Many Voices Working for the Community

Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved July 13, 2011 Meeting Minutes


The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 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

Jenny Freeman1

Bob Hatcher

Charles Jensen1

Betty Jones

Ed Juarez, Secretary

David Martin1

Kasey McMaster2

Ron Murphree, Chair

Gloria Mei

Maggie Owen

George Roberts1

Amira Sakalla2

Steve Stow


Members Absent

John Coffman1


1Re-appointment pending

2Student Representative


Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present

Dave Adler, DOE Liaison and Acting Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Department of Energy - Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)

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 (TDEC)


Others Present

Spencer Gross, ORSSAB Support Office

Norman Mulvenon

Bob Olson

Pete Osborne, ORSSAB Support Office


Twelve members of the public were present.


Liaison Comments

Mr. Adler – Mr. Adler made some comments related to the reorganization of DOE Environmental Management program (EM) at the national level. He said the Assistant Secretary for EM Inés Triay has resigned her position. The EM program has been realigned so that now the program reports to the Office of Nuclear Security. That office is headed by Tom D’Agostino, who also leads the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Mr. Adler said there has been some confusion that EM would become part of NNSA, since Mr. D’Agostino is also head of NNSA. Mr. Adler said EM will be a part of the Office of Nuclear Security, but not part of NNSA. He said a replacement for Ms. Triay has not been announced, but whoever that person is will report to Mr. D’Agostino as head of the Office of Nuclear Security. Mr. Adler said he didn’t expect the realignment of EM would have any effect on the Oak Ridge EM program. He said he expected Ms. Triay’s position to be filled soon, but didn’t have any timetable or possible names to replace her.


Two disputes with TDEC have ended. One regarded a groundwater treatability study at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). He said DOE-ORO, EPA, and TDEC have agreed on a settlement where DOE will pay a fine of $150,000 for missing a milestone. On another point of contention DOE did not assume responsibility but agreed to pay the fine.


Another dispute that was resolved concerned milestones related to the Tank W-1A Project at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). The dispute was resolved without any fines or enforcement action. Mr. Adler said DOE was unable to meet milestones to initiate and complete tank excavation. Those milestones have been renegotiated.


Ms. Jones – no comments.


Mr. Owsley – Mr. Owsley agreed with Mr. Adler’s description of the two dispute resolutions. He said the milestones related to Tank W-1A have been moved from the end of FY 2011 to the beginning of FY 2012.


Mr. Martin asked how the money from fines paid by DOE is used.


Speaking for TDEC, Mr. Owsley said the money is not being spent directly for remedial actions at ETTP. Whenever DOE pays fines to TDEC the money goes into one of three funds administered by the department. All of the funds are used for environmental activities across the state. For an earlier larger fine there was a supplemental environmental agreement. Under such an agreement the responsible party can take on additional environmental activities, usually a ‘two for one’ credit against a fine. In the earlier case Mr. Owsley referred to, DOE removed a number of radiological sources that the state possessed but had no way of disposing of it. He said while that material was not handled in the Oak Ridge area, in other supplemental agreements work has been done closer to Oak Ridge, for instance some wetlands replacement on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). He said it’s not always possible to use money from fines or supplemental agreements in Oak Ridge, but the attempt is made whenever possible.


Mr. Owsley noted that when DOE is fined by the regulators it must report those fines to Congress and the fact it has not been in compliance with cleanup agreements. He said the state is interested in making sure those reports are made to Congress. He said TDEC would continue to administer fines and penalties if the department believes DOE is not working in a collaborative manner.


Mr. Jensen asked if there was prescribed method for assessing fines. Mr. Owsley said fines are set by law. For the Oak Ridge Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) fines are stipulated not to exceed $5,000 for the first week of a violation and $10,000 for each week the violation continues. Under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act Mr. Adler said the fines could be as high as $20,000 per day, per violation. Mr. Owsley said there are formulas for each area of water, air, and solid waste that dictate the levels of fines. He said there are opportunities at the state level to negotiate those fines lower.


Ms. Jones said any fines assessed DOE by EPA are not paid to EPA but to Superfund. She said through the FFA process DOE requests fines to be paid as part of its budget appropriations. She said regarding how fines are assessed by EPA there is no matrix in terms of the amount of fines. During negotiations for assessments there are opportunities to increase or decrease fines based on conduct, behavior, culpability, or responsiveness of DOE.


Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon asked Mr. Owsley to clarify his comments on the supplemental environmental agreements. He said that sounded like ‘work in kind.’ Mr. Owsley said in the processing of environmental fines there is an opportunity in TDEC policy that the parties can agree to a supplemental environmental project. While it is not a requirement there is an understanding that when a supplemental project is done twice the amount of work is received for the amount of fine levied. Mr. Mulvenon asked why DOE doesn’t take such an opportunity on every fine it is assessed. Mr. Adler said he didn’t think DOE had precluded the opportunity to pursue a supplemental project under the most recent penalty. He said perhaps that should be discussed. Mr. Owsley said DOE has not yet received the letter of the most recent fines. DOE will have 30 days to respond to the letter in which case it could offer to do supplemental projects in lieu of paying the fine.


Mr. Mulvenon said the Local Oversight Committee Citizen’s Advisory Panel was about to write a letter to the TDEC commissioner suggesting ‘work in kind’ be used instead of levying fines. He said he did not know that such an opportunity existed with the supplemental environmental agreements. He said those opportunities should be pursued whenever possible.



Mr. Adler began by saying that the board anticipates having several new members join the board soon. Several of the prospective members were in attendance. He said the purpose of the presentation was to give those prospective members a general overview of the board and how it makes recommendations to DOE. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 1.


Mr. Adler explained that ORSSAB is one part of a national EM SSAB. There are seven other boards across the nation (Attachment 1, slide 3). All of the individual boards report to Washington. Individually, the boards report to the local DOE field office where they are located. The ORSSAB reports to DOE-ORO EM.


The individual boards are basically autonomous. Each board decides how it operates. Some boards meet monthly; others meet every other month. Each board has its own committee structure. Twice each year the leadership of the boards and Washington officials meet to share experiences and formulate national recommendations to DOE EM headquarters.


ORSSAB’s primary responsibility is to provide advice and recommendations to DOE-ORO on its cleanup operations on the ORR (Attachment 1, slide 5). Mr. Adler said the board works for DOE by providing independent advice and recommendations. In addition the board provides recommendations on prioritization of work and on stewardship activities.


The ORR includes about 30,000 acres of land. All of the reservation is within the city limits of Oak Ridge. About 85 percent of the reservation is forest land. Three industrial facilities are on the reservation – ETTP, Y-12 National Security Complex, and ORNL.


The mission of DOE EM is to clean up areas of contamination in the three main industrial areas and also smaller areas around the reservation that have contamination or disposed waste that needs to be better protected.


Mr. Adler then reviewed the various major cleanup projects at ETTP, Y-12, and ORNL (Attachment 1, slides 8-25).


Mr. Adler said ORSSAB has been very active in stewardship (Attachment 1, slides 26-28) and has set the standard nationwide for stewardship. In the late 1990s, the End Use Working Group determined that someone needed to concern itself with the issue of long-term stewardship, the practice of making sure contaminated waste left in place is protected well into the future. Acreage that contains waste left in place must be continually monitored and maintained to make sure remedial actions remain effective. It’s the function of stewardship to make sure that happens.


Mr. Adler said the board, through its Stewardship Committee, has been active in historic preservation activities (Attachment 1, slide 29). The board helped establish the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History, which is working to capture stories of people who lived and worked in the area during the Manhattan Project and the Cold War years.


The board also provides input to DOE on the prioritization of cleanup projects on the ORR (Attachment 1, slide 30). Each year the board provides a recommendation on the DOE-ORO EM budget request for the fiscal year two years in the future (FY+2).


Mr. Adler then reviewed some documents that are important to the board and its mission. The Federal Advisory Committee Act charters the EM SSAB and the individual SSABs and charges them with providing advice to DOE on EM issues (Attachment 1, slide 31).


The FFA (Attachment 1, slide 32) is the cooperative agreement among DOE-ORO, EPA, and TDEC to clean up the ORR. It defines how the three agencies will work together in deciding what projects are to be done and when. ORSSAB recommendations on prioritization will have some bearing on those decisions.


 Mr. Adler said the Final Report of the End Use Working Group (Attachment 1, slide 33) provides a good description of the environmental challenges on the ORR and what actions the community thinks should be taken. The End Use Working Group was formed in the late 1990s to provide a vision of the ultimate uses for the ORR.


The End Use Working Group realized that if some wastes were left in place then a long-term stewardship program was needed. As a result, it published its Stakeholder Report on Stewardship in 1998 (Attachment 1, slide 34). From a recommendation in that report, a Stewardship Working Group was formed that published a more comprehensive report on stewardship in 1999.


Mr. Adler reviewed the process the board uses in making recommendations to DOE (Attachment 1, slides 36 and 37. He said the board can make recommendations to DOE anytime it deems necessary as long as the recommendations are related to EM activities or in response to a specific request by DOE on a topic like historic preservation. He said DOE will provide any information the board needs to develop a recommendation. Whenever the board makes a recommendation to DOE, the agency is obliged to respond to the board. DOE may or may not implement a recommendation but it must respond to the board.


