[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 244 (Wednesday, December 18, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66537-66554]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-31945]


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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.

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SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is amending its regulations 
on the environmental review of applications to renew the operating 
licenses of nuclear power plants to make minor clarifying and 
conforming changes and add language inadvertently omitted from Table B-
1 of the rulemaking published June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467). This final 
rule also presents an analysis of the comments received and the staff 
responses to the comments requested in the final rule published June 5, 
1996. After reviewing the comments received, the NRC has determined 
that no substantive changes to the final rule are warranted.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This final rule shall be effective on January 17, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Copies of comments received and all documents cited in the 
supplementary information section of 61 FR 28467 may be examined at the 
NRC Public Document Room, 2120 L Street NW, (Lower Level) Washington, 
DC, between the hours of 7:45 am and 4:15 pm 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

    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 a nuclear power 
plant operating license for up to an additional 20 years. The final 
rule containing these amendments was published in the Federal Register 
on June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467). The amendments are based on the analyses 
reported in NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) 
for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (May 1996). At several stages 
in the development of the rule the Commission sought public comment by 
means of notices in the Federal Register and public workshops. The 
history of this rulemaking is summarized in the June 5, 1996 notice (61 
FR 28469). Prior to the final rule becoming effective, the Commission 
believed it appropriate to seek comments on 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. In a supplemental notice published on July 
18, 1996 (61 FR 37351), the Commission extended the comment period for 
these issues to August 5, 1996, and indicated that the final rule would 
become effective on September 5, 1996, absent notice from the 
Commission to the contrary. The Commission has reviewed the comments 
submitted and finds no need to amend the substantive provisions of the 
rule.
    This final rule amends the June 5, 1996 rule with minor 
nonsubstantive changes. The changes are: addition of five Ground-water 
Use and Quality issues inadvertently left out of Table B-1 in the June 
5, 1996 notice (see, 61 FR 29278, July 29, 1996); minor conforming 
changes to reflect recent amendments to Secs. 51.53 and 51.95 effected 
by a separate rulemaking (``Decommissioning of Nuclear Power 
Reactors,'' July 29, 1996 (61 FR 39278)); substitution of one sentence 
under Findings for the issue ``Offsite radiological impacts (spent fuel 
and high-level waste disposal)'' in Table B-1, in order to more 
accurately represent a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
regulatory position; a word substitution in 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M), 
in order to clarify the information on the environmental effect of 
transportation of fuel and waste to and from a nuclear power plant that 
is to be submitted with a license renewal application; and minor 
clarifying changes to the text in Table B-1 concerning chronic effects 
of electromagnetic fields.

II. Analysis of Public Comments

A. Commenters.

    In response to the Federal Register notice for the final rule 
published on June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467), 11 organizations and 1 private 
citizen submitted written comments. The 11 organizations included the 
EPA; the States of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont; the Nuclear 
Energy Institute, and 6 licensees. Commenters expressed concerns about 
specific aspects of the rule and several commenters referred to 
material in NUREG-1437 which they believe to be inaccurate or 
ambiguous. Other than one State, the commenters expressed that the rule 
should be revised to address their concerns. The seven commenters from 
the nuclear power industry stated that their concerns should be 
addressed by supplemental rulemaking and should not delay the effective 
date of the rule as published in 61 FR 28467. The Commission assumes 
that EPA, two States, and the private individual intend for their 
concerns to be addressed by revising the final rule and final GEIS now 
rather than by supplemental rulemaking. These specific concerns and how 
and when they should be resolved are addressed below.

B. Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal, and Cumulative Radiological 
Effects of the Uranium Fuel Cycle

    Comment. The two commenting States expressed concern over the 
prospect of long-term storage of high-level waste (HLW) at reactor 
sites. One State also expressed concern over the prospect of long-term 
storage of low-level waste (LLW) at reactor sites. This State believes 
that ``the Commission should establish a policy which would condition 
license renewal to a resolution of radioactive waste disposal issues.'' 
One State believes that provisions in NRC's regulations for addressing 
significant new information and the 10-year cycle for reviewing the 
continued appropriateness of the conclusions codified by the rule are 
not adequate with respect to the issues of on-site storage and disposal 
of HLW; and, therefore, site-specific environmental review should be 
required for these issues, i.e., these issues should be designated 
Category 2. A third State believes that a Category 1 designation is 
appropriate for these issues, i.e., findings for the issue codified in 
the rule may be adopted in site-specific license renewal reviews,

[[Page 66538]]

