Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved October 13, 2010 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, beginning at 6 p.m. A video of the meeting was made and may be viewed by calling the Information Center at 865-241-4780.
Ed Juarez, Secretary
Kevin Westervelt, Vice-chair
Ron Murphree, Chair
2Second consecutive absence
3Third consecutive absence
Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO), Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present
Dave Adler, Alternate DDFO, 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)
Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)
Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.
Norman Mulvenon, LOC, League of Women Voters
Pete Osborne, IIA
Six members of the public were present.
Mr. Adler – Mr. Adler reported that negotiations continue between DOE and the regulators concerning disputes related to a remedial action report on the K-1007 Ponds remediation at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) and the removal of excess materials from the K-27 Building at ETTP. He said the timeframe for resolution of the disputes has been extended to October 25.
Mr. Adler reported on an incident that occurred recently at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. Work was being done on the Lid Extraction Tool, which required opening a port on one of the hot cells to service the unit. A fan that was supposed to maintain negative air pressure in the unit to prevent contaminated air from leaving the hot cell failed for two or three minutes. That allowed some low levels of contaminated air from the hot cell to get into the facility. There was no release outside of the building and preliminary data indicate no inhalation by workers in the building. Mr. Adler said other tests will be done on the workers to make sure they did not receive any contamination. He said DOE is determining what level of investigation and corrective measures will follow.
Mr. Mead asked what isotopes were involved. Mr. Adler said he would check to make sure but thought they were primarily cesium.
Mr. Stow asked when data will be available concerning sampling from wells in Melton Valley and offsite across the Clinch River. Mr. Adler said the wells have been sampled. Data are being validated. The information will be transmitted to TDEC within a few days. He said the information would be available to ORSSAB in November. Mr. Adler said early analysis does not indicate anything unusual in the wells. Mr. Stow asked if it was too early to hear a presentation on the results. Mr. Adler said he would plan on providing a presentation to the EM committee in the near future.
Mr. Bonner said that uranium-233 is being stored safely in Building 3019 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as part of the U-233 downblending project, although Building 3019 is an aging building. He asked what the driver should be in prioritizing the downblending of U-233. Mr. Adler said the driver is to get the project through the design and conception phase and place the material in a condition that complies with all security provisions for storage. The other driver for finishing the project is eliminating the cost of the project. He said DOE spends about $20 million a year maintaining the facility, not including the downblending project itself. Another factor is the desire to eliminate a high-security facility from the ORNL central campus.
Mr. Westervelt asked when structural reports on the K-25 Building at ETTP and historic preservation options for ETTP and all of the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) are due. Mr. Adler said the final report on the structural integrity of the K-25 North Tower by Lorig Wiley is due by the end of December. DOE has received a draft report on historic preservation options by Mac West of Informal Learning Experiences. Mr. Adler said the report needs some work, particularly an executive summary and table of alternatives. He said DOE will ask for some technical editing of the report but not to change the substance of the report. Mr. Adler said he hoped to make the report available within a few weeks.
Mr. Adler reported on the status of outstanding recommendations.
Recommendation 190 on the “Bridge” Memorandum of Agreement for Site Interpretation at ETTP. The response to that recommendation was distributed at the meeting (Attachment 1). Mr. Adler said the response indicated that comments were considered and incorporated into the final memorandum of agreement for site interpretation at ETTP, which was included with the response.
EM SSAB Chairs' Recommendation on the 2012 Baseline Budget. Mr. Adler said this recommendation is from all of the chairs of the eight SSABs nationwide to the
Assistant Secretary for EM at DOE Headquarters and he couldn’t comment on the status of that recommendation.
Connie Jones – Ms. Jones expanded on Mr. Adler’s comments on the disputes saying the resolution of the K-1007 Ponds issue has been extended to October 22. She said she toured the K-27 Building to determine if excess materials left in the building had been removed. She said EPA was satisfied with the progress that DOE and its contractor have made in removing the material.
John Owsley – Mr. Owsley said he had been overoptimistic in stating at the September meeting that there would be consensus among DOE, EPA, and TDEC on project priorities and budget. To date there is no consensus, but he said the agencies continue to work together and he is confident consensus will be reached.
Mr. Mulvenon – Mr. Mulvenon said he was surprised that DOE and the regulators had not reached consensus yet on prioritization and budget.
