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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 10, 2010 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 10, 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.


Members Present

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman

Steve Dixon

Jenny Freeman

Brianna Goodlin1

Bob Hatcher

Charles Jensen

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Josh Monroe1

Ron Murphree, Chair

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt, Vice-chair


Members Absent

Sondra Sarten2


1Student Representative

2Second consecutive absence


Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO), Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present

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

John Eschenberg, DDFO and DOE-ORO Assistant Manager for Environmental Management (EM)

Pat Halsey, DOE-ORO, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator

Connie Jones, Liaison, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4

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


Others Present

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Pete Osborne, IIA


Six members of the public were present.


DDFO and Liaison Comments

Mr. Eschenberg - Mr. Eschenberg said he had just returned from the Intergovernmental Conference in San Diego, Calif., and his takeaway from the conference was that DOE and the contractors must improve working relationships and work more closely together with the regulators. He said one of the big problems is DOE’s inability to share budget information with the regulators in the out-years. Mr. Eschenberg said that is embargoed information and can’t be shared until the president releases the annual budget request to Congress.


He said EM’s leadership is focused on lowering the lifecycle cost of dealing with high-level waste. Oak Ridge does not have high-level waste so its priorities are low on EM headquarters’ list of priorities. Mr. Eschenberg said there are initiatives underway to try to elevate Oak Ridge’s standing in EM Headquarters’ priorities.


DOE has agreed to pay an $800,000 fine related to missed milestones regarding the K-1007 Ponds remedial action and removal of excess material in the K-27 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). Of that penalty $500,000 goes to TDEC and $300,000 to EPA. Mr. Eschenberg said a result of the fines is the realization that DOE, TDEC, and EPA must do a better job of defining milestones. He said DOE also should do a walkdown of projects to ensure milestones have been attained.


Mr. Eschenberg said he believes DOE-ORO’s 2010 cleanup budget of $450 million is $100-$150 million too low to adequately address Oak Ridge cleanup. He said he spends a lot of time thinking and strategizing about how to get more budget dollars for Oak Ridge. Cleanup work over the next two years will not be impacted too much because of remaining Recovery Act dollars, but in 2013 the budget will return to pre-Recovery Act levels. He said DOE-ORO and groups like ORSSAB need to work together in presenting a unified message to EM headquarters about Oak Ridge budget requests.


Mr. Eschenberg said DOE nationwide has a number of projects that are on the Government Accountability Office’s ‘watchlist.’ DOE-ORO has two projects that are on the watchlist: the Uranium-233 Project and the Bethel Valley Burial Grounds capping project. He said project managers are tasked with developing plans for getting projects off the watchlist. The Bethel Valley project is scheduled to be off the list in December, but he said the U-233 Project will be on the list for some time because it is a complex problem that is costing more than was anticipated.


Mr. Adler – A report is due soon from Mac West who is doing a study of historic preservation options for ETTP. An engineering report from Lorig Wiley on possibly preserving portions of the North Tower of the K-25 Building at ETTP is due in early December. A meeting of consulting parties of the Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Site Interpretation at ETTP will probably be held in January.


A Natural Resource Damage Assessment agreement has been signed designating a portion of Black Oak Ridge for a conservation easement. The agreement is a settlement among trustees of the Clinch River as reparation for damages to the river from past practices on the Oak Ridge Reservation. DOE will provide about $36,000 a year to maintain the area for public use.


Mr. Adler noted that DOE-ORO has responded to all ORSSAB recommendations.


Connie Jones – In October the EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response held the Federal Facilities Cleanup Dialogue. Ms. Jones said a number of years ago there was a meeting of stakeholders living near federal facilities to address concerns of contamination. She said the purpose of the recent meeting was to evaluate how issues have been addressed. She said a path forward will be determined from the proceedings of the meeting. She thanked Mr. Murphree for attending and representing ORSSAB.


Dale Rector – Mr. Rector was standing in for John Owsley. Mr. Rector said he, Ms. Halsey, and Mark Belvin at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) had begun Tennessee Oversight Agreement negotiations recently. He said the agreement will likely be renewed under the same budget schedules.


