About the LOC - Full moon gardening
We are a non-profit, regional organization established in 1991 to represent the counties and communities affected most directly by the Department of Energy's activities in Oak Ridge.
Welcome to the Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee, Inc. We are a non-profit, regional organization established in 1991 to represent the counties and communities affected most directly by DOE's activities in Oak Ridge. Funded by a grant from TDEC's DOE-Oversight Division, the LOC's mission is to ensure that human health, the environment and local economic and social well-being are protected during cleanup and operations.
At this site, you will learn who we are, how we got here, what we think and how you can get involved. We also provide links to other agencies and groups involved in the many issues surrounding DOE's Oak Ridge Operations.
The Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee (LOC) was created in 1991 to represent those counties and communities affected most directly by DOE's activities in Oak Ridge. The LOC is funded by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's DOE-Oversight Division, which is in turn funded by the Department of Energy under terms of the Tennessee Oversight Agreement (TOA).
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The Oak Ridge Reservation is bounded on the north and east by residential areas of Oak Ridge and on the south and west by the Clinch River. Anderson County, which includes the eastern portion of Oak Ridge and the ORR, has a population of 71,330. Roane County, which includes the western portion of Oak Ridge and the ORR, has a population of 51,910. Counties adjacent to the Reservation include Knox (population 382,032), Loudon (population 39,086), and Morgan (population 19,757). The nearest cities are Oliver Springs, Kingston, Lenoir City, Harriman, Farragut and Clinton. The nearest metropolitan center, Knoxville (population 173,890), is about 20 miles to the southeast.
Neither the ORR nor the City of Oak Ridge existed before World War II. Development of the ORR began in 1942 under the Manhattan Project, a top-secret initiative that produced the world's first nuclear weapons. At that time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built four facilities on the ORR, code-named X-10, K-25, Y-12 and S-50.
The City of Oak Ridge was incorporated in 1959, 17 years after creation of the ORR. The entire ORR lies within the city limits of Oak Ridge. The city itself is located in two counties, with the eastern portion in Anderson County and the western portion in Roane County. ORNL and ETTP are in Roane County; Y-12 is in Anderson County.
The ORR was initially responsible for enriching uranium and producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. X-10, which now goes by the name Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was built to develop methods for separating plutonium from irradiated uranium fuel. Various nuclear reactors and associated chemical separation facilities were built on site. These included the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor, the Clinton Pile, now known as the Oak Ridge Graphite Reactor.
K-25, Y-12 and S-50 were built to develop methods for enriching uranium, a process that boosted concentration of the fissionable uranium-235 isotope. The gaseous diffusion process at K-25 (now known as East Tennessee Technology Park, ETTP) proved the most effective; as a result, the S-50 plant was shut down and Y-12 facilities were converted to work on components for nuclear weapons.
In the five decades since its creation, the ORR has hosted a widening variety of research and production activities that have created a variety of wastes, some radioactive, some hazardous and some a mixture of both. These wastes have been stored and disposed of on the ORR.
Y-12 Plant. Y-12 is located on 811 acres about two miles south of downtown Oak Ridge. It is home to DOE's Defense Programs in Oak Ridge
Y-12 was built in 1943, and facilities there used an electromagnetic process to enrich uranium for the first atomic bomb. Until 1992, the plant's primary mission was production and fabrication of nuclear weapons components. This mission was curtailed dramatically at the end of the Cold War, although Y-12 continues to support DOE's weapons laboratories in New Mexico and California and remains the nation's primary storage site for highly enriched uranium. New directions for the facility include dismantlement of weapons, decontamination and decommissioning of facilities no longer needed, and environmental restoration.
Y-12 is also home to the Centers for Manufacturing Technology. The centers take highly advanced technologies developed in the weapons program and share them with the private sector.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). ORNL occupies 2,900 acres 10 miles southwest of downtown Oak Ridge. It was established in 1943 to develop processes for separating plutonium from irradiated uranium fuel. Since then, it has evolved into one of the nation's premier multi-purpose research laboratories, with world-class expertise in areas such as neutron science, materials science, computer science, environmental sciences and biology. ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor contributes to materials research and produces some of the nation's most important medical isotopes.
