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Oak Ridge Reservation

Historical Document

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ORRHES Meeting Minutes
June 28, 2005

Table of Contents

Call to Order/ Opening Remarks

The Oak Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee (ORRHES) convened on June 28, 2005, at the DOE Information Center at 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Chairperson Kowetha Davidson called the meeting to order at 12:18 p.m.

Introduction of Subcommittee Members and Attendees

Kowetha Davidson asked all attendees to introduce themselves. The attendees were:

Kowetha Davidson, ORRHES Chair
Peggy Adkins, ORRHES member
Don Box, ORRHES member
Herman Cember, ORRHES member
Bob Craig, ORRHES member
Don Creasia, ORRHES member
Karen Galloway, ORRHES member
George Gartseff, ORRHES member
Jeff Hill, ORRHES member
David Johnson, ORRHES member
Susan Kaplan, ORRHES member
James Lewis, ORRHES member
Pete Malmquist, ORRHES member
L.C. Manley, ORRHES member
Barbara Sonnenburg, ORRHES member
Charles Washington, ORRHES member
Chudi Nwangwa, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation liaison
Jon Richards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV liaison
Brenda Vowell, Tennessee Department of Health liaison
Tim Joseph, U.S. Department of Energy
Marilyn Horton, ATSDR, Designated Federal Official for ORRHES
Bill Cibulas, ATSDR
Mark Evans, ATSDR
Jack Hanley, ATSDR
Susan Robinson, ATSDR
Bill Taylor, ATSDR
Amanda Bird, TA Consulting, Inc.
Al Brooks, member of the public
James Cardwell, member of the public
David Hackett, member of the public
Josh Johnson, member of the public
Fay Martin, member of the public
John Merkle, member of the public
Norman Mulvenon, member of the public
Lynne Roberson, member of the public
Lynn Sims, member of the public
Janice Stokes, member of the public
Luther Gibson, Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
Lu Cardwell, Clean Air Friends–Clean Air Kids
Pat Hunter, Clean Air Friends–Clean Air Kids
Rich Bonczek, SAIC
Michael Quick, International Chemical Workers Union Council/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Center for Workers Safety
Gordon Blaylock, SENES
Ellen Smith, Oak Ridge Environmental Quality Advisory Board
Carolyn Krause, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Janet Michel, Coalition for a Healthy Environment
Liz Bertelsen, ERG

Agenda Review and Correspondence

Agenda Review
Dr. Davidson reviewed the main agenda items:

  • Status of action items.

  • Presentation and discussion by ORRHES member Susan Kaplan on her report titled Impacts on Oak Ridge Landowners of Off-Site Releases to the Environment from the Y-12 Plant and Associated Long-Term Stewardship Issues.

  • The draft public health assessment (PHA) Evaluation of Potential Exposures to Contaminated Off-Site Groundwater From the Oak Ridge Reservation, presented by Dr. Mark Evans (prepared by Lieutenant Trent LeCoultre, who was unable to attend).

  • Work group reports and recommendations.

  • Two public comment periods.

Dr. Davidson noted that public comment periods were the only fixed times on the agenda; times of other items were flexible. She asked the public attendees to inform her if they had questions and said she would try to have their questions presented and answered during the meeting. Barbara Sonnenburg stated that several members of the public were in attendance, and asked whether the public comment periods could be extended to accommodate any comments going beyond the set time. Dr. Davidson answered that this could be done, explaining that they would be flexible regarding items on the agenda other than the set public comment periods. Ms. Sonnenburg inquired if public comments would be time-limited so everyone had the same amount of time to speak. Dr. Davidson said that she planned to allow public members to speak to the extent possible without limiting their time.

There had been no correspondence to report since the May 3, 2005, ORRHES meeting.

Motion: Approval of May 3, 2005, ORRHES Meeting Minutes

Dr. Davidson asked if there were any modifications or corrections to the May 3, 2005, meeting minutes. The minutes were approved by voice vote with one abstention (an ORRHES member who had not attended the previous meeting).

Status of Action Items

Marilyn Horton explained that a status of action items had been supplied to everyone in their pre-meeting mailing packages. During the meeting on May 3, 2005, a discussion was held on ATSDR's A Toxicology Curriculum for Communities and many members requested a copy of the manual. Ms. Horton noted that a CD-ROM was available at this time; however, no hard copies were available because ATSDR's publications warehouse was in the process of moving. When hard copies are available at the end of July or early August, Ms. Horton said, she will provide manuals to those members who requested them. In the meantime, Bill Taylor had a hard copy and a CD-ROM in the ATSDR Oak Ridge Field Office for people to review.

Invitations to continue serving on ORRHES were provided in the pre-meeting packages. Ms. Horton said that copies of this form had also been placed at each person's seat; these could be signed and returned to her today.

Ms. Horton asked whether all ORRHES members had received the draft PHA on off-site groundwater. Bob Craig had not received a copy. Ms. Horton said she would give her copy to Dr. Craig and added that extra copies were also available in the field office.

Status of Oak Ridge Reservation PHAs

Bill Cibulas thanked the subcommittee for having him and Jack Hanley sit at the table, saying that he looked forward to answering their questions fairly and honestly. He referred to an overhead that presented the stages of each PHA (from preliminary assessment presented to the Exposure Evaluation Work Group, or EEWG, to final release). He said he recognized that ATSDR had only 1 more year to complete the tenure of ORRHES and the remaining PHAs, and expressed his commitment to working diligently with the subcommittee during this time to be as productive as possible.

