Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved June 8, 2011 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tenn., beginning at 6 p.m. A video of the meeting was made and may be viewed by phoning the Information Center at 865-241-4780.


Members Present

Darryl Bonner

John Coffman

Steve Dixon

Jenny Freeman

Bob Hatcher

Charles Jensen

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

Ted Lundy

David Martin

Ron Murphree, Chair

Gloria Mei

Lance Mezga

Bob Olson

Maggie Owen

George Roberts

Steve Stow

Kevin Westervelt, Vice-chair


Members Absent

Kasey McMaster1

Amira Sakalla1


1Student Representative


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

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

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

Pat Halsey, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO

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

John Owsley, Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation


Others Present

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee

Spencer Gross, MCH Corp.

Dick Ketelle, Bechtel Jacobs, Co.

Norman Mulvenon

Pete Osborne, IIA

Bill Tewes


Thirteen members of the public were present.


DDFO and Liaison Comments

Mr. Eschenberg – Mr. Eschenberg discussed some initiatives underway in DOE-ORO to operate more efficiently in response to reduced federal funding. He said the United States currently has a $1.4 trillion deficit. As a result there are reductions in budget allocations to many federal departments including DOE. He said DOE has had somewhat steady funding over the last few years. He said funding this year has been cut about 5 percent and he expected similar cuts in the coming years. To address those cuts he said ORO is looking at operating overhead and ways to reduce costs and operate more efficiently. He said if $5 or $6 million can be saved in operating overhead the intention is to take those savings and apply it to the Oak Ridge missions of science and environmental cleanup.


Another initiative that DOE-ORO is evaluating is having managers of the programs in Oak Ridge, EM, the Office of Science, and Nuclear Fuel Supply, report directly to DOE Headquarters rather than to the ORO manager. He said that would leave the ORO as a service center for six other national laboratories that ORO provides services including budget and finance support, legal support, public affairs support, and human resources support.


Mr. Eschenberg said that under the current ORO setup, the three senior executives for Science, EM, and Nuclear Fuel Supply report to the ORO manager, who acts as the primary Oak Ridge representative to headquarters. He said former manager Gerald Boyd worked to make sure the three executives worked together efficiently. Mr. Eschenberg said even if the new organizational plan is adopted the ORO would work with the employees of the Oak Ridge service center, but would continue to work with the three executives to make sure their work is cogent, mutually supportive of each other, and that DOE-ORO would still ‘speak with one voice’ at DOE headquarters.


Mr. Eschenberg said there are many details to be worked out and questions to be answered. He said he would be able to speak more specifically about the proposed re-organization at the July board meeting. He said a presentation is being prepared that shows the current ORO organization and the proposed organization. The presentation also shows the ORO operating expenses.


As far as budget allocations for the next couple of years, Mr. Eschenberg expects EM funding for Oak Ridge to be about $400 million. He said ways must be found to operate more efficiently with less money to continue to make progress with cleanup.


Mr. Mezga asked if there was a timetable for restructuring the Oak Ridge office. Mr. Eschenberg said a firm date has not been set. He said work is being done to determine if costs can be reduced, particularly in the area of support services contracts. He said he hoped re-organization would be completed by the end of the calendar year.


Mr. Hatcher asked if the $400 million cleanup budget for Oak Ridge included ORO personnel costs. Mr. Eschenberg said in general the operating budget for ORO is separate from the cleanup budget. He said almost 50 percent of the cleanup budget is ongoing costs such as surveillance, maintenance, and security.


Ms. Freeman asked if there was a DOE site in the complex that is structured similar to Oak Ridge with multiple missions. Mr. Eschenberg said the Idaho National Laboratory was a multiple mission site and Los Alamos was somewhat similar, but he said Oak Ridge was unique among all the sites.


Mr. Bonner asked, given the anticipation of level funding of about $400 million, what factors must be considered in negotiations among DOE, EPA, and TDEC in setting Federal Facility Agreement cleanup milestones. Mr. Eschenberg said DOE has engaged the services of the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) to develop a tool that will help evaluate risk. He said this risk evaluation will ultimately render an execution sequence for cleanup work. The tool will determine what the risks are in Oak Ridge from radiological and nuclear sources, chemical risks, environmental risk, risk to programs, etc. He said this will help in developing a unified approach to cleanup priorities. The initial report is due in July and the final report is due in November.