Mr. Rector said feedback from TDEC staff on core teams working on projects at the lab has generally been positive. He said there has been good response on comments on waste characterization.


At the K-25 Building at ETTP he said there were some concerns about the statistical basis for criticality analysis. He said feedback received on that issue has been good and TDEC has a better feeling about it.


Public Comment




Mr. Adler provided an update on the ORNL Central Gaseous Waste System. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 1. He began with a schematic of the gaseous waste system and how a number of facilities feed ventilation, off-gas treatment, and discharge of gaseous waste from a number of ORNL facilities to the 3039 Central Stack (Attachment 1, page 3). The system is designed to ensure there are no unintended emissions from buildings at ORNL that deal with radioactive material. Air is pulled from the various facilities, which is filtered and eventually eliminated through the 3039 stack.


Over the years, the system has worked well except for one instance in 2002. Mr. Adler said the risk of problems with the system is still low, but because of some aging facilities the risk is slowly increasing. The long-term solution is to decouple all facilities and deactivate the system.


The stack system is a radiological emission point source regulated by the Clean Air Act. Emissions from ORNL must be calculated regularly to ensure they do not exceed the standard of 10 milli-rems. In 2009 the calculated radiation dose to a maximally exposed off-site individual was .3 milli-rems. About .01 milli-rems came from the 3039 stack (Attachment 1, page 5).


The 3039 stack was built in 1950 has been in operation almost continuously ever since (Attachment 1, page 6). It’s 250 feet tall and discharges a total gas volume annually of about 66 billion cubic feet. An air emission monitoring system is located at the 50 foot level.


Mr. Adler described an incident in 2002 when, during a filter change at Building 3038, a piece of filter fabric came loose and was sucked through the system and out the stack (Attachment 1, page 7). The material was carried by winds to the east where it settled in a parking lot. About 2 milli-curies of strontium-90 were released. Mr. Adler said while that is not a significant dose the event caused many problems. He said the fabric allowed small bits of strontium to be scattered across the campus from the point of release to where the fabric settled. That material had to be found and collected. The problem was minimized some because the event occurred just prior to a four-day holiday at ORNL, so the campus population was down. Cost to clean up the problem was about $1 million. An investigation of the incident was conducted and corrective actions were taken to prevent a recurrence.


To date more than 20 facilities have been isolated from the 3039 stack. Recovery Act funds will be used to isolate or demolish more facilities (Attachment 1, pages 8-9). Mr. Adler showed a chart of facilities that will still require use of the 3039 stack well into this decade and perhaps into the next (Attachment 1, page 10). Mr. Adler said the stack will not come down until after all facilities that are using it are removed from the system. Any facilities using the system that are not demolished will have their own ventilation systems installed.


Mr. Adler said the stack is inspected regularly and is in no danger of falling. He said a more extensive inspection will be conducted around the first of the year, which will require scaffolding around the stack. A camera will be lowered inside the stack to inspect the interior. Lighting will be placed around the top of the stack in accordance with Federal Aviation Agency requirements.


After Mr. Adler’s presentation a number of questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers:

Mr. Mead –If you find a problem when you inspect the inside of the stack what will you do? Mr. Adler – We would probably use robotics to fix the problem.


Mr. Martin – How many hot cells will have to be removed? Mr. Adler – We’ll be using Recovery Act money to remove eight to 10. Then there is another 10 to 15 that have no continuing mission that we’ll take care of later. Mr. Martin- Was the system ever shut down completely? Mr. Mezga – We shut it down once in about 1989.


Mr. Stow – What is the procedure for taking down a stack of that size? Mr. Adler – If you have a lot of space you can use explosives or equipment that can reach high and chip it down in pieces. If you have a constrained space like we have at ORNL you usually start at the top at knock pieces down into the stack itself until you have a safe height where you can knock it over.


Mr. Hatcher – Under normal operations what is the composition of the gas that comes up out of the stack? Mr. Adler – It’s mostly air with trace quantities of radioactive isotopes, mostly cesium and strontium.


