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success stories

Following are a few examples of how ORSSAB helped make a difference regarding environmental cleanup of the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation.

 



FY-2011 | FY-2010 | FY-2009 | FY-2008 | FY-2007
FY-2006 | FY-2005 | FY-2004 | FY-2003 | FY-2002

FY 2012

Development of a White Paper to Explain Environmental Cleanup Challenges
In FY 2012 ORSSAB developed a white paper for the DOE-Oak Ridge Environmental Management (EM) Program that outlines the complexities of cleaning up the contamination and hazardous waste on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

While waste management professionals have recognized the complexities and related challenges of waste cleanup on the reservation for many years, these aspects have not been widely publicized. The purpose of the white paper, entitled ‘Balancing Environmental Management Challenges with the Complexity of the Oak Ridge Reservation,’ is to summarize the issue succinctly for non-professionals and a wider audience beyond the Oak Ridge community.

Some of the main reasons Oak Ridge was chosen as one of the sites for the nationwide Manhattan Project – water supply, topography, nearby population centers for workforce – now present unique challenges for remediation and cleanup when coupled with other factors such as high rainfall and complex geology.

The specific points of the paper include discussions of waste types, disposal methods, remediation technologies, geology, rainfall, hydrology, and nearby dense population centers. The paper concludes that these factors together make the Oak Ridge Reservation the most complex, related to cleanup, of any DOE site.

ORSSAB offered the white paper to DOE to illustrate the unique technical and environmental challenges that must be taken into consideration during the budgetary discussions establishing funding levels for cleanup activities. In addition, ORSSAB recommended that the white paper be used, as needed, by DOE in its efforts to keep the public fully informed of the cleanup challenges and progress at Oak Ridge. The paper will also help inform the public and educate others about the challenges faced in full-scale remediation of the reservation.

In its response to the paper, DOE Oak Ridge said the paper “provides a concise assessment of the challenges associated with the environmental management mission of Oak Ridge. Concepts captured by the paper align with the rationale being advanced by Oak Ridge EM representatives for completion of Oak Ridge Reservation cleanup.”

Complete text of the white paper is available on the ORSSAB website at www.oakridge.doe.gov/em/ssab/Publications/EMChallengesandComplexity.pdf.

Community Outreach
ORSSAB achieved a number of important milestones in FY 2012 in its mission to inform and involve the public in the Oak Ridge EM program. Through its monthly public board and committee meetings and various activities coordinated by its Public Outreach Committee, the board strives to provide meaningful opportunities for dialogue between the surrounding communities and EM.

A key accomplishment this year was the development of five new ‘infomercials.’ These 30- and 60-second spots were created to air as public service announcements on local television channels, to serve as introductory materials for the monthly meeting broadcast DVDs sent to the local public access stations, and to provide ongoing information to the public at large visiting the board’s Facebook and YouTube sites. They inform the public of EM activities at the Oak Ridge Reservation and the work of the board, and they invite public participation.

Establishment of the board’s Facebook and YouTube sites was itself an important addition to the ORSSAB outreach program this year. The sites provide a plethora of materials and information on the numerous ways the public can learn about and become involved with the board and the DOE-Oak Ridge EM program.

A new interactive display for the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge was installed in 2012. This colorful touch-screen kiosk focuses on waste management activities and challenges for the EM program and features five programs designed to interest and engage the public: Building the Weapons Complex, Categorizing Nuclear Waste, The Lifespan of Nuclear Waste, Waste Management Challenges, and Transporting Radioactive Waste. The kiosk complements an already robust exhibit of touch-screen kiosks, displays, and posters that tell the story of the Oak Ridge cleanup program.

In addition to these activities, the board kept up an aggressive public outreach effort throughout the year that included participation in the Oak Ridge Earth Day festival; an ongoing program of advertisements, newsletters, and cable television broadcasts; and publication of the ORSSAB annual report and quarterly Advocate newsletters.

Support and Public Outreach for EM Projects
During FY 2012 ORSSAB was actively involved in providing a public forum for major projects that formed a significant part of the Oak Ridge EM program this year and that will continue to have impacts for years to come. Through presentations at the ORSSAB board and committee meetings, the public received detailed briefings on a variety of topics:

FY 2011

FY 2013 Oak Ridge EM Budget Request/Prioritization
In FY 2011 ORSSAB formed a new standing committee to help the board better understand the FY+2 budget request prioritization process and provide prioritization recommendations the board makes each year on the FY+2 budget. For several months the EM Budget & Prioritization Committee worked closely with DOE Oak Ridge in assessing cleanup priorities for the Oak Ridge Reservation.

A critical part of this process involved a new computer program called the Dynamic Planning Model, which can take a work breakdown structure and split it incrementally, from a high level overview of the cleanup program down to individual projects. The model takes each program baseline summary and analyzes it through three funding situations:

  1. Fixed expenses
  2. Level of effort (funding must be sufficient to sustain operations, but costs can be eliminated if a project is finished)
  3. Dynamic (discretion in scheduling a project is possible)

The committee reviewed six scenarios generated by the model for funding and prioritizes completing the various cleanup projects on the reservation. The committee then used these scenarios in developing the board’s recommendations to DOE Oak Ridge on its FY 2013 EM budget request. In addition to its specific recommendations on the budget request, the committee also recognized the value of the Dynamic Planning Model by recommending that other sites across the DOE complex consider implementing its use. The recommendations were approved by the board in May 2011.

As part of its work, the committee assisted DOE by helping coordinate a public workshop on the FY 2013 budget priorities. The workshop, which was attended by approximately 75 members of the public, was held at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge on February 24. It provided attendees with an opportunity to understand the full scope of the cleanup work underway and what remains to be done at the Oak Ridge Reservation. Federal Project Directors discussed their projects, and representatives from the state and EPA enumerated the priorities the agencies would like to see addressed. ORSSAB scheduled and staffed the event, and made arrangements to have the meeting recorded for transcription of the proceedings.