and supports the provision in the rule for periodic evaluation of these 
issues.
    Response. As stated at 61 FR 28477, the Commission acknowledges 
that there is uncertainty in the schedule of availability of disposal 
facilities for LLW and HLW. The Commission understands the continuing 
concern of the States and of the public over the prospects for timely 
development of waste disposal facilities. The uncertainty in the 
schedule of availability of disposal facilities is especially of 
concern because of the waste currently being generated during the 
initial licensing term of power reactors. The Commission, however, 
continues to believe that there is sufficient understanding of and 
experience with the storage of LLW and HLW to conclude that the waste 
generated at any plant as a result of license renewal can be stored 
safely and without significant environmental impacts prior to permanent 
disposal. The Commission believes that conditioning individual license 
renewal decisions on resolution of radioactive waste disposal issues is 
not warranted because the Commission has already made a generic 
determination, codified in 10 CFR 51.23, that spent fuel generated at 
any reactor can be stored safely and without significant environmental 
impacts for at least 30 years beyond a license renewal term and that 
there will be a repository available within the first quarter of the 
twenty-first century. The waste confidence decision is discussed in 
Chapter 6 of NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for 
License Renewal for Nuclear Plants,'' May 1996. The Commission 
similarly believes that enough is known regarding the effects of 
permanent disposal to reach the generic conclusion in the rule. The 
rule is not based on the assumption that Yucca Mountain will be 
licensed. Also from a regulatory policy perspective, the Commission 
disagrees with the view of one state that each renewal applicant should 
come forward with an analysis of the HLW storage and disposal 
environmental effects. This is a national problem of essentially the 
same degree of complexity and uncertainty for every renewal application 
and it would not be useful to have a repetitive reconsideration of the 
matter.
    The Commission further believes that the provisions in the present 
rule and elsewhere in the Commission's regulations adequately provide 
for the introduction and consideration of new significant information 
in license renewal reviews, and that the 10 year review cycle for the 
rule and the GEIS adequately provides for Commission reassessment of 
the status of LLW and HLW disposal programs. The Commission recognizes 
that the possibility of significant unexpected events remains open. 
Consequently, the Commission will review its conclusions on these waste 
findings should significant and pertinent unexpected events occur (see 
also, 49 FR 34658 (August 31, 1984)). In view of the Commission's 
favorable conclusions regarding prospects for safe and environmentally 
acceptable waste disposal, it sees no need for conditioning licenses as 
recommended. The Category 1 designations for these three issues [low-
level waste storage and disposal, offsite radiological impacts (spent 
fuel and high-level waste disposal), and on-site spent fuel] in the 
final rule has not been changed in response to these comments.
    Comment. Six industry organizations specifically commented on the 
treatment of the LLW and HLW issues in 61 FR 28467 and in the GEIS. 
Except for the treatment of the environmental impacts of transportation 
of radiological material to and from the plant, the industry commenters 
agree with the Commissions findings on waste issues. Transportation 
(radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts) is designated 
Category 2 in the final rule. This designation requires some additional 
review of the environmental impacts of transportation.
    The industry commenters argue that the requirements for the review 
of transportation impacts for license renewal described in the final 
rule are unclear, and that there are good reasons to change the 
transportation issue from a Category 2 to a Category 1 designation. The 
requirements for the review of transportation issues in the final rule 
were found by the commenters to be unclear with respect to (1) the use 
and legal status of 10 CFR 51.52, Table S-4, in the plant-specific 
license renewal review; (2) the conditions that must be met before an 
applicant may adopt Table S-4; and (3) the extent to which the 
``generic'' effects of transporting spent fuel to a high-level waste 
repository should be considered in a plant-specific license renewal 
review. In addition, several commenters suggested that DOE should have 
the responsibility of considering the cumulative environmental impacts 
from transportation.
    Response. The Commission does not believe that changes to the rule 
in response to industry comments are warranted at this time. However, 
in order to clarify the rule's requirements, the following guidance is 
provided on the issue of transportation impacts. As a result of this 
rulemaking, 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M) requires applicants to review the 
environmental effects of transportation in accordance with Sec. 51.52 
(Table S-4) and to discuss the generic and cumulative impacts 
associated with transportation infrastructure in the vicinity of a 
high-level waste repository site. The candidate site at Yucca Mountain 
should be used for the purpose of impact analysis as long as that site 
is under consideration for licensing. The amendments to 10 CFR Part 51 
in this rulemaking do not alter the existing provisions of Sec. 51.52. 
If an applicant's reactor meets all the conditions in Sec. 51.52(a) the 
applicant may use the environmental impacts of transportation of fuel 
and waste to and from the reactor set forth in Summary Table S-4 to 
characterize the transportation impacts from the renewal of its 
license. However, because Table S-4 does not take into account the 
generic and cumulative (including synergistic) impacts of 
transportation infrastructure construction and operation in the 
vicinity of the Yucca Mountain repository site, such information would 
have to be provided by these applicants.
    For reactors not meeting the conditions of Sec. 51.52(a), the 
applicant must provide a full description and detailed analysis of such 
environmental effects associated with transportation in accordance with 
Sec. 51.52(b). Industry commenters pointed out that the conditions in 
paragraph (a) are not likely to be satisfied by many plants now using 
higher burn-up fuel. In such cases, applicants may incorporate in their 
analysis the discussion presented in the GEIS in Section 6.2.3 
``Sensitivity to Recent Changes in the Fuel Cycle,'' and Section 6.3 
``Transportation.'' This category of applicants also would have to 
consider the generic and cumulative impacts of transportation operation 
in the vicinity of the Yucca Mountain repository site. These impacts 
may be attributed to an individual plant on a reactor-year basis.
    As part of its efforts to develop regulatory guidance for this 
rule, the Commission will consider whether further changes to the rule 
are desirable to generically address: (1) The issue of cumulative 
transportation impacts and (2) the implications that the use of higher 
burn-up fuel have for the conclusions in Table S-4. After consideration 
of these issues, the Commission will determine whether the issue of 
transportation impacts should be changed to Category 1.
    As to the NRC's duty to consider the cumulative transportation 
impacts of license renewal, the Commission