ORNL's Graphite Reactor was the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor and is now a National Historic Landmark.
East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). Originally named K-25, construction of the plant began in 1943. It currently occupies 1,500 acres about four miles west of downtown Oak Ridge. The plant used the gaseous diffusion process to enrich uranium, boosting concentration of U-235 for nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation. In 1985, it was closed officially and targeted for decommissioning and decontamination. ETTP is the focus of DOE efforts to move private businesses into surplus government land and facilities. DOE hopes to transfer most of ETTP to the private sector by 2010.
S-50 Plant. A fourth plant, S-50, was also built during World War II to enrich uranium. Located within the current ETTP boundaries, it was closed after a year, operating only in 1944 and 1945.
Pollution and regulation
The Manhattan Project and the Cold War left a legacy of hazardous and radioactive waste around the country at many sites, including Oak Ridge. The Cold War has now come to an end, and the mission for DOE's three Oak Ridge plants is changing. With this change, environmental restoration has become a focal point for the State, DOE and the community.
In 1983, massive mercury contamination from the Y-12 Plant was discovered in East Fork Poplar Creek, which flows through residential areas of Oak Ridge. Seeing the impacts DOE had on the region, the State of Tennessee asserted its authority over activities on the Oak Ridge Reservation. This authority included enforcement of regulations, monitoring of the environment and oversight of cleanup on the ORR. The State's role has been enhanced by two major agreements that govern the relationship between DOE and the State of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Oversight Agreement, recently renewed for five years, was first signed in 1991. DOE, the State, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed in 1992 with the Federal Facilities Agreement, which provides a mechanism for cleanup decision-making and a deadline for accomplishing the work.
Radioactive, hazardous and mixed wastes are all found on the Reservation. Some were generated on site, but some, too, were brought from other locations. Because contaminants have been released to the environment here, the Reservation was placed on the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL). This list is generated by EPA under authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund law.
This placement is an important designation; sites on the NPL pose the nation's most serious threats to public health and the environment. CERCLA requires that NPL sites be investigated to assess the nature and extent of contamination, risks faced by humans and the environment, and alternatives available to minimize these risks.
Federal activities have contaminated 527 sites on or near the Reservation, and the ORR is the focus of one of the largest environmental cleanup efforts in history. While most contamination is confined to the Reservation, some has reached areas off site such as East Fork Poplar Creek , the Clinch River and Watts Bar Reservoir (where the Clinch joins the Tennessee River).
Contaminants include radioactive materials such as uranium, plutonium, tritium, cobalt-60, cesium-137 and strontium-90. They also include pollutants that are non-radioactive but still hazardous, such as mercury, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, chromium, inorganic contaminants and volatile organic compounds.
Now occupying about 35,500 acres, the Reservation is located in the Valley and Ridge Province of East Tennessee. The province is bounded by the Great Smoky Mountains to the southeast and the Cumberland Mountains to the northwest. The region's climate is moderately humid, with an annual mean precipitation of 53.9 inches. The average winter temperature is 41.6 degree Fahrenheit and the average summer temperature is 75.6 degrees. Winds on the reservation are controlled in large part by the valley and ridge topography, with prevailing winds moving up the valleys to the northeast during the daytime and down the valleys to the southwest at night.
Streams on the Reservation drain into the Clinch River, which joins the Tennessee River at Watts Bar Reservoir near Kingston. Melton Hill Dam is located on the Clinch just upstream from ORNL. Portions of the Clinch above the dam are part of Melton Hill Lake; portions below the dam are part of Upper Watts Bar Reservoir.
The flow of groundwater on the Reservation is very complex. In many areas, water flows underground in channels dissolved in the bedrock.
Who is the LOC?
Board of Directors
The LOC is governed by local officials representing communities most affected by DOE activities in Oak Ridge.