Mr. Dixon asked if there was going to be any stakeholder participation in developing the CRESP risk tool. Mr. Eschenberg said when the first report is delivered in July he thought the board would be a good forum for CRESP to show all that went into developing the report. He said while CRESP is developing the tool, DOE and the regulators would use it to set cleanup priorities. He proposed asking David Kosson of Vanderbilt University, who heads the CRESP initiative, to make a presentation to the board on what the tool is and how it will be used.


Mr. Adler – Mr. Adler said DOE-ORO has responded to all outstanding recommendations from the board.


Ms. Jones – no comments.


Mr. Owsley – Mr. Owsley said the TDEC Environmental Monitoring Report for 2010 has been published. A copy is available to the board and is in area libraries and on the TDEC website ( He said the report indicates there are no imminent threats or hazards to the public. He said increases in releases to the environment as a result of DOE activities can be observed, but all levels have been below environmental criteria.


The TDEC Division of Water Pollution Control has issued a draft permit for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for the Y-12 National Security Complex. A public comment period is open until July 11 on the draft permit. He noted that issues not raised during the review period cannot be appealed. All comments will be included in the permit and the permit will be re-issued. He said the permit may be of interest to the board because there is an attempt to coordinate cleanup and active operations at Y-12 through the permit. It establishes the in-stream mercury criteria for East Fork Poplar Creek. The Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation, and Liability Act cleanup program establishes the cleanup schedule that Y-12 must achieve to keep its compliance. The permit is available through the DOE Information Center.


Public Comment

Ms. Gawarecki said that while some budget decisions are made in Congress others are made at DOE Headquarters. She said that the DOE-ORO EM budget has been cut more than other sites, and some sites have had increases in allocations. She said DOE Headquarters does not believe Oak Ridge cleanup projects are as high a priority as some other sites. She said DOE Headquarters is not looking at factors such as density of potential receptor population, immediate downstream populations that use streams for drinking water, and large amounts of rainfall that describe the Oak Ridge area. She felt the case should be made to headquarters that Oak Ridge should have higher prioritization in funding.


Ms. Gawarecki said she also had concerns with the transuranic waste processing project. She said building plans for handling sludge have been terminated. She thought this was not an effective way to save money because of costs incurred to end the plans and then resume them later. She said the build out was important for handling remote-handled waste. She said the longer delay in removing transuranic waste from Oak Ridge the greater the risk of it not being accepted at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Since the Central Characterization Project is leaving Oak Ridge no waste will be shipped for at least two years and waste will be accumulating on-site. She was concerned that unless the waste is shipped out it could become a permanent storage problem for Oak Ridge.


Mr. Tewes, speaking of historic preservation options for the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), felt that the S-50 Plant, which once was located near K-25, should be included in historic commemoration as well.


Mr. Tewes said that over the years Oak Ridge has experienced cuts in budget rather frequently, but has been able to maintain fairly stable employment levels by finding other projects to work on.


Mr. Mulvenon said he was looking forward to hearing more about the DOE-ORO reorganization that Mr. Eschenberg discussed and agreed that it’s important to find ways to work more efficiently and save money. He said that while saving money is important DOE still has a responsibility to the community and to the state to take care of contaminated areas of the reservation.



Mr. Ketelle’s presentation was on the 2011 Remediation Effectiveness Report (RER). The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 1. He began by explaining that the RER assesses progress of remedial actions toward a stated goal and compliance with long-term stewardship requirements. The report describes the status of ongoing actions, monitoring results collected during FY 2010, the effectiveness of remedies undertaken to remediate a site, and stewardship activities at remediated sites. The report also describes any actions that were taken or recommendations on actions to be taken.


Page 3 of attachment 1 provides a rundown of the status of each of the actions underway in the various watersheds on the Oak Ridge Reservation.


The chart on page 4 of Attachment 1 shows the amount of rainfall Oak Ridge has received since 2001. This chart is important because rainfall has much to do with contaminant migration from source areas and through the hydrologic system.