[[Page 66539]]

continues to believe that such analysis is appropriate. The fact that 
DOE rather than an applicant will have title to spent-fuel and high-
level waste when it is transported to a repository and that ultimately 
DOE must consider the environmental impacts of transportation does not 
relieve the Commission of the responsibility under the National 
Environmental Policy Act to consider the impacts of transportation in 
its environmental review for renewal of an operating license.
    Finally, regarding the attribution of transportation impacts 
between the initial operating license and the renewed license, the 
allocation of environmental data in Sec. 51.51 and environmental 
impacts in Sec. 51.52 on the bases of a reference reactor year sets the 
precedence for allocating generic (common) impacts.
    Comment. EPA states that the discussion of the radiological impacts 
of the uranium fuel cycle (61 FR 28478) requires clarification 
regarding the collective effects, over time, on human populations.
    Response. The Commission believes that the discussion adequately 
summarizes the potential collective health impacts of the uranium fuel 
cycle. The following is provided to clarify the specific elements of 
that discussion. First, an estimate is provided of the 100-year dose 
commitment to the U. S. population and the estimated cancer fatalities 
from the uranium fuel cycle that are attributable to each 20-year 
license renewal. It is then explained that much of the dose to 
individuals is ``tiny'' and is attributed to radon releases from mines 
and tailing piles. Second, it is explained that the dose calculation 
could be extended to cover populations outside of the U. S. over 
thousands of years, and that such a calculation would estimate 
thousands of cancer fatalities. Third, the uncertainty that would be 
involved in this computation and the conservative nature of the 
estimates of fatalities are discussed. Views of the scientific 
community about the possible overestimation of fatalities resulting 
from the assumptions used are developed in Appendix E, Section E.4.1, 
of the GEIS. Finally, the discussion points out that no standards exist 
that can be used to reach a conclusion as to the significance of the 
magnitude of the collective radiological health effects.
    Comment. EPA maintains that natural background radiation should not 
be used comparatively to judge the significance of additional doses of 
radiation.
    Response. The statement referred to by EPA (61 FR 28478), is 
intended to provide perspective only on the magnitude of the additional 
dose, not on its significance.
    Comment. EPA believes that the GEIS is unclear as to whether 
occupational doses are measured as the dose received by the average 
worker or the maximally exposed worker. The NRC should clarify what 
significance these two distinct measures have with respect to the NRC's 
regulatory regime for reactor licensing.
    Response. Occupational dose limits and the requirement to achieve 
exposures which are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) are 
codified in the Commission's regulations in 10 CFR Part 20. The dose 
limits and measured doses correspond to the individual. However, the 
overall effectiveness of the licensee's ALARA programs are reflected by 
the average doses received by the population of workers. A detailed 
discussion of the Commission's radiation protection limits and 
protection measures is provided in Appendix E of the GEIS. These 
regulations apply to license renewal activities. The estimates in the 
GEIS of occupational doses due to license renewal assume continued 
compliance with 10 CFR Part 20, including both the dose limits and the 
ALARA requirement.
    Comment. EPA disagrees with the Commission's definition of 
``small'' relative to radiological impacts. The Commission's definition 
is, ``For the purpose 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.'' EPA points out 
that the Commission's regulations permit an upper limit that would 
exceed the range of 10E-6 to 10E-4, established under the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, for negligibly 
small lifetime risk. EPA believes that risks falling above this range 
should not be designated as small or insignificant.
    Response. The definition of ``small'' used for assessing 
radiological impacts in the GEIS is not synonymous with ``negligibly 
small,'' which implies that an impact is so insignificant as to be 
unworthy of consideration. The Commission promotes licensee programs to 
bring doses below the regulatory limits to ``as low as reasonably 
achievable'' (ALARA) through its regulations, 10 CFR 50.36(a), Appendix 
I to 10 CFR Part 50, and provisions in 10 CFR Part 20. Because ALARA 
programs continue to be effective, actual doses are far below the 
regulatory limits, limits that represent a small risk. As the 
Commission's dose limits are based on radiation protection standards 
established by interagency committees and reflects international 
scientific consensus on the adequacy of protection standards, the 
Commission chooses to define radiological risk resulting from these 
standards as being ``small.''
    Comment. EPA takes issue with the Commission's assumptions, in 
Section 6.2.2.2 of the GEIS, about regulatory limits for off-site 
releases of radionuclides for the candidate repository at Yucca 
Mountain. EPA stated that the Commission should not presume that EPA 
will adopt the National Academy of Science recommendation regarding a 
100 millirem annual dose limit. Further, EPA believes that the GEIS 
should assume a smaller dose limit as a more conservative bounding 
estimate, consistent with the stated objective of Table S-3 to 
represent the worst case or bounding estimate of the potential release 
from the uranium fuel cycle [GEIS page 6-1].
    Response. The Commission does not assume that EPA will adopt a 100 
millirem annual dose limit. The discussion in Section 6.2.2.2 is clear 
that this limit is recommended by the Academy as a starting point for 
consideration, and that there is some measure of consensus among 
national and international bodies that the limits should be a fraction 
of the 100 mrem/year. At this time, the Commission is not prepared to 
speculate as to what the final limit will be.
    Comment. EPA states: ``The NRC has mis-stated the Agency's 
expectations regarding the performance of a high-level waste 
repository, and in doing so has used an inappropriate benchmark for its 
discussion of acceptable doses to the general public from the disposal 
of reactor fuel. Table B-1 * * * states that EPA's cumulative release 
limits (from 40 CFR Part 191) are based on a population impact goal of 
1,000 premature cancer deaths in the first 10,000 years after closure 
of a repository. The table mistakenly equates EPA's standard for 
releases from a high-level waste repository--an extreme upper limit 
that would result in 1,000 premature cancer deaths--with EPA's goal or 
expectation for the performance of such repositories. EPA stated in the 
promulgation of its high-level waste regulation that a repository for 
100,000 metric tonnes of reactor fuel would cause between 10 and 100 
such deaths, on the assumption that the repository complies with the 
NRC's enforceable requirements for engineered barriers

