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Oak Ridge
Site Specific Advisory Board







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Approved March 14 , 2012 Meeting Minutes

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at the DOE Information Center, 1 Way, Oak Ridge, Tenn., beginning at 6 p.m. A video of the meeting was made and may be viewed by contacting the ORSSAB support offices at (865) 241-4583 or 241-4584. The presentation portion of the video is available on the board’s YouTube site at

Members Present

Jimmy Bell
Jacqueline Hagy
Bob Hatcher
David Hemelright
Howard Holmes
David Martin
Fay Martin
Gloria Mei
Ron Murphree
Maggie Owen, Chair
Greg Paulus
Amira Sakalla1
Robert Stansfield
Steve Stow
Thomas Valunas

Charles Jensen, Secretary

Members Absent
Janet Hart
Betty Jones
Ed Juarez, Vice Chair
Scott McKinney2
Kasey McMaster1
Coralie Staley

1Student Representative
2 Second 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, DDFO and Acting Manager for Environmental Management (EM), DOE-ORO
Connie Jones, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 (EPA)
Melyssa Noe, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO
John Owsley, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)

Others Present
Mark Ferri, UCOR
Spencer Gross, ORSSAB Support Office
Jim Kopotic, DOE-ORO
Norman Mulvenon, Citizen’s Oversight Panel
Pete Osborne, ORSSAB Support Office

Eleven members of the public were present.
Liaison Comments
Ms. Cange – John Eschenberg, the former ORSSAB DDFO and current acting manager of the DOE Oak Ridge Office, has taken a position with the National Nuclear Security Administration as the federal project director for the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex.

DOE Oak Ridge EM held a public meeting on budget and prioritization on March 6 at the American Museum of Science and Energy. DOE made presentations on the various cleanup projects underway and spelled out its cleanup priorities for funding in FY 2014. Comments and questions were taken at the meeting and some have been received since the meeting. Ms. Cange said EM is currently developing several funding scenarios and will present them to EM Headquarters at the end of the month. Ms. Cange said EM has been working with EPA and TDEC to come to agreement on cleanup priorities for Oak Ridge and identify related milestones. The priorities for Oak Ridge cleanup are:

  • Complete demolition of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP)
  • Continue with direct disposition of uranium-233 at Building 3019 at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL)
  • Continue processing transuranic waste
  • Identify early actions and prepare for long-term actions to mitigate mercury contamination at Y-12.

Ms. Cange reported that Tank W-1A at ORNL has been removed and sent offsite for disposal. The surrounding contaminated soil has been excavated is being shipped offsite for disposal, and the resulting hole has been filled with grout. UCOR, DOE’s prime cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, is completing activities and will be de-mobilizing from the project in the next few weeks.

Mr. Martin asked about the contaminated groundwater plume that resulted from leakage around the tank. Mr. Adler said there is an active treatment system for the plume and over time groundwater should show water quality improvement. He said improvements in contaminated groundwater are measured over quarters and years. Mr. Martin asked about the piping to Tank W-1A. Mr. Adler said all piping that was to be removed under the removal action agreed to by DOE and the regulators was removed in the immediate vicinity of Tank W-1A. Piping from the 3019 Building was not removed, but Mr. Adler noted that there is additional contamination in that area that will be dealt with when activities in Building 3019 end.

Mr. Stow asked for an update on the status of the revised memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding historic interpretation of the K-25 Building at ETTP. Ms. Cange said the latest MOA submitted in October 2011 is being revised in accordance with comments received by signatory and consulting parties at a November public meeting. In addition the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has asked the National Park Service to review the document and offer input. However, the Park Service as of this date had not provided any information. When that information is received it could be incorporated into the MOA, which again would be provided to the signatory and consulting parties for their information. If there are no significant suggestions to consider the hope is the signatory parties will sign off on the new MOA.

Mr. Adler – At the February Executive Committee meeting Mr. Stow had asked about mercury contamination at ORNL. Mr. Adler reported that there were some small scale processes using mercury at ORNL and some mercury was lost during those processes in the lab’s 4000 area. In 2007 problems were discovered with water quality in the basement sumps in some of the 4000 area buildings. In 2009 a treatment system was put in place that removes the mercury from the water before discharging into White Oak Creek. Before the treatment system was put in place concentrations of mercury exceeded ambient water quality criteria, and levels of mercury in fish in White Oak Creek exceeded levels set by the Food and Drug Administration for safe consumption. Levels today in both water and fish are below acceptable criteria. Mr. Adler said when buildings were demolished recently in the 3000 area some mercury was discovered in isolated areas underneath some of the buildings. The mercury has not been removed but there is no indication that quantities are sufficient to have any impact on ground or surface water. Until the soil is remediated the area will be posted to prevent inadvertent exposure to workers. Mr. Adler said there was also some beryllium discovered as part of recent demolition. He said the contamination of mercury and beryllium is not pervasive enough to warrant any significant soil cleanup in the near future, but will be addressed as funding allows, except where there is a threat to groundwater or in an area that needs remediation for development. Mr. Hatcher asked what form the mercury was. Mr. Adler said it was liquid elemental mercury.