Page 5 shows key remedial actions taken in Upper East Fork Poplar Creek (UEFPC), which includes the End East Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Pump and Treat System and the Big Springs Mercury Treatment System. Both actions continue to reduce offsite contamination effectively. The page also notes ongoing decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) activities and removal actions in UEFPC. The map on page 7 shows the levels of concentrations of chlorinated VOCs in a contaminated groundwater plume on the east end of Y-12. Mr. Ketelle said the cross hatching in the plume indicates where the pump and treat system has substantially reduced concentrations of the contaminant. He said concentrations in the off-site monitoring wells have been below drinking water limits and frequently are non-detectable for carbon tetrachloride, the principal contaminant in the plume.


The charts on page 8 of Attachment 1 show the amounts of mercury flux reduction at monitoring station 17 at Y-12. The peak of mercury flux in 2005 comes after a period of more than average rainfall for the previous two or three years. Mr. Ketelle said the Big Springs Water Treatment System went into operation between 2005 and 2006 and the chart shows a significant reduction of mercury flux. However, the record of decision goal of 200 parts per trillion of mercury has not been met yet. He said work continues at Y-12 to try to control releases of mercury and reduce the discharge.


Mr. Ketelle said an issue was identified for UEFPC in the RER. The inflow to the water treatment system exceeds the system’s design. As a result there was some bypass flow during periods of heavy rainfall. To address the problem flow measurements are being made to estimate mercury mass discharged in order to evaluate possible actions to mitigate the release.


In Bear Creek Valley the principal surface water contaminants are uranium and nitrates. Uranium goals in Bear Creek are not being met. North Tributary 8 on the west side of the Bear Creek Burial Grounds contributes about 50 percent of the uranium mass discharges from the valley. North Tributary 3 was responsible for about 12 percent of all the uranium discharge in Bear Creek Valley. Mr. Ketelle said for a time after the Boneyard/Burnyard area was remediated uranium discharges had been significantly reduced, but in recent years those discharges have been increasing. He said investigations are underway to determine why the uranium discharges have been increasing and what to do about it.


The chart on page 11 of Attachment 1 shows uranium flux measurements at two monitoring stations. The graphs closely follow the rainfall amounts over the last 10 years as noted on page 4. The chart indicates that uranium goals have not been met except for monitoring station BCK 12.34 when rainfall is average or below average for Oak Ridge.


New issues indentified in the RER for Bear Creek Valley include sampling to determine areas from which uranium, VOCs, and PCBs originate in North Tributary 8 to Bear Creek. It was also determined that riparian monitoring at BCK 4.55 can be discontinued. That is an area where a new wetland was constructed to replace a wetland that was taken to build a haul road from ETTP to Y-12. Mr. Ketelle said the new wetland is recovering well and a recommendation was made to discontinue monitoring.


Page 14 of Attachment 1 is a listing of the various D&D and remedial actions that are underway at ETTP. Mr. Ketelle noted that the pump and treat action for hexavalent chromium in Mitchell Branch has been successful in controlling the chromium, and limits have been below TDEC’s ambient water quality criteria.


The maps on page 15 show areas of ETTP in Zones 1 and 2 where actions have been completed and no more work is anticipated (green areas). Brown areas indicate where characterization still needs to be done and red areas require remedial actions. Mr. Ketelle said a project is underway to begin a final record of decision for Zone 1 to protect ecological receptors and make final land use control decisions and final groundwater/surface water decisions.


 A new issue identified in the RER at ETTP was the failure of a fish barrier at the K-1007-P1 Pond that allowed undesirable fish to re-enter the pond after it was ecologically restored in 2009. The barrier was repaired and the undesirable fish were removed again.


 Page 17 of Attachment 1 is a listing of remedial actions undertaken in Bethel Valley. The chart on page 19 shows levels of mercury in White Oak Creek. In late 2007 basement sump water was diverted to the process waste treatment system, which dramatically reduced levels of mercury going into the creek except for an unexplained spike in mid-2009.

The Corehole 8 Plume Collection System in Bethel Valley did not meet its performance goals for FY 2010. Continuing problems and water line leaks caused increased plume discharges into First Creek. Mr. Ketelle said a large project is underway to add additional water collection features and refurbish the 1995 collection system that was built. The work is expected to be complete in July.


