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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board

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Approved November 9, 2011 Meeting Minutes

 

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

Jimmy Bell

Janet Hart

Bob Hatcher

David Hemelright

Howard Holmes

Charles Jensen, Secretary

Ed Juarez, Vice Chair

David Martin

Fay Martin

Scott McKinney

Kasey McMaster1

Gloria Mei

Ron Murphree

Greg Paulus

Amira Sakalla1

Steve Stow

Thomas Valunas


Members Absent

Betty Jones

Jacob Martin2

Maggie Owen, Chair

 

1Student Representative

2Third consecutive absence

 

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

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

Susan Cange, DOE DDFO

Melyssa Noe, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO

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

 

Others Present

Joe Carson

Susan Gawarecki, Local Oversight Committee (LOC)

Spencer Gross, ORSSAB Support Office

Pat Halsey, DOE

Norman Mulvenon, LOC Citizens’ Advisory Panel

Pete Osborne, ORSSAB Support Office

Mike Redmond, Safety and Ecology Corp.

Laura Wilkerson, DOE-ORO

 

Eleven members of the public were present.

  

Liaison Comments

Mr. Adler – Mr. Adler said there are two recommendations from ORSSAB to DOE that are being worked for responses (Recommendation 203 on the Uranium-233 Project Re-examination and Recommendation 207 to Automate the Stewardship Verification Process for the Remediation Effectiveness Report). He said the responses to both of those recommendations should be received by the board within the requested timeframe.

 

Ms. Cange – Ms. Cange said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) Tracy Mustin visited the Oak Ridge Reservation recently. Ms. Cange said it was good opportunity to introduce Ms. Mustin to Oak Ridge and all that has been accomplished and explain all of the environmental cleanup that remains to be done on the reservation. Ms. Cange said she felt very good about the DOE EM leadership team of David Huizenga, Acting Assistant Secretary for EM, and Ms. Mustin.

 

Ms. Cange reported that the government is still operating on a continuing resolution that is due to expire on November 18. The expectation is the continuing resolution will be extended. She said DOE will continue to operate at the lower end of the House and Senate marks for budget allocations until an FY 2012 budget is passed.

 

The meeting of the consulting parties for the preservation of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) will be held at the DOE Information Center on November 17 at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend. DOE Oak Ridge has submitted a draft mitigation plan for historic interpretation of the building. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the plan with the consulting parties and agree on a path forward.

 

Mr. Owsley – no comments.

 

Public Comment

Mr. Mulvenon said he was interested in learning how money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is being used in the Building 3026 and 3038 Hot Cell Project that Ms. Wilkerson will discuss at this meeting.

 

Mr. Carson said he worked with DOE as a safety professional and said he has concerns about safety at DOE. He said he has tried for several years to see that DOE safety professionals’ concerns are addressed, but he said DOE has not provided access to do that. He said has recently tried to get Congress engaged to intercede with DOE with his concerns. He said he felt DOE did not have a safety conscious work environment and was asking ORSSAB for support with his concerns. He asked that a few members of the board spend some time with him to allow him to inform the board of his fears. Mr. Juarez said the charter of the board was clear and he didn’t believe Mr. Carson’s concerns fell within the scope of the board. But he asked Mr. Carson to send any supporting documents to the ORSSAB staff, which in turn would provide to the proper committee. Mr. Carson provided staff with written materials, which are included as Attachment 1.

 

Presentation Ms. Wilkerson’s presentation was on the Hot Cells Project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The main points of her presentation are in Attachment 2. She said the scope of the project includes Building 3026 C&D and Building 3038, both of which are located in the central campus of ORNL. The buildings are in close proximity to science, research, and support activities at the lab. She said that proximity underscores the importance of completing the work and making sure it is done in a safe manner.

The buildings were built in the 1940s to support the processing of highly radioactive isotopes.

Building 3026 was composed of two adjoining buildings separated by a common fire wall (Attachment 2, slide 3). She said there are differences in what needs to be addressed in either side of the facility.

Ms. Wilkerson showed a summary of the historical operations at Building 3026. She noted that over the 50-year lifespan of the building, different operations were conducted in the two sides of the building (Attachment 2, slide 4). Those different operations presented different challenges to the cleanup of the building.

