[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 109 (Wednesday, June 5, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 28467-28497]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-13874]



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Federal Register / Vol. 61, No. 109 / Wednesday, June 5, 1996 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 28467]]



NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 51

RIN 3150-AD63


Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating 
Licenses

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is amending its 
regulations regarding environmental protection regulations for domestic 
licensing and related regulatory functions to establish new 
requirements for the environmental review of applications to renew the 
operating licenses of nuclear power plants. The amendment defines those 
environmental impacts for which a generic analysis has been performed 
that will be adopted in plant-specific reviews for license renewal and 
those environmental impacts for which plant-specific analyses are to be 
performed.
    The amendment improves regulatory efficiency in environmental 
reviews for license renewal by drawing on the considerable experience 
of operating nuclear power reactors to generically assess many of the 
environmental impacts that are likely to be associated with license 
renewal. The amendment also eliminates consideration of the need for 
generating capacity and of utility economics from the environmental 
reviews because these matters are under the regulatory jurisdiction of 
the States and are not necessary for the NRC's understanding of the 
environmental consequences of a license renewal decision.
    The increased regulatory efficiency will result in lower costs to 
both the applicant in preparing a renewal application and to the NRC 
for reviewing plant-specific applications and better focus of review 
resources on significant case specific concerns. The results should be 
a more focused and therefore a more effective NEPA review for each 
license renewal. The amendment will also provide the NRC with the 
flexibility to address unreviewed impacts at the site-specific stage of 
review and allow full consideration of the environmental impacts of 
license renewal.
    The NRC is soliciting public comment on this rule for a period of 
30 days. In developing any comment specific attention should be given 
to the treatment of low-level waste storage and disposal impacts, the 
cumulative radiological effects from the uranium fuel cycle, and the 
effects from the disposal of high-level waste and spent fuel.

DATES: Absent a determination by the NRC that the rule should be 
modified, based on comments received, the final rule shall be effective 
on August 5, 1996. The comment period expires on July 5, 1996.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to: The Secretary of the Commission, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention: 
Docketing and Services Branch, or hand deliver comments to the Office 
of the Secretary, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, 
Rockville, Maryland between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal 
workdays. Copies of comments received and all documents cited in the 
supplementary information may be examined at the NRC Public Document 
Room, 2120 L Street NW. (Lower Level), Washington, DC between the hours 
of 7:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donald P. Cleary, Office of Nuclear 
Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001, telephone: (301) 415-6263; e-mail [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction
II. Rulemaking History
III. Analysis of Public Comments
    A. Commenters
    B. Procedural Concerns
    1. Public Participation and the Periodic Assessment of the Rule 
and GEIS
    2. Economic Costs and Cost-Benefit Balancing
    3. Need for Generating Capacity and Alternative Energy Sources
    C. Technical Concerns
    1. Category and Impact Magnitude Definitions
    2. Surface Water Quality
    3. Aquatic Ecology
    4. Groundwater Use and Quality
    5. Terrestrial Ecology
    6. Human Health
    7. Socioeconomics
    8. The Uranium Fuel Cycle and Solid Waste Management
    9. Accidents
    10. Decommissioning
    11. Need for Generating Capacity
    12. Alternatives to License Renewal
    13. License Renewal Scenario
    14. Environmental Justice
IV. Discussion of Regulatory Requirements
    A. General Requirements
    B. The Environmental Report
    1. Environmental Impacts of License Renewal
    2. Consideration of Alternatives
    C. Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
    1. Public Scoping and Public Comments on the SEIS
    2. Commission's Analysis and Preliminary Recommendation
    3. Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
    D. NEPA Review for Activities Outside NRC License Renewal 
Approved Scope
V. Availability of Documents
VI. Submittal of Comments in an Electronic Format
VII. Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact Availability
VIII. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement
IX. Regulatory Analysis
X. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification
XI. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act
XII. Backfit Analysis

I. Introduction

    The Commission has amended its environmental protection regulations 
in 10 CFR part 51 to improve the efficiency of the process of 
environmental review for applicants seeking to renew an operating 
license for up to an additional 20 years. The amendments are based on 
the analyses conducted for and reported in NUREG-1437, ``Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' 
(May 1996). The Commission's initial decision to undertake a generic 
assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the renewal of 
a nuclear power plant operating license was motivated by its beliefs 
that:
    (1) License renewal will involve nuclear power plants for which the

[[Page 28468]]

environmental impacts of operation are well understood as a result of 
data evaluated from operating experience to date;
    (2) Activities associated with license renewal are expected to be 
within this range of operating experience, thus environmental impacts 
can be reasonably predicted; and
    (3) Changes in the environment around nuclear power plants are 
gradual and predictable with respect to characteristics important to 
environmental impact analyses.
    Although this amendment is consistent with the generic approach and 
scope of the proposed amendment published on September 17, 1991 (56 FR 
47016), several significant modifications have been made in response to 
the public comments received. The proposed amendment would have 
codified the findings reached in the draft generic environmental impact 
statement (GEIS) as well as certain procedural requirements. The draft 
GEIS established the bounds and significance of potential environmental 
impacts at 118 light-water nuclear power reactors that, as of 1991, 
were licensed to operate or were expected to be licensed in the future.
    All potential environmental impacts and other matters treated by 
the NRC in an environmental review of nuclear power plants were 
identified and combined into 104 discrete issues. For each issue, the 
NRC staff established generic findings encompassing as many nuclear 
power plants as possible. These findings would have been codified by 
the proposed amendment. Of the 104 issues reviewed for the proposed 
rule, the staff determined that 80 issues could be adequately addressed 
generically and would not have been reviewed in plant-specific license 
renewal reviews. For 22 of the issues, it was found that the issue was 
adequately addressed for some but not all plants. Therefore, a plant-
specific review would be required to determine whether the plant is 
covered by the generic review or whether the issue must be assessed for 
that plant. The proposed amendment provided guidance on the application 
of these findings at the site-specific license renewal stage. For the 
two remaining issues, it was found that the issue was not generically 
addressed for any plant, and thus a plant-specific review would have 
been required for all plants.
    Other major features of the proposed amendment included a 
conditional finding of a favorable cost-benefit balance for license 
renewal and a provision for the use of an environmental assessment that 
would address only those issues requiring plant-specific review. A 
finding of no significant impact would have resulted in a favorable 
cost-benefit balance for that plant. If a finding of no significant 
impact could not be made for the plant, there would have to have been a 
determination as to whether the impacts found in the environmental 
assessment were sufficient to overturn the conditional cost-benefit 
balance found in the rule.
    Although the final amendments to 10 CFR part 51 maintain the same 
generic approach used in the proposed rule, there are several 
modifications.The final amendments to 10 CFR part 51 now contain 92 
issues. The reduction of the number of issues from 104 in the proposed 
rule to 92 in the final rule is due to (1) the elimination from the 
review of the consideration of the need for electric power and 
associated generating capacity and of the direct economic benefits and 
costs associated with electric power, (2) removing alternatives as an 
issue from Table B-1 and addressing review requirements only in the 
text of the rule, (3) combining the five severe accident issues used in 
the proposed rule into one issue, (4) eliminating several regional 
economic issues under socioeconomics that are not directly related to 
environmental impacts, (5) making minor changes to the grouping of 
issues under aquatic ecology and groundwater, (6) identifying 
collective offsite radiological impacts associated with the fuel cycle 
and all impacts of high level waste and spent fuel disposal as separate 
issues, and (7) adding environmental justice as an issue for 
consideration.
    Of the 92 issues in the final rule, 68 issues were found to be 
adequately addressed in the GEIS, and therefore, additional assessment 
will not be required in a plant-specific review. Twenty-four issues 
were found to require additional assessment for at least some plants at 
the time of the license renewal review. In the final rule, the 2 issues 
in the proposed rule that would have required review for all plants are 
now included in the set of 24 issues of the final rule.
    Public comments on the adequacy of the analysis for each issue were 
considered by the NRC staff. Any changes to the analyses and findings 
that were determined to be warranted were made in the final GEIS and 
incorporated in the rule. Several changes were made to the procedural 
features of the proposed rule in response to comments by the Council on 
Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a 
number of State agencies. First, the NRC will prepare a supplemental 
site-specific environmental impact statement (SEIS), rather than an 
environmental assessment (as initially proposed), for each license 
renewal application. The SEIS will be issued for public comment as part 
of the individual plant review process. The NRC will delay any 
conclusions regarding the acceptability of the overall impacts of the 
license renewal until completion of the site-specific review. In 
addition, the SEIS will be prepared in accordance with existing public 
scoping requirements. The NRC will also review and consider any new and 
significant information presented during the review of individual 
license renewal applications. In addition, any person may challenge the 
validity of the conclusions codified in the rule by filing a petition 
for rulemaking pursuant to 10 CFR 2.802. Finally, the NRC will review 
the rule and the GEIS on a schedule that allows revisions, if required, 
every 10 years. This review will be initiated approximately 7 years 
after the completion of the previous revision cycle.
    In addition to the changes involving public participation, this 
final rule also contains several changes regarding the scope of 
analysis and conclusions in the rule and GEIS. The conditional cost-
benefit balance has been removed from the GEIS and the rule. In place 
of the cost-benefit balancing, the NRC will use a new standard that 
will require a determination of whether or not the adverse 
environmental impacts of license renewal are so great, compared with 
the set of alternatives, that preserving the option of license renewal 
for future decisionmakers would be unreasonable. The final amendment 
also eliminates NRC's consideration of the need for generating capacity 
and the preparation of power demand forecasts for license renewal 
applications. The NRC acknowledges the primacy of State regulators and 
utility officials in defining energy requirements and determining the 
energy mix within their jurisdictions. Therefore, the issue of need for 
power and generating capacity will no longer be considered in NRC's 
license renewal decisions. The final GEIS has been revised to include 
an explicit statement of purpose and need for license renewal 
consistent with this acknowledgment. Lastly, the final rule has 
eliminated the consideration of utility economics from license renewal 
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) except when 
such benefits and costs are either essential for a determination 
regarding the inclusion of an alternative

[[Page 28469]]

in the range of alternatives considered or relevant to mitigation. 
These and other features of the final rule are explained in detail 
below.
    The NRC is soliciting public comment on this rule for a period of 
30 days. In developing any comment specific attention should be given 
to the treatment of low-level waste storage and disposal impacts, the 
cumulative radiological effects from the uranium fuel cycle, and the 
effects from the disposal of high-level waste and spent fuel. Absent a 
determination by the NRC that the rule should be modified, based on 
comments received, the final rule shall be effective on August 5, 1996.

II. Rulemaking History

    In 1986, the NRC initiated a program to develop license renewal 
regulations and associated regulatory guidance in anticipation of 
applications for the renewal of nuclear power plant operating licenses. 
A solicitation for comments on the development of a policy statement 
was published in the Federal Register on November 6, 1986 (51 FR 
40334). However, the Commission decided to forgo the development of a 
policy statement and to proceed directly to rulemaking. An advance 
notice of proposed rulemaking was published on August 29, 1988 (53 FR 
32919). Subsequently, the NRC determined that, in addition to the 
development of license renewal regulations focused on the protection of 
health and safety, an amendment to its environmental protection 
regulations in 10 CFR part 51 was warranted.
    On October 13, 1989 (54 FR 41980), the NRC published a notice of 
its intent to hold a public workshop on license renewal on November 13 
and 14, 1989. One of the workshop sessions was devoted to the 
environmental issues associated with license renewal and the possible 
merit of amending 10 CFR part 51. The workshop is summarized in NUREG/
CP-0108, ``Proceedings of the Public Workshop on Nuclear Power Plant 
License Renewal'' (April 1990). Responses to the public comments 
submitted after the workshop are summarized in NUREG-1411, ``Response 
to Public Comments Resulting from the Public Workshop on Nuclear Power 
Plant License Renewal'' (July 1990).
    On July 23, 1990, the NRC published an advance notice of proposed 
rulemaking (55 FR 29964) and a notice of intent to prepare a generic 
environmental impact statement (55 FR 29967). The proposed rule was 
published on September 17, 1991 (56 FR 47016). The same Federal 
Register notice described the supporting documents that were available 
and announced a public workshop to be held on November 4-5, 1991. The 
supporting documents for the proposed rule included:
    (1) NUREG-1437, ``Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for 
License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (August 1991);
    (2) NUREG-1440, ``Regulatory Analysis of Proposed Amendments to 
Regulations Concerning the Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear 
Power Plant Operating Licenses: Draft Report for Comment'' (August 
1991);
    (3) Draft Regulatory Guide DG-4002, Proposed Supplement 1 to 
Regulatory Guide 4.2, ``Guidance for the Preparation of Supplemental 
Environmental Reports in Support of an Application To Renew a Nuclear 
Power Station Operating License'' (August 1991); and
    (4) NUREG-1429, ``Environmental Standard Review Plan for the Review 
of License Renewal Applications for Nuclear Power Plants: Draft Report 
for Comment'' (August 1991).
    After the comment period, the NRC exchanged letters with the 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) to address their concerns about procedural aspects of the 
proposed rule. The Commission also decided that the staff should 
discuss with the States the concerns raised in comments by a number of 
States that certain features of the proposed rule conflicted with State 
regulatory authority over the need for power and utility economics. To 
facilitate these discussions, the NRC staff developed an options paper 
entitled ``Addressing the Concerns of States and Others Regarding the 
Role of Need for Generating Capacity, Alternative Energy Sources, 
Utility Costs, and Cost-Benefit Analysis in NRC Environmental Reviews 
for Relicensing Nuclear Power Plants: An NRC Staff Discussion Paper.'' 
A Federal Register notice published on January 18, 1994 (59 FR 2542) 
announced the scheduling of three regional workshops during February 
1994 and the availability of the options paper. A fourth public meeting 
on the State concerns was held in May 1994 in order for the NRC staff 
to better understand written proposals that had been submitted by two 
industry organizations after the regional workshops. After considering 
the comments from the workshops and the written comments, the NRC staff 
issued a proposed supplement to the proposed rule published on July 25, 
1994 (59 FR 37724), that it believed would resolve the States' concerns 
regarding the Commission's consideration of need for power and utility 
economics. Comments were requested on this proposal. The discussion 
below contains an analysis of these comments and other comments 
submitted in response to the proposed rule.

III. Analysis of Public Comments

    The analysis of public comments and the NRC's responses to these 
comments are documented in NUREG-1529, ``Public Comments on the 
Proposed 10 CFR part 51 Rule for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant 
Operating Licenses and Supporting Documents: Review of Concerns and NRC 
Staff Response'' (May 1996). The extent of comments received during the 
various stages of the rulemaking process and the principal concerns 
raised by the commenters, along with the corresponding NRC responses to 
these concerns, are discussed below.

A. Commenters

    In response to the Federal Register notice on the proposed rule 
published on September 17, 1991 (56 FR 47016), 68 organizations and 49 
private citizens submitted written comments. The 68 organizations 
included 5 Federal agencies; 26 State, regional, and local agencies; 19 
nuclear industry organizations and engineering firms; 3 law firms; and 
15 public interest groups. Before the close of the initial comment 
period, the NRC conducted a 2-day workshop on November 4-5, 1991, in 
Arlington, Virginia, to discuss the proposed rule. Representatives from 
Federal agencies, State agencies, utilities, engineering firms, law 
firms, and public interest groups attended the workshop. Workshop 
panelists included the NRC staff as well as representatives from the 
Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Interior (DOI), Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), 
several State agencies, the nuclear industry, and public interest 
groups.
    In February 1994, the NRC conducted three public meetings to 
solicit views on the NRC staff's options for addressing the need for 
generating capacity, alternative energy sources, economic costs, and 
cost-benefit analysis in the proposed rule. The intent to hold public 
meetings and the availability of the options paper was noticed in the 
Federal Register on January 12, 1994 (59 FR 2542). Written comments 
were also solicited on the options paper. The public meetings were held 
in Rockville, Maryland; Rosemont, Illinois; and Chicopee, 
Massachusetts.

[[Page 28470]]

Representatives from several States, the National Association of 
Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the nuclear industry, and 
public interest groups actively participated. Nineteen separate written 
comments were also submitted, primarily by the States and the nuclear 
industry. In their submittals, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), 
formerly known as the Nuclear Management and Resources Council 
(NUMARC), and Yankee Atomic Electric Company (YAEC) each proposed an 
approach to handling the issues of need for generating capacity and 
alternative energy sources in the rule. For the NRC staff to better 
understand these proposals, an additional public meeting was held with 
NEI and YAEC on May 16, 1994, in Rockville, Maryland.
    After considering the public comments on the NRC staff's options 
paper, the NRC issued a proposed supplement to the proposed rule; it 
was published in the Federal Register on July 25, 1994 (59 FR 37724). 
The proposed supplement set forth the NRC staff's approach to the 
treatment of need for generating capacity and alternative energy 
sources, as well as the staff's revision to the purpose of and need for 
the proposed action (i.e., license renewal), which was intended to 
satisfy the States' concerns and to meet NEPA requirements. Twenty 
separate written comments were received in response to this 
solicitation from Federal and State agencies, the nuclear industry, a 
public interest group, and two private citizens.

B. Procedural Concerns

    The commenters on the proposed rule raised significant concerns 
regarding the following procedural aspects of the rule:
    (1) State and public participation in the license renewal process 
and the periodic assessment of the GEIS findings;
    (2) The use of economic costs and cost-benefit balancing; and
    (3) Consideration of the need for generating capacity and 
alternative energy sources in the environmental review of license 
renewal applications.
    Each of these concerns and the NRC response is discussed below.
1. Public Participation and the Periodic Assessment of the Rule and the 
GEIS
    Concern. Many commenters criticized the draft GEIS finding that 80 
of 104 environmental issues could be generically applied to all plants 
and, therefore, would not be subject to plant-specific review at the 
time of license renewal. As a consequence, these commenters believe 
they are being denied the opportunity to participate in the license 
renewal process. Moreover, they pointed out that the site-specific 
nature of many important environmental issues does not justify a 
generic finding, particularly when the finding would have been made 20 
years in advance of the decision to renew an operating license. The 
commenters believe that only a site-specific EIS to support a license 
renewal decision would satisfy NEPA requirements.
    Federal and State agencies questioned how new scientific 
information could be folded into the GEIS findings because the GEIS 
would have been performed so far in advance of the actual renewal of an 
operating license. There were differing views on exactly how the NRC 
should address this question. A group of commenters, including CEQ and 
EPA, noted that the rigidity of the proposed rule hampers the NRC's 
ability to respond to new information or to different environmental 
issues not listed in the proposed rule. They believe that incorporation 
of new information can only be achieved through the process of amending 
the rules. One commenter recommended that, if the NRC decides to pursue 
the approach of making generic findings based on the GEIS, the 
frequency of review and update should be specifically stated in the 
rule. Recommendations on the frequency of the review ranged from 2 
years to 5 years.
    Response. In SECY-93-032, February 9, 1993, the NRC staff reported 
to the Commission their discussions with CEQ and EPA regarding the 
concerns these agencies raised, which were also raised by other 
commenters, about limiting public comment and the consideration of 
significant new information in individual license renewal environmental 
reviews. The focus of the commenters concerns is the limited nature of 
the site-specific reviews contemplated under the proposed rule. In 
response, the NRC has reviewed the generic conclusions in the draft 
rule, expanded the opportunity for site-specific review, and confirmed 
that what remains as generic is so. Also, the framework for 
consideration of significant new information has been revised and 
expanded.
    The major changes adopted as a result of these discussions are as 
follows:
    1. The NRC will prepare a supplemental site-specific EIS, rather 
than an environmental assessment (as initially proposed), for each 
license renewal application. This SEIS will be a supplement to the 
GEIS. Additionally, the NRC will review comments on the draft SEIS and 
determine whether such comments introduce new and significant 
information not considered in the GEIS analysis. All comments on the 
applicability of the analyses of impacts codified in the rule and the 
analysis contained in the draft supplemental EIS will be addressed by 
NRC in the final supplemental EIS in accordance with 40 CFR 1503.4, 
regardless of whether the comment is directed to impacts in Category 1 
or 2. Such comments will be addressed in the following manner:
    a. NRC's response to a comment regarding the applicability of the 
analysis of an impact codified in the rule to the plant in question may 
be a statement and explanation of its view that the analysis is 
adequate including, if applicable, consideration of the significance of 
new information. A commenter dissatisfied with such a response may file 
a petition for rulemaking under 10 CFR 2.802. If the commenter is 
successful in persuading the Commission that the new information does 
indicate that the analysis of an impact codified in the rule is 
incorrect in significant respects (either in general or with respect to 
the particular plant), a rulemaking proceeding will be initiated.
    b. If a commenter provides new information which is relevant to the 
plant and is also relevant to other plants (i.e., generic information) 
and that information demonstrates that the analysis of an impact 
codified in the final rule is incorrect, the NRC staff will seek 
Commission approval to either suspend the application of the rule on a 
generic basis with respect to the analysis or delay granting the 
renewal application (and possibly other renewal applications) until the 
analysis in the GEIS is updated and the rule amended. If the rule is 
suspended for the analysis, each supplemental EIS would reflect the 
corrected analysis until such time as the rule is amended.
    c. If a commenter provides new, site-specific information which 
demonstrates that the analysis of an impact codified in the rule is 
incorrect with respect to the particular plant, the NRC staff will seek 
Commission approval to waive the application of the rule with respect 
to that analysis in that specific renewal proceeding. The supplemental 
EIS would reflect the corrected analysis as appropriate.
    2. The final rule and the GEIS will not include conditional cost-
benefit conclusions or conclusions about alternatives. Conclusions 
relative to the overall environmental impacts including cumulative 
impacts will be left entirely to each site-specific SEIS.
    3. After consideration of the changes from the proposed rule to the 
final rule and further review of the environmental issues, the NRC has 
concluded that it is