[[Page 66540]]

found at 10 CFR Part 60. The Commission should not use 1,000 fatal 
cancers as a benchmark for repository performance and instead should 
consider the Agency's stated expectation that a well-constructed, well-
sited repository should out-perform this level by ten or one-hundred-
fold. The same discussion appears in Section 6.2.2.2 of the GEIS on 
page 6-20 and should also be corrected there.''
    Response. The Commission agrees that referring to 1,000 premature 
cancer deaths as an EPA population ``impact goal'' is misleading. Until 
final repository release standards are promulgated and health impact 
estimates are available, the Commission will continue to use 1,000 
premature cancer deaths in the first 10,000 years after closure of a 
repository as an upper bound estimate of cumulative health effects. The 
following sentence has been substituted in the rule for the one with 
which EPA disagrees: ``Repository performance standards that will be 
required by EPA are expected to result in releases and associated 
health consequences in the range between 10 and 100 premature cancer 
deaths with an upper limit of 1,000 premature cancer deaths world-wide 
for a 100,000 metric tonne (MTHM) repository.''
    Comment. EPA states: ``The NRC has not adequately justified certain 
assumptions regarding its analysis of risks from the disposal of spent 
nuclear (reactor) fuel in the high-level waste repository at Yucca 
Mountain. The NRC asserts that analyses in the GEIS of health effects 
from disposal of reactor fuel need not extend beyond 1,000 years, 
though NRC's own regulations for high-level waste disposal, found at 10 
CFR Part 60, contain explicit numerical requirements on releases 
occurring after the first 1,000 years. An analysis extending over a 
longer period of time would be more appropriate, such as for 10,000 
years as required in EPA's high-level waste standard applicable to 
sites other than Yucca Mountain.''
    Response. This comment refers to an NRC staff response (found at 
NUREG-1529, page C7-3) to a comment made by an EPA participant in the 
NRC Public Workshop to Discuss License Renewal, held in Arlington, 
Virginia, November 4 and 5, 1991 (Session 4, page 26). The EPA 
participant pointed out that in the discussion of the uranium fuel 
cycle in the draft GEIS, NRC provided estimates of population dose 
commitments from open-pit uranium mines and stabilized tailings piles 
for 100, 500 and 1,000 years, but didn't provide long-term estimates 
for other long-lived materials. The commenter went on to point out that 
in the case of the high-level waste repository these calculations are 
carried out for 10,000 years, although in his view a calculation of 
impact should be carried until there is no more impact. The staff 
response to this comment is intended to point out that the likely 
radiological impacts attributable to any one nuclear power plant's HLW 
generated as a result of license renewal are uncertain and are unlikely 
to be significantly altered by consideration of the impacts that may be 
attributable to the period from 1,000 to 10,000 years. The basis for 
the evaluation of the environmental impact of the uranium fuel cycle 
for the renewal of an operating license is 10 CFR 51.51--Table S-3, as 
supplemented with an evaluation of the contribution of Radon-222 and 
Technetium-99 to the environmental impact of the fuel cycle. The 
environmental data in Table S-3 and discussion of associated 
environmental impacts is expressed on the basis of a reference reactor 
year of operation. Discussion of fuel cycle impacts has been further 
supplemented in the final GEIS with available information on the status 
of regulatory requirements and studies on the possible performance of 
the candidate high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

C. Severe Accident Mitigation Design Alternatives

    Comment. Three industry commenters disagreed with the designation 
of severe accidents as Category 2 in the final rule and the requirement 
that severe accident mitigation design alternatives (SAMDAs) must be 
addressed by the applicant and staff if SAMDAs had not previously been 
addressed in a staff environmental document for the plant. They noted 
that efforts to analyze severe accident vulnerabilities and the 
opportunities to mitigate the vulnerabilities will be completed for all 
plants in the near future. These analyses will provide the bases for a 
generic finding on SAMDAs for all plants, including the designation of 
Category 1 for severe accidents. One commenter proposed that a generic 
Category 1 finding could be made that consideration of SAMDAs is not 
required for any plant that has a completed Individual Plant 
Examination (IPE) and Individual Plant Examination of External Events 
(IPEEE).
    Response. It is stated at 61 FR 28481 that upon completion of its 
IPE/IPEEE program, the Commission may review the issue of severe 
accident mitigation for license renewal and consider, by separate 
rulemaking, reclassifying severe accidents as a Category 1 issue. 
Completion of an IPE and IPEEE in itself is not sufficient to fulfill 
the Commission's responsibility under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA). SAMDA alternatives must be addressed within an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or supplement to an EIS, or an 
Environmental Assessment. The Commission believes that this can be most 
efficiently accomplished generically through a supplement to the GEIS 
and rule amendment based on Commission review of all IPEs and IPEEEs. 
Prior to successful completion of such a rulemaking an applicant will 
have to submit a SAMDA alternatives analysis, based on its IPE and 
IPEEE (if available), in its environmental report. Then the Commission 
will review that analysis in a supplemental EIS for the plant.

