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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved December 8, 2010 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, December 8, 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

Steve Dixon

Jenny Freeman

Brianna Goodlin1

Bob Hatcher

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Steve Mead

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Josh Monroe1

Ron Murphree, Chair

Bob Olson

Steve Stow


Members Absent

John Coffman

Charles Jensen

Maggie Owen

Kevin Westervelt, Vice-chair


1Student Representative


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

Sid Garland, Bechtel Jacobs, Co.

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee

Pete Osborne, IIA

Sondra Sarten


Ten members of the public were present.


DDFO and Liaison Comments

Mr. Eschenberg - A study is being done to re-examine options for downblending uraniuim-233 at the 3019 Building at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Mr. Eschenberg said the purpose of the study is to make sure there is not a more economical way to dispose of the material. He said the study with all options considered is to be completed by mid-summer 2011. Even though the study is being done the design of the project continues.


Mr. Mezga asked if the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the U-233 downblending study. Mr. Eschenberg said he would make the results of the screening available at a subsequent ORSSAB meeting or at an ORSSAB EM Committee meeting. He said he was reluctant, however, to re-open the debate on the downblending of U-233 because the design phase is well underway. He said that one of the study options is the extraction of medical isotopes from the U-233. He said DOE EM still has no interest in extracting medical isotopes but it was included in the study options for completeness.


Mr. Olson said cost would be one of the drivers in determining the future of the U-233 project. He urged that risk should also be considered. He said the project has the potential for inadvertent criticality, which would shut down operations at the lab at a huge cost.


EPA and TDEC have fined DOE Oak Ridge for failure to meet a work plan milestone of December 7, 2009, and a construction start milestone of August 6, 2010, both related to the site wide groundwater treatability study at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) (Attachment 1). Mr. Eschenberg said the milestones are in informal dispute and he believes it is a matter of incomplete communication. DOE’s position is that it has met the milestones, but he said DOE will let the informal dispute process adjudicate the issue.


Ms. Freeman asked how long an informal dispute process takes. Mr. Adler said there is no limit on informal dispute negotiations. It can be ended by DOE, EPA, or TDEC writing a letter saying the informal dispute process is not working and should be elevated to a formal dispute, which goes to the next level of management. Mr. Adler said typically an informal dispute is worked out over a couple of months. The process for this most recent dispute is just getting underway.


Ms. Freeman asked if any fines come from the EM cleanup budget. Mr. Eschenberg said that it did. Mr. Owsley said fines go into one of three TDEC environmental funds and are made available for environmental restoration, although not necessarily related to work in Oak Ridge.


Regarding the issue of missed milestones, Mr. Martin asked if it would be beneficial to have a full-time EPA office in Oak Ridge. Mr. Eschenberg said EPA has offices at other sites and he felt like that is beneficial for good communication and better regulatory relationship. He said that would be a policy decision by EPA. Ms. C. Jones said she would have to defer to her leadership on making that kind of decision.


Mr. Bonner said DOE Oak Ridge has a number of projects on the Government Accountability Office’s ‘watchlist’ that are over budget or behind schedule. He asked if there was a plan to get Oak Ridge projects off the list. Mr. Eschenberg said DOE EM nationwide has about 500 projects and a small percent of those projects are rated ‘red’ as over budget or behind schedule. He said having a red project is not altogether unexpected. He said project management baselines are done at an 80 percent confidence level, which leaves a 20 percent possibility of failure. He said to have a small number of projects that are considered red is to be expected. He said Oak Ridge only has one project, the U-233 project, on the red list.


Mr. Adler – no comments. Mr. Murphree asked about the status of DOE EM Headquarters developing Five-year Plans as was promised at the Spring 2010 EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting. Mr. Adler said he thought the plan was being developed, but said he would check on the status.


Connie Jones – no comments.


John Owsley – no comments.


Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon said the Local Oversight Committee has requested on a number of occasions that EPA establish an office in Oak Ridge. He said Mr. Eschenberg’s comments provided some encouragement and that another letter will be written.



Mr. Garland’s presentation was on the Zone 1 Final Record of Decision for ETTP. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 2.


Mr. Garland said a final record of decision (ROD) would allow for the release of about 1,400 acres of land at the site for industrial and recreational use. An interim ROD is in place that deals with soil, associated land use controls, and unrestricted use of land below 10 feet. The goal for a final ROD is to protect groundwater, plug and abandon wells, lift the land use restriction below 10 feet, add a recreational use component, and address soil as a contaminant source to surface water.


The primary contaminants at ETTP include volatile organic compounds, chromium, PCBs, and radionuclides (Attachment 2, page 3).