Dr. Cibulas said that they were on schedule to complete the remaining eight PHAs by June 2006, expressing his commitment to using the resources and staff necessary to accomplish this. As the overhead showed, the data validation draft (DVD) PHAs have been completed for all PHAs except for mercury. Dr. Taylor is the principal author of the mercury PHA, which is in progress. According to Dr. Cibulas, no problems are anticipated with keeping this document on schedule. To date, all preliminary assessments (except those for iodine 131 and mercury) have been presented to the EEWG. Dr. Cibulas explained that, in addition to the public comment period, PHAs are also sent out for peer review. ATSDR had intended to share the comments received on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) incinerator PHA at this meeting; however, due to medical difficulties with two of the document's peer reviewers, ATSDR had not finished receiving and responding to comments. The comments would be presented at the next ORRHES meeting. Dr. Cibulas stated that the documents were on schedule; he said he hoped to complete all of the PHAs by June 2006.

James Lewis asked about the handout referring to the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation's (DHAC's) plan for collecting information about communities surrounding the ORR, which notes that concerns will be captured (from newspaper articles and reports) and a summary will be prepared. He expressed his concern about how community concerns and issues specific to different contaminants of concern (COCs) would be incorporated into the PHAs and addressed. In his opinion, he said, these articles contained some good questions. He asked how these would be connected to the documents and included in this effort, saying they did not appear to be included in the Dr. Cibulas's report on PHA status.

Dr. Cibulas said he thought that this was a good question and also expressed his concern about the timing. He explained that to the extent feasible, specific community concerns identified during the course of specific PHAs would be included in those documents. If a problem arises with timing, he said, the concerns would probably be added as an appendix to keep them attached to a specific PHA. He noted that he shared Mr. Lewis's concern, and would work with the subcommittee to ensure that community concerns were attached to relevant PHAs via appropriate means, either during the process, as an appendix, or through another mechanism that the group might determine is appropriate. He said that they would work with the subcommittee on this issue and keep them updated on the progress.


Dr. Cibulas provided an update regarding the search for a Director of ATSDR/National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH). Recently, Mike Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), approved the reorganization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which made Dr. Henry Falk the permanent Director of the Coordinating Center (for Environmental Health, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Health). The center includes NCEH/ATSDR and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which Dr. Tom Sinks has been the Acting Director of over the past 4 months. There are now five candidates, including Dr. Sinks, and each candidate has met with staff and given seminars. To his knowledge, Dr. Cibulas said, the selection of a permanent director was expected in early July.

Presentation/Discussion: Impacts on Oak Ridge Landowners of Off-Site Releases to the Environment from the Y-12 Plant and Associated Long-Term Stewardship Issues

Ms. Kaplan stated that she has served on the ORRHES since it was established in 2000. For about the past 4 years, Ms. Kaplan said, she has been preparing this report, which was completed in March 2005 and consists of about 300 pages. Ms. Kaplan created Institute for Technology, Social, and Policy Awareness, Inc. (ITSPA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, in 1999. According to Ms. Kaplan, the organization's mission is "To combat community deterioration, worker displacement, and damage to the environment and human health due to the development and use of technologies and by funding cuts to technology programs." She created ITSPA because, in her opinion, these issues were too sensitive and did not seem appropriate to deal with through existing mechanisms, such as the ORR Local Oversight Committee (LOC) and the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB).

Ms. Kaplan indicated that she has actually spent closer to 6 years on this project including the time she has spent writing the grant, talking with people, and working on other aspects. If time allowed, she said, she would be interested in discussing the history and decision making to put these things into context. According to Ms. Kaplan, this entailed a long public participation process. She said that people might ask why these questions were being brought up at this time, but indicated that this would become clearer as she went through her presentation. PowerPoint slides were used to present detailed of the report. Information from her presentation is provided below.

Project Support

Ms. Kaplan explained that ITSPA was funded by the Citizens' Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund (MTA Fund) in Washington, D.C., which provides funding for projects throughout the country. All of the reports funded by the MTA Fund, including the ITSPA report, are available at Exiting ATSDR Website. The grant is administered by RESOLVE, Inc., a mediation firm, and these reports are also available at Exiting ATSDR Website. ITSPA hired KapLine Enterprises, Inc. (Ms. Kaplan) to conduct the study and hired SENES Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis, Inc., to provide technical support via Gordon Blaylock. According to Ms. Kaplan, Dr. Blaylock has been involved in ORR-related issues since the 1970s. She said that she probably strayed somewhat from his views, but hoped she did not stray too much.

The MTA Fund, according to Ms. Kaplan, was established as a result of the 1998 settlement of a court case in which 39 nonprofit environmental and peace groups, including the National Resources Defense Council, sued the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Headquarters. She explained that the money was set up to fund community-based research, and her group was one of those that received this money.

Project Intent

Ms. Kaplan explained that the project was intended to address issues from the perspective of East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) property owners instead of evaluating the issues only as a:

  • Scientific project, such as the "State of the Creek Address."

  • Public health project, as ATSDR does.

  • Public image and economic problem, as several Oak Ridge residents do.

Ms. Kaplan provided examples of EFPC property owner difficulties and concerns that she said she had identified:

  • Difficulty selling along contaminated waterways.

  • Loss of use of land by property owners while waiting for remediation to take place (i.e., for 15 years or more while discussions and remedial actions took place).