D. Electromagnetic Fields (Chronic Effects)

    Comment. Four industry commenters disagreed with the treatment of 
chronic health effects of transmission line electromagnetic fields. The 
rule contains the finding that the magnitude of effects is uncertain. 
No finding is made in the rule as to whether this issue is a Category 1 
or Category 2. The commenters note that no submittal is required of an 
applicant for this issue until such time as the Commission finds that a 
consensus has been reached by the appropriate Federal health agencies 
that there are adverse health effects. The commenters believe that the 
number of scientific studies performed over a long period of time which 
could find no harmful effects is adequate disclosure under the NEPA to 
designate this issue Category 1. It is suggested that an alternative to 
a Category 1 designation is rewording Footnote 5 to Table B-1 in the 
rule to state in a more positive manner that there is no scientific 
evidence of chronic biological effects on humans and that this issue 
will not be admitted as a contention in any hearing on a renewal 
application. One commenter believes that this issue is not related to 
refurbishment activities and thus should not be addressed in the 
context of license renewal.
    Response. The Commission is not inclined at this time to change the 
rule relative to the treatment of the chronic human health effects of 
transmission line electromagnetic fields. The Commission recognizes 
that biological and physical studies of electromagnetic fields have not 
found consistent evidence linking harmful effects with field exposures 
and that much of the scientific evidence and many experts in the field 
arguably would support a

[[Page 66541]]

Category 1 determination for this issue. However, the Commission also 
recognizes that research is continuing in this area, and that a 
scientific consensus on the issue has not yet emerged. Consequently, 
the Commission believes that a more conservative position on the matter 
is appropriate at this time. With respect to concern that nonproductive 
litigation of this issue will take place in license renewal hearings, 
it should be noted that because of the intensive scrutiny given to this 
issue within the scientific community, any contention will have to meet 
scientific standards for admission.

E. Environmental Justice

    Comment. Comments about the treatment of environmental justice in 
the rule were offered by EPA and two licensees. EPA stated that as the 
Commission further defines its environmental justice requirements it 
should consider the draft guidance issued by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) on May 24, 1996, and the draft guidance 
issued by EPA on July 12, 1996. The licensees believe that the rule 
should include provisions for the treatment of environmental justice 
that take into consideration that most environmental impacts of 
relicensing nuclear plants have been found to be small and whether 
there is any benefit in conducting an environmental justice review for 
an already sited facility.
    Response. The Commission is aware of the CEQ and EPA draft guidance 
on the treatment of environmental justice in NEPA reviews. This 
guidance is being considered as the Commission proceeds with developing 
its own requirements for the treatment of environmental justice in NEPA 
reviews. As these requirements are developed, the Commission will 
consider whether it is appropriate to take a generic rather than a 
site-specific approach to this issue for license renewal reviews.

F. Supplemental Site-Specific Environmental Impact Statement Versus 
Environmental Assessment

    Comment. A licensee disagrees with the Commission's decision that a 
supplemental EIS will be prepared for license renewal reviews rather 
than a supplemental environmental assessment (EA) as proposed in the 
proposed rule. The licensee believes that environmental reviews will 
show that there will be no significant environmental impact for a 
number of license renewal applicants, and therefore preparation of an 
environmental assessment should be allowed under the final rule.
    Response. Several considerations led to the Commission's decision 
to require a supplemental EIS in license renewal reviews. The proposed 
rule and supporting GEIS would have included a preliminary conclusion 
of a favorable cost-benefit balance. The function of an EA would have 
been to consider the impacts associated with a limited set of 
environmental issues and whether these impacts would overturn the 
favorable preliminary cost-benefit finding in the GEIS and codified in 
the rule. Because there was a possibility that the impacts for the 
limited set of environmental issues would be found to be nonexistent or 
insignificant (no significant impacts), use of an EA was provided for 
in the proposed rule. In addition, a finding of no significant impact 
and the supporting EA may be issued in draft for comment at the 
discretion of the appropriate NRC staff director. The proposed rule was 
challenged with respect to preliminary cost-benefit findings and 
procedural hurdles to public input to the license renewal review. To 
resolve these concerns, the Commission modified the rule to eliminate 
the preliminary license renewal finding and to make that finding only 
after consideration of all impacts within the plant-specific review. 
The Commission believes that the sum of all the individual impacts that 
are to be considered in the decision whether to renew a nuclear power 
plant operating license for an additional 20 years, especially given 
the controversy over various aspects of nuclear power, exceeds the 
Commission's threshold for a finding of no significant impact. This and 
the desire to ensure public access to the license renewal review 
process led to the requirement of a supplemental EIS for license 
renewal.

G. Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action

    Comment. EPA questions the definition of the ``proposed action'' 
within the context of the discussion of purpose and need at 61 FR 
28472.
    Response. The definition of ``purpose and need'' is to be applied 
to the ``proposed action'' of renewal of a nuclear power plant 
operating license. It does not refer to and should not be confused with 
the purpose of the GEIS, which is given in the GEIS, Section 1.1 
Purpose of the GEIS.