 

Building 3026 was put into a surveillance and maintenance mode in the mid-1990s. The building’s superstructure had deteriorated to the point that it was difficult to access for surveillance and maintenance and was also a fire threat. In the 2008 timeframe work began to stabilize the superstructure and eventually demolish the building. Scope of work in the interior of the building included removing the slave manipulators and fogging the interior of the hot cells with a wetting material to control contamination.

 

Demolition of the building began in 2009. Ms. Wilkerson said care was taken in demolishing the building so as not to damage the hot cells, which remained in place that could potentially release contamination.

 

When demolition was completed in 2010 the six hot cells were coated with a polyurea material to seal the cells to protect them from the elements and prevent contamination from escaping. Slide 7 of Attachment 2 shows what the hot cells look like today.

 

Ms. Wilkerson said significant progress has been made toward final demolition of the hot cells, primarily on the C-side. The Tritium Lab and the Counting Room are 100 percent ready for demolition. The remaining two structures on the C-side are 85 percent ready for demolition (Attachment 2, slide 8). The plan is to have the C-side ready for demolition by the end of the calendar year and finish demolition early in calendar year 2012.

 

On the D-side radiation levels in Cell A/B were determined to be significantly higher than thought. Physical work was suspended on the D-side to evaluate alternatives to proceed. The alternatives analysis was completed recently and a proposal has been submitted to DOE that includes cost and schedule changes to address the work. The second phase of characterization is being completed. When the data are received additional analysis will be done to confirm the initial radioactivity readings and safely proceed with the work. Ms. Wilkerson said the belief is the high radiation levels are from loose materials in the cell rather than it being uniformly spread throughout the cell. The hope is to remove the radioactive items using remote-handled long-reach tools.

 

Under the new proposal for the D-side, the expectation is to have the cells demolition ready in late summer or early fall of calendar year 2012 and have demolition finished in early 2013. Ms. Wilkerson said completed demolition of the 3026 hot cells will provide additional space ORNL support activities.

 

The other building in the Hot Cells Project is Building 3038 (Attachment 2, slide 11). Although it is an older building it is built of brick and doesn’t present the challenges of demolition that Building 3026 did. Built in the late 1940s it also supported radioisotope processes. The demolition goals are to remove legacy materials and contamination.  Legacy material removal is underway and characterization work is being done. A contractor has been retained for asbestos removal. Ms. Wilkerson said that work is challenging because it must be done in a radiation area.

 

Ms. Wilkerson said if efficiencies are realized in legacy materials removal and characterization then money would be left over to demolish the building.

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

 

Mr. Bell – At 3026 why were cells not cleaned out before taking the building down? Ms. Wilkerson – The wooden superstructure was very badly deteriorated and we were concerned about accessing the interior the building. We were even precluded from accessing the interior to collect characterization of those cells. There were hazards of entering the building that prevented us from doing it that way.

 

Mr. Jensen – Was there a reason the manipulators were removed before the work and now they have to use manual reach tools? Ms. Wilkerson- The manipulators were removed to make sure the cells were stable until we could demolish the cells. Part of the plan for dealing with those cells is to reinstall the manipulators. They were saved and will be refurbished and reinstalled to allow this work to proceed.

 

Mr. Paulus – What is DOE’s estimate to complete this project? Ms. Wilkerson – We have an independent cost estimate, but because we are under a procurement action where we are using that estimate to evaluate the contract and the contractors are here I can’t disclose that. We should be able to tell you in the near future what the costs will be.

 

Mr. Stow – What is the ultimate fate of the hot cells? Will they be dismantled? Will they be moved? To where, and so on? Ms. Wilkerson – The plan is to demolish them using demolition equipment. That work will be done on site. The C side will be done without any enclosure because it meets the radiation criteria to allow that to happen. On the D side we plan to build an enclosure around the cells so we can control contamination. The waste will be packaged and disposed at the Nevada National Security Site and some to Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF). Mr. Stow – Is that a standard practice or are we learning as we go along? Mr. Redmond - It’s pretty standard practice to characterize them first to make sure you meet the waste acceptance criteria for either Nevada or the EMWMF. It’s a standard process everyone uses to characterize waste so it can be segregated during demolition and safely dispose of it. Mr. Stow – Do we know what the radioisotopes are in the cells? Ms. WilkersonWe know the radioisotopes are associated with fission products. What we don’t know is the precise amount of each isotope that we have in the cells until we complete the results of the additional data. Mr. Stow – Are you dealing strictly with fission products or are there some transuranics? Mr. Redmond – No transuranics.