Reference Sheets for the Oak Ridge Reservation Stewardship Map
In 2008 ORSSAB’s Stewardship Committee worked with DOE Oak Ridge to produce a stewardship map showing all remediated areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation and what land use controls are currently in place. To supplement the map, DOE has been working to develop an accompanying reference book containing data sheets for the contaminated areas. The sheets will provide information about the types of contamination, how safe the area is for use, what restrictions are on the properties, what permits may be required before using the parcels, and other information.

This year the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee provided input on the sheets, offering a public perspective on what is understandable by the average citizen. The resulting map and reference book will be a valuable resource to citizens and local officials in understanding what areas of the reservation will be suitable for future use.

Establishment of a Site Transition Process Upon Completion of Remediation at Ongoing Mission Sites
In November 2010, several members of the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee attended the Long-term Surveillance and Maintenance Conference in Grand Junction, Colo. The ORSSAB chair made a presentation on long-term stewardship, noting that there was no process for assuring long-term stewardship at continuing mission sites after EM has finished cleanup.

It was learned at the conference that Letitia O’Conor had been appointed the point of contact for long-term stewardship within the DOE EM program at Headquarters. Ms. O’Conor attended the January ORSSAB Stewardship Committee meeting, and she told the committee of a fact sheet that the Office of Legacy Management uses at closure sites once EM completes cleanup. Members of the committee thought a similar fact sheet would be useful at ongoing mission sites and drafted a recommendation to that effect, which was later adopted by the board.

DOE EM accepted the recommendation and is crafting a fact sheet to guide the transfer of remediated parcels from EM to site landlords. The fact sheet is a first step in assuring long-term stewardship of remediated areas at DOE facilities with continuing missions.

Removal of Uncontaminated Areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation from the National Priorities List
The Oak Ridge Reservation encompasses roughly 34,000 acres, but only about 10 percent of the reservation is actually contaminated from research and production activities by DOE. The entire reservation, however, was placed on EPA’s National Priorities List for cleanup under the provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Even though all of the reservation is on the National Priorities List, EPA policy states that only areas with contamination are considered to be part of the list.

In 2009 a white paper was written describing the process to clearly document areas of the National Priorities List, as well as those areas that are not part of the list. The board reviewed the paper and subsequently issued a recommendation to DOE, stating that the board believes that defining only contaminated areas of the reservation in the list would be beneficial in presenting a more positive image of the reservation and the Oak Ridge community to the public.

Mitigation of Contamination in Bear Creek Burial Grounds
Bear Creek Burial Grounds is an area that was used by DOE for disposal of depleted uranium from production operations at the nearby Y-12 Plant (now the Y-12 National Security Complex). Remediation efforts have reduced concentrations of uranium and other contaminants in adjacent Bear Creek, but releases of uranium to the creek continue to exceed acceptable safe drinking water standards.

Current budget limitations and technical challenges prevent any near-term final remediation of the burial grounds, but ORSSAB believes DOE can take some steps now to help define possible actions for future remediation.

The board approved a recommendation, drafted by its EM committee, that asked DOE to compile information related to potential remedial actions. The information would include a description of the actions; estimated costs; target contaminants; and comments regarding practicality, technical risk, maintenance costs, and budgetary feasibility.

DOE agreed with the recommendation and has pledged to provide a compilation, saying that such an analysis will enable informed decisions concerning possible near-term control measures for Bear Creek Burial Grounds.

Support and Public Outreach for EM Projects
During FY 2011, ORSSAB was actively involved in providing a public forum for major projects that had significant impact on the Oak Ridge EM program this year and that will continue to have ramifications for years to come. Through presentations at the ORSSAB board and committee meetings, the public received detailed briefings on a variety of topics:

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FY 2010

Museum Kiosk
In April 2010 ORSSAB debuted a new three-sided kiosk for its exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The kiosk features three touch-screen monitors that lead visitors through key aspects of the DOE Environmental Management (EM) program: site cleanup activities, history, and long-term stewardship. Each monitor allows museum visitors to explore these three aspects in depth with detailed programs and videos.

Located on the second floor of the museum, the ORSSAB exhibit was first installed in February 2005. The exhibit features a variety of displays and posters to tell the story of the Oak Ridge EM program.

Featured is a scale model of the EM Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley, which provides visitors an idea of the magnitude of the cleanup effort on the Oak Ridge Reservation. A smaller touch-screen kiosk takes visitors on an interactive journey through the cleanup process at the Gunite Tanks, one of the highly successful remediation projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Suspended over the exhibit is one of the remotely controlled planes that used infrared photography to survey waste disposal sites on the reservation.

A variety of colorful posters inform visitors about cleanup program topics, including an overview of the EM program, the challenges the program faces in Oak Ridge, and reindustrialization of the East Tennessee Technology Park. A poster explaining what ORSSAB is and what it does is featured prominently, and another explains how the remotely controlled airplane overhead was used by the cleanup program.

EM SSAB Chairs Meeting
On April 28–29, 2010, ORSSAB hosted the SSAB chairs meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Ridge. The chairs of the SSABs from across the DOE complex meet twice a year to hear presentations and discuss EM projects and policy, share ideas and concerns among sites, and identify and work on common issues.

The day before the meeting began, many of the participants went on a day-long tour of the Oak Ridge Reservation. They were treated to two talks by Oak Ridge SSAB member Steve Stow, one on the history of the Graphite Reactor and the other on the role of Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. That evening they gathered at the American Museum of Science and Energy for a reception and tour of the museum.