Mr. Adler then reviewed board leadership and the agency liaisons (Attachment 1, slides 37-38). The board also has two student representatives from local high schools. Until recently ORSSAB was the only board in the EM SSAB that had student representatives, but others are beginning to consider seating students.


In conclusion Mr. Adler reviewed responsibilities of board members (Attachment 1, slide 40).


After Mr. Adler’s presentation, Mr. Stow said DOE considers ORSSAB as being the primary means for communicating with the public, and the board’s Public Outreach Committee has that function. The committee makes presentations to the public, is responsible for overseeing news releases from the board, the board’s quarterly newsletter, and the annual report.


Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Juarez reminded the committee chairs that work plans need to be developed shortly after the annual meeting in August.


He asked Ms. Owen to report on annual meeting preparations. Ms. Owen reported that the annual meeting will be held Saturday, August 20 at the Whitestone Country Inn near Kingston, Tenn. On Friday evening August 19 there will be an informal discussion among members on experiences and expectations. She said there are opportunities for board members to stay overnight at the inn before the annual meeting on Saturday. For those not staying the night and who prefer not to drive to the meeting there will be van transportation available Saturday morning.


She encouraged members who had not completed and turned in board member surveys to do so. The surveys will be sent to the meeting facilitator Lori Isenberg who will use the results at the meeting. Mr. Juarez reminded the group that Ms. Isenberg will be calling individual members to gather more detailed information about their work and experiences on the board.


EM – Mr. Martin reported that the committee met on June 15 and received an update of activities at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. The committee decided no recommendation was needed at this time.


The committee approved the draft Recommendation on the Uranium-233 Re-Examination. Discussion of the recommendation at this meeting was tabled.


The committee also heard a report from Bob Alexander of TDEC regarding a National Pollutant Elimination Discharge System permit for Y-12. Mr. Martin asked Mr. Olson to discuss it more. Mr. Olson said TDEC was interested in receiving comments on the permit from the board. Mr. Olson (who was chair of the committee at the time) provided the permit to committee members and asked for comments. General comments were received from Mr. Hatcher, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Murphree. After reviewing the comments, Mr. Olson said that committee members didn’t know enough about the permit to make comments. He said TDEC is asking Y-12 to do five things for mercury abatement in Upper East Fork Poplar Creek. He said those requests are described in detail so he felt like someone from DOE, Y-12, or TDEC should explain what the requests are. He said the board would like to know how effective the actions would be, how much it would cost, and how it would affect cleanup schedules. He hoped that information will be provided at the July 20 EM meeting, which will include a discussion of the permit. Mr. Olson thought the board should comment on the permit when more information is available.


Mr. Mulvenon said the Local Oversight Committee will request a public meeting on the permit.

Mr. Owsley said the Y-12 permit is a TDEC Water Pollution Control permit, which is a separate division from DOE Oversight. He said the Division of Water Pollution Control will determine if there is sufficient interest in having a public meeting on the permit. He said four of the five requests in the permit are also listed in the FFA, and the state’s expectations are that the FFA schedules and the permit schedules correspond. He encouraged the board to be aware of the merits of the projects in the permit and provide feedback to the state to ensure those projects are completed within the lifetime of the permit, which is good for five years.


Ms. Halsey said there may be a meeting between representatives of DOE/Y-12 and the TDEC Water Quality Division and that comments provided by Y-12 on the permit may be resolved. If there is any resolution that information would be provided to the committee on July 20.


Public Outreach – Ms. B. Jones said the committee met by teleconference on June 21. The committee reviewed the Six-month Planning Calendar and Public Environmental Survey. A minor revision to the survey was made. The committee discussed whether the board should take part in setting up a public meeting on work done by the Consortium of Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, which is studying relative risks of the EM program in Oak Ridge.


The committee also discussed its upcoming meeting with Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson.


The committee discussed ways to improve the board’s exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.


The next meeting will be Tuesday, July 26 via teleconference.


Stewardship – Mr. Stow reported that the committee met on June 21 and heard a presentation by Sally Brown, Bechtel Jacobs, Co., on the Stewardship Verification Process for the ORR. The discussion by the committee was if the verification process could be expedited through automation. The committee has drafted a recommendation that will be reviewed at the July 19 committee meeting.


The committee also endorsed Mr. Stow as the new chair of the committee since former chair Darryl Bonner was term-limited at the end of June.


At the July meeting the committee will review accomplishments for FY 2011 that will be presented at the board’s annual meeting in August.


