Tag Archives: DOE

Roane County Environmental Review Board 

{by Mary Anne Koltowich}

Our Roane County Environmental Review Board (RCERB) was established in 1989 by Roane County Commission Resolution #1975. Under Resolution #03-11-12 purpose/responsibilities of this Board was clarified as “WHEREAS it is helpful to have a committee of qualified individuals to serve as an advisory group to study matters referred to it by the County Executive and the County Commissions, having the power only to make recommendations to the County Executive and the County Commissions after studying said matters.” The RCERB is authorized by the County Commission to be comprised of “five (5) to seven (7) general members and one (1) to two (2) student members, which shall be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Commission”. Currently, the RCERB has seven (7) appointed volunteer general members and no student members. In addition, a representative from the County Executive and a representative from the County Commission interface with the RCERB. Its appointed volunteer members represent a broad professional knowledge experience base of technical and scientific knowledge, education, skills, and hands-on experience in a cross-section of environmental fields. This broad professional knowledge experience base covers the Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation activities, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) operations, aquatic ecology, remediation projects, hazardous/radioactive waste management, and chemistry – just to name a few.

The RCERB strives to maintain an awareness of environmental activities that affect or can affect Roane County. Some of the most intensive topics that members have been actively studying for the benefit of the Commission in order to provide recommendations include:

  1. A new DOE new hazardous waste landfill named the Environmental Management Disposal Facility (EMDF) has been proposed that would house materials from the demolition and remediation of multiple contaminated Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) structures/facilities. There is a formal dispute over this facility’s design and operational basis between DOE, the Tennessee Department of Conservation (TDEC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The dispute primarily concerns protective measures in order to prevent the release of contaminated waters from the landfill directly into the Bear Creek watershed (surface and groundwaters). There is a related on-going contaminated wastewater discharge problem with the current landfill, named the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF), which has almost reached its capacity. 
  2. A mercury discharge into East Fork Poplar Creek that occurred at the DOE Y-12 facility in June 2018 which resulted in a large fish kill and continued over an extended (multi-month) period. Recent documentation indicates that fines for violation of groundwater quality regulations may be forthcoming as a result of this mercury release. This release is also related to the new proposed EMDF landfill where mercury-contaminated waste would be placed. There is increased concern over the proper handling of the mercury contamination constituent to prevent the creation of a potential new contamination source for releases into the Bear Creek watershed.
  3. The TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Coal Ash Spill has been the recent subject of legal action by site workers. Now there are concerns about the possibility of fly ash being present in and around the Swan Pond Sports Complex. The RCERB has been working with TDEC staff to develop and implement a sampling plan to test soils at multiple locations to determine if the fields and walking trails are safe for our community members and county workers.
  4. Non-native invasive aquatic plants are proliferating in Watts Bar Reservoir, along with several of the TVA river reservoirs. The County Commission named an Aquatic Weeds Committee that requested that a stakeholders group be formed to study the problem, research other affected relative bodies of water, acquire lessons learned from others with the same problem, and provide a report containing the needed information, research efforts, & recommendations as to how to proceed to address the problem. As a result, the Watts Bar Ecology and Fishery Council (WBEFC) was formed as a 501.c(3) non-profit organization a couple of years ago. A couple of RCERB members are also members of the WBEFC. The subject report was formally submitted to the Roane County Commission during its March 2019 meeting. The WBEFC is awaiting notification from the Commission as to a meeting to discuss this report. The WBEFC is also and just as importantly focusing efforts on preventing the migration of Silver (jumping) Asian Carp into the Chickamauga and Watts Bar Reservoirs.
  5. The TVA Kingston Fossil Plan Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) was extensively reviewed with comments provided in relation to the expansion of the now used landfill to dispose of and store fly ash, bottom ash, and gypsum generated by the burning of coal.
  6. TDEC performed surface water sampling of creeks around Tiger Haven to determine the presence (or lack thereof) of e. coli bacteria that could affect the health of nearby citizens. Sampling has concluded, and a report from TDEC is in progress.
  7. The American Zinc Corporation (AMZ) has had a draft Title V permit in review with TDEC for the last few years. There has been a Public Meeting in the past with another one planned in April. The RCERB reviewed the recent permit update and provided recommendations to the County Commission. The Commission has accepted and forwarded the identified permit concerns to TDEC.
  8. TVA’s draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of almost 700 pages was reviewed with comments provided back to TVA and copied to the Commission. The IRP and EIS explore various strategies and scenarios about how TVA plans to meet the power demands of the future and to remain stewards of the environment.
  9. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released plans related to permitting TVA to build and operate Small Modular Reactors (SMR) at the Clinch River site (previously the old “nuclear breeder site”). Plans are to build one or more 150-Mw nuclear reactor power plants to generate electricity. The NRC has approved an early site permit that allows investigation and preliminary design.

