Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved February 9, 2011, Meeting Minutes

 

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 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

Charles Jensen

Bob Hatcher

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Lance Mezga

Josh Monroe1

Ron Murphree, Chair

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt,
Vice-chair

 

Members Absent

Gloria Mei

 

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

Spencer Gross, MCH, Corp.

Norman Mulvenon, Local Oversight Committee

Pete Osborne, IIA

 

Nineteen members of the public were present.

 

DDFO and Liaison Comments

Mr. Eschenberg – The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution through March based on FY 2010 budget figures. He did not know if the resolution would continue past March, but he thought the rollout of the President’s FY 2012 budget request to Congress could have some bearing on the continuing resolution.

 

Mr. Eschenberg thought the President’s budget request to Congress for FY 2012 would be favorable for the DOE Environmental Management Program nationwide. He said regardless of what Oak Ridge will receive for FY 2012 there is still about $150 million in Recovery Act funds to be used in FY 2012. He felt that money coupled with whatever Oak Ridge receives should allow DOE Oak Ridge to make its compliance objectives and make progress on environmental cleanup work.

 

Mr. Eschenberg said DOE Assistant Secretary Inés Triay has responded to a letter written by TDEC Deputy Commissioner Paul Sloan (Attachment 1) outlining concerns about insufficient funding to Oak Ridge to make cleanup milestones. Mr. Eschenberg said DOE would make Dr. Triay’s letter available to the board (Attachment 2).

 

DOE-Oak Ridge has worked with EPA and TDEC to renegotiate eight milestones that had already been missed or were likely to be missed due to technical reasons. The milestones are related to
K-25 and K-27 Buildings demolition and a groundwater study at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) and milestones related to the Molten Salt Reactor at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). DOE is also working with EPA and TDEC to set milestones for ‘buy back’ work using surplus Recovery Act funds.

 

Regarding a fine of Bechtel Jacobs, Co., DOE’s Oak Ridge prime cleanup contractor, by the state of Utah, Mr. Eschenberg said the fine was the result of disposing about 16 containers of waste in the Clive, Utah, disposal facility that had been incorrectly categorized as Class A when in fact it was Class C waste. Mr. Eschenberg said the cause was a computer programming error. Shipments to Clive have been suspended until the problem is solved. Shipments are expected to resume soon.

 

DOE will host a public workshop on the DOE EM budget on Thursday, February 24 from 1-5 p.m. at the American Museum of Science and Energy. Presentations will be made by the DOE-Oak Ridge chief financial officer and several federal project directors. This will give the public the opportunity to provide input on developing the DOE EM Oak Ridge budget request for FY 2013.

 

Mr. Eschenberg said he expects the K-25 Building at ETTP, except for the North Tower and five technetium contaminated units in the east wing, will be ready for demolition by June. All process piping should be foamed and considered ‘criticality incredible’ by the end of May. He said that is a significant project milestone for ETTP cleanup.

 

Mr. Adler – A report on historic preservation options on the Oak Ridge Reservation and an engineering report on the North Tower of the K-25 Building are now available. Mr. Adler said comments on those reports are requested by early March. A consultation meeting among signatories of a memorandum of agreement for site interpretation at ETTP and associated consulting parties is expected to be held in early spring. Mr. Stow asked if a decision regarding historic preservation options for K-25 will be pending at the time of the signatory and consulting parties meeting. Mr. Adler said the process is to make the two reports available for public comment, receive public comment, and then DOE will propose what it would like to do. The proposed plan would be made available prior to the signatory/consulting parties meeting in the hope that consensus for the plan will be received at the meeting.

 

Connie Jones – Ms. Jones said she would reserve any comments until after Mr. Adler’s presentation on budget prioritization.

 

John Owsley – Mr. Owsley agreed with Mr. Eschenberg’s assessment of the status of resolving differences regarding setting of cleanup priorities and schedules. He said TDEC is working closely with DOE to resolve any differences and he is confident those differences will be worked out.