Mr. Adler said his presentation is an initial discussion with the board that will eventually lead to a mutually acceptable set of cleanup priorities and a requested cleanup budget for ORR among DOE, the regulators, and ORSSAB. Mr. Adler reminded the board that John Eschenberg, the DOE-Oak Ridge Assistant Manager for EM, said at the August ORSSAB retreat that he wanted to begin the discussion with ORSSAB early on.
Mr. Adler said the core of discussions thus far with EPA and TDEC is the setting of priorities. He said DOE wants to make ORSSAB aware of the progress of those discussions, but also allow the opportunity for input from the board. DOE-Oak Ridge EM will make a list of all projects available and EM staff will provide project details to ORSSAB.
He began by showing a schedule of events that lead to the submittal of the federal budget (Attachment 2). In January 2011, DOE Headquarters will provide Oak Ridge an idea of about how much it can expect to receive in 2013. That information is embargoed and is not shared with the public. DOE HQ will also provide its views of top priorities for Oak Ridge. That information can be shared with the public.
DOE-Oak Ridge will then begin to develop its budget request based on priorities and its anticipated budget allocation for 2013. In the March timeframe ORSSAB will be allowed to provide comments on DOE-Oak Ridge priorities. Those comments and the DOE-Oak Ridge budget request will be submitted in April 2011. The president then submits the administration’s budget request to Congress in January 2012.
Mr. Adler said this year the discussion of priorities with ORSSAB is beginning earlier than before. He also said Mr. Eschenberg has engaged the services of an outside consultant, Winston Porter, to facilitate the discussion of setting priorities among DOE, EPA, and TDEC. The first step in the process is to establish principles on which to set priorities. Mr. Adler showed the draft list of principles that have been put forward through discussions with DOE, EPA, and TDEC representatives (Attachment 3). Mr. Adler said ORSSAB is welcome to supply its own input on the list. He emphasized that the list thus far is draft and has not been approved by any of the agencies.
After an agreed-upon list of principles has been developed, that list will be used to set project priorities. When priorities are set then DOE will provide another presentation to the board.
Mr. Adler went through the list (Attachment 3) and provided explanation on each point. During his explanation of the various principles Mr. Adler took questions and comments from board members and members of the public. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Hatcher – Is the list in rank order? Mr. Adler - No, with the exception of the first two being top prime guiding principles. There was no attempt to intentionally develop a ranking system.
Mr. Bonner – With regard to DOE security and science missions, is there any assumption that they would have any responsibility related to EM’s commitments? Mr. Adler – We need to coordinate with them because we are guests at their facilities. We are also doing some cost sharing, but for the most part EM is funding most of the cleanup work. As far as forwarding the national security mission, I’m talking about getting rid of old buildings so the secure areas can be reduced. However part of EM’s mission is rounding up and getting under control any special nuclear materials that could be a problem if our enemies acquired them. EM does have the responsibility of dealing with U-233 at Building 3019. It has responsibility with dealing with the presence of fissile uranium at ETTP.
Mr. Lundy – When I was an employee at ORNL under one prime contractor, it was relatively easy to move around employees among the three plants. If there were cutbacks at one plant people could be shifted. Now with different contractors it’s difficult to do that. Mr. Adler – What we have to do to maintain a stable workforce is try to avoid rapid rampdowns; to try to replace work with like work. That is a factor in the sequencing of work.
Mr. Mead – In the first four of the list, I would contend that worker safety is number one by a large margin. Which of the others on list would we do if we could not achieve reasonable worker safety? I would say we couldn’t do any of them. Regarding national security, as long as whatever the problem is does not result in an immediate threat to national security it would probably remain on the list about where it is. But in the event there was something that needed to be done to reduce an immediate threat to national security almost everything on the list would take second place. Also any newly discovered threat to the health of the community would also move to the top of the list.
Mr. Olson – One thing I don’t see on the list is maintaining facilities so the cost of decommissioning does not escalate enormously and that worker safety is not compromised. Another comment – you’re stuck comparing apples and oranges; you can’t put units on these things. But I would encourage you to try. If you could possibly quantify things it makes it much easier to compare. Mr. Adler – We’ve thought about quantitative risk analysis or carrying costs. We can also propose different sequences and compare the total lifecycle costs.