Ms. Owen – Concerning the 3026 hot cells, what are your concerns about open air demolition given the location of cells in relation to the rest of ORNL? Mr. Adler – We can’t allow any release from the hot cells. So we may have to do some stripping operations to pull contamination off the interior of the hot cells. Then a fixative will be used to basically glue the remaining contamination to the walls of the cells. Misting will be used as the cells are broken up and there will be continuous monitoring. We’ve concluded that we can demolish the cells without enclosing them under some structure.


Mr. Olson – Do the stacks at the lab meet any kind of seismic resistance criteria? Mr. Adler – I don’t know what the seismic standard would be for these stacks. Some of them were built before there were seismic standards. Whether they meet applicable standards today I’ll have to research that and let you know.


Mr. Murphree – The consequences of another event similar to the one in 2002 is much greater now because of the infrastructure that has been built around it. So if you look at it from a risk standpoint, it’s not so much from a release but from the impact on operations. Mr. Adler – The operational impact would probably involve shutting down the lab. You couldn’t send workers in the area until things were cleaned up. Mr. Murphree – Wouldn’t that elevate the importance of this whole project because of the consequences of an event? Mr. Adler – Yes, we think so. That’s why most of the Recovery Act money is dedicated to the demolition of old facilities in the central campus of ORNL.


Mr. Bonner – What are the quantities of water and the levels of contamination that are to be treated as a result of condensation or in-flow into the system? Mr. Adler – I’ll have to get that information for you.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon said the committee did not meet in October. He noted that the Abbreviated Quarterly Progress Report had been distributed (Attachment 2). The committee will meet on November 22 at 5 p.m. at the DOEIC.


EM – Mr. Olson said the committee met on October 20 and heard an update on the K-1007 Ponds project at ETTP and the problem with reporting an incident that damaged a fish barrier at the pond. The committee also received an explanation of the Site Treatment Plan that deals with how DOE handles mixed low-level waste on the Oak Ridge Reservation.


Mr. Olson said the committee has asked Mr. Murphree to discuss with other SSABs how small waste streams that are difficult to deal with are handled at their sites. Mr. Murphree said he will bring it up at the next chairs’ teleconference and during a planning session for the next chairs’ meeting in April. The discussion could result in a recommendation on how to handle such waste streams.


Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones said the committee met by teleconference on November 3 and discussed the six-month planning calendar and the placement of feature stories on ORSSAB members in ORNL Today newsletters. Similar stories will be sent to local newspapers.


Several ORSSAB members staffed the ORSSAB exhibit during the Energy, Technology, and Environmental Business Association Business Opportunities Conference on November 8-9.


The committee plans to have a float in the Oak Ridge Christmas parade and board members are needed to ride on the float or walk with it in the parade. However, if not enough members sign up to participate the committee may decide not to be in the parade. Ms. Jones asked for volunteers to participate in the parade.


The committee discussed using a message board on the ORSSAB website similar to the one the Savannah River Site Citizens’ Advisory Board uses.


The committee discussed possibly changing the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Sciences and Energy. The thought is to change the component of the exhibit that is a model of the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility to something that is more interactive.


The committee will meet on Tuesday, November 23 by teleconference.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the committee reviewed a presentation that Mr. Murphree will present at the Long-term Surveillance and Maintenance Conference in Colorado on November 17. Mr. Bonner, Ms. B. Jones, and Ms. Owen will also be attending the conference.


The committee finalized its work plan for FY 2011.


Because a number of the committee members will be attending the Colorado conference, the committee will not meet in November.


Executive – Mr. Murphree said he attended the Weapons Complex Monitor’s Decisionmakers’ Forum in Florida in October. Assistant Secretary for EM Inés Triay spoke about her vision for the EM program. He said Mr. Eschenberg also spoke about the Oak Ridge EM program.


Mr. Murphree also attended the Federal Facilities Cleanup Dialogue that Ms. C. Jones mentioned during her comments. Mr. Murphree said there were representatives from the other SSABs in attendance. Branches of the military spoke about their cleanup projects at various base closures around the country.

Mr. Murphree said he hopes to bring something back from the Long-term Surveillance and Maintenance Conference in Colorado for the board to consider in the way of a recommendation regarding stewardship at ongoing mission sites.