 

Mr. Westervelt referenced a news article that said a waste lot that had been incorrectly categorized had been placed in the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility. He said that could affect the availability of the waste facility. Mr. Owsley said some assumptions were made about a particular waste lot, 84.2, related to the characterization of radioisotopes in the waste. Those assumptions were questioned and Bechtel Jacobs reevaluated the waste stream and determined that it was Class C waste instead of the lower level Class A waste. He said the state is conducting its own audit of the assessment, but he expects the results to have minimal effect on the waste disposal facility.

 

Ms. Freeman asked if TDEC was satisfied with the milestone agreements that Mr. Eschenberg mentioned. Mr. Owsley said DOE, TDEC, and EPA have agreed on milestones for Appendix E of the Federal Facility Agreement for FYs 2011, 2012, and 2013. He said with the base funding and Recovery Act funds available, TDEC is satisfied with those milestones. However, if budget allocations for FY 2013 are significantly below the range on which those FY milestones are based then there would be significant discussions very soon on FY 2013 and out-year milestones.

 

Mr. Juarez asked why eight milestone extensions had been requested in the Federal Facility Agreement. Mr. Eschenberg said three milestones had already been missed for technical reasons and five others were likely going to be missed, particularly the final demolition of K-25 by November 2011, milestones related to a groundwater treatability study at ETTP, and the removal of remaining salts in the Molten Salt Reactor.

 

Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon referenced a letter from Roger Petrie, TDEC, to Mr. Adler (Attachment 3) stating that DOE and TDEC have been unable to reach an agreement as to whether DOE missed a construction start milestone for a groundwater treatability study at ETTP. Mr. Mulvenon said he was getting tired of delays in work and wished it would proceed.

 

Presentation

Mr. Adler’s presentation was an update on the activities for all involved parties to arrive at a consensus for developing a budget request for FY 2013 for the DOE Oak Ridge EM program. He said the remaining work left to be done on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) involves about 500 projects, costing billions of dollars that will take more than two decades to finish.

 

He said the elements of budget and project priorities are closely linked. Ideally, he said, priorities are set first and the budget developed to fit the priorities, but in reality both have to be considered concurrently. The process involves all of the DOE missions in Oak Ridge (EM, science at ORNL, and defense at Y-12 National Security Complex), the regulators, and ORSSAB in developing the best set of priorities for moving forward with the EM program.

 

Mr. Adler first showed a schedule for developing and submitting the DOE-Oak Ridge budget request for FY 2013 to headquarters by the end of April (Attachment 4, page 2). Prior to the budget request submittal DOE-Oak Ridge receives input from all involved parties, including ORSSAB. That input must be factored into the prioritization effort.

 

Mr. Adler then showed the guiding principles for project prioritization (Attachment 4, page 3). He said the task is to take the guiding principles and translate them into priorities for projects.

 

Because of the magnitude of the cleanup mission in Oak Ridge, Mr. Adler said the task of setting priorities is difficult. A computer program called a Dynamic Planning Model (DPM) has been developed to help with the process. The model contains a comprehensive database of all of the projects that need to be done. It contains information on the projects’ costs, expected duration to execute the projects, and information on the interrelationships between projects (successor/predecessor relationships). As an example, Mr. Adler said the model understands that contaminated soil underneath a building cannot be remediated until the building has been removed. Another example he gave is that transuranic waste cannot be disposed after the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is closed.

 

Mr. Adler said the model also tracks mortgage costs. For instance, if no progress is made on a project such as demolition and remediation at ETTP there is still a cost associated with monitoring, security, and other expenses. If work on a program is deferred the resulting cost of deferral is accounted for by the model.

 

The model can evaluate different sequences of projects and calculate relative costs over time. Mr. Adler said the model still requires analysis by humans to determine if the results make sense. He said the model provides about 80 percent of the necessary information to develop a workable set of priorities, but humans ultimately make the final determinations.

 

Mr. Juarez asked if the model can determine how long a project can be delayed before it becomes cost prohibitive to continue deferral. Mr. Adler said the model allows users to have an understanding of things like that but he said there are some things the model can’t do. For instance he said the model can’t determine how long a demolition project can be delayed before a building becomes unsafe to demolish.

 

Mr. Adler said a number of scenarios have been developed that the model can run to provide a comparison of how much each scenario will cost and how long it will take to finish (Attachment 4, page 5).