Extensive remediation of Melton Valley was completed in 2006 so monitoring actions have been underway for five years. Residential-based goals to protect water quality at White Oak Dam have been met in FY 2007 through FY 2010. Recreation goals for streams in Melton Valley have also been met through 2010. The ambient water quality criteria for fish were met during FY 2010, but largemouth bass showed elevated levels of mercury and PCBs. Mr. Ketelle said those levels are probably related to contaminants in the sediment in White Oak Creek.


The charts on page 24 show levels of strontium and tritium before and after the completion of remediation of Melton Valley and corresponding levels related to heavy rainfall amounts in the 2003 timeframe. However, increased rainfall in the 2009-10 timeframe had little effect on releases since remediation had been completed in 2006.


Since there had been some detection of contaminants in onsite monitoring wells near the east side of the Clinch River, additional monitoring wells were installed on private property on the west side of the river to determine if contaminants were leaving DOE property and migrating under the river into private property groundwater (Attachment 1, page 26). Monitoring in the off-site wells has detected some contaminants on a few occasions, however all of those detections were below drinking water standards. DOE plans to install additional monitoring wells near the Clinch River in both Melton and Bethel Valleys. 


In addition to more monitoring wells being installed, another new issue for Melton Valley is that the performance of the downgradient seepage collection trench in Solid Waste Storage Area 4 during prolonged wet seasons allowed some discharge of contaminated groundwater in White Oak Creek. Maintenance actions will be done to improve performance and other possible actions will be considered.


Offsite issues include mercury concentrations in fish in Lower East Fork Poplar Creek continue to exceed criteria. However, in Lower Watts Bar Lake, Clinch River, and Poplar Creek, PCBs in reservoir fish continue to trend downward since the 1980s. Mercury in reservoir fish remains below criteria.


Mr. Ketelle concluded his remarks by saying comments on the RER are due by June 22 (Attachment 2, page 29).


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Dixon said the committee did not meet in May, but he asked Ms. Owen to report on planning for the board’s annual meeting. Ms. Owen said she, Ms. Halsey, and staff met via teleconference with meeting facilitator Lori Isenberg to go over some logistics for the meeting. Ms. Owen said Ms. Isenberg will begin calling board members soon regarding the annual board members’ survey, including the six members who completed their terms at this meeting. Ms. Owen reminded the board that the annual meeting will be Saturday, August 20 at the Whitestone Lodge near Kingston, Tenn. She said there will also be a brief meeting for those staying overnight at the lodge on Friday, August 19.


EM – Mr. Olson reported that the committee met on May 18 and heard a presentation on groundwater remediation strategies from Mr. Ketelle. He said groundwater monitoring wells in Melton Valley have provided inconsistent readings of very low levels of contamination. Groundwater contamination does not appear to be a serious concern at this point, but regular monitoring will continue.


The committee reviewed a draft recommendation on the uranium-233 project at ORNL. The committee was unable to come to consensus on the recommendation. It has been revised and will be reconsidered at the June 15 meeting.


At the June meeting the committee will get an update on activities at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.


Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones reported that the committee met on May 24 via teleconference. The committee discussed its exhibit for the Secret City Festival and who will be staffing it on Saturday, June 18.


The committee also discussed trying to reschedule a meeting in June with the Oak Ridge city manager.


The committee reviewed and approved the editorial plan for the July Advocate newsletter and reviewed the committee’s six month planning calendar.


The committee reviewed the Manhattan Communicator, a newsletter published by Bechtel Jacobs, Co., the current EM prime contractor for Oak Ridge. The committee decided to pursue publishing articles about the board in the newsletter if it continues publication when the new cleanup contractor takes over in August.


The committee will meet again via teleconference on June 21 at 5:30 p.m.


Stewardship – Mr. Bonner reported that the committee heard a similar presentation on the RER as this evening’s presentation, although Mr. Ketelle went into more detail on the report at the committee meeting on May 17. He reminded the board that comments on the RER are due on
June 22.


The committee will hear a presentation on the stewardship verification process at its June 21 meeting.


Executive – Mr. Murphree reported that the committee met on May 26 and briefly reviewed a presentation for new member training that will be used at the July 13 board meeting.