On the first day of the meeting, DOE Assistant Secretary for EM, Inés Triay, provided an update on the EM program. Next on the agenda was a round robin presentation from the chairs outlining issues specific to their sites. The afternoon session began with a detailed presentation on how EM develops its budget and prioritizes projects. That discussion was led by Joann Luczak, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Planning and Budget, Connie Flohr, Acting Director, Office of Budget, and Mark Janaskie, Office of Strategic and Planning Analysis. Frank Marcinowski, DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Technical and Regulatory Support, and Larry Camper with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, concluded the day’s meeting with a detailed discussion of waste disposition issues.

The chairs met for a half day Thursday, but it was a busy morning dedicated to stewardship issues, including a background overview, stewardship at closed and ongoing mission sites, and next steps for stewardship. The discussion provided important background for an upcoming three-day long-term surveillance and maintenance workshop planned for November in Grand Junction, Colo.

Support and Public Outreach for EM Projects
During FY 2010, ORSSAB was actively involved in providing a public forum for major projects that had significant impact on the Oak Ridge EM program this year and that will continue to have ramifications for years to come. Through presentations at the ORSSAB board and committee meetings, the public was able to received detailed briefings on a variety of topics:

Procedure for Specially Called Public Meetings
A concern was raised at the SSAB’s August 2009 annual planning retreat that the board should play a more active role when special instances arise related to the DOE-Oak Ridge EM program. These instances include operational emergencies, such as the strontium-90 spill on Highway 95 in May 2004, but they may include non-emergency issues that arise and become topics of general concern to the communities impacted by DOE activities at the Oak Ridge Reservation.

To address this concern, the SSAB’s Public Outreach Committee agreed to formulate a plan for calling special meetings of the board, when appropriate, to provide a forum for public information and input when such instances arise. The procedure developed by the committee is intended only for events or issues related to DOE-Oak Ridge EM activities that have potential impact, short or long term, on the public and are not envisioned as being a frequent undertaking. The board considers DOE to have primary responsibility for notifying the public about the issue that is the subject of any special meeting, and this procedure is not intended to replace that notification. Rather, it is intended as a supplemental process to provide an additional avenue for the public to learn about the issue of concern, ask questions of appropriate DOE personnel, and express their views and opinions.

The procedure developed by the Public Outreach Committee was presented as a board recommendation (Number 184) and was approved by the board on February 10, 2010. DOE subsequently concurred with the recommendation, and it was incorporated into the SSAB’s Operating Instructions in September 2010.

Recommendation for a National Stewardship Workshop
In 1999 ORSSAB hosted a national stewardship workshop that was attended by more than 100 stakeholders from across the country who were interested in stewardship. Workshop participants identified public involvement in long-term stewardship and development of site-specific plans as points of primary concern. The need to institutionalize stewardship with the establishment of a DOE policy and the pursuit of legally binding agreements were concerns as well.

Long-term stewardship responsibility for closure sites is now in the hands of the DOE Office of Legacy Management. Responsibility for stewardship at sites with ongoing missions when cleanup is finished is not completely clear, and the issues from the 1999 workshop remain unresolved. As a result, ORSSAB recommended that DOE sponsor another national workshop.

In response to the recommendation, DOE noted that the Office of Legacy Management was already planning a conference on stewardship at closed mission sites in November 2010. With ORSSAB’s recommendation, the conference was expanded to include a discussion of stewardship at ongoing mission sites, and a stakeholder panel on the topic was added to the agenda.

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FY 2009

Support for IFDP and ARRA
During FY 2009, ORSSAB was actively involved in two major programs that had significant impact on the Oak Ridge Environmental Management (EM) program this year and will continue to have ramifications for years to come: the Integrated Facility Disposition Program (IFDP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In October 2008, the board passed a recommendation supporting the DOE-Oak Ridge Critical Decision 1 document proposing the implementation of IFDP. The plan was designed to add more than 200 additional facilities at Y-12 and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the Oak Ridge EM baseline and extend EM’s mission to clean up the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) to as far out as 2039.

In late 2008 DOE-Oak Ridge received approval to baseline IFDP. With that approval the Federal Facility Agreement (FFA), which guides the process for cleaning up the reservation, required modification since it would have to incorporate the additional cleanup scope into the agreement.

Major modifications of the FFA require that a public meeting be held to explain the changes to the agreement and allow for comment on those changes. In February 2009, ORSSAB co-hosted the FFA public meeting with DOE-Oak Ridge to explain how the FFA would be modified to include additional work to complete cleanup of the ORR. Following the meeting, which was attended by about 25 people, the board sent a letter to DOE again supporting IFDP and the modification of the FFA.

During this same time information was coming out of Washington about a proposed stimulus package to aid the American economy. By early 2009 details of the package, known as ARRA, were becoming clear. Through presentations at the ORSSAB meetings in March, April, and May, the public was able to receive detailed briefings on how ARRA funding would augment the Oak Ridge EM budgets for FYs 2009–2011. ORSSAB will continue to monitor ARRA progress and keep the public involved through regular updates at its board and committee meetings.

Oral History
ORSSAB continued its involvement in Oak Ridge oral histories this year and celebrated the development of a sister organization to the one the board helped create in 2007.

Networking Oak Ridge Oral History (NOROH) is an offshoot of the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (COROH), which ORSSAB took the lead role in forming two years ago. The purpose of COROH is to consolidate exiting oral histories across the ORR and collect additional ones.

ORSSAB turned over day-to-day management of COROH to the Oak Ridge Public Library, but the library relies on the input from an Oral History Steering Committee, which includes an ORSSAB representative. The library is making space available to catalogue existing oral histories and is in the process of hiring personnel dedicated to the effort. A short video is also being produced to explain the importance of capturing the personal histories of the people who lived and worked in Oak Ridge during the days of the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and the recent past.