[[Page 28471]]

adequate to formally review the rule and the GEIS on a schedule that 
allows revisions, if required, every 10 years. The NRC believes that 10 
years is a suitable period considering the extent of the review and the 
limited environmental impacts observed thus far, and given that the 
changes in the environment around nuclear power plants are gradual and 
predictable with respect to characteristics important to environmental 
impact analyses. This review will be initiated approximately 7 years 
after completion of the last cycle. The NRC will conduct this review to 
determine what, if anything, in the rule requires revision.
    Concern. As part of their comments on the July 1994 Federal 
Register notice, NEI, several utilities, and the DOE asked that the NRC 
reconsider its understanding with CEQ and EPA regarding the preparation 
of a site-specific supplemental EIS for each license renewal action. 
These commenters supported an approach that would allow the preparation 
of an environmental assessment for reviewing the environmental impacts 
of license renewal.
    Response. The NRC does not agree with this position. The NRC 
believes that it is reasonable to expect that an assessment of the full 
set of environmental impacts associated with an additional 20 years of 
operation of any plant would not result in a ``finding of no 
significant impact.'' Therefore, the review for any plant would involve 
an environmental impact statement.
2. Economic Costs and Cost-Benefit Balancing
    Concern. State, Federal, and utility representatives expressed 
concern about the use of economic costs and cost-benefit balancing in 
the proposed rule and the draft GEIS. Commenters criticized the NRC's 
heavy emphasis on economic analysis and the use of economic decision 
criteria. They argued that the regulatory authority over utility 
economics falls within the States' jurisdiction and to some extent 
within the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 
Commenters also believe that the cost-benefit balancing used in the 
proposed rule and the draft GEIS went beyond NEPA requirements and CEQ 
regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500 to 1508). They noted that CEQ 
regulations interpret NEPA to require only an assessment of the 
cumulative effects of a proposed Federal action on the natural and man-
made environment.
    Response. In response to these concerns, the NRC has eliminated the 
use of cost-benefit analysis and consideration of utility economics in 
its NEPA review of a license renewal application except when such 
benefits and costs are either essential for a determination regarding 
the inclusion of an alternative in the range of alternatives considered 
or relevant to mitigation. As discussed in more detail in the following 
section, the NRC recognizes that the determination of the economic 
viability of continuing the operation of a nuclear power plant is an 
issue that should be left to appropriate State regulatory and utility 
officials.
3. Need for Generating Capacity and Alternative Energy Sources
    Concern. In their comments on the proposed rule and the draft GEIS, 
several States expressed concern that the NRC's analysis of need for 
generating capacity would preempt or prejudice State energy planning 
decisions. They argued that the determination of need for generating 
capacity has always been the States' responsibility. Recommendations on 
how to address this issue ranged from withdrawing the proposed rule to 
changing the categorization of the issue so that a site-specific review 
can be performed, thus allowing for meaningful State and public 
participation. Almost all the concerned States called on the NRC to 
modify the rule to state explicitly that NRC's analysis does not 
preempt a State's jurisdiction over the determination of need for 
generating capacity.
    Regarding the issue of alternative energy sources, several 
commenters contended that the site-specific nature of the alternatives 
to license renewal did not justify the generic finding in the GEIS. One 
significant concern about this finding is the States' perception that a 
generic finding, in effect, preempts the States' responsibility to 
decide on the appropriate mix of energy alternatives in their 
respective jurisdictions.
    Three regional public meetings were held during the February 1994 
to discuss the concerns of the States. At these meetings, and later in 
written comments, the State of New York proposed an approach to resolve 
the problem. The approach was endorsed by several other States. This 
approach had three major conditions:
    (1) A statement in the rule that the NRC's findings on need and 
alternatives are only intended to satisfy the NEPA requirements and do 
not preclude the States from making their own determination with 
respect to these issues;
    (2) The designation of the need for generating capacity and 
alternative energy sources as Category 3 (i.e., requiring site-specific 
evaluation); and
    (3) A requirement that all site-specific EISs and relicensing 
decisions reference State determinations of need for generating 
capacity and alternative energy sources, and that they defer to those 
State determinations to the maximum extent possible.
    Response. After consideration, the NRC staff did not accept all 
elements of the States' approach because the approach would have 
continued to require the NRC to consider the need for generating 
capacity and utility economics as part of its environmental analysis. 
In addition, the approach would have required the NRC to develop 
guidelines for determining the acceptability of State economic 
analyses, which some States may have viewed as an intrusion on their 
planning process.
    The NRC staff developed and recommended another approach, which was 
published on July 25, 1994 (59 FR 37724), after consideration of 
information gathered at the regional meetings and from the written 
comments. This approach, which borrows some elements from NEI and YAEC 
proposals, has five major features:
    (1) Neither the rule nor the GEIS would contain a consideration of 
the need for generating capacity or other issues involving the economic 
costs and benefits of license renewal and of the associated 
alternatives;
    (2) The purpose and need for the proposed action (i.e., license 
renewal) would be defined as preserving the continued operation of a 
nuclear power plant as a safe option that State regulators and utility 
officials may consider in their future planning actions;
    (3) The only alternative to the proposed action would be the ``no-
action'' alternative, and the environmental consequences of this 
alternative are the impacts of a range of energy sources that might be 
used if a nuclear power plant operating license were not renewed;
    (4) The environmental review for license renewal would include a 
comparison of the environmental impacts of license renewal with impacts 
of the range of energy sources that may be chosen in the case of ``no 
action''; and
    (5) The NRC's NEPA decision standard for license renewal would 
require the NRC to determine whether the environmental impacts of 
license renewal are so great that preserving the option of license 
renewal for future decisionmakers would be unreasonable.

[[Page 28472]]

    The statement that the use of economic costs will be eliminated in 
this approach refers to the ultimate NEPA decision regarding the 
comparison of alternatives and the proposed action. This approach does 
not preclude a consideration of economic costs if these costs are 
essential to a determination regarding the inclusion of an alternative 
in the range of alternatives considered (i.e., an alternative's 
exorbitant cost could render it nonviable and unworthy of further 
consideration) or relevant to mitigation of environmental impacts. 
Also, the two local tax issues and the two economic structure issues 
under socioeconomics in the table would be removed from consideration 
when applying the decision standard.
    Concern. Comments received from several States on the NRC staff's 
July 1994 recommended approach ranged from rejection to endorsement. 
Some States supported the three conditions proposed by the State of New 
York. Several States were still concerned about whether a meaningful 
analysis of need for generating capacity and alternative energy sources 
could be undertaken 20 years ahead of time. One State asked that the 
proposed rule be withdrawn. Another State wanted the proposed rule to 
be reissued for public comment. CEQ supported the approach proposed by 
the State of New York. CEQ believed that the NRC's recommended approach 
was in conflict with the NEPA process because the proposed statement of 
purpose and need for the proposed action was too narrow and did not 
provide for an appropriate range of alternatives to the underlying need 
for the proposed action. CEQ wanted the NRC to address other energy 
sources as separate alternatives, rather than as consequences of the 
no-action alternative. Moreover, CEQ stated that the proposed decision 
standard places a ``weighty and improper burden of proof'' on 
consideration of the alternative. The EPA endorsed CEQ's comments. In 
general, the nuclear industry was supportive of the recommended 
approach. However, NEI and the utilities strongly expressed the opinion 
that, with the redefined statement of purpose and need, alternative 
energy sources would no longer be alternatives to the proposed action 
and, therefore, need not be considered.
    Response. After consideration of the comments received on the 
Commission's July 1994 proposal, the Commission has modified and 
clarified its approach in order to address the concerns of CEQ relative 
to consideration of appropriate alternatives and the narrow definition 
of purpose and need. These modifications and clarifications addressed 
the States' concerns relative to treatment of need for generating 
capacity and alternatives. Specifically, the Commission has clarified 
the purpose and need for license renewal in the GEIS as follows:

    The purpose and need for the proposed action (renewal of an 
operating license) is to provide an option that allows for power 
generation capability beyond the term of a current nuclear power 
plant operating license to meet future system generating needs, as 
such needs may be determined by State, utility, and, where 
authorized, Federal (other than NRC) decisionmakers.

    Using this definition of the purpose of and need for the proposed 
action, which stresses options for the generation of power, the 
environmental review will include a characterization of alternative 
energy sources as being the alternatives to license renewal and not 
merely the consequences of the no-action alternative and, thus, it 
addresses CEQ's concern that the scope of the alternatives analysis is 
unacceptably restricted.
    With respect to the States' concerns regarding need for generating 
capacity analysis, the NRC will neither perform analyses of the need 
for power nor draw any conclusions about the need for generating 
capacity in a license renewal review. This definition of purpose and 
need reflects the Commission's recognition that, absent findings in the 
safety review required by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or 
in the NEPA environmental analysis that would lead the NRC to reject a 
license renewal application, the NRC has no role in the energy planning 
decisions of State regulators and utility officials. From the 
perspective of the licensee and the State regulatory authority, the 
purpose of renewing an operating license is to maintain the 
availability of the nuclear plant to meet system energy requirements 
beyond the term of the plant's current license. The underlying need 
that will be met by the continued availability of the nuclear plant is 
defined by various operational and investment objectives of the 
licensee. Each of these objectives may be dictated by State regulatory 
requirements or strongly influenced by State energy policy and 
programs. In cases of interstate generation or other special 
circumstances, Federal agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) or the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) may be 
involved in making these decisions. The objectives of the various 
entities involved may include lower energy cost, increased efficiency 
of energy production and use, reliability in the generation and 
distribution of electric power, improved fuel diversity within the 
State, and environmental objectives such as improved air quality and 
minimized land use.
    The consideration of alternatives has been shifted to the site-
specific review. The rule contains no information or conclusions 
regarding the environmental impacts of alternative energy sources, it 
only indicates that the environmental impact of alternatives will be 
considered during the individual plant review. However, the GEIS 
contains a discussion of the environmental impacts of alternative 
energy sources based on currently available information. The 
information in the GEIS is available for use by the NRC and the 
licensee in performing the site-specific analysis of alternatives and 
will be updated as appropriate. For individual plant reviews, 
information codified in the rule, information developed in the GEIS, 
and any significant new information introduced during the plant-
specific review, including any information received from the State, 
will be considered in reaching conclusions in the supplemental EIS. The 
NRC's site-specific comparison of the impacts of license renewal with 
impacts of alternative energy sources will involve consideration of 
information provided by State agencies and other members of the public. 
This approach should satisfy the States' concerns relative to a 
meaningful analysis of alternative energy sources.
    The Commission disagrees with CEQ's assertion that the new decision 
standard is inappropriate. Under this decision standard, the NRC must 
determine if the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are 
so great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy 
planning decisionmakers would be unreasonable. The Commission expects 
that license renewal would be denied only if the expected environmental 
effects of license renewal significantly exceed all or almost all 
alternatives. The Commission believes that this is a reasonable 
approach to addressing the issue of environmental impacts of license 
renewal, given NRC's limited role in the area of energy systems 
planning. The operation of a nuclear power plant beyond its initial 
license term involves separate regulatory actions, one taken by the 
utility and the NRC, and the other taken by the utility and the State 
regulatory authorities. The decision standard would be used by NRC to 
determine whether, from an environmental perspective, it is

[[Page 28473]]

reasonable to renew the operating license and allow State and utility 
decisionmakers the option of considering a currently operating nuclear 
power plant as an alternative for meeting future energy needs. The test 
of reasonableness focuses on an analysis of whether the environmental 
impacts anticipated for continued operation during the term of the 
renewed license reasonably compare with the impacts that are expected 
from the set of alternatives considered for meeting generating 
requirements. The NRC would reject a license renewal application if the 
analysis demonstrated that the adverse environmental impacts of the 
individual license renewal were so great that preserving the option of 
license renewal for energy planning decisionmakers would be 
unreasonable.
    After the NRC makes its decision based on the safety and 
environmental considerations, the final decision on whether or not to 
continue operating the nuclear plant will be made by the utility, 
State, and Federal (non-NRC) decisionmakers. This final decision will 
be based on economics, energy reliability goals, and other objectives 
over which the other entities may have jurisdiction. The NRC has no 
authority or regulatory control over the ultimate selection of future 
energy alternatives. Likewise, the NRC has no regulatory power to 
ensure that environmentally superior energy alternatives are used in 
the future. Given the absence of the NRC's authority in the general 
area of energy planning, the NRC's rejection of a license renewal 
application based on the existence of a single superior alternative 
does not guarantee that such an alternative will be used. In fact, it 
is conceivable that the rejection of a license renewal application by 
the NRC in favor of an individual alternative may lead to the 
implementation of another alternative that has even greater 
environmental impacts than the proposed action, license renewal.
    Given the uncertainties involved and the lack of control that the 
NRC has in the choice of energy alternatives in the future, the 
Commission believes that it is reasonable to exercise its NEPA 
authority to reject license renewal applications only when it has 
determined that the impacts of license renewal sufficiently exceed the 
impacts of all or almost all of the alternatives that preserving the 
option of license renewal for future decision makers would be 
unreasonable. Because the objectives of the utility and State 
decisionmakers will ultimately be the determining factors in whether a 
nuclear power plant will continue to operate, NRC's proposed decision 
standard is appropriate. The decision standard will not affect the 
scope or rigor of NRC's analyses, including the consideration of the 
environmental impacts relevant to the license renewal decision and 
associated alternatives. The NRC staff believes that, under the 
circumstances, the decision standard does not place ``a weighty and 
improper burden of proof'' on other alternatives as CEQ claims.
    With respect to the industry's desire to eliminate consideration of 
alternative energy sources, the Commission does not agree. The 
Commission does not support the views of NEI and others that 
alternative energy sources need not be considered in the environmental 
review for license renewal. The Commission is not prepared to state 
that no nuclear power plant will fall well outside the range of other 
reasonably available alternatives far in advance of an actual 
relicensing decision. Following NEI's suggestion would not lead to a 
meaningful set of alternatives with which to compare a proposed action. 
The Commission has always held the view that alternative sources of 
energy should be compared with license renewal and continued operation 
of a nuclear power plant.
    Lastly, the Commission does not believe it is necessary to reissue 
this rule for public comment as a State commenter requested. The 
Commission has taken many measures to involve the public concerning the 
resolution of public comments on the proposed rule. The Commission has 
conducted a number of public meetings and published for public comment 
its recommended procedural revisions to the proposed rule. The 
Commission believes that modifications made to the proposed rule 
reflect the logical outgrowth of the proposed rule based on the public 
comments received by the Commission.

C. Technical Concerns

1. Category and Impact Magnitude Definitions
    Concerns. Many commenters expressed concern that the category 
definitions and the impact-significance definitions were ambiguous and 
appeared somewhat interconnected. The EPA expressed concern that 
mitigation of adverse impacts was not addressed adequately.
    Commenters expressed a number of concerns about the use of the 
applicability categories and the magnitude-level categories. With 
respect to the applicability categories, concerns ranged from a general 
concern that Category 1 precludes or hinders public involvement in an 
issue at the time of the plant-specific review to specific concerns 
about the technical adequacy of the analysis supporting a Category 1 
finding for an issue. Several commenters believed that the definitions 
create confusion, especially as to whether the finding of small impact 
and Category 1 are interdependent. The GEIS appears to use Category 1 
and ``small'' interchangeably. Concern was also expressed that the 
requirement to consider mitigative actions was inadequately addressed 
in the draft GEIS and proposed rule.
    Response. To reduce potential confusion over the definitions, the 
use of the categories, and the treatment of mitigation within the 
context of the categorization scheme, the NRC has revised the 
definitions to eliminate any ambiguity as to how they are used. 
Further, the GEIS has been modified to clearly state the reasons behind 
the category and magnitude findings.
    In order to facilitate understanding of the modifications to the 
GEIS, the previous approach is discussed as follows. In the proposed 
rule and the draft GEIS, findings about the environmental impact 
associated with each issue were divided into three categories of 
applicability to individual plant reviews. These categories were:
     Category 1: A generic conclusion on the impact has been 
reached for all affected nuclear power plants.
     Category 2: A generic conclusion on the impact has been 
reached for affected nuclear power plants that fall within defined 
bounds.
     Category 3: A generic conclusion on the impact was not 
reached for any affected nuclear power plants.
    The significance of the magnitude of the impact for each issue was 
expressed as one of the three following levels.
     Small impacts are so minor that they warrant neither 
detailed investigation nor consideration of mitigative actions when 
such impacts are negative.
     Moderate impacts are likely to be clearly evident and 
usually warrant consideration of mitigation alternatives when such 
impacts are negative.
     Large impacts involve either a severe penalty or a major 
benefit, and mitigation alternatives are always considered when such 
impacts are negative.
    With respect to the categories of applicability, under the proposed 
rule applicants would have:
    (1) Not provided additional analyses of Category 1 issues;
    (2) Not provided additional analyses if their plant falls within 
the bounds