Zone 1 is the area outside of the main plant at ETTP (Attachment 2, page 4). Most of Zone 1 was not industrialized except for about three small areas. Mr. Garland said the remediation of Zone 1 under the interim ROD is within months of being finished. He said there are some possible changes to be made to the current interim ROD. He said an area in the western portion of Zone 1 that is a Resource Conservation Recovery Act storage area may be removed from the interim ROD and moved into Zone 2. He said the K-770 area in the southwest portion of Zone 1 may have the soil restriction placed at 2 feet, instead of 10 feet because of deep subsurface contamination of asbestos that is difficult to remediate.


Mr. Garland said there is an electrical subsurface duct bank that runs from southwest to northeast of Zone 1 that contains residual contamination. The duct bank is being grouted, but the soil depth restriction may be changed from 10 feet to some lesser depth to acknowledge the presence of a subsurface structure.


There is also consideration of changing the end use of the contractor’s disposal area in the northern portion of Zone 1 to recreational use, in part because it lies within the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement, which is a recreational use area.


Mr. Mezga asked how changes are made to the ROD. Mr. Garland said there are different ways of changing a ROD. These changes will likely be made as an explanation of significant differences (ESD), because it doesn’t fundamentally change the remedy, and the changes could lessen the cost of remediation. Mr. Adler said whatever method used to change the ROD requires regulator concurrence.


Mr. Hatcher asked if there was contaminant flow between the two zones of ETTP. Mr. Garland said there is movement of contaminants from Zone 2 surface water into Zone 1, but for the most part there is no connection between groundwater in Zones 1 and 2.


Mr. Garland showed a diagram of the ETTP Decision Making Strategy (Attachment 2, page 5). He said most of the completed actions are small actions undertaken to address a specific problem. In addition to the final Zone 1 ROD and the ongoing Zone 2 ROD there will be a final ROD for the entire ETTP site.


Mr. Stow asked how the soil depth restriction of 10 feet was determined. Mr. Owsley said there was an acceptance by the public of land use controls below 10 feet for uncontrolled industrial use under the assumption that conventional construction activities did not ordinarily go below 10 feet. He said the standard was not based on the presence of contamination but on the knowledge of construction and that workers above the 10-foot level would be protected from inadvertent access to contamination. He also said the public was accepting of cleanup to 2 feet in areas under direct control of DOE.


Mr. Garland enumerated the points to be included as part of the final Zone 1 ROD (Attachment 2, page 7). Those changes from the interim ROD include having the area be acceptable for recreational use, ecological protection for the area, groundwater protection, plugging and abandonment of old wells, eliminating land use restrictions below 10 feet, and remediation of soil that is a contaminant source to surface water. Regarding the lifting of the 10 foot limit for unrestricted use, Mr. Owsley pointed out that there would be no 10-foot restriction in areas where there is no suspected contamination, and soil characterization would be done below 10 feet to determine if there was any contamination before any excavation was done below that level.


Ms. C. Jones said EPA and TDEC committed to DOE to evaluate a parcel of land in Zone 1 that would likely provide the most information and is an area that is being considered for reindustrialization. That parcel would be used as a test case, which wouldn’t be applicable to all areas of Zone 1 but would provide a starting point for evaluation whether to lift the 10-foot restriction. Mr. Garland noted that one of the reasons for lifting the 10-foot restriction is to make the land more marketable.


Mr. Bonner asked about changes to the interim ROD and if ESDs are tied directly to the ROD and become part of the administrative record. Mr. Garland said that any method used to change a ROD is tied to it and becomes part of the administrative record. Mr. Bonner asked if there was public involvement in changing a ROD. Ms. C. Jones said EPA and TDEC felt there were enough nuances to the changes that the ESD would allow for public involvement and comment. Mr. Adler said what is done in Oak Ridge goes beyond what is required by law. He said development of the ESD is coordinated with EPA and TDEC and a fact sheet is provided to explain the ESD in layman’s terms. He said public dissemination of the ESD is provided to the public through ORSSAB. Discussion of an ESD with the public is more of an information function and not an avenue for public comment. He said an ESD is an approach that is used for changes that are not fundamental changes to a ROD remedy.


Mr. Garland showed a schedule for developing the final ROD (Attachment 2, page 9). He explained that a ROD amendment to the current interim ROD would include the changes noted on page 7 of Attachment 2. Remediation done under the amendment and changes made to the interim ROD through the ESDs would all be documented in a Remedial Action Report.


At the same time data collection is being conducted to determine any fundamental changes in data collected earlier and also to fill in any data gaps. That information will be used in a proposed plan to address the well plugging and abandonment, groundwater remedy, and lifting land use controls below 10 feet. All of the work done under the interim ROD amendment, the interim ROD ESDs, and work identified to be done through the current data collection process and put forth in the proposed plan will result in the final ROD for Zone 1.