The creation of COROH prompted DOE-Oak Ridge to establish NOROH in October 2008. NOROH’s role is to identify and make available staffing and resources necessary to work in partnership with COROH to ensure that oral histories of DOE and the Oak Ridge community are preserved and made available to the public.

NOROH will develop an implementation plan to support the goal of interviewing current and former DOE staff who were involved in key programs throughout the history of the site. Some of the interviews to be conducted will be classified, but these histories will be made available to COROH and the public, when possible.

Community Outreach
ORSSAB posted a record year in FY 2009 in its mission to inform and involve the public in the Oak Ridge EM program. Through its monthly board meetings, which are open to the public and broadcast on local cable channels, the board strives to provide meaningful opportunities for dialogue between the surrounding communities and EM.

Key accomplishments include setting a new record for presentations to local media, civic organizations, schools, and elected officials (22 events) and a new record for news releases (15). The board also instituted a program this year to provide local newspapers with guest editorials on a quarterly basis. Interaction with local media representatives was a cornerstone of the board’s outreach program this year, with meetings with reporters and editors from six area newspapers to discuss how the board can work more effectively with news organizations to get the word out about ORSSAB and the DOE EM program.

This year the board also began development of new interactive displays for the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy. The exhibit uses touch-screen kiosks, displays, and posters to tell the story of the Oak Ridge cleanup program.

Throughout the year, the board kept up an aggressive public outreach effort that included participation in the Earth Day and Secret City festivals; an ongoing program of advertisements, newsletters, and cable television broadcasts; and publication of the quarterly Advocate newsletter.

Educational Initiatives
Since 1999, when ORSSAB seated its first high school student on the board to represent the concerns and opinions of area youth, the board has kept up a vigorous educational outreach program to help make sure that the future generations who will be the living with the cleanup decisions being made today are aware and involved in stewardship of environmental contamination that will remain on the ORR.

In FY 2009, the board continued its efforts by working on improvements to the Stewardship Education Resource Kit it developed and launched in 2005. Two area students were seated again this year, and presentations about the EM program were made to their high school environmental classes. In addition, a special presentation was developed for area schools that presents students with five real-life cleanup challenges at the ORR and then challenges them to come up with solutions to those challenges based on their evaluation of the various criteria, such as cost, risk, and technical challenges. A program was also instituted this year to sponsor a tour of the ORR for Oak Ridge High School students.

Historic Preservation
The question of how to best preserve the historical significance of the K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) provided ORSSAB with an active role to play again this year.

In its February 2009 “Recommendation on Alternatives to Memorialize the K-25 Building at ETTP,” ORSSAB weighed in on the K-25 building historic preservation debate by recommending that DOE build an unmanned interpretive center at the site. The board also recommended that Manhattan Project exhibits at the American Museum of Science and Energy be expanded with an interpretive center making use of existing staff, space, infrastructure, and artifacts to explain K-25’s role more fully in the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

ORSSAB’s proposal would offer significant savings to other ideas generated for K-25 preservation, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And the complementary exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy would provide synergy for the K-25 center and take advantage of existing museum amenities.

The recommendations were a follow-up to recommendations made last year when there was still hope of reclaiming part of the K-25 Building’s entire North Tower. Although DOE has not made a formal announcement, the agency has made it clear that the tower may not be salvageable because of its deteriorated state and the cost and safety factors involved in converting it to some sort of interpretive center or museum.

In March 2009, ORSSAB followed up with its “Recommendation on the National Historic Preservation Act Implementation at DOE-Oak Ridge,” in which it recommended that DOE initiate consultation meetings with stakeholders to allow early public input into the planning for IFDP.

DOE agreed, and in May ORSSAB participated in the two-day meeting of the consulting parties to the 2005 Memorandum of Agreement for Historic Preservation of the K-25 Building. As recommended, the second day of the meeting was dedicated to discussing facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y‑12 National Security Complex that have been identified as having historical significance and are to be preserved during the cleanup of the respective sites.

All this activity follows ORSSAB historic preservation efforts last year when the board posted recommendations on “Lessons Learned from Efforts to Preserve the North Tower of the K-25 Building for Historic Purposes (July 2008)”, and “Historic Preservation of K-25 Building at ETTP (March 2008).” These recommendations were preceeded by a public meeting co-sponsored by ORSSAB in February 2008, at which roughly 150 interested citizens were able to express their views to DOE on K-25 preservation.

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FY 2008

Oral History Program
Under the direction of the Oak Ridge SSAB (ORSSAB) Executive Committee, an Oral History Ad Hoc Subcommittee was established in early 2007 to determine if there would be community support for the preservation of Oak Ridge oral history. The SSAB was clear from the start that this effort would not become the responsibility of the board, but because of the level of public interest in this information and the age of the former workers, the SSAB would play a role in initiating this discussion.

In October 2007 ORSSAB sponsored a workshop to consider ways to consolidate existing Oak Ridge oral histories into one location and how to continue gathering oral histories for future use. Thirty people representing a variety of agencies and interests participated in the workshop at the DOE Information Center.

About 275 oral history interviews have been conducted to date with Oak Ridge scientists, engineers, community leaders, and residents, but there is no central location housing all of the existing tapes, and no mechanism exists to manage an active oral history program in terms of cataloguing and transcribing tapes, identifying and interviewing people, and providing access to material to researchers and other interested parties.

The workshop was intended to help resolve several issues, including:

In spring 2008 the seeds sown at the workshop flowered into a comprehensive oral history program called the “Center for Oak Ridge Oral History” and the SSAB’s role ceased except to have a seat on the steering committee.

