Photo of the 2019 Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) annual meeting
ORSSAB members regularly meet with representatives from DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, EPA, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to provide input on environmental cleanup and stewardship.
Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) members tour the Aquatics Lab at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
ORSSAB members recently toured Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Aquatics Lab, where researchers explained how their sampling and study efforts are helping understand and track biodiversity in the East Fork Poplar Creek.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. –  The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) invites residents of the counties surrounding the Oak Ridge Reservation to fill vacancies on the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB).  The board meets monthly to hear directly from OREM personnel on progress of the environmental cleanup of Manhattan Project-era facilities and provide community feedback and recommendations.

“The recommendations from this board and the perspective of its members are incredibly valuable to our program, and they help influence and guide our decisions-making,” said Laura Wilkerson, OREM acting manager. “Membership is the best, most direct way to understand the environmental cleanup underway, interact with project managers, and to make your opinions known to DOE.”

As a citizens advisory board, technical expertise is not required. ORSSAB strives to reflect the broad spectrum of backgrounds and viewpoints from residents in the counties surrounding the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation. Geographically, this includes residents in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Knox, Loudon, Meigs, Morgan, Roane and Union counties. 

The deadline for submitting applications is February 28. Membership applications are available on the board’s website at www.energy.gov/orssab, by email at orssab@orem.doe.gov, or board staff can also be reached at (865) 241-4583 or 241-4584.

“ORSSAB’s purpose is to capture and reflect the opinions and perspectives of the residents here,” said Dave Adler, the board’s deputy designated federal officer. “We are interested in the input of anyone who lives or works in the area, not just scientists or engineers – whether a recent graduate, caregiver, bank teller, small business owner, or retiree. Each can possess and share valuable points of view for the board.”

Members will learn as they serve through education at the meetings as well as participation in other events, such as site tours. Members then discuss and develop recommendations for OREM based on their insight as members of the community. Terms are for two years, and members may serve up to three terms, for a total of six years on the board.

Board meetings are held eight to nine months of the year (with breaks for summer and winter holidays) at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesdays of each month. The board’s EM & Stewardship Committee meets for in-depth discussion and development of recommendations at 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. DOE is currently conducting all meetings virtually. However, when available, in-person meetings occur at the DOE Information Center in Oak Ridge, 1 Science.gov Way, Oak Ridge, Tenn. 37830. 

“DOE very much appreciates the commitment these volunteers make to provide us community feedback,” said Adler. “Members’ recommendations help us prioritize cleanup in ways that recognize the unique needs of residents of East Tennessee, while still upholding the rigorous standards our program requires for the long-term safety of people and the environment.”

ORSSAB has produced nearly 300 recommendations in its 25-year history. All major cleanup decisions by DOE have included board input and none have gone against the board’s majority opinion. Topics include, but are not limited to, removal of excess facilities, annual budget requests to Congress, groundwater remediation, hazardous waste management and long-term stewardship. 

ORSSAB’s next meeting is 6 p.m. February 9. The presentation will be on the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which is the legislation that governs federal advisory boards. All ORSSAB board and committee meetings are open to the public.

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ORSSAB is a federally chartered citizens’ panel launched in 1995 to provide input and recommendations to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management regarding its environmental cleanup activities across the Oak Ridge Reservation. The board meets the second Wednesday of most months at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center, 1 Science.gov Way in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Meetings of the board and its committees are open to the public. For more information, visit ORSSAB’s website or follow the ORSSAB Facebook page and ORSSAB YouTube channel.