 

The first scenario assumes an approximate funding of $450 million per year with a high priority on finishing work at ETTP, continued shipment of transuranic waste off the reservation, and continued downblending of uranium-233 at ORNL. This scenario closely follows the Integrated Facility Disposition Project that was proposed a couple of years ago. Mr. Adler said the scenario is the basis to which all the other scenarios will be compared. The $450 million was based on the President’s budget request for FY 2011 for Oak Ridge EM.

 

The second scenario takes the base case and accelerates some projects that EPA and TDEC requested. Those projects include initiating groundwater remediation for West Bethel Valley, cleanup of the mercury recycling area at Y-12, proceed with demolishing the Alpha 4 Building at Y-12, and some additional smaller projects. The scenario will determine what extra budget is required to do that work.

 

The unconstrained budget scenario accelerates all projects as much as possible and determines how quickly work in Oak Ridge could be finished and at what cost.

 

The 2035 scenario will identify how much funding will be required to finish all work in Oak Ridge by 2035.

 

The next scenario defers work on the Molten Salt Reactor as long as possible, completing the job before the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, which receives the waste, closes. Mr. Adler said current estimates to remove remaining salt from the reactor are in the $100 million range. He said if the salt could be left there as long as possible, money could be diverted to other projects with more risk.

 

The next scenario reverses the current focus of finishing work at ETTP and concentrating on ORNL and Y-12 cleanup. In this scenario work at ETTP would be put on hold and kept in a minimum safety status for however many years it takes to finish work at ORNL and Y-12 at a base funding of $450 million a year. The scenario will reflect the cost of not reducing mortgage costs at ETTP.

The final scenario is to accelerate work at Y-12. Mr. Adler said that is relevant related to the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Speeding up work at Y-12 would allow building of infrastructure to address its mission of reducing the nuclear stockpile.

 

The scenarios are being run now and results are expected in time for the budget workshop on February 24.

 

The path forward for submitting the budget request is noted on page 6 of Attachment 4.

 

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

 

Mr. Mezga – Is it possible to get information on the projects under each scenario so we could see what is included and what is not? Mr. Adler – A lot of the information can be shared. Some of it, though, is business sensitive. Schedules and scope assumptions are available. Some of it, by necessity, is based on planning assumptions, and those assumptions may not be valid. Plans to address projects may change. The model can adapt to those changes. We’ll have to adjust the model as we make decisions on how to approach a project.

 

Mr. Juarez – It seems to me that DOE Headquarters’ priorities are different than the DOE site office in Oak Ridge. Does the model take that into account and is it tempered for DOE Headquarters’ priorities? Mr. Adler – The model doesn’t bias towards anyone’s priorities. It just allows you to evaluate different proposed priorities. The first scenario is generally consistent with guidance we’ve gotten from headquarters, but the model allows you to use different priority scenarios. It sheds light on the different approaches.

 

At this point in the meeting Mr. Eschenberg said that Assistant Secretary Triay has made it clear to him that he has authority to set cleanup priorities for the ORR. He said at the prompting of EPA and TDEC, DOE-Oak Ridge has elected to use the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) to help set cleanup priorities. The consortium is a group of professors at several universities whose expertise is risk evaluation. Mr. Adler said the organization has been retained to help DOE develop tools to rank projects by risk priority. That effort should be finished by early spring to help support the prioritization process. Mr. Adler said the DPM does not weight risk. The CRESP part will take the DPM outputs and determine how risk factors into the scenarios.

 

Mr. Martin – Have you taken the DPM and back-checked it to see how it worked on a project you completed? Mr. Adler – We have done some beta testing. We’ve given it to some federal project directors and said ‘play with this and see if it makes sense to you.’ They offered some ideas for improvement but for the most part they thought it was ready to support the first year’s effort. Mr. Martin – But you haven’t taken real numbers to see what would have happened on a previous budget? Mr. Adler – The numbers that it uses are the best numbers we can get. They are the numbers we use in our lifecycle planning.

 

Ms. Freeman – When CRESP provides its input in early spring will you take that data and incorporate it in the scenarios? Mr. Adler – We hope we can take the CRESP outputs and factor it into the budget recommendations we make in the spring. It will be a tight schedule. If we don’t make it this year the tools they develop for us will be useful for future projects.