Headquartered at the Oak Ridge Public Library, the program is being led by a steering committee that includes representatives from DOE-Oak Ridge, ORSSAB, the Oak Ridge Public Library, the National Nuclear Security Administration/Y-12, the DOE Office of Science and Technical Information, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the American Museum of Science and Energy, the City of Oak Ridge, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee.

ORSSAB’s work on the oral histories program provided an important step in bringing cohesion to the various interests in the community on an issue of importance not only to the public but to the DOE Environmental Management Program as well. Material contained in oral histories will offer invaluable information to DOE when determining the scope and the data necessary to approach areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation requiring remediation or in determining if an area does not require remediation.

Long-Term Stewardship Map of the Oak Ridge Reservation
In FY 2008 ORSSAB’s Stewardship Committee worked with DOE to produce a stewardship map that shows all remediated areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation and what land use controls are currently in place.

The map, which is 50 by 64 inches, is displayed in the DOE Information Center for public use. Accompanying the map will be a notebook that includes reference to all decision documents related to each remediated area. This book is being developed by one of the student representatives to the board. The map will also be available on the Oak Ridge Environmental Information System (www-oreis.bechteljacobs.org/oreis/help/oreishome.html). Smaller versions of the map will be provided to the City of Oak Ridge, and Anderson and Roane County officials. It will also be on display in the ORSSAB exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy.

The map is color coded to indicate the various watershed decision areas: East Tennessee Technology Park, Melton Valley, Bethel Valley, Upper East Fork Poplar Creek, Bear Creek Valley, and Chestnut Ridge. Within each watershed the map indicates contamination sites and remediated areas under deed restrictions. Icons explain what land use controls are currently in place for DOE operating areas and those in place for remediated locations, such as deed restrictions, fences, signs, security patrols, monitoring, and excavation/penetration permits required.

Each time a Remedial Action Report is approved for a remediated site by EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the map and its reference book will be updated to show the changes where waste has been left in place on the reservation and the land use controls utilized to protect the public and workers.

Through ORSSAB’s efforts, the map will play an integral role in helping the public maintain knowledge about remediated areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation and what land use controls are in place.

Independent Verification of Cleanup
Millions are being spent in Oak Ridge on environmental cleanup. But how receptive will industry be to locating in an area where DOE generated a plethora of hazardous and radioactive waste materials? One way to assuage such concerns is to conduct an independent verification that cleanup requirements have been met and that the land and buildings are safe to use.

In March 2006 ORSSAB investigated the need and use of independent verification at East Tennessee Technology Park and crafted a recommendation to DOE to employ the process at the site. DOE accepted that recommendation and contracted the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education to do the work. DOE approved the institute’s statement of work, as well as yearly funding of $234,000 for three years.

Independent verification at East Tennessee Technology Park was not the first such undertaking in Oak Ridge. Independent verification validated the cleanup of the East Fork Poplar Creek in the early 1990s, as well as the cleanup of Buildings K 31 and K-33. And independent verification was employed off the Oak Ridge Reservation at the David Witherspoon site in Knoxville.

Those successful undertakings coupled with the use of independent verification at sites across the country led ORSSAB to draft a follow-on recommendation in March 2008 that DOE-Oak Ridge conduct independent verification wherever possible.

Many in the community feel that reindustrialization is the key to success at East Tennessee Technology Park and other parts of the Oak Ridge Reservation, and through ORSSAB initiative an important step is being taken to help achieve that success.

National Stewardship Policy
Long-term stewardship of contaminated areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation following cleanup has been an ORSSAB priority almost from the creation of the board in 1995. In FY 2007 the board continued its commitment to assuring that future generations are protected through the actions taken by DOE today by submitting a recommendation on reaffirmation of the DOE Secretarial Policy to provide stewardship at ongoing mission sites with residual contamination. In its recommendation the board asked that DOE establish a national policy for commitment to long-term stewardship. Since a number of remediation projects have been completed on the Oak Ridge Reservation, ORSSAB felt DOE should reaffirm its commitment to long-term stewardship at sites with ongoing missions that contain residual contamination, such as the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

To strengthen that commitment, the board also recommended that DOE assign a headquarters liaison to the Environmental Management Program who would be responsible for oversight and resource assistance for stewardship, both before and after remediation.

In July 2008 Mark Gilbertson, the DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Technology, announced that Dr. Vince Adams had been assigned as the long-term stewardship liaison. His responsibilities include conducting pre- and post-remediation strategy planning for long-term stewardship that is consistent with applicable regulations and DOE orders. He is also charged with the execution of Environmental Management Program policy on remedy decisions and end-state vision, and he will work with the Environmental Management Program site transition coordinators.

The reaffirmation of the importance of stewardship at the DOE headquarters level and the appointment of a stewardship liaison are important milestones in ensuring remediated properties are protective of human health and the environment for generations to come.

Community Outreach
In FY 2008 ORSSAB made significant gains in its ongoing mission to inform and involve the public in the environmental cleanup program at the Oak Ridge Reservation. Two key accomplishments this year were spearheading community involvement in providing input to the Environmental Management Program on preservation plans for the K-25 Building, and getting DOE and the community to work together in creating an oral history program for the Oak Ridge Reservation.

In February 2008 ORSSAB co-sponsored a public meeting on how best to preserve the historic significance of the K-25 Building at DOE’s East Tennessee Technology Park. The meeting, which was held at the Y-12 New Hope Center, was attended by about 160 people and was covered by all the local papers and two television stations. The meeting provided an important opportunity for members of the public to express their views, and numerous comments were generated and forwarded to DOE by ORSSAB. The meeting was the latest in a long line of public meetings the board has sponsored on topics such as the Environmental Management Program budget, the CERCLA 5-year review, and the K-25/K-27 D&D strategy.