Each member of the RCERB expends many hundreds of hours on studying topics, performing online research, reading subject-related procedures/permits/regulations, attending public meetings to gather firsthand information, documenting feedback for public comment requests, and more each year. These services come at no cost to the taxpayers of the county and have saved taxpayers millions of dollars during the RCERB’s years of existence as a result of not having to hire outside consultants or establish a full-time staff to perform this work effort. In fact, RCERB input is now actively being sought by other outside area environmental groups and by state regulatory agencies. In the interest of public safety and environmental protection, the RCERB provides a very valuable function to Roane county government and its citizens. RCERB meetings are held monthly, open to the public, and public comments are welcomed.

Planning Ahead for Roane County

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

The county has recently taken some progressive steps in planning the county’s future. If one feels that nothing has been accomplished we understand, but below the surface, work has been going on, plans have been formulating, and execution of plans have taken place and/or are ready to take place. So, what plans are we talking about?

First, I think more of our county leadership recognizes that Roane County is not an industrial mecca. As an industrial agent recently said, “More than half of our proposals are put in the waste can because we are in a high wage, low unemployment area and new companies do not want to compete for the workforce.” The high wage, low unemployment is due to TVA, DOE, and related contractors. Slowly, a shift in thinking is taking place. What are our county’s assets? Great climate, a beautiful water system of rivers in Tennessee, Emory and Clinch, and friendly cities and communities. Maybe investments should be made in our recreation and tourism industries?

The county has been putting plans together for years for recreation and tourism development and as noted in last month’s newsletter, has hired master planners to complete the process. This year the county is eligible for a $250,000 recreation grant but we must match $250,000 local funds. The county does not have $250,000 but has taken the needed steps in the 2020 Budget to secure a large portion. Further, the county is applying for Tennessee RiverLine 652 project from the University of Tennessee. More details about this will be discussed in a future article.

The county is further working with Legacy Park Foundation and the National Park Service as the Manhattan Project Historical National Park is coming online in Roane County.

New trail systems, (both land and water), a National Park within Roane County, new courtesy boat docks on the reservoir, enhancements to Riley Creek Campground, and other recreation assets are helping Roane County lay the foundation for a vacation, recreation, and tourism destination.

More to come…

A Partial View to DOE Activities – Feb 2019

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

In 1991, an agreement was reached between the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) known as the Federal Facility Agreement (FFA). The purpose of the agreement was to:

  • Ensure that the environmental impacts associated with past and present activities at the [DOE] Site are thoroughly investigated and that appropriate remedial action is taken as necessary to protect the public health and welfare and the environment
  • Establish a procedural framework and schedule for developing, implementing, and monitoring appropriate response actions at the Site in accordance with Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability (CERCLA), the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution (NCP), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), appropriate guidance and policy, and in accordance with Tennessee State law;
  • Prevent, mitigate, or abate releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances from low-level radioactive waste tank systems under this Agreement prior to final remedial action at the [DOE] Site;
  • Facilitate cooperation, exchange of information, and participation of the Parties; • Minimize the duplication of investigative and analytical work and documentation and ensure the quality of data management;
  • Ensure that remedial action(s) at the [DOE] Site will be in compliance with applicable or relevant and identify appropriate requirements.
  • Expedite response actions with a minimum of delay; establish a basis for a determination that the DOE has completed the remedial investigation or feasibility study(s), remedial design(s), and remedial action(s) at the Site pursuant to CERCLA and applicable Tennessee State laws;
  • Coordinate response actions under CERCLA and this Agreement with RCRA Facility Investigations and corrective measures now being conducted under RCRA and applicable State laws;
  • Ensure that all releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants as defined by CERCLA and all releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents as defined by RCRA are addressed so as to achieve comprehensive remediation of the Site.” (Federal Facility Agreement, 1991)