Mr. Stow – This is one potential principle, such as respond to public perception and need for cleanup. Something like that may cause potential problems, but I was wondering if something like that was considered. Mr. Adler – It came up a little bit when we talked about showing the public what we can get done at ETTP. Mr. Owsley and I talked a bit before the meeting and he mentioned that as a criteria.
Mr. Lundy – One thing that is missing is the capability of the existing personnel that are on the job now. Perhaps if we have good people in one area of physics or chemistry or whatever we could tackle some jobs that ordinarily we couldn’t. Mr. Alder – That was discussed. Perhaps we didn’t express it well. That’s what we’re trying to say with maintaining job opportunities (Attachment 3, point 7).
Ms. Halsey – Can you define what the next steps will be in the dispute resolution process and they take these principles and do what with them? And is there a comparable or parallel path you see for ORSSAB? Mr. Adler – The rough sequence is to come up with a proper set of principles. Using the principle we try to set project priorities and then set milestones. This hopefully will ensure the regulators and the public have an appropriate voice in the establishment of priorities and an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way in the budget process. It will be a delicate effort to keep everyone moving forward in the process without having the appearance of playing one off the other. We hope to keep people moving together as a group. Ms. Halsey – Is the set of projects going to be a complete set – small, medium, large. And as far as minimizing offsite contamination, we left some mercury in place at the Ford dealership location on Illinois Avenue. Will that be factored into this process? Mr. Adler – You’re ahead of where we are. The thinking generally is that we will look at all remaining projects and work at that level. At the Ford dealership we identified a problem and implemented a project and you could argue that it’s done. But since the dealership is closed now there is the chance that someone could go dig it up. So that would be a project and it could rank pretty high because we are supposed to minimize offsite contamination.
Ms. Gawarecki – I don’t think you needed a consultant to come in help with this, because we’ve all seen this list before. And I don’t think it’s helpful because I don’t think there is any project EM has that doesn’t fall into one of these categories. I would like to see project prioritization based on things like removal of obstacles in the way of remediation of source areas, remediation of source areas, D&D (decontamination and decommissioning) of facilities posing imminent threat. And the question is how are you going to use this? Are you going to sit down with TDEC and EPA and just reprioritize everything in the Federal Facility Agreement? Mr. Adler – I doubt we’ll reprioritize. I suspect that after we’ve gone through this we will end up changing some things, but not a full scale turning things upside down. Ms. Gawarecki – My biggest concern is that we’re not going to have enough FY 2012 budget to do what is in the Federal Facility Agreement and the whole project prioritization exercise is basically useless. Until the site demands enough money, level budgets of about $450 million a year, we’re going to be struggling to get the work done at all. The bottom line, is the money going to be there to finish what you committed to? I think that’s where DOE needs to focus. You need to make sure DOE headquarters hears this message. You have a DOE headquarters that has prioritized Hanford tank waste five levels above Oak Ridge’s D&D work. I think you need to make your case to headquarters that what is happening in Oak Ridge is every bit as important as what’s happening at Hanford and Savannah River and other places that also have environmental problems.
Board Finance & Process – Ms. Halsey reported that at the October meeting the committee will receive a final report on FY 2010 costs and a proposed budget breakdown for FY 2011. She said she was notified that the board will receive additional funding of five percent for FY 2011 from $400,000 to $420,000.
EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee received an update on activities at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center and the committee began work on its FY 2011 work plan. He said he had been re-elected chair of the committee and David Martin had been elected vice-chair. At the October meeting the committee will hear reports on the K-1007 Ponds remediation project at ETTP and the ORR Site Treatment Plan.
Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones said the committee met on September 21 via teleconference. The committee reviewed its six-month planning calendar and the quarterly guest editorial. Mr. Lundy agreed to write the editorial for the quarter. The committee discussed the East Tennessee Environmental Business Association Business Opportunity Conference November 8 and 9 and having volunteers staff the ORSSAB booth. Mr. Martin, Mr. Murphree, Mr. Stow, and Mr. Westervelt volunteered to staff the booth.
The committee reviewed notes from a meeting with Stan Mitchell, the publisher of the Oak Ridge Observer.
The committee talked about Oak Ridge Christmas parade and the budget required to have an entry in the parade. The committee reviewed its FY 2010 work plan and its draft FY 2011 work plan.
Ms. Jones said she was elected chair of the committee and Ms. Owen vice-chair. The committee will meet again by teleconference on October 26.
Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said he, Ms. B. Jones, Mr. Murphree, and Ms. Owen will be attending the Long-term Surveillance and Maintenance Conference in Grand Junction, Colo., November 15-18.
The committee will discuss participation in the conference at its October meeting and will continue developing its draft work plan.
Executive – Mr. Westervelt said there will be an Executive Work Session on Thursday, October 21. The committee will review key topics from the annual retreat and review the draft committee work plans and develop an overall board work plan for FY 2011. He said an ad hoc committee will be formed to work on a recommendation on priorities and budget. Mr. Westervelt encouraged members to think about serving on that ad hoc committee.
Oral History – Mr. Stow said the staff of the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History continues to gather existing oral histories and transferring them into digital formats. The staff is investigating purchasing its own equipment to transfer materials from analog to digital formats.
The oral history staff visited archives in Atlanta and came back with some oral histories related to radiation experiments that had been done on humans in Oak Ridge in the 1950s and 1960s.
He said the center participated in the Secret City Festival earlier this year and lined up about 10 additional potential oral history candidates to interview.
Mr. Stow said there are plans to expand the Oak Ridge Public Library, which houses the oral history center. He said the center is recognized as a significant part of the library’s services and will benefit from the expansion. He said the oral history center has the potential to emerge as a unique facility within DOE and perhaps across the country.
Mr. Stow said he is concerned about the inordinate amount of time it has taken to get a contract in place to record additional oral histories. Ms. Halsey said she understand the contract is held up somewhere between the City of Oak Ridge’s contracts department and the city attorney. She hopes to have something positive to report at the November meeting.
EM SSAB Chairs’ Meeting – Mr. Juarez and Mr. Olson made comments about the recent Fall EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting that was held in Santa Fe, N.M., September 15 and 16. The main points of their comments are in Attachment 4. Mr. Olson noted that DOE EM wants to reduce its footprint nationwide by 40 percent, about 930 square miles, by the end of 2011. Mr. Juarez said that in the budget presentation Barry Gaffney, DOE EM Acting Director of Planning, indicated that Oak Ridge would get an additional $50 million for FY 2011, even though it was also mentioned that the year will begin with a continuing resolution based on the FY 2010 budget allocations. Mr. Juarez said during his report on Oak Ridge’s top issues he reminded the group that Mr. Gaffney had indicated Oak Ridge would get a plus-up in funding.
Mr. Olson said during the Chairs’ Meeting budget discussion there would be a call for papers on the transport of contaminants in groundwater in complex geologic systems, but no details were provided.
Mr. Juarez commented on the Assistant Secretary Inés Triay’s proposal for EM’s “Journey to Excellence,” a way for EM to establish its own way of doing business without the influence of the assistant secretary’s political or business background. Dr. Triay said the SSABs could provide input on how that could be achieved.
Mr. Olson said Dr. Triay said the SSABs should provide input on budget and priorities, which was pertinent to the discussion at this meeting on helping to set priorities.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be on the ORNL Central Campus Stack.
The minutes of the September 8, 2010, meeting were approved.
The response to Recommendation 190 on the “Bridge” Memorandum of Agreement for Site Interpretation at ETTP was distributed (Attachment 1).
The current committee organization chart was distributed (Attachment 5).
The motion for two consecutive absences for Charles Jensen was removed from the agenda. Mr. Juarez reported Mr. Jensen had been on business travel and had not been able to attend recent meetings. He asked that the clock be reset for Mr. Jensen.
Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Halsey said, regarding the expansion of the Oak Ridge Public Library, that cards are available for members of the public to fill out indicating what services they would like to have at the library. She said suggestions could be made by going to http://orpl.org/ and filling out a survey online.
Ms. Halsey said Jenny Freeman has been appointed to the board. She was out of town and was not able to attend this meeting. Her appointment brings board membership to 19.
Additions to the Agenda
Mr. Olson moved to approve the agenda. Mr. Lundy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the September 8, 2010, meeting. Mr. Lundy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m.
1. Mr. Adler will determine the components of the $19 million a year dedicated to stewardship on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
2. Mr. Adler will check to see how long a delay has been requested to meet the milestone for the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.
3. Mr. Adler will determine what contaminants escaped from one of the hot cells at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.
4. A presentation on results of well sampling in Melton Valley will be scheduled for the EM Committee.
Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.