An equally important initiative this year was ORSSAB’s leadership in creating an oral history program. In spring 2007 ORSSAB formed a subcommittee to explore the possibility of facilitating an oral history program. This led to a community workshop ORSSAB sponsored in October 2007 that brought together many groups and individuals interested in preserving Oak Ridge history. That effort led to the formation of a comprehensive oral history program called the “Center for Oak Ridge Oral History.” Headquartered at the Oak Ridge Public Library, the program is being led by a steering committee that includes representatives from DOE-Oak Ridge, ORSSAB, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the University of Tennessee, and several other organizations.

Throughout ORSSAB’s activities in historic preservation and oral history in 2008, the board kept up an aggressive public outreach effort that included presentations to eleven schools, clubs, and organizations; participation in the Earth Day and Secret City festivals; and an ongoing program of advertisements, newsletters, and cable television broadcasts. The board also maintained its educational outreach initiatives, which include working with local schools to integrate the board’s Stewardship Education Resource Kit into science curricula, and updating the board’s permanent exhibit at the American Museum of Science & Energy in Oak Ridge. The exhibit uses touch-screen kiosks, displays, and posters to tell the story of the Oak Ridge cleanup program.

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FY 2007

Melton Valley Closure
For many years the Melton Valley burial grounds posed the highest risk at the Oak Ridge Reservation to human health and the environment. As a result of more than 50 years of operation, production, and research activities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a legacy of disposal sites, contaminated facilities, and areas of secondary contamination were spread over 160 acres of the watershed’s 1062 acres. In the 1950s the area was also used as the Atomic Energy Commission’s Southeastern Regional Burial Ground, where largely uncharacterized radioactive wastes from over 50 other federal facilities were disposed.

DOE’s cleanup project for the valley included a wide array of complicated and difficult activities, such as hydraulic isolation through installation of multilayer caps; removal, treatment, and disposal of retrievable transuranic waste; and in situ grouting.

In March 2007, DOE completed remedial actions in the valley, bringing the project to a close and ending a decade of involvement and oversight by ORSSAB.

Beginning in January 1998 with its “End Use Recommendation for the Disposal Areas in Melton Valley,” the board made 20 recommendations to DOE related to various aspects of Melton Valley cleanup. An inestimable number of hours were devoted by the board members in studying, debating, and writing recommendations on numerous issues related to the project and the acceptable end state for the area.

The remediation work was a huge undertaking that addressed 219 release sites over the course of six years at a cost of $360 million. It could have cost as much as $1.6 billion had all the waste been removed and shipped off site, but the board played an instrumental role in the decision to leave some relatively short-lived contamination in place in order to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Independent Verification
In early 2007 the fruits of an ORSSAB recommendation began to be realized. Millions are being spent at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) to dismantle scores of old buildings and prepare the site for eventual use as a private industrial park. But how receptive will industry be to locating in an area where DOE generated a plethora of hazardous and radioactive waste materials? Will companies be willing to invest in a site without assurance that the land and any remaining buildings available for lease are free of contaminants?

One way to assuage such concerns is to conduct an independent verification that cleanup requirements have been met and that the land and buildings are safe to use.

ORSSAB investigated the need and use of independent verification at ETTP and crafted a recommendation to DOE to employ the process at the site. DOE accepted that recommendation and contracted the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education to do the work. DOE has recently approved the institute’s statement of work, as well as funding of $234,000 per year for three years.

Many in the community feel that reindustrialization is the key to success at ETTP, and through ORSSAB initiative an important step is being taken to help achieve that success.

Stewardship
Long-term stewardship of contaminated areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation following cleanup has been an ORSSAB priority almost since the board’s inception in 1995. In FY 2007 the board generated three more recommendations in a long series of recommendations on the topic, continuing its commitment to assuring that future generations are protected through the actions taken by DOE today.

In its “Recommendation on Notices of Contamination and Future Land Use Limitations in Melton Valley” the board codified a process it has been developing for some time. For the past two years the board’s Stewardship Committee has been working with DOE to plan and implement a process for filing Notices of Contamination and plat maps with the Anderson County Register of Deeds and Property Assessor’s office. This process will also be extended to Roane County and the city of Oak Ridge.

The “Notice of Contamination and Future Use Limitations, and Intent to Provide Notations on Ownership Record in Melton Valley” is an important element of this process. At DOE’s request, the committee reviewed the notice, prepared some general comments on it, and rewrote the notice language to ensure that it will be understandable to the general public.

The committee revised the notice into a form it felt was more ‘user friendly’ and recommended that DOE consider using the style and format of the committee’s revision. The recommendation also asked DOE to publish a condensed version of the notice in local newspapers that would also be easily understood by the public.

Public Involvement Plan
Both the Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the “Federal Facility Agreement for the Oak Ridge Reservation” require DOE Oak Ridge to publish a Public Involvement Plan. The plan is updated every three years. The purpose of the plan is to communicate to the public its opportunities for participation in the decision-making process regarding the remediation of contaminated areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation. As such, the plan is one of the most important documents to citizens that the Environmental Management program prepares.

In 2007 DOE began working on an update of the 2004 plan. ORSSAB supplied numerous comments and suggestions, which were incorporated into the final document. Because of the board’s involvement, important additions and changes were made to better serve the community. DOE said in its response to the recommendation: “Thanks to the board’s knowledgeable input, we believe the document has been greatly improved since its previous update three years ago.”

Remediation Effectiveness Report/CERCLA Five-Year Review
DOE is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Oak Ridge each year cleaning up environmental contamination left from decades of nuclear enrichment and other activities. But how do you know it’s working?

The answers lie in an annual report and a rigorous review that occurs every five years. The annual report is the Remediation Effectiveness Report, and every five years it is expanded to include the Five-Year Review that’s required under CERCLA.