Mr. Adler commented on the status of ORSSAB recommendations. The last recommendation was Recommendation 208 for DOE to use the white paper on EM’s challenges on the Oak Ridge Reservation. DOE responded to the recommendation on March 7 and the response was distributed to board members via email. The white paper listed a number of circumstances on the ORR that make it a challenge to clean up. The recommendation asked DOE to use the white paper in making its case for cleanup budgets. The response said DOE agrees with the circumstances noted and uses them in its budget requests. It suggested that ORSSAB use the white in some of its own public outreach activities, such as posting on the board’s website.

There are no other outstanding recommendations.
Ms. Jones – Ms. Jones said the ETTP Remedial Action team met earlier in the day and had a productive meeting in moving forward developing a Zone 1 Record of Decision (ROD). The team is working hard to bring the project to completion.

Mr. Owsley – no comments. Mr. Murphree asked about the status of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for Y-12. Mr. Owsley said the permit has been appealed by DOE. He said one of the projects called for in the permit, the relocation of the flow augmentation point in East Fork Poplar Creek, has been determined not to be a Federal Facility Agreement Project and has been undertaken by Y-12. The other four projects called for in the permit remain under appeal and are being negotiated by TDEC and DOE under the Federal Facility Agreement.
Public Comment
Mr. Mulvenon pointed out that the map in the presentation used by Mr. Kopotic (Attachment 1) does not correctly show the city limits of Oak Ridge. The city limits encompass almost all of ETTP.

Mr. Kopotic’s presentation was on the status of cleanup at ETTP. The main points of his presentation are in Attachment 1.

ETTP began as the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant enriching uranium starting in early 1945. By December 1945, Building K-27 was online and by 1954, Buildings, K-29, K-31, and K-33 were operational.


The footprint of ETTP encompasses about 5,000 acres on the northwest side of the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR).

All enrichment operations at ETTP had ended by the mid-1980s and since that time the site has had no mission except for cleanup. The annual mortgage costs of surveillance, maintenance, security, and essential services at ETTP are about $70 million. When cleanup is complete, that money can be used for other cleanup operations on the ORR. The end state of ETTP is to be a private industrial park.

Many of the buildings that have been demolished or are set for demolition are contaminated with radionuclides and hazardous materials like PCBs and asbestos. Cleanup began in the early 2000s with the signing of an interim ROD for Zones 1 and 2. Zone 1 is an area of about 1,400 acres that surrounds Zone 2 from the southeast to the northwest. Zone 2 is the main industrial area of ETTP where all the major buildings are located (Attachment 1, page 3, slide 1). All of the actions called for in the ROD for Zone 1 have been completed with the exception of about seven acres contaminated with asbestos that could require capping.

Zone 2 is an area of about 800 acres, 200 of which have been remediated. The balance of acreage at ETTP outside of Zones 1 and 2 has no history of industrial activities or contamination. Mr. Kopotic said DOE is working with EPA to remove those 2,800 acres from EPA’s National Priorities List.

There are a number of contaminated groundwater plumes at ETTP (Attachment 1, page 3, slide 2). Mr. Kopotic said several source actions have been conducted to reduce the continual release of contamination into groundwater as well as stabilizing the groundwater and help prevent offsite releases.

Mr. Kopotic listed some of the major accomplishments in Zone 1. About 48,000 tons of scrap from the K-770 Scrapyard were size reduced and disposed. More 7, 000 cylinders of depleted uranium hexafluoride gas were transported offsite a few years ago and disposed in Ohio. The one-acre 1070-A Burial Ground was remediated several years ago as well as Blair Quarry and the G-Pit. Remediation was recently completed on the 1070-B Burial Grounds.

Of building demolitions, K-29 was the first of the gaseous diffusion process buildings to be demolished. K-33 was torn down in 2011. Demolition of K-25 has been underway since December 2008. Mr. Kopotic said K-29 and K-33 were easier to demolish because they were better built than K-25 and were much less hazardous to take down. Also taken down were the K-1401 Change Houses, K-1420, and many other buildings. In all, 246 facilities have been demolished at ETTP.

The largest of the demolition projects is the K-25 Building. The west wing of K-25 is gone. Five units of the south end are contaminated with technetium-99, mostly in the process equipment. That end of the building has been isolated by cutting through the wing a couple of units to the north of the technetium-contaminated units. By isolating those units, demolition can continue north on the east wing while characterization is done in the tech-99 area. Mark Ferri, the project manager for UCOR, said characterization will determine if contaminated material can go in the onsite waste disposal facility in Bear Creek Valley or if it has to be shipped offsite.

