Source: ORSSAB | Release | September 7, 2018

Environmental advisory board drafts workplan, elects officers at annual event.

Five newly appointed members of the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) joined current members in August for the board’s annual planning meeting in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The event brought together members of the board, leadership from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and partners from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to discuss topics for the board to address in the coming fiscal year.

The new members included Terry Allen of Oak Ridge; Bill Clark of Oakdale; Sarah Eastburn of Knoxville; Marité Pérez of Knoxville; and Brooke Pitchers of Harriman.

DOE recently appointed them to each serve two-year terms on ORSSAB, a federally chartered citizens’ panel that provides independent advice and recommendations to OREM, which is responsible for the cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation.

As the first ORSSAB meeting for the new members, the annual planning meeting gave them the opportunity to learn more about the board’s operation and goals.

Dave Adler, the acting deputy manager for OREM, led the slate of presenters with his overview of the mission, vision and goals of OREM’s cleanup program in Oak Ridge. Foremost among those broad goals is “Vision 2020,” which includes cleaning up the remaining portion of the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) and returning the site to the community as an economically beneficial industrial park.

Adler said the progress toward cleaning up and reindustrializing at ETTP is about 85 percent complete. He also took the opportunity to describe OREM’s current near-term priorities, including items OREM would like the board’s input on.

“The top issue before the board this year is planning for disposal of the waste to be generated by future cleanup efforts at ORNL and Y-12,” said Adler. “The current landfill is close to capacity, and a new one is needed.”

Adler also covered extending the operational life of facilities, reducing surveillance and maintenance requirements and handling excess contaminated facilities. Other topics mentioned included the importance of the board’s input on reuse and historic preservation activities at ETTP, as well as priorities for the FY2020 budget for the EM program.

Representatives from TDEC and the EPA also provided suggested topics and were in agreement on the most pressing environmental issues for the board: Ensuring sufficient waste disposal capacity and evaluating ongoing groundwater efforts.

Mike Higgins, a board liaison from TDEC, specifically asked the board to consider processing of transuranic waste, or TRU, and the need for funding the TRU Sludge Processing Facility. Higgins also asked the board to consider mercury remediation efforts, and he praised the construction of the Mercury Treatment Facility at Y-12, which will allow the safe demolition of contaminated buildings.

Connie Jones, EPA’s liaison to the board, presented suggestions for ongoing groundwater projects and future strategy for groundwater protection.  She stressed community concerns about groundwater migration and advocated for DOE to evaluate potential new groundwater treatment technologies.

Members also elected officers for FY2019 at the meeting. Dennis Wilson was reelected as chair, Michelle Lohmann was newly elected to the board’s vice-chair seat and Richard Burroughs was reelected as secretary. [Editor’s Note: Bios and photos included]

The board also used the annual meeting as a chance to gauge its efforts over the past fiscal year.  It approved two local recommendations to DOE this year on OREM’s FY2020 budget and on the proposed new waste disposal facility, respectively. It also approved a joint recommendation with the EM SSAB, the nationwide network of site specific advisory boards, regarding the Energy Communities Alliance Report on Waste Disposition.

The board’s work plan for FY2019 is on track to be approved in October. The first meeting of FY2019 will be Wednesday, Oct. 10.

ORSSAB meets the second Wednesday of most months at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center located at 1 Way in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Additional information about the board and becoming a member is available online at, by emailing, or by calling 865-241-4584.

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New Members

Terry Allen retired in 2016 after 21 years with OREM, where he worked on issues related to regulatory compliance, safety culture and a variety of other tasks related to environmental cleanup at the site.

Bill Clark is a Master Beef Producer providing freezer beef. He is also a retired boilermaker with a wide range of experience both in his professional career and as the owner of a water-, gas- and oil-drilling rig, which provided firsthand insight into environmental issues.

Sarah Eastburn is the director of marketing and education outreach for the Tennessee Clean Water Network. She has also worked as an educational fellow with AmeriCorps and as an environmental development specialist with the Peace Corps.

Marité Pérez is a loan officer with Mortgage Investors Group. She has also worked with Latin and Haitian communities in the Dominican Republic as a Community Economic Development Advisor through the Peace Corps.

Brooke Pitchers is a recent graduate of Roane State Community College in Harriman, where she received an associate’s degree in environmental health technology. She also completed a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certification course.

2019 ORSSAB Officers

Chair: Dennis Wilson served as chair in 2018 and was as vice chair in 2017. He has been a member of the board since 2015. While much of his 39-year career was focused on technology and intellectual property management, his early career included work as a resin and polymer chemist for which he was awarded seven global patents.

Vice Chair: Michelle “Shell” Lohmann has been a member of the board since 2017. She is a human resources director for U.S. Cellular. Previously she was the program manager for the University Recruiting and Graduate Education Programs for ORNL in collaboration with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Secretary: Richard Burroughs served as board secretary in 2018. He has been a member of the board since 2015. He most recently served as the chief of staff in the Anderson County mayor’s office. He is also a registered professional geologist.  His employment history includes 25 years working primarily with Resource Conservation Recovery Act and CERCLA projects in several states.