To reflect as “an extension” of the FFA, there was, subsequently, created a regulatory contract called the Tennessee Oversight Agreement (TOA) which was accepted and signed in 2011 (TOA, pg. 1). This agreement was between DOE and the State of Tennessee and was later broken down into three separate agreements. The details of those agreements will be addressed in another article at a later date. Presently, we will address the details surrounding the funding of the Oak Ridge Reservation Communities Alliance (ORRCA). ORRCA was established to educate the elected officials and general public on the environmental clean-up activities of DOE, as well as, emergency preparedness programs. The ORRCA website www.orrcatn.com hosts a wealth of information that assists elected officials and the citizens within the adversely affected communities in understanding the specifics of the environmental clean-up processes and progress. ORRCA also strives to educate elected officials to make more informed decisions for their community.

What’s up for the New Calendar Year? – Jan 2019

What’s Up for the 2019 new calendar year (Jan-Dec)? We are halfway through our 2019 budget year (07/01/2018- 06/30/19). The six-month offset between our calendar year and our budget year allows us to evaluate the county and understand what is needed to keep Roane County on the right trajectory. For the next several months our Accounting Department with the County Executive’s Office will be working with our departments putting together our capital plans and capital budgets. We are now working out our 20-year capital plans.

The Capital Plan proceeds accordingly: During the first of the calendar year, we began focusing on our capital plans: 1) To understand what assets need to be purchased, maintained or replaced according to local, state, and federal legislation and objectives. 2) Next, we incorporate the capital need with our county operational budgets which are implemented on the first of July. 3) Finally, the Capital and Operations Budgets are adopted.

Here are a few of the capital issues under consideration. You can learn more about them in previous newsletters or read about them in upcoming issues here:

  • Schools (replacement or consolidation of physical assets)
  • Jail Expansion (property is purchased and preliminary designs are being reviewed)
  • Poplar Creek Rd (funding is approved and plans are being designed)
  • Recreation Programs (currently working with a 17-year-old master plan)
  • Caney Creek Bridge Replacement (TDOT project with local impact)

Additional Plans in Development:

  • Riley Creek Campground future plans and operations
  • Courthouse/Jail Parking
  • Ambulance Service Expansion into service area of Rockwood
  • Enhancement of County Fire Services (study underway)
  • Industrial Certified Site Development (reviewing inventory)

Through the planning process, we have identified a few matters which will impact our path forward:

  • Kingston TVA Ash Spill
  • Involvement with the DOEs plans of reindustrialization, future federal missions, community, business, industrial impact on Watts Bar Reservoir
  • Roane Academy, now known as the Youth Opportunity Center for Success and Independence or Youth Opportunity found in the Roane County Industrial Park
  • Asian carp and aquatic weeds
  • Accounting issue with Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) – See “Impacts of Accounting Regulation” 
  • US Census (Roane County must start initial work in February 2019)
  • More to come…

So buckle-up, Roane County ’s, $100,000,000 budget works begin now.

November Was Another Busy Month for County Government – Dec 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

The first week of the month had many County Commissioners at the Roane Alliance Gala. The Roane Alliance is the county’s economic development organization. This year’s Gala was once again well attended and supported by our local business and city governments. The Alliance was established in 2001 and has been led by four CEOs over the years. The Alliance is once again in search of a new leader as Wade Creswell has taken a position at Oak Ridge National Lab. Best wishes to Wade and thank you for your public service. The second week the commissioners honored a group of eight new Roane County Treasures. Roane County Treasures is a program started in 2007 that honors men and women who lived and contributed to the betterment of Roane County. A list of Treasures can be found on a plaque on the first floor of the Courthouse.

