanup plan

In light of the recent solicitation of a new cleanup contract, EPA asks that ORSSAB evaluate the priorities of the EM program to ensure that appropriate focus is placed on projects with the greatest reduction in environmental risk.

 

Mr. Owsley presented five TDEC topics:

  • Assessment of remediation of groundwater
  • Federal Facility Compliance Act Site Treatment Plan
  • Long-term stewardship
  • Radioactive wastes stored longer than one year
  • Stored sodium and lithium

 

Assessment of remediation of groundwater

Under CERCLA, DOE is required to identify the nature and extent of contamination from the reservation and remediate those releases or threatened releases to assure the protection of human health and the environment. Furthermore, guidance suggests that other points, not just those required by CERCLA or RCRA should be used. ORSSAB could help bring stakeholder attention to and solicit public comment on the objectives and design of offsite groundwater monitoring.

 

Federal Facility Compliance Act Site Treatment Plan

Site Treatment Plan milestones are being missed, and low treatment rates of remote-handled transuranic waste at the transuranic facility could be discussed by ORSSAB to maintain awareness.

 

Long-Term Stewardship

Public and institutional awareness is maintained by continued discussion and updates on long term stewardship. Specific discussions about the long-term hazards of wastes left in place would be beneficial. Student members especially are a valued asset in carrying information forward in time.

 

Radioactive wastes stored longer than one year

These are not limited to, but include items such as the three cesium casks discovered in the K-770 scrap yard, the five shielded transfer tanks, thirty-one containers of remote-handled low-level waste stored on the 7822-K pad, and drums located in the 7834/7826 bunkers.

 

Stored sodium and lithium

Approximately 26,000 pounds of sodium and 6,000 pounds of lithium hydride are stored at ORNL. Approximately 110,000 pounds of sodium are stored at ETTP. Both are very reactive in water. Two multi-jurisdictional emergency response incidents involving sodium have occurred with small quantities of the sodium released at ETTP.

 

Mr. Adler said that while this is not a top issue for DOE, he believes sodium disposition is in the scope of the next EM program contractor. He offered to find out for sure.

 

Mr. Gross described the Citizens Advisory Panel issues:

  • Budget workshop
  • Second CERCLA waste facility
  • Disposition of stored wastes and materials at ETTP

 

Budget workshop

The CAP recommends that DOE conduct a public budget workshop for the Oak Ridge EM program similar to the one held in Hanford in June 2010. The workshop should explain proposed Federal Facility Agreement milestones and work scope accomplishments to be performed.

 

Second CERCLA waste facility

The CAP recommends ORSSAB consider DOE’s planning to date for the next CERCLA waste cell, including proposed location, capacity, and design.

 

Disposition of stored wastes and materials at ETTP

The CAP recommends ORSSAB review disposition plans and schedule for wastes stored at ETTP.

 

Additional work plan topics

Ms. Isenberg noted that each committee has a list of carryover items (Attachment 8). Members were asked to provide any others.

 

Mr. Bonner suggested transition of stewardship responsibilities from the current contractor to the new contractor, the Five-Year Review/Remediation Effectiveness Report, and Headquarters commitment to stewardship at ongoing mission sites.

 

Ms. Halsey requested board assistance in holding a public meeting on the ETTP Zone 1 Focused Feasibility Study/Proposed Plan.

 

Ms. Isenberg asked members to rank these topics as “high,” “medium,” or “low” priority. The results were as follows:

 

Topic

Source

High

Medium

Low

Provision of input into the FY 2013 budget development effort

DOE

11

3

-

Path forward for Molten Salt Reactor Experiment salt inventory

DOE

4

7

4

Historical preservation at ETTP

DOE

5

4

5

Offsite groundwater

DOE

6

4

2

Management and disposal of hazardous waste and materials

EPA

9

4

2

Implementation of Bear Creek Valley response actions

EPA

4

7

3

Comprehensive Oak Ridge Reservation cleanup plan

EPA

7

6

1

Assessment of remediation of groundwater

TDEC

3

10

-

Federal Facility Compliance Act Site Treatment Plan

TDEC

2

7

5

Long-term stewardship

TDEC

7

5

2

Radioactive wastes stored longer than one year

TDEC

4

5

6

Stored sodium and lithium

TDEC

1

3

11

Budget workshop

CAP

5

7

3

Second CERCLA waste facility

CAP

3

9

3

Disposition of stored wastes and materials at ETTP

CAP

2

7

6

Transition of stewardship responsibilities to the new EM contractor

Bonner

4

5

3

Five-Year Review/Remediation Effectiveness Report

Bonner

4

5

2

Headquarters commitment to stewardship at ongoing mission sites

Bonner

7

5

-

Public meeting on the ETTP Zone 1 FFS/PP

Halsey

6

5

1

 

Strategies & Actions—Lori Isenberg

Mr. Murphree said the board may wish to consider altering its committee structure, but he does not recommend it at this point.

 

Mr. Osborne asked members to indicate which committees they will serve on in FY 2011:

  • Board Finance & Process: Dixon, Bonner
  • EM: Martin, Westervelt, Hatcher, Olson, Mei
  • Stewardship: Lundy, Goodlin, Jones, Sarten, Owen, Stow, Bonner
  • Public Outreach: Jones, Sarten, Goodlin, Lundy, Mead, Owen, Martin

 

Summary Remarks

Ms. Halsey urged the committees to try to define their own prioritizations and not just take what was done here. This year, she would also like them to try to decide if a topic will lead to a recommendation. And if a committee is not going to do something with a suggested topic, please let the Executive Committee know.

 

Action Items

1.      Staff will investigate what the committee structure is like at the other SSABs and distribute the information to the board.

2.      Staff will determine whether the other SSABs do a survey similar to ORSSAB’s Public Environmental Survey.

3.      Mr. Adler will find out if sodium disposition is in the scope of the next EM program contractor.

 

Attachments (8) are available upon request from the ORSSAB support office.