While the annual report evaluates if the remedy is working as planned, the Five-Year Review evaluates whether that chosen remedy is still effective and appropriate under today’s conditions. It also reevaluates the protectiveness of the cleanup decisions.

Because the Five-Year Review is so important, ORSSAB issued its “Recommendations on Logistics for a Public Meeting on the 2006 Remediation Effectiveness Report and CERCLA Five-Year Review” in November 2006. The board made several general recommendations about conducting the meeting, as well as specific recommendations concerning the agenda and publicity. A primary suggestion was to use an ORSSAB monthly meeting as a forum for the public meeting.

DOE agreed and set the date for May 9, 2007. About 50 people attended the meeting, which gave local stakeholders an important forum to express their views on both the Remediation Effectiveness Report and the CERCLA Five-Year Review.

Uranium Hexafluoride Cylinders
During gaseous diffusion activities at the K-25 Site (now known as ETTP), depleted uranium hexafluoride was packaged in approximately 7,000 cylinders and placed in six outdoor storage yards. After diffusion activities at K-25 were shut down in 1987, the condition of the cylinders deteriorated, posing a potential threat of release of radioactive and toxic contaminants to the environment and a risk to onsite workers and offsite public. In addition, surveillance and maintenance of the cylinders contributed heavily to K 25’s already significant landlord costs.

Since 2001 ORSSAB had expressed concern about the condition of the cylinders, making their expedited removal from the site a priority. When DOE’s Accelerated Closure Program was put in place at the Oak Ridge Reservation, the board weighed in with its “Recommendation Concerning the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Disposition Program at ETTP” in July 2003, and again in January 2004 with its “Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statements for Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Facilities.”

The board’s goals were finally met in December 2006 when the acres of cylinder storage yards were finally emptied. Almost 5,000 separate shipments of cylinders were required to transfer the cylinders to DOE’s Portsmouth, Ohio, site where a uranium hexafluoride conversion facility is being constructed.

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FY 2006

National EPA Award
In June 2006 ORSSAB and its Stewardship Committee were presented with the Citizens Excellence in Community Involvement Award. The national honor is given annually by EPA to recognize an individual or community group for outstanding achievement in the field of environmental protection. The award was presented at EPA’s 2006 Community Involvement Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The award recognizes two major achievements by the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee between October 2004 and September 2005.

The first achievement was development of the Stewardship Education Resource Kit, which was created to provide local educators with materials to teach students about environmental cleanup and long-term stewardship issues (see “Teacher’s Workshop” story).

The second achievement focuses on maintaining information about contaminated land. In 2004 the Stewardship Committee worked with Anderson County to test a system where plat maps of contaminated land would be placed in the county geographical information system. The test was successful, so in 2005 the board recommended that DOE standardize its language for land with notices of contamination so they could be easily found by anyone doing land searches in the county land records. DOE adopted the recommendation and is standardizing its language when filing notices of contamination with Anderson County. The county also sends the same information to the City of Oak Ridge. A similar effort is underway for Roane County.

Teacher’s Workshop
In February 2006 ORSSAB sponsored a two-day workshop on how to use the board’s Stewardship Education Resource Kit in the classroom. The event was attended by twenty-four ecology and environmental science teachers representing public and private high schools in Knox and Anderson counties.

The kit, which was completed in March 2005, contains lesson plans, videos, a fictional case study based on actual cleanup operations, an appendix of supporting materials, and a video CD on the background and use of the kit.

During the workshop, held February 9 and 11, ORSSAB members and facilitators from the University of Tennessee explained how to use each lesson, showed videos included with the kit, and demonstrated the use of support materials and related Internet sites. The teachers participated in group activities and listened to a panel discussion on stewardship that included representatives from ORSSAB, DOE, and the state of Tennessee.

Kit materials are available on the ORSSAB website.

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FY 2005

Stewardship Education Resource Kit
In March 2005 the Board launched its Stewardship Education Resource Kit, which was developed over the course of three years to provide high school educators with materials on the background, science, history, and cleanup of contaminated areas on the Oak Ridge Reservation and the stewardship of residually contaminated sites.

The kit contains lesson plans, videos, a fictional case study based on actual cleanup operations, an appendix of supporting materials, and a video CD on the background and use of the kit. The kit is exceptional because it offers teachers a complete resource for educating students about long-term stewardship of contaminated land. It provides great flexibility for teachers to tailor the lessons to a number of grade levels and specific subject areas, such as environmental science, chemistry, biology, ecology, civics, or history.

Museum Exhibit
ORSSAB unveiled its permanent exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy in February 2005 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by about 50 members of the Board, the public, and the media. Speakers at the event included Gerald Boyd, Steve McCracken, David Bradshaw, ORSSAB Chair Kerry Trammell, and Museum Director Steve Stow.

Located on the second floor of the museum, the display uses touch-screen kiosks, displays, and posters to tell the story of the Oak Ridge EM program. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a scale model of the EM Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley, which provides visitors an idea of the magnitude of the cleanup effort on the reservation. The touch-screen kiosks take visitors on an interactive journey through the cleanup process at the Gunite Tanks, one of the highly successful remediation projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Suspended over the exhibit is one of the remotely controlled planes that used infrared photography to survey waste disposal sites on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

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FY 2004

Annotated Outline for a Long-Term Stewardship Implementation Plan
Stewardship of contaminated areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) following cleanup has long been an ORSSAB priority. So when DOE signed the “Long-Term Stewardship Strategic Plan for the ORR” in March 2004, the board’s Stewardship Committee took the next logical step by producing an “Annotated Outline for a Long-Term Stewardship Implementation Plan.”

The outline is specifically tailored to the known contaminated areas of the reservation, with the hope that this approach will result in an implementation plan that provides detailed functional specifications. A solid implementation plan will enable the design and execution of an ORR-specific stewardship system that meets both current and future needs and also has the acceptance of local stakeholders.