In the third week, County Commissioner Charlotte Bowers and Executive Ron Woody joined Oak Ridge Representatives at an intergovernmental meeting. They met with the Department of Energy (Oak Ridge Office and Washington DC Office), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and State Legislators to discuss the environmental clean up of the Oak Ridge Reservation and the challenges of cleaning the legacy DOE site.

The commission met the fourth week of November to approve a significant resolution that starts capital improvements for our county schools. For the first time in eight years, the county approved issuing debt. The debt may only be issued for large projects, and school building project qualifies as a large project wherein 7.1 Million in bonds were approved. We anticipate construction will start on the Oliver Springs Middle School conversion to a Middle and High School will begin in late Spring early Summer. This project is estimated over 5 million and another one million was approved for a new sewer plant to service the Midway elementary, middle and high schools. Part of the bond’s proceeds will be shared with the Oak Ridge School system for their county projects.

The County Commission further discussed possible legislation regarding the TVA ash spill at the County Commission meeting. More to come on these issues as a special meeting will be held on December 4th. The commissioner’s plates are full with the TVA Kingston ash spill issues, potential jail construction, and further capital education improvements. Stay tuned.

Ben Wilson – District 6 – Oct 2018

Benjamin Wilson was born in Roane County and has been a resident of Kingston his entire life. Wilson graduated from Calvary Baptist in Kingston and Roane State with a degree in Criminal Justice Investigations. Since graduating, he went into law enforcement and graduated from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy in 1993. In 2000, Wilson was hired by Wackenhut Services Inc (WSI) for the Department Of Energy and subsequently graduated from the National Technical Systems (NTS) in Albuquerque, NM. Wilson has served on the Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership Committee Voluntary Protection Program for DOE and is currently a captain with the security force in Oak Ridge under National Strategic Protective Services for the Department of Energy.

In 1993 Wilson married another local from Kingston, Stacey Russell. The Wilsons are proud to raise their three daughters, Sierra, Kaylee, and Abby in Kingston. Enhancing the growth of Roane County and providing a future for his three daughters are in large part the reason why Wilson decided to run for the commission. Wilson wants to ensure a fruitful future for the young sons and daughters of Roane County thru education, jobs, and industry. With gratefulness and humility, Wilson “looks forward to serving our citizens, and making a difference in our community.”

Ben Gann – District 3 – Oct 2018

Ben Gann, a lifelong resident of Roane County, grew up in Harriman and later Oliver Springs where he graduated from high school. Gann works as a Health and Safety Specialist for the DOE complex and lives on a small farm with his wife of seven years, Heather Gann, in Dickey Valley. Ben believes growing up in Roane helps him understand and relate to the needs of his rural neighbors in District 3. Eager to serve the people of the third district, Gann ran for County Commissioner with a local perspective and a progressive vision with the goal of promoting growth and investments in Roane County. Gann knows that Roane County has a lot to offer and encourages his fellow residents to join him in getting involved in our community.

Understanding County Government – Feb 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

As many of you know, I periodically will write articles for our local newspaper regarding County Government. I recently wrote an article, which after editing and rewriting, I decided not to send to the newspaper as most of the general public would not see interest in the subject matter. On the other hand, readers of our monthly newsletter may have some interest; we published the article “Trying to Understand,” on the county website under County Executive’s Published Articles and Speeches.
A portion of the article deals with engagement. My January newsletter article mentioned the Department of Energy activities. I will say the last month we have been consumed with the DOE. I am sure you will read in the Roane County News in the next several issues more about a serious issue we are dealing with concerning sales tax exemptions. Stay tuned. We must work to solve a legislative problem that is causing Roane County and our school system financial concerns.