 

Mr. Bonner – There is a long list of projects to be done and I’m seeing an ongoing iteration of projects. Is there an initial commitment of prioritization based on the guiding principles? Other than the first two there doesn’t seem to be any weighting of the principles. What is the big picture list of priorities and what is the list of priorities dictated by the present budget cycle? Mr. Adler – This process will have some reiterative elements to it. The lower list of guiding principles below the ones that we have to take care of is basically balancing criteria. If we have one scenario that knocks out mortgage costs quickly and allows us to get the job done faster and cheaper, we’re going to look seriously at doing that. If, for maybe a $1 billion more investment, we can help ORNL and Y-12 support their missions, we’ll look at that. The model just provides information the decision makers will use. We will make these runs and make some adjustments and see how we can optimize things.

 

Mr. Mezga – It looks as if the first time we’ll see CRESP’s input will be in the budget request you present. Will we have the opportunity to comment on the analysis they have done? They were the ones who came up with the original priorities for EM that handicapped Oak Ridge versus the other sites somewhat so it would be nice to have the opportunity to review that work. If we don’t get to see the information at that point would we still get a chance to review some of their work after that? If that information is not available how will you reflect their priorities into the scenario analysis? Mr. Adler – My general response to your question is that this will be a fully transparent process with the exception of some information that would be business sensitive.

 

Mr. Hatcher – Will this model be applied at all the DOE sites and if so are there major variations of priorities from reservation to reservation? Mr. Adler – This model and this approach was developed specifically for Oak Ridge. If this works well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other sites pick up on this approach. I don’t think the other sites are doing it this way. This DPM is Oak Ridge centric. It doesn’t involve a comparison of our risks to other sites’ risks. Mr. Hatcher – If this is going to be used as a model to request future budgets how do you compare this to what the other sites are requesting and how do you correlate that? Mr. Adler – That needs to happen as a separate matter. I’m sure Oak Ridge will be doing all that it can to build the case that our challenges are as worthy of funding as much as any other site. Mr. Hatcher – What everyone wants is a level playing field when it comes to setting priorities. When you establish a model how do you compare what we’re doing here with what they’re doing in Hanford or Savannah River, and so on? Mr. Adler – The CRESP effort will produce a tool that can be taken from site to site and in a semi-quantitative way establish relative risk across sites. Mr. Eschenberg – The House Energy and Water Committee on December 14, 2010, set language that charged EM with developing a complex-wide system for quantitatively comparing risk from site to site. The language was very specific. I’ve worked at four of these sites and now that I’ve been here 15 months I have a different appreciation of relative risk in Oak Ridge than relative risk in Hanford. Hanford get 5 ½ inches of rain a year where Oak Ridge get 10 times that amount. Oak Ridge is 25,000 acres; Hanford 500 square miles. When you add up all these different factors, I believe when you compare relative risk Oak Ridge is at the top of the chart. But we have to prove that. I hope these tools that are being put in place sets the stage to make Oak Ridge rise above and best articulate our case from a relative risk perspective.

 

Ms. C. Jones – I had an opportunity to view the rollout that DOE presented to managers in December. I was excited. This goes back to the old lifecycle baseline approach which was a static process where we didn’t know what went into the assumptions. This is a nice collaborative process that allows everybody to see what’s being presented – the sequencing and the cost. It also helps us determine work load planning for projects. I think this is the first step for all of us having an appreciation of what we must do to get our points across to each other to help the Department of Energy Oak Ridge clean up the site. This is very good tool that has been long overdue.

 

Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon reported that the committee met on January 27. Mr. Dixon was re-elected chair of the committee. The committee reviewed the FY 2012 ORSSAB budget request and approved travel requests for himself and Mr. Coffman to attend the Waste Management Symposium in Phoenix, Ariz., February 27-March 3.

 

EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on January 19 and heard a presentation on a possible path forward for removing remaining salt from the Molten Salt Reactor. The committee

 

plans to make a recommendation on the issue but has elected to wait until additional information is available about the availability of sending the salt to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

 

The committee approved the draft recommendation that was approved at this meeting on mitigation of contamination from the Bear Creek Burial Grounds.

