Comments on DOE's Proposed EE/CA for Remediation of
Several Waste Management Areas at the LEHR Site

Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee
Rt. 2 Box 2879
Davis, CA 95616
530 753-9449
fax 530 753-8220
e-mail- [email protected]
Web site http://members.aol.com/dscsoc/dscsoc.htm

February 8, 1998

Remedial Project Managers
DOE-UCD LEHR Superfund Site
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Subject: DSCSOC's comments on DOE-Weiss EE/CA

Dear RPMs,

I have attached for your review Dr. G. Fred Lee's comment on the January 12, 1998 Draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) meeting. Dr. Lee's comments include his review of Duncan Austin's draft comments on the EE/CA which Dr. Lee attached to his comments as an additional discussion of the issues that are pertinent to this review.

Dr. Lee has recommended that DSCSOC support the final version of the EE/CA that has been released for public comment. I would like to express on behalf of DSCSOC its support of the final EE/CA. Dr. Lee has expressed to DSCSOC that he has confidence in the RPMs' approach for implementation of the EE/CA. DSCSOC wishes to thank the Remedial Project Managers and their agencies for their efforts.

If you have any questions regarding Dr. Lee's comments, please contact him.

Sincerely,

Julie Roth, Executive Director

cc: DSCSOC's Executive Board
PRPs
William H. Taylor
Jane Riggan

G. Fred Lee & Associates
________________________________________
27298 E. El Macero Dr.
El Macero, California 95618-1005
Tel. (530) 753-9630 Fax (530) 753-9956
e-mail [email protected]
web site: http://members.aol.com/gfredlee/gfl.htm
Please note the new area code for telephone and fax has been changed to 530

January 28, 1998

Julie Roth, Exec. Director
DSCSOC
Route 2, Box 2879
Davis, CA 95616

Dear Julie:

I wish to report on the Draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) meeting that was held on January 12, 1998 devoted to the first of the hazardous/radioactive waste removal programs that is being developed for the LEHR national Superfund site. This Removal Action is directed to removing the waste and some of the contaminated soils in waste management areas which are part of DOE's responsibility for LEHR site remediation. Over the past 2.5 years that I have served as an advisor to DSCSOC on LEHR site issues, I have repeatedly expressed concern about potential approaches that DOE could adopt with respect to site remediation where something less than full public health and environmental protection could be permitted by RPMs, representing the federal and state regulatory agencies under US EPA CERCLA. Throughout this 2.5 year period, DOE and UCD have been posturing for positions that could potentially lead to substantial amounts of waste materials being left at the site that would represent long-term threats to public health and the environment under conditions where there would be inadequate monitoring and maintenance of the residual waste materials.

Most recently, in connection with the EE/CA, DOE has been attempting to gain buy-off on remediation approaches that could readily prove to be inadequate for public health and environmental protection. In the comments that I sent to DSCSOC on January 10, 1998 on the December 1997 RPM meeting, I discussed a number of key issues with respect to the EE/CA and DOE's potential attempts to proceed at selected site area remediation without proper characterization of the waste management units and especially the contaminated soils near the waste management units under consideration in the EE/CA. I am pleased to report that as of the January 12, 1998 meeting, DOE has reversed its position with respect to the EE/CA development and implementation where now DOE has agreed to the approach that Duncan Austin and others, including DSCSOC, have maintained, must be the approach used in the site investigation and remediation, namely to excavate all obvious waste materials and remove them from the LEHR site for off-site disposal. Once these materials are removed, then detailed site waste management area characterization would be conducted and decisions would be made as to what additional waste-contaminated soil removal would be needed.

Basically, the decisions on the extent of remediation that will take place have been postponed until the obvious waste materials and contaminated soils have been removed from each of the disposal areas covered by the EE/CA. As I have indicated in previous correspondence, this is the technically valid approach that should be used.

A key aspect of the review of the EE/CA is that for the first time, DSCSOC has had the opportunity to examine the overall approach that the regulatory agencies propose to take with respect to meeting state of California remediation goals. As you may recall, I have repeatedly expressed concern about how, based on my experience with work in other areas, Superfund sites are "remediated" to levels that, while they meet US EPA CERCLA requirements, do not conform to state of California clean-up requirements and do not necessarily fully protect the interest of those within the sphere of influence of the Superfund site for as long as any residual wastes/chemicals at the site represent a potential threat to public health, groundwater resources and/or the environment. The representatives from the US EPA, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Regional Water Quality Control Board and Department of Health Services made it clear at the January 12, 1998 meeting that it is their respective agencies' positions that state of California ARARs are the remediation goals that must be met at the LEHR site.