[[Page 28474]]

defined in the rule for a Category 2 issue;
    (3) Provided additional plant-specific analyses if their plant does 
not fall within the bounds defined in the rule for a Category 2 issue; 
and
    (4) Provided plant-specific analyses of Category 3 issues.
    In order to address the comments on these magnitude and category 
definitions, the GEIS has been modified to clearly state the reasons 
behind the category and magnitude findings.
    The revised definitions are listed below.
     Category 1: For the issue, the analysis reported in the 
Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown:
    (1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been 
determined to apply either to all plants or, for some issues, to plants 
having a specific type of cooling system or other specified plant or 
site characteristic;
    (2) A single significance level (i.e., small, moderate, or large) 
has been assigned to the impacts (except for collective off site 
radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and from high level waste and 
spent fuel disposal); and
    (3) Mitigation of adverse impacts associated with the issue has 
been considered in the analysis and it has been determined that 
additional plant-specific mitigation measures are likely not to be 
sufficiently beneficial to warrant implementation.
    The generic analysis of the issue may be adopted in each plant-
specific review. Issues for which the impact was found to be favorable 
were also defined to be Category 1 issues.
     Category 2: For the issue, the analysis reported in the 
GEIS has shown that one or more of the criteria of Category 1 cannot be 
met and, therefore, additional plant-specific review is required.
    If, for an environmental issue, the three Category 1 criteria apply 
to all plants, that issue is Category 1 and the generic analysis should 
be used in a license renewal review for all plant applications. If the 
three Category 1 criteria apply to a subset of plants that are readily 
defined by a common plant characteristic, notably the type of cooling 
system, the population of plants is partitioned into the set of plants 
with the characteristic and the set without the characteristic. For the 
set of plants with the characteristic, the issue is Category 1 and the 
generic analysis should be used in the license renewal review for those 
plants. For the set of plants without the characteristic, the issue is 
Category 2 and a site-specific analysis for that issue will be 
performed as part of the license renewal review. The review of a 
Category 2 issue may focus on the particular aspect of the issue that 
causes the Category 1 criteria not to be met. For example, severe 
accident mitigation under the issue ``severe accidents'' is the focus 
for a plant-specific review because the other aspects of the issue, 
specifically the offsite consequences, have been adequately addressed 
in the GEIS. With the revised definitions, the two issues previously 
designated as Category 3 are now designated Category 2. For an issue to 
be a Category 1, current mitigation practices and the nature of the 
impact were considered and a determination was made that it is unlikely 
that additional measures will be sufficiently beneficial. In the GEIS, 
in discussing the impacts for each issue, consideration was given to 
what is known about current mitigation practices.
    The definitions of the significance level of an environmental 
impact have been revised to make the consideration of the potential for 
mitigating an impact separate from the analysis leading to a conclusion 
about the significance level of the impact. Further, the significance 
level of an impact is now more clearly tied to sustaining specific 
attributes of the affected resource that are important to its 
viability, health or usefulness. General definitions of small, moderate 
and large significance levels are given below. These definitions are 
adapted to accommodate the resource attributes of importance for each 
of the environmental issues in the GEIS. The definition of ``small'' 
clarifies the meaning of the term as it applies to radiological 
impacts. The definition of ``small'' in the proposed rule did not 
logically apply to such impacts.
    The general definitions of significance level are:
     Small: For the issue, environmental effects are not 
detectable or are so minor that they will neither destabilize nor 
noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource. For the 
purposes of assessing radiological impacts, the Commission has 
concluded that those impacts that do not exceed permissible levels in 
the Commission's regulations are considered small.
     Moderate: For the issue, environmental effects are 
sufficient to alter noticeably but not to destabilize important 
attributes of the resource.
     Large: For the issue, environmental effects are clearly 
noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize important attributes of 
the resource.
    The discussion of each environmental issue in the GEIS includes an 
explanation of how the significance category was determined. For issues 
in which probability of occurrence is a key consideration (i.e., 
accident consequences), the probability of occurrence has been factored 
into the determination of significance. The determination of the 
significance category was made independently of the consideration of 
the potential benefit of additional mitigation.
    The major concerns (organized by topical areas) about the 
environmental issues examined in the draft GEIS and the NRC staff's 
response to those concerns are summarized next.
2. Surface Water Quality
    Concern. Several commenters expressed concerns related to the 
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting 
process for surface water discharge. They believe that the NRC may have 
overlooked its legal obligation to comply with Section 401 of the Clean 
Water Act (CWA). Their recommendations included withholding approval 
for license renewal until a facility has complied with Section 401 and 
treating license renewal as an opportunity for a new NEPA review. On 
the other hand, other commenters recommended decoupling the NRC 
relicensing process from the NPDES permitting process.
    Response. In issuing individual license renewals, the Commission 
will comply, as has been its practice, with the provisions of Section 
401 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (see 10 CFR 51.45(d) and 
51.71(c)). In addition, pursuant to Section 511(c) of the Federal Water 
Pollution Control Act of 1972, the Commission cannot question or 
reexamine the effluent limitations or other requirements in permits 
issued by the relevant permitting authorities. Nevertheless, compliance 
with the environmental quality standards and requirements of these 
permits does not negate the requirement for the Commission to consider 
all environmental effects of the proposed action. Accordingly, the 
Commission has not only taken existing permits into account in its 
analysis of the water quality impacts of license renewal but has also 
considered information on actual operating impacts collected from 
individual plants, State and Federal regulatory agencies, and published 
literature. As a result of this analysis, the Commission has concluded 
that the environmental impacts on surface water quality are small for 
those effluents subject to existing permit or certification 
requirements. A total decoupling of the license renewal process and the 
NPDES permitting process is not appropriate because, for

[[Page 28475]]

issues with incomplete Clean Water Act determinations, the NRC cannot 
complete its weighing and balancing of impacts without independently 
addressing the issues.
    Concern. Several commenters raised concerns that various issues 
within the Surface Water Quality topic should be Category 2 or 3 
issues. These included water use conflicts as experienced in Arizona 
and the Midwest, thermal stratification and salinity gradients 
associated with once-through cooling systems, and the toxicity of 
biofouling compounds.
    Response. Regarding the water use conflicts, the NRC has considered 
the impacts of water use during the renewal period and has concluded 
that these impacts are small for plants with a once-through cooling 
system and that this is a Category 1 issue for those plants. However, 
this issue is designated Category 2 for plants with cooling towers and 
cooling ponds because, for those plants, the impacts might be moderate 
(they could also be small). In either case, pursuant to 10 CFR 
51.45(d), an applicant for license renewal must identify and indicate 
in its environmental report the status of State and local approvals 
regarding water use issues. For those reactor sites where thermal 
stratification or salinity gradient was found to be the most 
pronounced, the issues were reviewed during preparation of the GEIS and 
found to be acceptable by the States within the NPDES process. No 
change in the categorization in the GEIS would be required. Similarly, 
the NPDES permit for a facility establishes allowable discharges, 
including biocides. The NRC has no indication that residual 
environmental impacts would occur as a result of license renewal 
activities at any nuclear plant site other than perhaps water use 
conflicts arising at plants with cooling ponds or cooling towers using 
make-up water from a small river with low flow. For those plants, this 
issue is Category 2.
3. Aquatic Ecology
    Concern. A number of comments regarding the ecological impact of 
cooling water withdrawal from aquatic bodies were received. Specific 
concerns included fish kills associated with the entrainment and 
impingement of fish within once-through and cooling pond cooling 
systems, the use of chlorine and molluscicides to control mussel and 
clam growth, and the long-term effects of heavy metal discharges from 
plants with copper-nickel condenser tubes. Another commenter noted that 
license extension affords the opportunity to review the intake and 
discharge configuration of plant cooling water systems, since the best 
available technology that is economically available may be different 
given the additional 20 years of plant operating life.
    Response. The Commission has considered the impacts of license 
renewal on aquatic ecology and, in doing so, has reviewed existing 
NPDES permits and other information. Based on this analysis, the 
Commission has concluded that these impacts are small with the 
exception that plants with once-through cooling and cooling ponds may 
have larger effects associated with entrainment of fish and shellfish 
in early life stages, impingement, and heat shock. Agencies responsible 
for existing permits are not constrained from reexamining the permit 
issues if they have reason to believe that the basis for their issuance 
is no longer valid. The Commission does not have authority under NEPA 
to impose an effluent limitation other than those established in 
permits issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The problem of the 
long-term effects of heavy metal discharges from plants with copper-
nickel condenser tubes has been found at only one plant. The affected 
condenser tubes have been replaced with tubing of a more corrosion-
resistant material.
    Concern. A commenter pointed out that the issue of riparian zones 
should be addressed in the GEIS because the vegetation region along a 
water course can be affected by water withdrawal and is important in 
maintaining the habitat.
    Response. The NRC agrees with the importance of addressing the 
impacts of license renewal on the riparian habitat. The final GEIS 
provides a discussion of the riparian habitat as an important resource 
and the potential effects of consumptive water use on riparian zones.
4. Groundwater Use and Quality
    Concern. Several commenters indicated that groundwater issues 
should be reviewed on a site-specific basis because of groundwater use 
conflicts (in particular, the effect on aquifer recharge of using 
surface water for cooling water), opportunities for saltwater 
intrusion, and concerns over tritium found in wells at one site. On the 
other hand, a commenter requested that the issue of groundwater use for 
cooling tower makeup water be changed from Category 2 to Category 1 
because the issue is based solely on data from Ranney wells at the 
Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, where tests have shown that the elevation 
of the water plain around Grand Gulf is not dropping.
    Response. Based on consideration of comments, the issue of 
groundwater use conflicts resulting from surface water withdrawals for 
cooling tower makeup water or cooling ponds is now Category 2 for 
plants withdrawing surface water from small water bodies during low 
flow conditions. The GEIS has identified a potential reduction in 
aquifer recharge as a result of competing water use. These conflicts 
are already a concern at two closed-cycle nuclear power plants. The NRC 
does not agree that saltwater intrusion should be considered a Category 
2 issue. When saltwater intrusion has been a problem, the major cause 
has been the large consumption of groundwater by agricultural and 
municipal users. Groundwater consumption by nuclear power plants is 
small by comparison and does not contribute significantly to the 
saltwater intrusion problem. With regard to traces of tritium found in 
the groundwater at one nuclear power plant, the tritium was attributed 
to a modification in the plant's inlet and discharge canal that did not 
take into consideration a unique situation in topology and groundwater 
flow. The releases were minor and the situation has been corrected.
    Regarding the issue of the use of groundwater for cooling water 
makeup, the NRC has designated this issue as Category 2 even though 
only the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station is currently using Ranney wells to 
withdraw groundwater. This water intake does not conflict with other 
groundwater uses in the area. It is not possible to predict whether or 
not water use conflicts will occur at the Grand Gulf facility in the 
future. It is also not possible to determine the significance of the 
environmental impacts associated with Ranney well use at other nuclear 
plants that may choose to adopt this method in the future.
5. Terrestrial Ecology
    Concern. Several commenters recommended that the issue of bird 
mortality resulting from collisions with transmission lines, towers, or 
cooling towers be characterized as a Category 2 issue. Such a 
characterization would provide for a review of mitigation at those 
plants with cooling towers that do not have illumination and for power 
plant transmission lines that transect major flyways or that cross 
wetlands used by large concentrations of birds.
    Response. The NRC does not agree with this recommendation. The GEIS 
cites several studies that conclude that bird mortalities resulting 
from collision with transmission lines, towers, or cooling towers are 
not significantly

[[Page 28476]]

reducing bird populations. Mitigation measures in place, such as safety 
lights, were found adequate and additional measures were not warranted. 
Therefore, the issue remains a Category 1 issue because refurbishment 
will not involve construction of any additional transmission lines or 
natural draft cooling towers.
    Concern. One commenter expressed concern that the GEIS analysis of 
land use did not adequately encompass the impact of onsite spent fuel 
storage on land use and that the Category 1 finding is questionable. A 
specific concern was the potential need for the construction of 
additional spent fuel storage facilities associated with the license 
renewal term, along with their associated impacts on the terrestrial 
environment.
    Response. The NRC does not agree that there is a need to change the 
Category 1 determination for onsite land use. Waste management 
operations could require the construction of additional storage 
facilities and thus adversely affect land use and terrestrial ecology. 
However, experience has shown that the land requirements would be 
relatively small (less than 9 acres), impacts to land use and 
terrestrial ecology would also be relatively small, and the land that 
may be used is already possessed by the applicant; thus, its basic use 
would not be altered. Onsite land use is Category 1. Terrestrial 
ecology with disturbance of sensitive habitat is treated as a separate 
issue and is Category 2.
6. Human Health
    Concern. In the human health section of the GEIS, the radiological 
impacts of plant refurbishment and continued operations during the 
license renewal term to workers and the general public were examined. 
Several commenters indicated that it was inappropriate to compare the 
radiation exposures associated with license renewal to natural 
background levels. These commenters believed that the appropriate 
argument should be that the risks associated with the additional 
exposures are so small that no additional mitigative measures are 
required.
    Response. The NRC agrees that the assessment of radiation exposure 
should not be simply a comparison with background radiation. In 
response to comments on the draft generic environmental impact 
statement and the proposed rule, the standard defining a small 
radiological impact has changed from a comparison with background 
radiation to sustained compliance with the dose and release limits 
applicable to the various stages of the fuel cycle. This change is 
appropriate and strengthens the criterion used to define a small 
environmental impact for the reasons that follow. The Atomic Energy Act 
requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to promulgate, inspect and 
enforce standards that provide an adequate level of protection of the 
public health and safety and the environment. The implementation of 
these regulatory programs provides a margin of safety. A review of the 
regulatory requirements and the performance of facilities provides the 
bases to project continuation of performance within regulatory 
standards. For the purposes of assessing radiological impacts, the 
Commission has concluded that impacts are of small significance if 
doses to individuals and releases do not exceed the permissible levels 
in the Commission's regulations.
    With respect to whether additional mitigative measures are 
required, it should be noted that in 10 CFR parts 20 and 50 there are 
provisions that radiological impacts associated with plant operation be 
reduced to levels as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).
    Concern. Several commenters indicated that the GEIS needs a broader 
treatment of uncertainty as it relates to human health issues.
    Response. The NRC agrees that there is considerable uncertainty 
associated with health effects, especially at low occupational and 
public dose levels, and particularly with respect to electromagnetic 
fields. Health effect estimates from radiation exposures are based on 
the best scientific evidence available and are considered to be 
conservative estimates. Several sections of the GEIS have been expanded 
to more thoroughly explain how predicted impacts could be affected by 
changes in scientific information or standards.
    Concern. One commenter indicated that, in the GEIS and the proposed 
rule, risk coefficients should have been used for chemicals and 
radiation to obtain upper bound risk estimates of cancer incidence.
    Response. The NRC does not agree with this comment. In making 
comparisons of alternatives, comparisons of the central or best 
estimates of impacts are consistent with NEPA requirements because they 
provide the fairest determination. The GEIS is written using current, 
Commission-approved risk estimators.
    Concern. Two commenters expressed concern regarding the GEIS 
conclusion that the impact of radiation exposure to the public is 
small, citing a study done by the Massachusetts Department of Public 
Health (MDPH). This study concluded that adults who live within 10 
miles of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant have a risk of contracting 
leukemia four times greater than other individuals.
    Response. The NRC staff reviewed the MDHP study and compared it 
with various other studies. The results of the study have been 
contradicted by a National Cancer Institute (NCI) study entitled 
``Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities'' (July 1990). 
The NCI study, which included the Pilgrim plant in its analysis, found 
no reason to suggest that nuclear facilities may be linked causally 
with excess deaths from leukemia or from other cancers. The findings of 
the NCI study are consistent with the findings of several similar 
epidemiological studies in foreign countries and with the latest 
conclusions of expert bodies such as the National Research Council's 
Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. The NRC 
continues to base its assessment of the health effects of ionizing 
radiation on the overall body of scientific knowledge and on the 
recommendations of expert groups.
7. Socioeconomics
    Concern. A commenter concerned with historic preservation pointed 
out that this issue must be addressed through compliance with the 
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and cannot be resolved 
generically.
    Response. The NRC agrees with this comment. Historical and 
archaeological impacts have been changed from a Category 1 to a 
Category 2 issue (that is, it must be evaluated site-specifically). 
Consultation with State historical preservation offices and other 
Government agencies, as required by NHPA, must be undertaken to 
determine whether protected historical or archaeological resources are 
in areas that might be disturbed during refurbishment activities and 
operation during the renewal period.
    Concern. Several commenters indicated that transportation issues 
associated with refurbishment activities should be changed from 
Category 3 to Category 2 because the impacts will be insignificant in 
the majority of cases. One recommendation was to use a level of service 
(LOS) determination for specific plants as the bounding criterion. The 
analysis would require that LOS be determined for that part of the 
refurbishment period during which traffic not related to the plant is 
expected to be the heaviest. Another recommendation was to establish 
bounding criteria based on past major routine outages.
    Response. The NRC agrees that use of the LOS approach may prove to 
be

[[Page 28477]]

acceptable. Transportation still must be reviewed on a plant-specific 
basis, that is, it is a Category 2 issue (based on the revised 
definition).
    Concern. There were recommendations to make the housing impacts 
during refurbishment a Category 1 issue instead of Category 2. One 
commenter noted that the construction period data used in the analysis 
appears to overestimate the impact on housing.
    Response. The NRC does not agree that this should be a Category 1 
issue. Although negligible housing impacts are anticipated for most 
license renewals, significant housing impacts have occurred during a 
periodic plant outage at one of the case plants studied for the 
analysis. This issue is now a Category 2 issue because moderate and 
large impacts on housing are possible depending on local conditions 
(e.g., areas with extremely slow population growth or areas with growth 
control measures that limit housing development).
8. The Uranium Fuel Cycle and Solid Waste Management
    Concern. Wide-ranging concerns were expressed in the comments on 
the proposed rule and the draft GEIS about the treatment of storage and 
disposal of low-level waste (LLW), mixed waste, spent fuel, 
nonradiological waste, and the transportation of fuel and waste to and 
from nuclear power plants as a consequence of license renewal. Concern 
was expressed about the uncertain availability of disposal facilities 
for LLW, mixed waste, and spent fuel; the prospect of generation and 
onsite storage of an additional 20 years output of waste; and the 
resulting pressure that would be put on the States to provide LLW 
disposal facilities. Various commenters expressed concern about the 
adequacy of the treatment of the cost of waste management and the 
implications for the economic viability of license renewal. Numerous 
comments were provided on updating and clarifying data on waste 
management presented in the draft GEIS. Finally, various questions were 
raised about the applicability of Table S-3 (10 CFR 51.51 Uranium fuel 
cycle environmental data--Table S-3, Table of Uranium Fuel Cycle 
Environmental Data) to the management of waste generated as a result of 
license renewal.
    With regard to spent fuel, several commenters expressed concern 
that dry cask storage is not a proven technology and that onsite 
storage of spent fuel from an additional 20 years of plant operation 
will present environmental and safety problems. Therefore, onsite 
storage of spent fuel should be considered on a site-specific basis 
within a plant license renewal review.
    Response. The Commission acknowledges that there is uncertainty in 
the schedule of availability of disposal facilities for LLW, mixed 
waste, and spent fuel. However, the Commission believes that there is 
sufficient understanding of and experience with the storage of LLW, 
mixed waste, and spent fuel to conclude that the waste generated at any 
plant as a result of license renewal can be stored safely and without 
significant environmental impacts before permanent disposal. In 
addition, the Commission concluded that the classification of storage 
and ultimate disposal as a Category 1 issue is appropriate because 
States are proceeding, albeit slowly, with the development of new 
disposal facilities; LLW and mixed waste have been and can be safely 
stored at reactor sites until new disposal capacity becomes available. 
Analyses to support this conclusion are presented in Chapter 6 of the 
final GEIS (NUREG-1437). The following summary of the responses to 
comments emphasizes the main features of these analyses.
    In the draft GEIS, the environmental data in Table S-3 were 
discussed with respect to applicability during the license renewal 
period and supplemented with an analysis of the radiological release 
and dose commitment data for radon-222 and technetium-99. The proposed 
rule would have had this discussion apply to each plant at the time of 
its review for license renewal.
    Further, in the draft GEIS, Chapter 6, ``Solid Waste Management,'' 
covered the generation of LLW, mixed waste, spent fuel, and 
nonradiological waste as a result of license renewal; the 
transportation of the radiological waste; and the environmental impacts 
of waste management, including storage and disposal. The findings that 
were to have been codified in the rule were that, for nonradiological 
waste, mixed waste, spent fuel, and transportation, the environmental 
impacts are of small significance and that the analysis in the GEIS 
applies to each plant (Category 1). For LLW, the finding that would 
have been codified in the rule was that, if an applicant does not have 
access to a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility through a 
low-level waste compact or an unaffiliated State, the applicant must 
present plans for interim waste storage with an assessment of potential 
ecological habitat destruction caused by construction activities 
(Category 2).
    In response to the questions about the applicability of Table S-3 
to the management of waste associated with license renewal and to the 
various comments challenging the treatment of the several forms of 
waste in the draft GEIS and in the proposed rule, the discussion of 
Table S-3 has been moved from Section 4.8 of the draft GEIS to Chapter 
6 of the final GEIS in order to provide a more integrated assessment of 
the environmental impacts associated with waste management as a 
consequence of license renewal. Also in response to various comments, 
the discussion of Table S-3 and of each of the types of waste has been 
expanded.
    Supplemental data are presented in Chapter 6 of the final GEIS in 
order to extend the coverage of the environmental impacts of the 
uranium fuel cycle presented in the current Table S-3 and of 
transportation of radioactive waste presented in the current Table S-4 
to radon-222, technetium-99, higher fuel enrichment, and higher fuel 
burnup. In part, the current Table S-3 and the data supplementing it 
cover environmental impacts of:
    (1) Onsite storage of spent fuel assemblies in pools for 10 years, 
packaging and transportation to a Federal repository, and permanent 
disposal; and
    (2) Short-term storage onsite of LLW, packaging and transportation 
to a land-burial facility, and permanent disposal.
    The following conclusions have been drawn with regard to the 
environmental impacts associated with the uranium fuel cycle.
    The radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts of the 
uranium fuel cycle have been reviewed. The review included a discussion 
of the values presented in Table S-3, an assessment of the release and 
impact of \222\Rn and of \99\Tc, and a review of the regulatory 
standards and experience of fuel cycle facilities. For the purpose of 
assessing the radiological impacts of license renewal the Commission 
uses the standard that the impacts are of small significance if doses 
and releases do not exceed permissible levels in the Commission's 
regulations. Given the available information regarding the compliance 
of fuel cycle facilities with applicable regulatory requirements, the 
Commission has concluded that, other than for the disposal of spent 
fuel and high-level waste, these impacts on individuals from 
radioactive gaseous and liquid releases will remain at or below the 
Commission's regulatory limits. Accordingly, the Commission concludes 
that offsite radiological impacts of the fuel cycle (individual effects 
from other than the disposal of