H. Alternatives

    Comment. A individual believes that the rule appears to contradict 
the Limerick Ecology Action decision, 869 F.2d 719 (3rd Cir. 1989). The 
commenter states that this decision ``* * * requires the environmental 
review to look at non-nuclear design alternatives in context of severe 
accidents including non-nuclear alternatives.'' The commenter proceeds 
to express concern that the analysis of alternatives consider 
``efficiency and conservation'' and that sites considered for 
alternatives not be limited geographically because of the ability to 
wheel power over long distances. Finally, the individual objects to 
eliminating utility economics from the environmental review because 
``The real world reason to extend an operating license is that of 
utility economics.''
    Response. The Limerick decision was concerned with the 
consideration of design mitigation alternatives specifically for the 
Limerick plant, not with ``non-nuclear design alternatives.'' With 
respect to the commenters concerns about the treatment of alternatives 
to license renewal, the Commission believes that the final GEIS and 
rule adequately accommodate these concerns. The consideration of 
alternative energy sources in individual license renewal reviews will 
consider those alternatives that are reasonable for the region, 
including power purchases from outside the applicant's service area. 
Also, in assessing the environmental impacts of new generating capacity 
it will not necessarily be assumed that the capacity would be 
constructed on the site under review. Finally, consideration of the 
economic merits of renewing a plant operating license is eliminated 
only from the Commission's decision whether to renew. The decision 
about the economic merits of continued operation of a nuclear power 
plant will be made by the owners and the State regulators.

III. Procedural Background

    Because this rule makes only minor clarifying and conforming 
changes and adds language inadvertently omitted from Table B-1 of the 
rulemaking published June 5, 1996, and because public comments were 
solicited on that rulemaking the NRC is approving this rule without 
seeking public comments on proposed amendments. As such, pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Commission for good cause finds that a notice and 
comment procedure is unnecessary for this rulemaking.

IV. 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

[[Page 66542]]

prepared for this regulation. This action is procedural in nature and 
pertains only to the type of environmental information to be reviewed.

V. 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.

VI. Regulatory Analysis

    The regulatory analysis prepared for the final rule published June 
5, 1996 (61 FR 28467) is unchanged 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.

VII. 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).

VIII. 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, Office of Management and Budget.

IX. 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 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:

[[Page 66543]]

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 3.15x1012 ft3/year (9x1010m3/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 (total onsite) 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 
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 
3.15x1012 ft3/year (9x1010m3/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)

[[Page 66544]]

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. The review of impacts 
shall also discuss the generic and cumulative impacts associated with 
transportation operation in the vicinity of a high-level waste 
repository site. The candidate site at Yucca Mountain should be used 
for the purpose of impact analysis as long as that site is under 
consideration for licensing.
    (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 decommissioning activities for a production or 
utilization facility either for unrestricted use or based on continuing 
use restrictions applicable to the site; and each applicant for a 
license amendment approving a license termination plan or 
decommissioning plan under Sec. 50.82 of this chapter either for 
unrestricted use or based on continuing use restrictions applicable to 
the site; and each applicant for a license or license amendment to 
store spent fuel at a nuclear power reactor after expiration of the 
operating license for the nuclear power reactor shall submit with its 
application the number of copies, as specified in Sec. 51.55, of a 
separate document, entitled ``Supplement to Applicant's Environmental 
Report--Post Operating License Stage,'' which will update ``Applicant's 
Environmental Report--Operating License 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 only address the 
environmental impact of spent fuel storage for the term of the license 
applied for. The ``Supplement to Applicant's Environmental Report--Post 
Operating License Stage'' may incorporate by reference any information 
contained in ``Applicants Environmental Report--Construction Permit 
Stage.
    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.
* * * * *
    6. 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 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

[[Page 66545]]

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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    5. 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 an EIS, which is a supplement to 
the Commission's NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement 
for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (May 1996) which is available 
in the NRC Public Document Room, 2120 L Street, NW., (Lower Level) 
Washington, DC..
    (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 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

[[Page 66546]]

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 the amendment 
of an operating license authorizing decommissioning activities at a 
production or utilization facility covered by Sec. 51.20, either for 
unrestricted use or based on continuing use restrictions applicable to 
the site, or with the issuance, amendment or renewal of a license to 
store spent fuel at a nuclear power reactor after expiration of the 
operating license for the nuclear power reactor, the NRC staff will 
prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for the post 
operating license stage or an environmental assessment, as appropriate, 
which will update the prior environmental review. The supplement or 
assessment may incorporate by reference any information contained in 
the final environmental impact statement-operating license stage, or in 
the records of decision prepared in connection with the construction 
permit or the operating license for that facility. The supplement will 
include a request for comments as provided in Sec. 51.73. Unless other 
wise 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 post operating 
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. In Appendix A to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 redesignate 
footnotes 5 through 8 as footnotes 1 through 4.
    10. Paragraph 4 of Appendix A to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 is 
revised to read 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.
* * * * *
    11. Appendix B to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 is revised 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 2                        Findings 3                      
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Surface Water Quality, Hydrology, and Use (for all plants)                           
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impacts of refurbishment on surface water              1  SMALL. Impacts are expected to be negligible during   
 quality.                                                  refurbishment because best management practices are  
                                                           expected to be employed to control soil erosion and  
                                                           spills.                                              
Impacts of refurbishment on surface water              1  SMALL. Water use during refurbishment will not        
 use.                                                      increase appreciably or will be reduced during plant 
                                                           outage.                                              
Altered current patterns at intake and                 1  SMALL. Altered current patterns have not been found to
 discharge structures.                                     be a 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.                                                

[[Page 66547]]