Of particular interest to DSCSOC was Susan Timm's January 9, 1998 letter to DOE reporting on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's approach of fully implementing protection of groundwaters from further pollution by LEHR site wastes. Further, while not a specific issue addressed in the EE/CA since it is devoted to wastes and not groundwaters, the implications from the discussions were that the CVRWQCB will require full clean-up of the groundwaters in accord with state and Regional Board regulations.

While the actual degree of clean-up to be achieved will be determined at a later date upon further characterization of the site once the wastes are removed, I am highly encouraged by this situation and can recommend to DSCSOC that it support the final version of the EE/CA that has been recently released for public comment. It is my understanding that there is a 30-day period for public comment. Based on the January 12, 1998 meeting, I feel that DSCSOC can fully support the EE/CA where substantial amounts of waste materials from the LEHR site operations will be excavated and transported from the LEHR site for off-site disposal.

It should be understood that DSCSOC may encounter problems with respect to specific issues of the degree of clean-up that will be achieved of the contaminated soils surrounding the waste management units. These issues will have to be addressed as part of review of the workplan for implementation of the clean-up as well as the specific decisions that are made with regard to remediation that is adopted after further site-characterization. At this point, the LEHR site investigation and clean-up from the DOE's perspective is headed down a path that I can fully support. I am far less concerned about the ultimate degree of remediation and long-term protection that will result from the LEHR site investigation and remediation than I have been in the past. DSCSOC should thank and strongly support the agencies and Remediation Program Managers for their efforts.

Attached is a set of comments that I have prepared on Duncan Austin's draft comments on the draft EE/CA. They provide additional discussion of issues that are pertinent to this review.

If you or others associated with DSCSOC or members of the public have questions about the appropriateness of supporting the EE/CA, please contact me.

Sincerely yours,

G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE

GFL:jlc
Enclosure

G. Fred Lee & Associates
________________________________________
27298 E. El Macero Dr.
El Macero, California 95618-1005
Tel. (530) 753-9630 Fax (530) 753-9956
e-mail [email protected]
web site: http://members.aol.com/gfredlee/gfl.htm
Please note the new area code for telephone and fax has been changed to 530

Duncan Austin
DTSC
10151 Croydon Way, #3
Sacramento, CA 95827

Dear Duncan:

I have reviewed your draft comments on the DOE LEHR site EE/CA and agree with them. The key issues are that DOE should remove as much of the obvious waste material as possible from the Southwest Trenches, Radium-226/Strontium-90 Treatment Systems, and Domestic Septic System Areas for off-site disposal. Further, the extent of clean-up of the contaminated soils around the disposal areas will have to be determined to a considerable extent based on visual inspection and sampling of the open trenches, pits and other excavated areas after waste removal.

As I have pointed out, I am particularly concerned about DOE's consultants persisting with what are obviously technically invalid approaches for assessing contaminant transport away from waste disposal areas. This transport will be along preferential pathways. Broad brushed statistical approaches typically used are not reliable for characterizing the hazards of this type of situation.

It is my understanding that a detailed workplan will be developed by DOE which will implement the general EE/CA framework. The key to the detailed review of this EE/CA will be associated with review of that work plan.

In your second paragraph under Institutional Controls, you indicate that it may be possible to remediate the area sufficiently so that no post-closure institutional controls will be necessary. While in theory this is possible, in practice I believe that it will not be possible to close this site or any of the waste management units without significant institutional controls that are in fact properly monitored for as long as the residual wastes represent a threat.

The issue of ultimate target clean-up levels will, as you describe, need to be decided at a future date. The basic problem is that DOE opted for a quick and dirty once over-look at the characteristics of the wastes in the various disposal areas. Until they reversed their position on January 12, 1998, they were trying to use the limited field investigations as a basis for establishing clean-up objectives. This can not be reliably done. As you point out, it will be necessary to get the wastes out of the disposal areas, then characterize the residual contamination in the vicinity of these areas. At that time, dependent on the amount of resources available, the ultimate clean-up objectives can be established.

As I discussed at the December 1997 RPM meeting, the ultimate clean-up objectives, and institutional controls that will be needed, will be dependant to a considerable extent on the adequacy and reliability of DOE's commitment for post-closure monitoring. If DOE is unwilling to commit to comprehensive third-party monitoring, then the clean-up objectives and institutional controls will need to be considerably more protective than if DOE will commit to and in fact fund in perpetuity monitoring to detect problems before further public health and environmental damage occurs.

I am concerned about the new situation that has developed where DOE has now developed a shortage of funds to manage the excavated wastes at the time that they are properly characterized. Above-ground storage of the excavated waste will require an intensive monitoring and maintenance program to be sure that the stored wastes do not lead to greater off-site pollution by stormwater runoff that has already occurred.

Please call if you have questions on these comments.

Sincerely your,

FRED

G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE

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