[[Page 28478]]

spent fuel and high-level waste) are small. ALARA efforts will continue 
to apply to fuel cycle activities. This is a Category 1 issue.
    The radiological impacts of the uranium fuel cycle on human 
populations over time (collective effects) have been considered within 
the framework of Table S-3. The 100 year environmental dose commitment 
to the U.S. population from the fuel cycle, high level waste and spent 
fuel disposal excepted, is calculated to be about 14,800 man-rem, or 12 
cancer fatalities, for each additional 20 year power reactor operating 
term. Much of this, especially the contribution of radon releases from 
mines and tailing piles, consists of tiny doses summed over large 
populations. This same dose calculation can theoretically be extended 
to include many tiny doses over additional thousands of years as well 
as doses outside the U.S. The result of such a calculation would be 
thousands of cancer fatalities from the fuel cycle, but this result 
assumes that even tiny doses have some statistical adverse health 
effect which will not ever be mitigated (for example no cancer cure in 
the next thousand years), and that these dose projections over 
thousands of years are meaningful. However these assumptions are 
questionable. In particular, science cannot rule out the possibility 
that there will be no cancer fatalities from these tiny doses. For 
perspective, the doses are very small fractions of regulatory limits, 
and even smaller fractions of natural background exposure to the same 
populations. No standards exist that can be used to reach a conclusion 
as to the significance of the magnitude of the collective radiological 
effects. Nevertheless, some judgement as to the regulatory NEPA 
implication of this issue should be made and it makes no sense to 
repeat the same judgement in every case. The Commission concludes that 
these impacts are acceptable in that these impacts would not be 
sufficiently large to require the NEPA conclusion, for any plant, that 
the option of extended operation under 10 CFR part 54 should be 
eliminated. Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a single 
level of significance for the collective effects of the fuel cycle, 
this issue is considered Category 1. For other Category 1 issues, the 
impacts will be considered at the individual renewal stage as a means 
of judging the total impact of an individual license renewal decision. 
However, the Commission has already judged the impact of collective 
effects of the fuel cycle as part of this rule.
    There are no current regulatory limits for off-site releases of 
radionuclides for the current candidate repository site. However if we 
assume that limits are developed along the lines of the 1995 National 
Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, and that in accordance with the 
Commission's Waste Confidence Decision, a repository can and likely 
will be developed at some site which will comply with such limits, peak 
doses to virtually all individuals will be 100 millirem per year or 
less. However, while the Commission has reasonable confidence that 
these assumptions will prove correct there is considerable uncertainty 
since the limits are yet to be developed, no repository application has 
been completed or reviewed, and uncertainty is inherent in the models 
used to evaluate possible pathways to the human environment. The 
National Academy report indicated that 100 millirem per year should be 
considered as a starting point for limits for individual doses, but 
notes that some measure of consensus exists among national and 
international bodies that the limits should be a fraction of the 100 
millirem per year. The lifetime individual risk from 100 millirem per 
year dose limit is about 3 x 10-3. Doses to populations from 
disposal cannot now (or possibly ever) be estimated without very great 
uncertainty. Estimating cumulative doses to populations over thousands 
of years is more problematic. The likelihood and consequences of events 
that could seriously compromise the integrity of a deep geologic 
repository were evaluated by the Department of Energy in the ``Final 
Environmental Impact Statement: Management of Commercially Generated 
Radioactive Waste,'' October 1980. The evaluation estimated the 70-year 
whole-body dose commitment to the maximum individual and to the 
regional population resulting from several modes of breaching a 
reference repository in the year of closure, after 1,000 years, after 
100,000 years, and after 100,000,000 years. The release scenarios 
covered a wide range of consequences from the limited consequences of 
humans accidentally drilling into a waste package in the repository to 
the catastrophic release of the repository inventory by a direct meteor 
strike. Subsequently, the NRC and other Federal agencies have expended 
considerable effort to develop models for the design and for the 
licensing of a high level waste repository, especially for the 
candidate repository at Yucca Mountain. More meaningful estimates of 
doses to population may be possible in the future as more is understood 
about the performance of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. Such 
estimates would involve very great uncertainty, especially with respect 
to cumulative population doses over thousands of years. The standard 
proposed by the NAS is a limit on maximum individual dose. The 
relationship of potential new regulatory requirements, based on the NAS 
report, and cumulative population impacts has not been determined, 
although the report articulates the view that protection of individuals 
will adequately protect the population for a repository at Yucca 
Mountain. However, EPA's generic repository standards in 40 CFR part 
191 generally provide an indication of the order of magnitude of 
cumulative risk to population that could result from the licensing of a 
Yucca Mountain repository, assuming the ultimate standards will be 
within the range of standards now under consideration. The standard in 
40 CFR part 191 protects the population by imposing ``containment 
requirements'' that limit the cumulative amount of radioactive material 
released over 10,000 years. The cumulative release limits are based on 
EPA's population impact goal of 1,000 premature cancer deaths world-
wide for a 100,000 metric tonne (MTHM) repository.
    Nevertheless, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the effects 
of the disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste, some judgement as 
to the regulatory NEPA implications of these matters should be made and 
it makes no sense to repeat the same judgement in every case. Even 
taking the uncertainties into account, the Commission concludes that 
these impacts are acceptable in that these impacts would not be 
sufficiently large to require the NEPA conclusion, for any plant, that 
the option of extended operation under 10 CFR part 54 should be 
eliminated. Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a single 
level of significance for the impacts of spent fuel and high-level 
waste disposal, this issue is considered Category 1. Excepting the 
collective effects previously discussed, for other Category 1 issues, 
the impacts will be considered at the individual renewal stage as a 
means of judging the total impact of an individual license renewal 
decision. However, the Commission has already judged the impacts of 
high level waste disposal as part of this rule.
    With respect to the nonradiological impact of the uranium fuel 
cycle, data concerning land requirements, water requirements, the use 
of fossil fuel, gaseous effluent, liquid effluent, and tailings 
solutions and solids, all listed in Table S-3, have been reviewed to

[[Page 28479]]

determine the significance of the environmental impacts of a power 
reactor operating an additional 20 years. The nonradiological impacts 
attributable to the relicensing of an individual power reactor are 
found to be of small significance. License renewal of an individual 
plant is so indirectly connected to the operation of fuel cycle 
facilities that it is meaningless to address the mitigation of impacts 
identified above. This is a Category 1 issue.
    Table S-3 does not take into account long-term onsite storage of 
LLW, mixed waste, and storage of spent fuel assemblies onsite for 
longer than 10 years, nor does it take into account impacts from mixed 
waste disposal. The environmental impacts of these aspects of onsite 
storage are also addressed in Chapter 6 of the final GEIS and the 
findings are included in the final rule in Table B-1 of appendix B to 
10 CFR part 51.
    Chapter 6 of the GEIS discusses the impacts of offsite disposal of 
LLW and mixed waste and concludes that impacts will be small. The 
conclusion that impacts will be small is based on the regulations and 
regulatory programs in place (e.g., 10 CFR part 61 for LLW and 40 CFR 
parts 261, 264, and 268 for hazardous waste), experience with existing 
sites, and the expectation that NRC, EPA, and the States will ensure 
that disposal will occur in compliance with the applicable regulations.
    The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 (LLRWPA) made 
the States responsible for the disposal of commercially generated LLW. 
At present, 9 compacts have been formed, representing 42 States. The 
Texas Compact (Texas, Maine, and Vermont) is pending before the U.S. 
Congress.
    New LLW disposal facilities in the host States of California, North 
Carolina, and Texas are forecast to be operational between 1997 and 
1998. Facilities in the host States of Connecticut, Illinois, 
Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York are 
scheduled for operation between 1999 and 2002. Envirocare, in Utah, 
takes limited types of waste from certain generators.
    There are uncertainties in the licensing process and in the length 
of time needed to resolve technical issues, but in NRC's view there are 
no unsolvable technical issues that will inevitably preclude successful 
development of new sites or other off-site disposal capacity for LLW by 
the time they will be needed. For example, in California, the proposed 
Ward Valley LLW disposal facility was unexpectedly delayed by the need 
to resolve technical issues raised by several scientists independent of 
the project after the license was issued. These issues were recently 
reviewed and largely resolved by an independent review group. In North 
Carolina, Texas, and Nebraska, the license application review period 
has been longer than is required by the LLRWPA, but progress continues 
to be made.
    The State's LLW responsibilities include providing disposal 
capacity for mixed LLW. Mixed waste disposal facility developers face 
the same types of challenges as LLW site developers plus difficulties 
with dual regulation and small volumes. However, in NRC's view there 
are no technical reasons why offsite disposal capacity for all types of 
mixed waste should not become available when needed. NRC and EPA have 
developed guidance on the siting of mixed waste disposal facilities as 
well as a conceptual design for a mixed waste disposal facility. A 
disposal facility for certain types of mixed waste is operated by 
Envirocare in Utah. States have begun discussions with DOE about 
accepting commercial mixed waste for treatment and disposal at DOE 
facilities. Although these discussions have yet to result in DOE 
accepting commercial mixed waste at DOE facilities, it appears that 
progress is being made toward DOE's eventual acceptance of some portion 
of commercial mixed waste at its facilities.
    While the NRC understands that there have been delays and that 
uncertainties exist such as those just discussed, the Commission 
concludes that there is reasonable assurance that sufficient LLW and 
mixed LLW disposal capacity will be made available when needed so that 
facilities can be decommissioned consistent with NRC decommissioning 
requirements. This conclusion, coupled with the expected small impacts 
from both storage and disposal justify classification of LLW and mixed 
waste disposal as Category 1 issues.
    The GEIS addresses the matter of extended onsite storage of both 
LLW and mixed waste from refurbishment and operations for a renewal 
period of up to 20 years. Summary data are provided and radiological 
and nonradiological environmental impacts are addressed. The analysis 
considers:
    (1) The volumes of LLW and mixed waste that may be generated from 
license renewal;
    (2) Specific requirements under the existing regulatory framework;
    (3) The effectiveness of the regulations in maintaining low average 
doses to members of the public and to workers; and
    (4) Nonradiological impacts, including land use, fugitive dust, air 
quality, erosion, sedimentation, and disturbance of ecosystems.
    In addition, under 10 CFR 50.59, licensees are allowed to make 
changes to their facilities as discussed in the final safety analysis 
report without NRC permission if the evaluation indicates that a change 
in the technical specifications is not required or that an unreviewed 
safety question does not exist. Licensees would have to ensure that any 
new LLW activities would not represent an unreviewed safety question 
for routine operations or for conditions that might arise from 
potential accidents. Both onsite and offsite impacts would have to be 
considered. If a LLW or mixed waste activity fails either of the two 
tests in 10 CFR 50.59, a license amendment is required. Subject to the 
two possible review requirements just noted, the Commission finds that 
continued onsite storage of both LLW and mixed waste resulting from 
license renewal will have small environmental impacts and will require 
no further review within the license renewal proceeding.
    The GEIS addresses extended onsite storage of spent fuel during a 
renewal period of up to 20 years. The Commission has studied the safety 
and environmental effects of the temporary storage of spent fuel after 
cessation of reactor operation and has published a generic 
determination of no significant environmental impact (10 CFR 51.23). 
The environmental data on storing spent fuel onsite in a fuel pool for 
10 years before shipping for offsite disposal have been assessed and 
reported in NUREG-0116, ``The Environmental Survey of the Reprocessing 
and Waste Management Portions of the LWR Fuel Cycle'' (October 1976), 
and published in the Commission's regulations (10 CFR 51.51). 
Environmental assessments (EA) for expanding the fuel pool storage 
capacity have been conducted for numerous plants. In each case, a 
finding of no significant environmental impact was reached.
    Radioactive exposures, waste generation, and releases were 
evaluated and found to be small. The only nonradiological effluent from 
waste storage is additional heat from the plant that was found to have 
a negligible effect on the environment. Accidents were evaluated and 
were found to have insignificant effects on the environment. Dry cask 
storage at an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) is 
another technology used to store under a general license. The 
environmental impacts of allowing onsite dry cask storage under a 
general license were

[[Page 28480]]

assessed in an EA and found to be insignificant. Further, the 
Commission has conducted EAs for seven specific licensed ISFSIs and has 
reached a finding of no significant environmental impact for each site. 
Each EA addressed the impacts of construction, use, and 
decommissioning. Potential impacts that were assessed include 
radiological impacts, land use, terrestrial resources, water use, 
aquatic resources, noise, air quality, socioeconomics, radiological 
impacts during construction and routine operation, and radiological 
impacts of off-normal events and accidents. Trends in onsite spent fuel 
storage capacity and the volume of spent fuel that will be generated 
during an additional 20 years of operation are considered in the GEIS. 
Spent fuel storage capacity requirements can be adequately met by 
ISFSIs without significant environmental impacts. The environmental 
impacts of onsite storage of spent fuel at all plants have been 
adequately assessed in the GEIS for the purposes of an environmental 
review and agency decision on renewal of an operating license; thus, no 
further review within the license renewal proceeding is required. This 
provision is relative to the license renewal decision and does not 
alter existing Commission licensing requirements specific to on-site 
storage of spent fuel.
    The environmental impacts from the transportation of fuel and waste 
attributable to license renewal are found to be small when they are 
within the range of impacts of parameters identified in Table S-4. The 
estimated radiological effects are within regulatory standards. The 
nonradiological impacts are those from periodic shipments of fuel and 
waste by individual trucks or rail cars and thus would result in 
infrequent and localized minor contributions to traffic density. 
Programs designed to further reduce risk, which are already in place, 
provide for adequate mitigation. Recent, ongoing efforts by the 
Department of Energy to study the impacts of waste transportation in 
the context of the multi-purpose canister (see, 60 FR 45147, August 30, 
1995) suggest that there may be unresolved issues regarding the 
magnitude of cumulative impacts from the use of a single rail line or 
truck route in the vicinity of the repository to carry all spent fuel 
from all plants. Accordingly, NRC declines to reach a Category 1 
conclusion on this issue at this time. Table S-4 should continue to be 
the basis for case-by-case evaluation of transportation impacts of fuel 
and waste until such time as a detailed analysis of the environmental 
impacts of transportation to the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain 
becomes available.
9. Accidents
    Concern. Several commenters expressed concerns regarding the 
appropriateness of the severe accident determination in the GEIS and 
with the treatment of severe accident mitigation design alternatives 
(SAMDAs) for license renewal. A group of commenters identified areas of 
concern that they believe justify severe accidents being classified as 
a Category 3 issue. The areas included seismic risks to nuclear power 
plants and site-specific evacuation risks. Several commenters 
questioned whether the analyses of the environmental impacts of 
accidents were adequate to make a Category 1 determination for the 
issue of severe accidents. The contention is that a bounding analysis 
would be established only if plant-specific analyses were performed for 
every plant, which was not the case. Instead, the GEIS analysis made 
use of a single generic source term for each of the two plant types.
    Response. The Commission believes that its analysis of the impacts 
of severe accidents is appropriate. The GEIS provides an analysis of 
the consequences of severe accidents for each site in the country. The 
analysis adopts standard assumptions about each site for parameters 
such as evacuation speeds and distances traveled, and uses site-
specific estimates for parameters such as population distribution and 
meteorological conditions. These latter two factors were used to 
evaluate the exposure indices for these analyses. The methods used 
result in predictions of risk that are adequate to illustrate the 
general magnitude and types of risks that may occur from reactor 
accidents. Regarding site-evacuation risk, the radiological risk to 
persons as they evacuate is taken into account within the individual 
plant risk assessments that form the basis for the GEIS. In addition, 
10 CFR Part 50 requires that licensees maintain up-to-date emergency 
plans. This requirement will apply in the license renewal term as well 
as in the current licensing term.
    As was done in the GEIS analysis, the use of generic source terms 
(one set for PWRs and another for BWRs) is consistent with the past 
practice that has been used and accepted by the NRC for individual 
plant Final Environmental Impact Statements (FEISs). The purpose of the 
source term discussion in the GEIS is to describe whether or not new 
information on source terms developed after the completion of the most 
recent FEISs indicates that the source terms used in the past under-
predict environmental consequences. The NRC has concluded that analysis 
of the new source term information developed over the past 10 years 
indicates that the expected frequency and amounts of radioactive 
release under severe accident conditions are less than that predicted 
using the generic source terms. A summary of the evolution of this 
research is provided in NUREG-1150, ``Severe Accident Risks: An 
Assessment for Five U.S. Nuclear Power Plants'' (December 1990), and 
its supporting documentation. Thus, the analyses performed for the GEIS 
represent adequate, plant-specific estimates of the impacts from severe 
accidents that would generally over-predict, rather than under-predict, 
environmental consequences. Therefore, the GEIS analysis of the impacts 
of severe accidents for license renewal is retained and is considered 
applicable to all plants.
    Based on an evaluation of the comments, the Commission has 
reconsidered its previous conclusion in the draft GEIS concerning site-
specific consideration of severe accident mitigation. The Commission 
has determined that a site-specific consideration of alternatives to 
mitigate severe accidents will be required at the time of license 
renewal unless a previous consideration of such alternatives regarding 
plant operation has been included in a final environmental impact 
statement or a related supplement. Because the third criterion required 
to make a Category 1 designation for an issue requires a generic 
consideration of mitigation, the issue of severe accidents must be 
reclassified as a Category 2 issue that requires a consideration of 
severe accident mitigation alternatives, provided this consideration 
has not already been completed. The Commission's reconsideration of the 
issue of severe accident mitigation for license renewal is based on the 
Commission's NEPA regulations that require a consideration of 
mitigation alternatives in its environmental impact statements (EISs) 
and supplements to EISs, as well as a previous court decision that 
required a review of severe mitigation alternatives (referred to as 
SAMDAs) at the operating license stage. See, Limerick Ecology Action v. 
NRC, 869 F.2d 719 (3d Cir. 1989).
    Although the Commission has considered containment improvements for 
all plants pursuant to its Containment Performance Improvement (CPI) 
program, which identified potential containment improvements for site-
specific consideration by licensees,