Executive – Mr. Murphree reported that he had attended the semi-annual EM SSAB Chairs meeting in Las Vegas in June.


He said the chairs approved three recommendations that will also be put before the individual boards for approval.


He said there were two presentations that had relevance to Oak Ridge. One was on the remediation of mercury and industrial contaminants. Some research on that is being done at ORNL. He said he would like to see a presentation on that to either the EM Committee or the full board.


The other presentation was a simulation of groundwater contamination. He thought the presentation would be useful in groundwater modeling for Oak Ridge as well as for mercury contamination in East Fork Poplar Creek.


Mr. Murphree said he had lunch recently with Leo Sain, the president of UCOR, the new prime cleanup contractor for DOE Oak Ridge. The purpose of the meeting was for Mr. Murphree and Mr. Sain to learn about UCOR and ORSSAB. Mr. Murphree said the plan is to have UCOR representatives make a presentation to the board at some point about how they intend to handle cleanup jobs on the ORR.


Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its annual planning meeting on Saturday, August 20, 2011, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Whitestone Country Inn, 1200 Paint Rock Rd, Kingston, Tenn.


The minutes of the June 8, 2011, meeting were approved.


Discussion of the draft Recommendation on the Uranium-233 Project Re-Examination was tabled.


The Nominating Committee for FY 2012 board officers was elected. The committee consists of Ms. Freeman, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Roberts.


Ms. Owen was elected vice chair of the board for the remainder of the fiscal year.


Mr. Hatcher was elected chair of the EM Committee for the remainder of the fiscal year.


Mr. Stow was elected chair of the Stewardship Committee for the remainder of the fiscal year.


Ms. Mei’s trip report to the Health Physics Society meeting was distributed (Attachment 2).


The EM Project Update was distributed (Attachment 3).


Federal Coordinator Report

Ms. Halsey reported on the status of outstanding recommendations.


Recommendation 197 on the Fiscal Year 2013 DOE Oak Ridge EM Budget Request has been sent to DOE Headquarters along with the DOE Oak Ridge EM budget request.


Recommendation 198 to Establish a Transition Process Upon Completion of Remediation at Ongoing Mission Sites included a request for the development of a fact sheet on how transition should occur. Ms. Halsey said she had talked with Letitia O’Conor at EM Headquarters who indicated she would be developing the fact sheet and offered to come to Stewardship Committee meeting to present it and discuss it with the committee in October. Ms. O’Conor is also working on a response letter to the board on the recommendation.


A response Recommendation 199 to Remove Uncontaminated Areas of the ORR from the National Priorities List has been prepared and should be coming to the board soon.


Ms. Halsey said responses are being crafted on Recommendation 200 on the Decision Process for Siting a Second Waste Disposal Facility on the ORR, Recommendation 201 on the Liquid Low-level Waste Pipelines Northern Characterization Study Area, and Recommendation 202 on Salt Removal at the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. She said responses should be forthcoming soon.


Ms. Halsey encouraged members to turn in board member surveys to staff as soon as possible.


Because of the late date of the spring EM SSAB Chairs meeting, the fall meeting has been changed from a day and half on-site meeting to a half day video conference on October 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. She encouraged members to make arrangements to participate in the meeting.


Ms. Halsey said there will be a meeting of members of the EM Budget & Prioritization Committee on Thursday, July 14 at 4 p.m. at the DOE Information Center to discuss the most recent work to develop a recommendation on the FY 2013 DOE-ORO EM budget request. She wants to evaluate the process to determine what worked, what didn’t, what information was useful, and how the process can be improved for next year. She said all board members are welcome to attend the meeting and offer suggestions.


Additions to the Agenda




Ms. Freeman, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Roberts did not vote pending re-appointment to the board.



Mr. Murphree asked that the agenda item to consider the Recommendation on the Uranium-233 Project Re-Examination be tabled. Mr. Juarez moved to approve the agenda as revised. Ms. Mei seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the minutes of the June 8, 2011, meeting. Ms. Freeman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez moved to approve the Nominating Committee consisting of Ms. Freeman, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Roberts. Mr. Hatcher seconded. There being no other nominations from the floor the motion passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez nominated Ms. Owen for board vice chair for the remainder of the fiscal year. Ms. Freeman seconded. There being no other nominations from the floor, the nomination passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez nominated Mr. Hatcher for chair of the EM Committee. Mr. Martin seconded. There being no other nominations from the floor the nomination passed unanimously.



Mr. Juarez nominated Mr. Stow for chair of the Stewardship Committee. Mr. Hatcher seconded. There being no other nominations from the floor the nomination passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 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. Carryover from May 11 meeting.
  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.




Attachments (3) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.