                                                                                                                
Altered thermal stratification of lakes....            1  SMALL. Generally, lake stratification 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.                                
Temperature effects on sediment transport              1  SMALL. These effects have not been found to be a      
 capacity.                                                 problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not
                                                           expected to be a problem during the license renewal  
                                                           term.                                                
Scouring caused by discharged cooling water            1  SMALL. Scouring has not been found to be a problem at 
                                                           most 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.                                                
Discharge of chlorine or other biocides....            1  SMALL. Effects are not a concern among regulatory and 
                                                           resource agencies, and are not expected to be a      
                                                           problem during the license renewal term.             
Discharge of sanitary wastes and minor                 1  SMALL. Effects are readily controlled through NPDES   
 chemical spills.                                          permit and periodic modifications, if needed, and are
                                                           not expected to be a problem during the license      
                                                           renewal term.                                        
Discharge of other metals in waste water...            1  SMALL. These discharges have not been found to be a   
                                                           problem at 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 once-                 1  SMALL. These conflicts have not been found to be a    
 through cooling systems).                                 problem at operating nuclear power plants with once- 
                                                           through heat dissipation systems.                    
Water use conflicts (plants with cooling               2  SMALL OR MODERATE. The issue has been a concern at    
 ponds or cooling towers using make-up                     nuclear power plants with cooling ponds and at plants
 water from a small river with low flow).                  with cooling towers. Impacts on instream and riparian
                                                           communities near these plants 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 sediments              1  SMALL. Accumulation of contaminants has been a concern
 or biota.                                                 at a few 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   
 zooplankton.                                              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.             
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 migrating fish....            1  SMALL. Thermal plumes 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.                                                
Distribution of aquatic organisms..........            1  SMALL. Thermal discharge may have localized effects   
                                                           but is not expected to effect the larger geographical
                                                           distribution of aquatic organisms.                   
Premature emergence of aquatic insects.....            1  SMALL. Premature emergence has been found to be a     
                                                           localized 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 disease)...            1  SMALL. Gas supersaturation was a concern at a small   
                                                           number of 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 discharge......            1  SMALL. Low dissolved oxygen has been a concern at one 
                                                           nuclear 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, parasitism, and                 1  SMALL. These types of losses have not been found to be
 disease among organisms exposed to                        a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are  
 sublethal stresses.                                       not expected to be a problem during the license      
                                                           renewal term.                                        

[[Page 66548]]

                                                                                                                
Stimulation of nuisance organisms (e.g.,               1  SMALL. Stimulation of nuisance organisms has been     
 shipworms).                                               satisfactorily 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 in early             2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. The impacts of entrainment 
 life stages.                                              are small 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).                            
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Aquatic Ecology (for plants with cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems)                 
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Entrainment of fish and shellfish in early             1  SMALL. Entrainment of fish has not been found to be a 
 life stages.                                              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.             
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 ground-water               1  SMALL. Extensive dewatering during the original       
 use and quality.                                          construction on 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 (potable and                1  SMALL. Plants using less than 100 gpm are not expected
 service water; plants that use <100 gpm).                 to cause any ground-water use conflicts.             
Ground-water use conflicts (potable and                2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Plants that use more than  
 service water, and dewatering; plants that                100 gpm may cause ground-water use conflicts with    
 use >100 gpm).                                            nearby ground-water users. See Sec.                  
                                                           51.53(c)(3)(ii)(C).                                  
Ground-water use conflicts (plants using               2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Water use conflicts may    
 cooling towers withdrawing make-up water                  result from surface water withdrawals from small     
 from a small river).                                      water bodies during low flow conditions which may    
                                                           affect aquifer recharge, especially 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).                                  
Ground-water use conflicts (Ranney wells)..            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Ranney wells can result in 
                                                           potential ground-water depression beyond the site    
                                                           boundary. Impacts of large ground-water withdrawal   
                                                           for cooling tower makeup at nuclear power plants     
                                                           using Ranney wells must be evaluated at the time of  
                                                           application for license renewal. See Sec.            
                                                           51.53(c)(3)(ii)(C).                                  
Ground-water quality degradation (Ranney               1  SMALL. Ground-water quality at river sites may be     
 wells).                                                   degraded by induced infiltration of poor-quality     
                                                           river water into an aquifer that supplies large      
                                                           quantities of reactor cooling water. However, the    
                                                           lower quality infiltrating water would not preclude  
                                                           the current uses of ground water and is not expected 
                                                           to be a problem during the license renewal term.     
Ground-water quality degradation (saltwater            1  SMALL. Nuclear power plants do not contribute         
 intrusion).                                               significantly to saltwater intrusion.                
Ground-water quality degradation (cooling              1  SMALL. Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds may      
 ponds in salt marshes).                                   degrade ground-water quality. Because water in salt  
                                                           marshes is brackish, this is not a concern for plants
                                                           located in salt marshes.                             