The figure on page 5 of Attachment 1, slide 2, is a diagram of what has been demolished, what is left, and the tech-99 units. Mr. Kopotic said demolition of all of K-25 is scheduled for completion in July 2014.
Mr. Kopotic said the plan is to apply experience and lessons learned at K-25 to the demolition of K-27. The intent is to begin transitioning workers from K-25 to K-27. K-27 is not as deteriorated at K-25 but there are some holes in the roof. The floors in K-27 are poured concrete floors and hold up better than those in K-27, but it is still important to begin work in K-27 as soon as possible.

Mr. Kopotic summarized by saying that most of the ‘heavy lifting’ has been completed at ETTP, although there is about 2.2 million square feet of soil to be remediated in Zone 2 when all of the buildings have been demolished, and there is work to be done to stabilize groundwater contamination. Still to be demolished are the Poplar Creek Facilities, K-1037, the centrifuge facility, the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator, and the Central Neutralization Facility.

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

Mr. Bell – What does it look like at the waste disposal facility (Environmental Management Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley)? Mr. Adler – It handles about 50 trucks a day. It operates pretty much like a standard demolition landfill. Trucks pull up to dump ramps. The dump ramps deposit material in the working area and the material is pushed around to where it needs to be. Mr. Bell – I don’t have a feel for why the technetium didn’t go through the diffusion plant. Why did it stay in that part of the plant? Mr. Kopotic – Because the rest of the plant wasn’t in operation. It was only the lower two units that were used as a purge cascade. It’s bled up to a third unit. We’ve assumed five units. Mr. Bell – Are you identifying the chemical form of the technetium? Mr. Ferri – Some of it is gaseous, some of it is solid. There are about six different chemical forms. We’ve characterized much of it. Most of it is contained in the converters. We’ve taken out the first of the converters that will have to go west [to the Nevada National Security Site]. It’s not as bad as thought. We’re going to take everything out that is contaminated with technetium and ship it west and what’s below the waste acceptance criteria for the onsite waste facility will go there. From a contamination and radiation exposure standpoint, technetium is not a bad actor. But it is soluble in water and if ingested it’s an internal hazard.

Mr. Paulus – You mention ongoing costs of about $70 million. When you are completely done will there be any residual costs that will have to be picked up? Mr. Kopotic – There will be minimal cost. We have the 1070-C/D classified burial grounds. There is no contaminated material that needs to be removed from an environmental standpoint, but there will be some security safeguards in place. And there will be some environmental monitoring that we will have to do. Ms. Cange – Those costs will be borne by DOE or some other federal entity.

Mr. Stow – With a project of this magnitude you’re going to have surprises. Can you summarize any surprises, both positive and negative? And from what we’ve learned in demolishing K-25, what sort of knowledge transfer helps us tear down the next building? Mr. Kopotic – At K-25 the last time the roof was repaired was 1979, so from a maintenance standpoint we didn’t maintain the building and deterioration created a more difficult demolition than if we had done maintenance. Then the public might ask why it wasn’t demolished sooner? That was because we wanted to hold it in case we needed it. One of the things we didn’t do that would have made it easier would have been to purge the cascade. So we have hold up material that has required us to do additional things to convince the regulators that we were good to go. Much of it is related to money. If you have the money then you can say what needs to be done to put the building in a stable condition and maintain it so it doesn’t deteriorate. Mr. Ferri – Every time you come on a DOE site you find good stuff and bad stuff. The work force here is one of the best. They work safely, they care about the work, and they’re very knowledgeable. It’s a really good work force and the quality of work is much higher than what I expected. The building is not as contaminated with technetium as perhaps some people were led to believe. Most of it is in the converters; it’s not all over the structure. The waste disposal facility is the best waste landfill I’ve ever seen. And it has a haul road on site. It’s very important that we don’t have to leave the site to haul our waste. The odd things you find at these DOE sites, people squirrel stuff away. And they don’t squirrel the easy stuff; they squirrel the hard stuff. In the North Tower we found equipment that had concrete poured around it and we’re chipping away at that to get rid of it.  And there are some high hold-up pumps and traps that were in the vaults that we’re going to have to get rid of. And the biggest lesson learned to apply to K-27 is find out what you have before you start. Characterize the building. We’re doing characterization, deactivation, and demolition all at the same time. So we have to adjust our strategy as we go. We’re going to send our sampling crews to K-27 because they are experienced and we’re going to know what that building looks like before we get started. Mr. Kopotic – We’re sharing the lessons learned and the mistakes we’ve made with other sites so we can help them not make the same mistakes we’ve made.