 

The discussion at the February 16 meeting will be on waste stored longer than one year and the disposition of stored material at ETTP. The committee will also review a draft recommendation on the siting of a new low-level waste disposal facility on the ORR.

 

EM Budget & Prioritization – Mr. Murphree said the committee met twice prior to Mr. Adler’s presentation this evening. The committee will meet again after the scenarios Mr. Adler discussed have been run. Mr. Murphree expects the committee to meet Tuesday, February 22 or Wednesday, February 23 prior to the budget workshop on Thursday, February 24.

 

Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones said the committee met by teleconference on January 25. The committee discussed participation in the upcoming Secret City Festival and Earth Day celebrations in Oak Ridge. She thanked Mr. Stow for making a presentation to the League of Women Voters on February 1. Also discussed were outreach possibilities with officials of Roane County.

 

The committee discussed updating the model of the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility at the American Museum of Science and Energy. The committee will have its next meeting on Tuesday, February 22 at the museum to view the display and discuss ideas for updating the exhibit.

 

Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the new point of contact for stewardship at DOE EM Headquarters Tish O’Conor met with the committee on January 18. The committee had the opportunity to share with her concerns the committee and the board have about stewardship at ongoing mission sites like Oak Ridge. Ms. O’Conor left some material for the committee to review regarding stewardship. The committee will discuss that material at its next meeting on February 15. Also on the February agenda is an update on the development of a geographical information system for Oak Ridge and a reference book for the Stewardship Map.

 

Executive – Mr. Murphree said the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting will be held in April at Las Vegas, Nev. EM Headquarters has requested each board submit its list of three top issues to present at the meeting. Mr. Murphree asked the committees to come up suggestions for Oak Ridge issues at their February meetings. He said there are plans to present two recommendations for the chairs to consider. One is related to DOE EM Five-Year Plans and the other is for characterization of smaller, difficult-to-dispose waste streams.

 

Mr. Murphree asked members to review Abbreviated Quarterly Progress Report that was included with the meeting packet. An expanded report was distributed as well (Attachment 5).

 

Mr. Murphree mentioned that he had signed off on the FY 2011 ORSSAB work plan and had given it to Mr. Eschenberg for his review and signature.

 

Oral History – Mr. Stow reported that the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History has awarded a contract to a company to conduct oral histories. He said ORNL has begun turning over its oral histories to the center. Mr. Stow said there are plans to redesign the Oak Ridge Public Library to accommodate the oral history program.

 

Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be on “Results of the Study to Reexamine Options for Down-blending Uranium-233 in Building 3019” at ORNL.

 

The minutes of the December 8, 2010, meeting were approved.

 

The board heard the second reading of a change to the bylaws to increase membership from 20 to 22. The board voted to approve the change to the bylaws (Attachment 6).

 

The board approved the Recommendation on Mitigation of Contamination in Bear Creek Burial Grounds (Attachment 7).

 

Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey said the annual Cleanup Progress Report has been produced and is available to board members.

 

She said appointment and reappointment packages for new members and current members are to go to DOE EM Headquarters the week of February 14. She said 11 new members will be appointed to board in June. The number is based on the expanded membership that board approved at this meeting. She said two appointments will be made very soon to fill vacant spots. The others will be appointed as members complete terms in June.

 

Ms. Halsey said the recent recruiting campaign resulted in 63 applications.

 

Additions to the Agenda

None.


Motions

2/9/11.1

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

 

2/9/11.2

Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2010, meeting. Ms. Freeman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

2/9/11.3

Mr. Dixon moved to approve the proposed bylaws change increasing membership from 20 to 22 (Attachment 6). Mr. Olson seconded and motion passed unanimously.

 

2/9/11.4

Mr. Jensen moved to approve the Recommendation on Mitigation of Contamination in Bear Creek Burial Grounds (Attachment 7). Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

 

Action Items

Open

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 Oak Ridge National Lab 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. Carryover from December meeting.

 

Closed

1.    The letter from Assistant Secretary Inés Triay to TDEC Deputy Commissioner Paul Sloan will be made available to board members. Complete. The letter was sent to board members on February 10, 2011.

 

Attachments (7) to these minutes are available on request from ORSSAB support office.