Ms. B. Jones asked if there any plans for remediation of soil below 10 feet. Mr. Adler said the test case Ms. C. Jones mentioned earlier is way to develop a process to decide if the 10-foot restriction could be lifted. If significant contamination was found below 10-feet DOE would likely return to the 10-foot restriction particularly if it were expensive to remove the contamination with little environmental benefit. The exception would be evidence that contamination below 10 feet was contributing to groundwater contamination. Mr. Garland also said there are areas of Zone 1 where contamination is not a problem.


Ms. Mei asked why the Remedial Action Report was not planned until June. She thought an earlier date might help in developing the final ROD. Mr. Garland said it takes time to write a report for work this extensive. He also said the final report can’t be written until all of the work is completed.


Ms. Freeman asked how budget limitations and a change in the prime cleanup contractor for Oak Ridge would affect the schedule. Mr. Garland said that should have no impact. Mr. Bonner asked how budget might affect the development of the final ROD if it goes beyond the current schedule and into the next fiscal year. Mr. Adler said changes in contractors cannot affect important work. Regarding budget he said the amount of money for this work is relatively small compared to all the money being spent at ETTP. He said that amount of money is well spent in order to release 1,400 acres of land.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon said the committee met on November 22 and reviewed the board’s budget. He reminded committee chairs that committee budget requests should be developed at the December meetings and turned into the Board Finance & Process Committee so the board’s FY 2012 budget can be developed.


EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on November 17 and discussed the problem of remediating Bear Creek Burial Grounds, which is the site of about 40 million pounds of depleted uranium. The burial grounds are a contributor of contamination to Bear Creek. He said the committee will likely submit a recommendation on Bear Creek Burial Grounds for DOE to consider.


At the December 15 meeting the committee will hear a presentation on a possible new site for an additional waste disposal facility similar to the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley.


Public Outreach – The committee met by teleconference on December 23. The committee reviewed the planning calendar and schedule for member biographies that will be submitted to local newspapers.


Ms. B. Jones said the committee had an ORSSAB exhibit at the East Tennessee Environmental Business Association Business Opportunities Conference in November.


The committee reviewed the editorial plan for the January Advocate newsletter.


The committee will meet again by teleconference on December 21.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner said he, Ms. C. Jones, Mr. Murphree, and Ms. Owen attended the Long-term Surveillance and Maintenance Conference in Grand Junction, Colo., in November. Mr. Murphree provided a presentation on ORSSAB’s concerns about long-term stewardship at ongoing mission sites. The committee will hear reports about the conference at its December 16 meeting.


Mr. Bonner said the conference was sponsored by DOE Legacy Management but noted that Legacy Management does not have a mechanism for dealing with stewardship at ongoing mission sites.


He said Tish O’Conor, the new DOE EM Headquarters point of contact for long-term stewardship is scheduled to meet with the committee to discuss her role related to long-term stewardship.


Executive – Mr. Murphree said the committee met on November 22 and approved implementation of the new member recruitment campaign.


Mr. Murphree said he had participated in two planning sessions for the Spring 2011 EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting. A list of potential topics has been developed (Attachment 3). Mr. Murphree asked for board member input on the topics. He said he thought topics on budget, stewardship, and risk-based priorities are of particular interest to ORSSAB.


A new standing committee, Environmental Management Budget Prioritization Committee, has been formed and will have its organizational meeting on January 6 at 4 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.


Mr. Murphree reminded members to review the Travel Opportunities Table that was provided in the December meeting packet and determine if they can attend any of the meetings.


He also asked members to review DOE EM Headquarters ‘Journey to Excellence’ document. He reminded the board that EM has asked for input on the document. The document is available at


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be an overview of recently completed historical preservation reports.


The minutes of the November 10, 2010, meeting were approved.


Mr. Eschenberg recognized departing member Sondra Sarten for her four years of service to the board.


A table of suggested topics for the Spring EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting was distributed (Attachment 3). Mr. Murphree asked board members for input on the topics.


The EM Project Update table was distributed (Attachment 4).


The board heard a first reading of a change to bylaws to increase membership from 20 to 22 (Attachment 5).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey had no comments.


Additions to the Agenda

The first reading of a change to the bylaws to increase board membership to 22 members was added to the agenda (Attachment 5).




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



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the November 10, 2010, meeting. Mr. Mead seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 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. Carryover from November meeting.

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. Carryover from November meeting.

5.   Mr. Adler will check on the status of re-instituting the DOE EM Headquarters Five-year Plan.




Attachments (5) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.