  • Concern about being liable and co-liable with DOE for future impacts on others.

    • To her knowledge, Ms. Kaplan said, general indemnity is not granted to property owners.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, two owners were granted indemnity via suing.

  • Lost logging revenue due to contamination concerns.

    • Ms. Kaplan related a story that, she said, triggered her to begin these efforts. Reportedly, there was a property with pine beetle damage, but there was no road to enable a contractor to cross the creek so that the trees could be cut down. She said that the owner was reportedly told that if a temporary bridge was installed, everything would have to be removed from the creek and the materials packaged as hazardous waste. According to Ms. Kaplan, the trees died and the owner lost thousands of dollars.

  • Concern about flood water re-depositing and re-suspending contamination from the floodplain.

    • Ms. Kaplan questioned whether this was an issue.

  • Concern about permanence of mercuric sulfide form and potential health effects from methyl form.

  • Loss of tourism industry in downstream communities.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, resort owners sued DOE; DOE settled with them.

  • Concern about future releases.

ITSPA's Use of Anonymous Sources

ITSPA had promised some property owners that their identities would be kept anonymous because, according to Ms. Kaplan, they indicated that they were tired of being involved in this issue and that they had paid a personal price. They also expressed concerns, said Ms. Kaplan, that people were angry with them for speaking up; they indicated no desire to come to the forefront as this issue was raised again during the PHA process and the ITSPA report. She said, however, that the property owners expressed satisfaction that someone was telling the story from their perspective.

Purpose of Report
Ms. Kaplan indicated that one of the report's purposes was to make sure that what has transpired in the community is not forgotten. In her opinion, she said, this was a significant issue. The document was also intended to serve as an all-inclusive reference. Though she was not able to include all references used, Ms. Kaplan said, many references were provided in an appendix.

Scope of Report

  • Evaluate effects of releases from the Y-12 Plant on EFPC property owners–particularly focusing on mercury, which according to research had the largest impact.

  • Discuss (briefly) uranium and other contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

  • Understand impacts on EFPC property owners such as economic and day-to-day land maintenance issues.

  • Understand health effects on residents and members of the public, for example:

    • Children who play in the floodplain or the creek.

    • Residents and workers performing creek bank maintenance, laying cable, and other activities.

      • According to Ms. Kaplan, the city requires property owners to maintain the creek bank.

      • Ms. Kaplan said she found no recommendations on how to safeguard against potential exposures; in her opinion, there should be such recommendations.

    • People who eat fish from the creek and downstream waterways.

      • Ms. Kaplan expressed her belief that this is the area where efforts are made, such as postings along the creek regarding fish consumption.

      • In her report, Ms. Kaplan details a study by Cadmus Group that, she stated, found that most anglers do not know of advisories or ignore them because of distrust for the government.

Goals of Report
Ms. Kaplan only detailed one of the report's goals, which she considered the most important issue to discuss: explore and explain the use of the 400 parts per million (ppm) cleanup limit in Oak Ridge. In her opinion, she said, she raises issues that need answers.

What Prompted ITSPA to Apply for an MTA Fund Grant

  • Conversations with EFPC property owners discussing what she considered to be trials and tribulations.

  • Personal curiosity about the long-term implications of:

    • The 400 ppm cleanup level and the possible presence of mercury in soil and sediment at levels above 400 ppm due to the sampling method.

    • The stability of the insoluble form of mercury in the creek and the effect of microbes and environmental conditions on its transformation.

    • Plan for followup research, monitoring, and reporting.

      • Ms. Kaplan asked what actions had taken place in the last 10 years to test for mercury in soil.

    • Her personal perception of confusion in the community about allowable uses of the creek, definition of "free use" (she said she believed this term was used in the Record of Decision), and the potential for health effects.

Key Concepts
Ms. Kaplan provided the following terms and definitions:

  • Solubility: The amount of a solid (e.g., mercuric sulfide) that dissolves in water or another liquid.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, solubility is irrelevant in being transformed to another form.

  • Transformation of mercury forms: Conversion of mercury (e.g., insoluble mercuric sulfide) by microbial action to another form or species of mercury (e.g., toxic methyl mercury).

  • Bioavailability: The percent of a substance that is either swallowed, inhaled in lungs, or absorbed through skin and absorbed in blood.

    • Ms. Kaplan stated that the key to toxicity was how much gets into the blood, noting that bioavailability differed from solubility.

  • Black zone: Mercury in EFPC soil identified visually in a dark band.

    • In 1995, according to Ms. Kaplan, a DOE official told a property owner that he could estimate the mercury concentration within 200 to 300 ppm (based on looking at the band) that would be revealed by lab work.

  • Form or species of mercury: Refers to metallic mercury, inorganic salts (e.g., mercuric sulfide and mercurous chloride), and organic mercury (includes methyl mercury).

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, the public was told that the soil contained mercuric sulfide.

    • The exact form or species of mercury in EFPC and the floodplain is unclear and changing.

    • Can change for both chemical reasons (e.g., acid rain) and biological reasons (e.g., microbes).

    • Analytical test results for mercury forms are highly dependant on the type of analyses used.