[[Page 28481]]

and the Commission has additional ongoing regulatory programs whereby 
licensees search for individual plant vulnerabilities to severe 
accidents and consider cost-beneficial improvements, these programs 
have not yet been completed. Therefore, a conclusion that severe 
accident mitigation has been generically considered for license renewal 
is premature.
    The Commission believes it unlikely that any site-specific 
consideration of severe accident mitigation alternatives for license 
renewal will identify major plant design changes or modifications that 
will prove to be cost-beneficial for reducing severe accident frequency 
or consequences. This Commission expectation regarding severe accident 
mitigation improvements is based on the analyses performed to date that 
are discussed below.
    The Commission's CPI program examined each of the five U.S. 
containment types to determine potential failure modes, potential plant 
improvements, and the cost-effectivenesses of such improvements. As a 
result of this program, only a few containment improvements were found 
to be potentially beneficial and were either identified for further NRC 
research or for individual licensee evaluation.
    In response to the Limerick decision, an NRC staff consideration of 
SAMDAs was specifically included in the Final Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Limerick 1 and 2 and Comanche Peak 1 and 2 operating 
license reviews, and in the Watts Bar Supplemental Final Environmental 
Statement for an operating license. The alternatives evaluated in these 
analyses included the items previously evaluated as part of the CPI 
Program, as well as improvements identified through other risk studies 
and analyses. No physical plant modifications were found to be cost-
beneficial in any of these severe accident mitigation considerations. 
Only plant procedural changes were identified as being cost-beneficial. 
Furthermore, the Limerick analysis was for a high-population site. 
Because risk is generally proportional to the population around a 
plant, this analysis suggests that other sites are unlikely to identify 
significant plant modifications that are cost-beneficial.
    Additionally, each licensee is performing an individual plant 
examination (IPE) to look for plant vulnerabilities to internally 
initiated events and a separate IPE for externally initiated events 
(IPEEE). The licensees were requested to report their results to the 
Commission. Seventy-eight IPE submittals were received and seventy-five 
IPEEE submittals will be received, covering all operating plants in the 
United States. These examinations consider potential improvements to 
reduce the frequency or consequences of severe accidents on a plant-
specific basis and essentially constitute a broad search for severe 
accident mitigation alternatives. The NRC staff is conducting a process 
review of each plant-specific IPE submittal and IPEEE submittal. To 
date, all IPE submittals have received a preliminary review by the NRC 
with 46 out of 78 completed; for the IPEEE submittals, 24 of the 75 are 
under review. These IPEs have resulted in a number of plant procedural 
or programmatic improvements and some plant modifications that will 
further reduce the risk of severe accidents.
    In conclusion, the GEIS analysis of severe accident consequences 
and risk is adequate, and additional plant-specific analysis of these 
impacts is not required. However, because the ongoing regulatory 
program related to severe accident mitigation (i.e., IPE and IPEEE) has 
not been completed for all plants and consideration of severe accident 
mitigation alternatives has not been included in an EIS or supplemental 
EIS related to plant operations for all plants, a site-specific 
consideration of severe accident mitigation alternatives is required at 
license renewal for those plants for which this consideration has not 
been performed. The Commission expects that if these reviews identify 
any changes as being cost beneficial, such changes generally would be 
procedural and programmatic fixes, with any hardware changes being only 
minor in nature and few in number. NRC staff considerations of severe 
accident mitigation alternatives have already been completed and 
included in an EIS or supplemental EIS for Limerick, Comanche Peak, and 
Watts Bar. Therefore, severe accident mitigation alternatives need not 
be reconsidered for these plants for license renewal.
    Based on the fact that a generic consideration of mitigation is not 
performed in the GEIS, a Category 1 designation for severe accidents 
cannot be made. Therefore, the Commission has reclassified severe 
accidents as a Category 2 issue, requiring only that alternatives to 
mitigate severe accidents be considered for those plants that have not 
included such a consideration in a previous EIS or supplemental EIS. 
The Commission notes that upon completion of its IPE/IPEEE program, it 
may review the issue of severe accident mitigation for license renewal 
and consider, by separate rulemaking, reclassifying severe accidents as 
a Category 1 issue.
    The Commission does not intend to prescribe by rule the scope of an 
acceptable consideration of severe accident mitigation alternatives for 
license renewal nor does it intend to mandate consideration of 
alternatives identical to those evaluated previously. In general, the 
Commission expects that significant efficiency can be gained by using 
site-specific IPE and IPEEE results in the consideration of severe 
accident mitigation alternatives. The IPEs and IPEEEs are essentially 
site-specific PRAs that identify probabilities of core damage (Level 1 
PRA) and include assessments of containment performance under severe 
accident conditions that identify probabilities of fission product 
releases (Level 2 ). As discussed in Generic Letter 88-20, ``Individual 
Plant Examination for Severe Accident Vulnerabilities'' (November 23, 
1988), one of the important goals of the IPE and IPEEE was to reduce 
the overall probabilities of core damage and fission product releases 
as necessary by modifying hardware and procedures to help prevent or 
mitigate severe accidents.
    Although Level 3 PRAs have been used in SAMDA analyses to generate 
site-specific offsite dose estimates so that the cost-benefit of 
mitigation alternatives could be determined, the Commission does not 
believe that site-specific Level 3 PRAs are required to determine 
whether an alternative under consideration will provide sufficient 
benefit to justify its cost. Licensees can use other quantitative 
approaches for assigning site-specific risk significance to IPE results 
and judging whether a mitigation alternative provides a sufficient 
reduction in core damage frequency (CDF) or release frequency to 
warrant implementation. For example, a licensee could use information 
provided in the GEIS analysis (exposure indices, wind frequencies, and 
demographics) to translate the dominant contributors to CDF and the 
large release frequencies from the IPE/IPEEE results into dose 
estimates so that a cost-benefit determination can be performed. In 
some instances, a consideration of the magnitude of reduction in the 
site-specific CDF and release frequencies alone (i.e., no conversion to 
a dose estimate) may be sufficient to conclude that no significant 
reduction in off-site risk will be provided and, therefore, 
implementation of a mitigation alternative is not warranted. The 
Commission will review each severe accident mitigation consideration 
provided by a license renewal applicant on its merits and determine 
whether it

[[Page 28482]]

constitutes a reasonable consideration of severe accident mitigation 
alternatives.
10. Decommissioning
    Concern. Several commenters requested further clarification of the 
NRC's position regarding decommissioning requirements, especially 
whether the total impacts address returning the site to green field 
conditions.
    Response. The decommissioning chapter of the GEIS analyzes the 
impact that an additional 20 years of plant operation would have on 
ultimate plant decommissioning; it neither serves as the generic 
analysis of the environmental impacts associated with decommissioning 
nor establishes decommissioning requirements. An analysis of the 
expected impacts from plant decommissioning was previously provided in 
NUREG-0586, ``Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on 
Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities'' (August 1988). The analysis in 
the GEIS for license renewal examines the physical requirements and 
attendant effects of decommissioning after a 20-year license renewal 
compared with decommissioning at the end of 40 years of operation and 
finds little difference in effects.
    With respect to returning a site to green field condition, the 
Commission defines decommissioning as the safe removal of a nuclear 
facility from service, the reduction of residual contamination to a 
level that permits release of the property for unrestricted use, and 
termination of the license. Therefore, the question of restoring the 
land to a green field condition, which would require additional 
demolition and site restoration beyond addressing residual 
contamination and radiological effects, is outside the current scope of 
the decommissioning requirements. Moreover, consistent with the 
Commission's conclusion that license renewal is not expected to affect 
future decommissioning, any requirement relative to returning a site to 
a green field and the attendant effects of such a requirement would 
also not be affected by an additional 20 years of operation. Therefore, 
the issue of returning a site to pre-construction conditions is beyond 
the scope of license renewal review.
    Concern. Several commenters expressed concern that, because a 
residual radioactivity rule is still not in place, the LLW estimates 
should be reexamined.
    Response. The NRC does have criteria in place for the release of 
reactor facilities to unrestricted access following decommissioning. 
These include the guidance in Regulatory Guide 1.86, ``Termination of 
Operating Licenses for Nuclear Reactors'' (which provides guidance for 
surface contamination), dose rate limits from gamma-emitting 
radionuclides included in plant technical specifications, and 
requirements for keeping residual contamination as low as reasonably 
achievable (ALARA) as included in 10 CFR part 20. These criteria were 
used in developing NUREG-0586, the final GEIS on decommissioning of 
nuclear facilities, which was published in August of 1988. One 
conclusion from the analysis conducted for NUREG-0586 was that waste 
volumes from decommissioning of reactors are not highly sensitive to 
the radiological criteria. A proposed rule dated August 22, 1994, would 
codify radiological criteria for unrestricted release of reactors and 
other nuclear facilities and for termination of a facility license 
following decommissioning. NUREG-1496, the draft GEIS for the proposed 
rule on radiological criteria, included analyses of a range of 
radiological release criteria and confirmed the earlier conclusions 
that waste volumes from decommissioning of reactors are not sensitive 
to the residual radiological criteria within the range likely to be 
selected. This range included residual dose levels comparable to the 
radiological criteria currently being used for reactor decommissioning. 
Based on the insensitivity of the waste volume from reactor 
decommissioning to the radiological criteria, the Commission continues 
to believe, as concluded in the decommissioning section of the GEIS, 
that the contribution to environmental impacts of decommissioning from 
license renewal are small. The Commission further concludes that these 
impacts are not expected to change significantly as a result of the 
ongoing rulemaking. Therefore, the determinations in the GEIS remain 
appropriate.
11. Need for Generating Capacity
    Concern. In addition to the major procedural concern discussed 
earlier about the treatment of need for generating capacity, several 
commenters raised concerns about the power demand projections used in 
the GEIS. Some commenters noted that any determination of need quickly 
becomes dated and, therefore, the demand for and the source of 
electrical power at the time of license renewal cannot be accurately 
predicted at this time. Moreover, they believe that the NRC's analysis 
is not definitive enough to remain unchallenged for 40 years. Another 
commenter criticized the analysis because it focused only on energy 
requirements without making appropriate distinctions between energy and 
peak capacity requirements, plant availability, and capacity factors.
    Response. The NRC has determined that a detailed consideration of 
the need for generating capacity is inappropriate in the context of 
consideration of the environmental impacts of license renewal. Thus, 
the NRC will limit its NEPA review of license renewal applications to 
the consideration of the environmental impacts of license renewal 
compared with those of other available generating sources. Hence, the 
concerns regarding demand projections used in the draft GEIS are no 
longer an issue and they have been removed from the GEIS.
12. Alternatives to License Renewal
    Concern. In addition to the procedural concern discussed earlier 
about the treatment of alternative energy sources as a Category 1 
issue, several commenters expressed concerns about the comparison and 
analysis of alternative energy sources, as well as the economic 
analysis approach used in the draft GEIS. Consistent with their 
arguments against the Category 1 designation of alternatives, the 
commenters questioned the approach adopted in the GEIS of comparing 
only single alternative energy sources to license renewal. They believe 
that the NRC's failure to consider a mix of alternatives ignores the 
potential for other alternative sources of power that are available to 
different regions of the nation, such as demand-side management, 
cogeneration, purchased power from Canada, biomass, natural gas, solar 
energy, and wind power. They also indicated that this approach neglects 
a utility's ability to serve its customers with a portfolio of supply 
that is based on load characteristics, cost, geography, and other 
considerations, and fails to consider the collective impact of the 
alternatives. Furthermore, the possible technological advances in 
renewable energy sources over the next 40 years are not addressed.
    One commenter argued that designating the issue of alternative 
energy sources as Category 1 allows a license renewal applicant not to 
consider the additional requirement of economic threshold analysis. 
Relative to the economic analysis of the alternatives to license 
renewal, another commenter questioned the proposed requirement for the 
license renewal applicant to demonstrate that the ``replacement of 
equivalent generating capacity by a coal-fired plant has no 
demonstrated cost advantage over the individual nuclear power plant 
license renewal.''

[[Page 28483]]

According to the commenter, this requirement would force the applicant 
to perform an economic analysis of an alternative to license renewal. 
The commenter further argued that NEPA does not require an economic 
consideration.
    Response. In response to these concerns, the final rule no longer 
requires a cost comparison of alternative energy sources relative to 
license renewal. Furthermore, the alternative energy sources discussed 
in the final GEIS include energy conservation and energy imports as 
well as the other sources discussed by the commenters. An analysis of 
the environmental impacts of alternative energy sources is included in 
the GEIS but is not codified in 10 CFR part 51.
    The NRC believes that its consideration of alternatives in the GEIS 
is representative of the technologies available and the associated 
environmental impacts. With regard to consideration of a mix of 
alternative sources, the Commission recognizes that combinations of 
various alternatives may be used to replace power generation from 
license renewal.
13. License Renewal Scenario
    Concern. Several commenters raised concerns related to the license 
renewal scenario evaluation methodology as implemented in the GEIS. The 
fundamental issues were the degree of conservatism built into the 
scenario and the appropriateness of an upper bound type approach in 
characterizing the refurbishment activities (and associated costs) in 
light of NEPA requirements to determine reasonable estimates of the 
environmental impacts of Federal actions.
    Regarding the concerns that the refurbishment schedules and 
scenarios developed for the GEIS were too conservative, several 
commenters indicated that many of the activities slated for completion 
during the extended refurbishment before license renewal would actually 
be completed by many facilities during the course of the current 
licensing term. The effect of having only one major outage instead of 
leveling work over three or four outages could lead to an over-estimate 
of the refurbishment activities and costs that any particular plant 
would expect to see.
    Response. In response to this concern, the NRC has revised the GEIS 
to include two license renewal program scenarios. The first scenario 
refers to a ``typical'' license renewal program and is intended to be 
representative of the type of programs that many plants seeking license 
renewal might implement. The second scenario retains the original 
objective of establishing an upper bound of the impacts likely to be 
generated at any particular plant. The typical scenario is useful for 
estimating impacts at plants that have been well maintained and have 
already undertaken most major refurbishment activities necessary for 
operation beyond the current licensing term. The conservative scenario 
estimates continue to be useful for estimating the maximum impacts 
likely to result from license renewal.
    The revised approach of providing two separate license renewal 
scenarios also alleviates the concern about the use of a bounding 
scenario for license renewal activities. The NRC acknowledges that some 
applicants for license renewal may not be required to perform certain 
major refurbishment or replacement activities and, therefore, may have 
fewer or shorter outages. However, the two scenarios described in the 
GEIS are neither unrealistic nor overconservative in representing the 
range of activities that could be expected for license renewal and the 
possible schedule for performing these activities.
14. Environmental Justice
    On February 11, 1994, the President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 
12898, ``Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority 
Populations and Low-Income Populations'' (59 FR 7629, February 16, 
1994). This order requires each Federal agency to make achieving 
environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and 
addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human 
health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and 
activities on minority and low income populations. The Commission will 
endeavor to carry out the measures set forth in the executive order by 
integrating environmental justice into NRC's compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. E.O. 12898 
was issued after publication of the proposed rule and the receipt of 
comments on the proposed rule. As a result, no comments were received 
regarding environmental justice reviews for license renewal. Therefore, 
a brief discussion of this issue relative to license renewal is 
warranted.
    As called for in Section 1-102 of E.O. 12898, the EPA established a 
Federal interagency working group to, among other things, ``* * * 
provide guidance to Federal agencies or criteria for identifying 
disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental 
effects on minority populations and low-income populations * * *.'' The 
CEQ was assigned to provide this guidance to enable agencies to better 
comply with E.O. 12898. Until the CEQ guidance is received, the 
Commission intends to consider environmental justice in its evaluations 
of individual license renewal applications. Greater emphasis will be 
placed on discussing impacts on minority and low-income populations 
when preparing NEPA documents such as EISs, supplemental EISs, and, 
where appropriate, EAs. Commission requirements regarding environmental 
justice reviews will be reevaluated and may be revised after receipt of 
the CEQ guidance.

IV. Discussion of Regulatory Requirements

A. General Requirements

    In this final rule, the regulatory requirements for performing a 
NEPA review for a license renewal application are similar to the NEPA 
review requirements for other major plant licensing actions. Consistent 
with the current NEPA practice for major plant licensing actions, this 
amendment to 10 CFR Part 51 requires the applicant to submit an 
environmental report that analyzes the environmental impacts associated 
with the proposed action, considers alternatives to the proposed 
action, and evaluates any alternatives for reducing adverse 
environmental effects. Additionally, the amendment requires the NRC 
staff to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for the 
proposed action, issue the statement in draft for public comment, and 
issue a final statement after considering public comments on the draft.
    The amendment deviates from NRC's current NEPA review practice in 
some areas. First, the amendment codifies certain environmental impacts 
associated with license renewal that were analyzed in NUREG-1437, 
``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal at Nuclear 
Plants'' (xxxx 1996). Accordingly, absent new and significant 
information, the analyses for certain impacts codified by this 
rulemaking need only be incorporated by reference in an applicant's 
environmental report for license renewal and in the Commission's 
(including NRC staff, adjudicatory officers, and the Commission itself) 
draft and final SEIS and other environmental documents developed for 
the proceeding. Secondly, the amendment reflects the Commission's 
decision to limit its NEPA review for license renewal to a 
consideration of the environmental

[[Page 28484]]

effects of the proposed action and alternatives to the proposed action. 
Finally, the amendment contains the decision standard that the 
Commission will use in determining the acceptability of the 
environmental impacts of individual license renewals.
    The Commission and the applicant will consider severe accident 
mitigation alternatives to reduce or mitigate environmental impacts for 
any plant for which severe accident mitigation alternatives have not 
been previously considered in an environmental impact statement or 
related supplement or in an environmental assessment. The Commission 
has concluded that, for license renewal, the issues of need for power 
and utility economics should be reserved for State and utility 
officials to decide. Accordingly, the NRC will not conduct an analysis 
of these issues in the context of license renewal or perform 
traditional cost-benefit balancing in license renewal NEPA reviews. 
Finally, in a departure from the approach presented in the proposed 
rule, this final rule does not codify any conclusions regarding the 
subject of alternatives. Consideration of and decisions regarding 
alternatives will occur at the site-specific stage. The discussion 
below addresses the specific regulatory requirements of this amendment 
and any conforming changes to 10 CFR part 51 to implement the 
Commission's decision to eliminate cost-benefit balancing from license 
renewal NEPA reviews.

B. The Environmental Report

1. Environmental Impacts of License Renewal
    Through this final rule, the NRC has amended 10 CFR 51.53 to 
require an applicant for license renewal to submit an environmental 
report with its application. This environmental report must contain an 
analysis of the environmental impacts of renewing a license, the 
environmental impacts of alternatives, and mitigation alternatives. In 
preparing the analysis of environmental impacts contained in the 
environmental report, the applicant should refer to the data provided 
in appendix B to 10 CFR part 51, which has been added to NRC's 
regulations as part of this rulemaking. The applicant is not required 
to provide an analysis in the environmental report of those issues 
identified as Category 1 issues in Table B-1 in Appendix B. For those 
issues identified as Category 2 in Table B-1, the applicant must 
provide a specified additional analysis beyond that contained in Table 
B-1. In this final rule, 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii) specifies the subject 
areas of the analysis that must be addressed for the Category 2 issues.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.45(c), 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2) requires the 
applicant to consider possible actions to mitigate the adverse impacts 
associated with the proposed action. This consideration is limited to 
designated Category 2 matters. Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.45(d), the 
environmental report must include a discussion of the status of 
compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local environmental 
standards. Also, 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2) specifically excludes from 
consideration in the environmental report the issues of need for power, 
the economic costs and benefits of the proposed action, economic costs 
and benefits of alternatives to the proposed action, or other issues 
not related to environmental effects of the proposed action and 
associated alternatives. In addition, the requirements in 10 CFR 51.45 
are consistent with the exclusion of economic issues in 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(2).
2. Consideration of Alternatives
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.45(c), 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2) requires the 
applicant to consider the environmental impacts of alternatives to 
license renewal in the environmental report. The treatment of 
alternatives in the environmental report should be limited to the 
environmental impacts of such alternatives.
    The amended regulations do not require a discussion of the economic 
costs and benefits of these alternatives in the environmental report 
for the operating license renewal stage except as necessary to 
determine whether an alternative should be included in the range of 
alternatives considered or whether certain mitigative actions are 
appropriate. The analysis should demonstrate consideration of a 
reasonable set of alternatives to license renewal. In preparing the 
alternatives analysis, the applicant may consider information regarding 
alternatives in NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement 
for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (xxxx 1996).
    The Commission has developed a new decision standard to be applied 
in environmental impact statements for license renewal as discussed in 
Section IV.C.2. The amended regulations for license renewal do not 
require applicants to apply this decision standard to the information 
generated in their environmental report (although the applicant is not 
prohibited from doing so if it desires). However, the NRC staff will 
use the information contained in the environmental report in preparing 
the environmental impact statement upon which the Commission will base 
its final decision.
3. Consideration of Mitigation Alternatives
    Consistent with the NRC's current NEPA practice, an applicant must 
include a consideration of alternatives to mitigate adverse 
environmental impacts in its environmental report. However, for license 
renewal, the Commission has generically considered mitigation for 
environmental issues associated with renewal and has concluded that no 
additional site-specific consideration of mitigation is necessary for 
many issues. The Commission's consideration of mitigation for each 
issue included identification of current activities that adequately 
mitigate impacts and evaluation of other mitigation techniques that 
might or might not be warranted, depending on such factors as the size 
of the impact and the cost of the technique. The Commission has 
considered mitigation for all impacts designated as Category 1 in Table 
B-1. Therefore, a license renewal applicant need not address mitigation 
for issues so designated.

C. Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

    This amendment also requires that the Commission prepare a 
supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS), consistent with 10 
CFR 51.20(b)(2). This statement will serve as the Commission's 
independent analysis of the environmental impacts of license renewal as 
well as a comparison of these impacts to the environmental impacts of 
alternatives. This document will also present the preliminary 
recommendation by the NRC staff regarding the proposed action. 
Consistent with the revisions to 10 CFR 51.45 and 51.53 discussed above 
in regard to the applicant's environmental report, this rulemaking 
revises portions of 10 CFR 51.71 and 51.95 to reflect the Commission's 
approach to addressing the environmental impacts of license renewal.
    The issues of need for power, the economic costs and benefits of 
the proposed action, and economic costs and benefits of alternatives to 
the proposed action are specifically excluded from consideration in the 
supplemental environmental impact statement for license renewal by 10 
CFR 51.95(c), except as these costs and benefits are either essential 
for a determination regarding the inclusion of an alternative in the 
range of alternatives considered or relevant to mitigation. The 
supplemental

[[Page 28485]]

environmental impact statement does not need to discuss issues other 
than environmental effects of the proposed action and associated 
alternatives. This rule amends the requirements in 10 CFR 51.71 (d) and 
(e) so that they are consistent with the exclusion of economic issues 
in 10 CFR 51.95(c). Additionally, 10 CFR 51.95 has been amended to 
allow information from previous NRC site-specific environmental 
reviews, as well as NRC final generic environmental impact statements, 
to be referenced in supplemental environmental impact statements.
1. Public Scoping and Public Comments on the SEIS
    Consistent with NRC's current NEPA practice, the Commission will 
hold a public meeting in order to inform the local public of the 
proposed action and receive comments. In addition, the SEIS will be 
issued in draft for public comment in accordance with 10 CFR 51.91 and 
51.93. In both the public scoping process and the public comment 
process, the Commission will accept comments on all previously analyzed 
issues and information codified in Table B-1 of appendix B to 10 CFR 
part 51 and will determine whether these comments provide any 
information that is new and significant compared with that previously 
considered in the GEIS. If the comments are determined to provide new 
and significant information bearing on the previous analysis in the 
GEIS, these comments will be considered and appropriately factored into 
the Commission's analysis in the SEIS. Public comments on the site-
specific additional information provided by the applicant regarding 
Category 2 issues will be considered in the SEIS.
2. Commission's Analysis and Preliminary Recommendation
    The Commission's draft SEIS will include its analysis of the 
environmental impacts of the proposed license renewal action and the 
environmental impacts of the alternatives to the proposed action. With 
the exception of offsite radiological impacts for collective effects 
and the disposal of spent fuel and high level waste, the Commission 
will integrate the codified environmental impacts of license renewal as 
provided in Table B-1 of appendix B to 10 CFR part 51 (supplemented by 
the underlying analyses in the GEIS), the appropriate site-specific 
analyses of Category 2 issues, and any new issues identified during the 
scoping and public comment process. The results of this integration 
process will be utilized to arrive at a conclusion regarding the sum of 
the environmental impacts associated with license renewal. These 
impacts will then be compared, quantitatively or qualitatively as 
appropriate, with the environmental impacts of the considered 
alternatives. The analysis of alternatives in the SEIS will be limited 
to the environmental impacts of these alternatives and will be prepared 
in accordance with 10 CFR 51.71 and subpart A of appendix A to 10 CFR 
part 51. The analysis of impacts of alternatives provided in the GEIS 
may be referenced in the SEIS as appropriate. The alternatives 
discussed in the GEIS include a reasonable range of different methods 
for power generation. The analysis in the draft SEIS will consider 
mitigation actions for designated Category 2 matters and will consider 
the status of compliance with Federal, State, and local environmental 
requirements as required by 10 CFR 51.71(d). Consistent with 10 CFR 
51.71(e), the draft supplemental environmental impact statement must 
contain a preliminary recommendation regarding license renewal based on 
consideration of the information on the environmental impacts of 
license renewal and of alternatives contained in the SEIS. In order to 
reach its recommendation, the NRC staff must determine whether the 
adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that 
preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decisionmakers would be unreasonable. This decision standard is 
contained in 10 CFR 51.95(c)(4).
3. Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
    The Commission will issue a final supplemental environmental impact 
statement for a license renewal application in accordance with 10 CFR 
51.91 and 51.93 after considering the public comments related to new 
issues identified from the scoping and public comment process, Category 
2 issues, and any new and significant information regarding previously 
analyzed and codified Category 1 issues. Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.102 and 
51.103, the Commission will provide a record of its decision regarding 
the environmental impacts of the proposed action. In making a final 
decision, the Commission must determine whether the adverse 
environmental impacts of license renewal (when compared with the 
environmental impacts of other energy generating alternatives) are so 
great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decisionmakers would be unreasonable.

D. NEPA Review for Activities Outside NRC License Renewal Approval 
Scope

    The Commission wishes to clarify that any activity that requires 
NRC approval and is not specifically required for NRC's action 
regarding management of the effects of aging on certain passive long-
lived structures and components in the period of extended operation 
must be subject to a separate NEPA review. The actions subject to NRC 
approval for license renewal are limited to continued operation 
consistent with the plant design and operating conditions for the 
current operating license and to the performance of specific activities 
and programs necessary to manage the effects of aging on the passive, 
long-lived structures and components identified in accordance with 10 
CFR part 54. Accordingly, the GEIS does not serve as the NEPA review 
for other activities or programs outside the scope of NRC's part 54 
license renewal review. The separate NEPA review must be prepared 
regardless of whether the action is necessary as a consequence of 
receiving a renewed license, even if the activity were specifically 
addressed in the GEIS. For example, the environmental impacts of spent 
fuel pool expansion are addressed in the GEIS in the context of the 
environmental consequences of approving a renewed operating license, 
rather than in the context of a specific application to expand spent 
fuel pool capacity, which would require a separate NEPA review.
    These separate NEPA reviews may reference and otherwise use 
applicable environmental information contained in the GEIS. For 
example, an EA prepared for a separate spent fuel pool expansion 
request may use the information in the GEIS to support a finding of no 
significant impact.

V. Availability of Documents

    The principal documents supporting this supplementary information 
are as follows:
    (1) NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for 
License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (May 1996).
    (2) NUREG-1529, ``Public Comments on the Proposed 10 CFR part 51 
Rule for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses and 
Supporting Documents; Review of Concerns and NRC Staff Response'' (May 
1996).
    (3) NUREG-1440, ``Regulatory Analysis of Amendments to Regulations 
Concerning the Environmental Review

[[Page 28486]]

for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses'' (May 1996).
    Copies of all documents cited in the supplementary information are 
available for inspection and for copying for a fee in the NRC Public 
Document Room, 2120 L Street NW. (Lower Level), Washington, DC. In 
addition, copies of NRC final documents cited here may be purchased 
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
PO Box 37082, Washington, DC 20013-7082. Copies are also available for 
purchase from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port 
Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161.

VI. Submittal of Comments in an Electronic Format

    Commenters are encouraged to submit, in addition to the original 
paper copy, a copy of their letter in an electronic format on IBM PC 
DOS-compatible 3.5- or 5.25-inch, double-sided, double-density (DS/DD) 
diskettes. Data files should be provided in Wordperfect 5.1 or later 
version of Wordperfect. ASCII code is also acceptable or, if formatted 
text is required, data files should be provided in IBM Revisable-Form 
Text Document Content Architecture (RFT/DCA) format.

VII. Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact: Availability

    The NRC has determined that this final rule is the type of action 
described as a categorical exclusion in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(3). Therefore, 
neither an environmental impact statement nor an environmental 
assessment has been prepared for this regulation. This action is 
procedural in nature and pertains only to the type of environmental 
information to be reviewed.

VIII. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This final rule amends information collection requirements that are 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq.). These requirements were approved by the Office of Management and 
Budget, approval number 3150-0021.
    The public reporting burden for this collection of information is 
estimated to average 4,200 hours per response, including the time for 
reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate 
or any other aspect of this collection of information, including 
suggestions for reducing the burden, to the Information and Records 
Management Branch (T-6F33), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by Internet electronic mail at 
BJS[email protected]; and to the Desk Officer, Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs, NEOB-10202 (3150-0021), Office of Management and 
Budget, Washington, DC 20503.

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

IX. Regulatory Analysis

    The Commission has prepared a regulatory analysis for this final 
rule. The analysis examines the costs and benefits of the alternatives 
considered by the Commission. The two alternatives considered were:
    (A) Retaining the existing 10 CFR part 51 review process for 
license renewal, which requires that all reviews be on a plant-specific 
basis; and
    (B) Amending 10 CFR part 51 to allow a portion of the environmental 
review to be conducted on a generic basis.
    The conclusions of the regulatory analysis show substantial cost 
savings of alternative (B) over alternative (A). The analysis, NUREG-
1440, is available for inspection in the NRC Public Document Room, 2120 
L Street NW. (Lower Level), Washington, DC. Copies of the analysis are 
available as described in Section V.

X. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 
605(b), the Commission certifies that this final rule will not have a 
significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The final 
rule states the application procedures and environmental information to 
be submitted by nuclear power plant licensees to facilitate NRC's 
obligations under NEPA. Nuclear power plant licensees do not fall 
within the definition of small businesses as defined in Section 3 of 
the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632, or the Commission's Size 
Standards, April 11, 1995 (60 FR 18344).

XI. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    In accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement 
Fairness Act of 1996, the NRC has determined that this action is not a 
major rule and has verified this determination with the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB.

XII. Backfit Analysis

    The NRC has determined that these amendments do not involve any 
provisions which would impose backfits as defined in 10 CFR 
50.109(a)(1); therefore, a backfit analysis need not be prepared.

List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 51

    Administrative practice and procedure, Environmental impact 
statement, Nuclear materials, Nuclear power plants and reactors, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble and under the authority of 
the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; the Energy Reorganization 
Act of 1974, as amended; the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 
as amended; and 5 U.S.C. 552 and 553, the NRC is adopting the following 
amendments to 10 CFR part 51.

PART 51--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REGULATIONS FOR DOMESTIC 
LICENSING AND RELATED REGULATORY FUNCTIONS

    1. The authority citation for part 51 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Sec. 161, 68 Stat. 948, as amended, Sec. 1701, 106 
Stat. 2951, 2952, 2953 (42 U.S.C. 2201, 2297f); secs. 201, as 
amended, 202, 88 Stat. 1242, as amended, 1244 (42 U.S.C. 5841, 
5842).
    Subpart A also issued under National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, secs. 102, 104, 105, 83 Stat. 853-854, as amended (42 U.S.C. 
4332, 4334, 4335); and Pub. L. 95-604, Title II, 92 Stat. 3033-3041. 
Sections 51.20, 51.30, 51.60, 51.61, 51.80, and 51.97 also issued 
under secs. 135, 141, Pub. L. 97-425, 96 Stat. 2232, 2241, and sec. 
148, Pub. L. 100-203, 101 Stat. 1330-223 (42 U.S.C. 10155, 10161, 
10168). Section 51.22 also issued under sec. 274, 73 Stat. 688, as 
amended by 92 Stat. 3036-3038 (42 U.S.C. 2021) and under Nuclear 
Waste Policy Act of 1982, sec. 121, 96 Stat. 2228 (42 U.S.C. 10141). 
Sections 51.43, 51.67, and 51.109 also issued under Nuclear Waste 
Policy Act of 1982, sec. 114(f), 96 Stat. 2216, as amended (42 
U.S.C. 10134(f)).

    2. Section 51.45 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec. 51.45  Environmental report.

* * * * *
    (c) Analysis. The environmental report shall include an analysis 
that considers and balances the environmental effects of the proposed 
action, the environmental impacts of alternatives to the proposed 
action, and alternatives available for reducing or avoiding adverse 
environmental effects. Except for environmental reports prepared at the 
license renewal stage pursuant to Sec. 51.53(c), the analysis in the 
environmental report should also

[[Page 28487]]

include consideration of the economic, technical, and other benefits 
and costs of the proposed action and of alternatives. Environmental 
reports prepared at the license renewal stage pursuant to Sec. 51.53(c) 
need not discuss the economic or technical benefits and costs of either 
the proposed action or alternatives except insofar as such benefits and 
costs are either essential for a determination regarding the inclusion 
of an alternative in the range of alternatives considered or relevant 
to mitigation. In addition, environmental reports prepared pursuant to 
Sec. 51.53(c) need not discuss other issues not related to the 
environmental effects of the proposed action and alternatives. The 
analyses for environmental reports shall, to the fullest extent 
practicable, quantify the various factors considered. To the extent 
that there are important qualitative considerations or factors that 
cannot be quantified, those considerations or factors shall be 
discussed in qualitative terms. The environmental report should contain 
sufficient data to aid the Commission in its development of an 
independent analysis.
* * * * *
    3. Section 51.53 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 51.53  Postconstruction environmental reports.

    (a) General. Any environmental report prepared under the provisions 
of this section may incorporate by reference any information contained 
in a prior environmental report or supplement thereto that relates to 
the production or utilization facility or any information contained in 
a final environmental document previously prepared by the NRC staff 
that relates to the production or utilization facility. Documents that 
may be referenced include, but are not limited to, the final 
environmental impact statement; supplements to the final environmental 
impact statement, including supplements prepared at the license renewal 
stage; NRC staff-prepared final generic environmental impact 
statements; and environmental assessments and records of decisions 
prepared in connection with the construction permit, the operating 
license, and any license amendment for that facility.
    (b) Operating license stage. Each applicant for a license to 
operate a production or utilization facility covered by Sec. 51.20 
shall submit with its application the number of copies specified in 
Sec. 51.55 of a separate document entitled ``Supplement to Applicant's 
Environmental Report--Operating License Stage,'' which will update 
``Applicant's Environmental Report--Construction Permit Stage.'' Unless 
otherwise required by the Commission, the applicant for an operating 
license for a nuclear power reactor shall submit this report only in 
connection with the first licensing action authorizing full-power 
operation. In this report, the applicant shall discuss the same matters 
described in Secs. 51.45, 51.51, and 51.52, but only to the extent that 
they differ from those discussed or reflect new information in addition 
to that discussed in the final environmental impact statement prepared 
by the Commission in connection with the construction permit. No 
discussion of need for power, or of alternative energy sources, or of 
alternative sites for the facility, or of any aspect of the storage of 
spent fuel for the facility within the scope of the generic 
determination in Sec. 51.23(a) and in accordance with Sec. 51.23(b) is 
required in this report.
    (c) Operating license renewal stage. (1) Each applicant for renewal 
of a license to operate a nuclear power plant under part 54 of this 
chapter shall submit with its application the number of copies 
specified in Sec. 51.55 of a separate document entitled ``Applicant's 
Environmental Report--Operating License Renewal Stage.''
    (2) The report must contain a description of the proposed action, 
including the applicant's plans to modify the facility or its 
administrative control procedures as described in accordance with 
Sec. 54.21 of this chapter. This report must describe in detail the 
modifications directly affecting the environment or affecting plant 
effluents that affect the environment. In addition, the applicant shall 
discuss in this report the environmental impacts of alternatives and 
any other matters described in Sec. 51.45. The report is not required 
to include discussion of need for power or the economic costs and 
economic benefits of the proposed action or of alternatives to the 
proposed action except insofar as such costs and benefits are either 
essential for a determination regarding the inclusion of an alternative 
in the range of alternatives considered or relevant to mitigation. The 
environmental report need not discuss other issues not related to the 
environmental effects of the proposed action and the alternatives. In 
addition, the environmental report need not discuss any aspect of the 
storage of spent fuel for the facility within the scope of the generic 
determination in Sec. 51.23(a) and in accordance with Sec. 51.23(b).
    (3) For those applicants seeking an initial renewal license and 
holding either an operating license or construction permit as of June 
30, 1995, the environmental report shall include the information 
required in paragraph (c)(2) of this section subject to the following 
conditions and considerations:
    (i) The environmental report for the operating license renewal 
stage is not required to contain analyses of the environmental impacts 
of the license renewal issues identified as Category 1 issues in 
appendix B to subpart A of this part.
    (ii) The environmental report must contain analyses of the 
environmental impacts of the proposed action, including the impacts of 
refurbishment activities, if any, associated with license renewal and 
the impacts of operation during the renewal term, for those issues 
identified as Category 2 issues in appendix B to subpart A of this 
part. The required analyses are as follows:
    (A) If the applicant's plant utilizes cooling towers or cooling 
ponds and withdraws make-up water from a river whose annual flow rate 
is less than 3.15 x 1012 ft3/year (9 x 1010 m3/
year), an assessment of the impact of the proposed action on the flow 
of the river and related impacts on instream and riparian ecological 
communities must be provided. The applicant shall also provide an 
assessment of the impacts of the withdrawal of water from the river on 
alluvial aquifers during low flow.
    (B) If the applicant's plant utilizes once-through cooling or 
cooling pond heat dissipation systems, the applicant shall provide a 
copy of current Clean Water Act 316(b) determinations and, if 
necessary, a 316(a) variance in accordance with 40 CFR part 125, or 
equivalent State permits and supporting documentation. If the applicant 
can not provide these documents, it shall assess the impact of the 
proposed action on fish and shellfish resources resulting from heat 
shock and impingement and entrainment.
    (C) If the applicant's plant uses Ranney wells or pumps more than 
100 gallons of ground water per minute, an assessment of the impact of 
the proposed action on ground-water use must be provided.
    (D) If the applicant's plant is located at an inland site and 
utilizes cooling ponds, an assessment of the impact of the proposed 
action on groundwater quality must be provided.
    (E) All license renewal applicants shall assess the impact of 
refurbishment and other license-renewal-related construction activities 
on important plant and animal habitats. Additionally, the applicant 
shall assess the impact of the proposed action on threatened or

[[Page 28488]]

endangered species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.
    (F) If the applicant's plant is located in or near a nonattainment 
or maintenance area, an assessment of vehicle exhaust emissions 
anticipated at the time of peak refurbishment workforce must be 
provided in accordance with the Clean Air Act as amended.
    (G) If the applicant's plant uses a cooling pond, lake, or canal or 
discharges into a river having an annual average flow rate of less than 
3.15 x 1012 ft3/year (9 x 1010 m3/year), an 
assessment of the impact of the proposed action on public health from 
thermophilic organisms in the affected water must be provided.
    (H) If the applicant's transmission lines that were constructed for 
the specific purpose of connecting the plant to the transmission system 
do not meet the recommendations of the National Electric Safety Code 
for preventing electric shock from induced currents, an assessment of 
the impact of the proposed action on the potential shock hazard from 
the transmission lines must be provided.
    (I) An assessment of the impact of the proposed action on housing 
availability, land-use, and public schools (impacts from refurbishment 
activities only) within the vicinity of the plant must be provided. 
Additionally, the applicant shall provide an assessment of the impact 
of population increases attributable to the proposed project on the 
public water supply.
    (J) All applicants shall assess the impact of the proposed project 
on local transportation during periods of license renewal refurbishment 
activities.
    (K) All applicants shall assess whether any historic or 
archaeological properties will be affected by the proposed project.
    (L) If the staff has not previously considered severe accident 
mitigation alternatives for the applicant's plant in an environmental 
impact statement or related supplement or in an environmental 
assessment, a consideration of alternatives to mitigate severe 
accidents must be provided.
    (M) The environmental effects of transportation of fuel and waste 
shall be reviewed in accordance with Sec. 51.52.
    (iii) The report must contain a consideration of alternatives for 
reducing adverse impacts, as required by Sec. 51.45(c), for all 
Category 2 license renewal issues in Appendix B to Subpart A of this 
part. No such consideration is required for Category 1 issues in 
Appendix B to Subpart A of this part.
    (iv) The environmental report must contain any new and significant 
information regarding the environmental impacts of license renewal of 
which the applicant is aware.
    (d) Postoperating license stage. Each applicant for a license 
amendment authorizing the decommissioning of a production or 
utilization facility covered by Sec. 51.20 and each applicant for a 
license or license amendment to store spent fuel at a nuclear power 
plant after expiration of the operating license for the nuclear power 
plant shall submit with its application the number of copies specified 
in Sec. 51.55 of a separate document entitled ``Supplement to 
Applicant's Environmental Report--Post Operating License Stage.'' This 
supplement will update ``Supplement to Applicant's Environmental 
Report--Operating License Stage'' and ``Applicant's Environmental 
Report--Operating License Renewal Stage,'' as appropriate, to reflect 
any new information or significant environmental change associated with 
the applicant's proposed decommissioning activities or with the 
applicant's proposed activities with respect to the planned storage of 
spent fuel. Unless otherwise required by the Commission, in accordance 
with the generic determination in Sec. 51.23(a) and the provisions in 
Sec. 51.23(b), the applicant shall address only the environmental 
impact of spent fuel storage for the term of the license.
    4. In Sec. 51.55, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 51.55  Environmental report--number of copies; distribution.

    (a) Each applicant for a license to construct and operate a 
production or utilization facility covered by paragraphs (b)(1), 
(b)(2), (b)(3), or (b)(4) of Sec. 51.20, each applicant for renewal of 
an operating license for a nuclear power plant, each applicant for a 
license amendment authorizing the decommissioning of a production or 
utilization facility covered by Sec. 51.20, and each applicant for a 
license or license amendment to store spent fuel at a nuclear power 
plant after expiration of the operating license for the nuclear power 
plant shall submit to the Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor 
Regulation or the Director of the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and 
Safeguards, as appropriate, 41 copies of an environmental report or any 
supplement to an environmental report. The applicant shall retain an 
additional 109 copies of the environmental report or any supplement to 
the environmental report for distribution to parties and Boards in the 
NRC proceedings; Federal, State, and local officials; and any affected 
Indian tribes, in accordance with written instructions issued by the 
Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation or the Director of 
the Office Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, as appropriate.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec. 51.71, paragraphs (d) and (e) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec. 51.71  Draft environmental impact statement--contents.