Mr. Murphree is on the planning committee for the April 2011 EM SSAB chairs’ meeting. He said the committee has held one teleconference to begin working on agenda topics for the meeting.


The Executive Committee had a work session on October 21 and discussed a number of topics for the board to focus on in FY 2011. One of those topics is membership recruitment and training. He noted several long-time board members will leave the board in June 2011, and those spots will need to be filled and new members will need to get up to speed quickly. A recruitment campaign will be conducted during December to find candidates to fill the seats to be vacated next year.


During the work session the committee decided to form another standing committee to deal with budget and priorities for DOE-ORO EM. Mr. Murphree asked for volunteers to serve on the committee. Mr. Dixon, Ms. Freeman, Mr. Juarez, Mr. Olson, Ms. Owen, and Norman Mulvenon (as a community member) volunteered to serve on the committee.


Mr. Murphree reminded the board that Assistant Secretary Triay has developed a draft proposal called “Journey to Excellence” for the EM program. He asked all members of the board to read the document and consider serving on an ad hoc committee to formulate a recommendation on the document. He said Dr. Triay has asked for input on the plan from the EM SSABs. He asked staff to send a link to the document to board members. Mr. Murphree said the document is important for what it contains, but there are some things it doesn’t say about Oak Ridge that he thinks are important.


Mr. Eschenberg said it was important that the board provide input on the Journey to Excellence. He said the document will have visibility in setting priorities for EM, and the priorities will set the budget for EM. In its current draft there are seven goals and Oak Ridge is mentioned in one related to transuranic waste. He believes Oak Ridge’s relative risk with transuranic waste is just as high as risk at other sites.


Oral History – Mr. Stow said the contract between the City of Oak Ridge and DOE-ORO whereby DOE is providing some funding to the city for the oral history program is in place. However, there have been some problems getting the funding to the Oak Ridge Public Library, which manages the oral history program. Mr. Stow said progress is being made and funding should be available soon for the library to collect more oral histories. Ms. Halsey said the money should be in place by February, which will allow for up to 100 additional interviews to be conducted.


Mr. Stow said there was a meeting on November 9 with DOE-ORO records personnel, representatives of the Oak Ridge Library, and personnel from the National Archives. DOE-ORO records will work more closely with library representatives in providing historical records to the oral history program. Similar activities will take place at other sites across the DOE complex.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be on issues related to the Focused Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan for Zone 1 at ETTP.


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


Ms. Freeman was introduced as a new member of the board.


The Abbreviated Quarterly Progress Report was distributed (Attachment 2).


The motions for two consecutive absences for Mr. Coffman and Mr. Dixon were removed from the agenda as both members were in attendance.


Mr. Dixon, Ms. Freeman, Mr. Juarez, Mr. Olson, Ms. Owen, and Norman Mulvenon (community member) will serve on the new EM budget and prioritization standing committee.


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reiterated that a membership campaign will begin on December 1 and continue through December 31, 2010. She said people who have previously applied will be contacted again to determine if they are still interested. She asked all board members to think about people they know who would be good candidates for membership.


Additions to the Agenda




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



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


The meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m.


Action Items


1.   Mr. Adler will determine the components of the $19 million a year dedicated to stewardship on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Carryover from September 8 meeting.

2.   Mr. Adler will determine what contaminants escaped from one of the hot cells at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. Carryover from October 13 meeting.

3.   Mr. Adler will research if the stacks at ORNL meet applicable seismic standards.

4.   Mr. Adler will determine the amount of water and the levels of contamination in the water that goes through the central stack system as a result of condensation or other origins.



1.   Mr. Adler will check to see how long a delay has been requested to meet the milestone for the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. Complete. Milestone has been extended
to May 31.

2.   Staff will send a link to the Journey to Excellence document to all board members. Complete. A link to the document was sent to board members on October 14 and again on November 12.

3.   A presentation on results of well sampling in Melton Valley will be scheduled for the
EM Committee. Complete. A presentation has been scheduled for April 2011 when monitoring data become available.


Attachments (2) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.