Map of EFPC/Sewerline Beltway Project Problem Area

Ms. Kaplan presented a map to the ORRHES. She noted that EFPC begins on Y-12 property, swings down along Scarboro Road, travels down Illinois to the Oak Ridge Turnpike, zigzags back and forth across the Turnpike, flows down to K-25 (where it hooks up with Poplar Creek), and travels downstream to Watts Bar. She also used the map to point out landmark areas, including Robertsville Junior High School and the AmVet Building.

Major ITSPA Concerns
Ms. Kaplan outlined concerns expressed by ITSPA in the report. Those concerns and related information follow:

  • Use of homogenized 16-inch core samples dilutes test result (total mercury), resulting in the likelihood that areas with greater than 400 ppm are present.

    • In her opinion, she said, this is a major issue.

    • Over 3,000 samples were taken in 2001 Phase I sampling.

    • Average mercury value was reported instead of maximum, which in her opinion was a key point.

    • To her knowledge, she said, only five samples were analyzed in 1-inch increments in the Vertical Integration Study section of the Remedial Investigation (RI).

      • Ms. Kaplan provided two graphs showing Bruner Site data from the Vertical Integration Study Section of EFPC–Sewer Line Beltway Remedial Investigation Report. On the graph from page 3-259 of the report, Ms. Kaplan indicated that the first 4 inches contained little mercury and then a peak occurred from 4 to 5 inches deep that almost reached 200 ppm. She stated that little mercury was detected from 5 to 12 inches deep; mercury was then measured at over 2,900 ppm from 14 to 15 inches in depth. According to Ms. Kaplan, when she averaged the mercury concentrations from 16 inches up to the surface, the average would be 704 ppm. She said she had conducted an analysis to convert this profile to 400 ppm, and the maximum mercury level would be 1,659 ppm.

      • Ms. Kaplan presented data from page 3-258 of the same report. She indicated that from 6 to 12 inches, the maximum mercury concentration measured over 3,400 ppm. According to Ms. Kaplan, these data provided an average reading of 1,024 ppm. She noted that this included areas where cleanup had occurred. Based on her own analysis, she said, if she had a sample reading 400 ppm that looked similar to this one, the peak would be 1,336 ppm.

  • Lack of resident and public education.

    • Neither the city nor the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Web sites discuss a) the potential for mercury at more than 400 ppm to be present at properties near EFPC or b) the need to be alerted to black soil when digging in the floodplain fringes.

  • No notification for potential buyers, via deeds, of potential mercury contamination on or near affected or potentially affected properties.

  • Unrestricted access to the creek and floodplain.

    • ITSPA found evidence of children playing in the creek at two low-income sites.

      • Ms. Kaplan indicated that she and Dr. Blaylock found a submerged bicycle in the creek behind Royce Circle and areas where children were wading in the water.

    • Picnic areas were located in the floodplain.

    • No signs were found in numerous locations (e.g., Southwood Subdivision, AmVets, and a dentist office on Scarboro Road).

      • According to Ms. Kaplan, there is no punishment for people who take signs.

      • A sign near the bridge connecting to Robertsville Junior High School is not well marked, in her opinion, and is located near a school, a church with a day care, and a baseball field.

    • Many signs were inadequately maintained–hidden from view by brush and foliage.

    • Current public discussions, which occur annually at the "State of the Creek Address," focus only on scientific issues instead of what Ms. Kaplan considered to be practical, day-to-day property owners' issues.

      • Ms. Kaplan proposed that TDEC possibly evaluate this twice a year.

    • Photographs were presented, including:

      • A picture taken at the EFPC location behind the AmVet building, showing a walking trail along the creek and no signs in place except those saying that crawdads were sampled there. This picture also showed the location of the submerged bicycle. Ms. Kaplan expressed concern about this area.

      • A picture of Southwood Subdivision, where a child's swing set was located in an area considered by Ms. Kaplan to be extremely close to the creek. She questioned whether children should be in this area.

      • A photograph of a picnic area behind the dentist's office on Tulsa, which, in Ms. Kaplan's opinion, had sufficient signage.

      • A picture of a grilling and picnic area behind Carden Apartments; Ms. Kaplan was not sure of the signs located here.

      • Two different signs along EFPC; one located at a low-income area (in Ms. Kaplan's opinion, a good sign) and one behind the dentist's office on Tulsa (in her opinion, an "alright" sign).

  • Through a survey and personal face-to-face interviews, ITSPA determined that the public still questions past and current health effects resulting from contaminants released from the Y-12 Plant via EFPC and other pathways.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, the public was apparently most concerned about health impacts on children, other recreational users of the EFPC and floodplain, and EFPC workers.

      • In her opinion, health issues exist for people who played in the creek as children and for EFPC workers dating back to when releases were occurring and they were dealing with the muck.

    • ITSPA is primarily concerned about:

      • Past users during peak periods of contaminant releases (1953–1963).

      • Peak releases that coincided with times of greatest known flooding of EFPC (peak flooding took place in September 1944, January 1954, April 1956, and December 1956).

      • Flooding that caused stratification of mercury/sample variation. According to Ms. Kaplan, this is why there are zeros in some inch breakdowns of samples and higher numbers in other areas.

  • In her opinion, Ms. Kaplan said, the following issues have not been addressed as well as they need to be: the status of research over the past 10 years, plans for long-term research in the future, and plans for long-term stewardship.

    • One significant issue, said Ms. Kaplan, is that the concentration and form of mercury in soils need to be periodically verified.

      • ITSPA questioned whether any research been conducted on analyses for determining forms of mercury in soil since cleanup occurred in 1996.