* * * * *
    (d) Analysis. The draft environmental impact statement will include 
a preliminary analysis that considers and weighs the environmental 
effects of the proposed action; the environmental impacts of 
alternatives to the proposed action; and alternatives available for 
reducing or avoiding adverse environmental effects. Except for 
supplemental environmental impact statements for the operating license 
renewal stage prepared pursuant to Sec. 51.95(c), draft environmental 
impact statements should also include consideration of the economic, 
technical, and other benefits and costs of the proposed action and 
alternatives and indicate what other interests and considerations of 
Federal policy, including factors not related to environmental quality 
if applicable, are relevant to the consideration of environmental 
effects of the proposed action identified pursuant to paragraph (a) of 
this section. Supplemental environmental impact statements prepared at 
the license renewal stage pursuant to Sec. 51.95(c) need not discuss 
the economic or technical benefits and costs of either the proposed 
action or alternatives except insofar as such benefits and costs are 
either essential for a determination regarding the inclusion of an 
alternative in the range of alternatives considered or relevant to 
mitigation. In addition, the supplemental environmental impact 
statement prepared at the license renewal stage need not discuss other 
issues not related to the environmental effects of the proposed action 
and associated alternatives. The draft supplemental environmental 
impact statement for license renewal prepared pursuant to Sec. 51.95(c) 
will rely on conclusions as amplified by the supporting information in 
the GEIS for issues designated as Category 1 in appendix B to subpart A 
of this part. The draft supplemental environmental impact statement 
must contain an analysis of those issues identified as Category 2 in 
appendix B to subpart A of this part that are open for the proposed 
action. The analysis for all

[[Page 28489]]

draft environmental impact statements will, to the fullest extent 
practicable, quantify the various factors considered. To the extent 
that there are important qualitative considerations or factors that 
cannot be quantified, these considerations or factors will be discussed 
in qualitative terms. Due consideration will be given to compliance 
with environmental quality standards and requirements that have been 
imposed by Federal, State, regional, and local agencies having 
responsibility for environmental protection, including applicable 
zoning and land-use regulations and water pollution limitations or 
requirements promulgated or imposed pursuant to the Federal Water 
Pollution Control Act. The environmental impact of the proposed action 
will be considered in the analysis with respect to matters covered by 
such standards and requirements irrespective of whether a certification 
or license from the appropriate authority has been obtained.3 
While satisfaction of Commission standards and criteria pertaining to 
radiological effects will be necessary to meet the licensing 
requirements of the Atomic Energy Act, the analysis will, for the 
purposes of NEPA, consider the radiological effects of the proposed 
action and alternatives.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Compliance with the environmental quality standards and 
requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (imposed by 
EPA or designated permitting states) is not a substitute for and 
does not negate the requirement for NRC to weigh all environmental 
effects of the proposed action, including the degradation, if any, 
of water quality, and to consider alternatives to the proposed 
action that are available for reducing adverse effects. Where an 
environmental assessment of aquatic impact from plant discharges is 
available from the permitting authority, the NRC will consider the 
assessment in its determination of the magnitude of environmental 
impacts for striking an overall cost-benefit balance at the 
construction permit and operating license stages, and in its 
determination of whether the adverse environmental impacts of 
license renewal are so great that preserving the option of license 
renewal for energy planning decisionmakers would be unreasonable at 
the license renewal stage. When no such assessment of aquatic 
impacts is available from the permitting authority, NRC will 
establish on its own or in conjunction with the permitting authority 
and other agencies having relevant expertise the magnitude of 
potential impacts for striking an overall cost-benefit balance for 
the facility at the construction permit and operating license 
stages, and in its determination of whether the adverse 
environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that 
preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decisionmakers would be unreasonable at the license renewal stage.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (e) Preliminary recommendation. The draft environmental impact 
statement normally will include a preliminary recommendation by the NRC 
staff respecting the proposed action. This preliminary recommendation 
will be based on the information and analysis described in paragraphs 
(a) through (d) of this section and Secs. 51.75, 51.76, 51.80, 51.85, 
and 51.95, as appropriate, and will be reached after considering the 
environmental effects of the proposed action and reasonable 
alternatives,4 and, except for supplemental environmental impact 
statements for the operating license renewal stage prepared pursuant to 
Sec. 51.95(c), after weighing the costs and benefits of the proposed 
action. In lieu of a recommendation, the NRC staff may indicate in the 
draft statement that two or more alternatives remain under 
consideration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ The consideration of reasonable alternatives to a proposed 
action involving nuclear power reactors (e.g., alternative energy 
sources) is intended to assist the NRC in meeting its NEPA 
obligations and does not preclude any State authority from making 
separate determinations with respect to these alternatives and in no 
way preempts, displaces, or affects the authority of States or other 
Federal agencies to address these issues.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sec. 51.75   [Amended]

    6. In Section 51.75, redesignate footnote 4 as footnote 5.
    7. Section 51.95 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 51.95   Postconstruction environmental impact statements.

    (a) General. Any supplement to a final environmental impact 
statement or any environmental assessment prepared under the provisions 
of this section may incorporate by reference any information contained 
in a final environmental document previously prepared by the NRC staff 
that relates to the same production or utilization facility. Documents 
that may be referenced include, but are not limited to, the final 
environmental impact statement; supplements to the final environmental 
impact statement, including supplements prepared at the operating 
license stage; NRC staff-prepared final generic environmental impact 
statements; environmental assessments and records of decisions prepared 
in connection with the construction permit, the operating license, and 
any license amendment for that facility. A supplement to a final 
environmental impact statement will include a request for comments as 
provided in Sec. 51.73.
    (b) Initial operating license stage. In connection with the 
issuance of an operating license for a production or utilization 
facility, the NRC staff will prepare a supplement to the final 
environmental impact statement on the construction permit for that 
facility, which will update the prior environmental review. The 
supplement will only cover matters that differ from the final 
environmental impact statement or that reflect significant new 
information concerning matters discussed in the final environmental 
impact statement. Unless otherwise determined by the Commission, a 
supplement on the operation of a nuclear power plant will not include a 
discussion of need for power, or of alternative energy sources, or of 
alternative sites, or of any aspect of the storage of spent fuel for 
the nuclear power plant within the scope of the generic determination 
in Sec. 51.23(a) and in accordance with Sec. 51.23(b), and will only be 
prepared in connection with the first licensing action authorizing 
full-power operation.
    (c) Operating license renewal stage. In connection with the renewal 
of an operating license for a nuclear power plant under part 54 of this 
chapter, the Commission shall prepare a supplement to the Commission's 
NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License 
Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (xxxx 1996).
    (1) The supplemental environmental impact statement for the 
operating license renewal stage shall address those issues as required 
by Sec. 51.71. In addition, the NRC staff must comply with 40 CFR 
1506.6(b)(3) in conducting the additional scoping process as required 
by Sec. 51.71(a).
    (2) The supplemental environmental impact statement for license 
renewal is not required to include discussion of need for power or the 
economic costs and economic benefits of the proposed action or of 
alternatives to the proposed action except insofar as such benefits and 
costs are either essential for a determination regarding the inclusion 
of an alternative in the range of alternatives considered or relevant 
to mitigation. In addition, the supplemental environmental impact 
statement prepared at the license renewal stage need not discuss other 
issues not related to the environmental effects of the proposed action 
and the alternatives, or any aspect of the storage of spent fuel for 
the facility within the scope of the generic determination in 
Sec. 51.23(a) and in accordance with Sec. 51.23(b). The analysis of 
alternatives in the supplemental environmental impact statement should 
be limited to the environmental impacts of such alternatives and should 
otherwise be prepared in accordance with Sec. 51.71 and appendix A to 
subpart A of this part.
    (3) The supplemental environmental impact statement shall be issued 
as a final impact statement in accordance with Secs. 51.91 and 51.93 
after considering any significant new information relevant to the 
proposed

[[Page 28490]]

action contained in the supplement or incorporated by reference.
    (4) The supplemental environmental impact statement must contain 
the NRC staff's recommendation regarding the environmental 
acceptability of the license renewal action. In order to make its 
recommendation and final conclusion on the proposed action, the NRC 
staff, adjudicatory officers, and Commission shall integrate the 
conclusions, as amplified by the supporting information in the generic 
environmental impact statement for issues designated Category 1 (with 
the exception of offsite radiological impacts for collective effects 
and the disposal of spent fuel and high level waste) or resolved 
Category 2, information developed for those open Category 2 issues 
applicable to the plant in accordance with Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(ii), and 
any significant new information. Given this information, the NRC staff, 
adjudicatory officers, and Commission shall determine whether or not 
the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that 
preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decisionmakers would be unreasonable.
    (d) Postoperating license stage. In connection with an amendment to 
an operating license authorizing the decommissioning of a production or 
utilization facility covered by Sec. 51.20 or with the issuance, 
amendment, or renewal of a license to store spent fuel at a nuclear 
power plant after expiration of the operating license for the nuclear 
power plant, the NRC staff will prepare a supplemental environmental 
impact statement for the postoperating license stage or an 
environmental assessment, as appropriate, which will update the prior 
environmental review. Unless otherwise required by the Commission, in 
accordance with the generic determination in Sec. 51.23(a) and the 
provisions of Sec. 51.23(b), a supplemental environmental impact 
statement for the postoperating license stage or an environmental 
assessment, as appropriate, will address the environmental impacts of 
spent fuel storage only for the term of the license, license amendment, 
or license renewal applied for.
    8. In Sec. 51.103, paragraph (a)(3) is revised and paragraph (a)(5) 
is added to read as follows:


Sec. 51.103   Record of decision--General.

    (a) * * *
    (3) Discuss preferences among alternatives based on relevant 
factors, including economic and technical considerations where 
appropriate, the NRC's statutory mission, and any essential 
considerations of national policy, which were balanced by the 
Commission in making the decision and state how these considerations 
entered into the decision.
 * * * * *
    (5) In making a final decision on a license renewal action pursuant 
to part 54 of this chapter, the Commission shall determine whether or 
not the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are so great 
that preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decisionmakers would be unreasonable.
 * * * * *
    9. Paragraph 4 of appendix A to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 is 
revised as follows:

Appendix A to Subpart A--Format for Presentation of Material in 
Environmental Impact Statements

 * * * * *
    4. Purpose of and need for action. The statement will briefly 
describe and specify the need for the proposed action. The 
alternative of no action will be discussed. In the case of nuclear 
power plant construction or siting, consideration will be given to 
the potential impact of conservation measures in determining the 
demand for power and consequent need for additional generating 
capacity.
 * * * * *
    10. A new appendix B is added to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 to 
read as follows:

Appendix B to Subpart A--Environmental Effect of Renewing the Operating 
License of a Nuclear Power Plant

    The Commission has assessed the environmental impacts associated 
with granting a renewed operating license for a nuclear power plant 
to a licensee who holds either an operating license or construction 
permit as of June 30, 1995. Table B-1 summarizes the Commission's 
findings on the scope and magnitude of environmental impacts of 
renewing the operating license for a nuclear power plant as required 
by section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 
as amended. Table B-1, subject to an evaluation of those issues 
identified in Category 2 as requiring further analysis and possible 
significant new information, represents the analysis of the 
environmental impacts associated with renewal of any operating 
license and is to be used in accordance with Sec. 51.95(c). On a 10-
year cycle, the Commission intends to review the material in this 
appendix and update it if necessary. A scoping notice must be 
published in the Federal Register indicating the results of the 
NRC's review and inviting public comments and proposals for other 
areas that should be updated.

         Table B-1.--Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants \1\         
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Issue                  Category                             Findings \3\                          
---------------------------------------\2\----------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Surface Water Quality, Hydrology, and Use (for all plants)                           
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impacts of refurbishment on                  1  SMALL. Impacts are expected to be negligible during             
 surface water quality.                          refurbishment because best management practices are expected to
                                                 be employed to control soil erosion and spills.                
Impacts of refurbishment on                  1  SMALL. Water use during refurbishment will not increase         
 surface water use.                              appreciably or will be reduced during plant outage.            
Altered current patterns at                  1  SMALL. Altered current patterns have not been found to be a     
 intake and discharge structures.                problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected 
                                                 to be a problem during the license renewal term.               
Altered salinity gradients.......            1  SMALL. Salinity gradients have not been found to be a problem at
                                                 operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a    
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Altered thermal stratification of            1  SMALL. Generally, lake stratification has not been found to be a
 lakes.                                          problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected  
                                                 to be a problem during the license renewal term.               
Temperature effects on sediment              1  SMALL. These effects have not been found to be a problem at     
 transport capacity.                             operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a    
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Scouring caused by discharged                1  SMALL. Scouring has not been found to be a problem at most      
 cooling water.                                  operating nuclear power plants and has caused only localized   
                                                 effects at a few plants. It is not expected to be a problem    
                                                 during the license renewal term.                               
Eutrophication...................            1  SMALL. Eutrophication has not been found to be a problem at     
                                                 operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a     
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       

[[Page 28491]]

                                                                                                                
 Discharge of chlorine or other              1  SMALL. Effects are not a concern among regulatory and resource  
 biocides.                                       agencies, and are not expected to be a problem during the      
                                                 license renewal term.                                          
Discharge of sanitary wastes and             1  SMALL. Effects are readily controlled through NPDES permit and  
 minor chemical spills.                          periodic modifications, if needed, and are not expected to be a
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Discharge of other metals in                 1  SMALL. These discharges have not been found to be a problem at  
 waste water.                                    operating nuclear power plants with cooling-tower-based heat   
                                                 dissipation systems and have been satisfactorily mitigated at  
                                                 other plants. They are not expected to be a problem during the 
                                                 license renewal term.                                          
Water use conflicts (plants with             1  SMALL. These conflicts have not been found to be a problem at   
 once-through cooling systems).                  operating nuclear power plants with once-through heat          
                                                 dissipation systems.                                           
 Water use conflicts (plants with            2  SMALL OR MODERATE. The issue has been a concern at nuclear power
 cooling ponds or cooling towers                 plants with cooling ponds and at plants with cooling towers.   
 using make-up water from a small                Impacts on instream and riparian communities near these plants 
 river with low flow).                           could be of moderate significance in some situations. See Sec. 
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A).                                            
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Aquatic Ecology (for all plants)                                        
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Refurbishment....................            1  SMALL. During plant shutdown and refurbishment there will be    
                                                 negligible effects on aquatic biota because of a reduction of  
                                                 entrainment and impingement of organisms or a reduced release  
                                                 of chemicals.                                                  
Accumulation of contaminants in              1  SMALL. Accumulation of contaminants has been a concern at a few 
 sediments or biota.                             nuclear power plants but has been satisfactorily mitigated by  
                                                 replacing copper alloy condenser tubes with those of another   
                                                 metal. It is not expected to be a problem during the license   
                                                 renewal term.                                                  
Entrainment of phytoplankton and             1  SMALL. Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton has not been
 zooplankton.                                    found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and is 
                                                 not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.  
Cold shock.......................            1  SMALL. Cold shock has been satisfactorily mitigated at operating
                                                 nuclear plants with once-through cooling systems, has not      
                                                 endangered fish populations or been found to be a problem at   
                                                 operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling  
                                                 ponds, and is not expected to be a problem during the license  
                                                 renewal term.                                                  
Thermal plume barrier to                     1  SMALL. Thermal plumes have not been found to be a problem at    
 migrating fish.                                 operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a    
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Distribution of aquatic organisms            1  SMALL. Thermal discharge may have localized effects but is not  
                                                 expected to affect the larger geographical distribution of     
                                                 aquatic organisms.                                             
Premature emergence of aquatic               1  SMALL. Premature emergence has been found to be a localized     
 insects.                                        effect at some operating nuclear power plants but has not been 
                                                 a problem and is not expected to be a problem during the       
                                                 license renewal term.                                          
Gas supersaturation (gas bubble              1  SMALL. Gas supersaturation was a concern at a small number of   
 disease).                                       operating nuclear power plants with once-through cooling       
                                                 systems but has been satisfactorily mitigated. It has not been 
                                                 found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with   
                                                 cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be a    
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Low dissolved oxygen in the                  1  SMALL. Low dissolved oxygen has been a concern at one nuclear   
 discharge.                                      power plant with a once-through cooling system but has been    
                                                 effectively mitigated. It has not been found to be a problem at
                                                 operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling  
                                                 ponds and is not expected to be a problem during the license   
                                                 renewal term.                                                  
Losses from predation,                       1  SMALL. These types of losses have not been found to be a problem
 parasitism, and disease among                   at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a 
 organisms exposed to sublethal                  problem during the license renewal term.                       
 stresses.                                                                                                      
Stimulation of nuisance organisms            1  SMALL. Stimulation of nuisance organisms has been satisfactorily
 (e.g., shipworms).                              mitigated at the single nuclear power plant with a once-through
                                                 cooling system where previously it was a problem. It has not   
                                                 been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants   
                                                 with cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be 
                                                 a problem during the license renewal term.                     
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
            Aquatic Ecology (for plants with once-through and cooling pond heat dissipation systems)            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Entrainment of fish and shellfish            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. The impacts of entrainment are small 
 in early life stages.                           at many plants but may be moderate or even large at a few      
                                                 plants with once-through and cooling-pond cooling systems.     
                                                 Further, ongoing efforts in the vicinity of these plants to    
                                                 restore fish populations may increase the numbers of fish      
                                                 susceptible to intake effects during the license renewal       
                                                 period, such that entrainment studies conducted in support of  
                                                 the original license may no longer be valid. See Sec.          
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(B).                                            
Impingement of fish and shellfish            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. The impacts of impingement are small 
                                                 at many plants but may be moderate or even large at a few      
                                                 plants with once-through and cooling-pond cooling systems. See 
                                                 Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(B).                                      
Heat shock.......................            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Because of continuing concerns about 
                                                 heat shock and the possible need to modify thermal discharges  
                                                 in response to changing environmental conditions, the impacts  
                                                 may be of moderate or large significance at some plants. See   
                                                 Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(B).                                      
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
 
[[Page 28492]]

                                                                                                                
                 Aquatic Ecology (for plants with cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems)                 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Entrainment of fish and shellfish            1  SMALL. Entrainment of fish has not been found to be a problem at
 in early life stages.                           operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system
                                                 and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal 
                                                 term.                                                          
Impingement of fish and shellfish            1  SMALL. The impingement has not been found to be a problem at    
                                                 operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system
                                                 and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal 
                                                 term.                                                          
Heat shock.......................            1  SMALL. Heat shock has not been found to be a problem at         
                                                 operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system
                                                 and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal 
                                                 term.                                                          
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                          Ground-water Use and Quality                                          
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impacts of refurbishment on                  1  SMALL. Extensive dewatering during the original construction on 
 ground-water use and quality.                   some sites will not be repeated during refurbishment on any    
                                                 sites. Any plant wastes produced during refurbishment will be  
                                                 handled in the same manner as in current operating practices   
                                                 and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal
                                                 term.                                                          
Ground-water use conflicts                   1  SMALL. Plants using less than 100 gpm are not expected to cause 
 (potable and service water;                     any ground-water use conflicts.                                
 plants that use <100 gpm).                                                                                     
Ground-water use conflicts                   2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Plants that use more than 100 gpm may
 (potable and service water, and                 cause ground-water use conflicts with nearby ground-water      
 dewatering; plants that use >100                users. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(C).                           
 gpm).                                                                                                          
Ground-water use conflicts                   2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Water use conflicts may result from  
 (plants using cooling towers                    surface water withdrawals from small water bodies during low   
 withdrawing make-up water from a                flow conditions which may affect aquifer recharge, especially  
 small river).                                   if other ground-water or upstream surface water users come on  
                                                 line before the time of license renewal. See Sec.              
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A).                                            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                              Terrestrial Resources                                             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Refurbishment impacts............            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Refurbishment impacts are            
                                                 insignificant if no loss of important plant and animal habitat 
                                                 occurs. However, it cannot be known whether important plant and
                                                 animal communities may be affected until the specific proposal 
                                                 is presented with the license renewal application. See Sec.    
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(E).                                            
Cooling tower impacts on crops               1  SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or increased    
 and ornamental vegetation.                      humidity associated with cooling tower operation have not been 
                                                 found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are
                                                 not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.  
Cooling tower impacts on native              1  SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or increased    
 plants.                                         humidity associated with cooling tower operation have not been 
                                                 found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are
                                                 not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.  
Bird collisions with cooling                 1  SMALL. These collisions have not been found to be a problem at  
 towers.                                         operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a    
                                                 problem during the license renewal term.                       
Cooling pond impacts on                      1  SMALL. Impacts of cooling ponds on terrestrial ecological       
 terrestrial resources.                          resources are considered to be of small significance at all    
                                                 sites.                                                         
Power line right-of-way                      1  SMALL. The impacts of right-of-way maintenance on wildlife are  
 management (cutting and                         expected to be of small significance at all sites.             
 herbicide application).                                                                                        
Bird collision with power lines..            1  SMALL. Impacts are expected to be of small significance at all  
                                                 sites.                                                         
Impacts of electromagnetic fields            1  SMALL. No significant impacts of electromagnetic fields on      
 on flora and fauna (plants,                     terrestrial flora and fauna have been identified. Such effects 
 agricultural crops, honeybees,                  are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal    
 wildlife, livestock).                           term.                                                          
Floodplains and wetland on power             1  SMALL. Periodic vegetation control is necessary in forested     
 line right of way.                              wetlands underneath power lines and can be achieved with       
                                                 minimal damage to the wetland. No significant impact is        
                                                 expected at any nuclear power plant during the license renewal 
                                                 term.                                                          
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                Threatened or Endangered Species (for all plants)                               
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Threatened or endangered species.            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Generally, plant refurbishment and   
                                                 continued operation are not expected to adversely affect       
                                                 threatened or endangered species. However, consultation with   
                                                 appropriate agencies would be needed at the time of license    
                                                 renewal to determine whether threatened or endangered species  
                                                 are present and whether they would be adversely affected. See  
                                                 Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(E).                                      
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                