Ms. Mei – In transitioning the crew from K-25 to K-27, are there any specific changes or hazards that are not included in the K-25 experience? Mr. Ferri – In K-27 the vaults are clean; there’s nothing stored in there. The only difference is there are cylinders there of various sizes. They are called the tech-99 cylinders. We don’t know what’s in them, but we’ll find out. There are about nine of them and they’re small and we’ll figure out a way to get rid of them. But different from K-25 there’s no big concrete monoliths.  Mr. Kopotic – And it’s all low-enriched, less than 20 percent. The building is in better condition. The operations floor is poured concrete, so you can access the ops floor there, where in K-25 you can’t.

Mr. Bell – I think there is a lot of chemistry to be learned if one found out where the technetium is. Is there a way a person can get that information to identify the various forms of the technetium to learn how they migrate in the system? Mr. Ferri – It doesn’t matter what form it is in for the waste acceptance criteria for the waste disposal facility. It’s based on curies regardless of the form. From a chemistry standpoint it’s importance for us to know if the vapor pressure is such that it forms a gas and it can come out when we cut the pipe and remove the converters. That’s bad because we cross contaminate the building.

Committee Reports
Board Finance & Process – Mr. Paulus reported that the committee discussed an EM Committee budget request for FY 2012 for $20,000 to hire an outside consultant to study groundwater pathways on the ORR. Mr. Hatcher said the committee is still trying to identify someone to do the work within the budgeted amount. A possibility is finding someone within the U.S. Geological Survey. Mr. Paulus asked if using another government agency if the board would just pay a per diem. Mr. Adler explained that typically when one government agency does work for another government agency that is handled under an inter-agency agreement and the buying agency usually pays for the work. Mr. Adler said he had spoken recently with Greg Johnson in a local Geological Survey office who expressed interest in assisting with the project.

In other business the committee approved travel for Mr. Hemelright, Mr. Juarez, Mr. Martin, and Ms. Staley to attend the EM SSAB Spring Chairs’ meeting in Paducah, Ky., in April.

EM – Mr. Hatcher further explained the need to hire a consultant to study fractured rock hydrology on the ORR that has never been fully modeled. He said most computer models often don’t accurately reflect what groundwater is doing in fractured rock. Most of what has been done is empirical determinations of where groundwater contamination has gone. He said the committee is looking for someone to study the problem and offer advice.

Mr. Hatcher reported that at the February meeting the committee received an update on groundwater remediation planning for Bethel Valley and Melton Valley.

The committee also worked on a recommendation regarding mercury mitigation at Y-12. That recommendation will go to the Executive Committee on March 29 for approval to come before the board.

The committee will not meet in March.

Public Outreach – Mr. Hemelright said the committee will participate in Earth Day activities at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge on April 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. He asked for volunteers from the board to help staff the ORSSAB exhibit.

The committee approved the Advocate newsletter editorial plan for its April publication. The committee made suggestions for the board’s top issue/accomplishment/activity for the upcoming EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting. Mr. Hemelright said staff continues to work on the board’s museum exhibit.

The committee also reviewed its work plan and planning calendar. The next meeting will be via teleconference on Tuesday, March 27 at 5 p.m.

Stewardship – Mr. Stow said the committee will not meet in March, but will continue its work in reviewing the development of DOE’s geographical information system, the stewardship verification process, and the removal of uncontaminated areas of the ORR from the National Priorities List.

He reminded the board that in June the committee will be down to just two board members (Ms. Martin and Mr. McKinney) and he encouraged other board members to consider participating on the committee. The committee has a number of public members, but just a few board members currently.

Executive – Ms. Owen reported that the committee reviewed all of the suggestions from the committees for issues/accomplishments/activities to present at the EM SSAB Spring Chairs meeting. The committee chose long-term stewardship as its issue and the development of the white paper on Environmental Management's Challenges on the Oak Ridge Reservation as its accomplishment.

Ms. Owen reminded the board members to review the travel opportunities table that was included in the monthly meeting packet and let staff know if there are trips any board members are interested in taking.

The committee will meet on Thursday, March 29 at 5:30 p.m.

Oral History – For the benefit of newer members Mr. Stow said the board was instrumental several years ago in establishing an oral history program for Oak Ridge. The Center for Oak Ridge Oral History is based at the Oak Ridge Public Library. Many oral histories had been done over the years but there was no central location for all of them. The library has been gathering the histories and transcribing them as well as recording new oral histories.

A recent project has been gathering histories from residents of the Scarboro Community.

Mr. Stow said a presentation was made recently to Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett about the program.

Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be an update on the Uranium-233 Project.

The minutes of the February 8, 2012, meeting were approved.

Federal Coordinator Report
Ms. Noe reported that a package requesting approval of seven new board boards will be submitted soon to DOE Headquarters.

Additions to the Agenda

Mr. Jensen moved to approve the minutes of the February 8, 2012, meeting. Mr. Hatcher seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

Action Items


Attachments (1) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.