      • In Ms. Kaplan's opinion, long-term stewardship is a major issue and cleanup is not a final or permanent solution, as DOE indicated in 1995 and to ITSPA.

    • ITSPA questioned the status of research on transformation, long-term stability, and bioavailability of the insoluble mercury since the 1996 cleanup.

      • ITSPA inquired if the effects of microbes and other environmental factors on transformation of mercury to the methyl form had been studied further.

    • ITSPA questioned the status of research on health effects of mercury via skin absorption since 1996.

  • ITSPA asked what monitoring and reporting are being done.

    • ITSPA asked why the 5-year review that should have been conducted in 2001 was not performed and whether there were plans to conduct it.

    • In addition to making the "State of the Creek Address," ITSPA asked why TDEC did not hold public meetings to discuss the results of annual monitoring activities and the results of sampling during flooding events.

      • In her opinion, Ms. Kaplan said, she had not seen any of this type of information discussed with the public.

  • TDEC has no regulatory leverage in placing and maintaining signs along the creek, nor in preventing use of the creek

    • TDEC must obtain permission to place signs on private property; to her knowledge, Ms. Kaplan said, property owners are free to remove these signs.

    • To Ms. Kaplan's knowledge, there is no recourse if signs are removed.

Report Highlights

  • Documents the history of the public's discovery of contaminant releases in the early to mid-1980s (particularly mercury, but also uranium and other substances) and DOE's acknowledgement and handling of the issue.

  • Provides specific mercury test results for properties sampled in 1984–1985 as a result of the Sewerline Beltway Project.

    • The Sewerline Beltway Project was a city project that, according to Ms. Kaplan, resulted in spreading mercury almost to the marina on the east end of town; high levels were detected in some areas.

    • The areas were cleaned up. Ms. Kaplan could not recall the cleanup limit at the time (it started at 10 ppm and was raised to 400 ppm), but said she believed it was probably cleaned to 10 ppm.

  • Documents public health and related activities in Oak Ridge, including:

    • Capturing some of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters' concerns regarding the Y-12 PHA on uranium releases.

    • Capturing ORRHES issues associated with that PHA.

  • Provides an overview of issues impacting property owners, including:

    • The definition of "free use."

    • Concern about ongoing releases.

    • Materials that are hazardous and areas with contamination.

    • Conflicts of interest.

      • For example, the credibility of DOE-funded sampling, ATSDR PHAs, TDEC oversight, and oversight by community groups.

      • One reason why Ms. Kaplan set up a nonprofit organization was so it would not be tied to DOE.

    • Data issues:

      • DOE's use of classified status–according to Ms. Kaplan, DOE has taken information in the public domain and reclassified it in the context of EFPC.

      • Data missing from reports–Ms. Kaplan stated that a property owner told her that DOE had left out his/her samples from the report, which were the third highest detections.

    • General trust issues.

  • Provides equations and variables for calculating exposure doses for mercury-contaminated soil.

  • Identifies nearly 300 Oak Ridge properties along EFPC and provides rough estimates (not accounting for topography) of their distances from the creek via geographic information systems (GIS) information.

  • Documents appraisal values from public records, taxable values, and sales prices of properties (where available).

  • Discusses what the public has been told and what ITSPA determines that they should be told.

  • Uses a narrated slideshow of the driving tour conducted to identify EFPC properties (can be available to meeting attendees and will be compatible with their systems if they do not have Windows XP).

  • Provides a general overview of the areas potentially affected by the three main DOE facilities in Oak Ridge.

  • Discusses legal and ethical issues regarding real estate sales, particularly the need for public disclosure.

    • In her opinion, Ms. Kaplan said, this is a significant issue.

    • Use of homogenized 16-inch core samples (as described in the Phase Ib Sampling Plan) and its potential effects on cleanup of properties.

      • Ms. Kaplan expressed her belief that these levels of mercury over 400 ppm possibly remained.

    • Disclosure is required only if contamination is known to remain on a property.

      • According to TDEC, Ms. Kaplan said, because properties were cleaned up to 400 ppm, disclosure is not required.

      • In her opinion, however, properties were potentially not cleaned to 400 ppm and higher levels could remain.

    • Even if contamination remains on a property, a large number of exemptions exist based on Tennessee law.

  • Serves as an all-inclusive reference document.

  • As a research effort, consolidated much of the data, reports, maps, newspaper articles, and other information

    • Presents maps, such as one shown from the East Fork Poplar Creek Citizens Working Group dated 1993 depicting areas with more than 200 ppm (in green) when 180 ppm was the limit.

Next in Oak Ridge

  • ATSDR Mercury PHA will be released in the near future.

  • DOE's 5-year review.

    • The deadline for the review of EFPC remediation passed in 2001, but no review has been conducted to date

  • Upcoming Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) milestone in 2006.

ITSPA Recommendations

  • Impose buyer notifications via amended real estate disclosure laws and institute deed restrictions based on potential maximum mercury levels instead of average or homogenized values.

  • Amend Tennessee law to eliminate real estate disclosure exemptions.

  • Develop property use and maintenance guidelines to help property owners.

  • Place additional signs along the creek and perform better maintenance of existing signs.

  • Develop resident and public education programs.

    • Keep children out of these areas.

    • Do not dig for potting soil in the creek, floodplain, or flood fringes.

  • Create an EFPC resident notification system to deal with future spills so automatic calls will be made to telephone numbers selected by residents.