 

Mr. Murphree – Will all the material in 3026 D meet the waste acceptance criteria for the EMWMF or will it go to Nevada? Ms. Wilkerson – Until we complete the characterization we won’t know if it meets the waste acceptance criteria, so we are planning for both routes.

 

Ms. Mei – I heard the sampling will be taken using the remote tools. Are you going to use tools to get samples or some other tools like taking pictures so you can see a hot spot before you take samples? If you take samples how do you know where to go to get a sample because the hot cell is so big? Ms. Wilkerson – The condition of the wood superstructure was not good to have people safely access it for characterization data. For characterization we did not use the manipulators. The manipulators will be used to get material from the cell. The characterization was basically samples of water that was collected at the bottom of the hot cells using the long-reach tools and we did swipes of the surfaces of the hot cells to collect contamination data. They put a camera inside the hot cell and did an initial characterization, but the data they collected at the time was limited. That’s why we’re going back now, also using cameras, collecting additional information, because the initial data indicated conditions were worse than we originally anticipated.

 

Mr. Jensen – What kind of cameras do you use? Mr. Redmond – I’m not sure of the brand of cameras, but we put them in the ports so we can guide our long-reach tools to collect samples. We use another port with direct reading instrumentation so we could focus the sampling on the hotter spots and identify those. Mr. Jensen – In commercial nuclear there is a fairly commonly used tool that takes a photograph of the radiation it sees so you can see all of the hot spots. Ms. Wilkerson – They did use a camera like that. Mr. Jensen – You referenced water. Where did the water come from? Ms. Wilkerson – We don’t know.

 

Mr. Bell- It seems to me that we need to make a recommendation to DOE to not take the manipulators out of hot cells until they are cleaned up. It seems a shame to me that the manipulators were taken out before the cells were cleaned up. We need to make a strong recommendation about that. We need to know where the water came from, too.

 

Mr. Adler – We know where the water came from, we just don’t know how it got there. Just to back up a little to make sure people understand the status of the project. We’re talking about a building that had holes in the roof, trees growing through the roof, structural beams that had collapsed. It had been deemed un-enterable. We could no longer go in and maintain the building. The fire suppression in some places had been snapped in half by falling beams. The ORNL fire department’s plan should the building catch on fire was to stand back and simply control the spread of fire to other facilities. The building needed to come down quickly or it could have come down on its own. You could not take the building down and protect the manipulators. So ORNL removed the manipulators to protect them for future use and did their best to ensure the hot cells were sufficiently stable for about five years in the hope that money would become available to finish the job. It turned out the money came earlier through the Recovery Act. So the sequencing of the work was largely a function of the condition of the building, which was bad. If we had taken no action on the building there was a good chance we would have seen the manipulator sheared off. There was a concern at the time that something was going to happen, such as beam falling and going through one of the glass windows or shear off a manipulator or something that would create a direct communication between the inside of the cell and the outside of the cell. That’s why we sequenced the job the way we did. The water in all likelihood was rainwater that came through the roof and through some cell seals. There could have also been some condensation in the cell.

 

Mr. Mulvenon – I’m interested in why the characterization missed all these hot spots the first time around. Ms. Wilkerson – The characterization did not miss the hot spots. The characterization indicated that there are hot spots, but we had to make some assumptions as to how the contamination is distributed within the cell. That’s why we needed to do this additional characterization to have sufficient data to be able to do the analysis we need to do.

 

Ms. Gawarecki – This project is another example of DOE letting their buildings fall down when they no longer have a mission. We’ve seen this a number of times where they don’t adequately maintain roofing as needed even when they are scheduled for demolition. It turns into a health and safety nightmare and a potential for exposure and environmental releases. We’ve seen this with the K-25 Building at ETTP and other structures at the various plants. I think in the past ORSSAB has made a recommendation to DOE about maintenance of buildings and I think you need to be holding DOE accountable for this because in the long-run it increases cost for cleanup and it increases the hazards for health and safety. As far as protecting the hot cells after the building comes down, it would have been a simple enough matter to put a tent up over them and that would have kept them out of the weather.

 

Committee Reports

Board Finance & Process – Mr. Paulus reported that the board’s budget is in order. He said the committee recommended to the Executive Committee approval for three members to attend the PermaFix Mixed and Low-Level Waste Management Forum in December in Nashville. Sites for the next ORSSAB annual meeting are being evaluated. He asked that any board members interested in serving on the planning committee for the annual meeting to contact staff. Mr. Paulus said Mr. Adler is determining if DOE will pay for food at the annual meeting if the meeting is held less than 50 miles from Oak Ridge.