[[Page 28493]]

                                                                                                                
                                                   Air Quality                                                  
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air quality during refurbishment             2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Air quality impacts from plant       
 (nonattainment and maintenance                  refurbishment associated with license renewal are expected to  
 areas).                                         be small. However, vehicle exhaust emissions could be cause for
                                                 concern at locations in or near nonattainment or maintenance   
                                                 areas. The significance of the potential impact cannot be      
                                                 determined without considering the compliance status of each   
                                                 site and the numbers of workers expected to be employed during 
                                                 the outage. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(F).                      
Air quality effects of                       1  SMALL. Production of ozone and oxides of nitrogen is            
 transmission lines.                             insignificant and does not contribute measurably to ambient    
                                                 levels of these gases.                                         
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                                    Land Use                                                    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Onsite land use..................            1  SMALL. Projected onsite land use changes required during        
                                                 refurbishment and the renewal period would be a small fraction 
                                                 of any nuclear power plant site and would involve land that is 
                                                 controlled by the applicant.                                   
Power line right of way..........            1  SMALL. Ongoing use of power line right of ways would continue   
                                                 with no change in restrictions. The effects of these           
                                                 restrictions are of small significance.                        
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                                  Human Health                                                  
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Radiation exposures to the public            1  SMALL. During refurbishment, the gaseous effluents would result 
 during refurbishment.                           in doses that are similar to those from current operation.     
                                                 Applicable regulatory dose limits to the public are not        
                                                 expected to be exceeded.                                       
Occupational radiation exposures             1  SMALL. Occupational doses from refurbishment are expected to be 
 during refurbishment.                           within the range of annual average collective doses experienced
                                                 for pressurized-water reactors and boiling-water reactors.     
                                                 Occupational mortality risk from all causes including radiation
                                                 is in the mid-range for industrial settings.                   
Microbiological organisms                    1  SMALL. Occupational health impacts are expected to be controlled
 (occupational health).                          by continued application of accepted industrial hygiene        
                                                 practices to minimize worker exposures.                        
Microbiological organisms (public            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. These organisms are not expected to  
 health) (plants using lakes or                  be a problem at most operating plants except possibly at plants
 canals, or cooling towers or                    using cooling ponds, lakes, or canals that discharge to small  
 cooling ponds that discharge to                 rivers. Without site-specific data, it is not possible to      
 a small river).                                 predict the effects generically. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(G). 
Noise............................            1  SMALL. Noise has not been found to be a problem at operating    
                                                 plants and is not expected to be a problem at any plant during 
                                                 the license renewal term.                                      
Electromagnetic fields, acute                2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Electrical shock resulting from      
 effects (electric shock).                       direct access to energized conductors or from induced charges  
                                                 in metallic structures have not been found to be a problem at  
                                                 most operating plants and generally are not expected to be a   
                                                 problem during the license renewal term. However, site-specific
                                                 review is required to determine the significance of the        
                                                 electric shock potential at the site. See Sec.                 
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(H).                                            
Electromagnetic fields, chronic         NA \4\  UNCERTAIN. Biological and physical studies of 60-Hz             
 effects \5\.                                    electromagnetic fields have not found consistent evidence      
                                                 linking harmful effects with field exposures. However, because 
                                                 the state of the science is currently inadequate, no generic   
                                                 conclusion on human health impacts is possible.\5\             
Radiation exposures to public                1  SMALL. Radiation doses to the public will continue at current   
 (license renewal term).                         levels associated with normal operations.                      
Occupational radiation exposures             1  SMALL. Projected maximum occupational doses during the license  
 (license renewal term).                         renewal term are within the range of doses experienced during  
                                                 normal operations and normal maintenance outages, and would be 
                                                 well below regulatory limits.                                  
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                                 Socioeconomics                                                 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Housing impacts..................            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Housing impacts are expected to be of
                                                 small significance at plants located in a medium or high       
                                                 population area and not in an area where growth control        
                                                 measures that limit housing development are in effect. Moderate
                                                 or large housing impacts of the workforce associated with      
                                                 refurbishment may be associated with plants located in sparsely
                                                 populated areas or in areas with growth control measures that  
                                                 limit housing development. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).       
Public services: public safety,              1  SMALL. Impacts to public safety, social services, and tourism   
 social services, and tourism and                and recreation are expected to be of small significance at all 
 recreation.                                     sites.                                                         
Public services: public utilities            2  SMALL OR MODERATE. An increased problem with water shortages at 
                                                 some sites may lead to impacts of moderate significance on     
                                                 public water supply availability. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).
Public services, education                   2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Most sites would experience impacts  
 (refurbishment).                                of small significance but larger impacts are possible depending
                                                 on site- and project-specific factors. See Sec.                
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).                                            

[[Page 28494]]

                                                                                                                
Public services, education                   1  SMALL. Only impacts of small significance are expected.         
 (license renewal term).                                                                                        
Offsite land use (refurbishment).            2  SMALL OR MODERATE. Impacts may be of moderate significance at   
                                                 plants in low population areas. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).  
Offsite land use (license renewal            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Significant changes in land use may  
 term).                                          be associated with population and tax revenue changes resulting
                                                 from license renewal. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).            
Public services, Transportation..            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Transportation impacts are generally 
                                                 expected to be of small significance. However, the increase in 
                                                 traffic associated with the additional workers and the local   
                                                 road and traffic control conditions may lead to impacts of     
                                                 moderate or large significance at some sites. See Sec.         
                                                 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J).                                            
Historic and archaeological                  2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Generally, plant refurbishment and   
 resources.                                      continued operation are expected to have no more than small    
                                                 adverse impacts on historic and archaeological resources.      
                                                 However, the National Historic Preservation Act requires the   
                                                 Federal agency to consult with the State Historic Preservation 
                                                 Officer to determine whether there are properties present that 
                                                 require protection. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(K).              
Aesthetic impacts (refurbishment)            1  SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during refurbishment.
Aesthetic impacts (license                   1  SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the license   
 renewal term).                                  renewal term.                                                  
Aesthetic impacts of transmission            1  SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the license   
 lines (license renewal term).                   renewal term.                                                  
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                              Postulated Accidents                                              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Design basis accidents...........            1  SMALL. The NRC staff has concluded that the environmental       
                                                 impacts of design basis accidents are of small significance for
                                                 all plants.                                                    
Severe accidents.................            2  SMALL. The probability weighted consequences of atmospheric     
                                                 releases, fallout onto open bodies of water, releases to ground
                                                 water, and societal and economic impacts from severe accidents 
                                                 are small for all plants. However, alternatives to mitigate    
                                                 severe accidents must be considered for all plants that have   
                                                 not considered such alternatives. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(L).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                     Uranium Fuel Cycle and Waste Management                                    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Offsite radiological impacts                 1  SMALL. Off-site impacts of the uranium fuel cycle have been     
 (individual effects from other                  considered by the Commission in Table S-3 of this part. Based  
 than the disposal of spent fuel                 on information in the GEIS, impacts on individuals from        
 and high level waste).                          radioactive gaseous and liquid releases including radon-222 and
                                                 technetium-99 are small.                                       
Offsite radiological impacts                 1  The 100 year environmental dose commitment to the U.S.          
 (collective effects).                           population from the fuel cycle, high level waste and spent fuel
                                                 disposal is calculated to be about 14,800 person rem, or 12    
                                                 cancer fatalities, for each additional 20 year power reactor   
                                                 operating term. Much of this, especially the contribution of   
                                                 radon releases from mines and tailing piles, consists of tiny  
                                                 doses summed over large populations. This same dose calculation
                                                 can theoretically be extended to include many tiny doses over  
                                                 additional thousands of years as well as doses outside the U.S.
                                                 The result of such a calculation would be thousands of cancer  
                                                 fatalities from the fuel cycle, but this result assumes that   
                                                 even tiny doses have some statistical adverse health effect    
                                                 which will not ever be mitigated (for example, no cancer cure  
                                                 in the next thousand years), and that these does projection    
                                                 over thousands of years are meaningful. However these          
                                                 assumptions are questionable. In particular, science cannot    
                                                 rule out the possibility that there will be no cancer          
                                                 fatalities from these tiny doses. For perspective, the doses   
                                                 are very small fractions of regulatory limits, and even smaller
                                                 fractions of natural background exposure to the same           
                                                 populations.                                                   
                                                Nevertheless, despite all the uncertainty, some judgement as to 
                                                 the regulatory NEPA implications of these matters should be    
                                                 made and it makes no sense to repeat the same judgement in     
                                                 every case. Even taking the uncertainties into account, the    
                                                 Commission concludes that these impacts are acceptable in that 
                                                 these impacts would not be sufficiently large to require the   
                                                 NEPA conclusion, for any plant, that the option of extended    
                                                 operation under 10 CFR Part 54 should be eliminated.           
                                                 Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a single    
                                                 level of significance for the collective effects of the fuel   
                                                 cycle, this issue is considered Category 1.                    

[[Page 28495]]

                                                                                                                
Offsite radiological impacts                 1  For the high level waste and spent fuel disposal component of   
 (spent fuel and high level waste                the fuel cycle, there are no current regulatory limits for     
 disposal).                                      offsite releases of radionuclides for the current candidate    
                                                 repository site. However, if we assume that limits are         
                                                 developed along the lines of the 1995 National Academy of      
                                                 Sciences (NAS) report, ``Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain    
                                                 Standards,'' and that in accordance with the Commission's Waste
                                                 Confidence Decision, 10 CFR 51.23, a repository can and likely 
                                                 will be developed at some site which will comply with such     
                                                 limits, peak doses to virtually all individuals will be 100    
                                                 millirem per year or less. However, while the Commission has   
                                                 reasonable confidence that these assumptions will prove        
                                                 correct, there is considerable uncertainty since the limits are
                                                 yet to be developed, no repository application has been        
                                                 completed or reviewed, and uncertainty is inherent in the      
                                                 models used to evaluate possible pathways to the human         
                                                 environment. The NAS report indicated that 100 millirem per    
                                                 year should be considered as a starting point for limits for   
                                                 individual doses, but notes that some measure of consensus     
                                                 exists among national and international bodies that the limits 
                                                 should be a fraction of the 100 millirem per year. The lifetime
                                                 individual risk from 100 millirem annual dose limit is about   
                                                 310-3.                                                         
                                                Estimating cumulative doses to populations over thousands of    
                                                 years is more problematic. The likelihood and consequences of  
                                                 events that could seriously compromise the integrity of a deep 
                                                 geologic repository were evaluated by the Department of Energy 
                                                 in the ``Final Environmental Impact Statement: Management of   
                                                 Commercially Generated Radioactive Waste,'' October 1980. The  
                                                 evaluation estimated the 70-year whole-body dose commitment to 
                                                 the maximum individual and to the regional population resulting
                                                 from several modes of breaching a reference repository in the  
                                                 year of closure, after 1,000 years, after 100,000 years, and   
                                                 after 100,000,000 years. Subsequently, the NRC and other       
                                                 federal agencies have expended considerable effort to develop  
                                                 models for the design and for the licensing of a high level    
                                                 waste repository, especially for the candidate repository at   
                                                 Yucca Mountain. More meaningful estimates of doses to          
                                                 population may be possible in the future as more is understood 
                                                 about the performance of the proposed Yucca Mountain           
                                                 repository. Such estimates would involve very great            
                                                 uncertainty, especially with respect to cumulative population  
                                                 doses over thousands of years. The standard proposed by the NAS
                                                 is a limit on maximum individual dose. The relationship of     
                                                 potential new regulatory requirements, based on the NAS report,
                                                 and cumulative population impacts has not been determined,     
                                                 although the report articulates the view that protection of    
                                                 individuals will adequately protect the population for a       
                                                 repository at Yucca Mountain. However, EPA's generic repository
                                                 standards in 40 CFR part 191 generally provide an indication of
                                                 the order of magnitude of cumulative risk to population that   
                                                 could result from the licensing of a Yucca Mountain repository,
                                                 assuming the ultimate standards will be within the range of    
                                                 standards now under consideration. The standards in 40 CFR part
                                                 191 protect the population by imposing ``containment           
                                                 requirements'' that limit the cumulative amount of radioactive 
                                                 material released over 10,000 years. The cumulative release    
                                                 limits are based on EPA's population impact goal of 1,000      
                                                 premature cancer deaths world-wide for a 100,000 metric tonne  
                                                 (MTHM) repository.                                             
                                                Nevertheless, despite all the uncertainty, some judgement as to 
                                                 the regulatory NEPA implications of these matters should be    
                                                 made and it makes no sense to repeat the same judgement in     
                                                 every case. Even taking the uncertainties into account, the    
                                                 Commission concludes that these impacts are acceptable in that 
                                                 these impacts would not be sufficiently large to require the   
                                                 NEPA conclusion, for any plant, that the option of extended    
                                                 operation under 10 CFR part 54 should be eliminated.           
                                                 Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a single    
                                                 level of significance for the impacts of spent fuel and high   
                                                 level waste disposal, this issue is considered Category 1.     
Nonradiological impacts of the               1  SMALL. The nonradiological impacts of the uranium fuel cycle    
 uranium fuel cycle.                             resulting from the renewal of an operating license for any     
                                                 plant are found to be small.                                   
Low-level waste storage and                  1  SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls that are in place  
 disposal.                                       and the low public doses being achieved at reactors ensure that
                                                 the radiological impacts to the environment will remain small  
                                                 during the term of a renewed license. The maximum additional on-
                                                 site land that may be required for low-level waste storage     
                                                 during the term of a renewed license and associated impacts    
                                                 will be small.                                                 
                                                Nonradiological impacts on air and water will be negligible. The
                                                 radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts of long-
                                                 term disposal of low-level waste from any individual plant at  
                                                 licensed sites are small. In addition, the Commission concludes
                                                 that there is reasonable assurance that sufficient low-level   
                                                 waste disposal capacity will be made available when needed for 
                                                 facilities to be decommissioned consistent with NRC            
                                                 decommissioning requirements.                                  
Mixed waste storage and disposal.            1  SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls and the facilities 
                                                 and procedures that are in place ensure proper handling and    
                                                 storage, as well as negligible doses and exposure to toxic     
                                                 materials for the public and the environment at all plants.    
                                                 License renewal will not increase the small, continuing risk to
                                                 human health and the environment posed by mixed waste at all   
                                                 plants. The radiological and nonradiological environmental     
                                                 impacts of long-term disposal of mixed waste from any          
                                                 individual plant at licensed sites are small. In addition, the 
                                                 Commission concludes that there is reasonable assurance that   
                                                 sufficient mixed waste disposal capacity will be made available
                                                 when needed for facilities to be decommissioned consistent with
                                                 NRC decommissioning requirements.                              

[[Page 28496]]

                                                                                                                
On-site spent fuel...............            1  SMALL. The expected increase in the volume of spent fuel from an
                                                 additional 20 years of operation can be safely accommodated on 
                                                 site with small environmental effects through dry or pool      
                                                 storage at all plants if a permanent repository or monitored   
                                                 retrievable storage is not available.                          
Nonradiological waste............            1  SMALL. No changes to generating systems are anticipated for     
                                                 license renewal. Facilities and procedures are in place to     
                                                 ensure continued proper handling and disposal at all plants.   
Transportation...................            2  Table S-4 of this part contains an assessment of impact         
                                                 parameters to be used in evaluating transportation effects in  
                                                 each case. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M).                       
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                                 Decommissioning                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Radiation doses..................            1  SMALL. Doses to the public will be well below applicable        
                                                 regulatory standards regardless of which decommissioning method
                                                 is used. Occupational doses would increase no more than 1 man- 
                                                 rem caused by buildup of long-lived radionuclides during the   
                                                 license renewal term.                                          
Waste management.................            1  SMALL. Decommissioning at the end of a 20-year license renewal  
                                                 period would generate no more solid wastes than at the end of  
                                                 the current license term. No increase in the quantities of     
                                                 Class C or greater than Class C wastes would be expected.      
Air quality......................            1  SMALL. Air quality impacts of decommissioning are expected to be
                                                 negligible either at the end of the current operating term or  
                                                 at the end of the license renewal term.                        
Water quality....................            1  SMALL. The potential for significant water quality impacts from 
                                                 erosion or spills is no greater whether decommissioning occurs 
                                                 after a 20-year license renewal period or after the original 40-
                                                 year operation period, and measures are readily available to   
                                                 avoid such impacts.                                            
Ecological resources.............            1  SMALL. Decommissioning after either the initial operating period
                                                 or after a 20-year license renewal period is not expected to   
                                                 have any direct ecological impacts.                            
Socioeconomic impacts............            1  SMALL. Decommissioning would have some short-term socioeconomic 
                                                 impacts. The impacts would not be increased by delaying        
                                                 decommissioning until the end of a 20-year relicense period,   
                                                 but they might be decreased by population and economic growth. 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                              Environmental Justice                                             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Environmental justice \6\........        NA\4\  NONE. The need for and the content of an analysis of            
                                                 environmental justice will be addressed in plant-specific      
                                                 reviews.\6\                                                    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Data supporting this table are contained in NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License
  Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (xxxx 1996).                                                                      
\2\ The numerical entries in this column are based on the following category definitions:                       
Category 1: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown:       
(1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been determined to apply either to all plants or,  
  for some issues, to plants having a specific type of cooling system or other specified plant or site          
  characteristic;                                                                                               
(2) A single significance level (i.e., small, moderate, or large) has been assigned to the impacts (except for  
  collective off site radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and from high level waste and spent fuel         
  disposal); and                                                                                                
(3) Mitigation of adverse impacts associated with the issue has been considered in the analysis, and it has been
  determined that additional plant-specific mitigation measures are likely not to be sufficiently beneficial to 
  warrant implementation.                                                                                       
The generic analysis of the issue may be adopted in each plant-specific review.                                 
Category 2: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown that   
  one or more of the criteria of Category 1 can not be met, and therefore additional plant-specific review is   
  required.                                                                                                     
\3\ The impact findings in this column are based on the definitions of three significance levels. Unless the    
  significance level is identified as beneficial, the impact is adverse, or in the case of ``small,'' may be    
  negligible. The definitions of significance follow:                                                           
SMALL--For the issue, environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither           
  destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource. For the purposes of assessing       
  radiological impacts, the Commission has concluded that those impacts that do not exceed permissible levels in
  the Commission's regulations are considered small as the term is used in this table.                          
MODERATE--For the issue, environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but not to destabilize,      
  important attributes of the resource.                                                                         
LARGE--For the issue, environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize important  
  attributes of the resource.                                                                                   
For issues where probability is a key consideration (i.e. accident consequences), probability was a factor in   
  determining significance.                                                                                     
\4\ NA (not applicable). The categorization and impact finding definitions do not apply to these issues.        
\5\ Scientific evidence about a chronic biological effect on humans from exposure to transmission line electric 
  and magnetic fields is inconclusive. If the Commission finds that a consensus has been reached by appropriate 
  Federal health agencies that there are adverse health effects, the Commission will require applicants to      
  submit plant-specific reviews of these health effects. Until such time, applicants for license renewal are not
  required to submit information on this issue.                                                                 
\6\ Environmental Justice was not addressed in NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License 
  Renewal of Nuclear Plants,'' because guidance for implementing Executive Order 12898 issued on February 11,   
  1994, was not available prior to completion of NUREG-1437. This issue will be addressed in individual license 
  renewal reviews.                                                                                              



[[Page 28497]]

    Dated at Rockville, MD, this 29th day of May, 1996.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
John C. Hoyle,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 96-13874 Filed 6-4-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P