Mr. Murphree reminded members to review the travel opportunities table in their meeting packets and make note of any meetings they would be interested in attending. Mr. Murphree, Mr. Adler, Mr. Dixon, and Mr. Osborne will be attending the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting June 14-16 in Las Vegas, Nev.


Oral History – Mr. Stow reported that the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History is digitizing oral histories that have been recorded. He said they will eventually be available on the Office of Science and Technical Information web server. The center will also have a display at the Secret City Festival.


Mr. Stow said plans to renovate the library, which will be expanded to house the oral history center, are continuing.


He reported that eight oral histories have been recorded recently and six more are scheduled. 


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The main presentation will be on new member training.


Mr. Eschenberg recognized Mr. Bonner, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Lundy, Mr. Mezga, Mr. Olson, and Mr. Westervelt for their service to the board.


The minutes of the May 11 and May 26, 2011, meetings were approved.


The DOE-ORO Public Involvement Plan was distributed (Attachment 2).


During discussion of the draft Recommendation to Establish a Site Transition Process Upon Completion of Remediation at Ongoing Mission Sites (Attachment 3), the wording in the first paragraph of the recommendation portion was modified. The board approved the modified recommendation (Attachment 4).


The board approved the draft Recommendation to Remove Uncontaminated Areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation from the National Priorities List (Attachment 5).


The board approved the draft Recommendation on the Decision Process for Siting a Second CERCLA Waste Disposal Facility (Attachment 6).


During discussion of the draft Recommendation on the Liquid Low-Level Waste Pipelines Northern Characterization Study Area (Attachment 7), the wording in the first bullet-point in the recommendation portion was modified. The board approved the modified recommendation (Attachment 8).


The board approved the draft Recommendation on Salt Removal at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (Attachment 9).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey noted that both EPA and TDEC had approved the DOE-ORO Public Involvement Plan (Attachment 2), which was distributed at the meeting and is available at the DOE Information Center.


Additions to the Agenda

Approval of the May 26, 2011, ORSSAB meeting minutes was added to the agenda.




Mr. Murphree moved to approve the agenda, as amended. Ms. Freeman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the May 11, 2011, meeting. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the May 26, 2011, meeting. Ms. Freeman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Olson moved to approve the modified draft Recommendation to Establish a Site Transition Process Upon Completion of Remediation at Ongoing Mission Sites (Attachment 4). Mr. Dixon seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Mezga moved to approve the draft Recommendation to Remove Uncontaminated Areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation from the National Priorities List (Attachment 5). Mr. Olson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Stow moved to approve the draft Recommendation on the Decision Process for Siting a Second CERCLA Waste Disposal Facility (Attachment 6). Mr. Bonner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Dixon moved to approve the modified draft Recommendation on the Liquid Low-Level Waste Pipelines Northern Characterization Study Area (Attachment 8). Mr. Bonner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Bonner moved to approve the draft Recommendation on Salt Removal at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (Attachment 9). Mr. Dixon seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.


Action Items


  1. Mr. Adler will ask Jim Kopotic, federal project director for the K-25 Project, to update the board on the status of the project and efforts to get the project off DOE’s high-concern list.
  2. 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.
  3. Mr. Adler will research if the stacks at Oak Ridge National Lab meet applicable seismic standards. Carryover from the November 10 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 10 meeting.



  1. Mr. Adler will provide a list of jobs that will remain with BJC through completion. Complete. All BJC open projects will be transferred to the new contractor UCOR.
  2. Mr. Adler will determine what contaminants escaped from one of the hot cells at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. Complete. The radionuclides were lead-211 and bismuth-211.  These radionuclides were present from the very high contamination levels of actinium-227 in the processing center’s hot cell.  Actinium-227 was artificially produced at the High Flux Isotope Reactor by the neutron bombardment of natural radium. The actinium-227 decay chain produces radon-219, which is a noble gas and readily dispersible. The radon in turn decayed to the lead-211 and bismuth-211 as airborne radioactivity.
  3. Staff will coordinate a meeting with the EM Budget & Prioritization Committee in preparation for deliberations on the FY 2014 DOE-ORO EM budget request. Complete. A meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, July 14 at 4 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.


Attachments (9) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.