 

The committee will meet again on November 29 at the DOE Information Center at 5 p.m.

 

EM – Mr. Hatcher said at the October meeting the committee heard a presentation from Mark Ferri with UCOR, the prime cleanup contractor for ETTP. Mr. Ferri’s presentation was on the progress of the demolition of the K-25 Building.

 

At the November 16 meeting the committee will hear an update on mercury abatement work at Y-12 National Security Complex. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.

 

Public Outreach – Mr. Hemelright reported that the committee heard a presentation from Ms. Sakalla on Facebook. The committee also heard a presentation on DOE’s Oak Ridge Facebook page from Ben Williams, DOE-ORO Public Affairs. Mr. Hemelright said the committee is looking into setting up its own Facebook page and tying in with DOE.

 

Mr. Hemelright reported that video recordings of ORSSAB meetings will now be broadcast on Loudon County’s cable Channel 3.

 

The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 22 at 5:30 p.m. via teleconference.

 

Stewardship – Mr. Stow reported that the committee discussed a fact sheet that has been prepared by DOE entitled “Site Transition: Cleanup Completion to Long-term Stewardship at DOE On-going Mission Sites.” The fact sheet describes the process for returning property that has been cleaned up by DOE EM to either its original landlord or to another public or private entity. The committee developed seven questions about the fact sheet. At the November meeting the authors of the fact sheet will meet via teleconference with the committee to respond to those questions. The meeting will be Tuesday, November 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.

 

Executive – Mr. Juarez reported that the committee discussed possible locations for the next annual meeting in August 2012. He said while Chair Maggie Owen has worked on the planning for the annual meeting the last two years, she has requested other board members work on the planning and location selection. Mr. Juarez said Mr. Holmes, Mr. Hemelright, and Mr. McKinney have volunteered to work on the planning committee.

  

The committee approved travel requests for Mr. Hemelright, Mr. Holmes, and Ms. Mei to attend the PermaFix Forum in Nashville December 5-8.

 

Mr. Juarez reported that membership packages for three additional members to the board have been sent to DOE Headquarters for approval. Mr. Juarez said that George Roberts has resigned from the board. His replacement will be handled at the local DOE level since it will be an appointment to fill an unexpired term.

 

Mr. Stow reported that the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History now has about 100 oral histories recorded, about 50 of which are available online. He said the center has also received additional oral histories from ORNL. The collection of oral histories from the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association is largely complete at the center and is also online.

 

He said the center staff is now using students to go out into the Scarboro community to record residents’ oral histories.

 

Announcements and Other Board Business

ORSSAB will have its next monthly meeting on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center.

 

The minutes of the October 12, 2011, meeting were approved.

 

The board concurred on the Response to Preferred Mitigation Plan for Site Interpretation of East Tennessee Technology Park (Attachment 3).

 

Ms. Cange and Mr. Murphree recognized Ms. Halsey for her service of nine years as ORSSAB’s Federal Coordinator.

 

Ms. Cange and Mr. Juarez recognized Mr. Murphree for his service as chair of the board the two previous fiscal years.

 

Federal Coordinator Report

No report

 

Additions to the Agenda

None.

 

Motions

11/9/11.1

Mr. Jensen moved to approve the minutes of the October 12, 2011, meeting. Mr. Paulus seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

11/9/11.2

Mr. Paulus moved that the board concur with the Response to the Preferred Mitigation Plan for Site Interpretation of East Tennessee Technology Park. Mr. Murphree seconded. The motion passed. Mr. Martin voted ‘no.’

 

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

 

Action Items

         Open

  1. Mr. Adler will supply a list of miscellaneous waste on the Oak Ridge Reservation that UCOR has compiled for suggested disposal. Carryover from September 14, 2011 meeting.
  2. Mr. Adler will get more information on the Non-Classified Oak Ridge Oral Histories. Carryover from September 14, 2011 meeting.
  3. 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, 2011 meeting.
  4. Mr. Adler will determine the components of the $19 million a year dedicated to stewardship on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Carryover from September 8, 2010 meeting.
  5. Mr. Adler will research if the stacks at Oak Ridge National Lab meet applicable seismic standards. Carryover from the November 10, 2010 meeting.
  6. 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, 2010 meeting.

 

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