  • Explain EFPC monitoring and reporting.

    • Discuss follow-up monitoring activities taking place, and whether these include monitoring for soil or only fish.

    • In addition to the "State of the Creek Address," hold public meetings to discuss TDEC's annual reporting activities and sampling after flooding occurs.

Provide the public with a rationale for accepting homogenized sampling procedures (EPA/TDEC).

    • Explain why homogenized sampling saves money.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, when a core sample was pulled, a clear acetate area was present; she asked why the samples were not dealt with on this basis.

  • Use the upcoming opportunity in 2006 (provided by the FFA milestone) to:

    • Evaluate the effectives of floodplain cleanup through soil sampling (if technically feasible) rather than monitoring mercury levels in fish, which are rising unexpectedly downstream of Y-12.

      • In Ms. Kaplan's opinion, this is an unexpected result that was presented at the "State of the Creek Address."

      • Ms. Kaplan said that this needed to be evaluated because it indicates that material is changing to the methyl form somewhere in the system.

    • Expand the community core sampling from EFPC to other areas, such as Scarboro and Woodland (air pathway).

      • Core samples are needed to understand past exposures (not shallow surface samples as conducted in Scarboro).

    • ATSDR's recommendations are required before DOE can make decisions on additional study and sampling.

      • In Ms. Kaplan's opinion, the public was in the right place with ATSDR to get things accomplished

    • Ms. Kaplan said she had spoken with Dave Adler of DOE, who reportedly stated that DOE would listen to individual requests–not only to agencies.

      • The community could collectively make a recommendation, even if it disagreed with ATSDR's recommendations.

      • In Ms. Kaplan's opinion, Loudon County was a good example of what a community could accomplish through a petition.

Quotes from an ITSPA Interview
Ms. Kaplan read the following quotes, all things that were said to her during a personal interview with an EFPC property owner:

  • "I felt that an end user, if they ever had a grievance, would not accept the 400 ppm because it was an average and you don't live with averages."

  • "If you're going to build a sidewalk or a road, you don't take 18 [16] inches of soil and homogenize it. You dig down and say this is the level that I want my residential sidewalk going to my house. The soil there is black ... you didn't have to test ... you could cut a profile and see the black layer and it was usually 3 to 5 inches in depth. If the average was 1,600 ppm, how high was it really in that black layer?"

  • "However, the government agents said, 'That's the protocol, that's the way it's written, that's the way you take samples.'"

Final Comments
Ms. Kaplan provided the following opinions at the end of her main discussion:

  • Institutional and community memories are short, so the community must do everything possible to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated, such as:

    • Spreading contaminated soil throughout town.

    • Allowing the public to be exposed during releases without notifying people during releases.

    • Ignoring and hiding problems from the public rather than dealing with issues head on.

  • Activities and decisions should be well thought out and documented in reports and meeting transcripts/minutes.

    • Ms. Kaplan referred to a transcript from a January 26, 1995, public meeting discussing changing the cleanup level from 180 ppm to 400 ppm, which she considered to be excellent.

    • She expressed her belief that another meeting was held on June 8, 1995, to discuss raising the limit to 400 ppm; however, she said, no transcripts could be located.

      • Ms. Kaplan said that she was told ATSDR held this meeting. She stated her opinion that ATSDR has let ORRHES down in terms of keeping minutes of their meetings.

      • In her opinion, she said, it was a waste of money if ATSDR was not documenting these activities–an issue they have been discussing since the beginning.

  • Decisions must be understood well into the future, when problems or questions might arise.

EFPC History/Context
Ms. Kaplan referred to the following quote from the ITSPA report: "The thought of revisiting the 400 ppm cleanup limit for mercury upsets some local property owners and community members, particularly those who were instrumental in getting the level raised from 10 ppm to 50 to 180 and, finally, to 400 ppm." To her knowledge, Ms. Kaplan said, the cleanup level started at 10 ppm, noting that the Civic Center was cleaned up to this level. She expressed her belief that some areas were also cleaned up to 50 ppm, but not to 180 ppm. She indicated that some people had proposed higher limits. In her report, she stated that 1,200 ppm was proposed, but said that (according to the transcripts she reviewed) someone had actually proposed 2,600 ppm.

In her opinion, she said, the following were major events in EFPC history:

  • A public meeting was held January 26, 1995, to discuss the Proposed Plan (Alternative 3), which set the cleanup level at 180 ppm.

  • After this meeting, DOE raised the cleanup level from 180 ppm to 400 ppm.

  • Property owners (she talked to) began hearing rumors of the pending change, but were not officially told about it until a meeting was held on June 8, 1995, to discuss the change.

    • Ms. Kaplan said she believed that DOE did not initially plan to hold, or was slow in holding, a meeting to discuss this decision.

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, DOE claims that ATSDR held this public meeting; she asked for a copy of the transcript if ATSDR had it because it could not be located via DOE.

    • She asked whether the meeting was held as a result of public outcry.

  • Use of homogenized 16-inch core samples in 1991 also became a point of contention, according to Ms. Kaplan, between DOE and property owners around the June 1995 timeframe.

    • Letters to public officials had been obtained by ITSPA.

    • On June 26, 1995, a property owner reportedly called John Lea (Jacobs Engineering's EFPC Task Manager) requesting a copy of the sampling plan, but he did not have it.