DOE has responded favorably to the outline, noting that it provides a firm framework for the implementation plan, which is tentatively slated for publication in Spring 2005.

Student Summary of ORR Stakeholder Report on Stewardship
ORSSAB published the second volume of its two-volume “ORR Stakeholder Report on Stewardship” in 1999. As time passed, though, it became apparent that the report was too detailed for some audiences—notably the high school students the board was trying to reach through its public outreach program.

To address the problem, the ORSSAB Stewardship Committee asked advance placement science classes at Oak Ridge and Roane County high schools to summarize the report. The resulting “Student Summary of the ORR Stakeholder Report on Stewardship” was published in May 2004 and does an outstanding job of distilling the original reports into language easily understood by high school students.

The student summary was widely distributed to local schools and libraries to help ensure long-term awareness and understanding of the community’s responsibility for stewardship of contamination that will remain on the reservation following cleanup.

Trenches 5&7 Schedule
In Spring 2004 DOE proposed a change in the Melton Valley Record of Decision (ROD) to alter the planned remedial action for Seepage Trenches 5 and 7 in the Melton Valley area of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The proposal was to switch from in situ vitrification of the trenches to in situ grouting.

ORSSAB supported the change and recommended that DOE amend the ROD through the “Explanation of Significant Difference” process, which would expedite the amendment procedure. EPA, however, required that the change be made through the “ROD amendment” process, which requires a more rigorous and typically more lengthy amendment procedure.

Because of the board’s involvement, though, the schedule for ROD amendment was compressed to match that of the shorter Explanation of Significant Difference process. This allowed approximately one year to be shaved off the schedule, saving time and money on the project.

GIS/Land-Use Information
Meetings sponsored by the Stewardship Committee in FY 2004 led to an effort to ensure that DOE’s web-based GIS mapping and land-use restriction information is provided to the city of Oak Ridge, Anderson and Roane counties, and non-governmental entities.

The meetings, which were held with Anderson County’s Register of Deeds Tim Shelton and Property Assessor Vernon Long, were instituted because studies performed by Stewardship Committee members identified several variations in DOE land information in the city and county systems. Each parcel could be accessed with an online search, but beyond that the information varied, and some plots had no description at all. Members recommended to DOE that a uniform quality control process be put in place to guarantee that all municipalities that govern land held by or transferred from DOE have parallel sets of publicly-available data. This will help ensure that records of contaminated areas of the reservation are available to future generations.

8(a) Contract
In late 2003 the Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management issued direction that the prime contractors performing cleanup work at DOE sites could no longer provide support for the SSABs. ORSSAB responded in FY 2004 by forming a Board Finance Committee, and over the course of several months committee members met with the DOE Federal Coordinator to develop a scope of work for a prospective support provider. As a result of these efforts, a contract was put in place in May 2004 with Spectrum, Inc., an 8(a) company based in Oak Ridge. This change has provided ORSSAB with greater control over the way it uses government funds and will allow it to provide greater value to DOE and the public.

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FY 2003

Transuranic Waste
ORSSAB worked on several fronts to help break the logjam that has prevented the movement of remote-handled transuranic (TRU) waste to more secure storage. In October 2002, ORSSAB wrote to the State of New Mexico to endorse DOE’s remote handled TRU waste permit modification request to allow shipment of this waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In January 2003, ORSSAB members attended the SSAB Workshop on TRU Waste Management at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and the Board subsequently endorsed the workshop recommendations. ORSSAB followed up with a set of site-specific recommendations, sent to the Assistant Manager for EM.

Long-Term Stewardship
In FY 2003 ORSSAB provided six recommendations and comments to DOE on various aspects of long-term stewardship. The ORSSAB Stewardship Committee established an Education Subcommittee, which prepared the Oak Ridge Reservation Educational Resource Guide. The guide was written to introduce the concepts of radiological and chemical contamination, EM, and stewardship to middle and high school students. The guide is the first part of a planned series of educational efforts by ORSSAB. The guide is being provided to the community at large through the ORSSAB web site, the DOE Information Center, and various ORSSAB public outreach events.

Video Library
In July 2003, ORSSAB launched its video lending library at the DOE Information Center, providing the community with a valuable educational resource regarding EM Program issues. The library contains over 30 titles related to waste management, radiation, risk, environmental justice, environmental laws and regulations, history, and EM.

Committee Voting
On October 9, 2002, the Board approved a change to ORSSAB Bylaws Article VII. C5. to allow members of the public participating in ORSSAB standing committees to vote on committee business.

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FY 2002

Reclassifying Waste
ORSSAB endorsed a DOE plan to reclassify outdoor-stored legacy low-level waste as “CERCLA-generated waste” for the purpose of disposing this material at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, located on the Oak Ridge Reservation. ORSSAB agreed with DOE that this will result in the most expeditious disposal of the material and that it will result in a considerable cost savings to the public.

Accelerated Closure
ORSSAB made a formal recommendation to endorse the accelerated closure proposal for the Oak Ridge Reservation, which will save taxpayers an estimated $2.2 billion in cleanup costs at the Oak Ridge site. Through its public outreach program, the board helped educate the community about the proposal.

Public Meeting
ORSSAB sponsored a public meeting with Helen Belencan, Low-Level Waste and Mixed Low-Level Waste Program Manager for the DOE-Headquarters Office of Integration and Disposition, to discuss her analysis of DOE complex-wide incineration needs and the pending decision regarding the planned closure of the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator. The meeting gave local stakeholders a forum to express their views on incineration and led to an ORSSAB recommendation to DOE regarding incinerator operations.

Public Outreach
ORSSAB continued working to increase ties with area students and educators through an aggressive outreach program:

 

Updated 4/16/13