[[Page 66549]]

                                                                                                                
Ground-water quality degradation (cooling              2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Sites with closed-cycle    
 ponds at inland sites).                                   cooling ponds may degrade ground-water quality. For  
                                                           plants located inland, the quality of the ground     
                                                           water in the vicinity of the ponds must be shown to  
                                                           be adequate to allow continuation of current uses.   
                                                           See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(D).                        
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              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 and                     1  SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or    
 ornamental vegetation.                                    increased 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 plants.....            1  SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or    
                                                           increased 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 towers........            1  SMALL. These collisions 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 pond impacts on terrestrial                    1  SMALL. Impacts of cooling ponds on terrestrial        
 resources.                                                ecological resources are considered to be of small   
                                                           significance at all sites.                           
Power line right-of-way management (cutting            1  SMALL. The impacts of right-of-way maintenance on     
 and herbicide application).                               wildlife are expected to be of small significance at 
                                                           all sites.                                           
Bird collision with power lines............            1  SMALL. Impacts are expected to be of small            
                                                           significance at all sites.                           
Impacts of electromagnetic fields on flora             1  SMALL. No significant impacts of electromagnetic      
 and fauna (plants, agricultural crops,                    fields on terrestrial flora and fauna have been      
 honeybees, wildlife, livestock).                          identified. Such effects are not expected to be a    
                                                           problem during the license renewal term.             
Floodplains and wetland on power line right            1  SMALL. Periodic vegetation control is necessary in    
 of way.                                                   forested 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).    
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Air Quality                                                  
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air quality during refurbishment (non-                 2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Air quality impacts from   
 attainment and maintenance areas).                        plant refurbishment associated with license renewal  
                                                           are expected to 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 transmission lines..            1  SMALL. Production of ozone and oxides of nitrogen is  
                                                           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 during               1  SMALL. During refurbishment, the gaseous effluents    
 refurbishment.                                            would result in doses that are similar to those from 
                                                           current operation. Applicable regulatory dose limits 
                                                           to the public are not expected to be exceeded.       

[[Page 66550]]

                                                                                                                
Occupational radiation exposures during                1  SMALL. Occupational doses from refurbishment are      
 refurbishment.                                            expected to be 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 (occupational                1  SMALL. Occupational health impacts are expected to be 
 health).                                                  controlled by continued application of accepted      
                                                           industrial hygiene practices to minimize worker      
                                                           exposures.                                           
Microbiological organisms (public                      2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. These organisms are not    
 health)(plants using lakes or canals, or                  expected to be a problem at most operating plants    
 cooling towers or cooling ponds that                      except possibly at plants using cooling ponds, lakes,
 discharge to a small river).                              or canals that discharge to small rivers. Without    
                                                           site-specific data, it is not possible to 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 effects                  2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Electrical shock resulting 
 (electric shock).                                         from 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 effects \5\       \4\ NA  UNCERTAIN. Biological and physical studies of 60-Hz   
                                                           electromagnetic fields have not found consistent     
                                                           evidence linking harmful effects with field          
                                                           exposures. However, research is continuing in this   
                                                           area and a consensus scientific view has not been    
                                                           reached.\5\                                          
Radiation exposures to public (license                 1  SMALL. Radiation doses to the public will continue at 
 renewal term).                                            current levels associated with normal operations.    
Occupational radiation exposures (license              1  SMALL. Projected maximum occupational doses during the
 renewal term).                                            license 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, social                 1  SMALL. Impacts to public safety, social services, and 
 services, and tourism and recreation.                     tourism and recreation are expected to be of small   
                                                           significance at all 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 (refurbishment).            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Most sites would experience
                                                           impacts of small significance but larger impacts are 
                                                           possible depending on site- and project-specific     
                                                           factors. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I).               
Public services, education (license renewal            1  SMALL. Only impacts of small significance are         
 term).                                                    expected.                                            
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 term)....            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Significant changes in land
                                                           use may 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 resources......            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Generally, plant           
                                                           refurbishment and 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 renewal term)...            1  SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the 
                                                           license renewal term.                                
Aesthetic impacts of transmission lines                1  SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the 
 (license renewal term).                                   license renewal term.                                
                                                                                                                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 66551]]

                                                                                                                
                                              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 (individual               1  SMALL. Off-site impacts of the uranium fuel cycle have
 effects from other than the disposal of                   been considered by the Commission in Table S-3 of    
 spent fuel and high level waste).                         this part. Based on information in the GEIS, impacts 
                                                           on individuals from radioactive gaseous and liquid   
                                                           releases including radon-222 and technetium-99 are   
                                                           small.                                               
                                                                                                                
Offsite radiological impacts (collective               1  The 100 year environmental dose commitment to the U.S.
 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 doses projected 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.          
                                                                                                                
Offsite radiological impacts (spent fuel               1  For the high level waste and spent fuel disposal      
 and high level waste disposal).                           component of the fuel cycle, there are no current    
                                                           regulatory limits for 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.                                      

[[Page 66552]]

                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                
                                                          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.     
                                                           Reporting performance standards that will be required
                                                           by EPA are expected to result in releases and        
                                                           associated health consequences in the range between  
                                                           10 and 100 premature cancer deaths with an upper     
                                                           limit 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 uranium fuel            1  SMALL. The nonradiological impacts of the uranium fuel
 cycle.                                                    cycle resulting from the renewal of an operating     
                                                           license for any plant are found to be small.         
Low-level waste storage and disposal.......            1  SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls that are 
                                                           in place 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.               
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.                 

[[Page 66553]]

                                                                                                                
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\..................       \4\ NA  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'' (May 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 cannot 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\ If, in the future, the Commission finds that, contrary to current indications, a consensus has been reached 
  by appropriate Federal health agencies that there are adverse health effects from electromagnetic fields, the 
  Commission will require applicants to submit plant-specific reviews of these health effects as part of their  
  license renewal applications. 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 66554]]

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 11th day of December, 1996.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
John C. Hoyle,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 96-31945 Filed 12-17-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P