These officials come from both city and county governments, and they include hosting communities, neighboring communities and communities downstream from the ORR:
City of Oak Ridge
The following public officials comprise the current LOC Board.
Oak Ridge Mayor
Leonard Abbatiello, Chair
Oak Ridge City Council
Meigs County Mayor
Morgan County Mayor
Anderson County Mayor
Loudon County Mayor
Norman A. Mulvenon
Chair, LOC CAP
Knox County Mayor
Chair, Oak Ridge Environmental Quality Advisory Board
Chair, Roane County Environmental Review Board
Billy Ray Patton
Rhea County Mayor
Roane County Mayor
Citizens' Advisory Panel
The LOC also hosts a Citizens' Advisory Panel that consists of 15 to 18 concerned residents of local communities.
Current members are:
Norman A. Mulvenon, Chair
Al Skyberg, Vice Chair
Alfred A. Brooks, Ph.D.
Luther V. Gibson, Jr.
James S. "Josh" Johnson Jr., Ph.D.
Roger L. Macklin
Fay M. Martin, Ph.D.
Barbara A. Walton
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The LOC has a two member professional staff:
Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D.
Download a copy of the CAP application form in PDF format.
The LOC can be reached in all the usual ways.
102 Robertsville Road
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
(865) 483-1333 or (888) 770-3073
The LOC keeps a close eye on DOE activities in Oak Ridge to ensure the best interests of nearby communities are protected and public funds are used wisely during cleanup, continued operations and reindustrialization at the Oak Ridge Reservation
Board members are concerned with human health and the environment as well as with their communities' economic and social well-being.
The LOC has found a variety of means to join the dialogue on DOE issues in Oak Ridge, both through the Board of Directors and the Citizens Advisory Panel:
- Newsletters provide readers with vital information about the most important and most pressing issues facing the community. Articles are contributed by members of the Citizens Advisory Panel and LOC staff. The newsletters also provide a regular column by the LOC executive director and a calendar of upcoming meetings and other public events.
- Comments on DOE proposals draw on the expertise and experience of the Board and CAP to lend an informed community voice to DOE deliberations.
- Positions allow the community to step back and take a broader view of regional trends.
- In addition, the LOC is responsible each year for producing the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation DOE Oversight Division's annual Status Report to the Public. This report presents an independent view of the safety and quality of the Oak Ridge environment. It also discusses activities of state regulators in Oak Ridge and explains key issues that must be addressed if the quality of the Oak Ridge environment is to be maintained and improved.
Appointed by the Governor
When the Local Oversight Committee was formed in 1991, the first board members–County Executives of Anderson, Roane, Meigs, and Rhea counties and the Mayor of the City of Oak Ridge–were appointed by then-Governor Ned McWherter. Since then, the LOC has expanded to represent Knox, Loudon, and Morgan counties and has added representatives from Oak Ridge Environmental Quality Advisory Board, Roane County Environmental Review Board, and LOC’s Citizens’ Advisory Panel (formed in 1994).
The LOC welcomes the new County Mayors and County Executives elected in August 2010 who will serve on the LOC Board. In the tradition of the original board, they are “Appointed by the Governor” to this position.
Our new Board members will be:
- Roane County – Ron Woody
- Knox County – Tim Burchett
- Loudon County – Estelle Herron
- Morgan County – Don Edwards
- Meigs County – Garland Lankford
- Rhea County – George Thacker
Learning to beware the gorilla in our midst
The document produced by the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research is called "Good News," but what it tells us is that DOE cutbacks are draining money out of the regional economy at an alarming rate.
DOE's contribution to personal income in Tennessee shrank in the neighborhood of $100 million between the last federal fiscal year and the one before it, and more than a quarter of the jobs on the Oak Ridge Reservation have been lost since 1996.
In Nashville, the Reservation may look like nothing more than a radioactive waste generator, but thousands of people in East Tennessee rely on DOE spending to put food on the table.
In the current issue of LOC Insights, Executive Director Susan Gawarecki looks at the valuable information coming out of this document and calls on governments in the area to show greater understanding and appreciation for this gorilla in our midst.