    • David Page (the DOE Team Leader of the EFPC Floodplain Remediation Project) reportedly told a property owner that sampling procedure followed a protocol he wrote and submitted to EPA, which EPA approved.

    • Ms. Kaplan and Dr. Blaylock searched for this document (published June 1992 and reportedly released July 1995), but it was not in the public record for several years as far as she could determine.

      • The only procedure for homogenized sampling found before the release of ITSPA report was in a paragraph from a DOE fact sheet dated summer 1991.

      • While Ms. Kaplan was preparing for this presentation, DOE reading room staff finally found a Sampling Plan (received June 26, 2005); title had used a Roman numeral I instead of an Arabic number 1 that was being searched for): Phase Ib Sampling and Analysis Plan for Soil, Sediment, and Water. June 2002.

Ms. Kaplan cited several quotes made during the EFPC public meeting held on January 26, 1995:

  • Mr. Brooks: "... the 10 ppm, which was the initial estimate, the very earliest estimate, didn't change for the soil action level. And I asked myself, 'How can I go from a very toxic compound, readily absorbed [the chloride form] to one which is one of the most insoluble compounds known [the sulfide form] without changing the risk level?' I waited. Patiently at first, then impatiently, and then in 1994 I started to look into if for myself ..."

  • Mr. Brooks: "On July 21, 1994, we [Mr. Brooks and Mr. Maienschein] had a meeting with EPA, in which ... I learned why I could not get their results. Fred [Maienschein] and I [Mr. Brooks] presented our technical point of view; EPA, other members of the project, said, 'We do not take exceptions to your technical analysis, but the CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] procedure is a political procedure established by Congress in legislation which requires us to produce unquestionable safe risk assessment, irrespective of cost.'"

  • Mr. Brooks: "... I'm here to say that, in my professional opinion, the EPA risk assessment numbers are wrong with a conservative factor of approximately 500,000 to a million, and they are wasting our money ..."

  • Mr. Brooks: "I'd like to recommend that the RI goal be changed to 1,200 ppm, except in those small areas showing exceptionally high bioavailability."

  • Elmer Akin (former head of the EPA Office of Health Assessment and former ORRHES liaison member, now retired): "In one sense, this is extremely refreshing. I have never been to a public meeting where this side of the issue has been raised."

  • Dr. Akin: "There's not enough evidence to determine the bioavailability of mercuric chloride and mercuric sulfide in man."

  • Dr. Akin: "The number [180 ppm] is going to be one of the highest mercury numbers we've ever agreed with as it is. The ecologists are kind of going nuts about that number as being high."

  • Dr. Akin: "If this number goes higher than what it is, I think there's very few ecologists who are going to agree it's protective of the ecosystem."

  • Dr. Akin: "... there are laws on the book that say the agency is responsible for protecting the ecosystem ..."

  • Dr. Akin: "... there is some evidence that there's methyl mercury in this system. It's not all mercuric sulfide ... Of course it's 99-something percent that form, but that doesn't mean it can't be methylated; and there is data that some species have methyl mercury in them derived somewhere within this floodplain."

  • Dr. Akin: "Now, is it from the water? From the soil? Those questions can't be clearly answered. But to make the assumption that all this mercury is forevermore non-bioavailable, 100 percent, is quite a stretch; and that is not a very protective position for this agency to take if that's the way we're headed here."

  • Wayne Tolbert (Vice President and Senior Project Manager at SAIC): DOE's intention in the Proposed Plan site-wide alternative three [180 ppm] is "unrestricted land use, rezoning ... and a final solution." "There is a plan to have basically a five-year monitoring program after the remediation occurs." "There would be an examination of those areas to make sure that the remediation that was taking place was, in fact, being effective."

    • Ms. Kaplan said she was not sure if this 5-year review had taken place, and said that this was one of her concerns.

    • She asked whether TDEC determined that its annual activities took care of this review.

  • Robert Peele (Oak Ridge resident): "... the bioavailability is approximately ... less than 10% rather than 30% ... There were a few samples found where the major solubility [Ms. Kaplan wondered whether this should have said bioavailability] was greater than 10%. There weren't very many ... We all know the mercury out in the floodplain won't suddenly become soluble tomorrow."

  • Wayne Clark (EFPC landowner): "... if in the future I seek to develop that land and then I'm taken to court by a person making a claim, I feel that DOE should assume the legal responsibility and hold me harmless. And that has never been addressed or dealt with, and I continue to be troubled with it. The other problem that I worry about is that if we make it a 180 ppm or 600 ppm or a thousand, and then we have a new EPA and a new point of view in the future and we heighten things up, who is the liable person at that time?"

  • In response to Mr. Clark, Bob Sleeman (DOE) said: "I'm not aware of the direct individual concerns in terms of liability. What I understand of CERLA, DOE, as the original generator, will continue to have liability for the cleanup if the standards are low in the future."

    • In her opinion, Ms. Kaplan said, this is a very important issue. She expressed her concern at the fact that Mr. Sleeman did not answer Mr. Clark's question.

    • Ms. Kaplan wondered what would happen if landowners were sued for health issues; based on Mr. Sleeman's response, she said, people have to defend themselves.

  • Ellen Smith (resident): "Depending on the individual landowner's plans and needs, I believe that if the DOE and the other agencies feel protection is necessary, they should consider purchasing affected parcels at a very generous fair market value or purchasing deed restrictions on future uses and land transfers."

  • Ms. Kaplan referred to a quote made by resident Elizabeth Peele, who suggested sending in people with shovels to dig up the dark parts of the soil based on sampling results, since the black zone was visible. She was not sure how feasible this was, but she said it was an interesting idea nonetheless.

  • EFPC property owner (extracted from personal notes): "When talking about health risks every agency and expert qualifies their comments to cover only short-term risks. No one is yet able to guarantee anything regarding long-term health risks."

    • Ms. Kaplan indicated that this statement was made, but that she was not sure how true it was.

    • Herman Cember said that one cannot guarantee any risk.

Ms. Kaplan also referenced quotes made after, but in reference to, the January 26, 1995, meeting:

  • One EFPC property owner wrote the following regarding audience participation at the meeting in a memo to Al Robinson of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Agency: "The first two speakers, of the 21 persons who spoke, took the floor 14 different times and occupied some 17½ pages of the transcript of the meeting."

    • According to Ms. Kaplan, people expressed upset feelings because they had not been informed, even though they had been participating in the EFPC work group, and asked how this could happen.

    • The quote referred to a list summarizing the audience participation in the January meeting, which Ms. Kaplan presented to the ORRHES.

Ms. Kaplan referred to one of the quotes presented in the ITSPA report that Mr. Brooks had expressed concern about during the meeting today, which were taken from a letter Mr. Brooks wrote to the editor of The Oak Ridger on April 19, 1995, in which he thanked David Page of DOE for his assistance. She read the following personal notes from a property owner regarding Mr. Brooks' comments:

  • "To me [this was] an extraordinary disclosure: DOE coaching a person or persons to appear at a formal public meeting to pressure EPA and the State of Tennessee to accept higher cleanup limits, when such higher limits accrue direct benefits to DOE."

  • "This was part of the picture that helped reduce the area along EFPC to be remediated. This has to do with getting a higher ppm limit for cleanup. The other part ... final Ib sampling [approximately 3,000 samples] being determined as 0- to 16-inch homogenized soil cores when in reality the mercury was deposited in strata measuring from 3 inches up to 11 inches depending on each particular core. Both serve to reduce the need for cleanup."

Ms. Kaplan read quotes from an interview ITSPA had with an EFPC property owner who sued DOE. Ms. Kaplan indicated that the property owners had expressed significant concern because they were not able to use their land for over a decade.

  • "Real early in the discussions of the mercury and I think actually before DOE openly confessed [range 1983], some parties alluded to another property owner and me that we could not, should not, use our property because we would be co-liable with DOE."

  • "We then started having occasional discussions with various people in the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]/DOE/ERDA [Energy Research and Development Administration] operation as to when they were willing to tell us what this was all about ... what was this thing called mercury ... how bad was it ... Repeatedly we were told it was premature. We went from engineers ... to trying to talk to the attorneys."

  • "When we couldn't make comfortable conversation ... we tried to go to the senior attorneys that were here ... They pretty well roughed us up verbally–brow-beating us–telling us it was premature and don't bother them. They succeeded in delaying all this until we suddenly learned about and realized that we were beyond the legal date that you could file a court proceeding."

  • "We believe that they intentionally did that. I do not consider that they were honorable, forthright citizens in their behavior ... I think they were, frankly, devious. And I felt that when they had exceeded that statute of limitations, they almost changed their behavior and talked to us with more sincerity, feeling that they were safer. We decided that we were going to do something about it."

Ms. Kaplan provided the following notes from an EFPC property owner, which in her opinion showed an example of DOE reclassifying data:

  • "On May 8, 1995, a property owner called a DOE official he had been working with to inquire about the type of soil samples taken in 1985 on his land."

  • "However, the official informed him that he no longer had his files on the 1984/85 soil sampling as other DOE personnel had recently picked up his files and told him they were now classified."

  • "... the information had been open and available from 1985 until then, a decade later."

Ms. Kaplan presented the following personal notes from an EFPC property owner, which in her opinion showed an example of missing data:

  • "On May 9, 1995, an EFPC property owner pointed out to DOE that one transect of soil samples, six cores, had been omitted on Map 6, sheet 2 or 3, of the SAIC report dated April 13, 1993 (EFPC–Sewer Line Beltway Remedial Investigation Report, Volume V, Maps 1–7) containing ORAU [Oak Ridge Associated Universities] Historical Data (Rapid Scan Survey, page 6)."

  • "This transect contained soil sample 85-0487, which showed 1,600 ppm on parcel 563."

  • "DOE indicated to the property owner that this was probably an oversight."

  • Ms. Kaplan indicated that this site had the third highest level of contamination, and the data had been left out.

Ms. Kaplan provided quotes from the a workshop held by the National Center for Environmental Decision-Making Research (NCEDR) in August 1996 regarding the final assessment of the EFPC public participation process.

  • "There was some sense the issue of how well the Remedial Goal Objective [i.e., 400 ppm] addresses ecological risk might arise again in the future."

  • "The lack of definitive data can cause decisions to require revisiting in the future, potentially limiting their durability."

  • "Perhaps the broader message is that complex environmental problems, such as those pertaining to long-term management of toxic wastes, often resist simple or permanent solutions, requiring instead an ongoing, flexible, and incremental approach."

  • "Revisiting decisions in the future, while time-consuming and sometimes costly, may be essential for such complex problems."

Ms. Kaplan concluded by saying that these issues may be expensive to deal with, but that there are remaining questions that need to be dealt with and answered.

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