[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 93 (Wednesday, May 14, 1997)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 26730-26732]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-12594]


      

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Part VI





Nuclear Regulatory Commission





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10 CFR Part 51



Environmental Report--Materials Licenses; Rule



Environmental Report--Materials Licenses; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 62, No. 93 / Wednesday, May 14, 1997 / Rules 
and Regulations

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 51

RIN AF65


Environmental Report--Materials Licenses

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Direct final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is amending its 
regulations to eliminate the requirement that an environmental report 
be submitted by uranium mill licensees at the time of license 
termination. This action removes an outdated and unnecessary reporting 
requirement.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The final rule is effective July 14, 1997, unless 
significant adverse comments are received by June 13, 1997. A companion 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is published with this final rule. If the 
effective date is delayed, timely notice will be published in the 
Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention: Docketing and Service 
Branch. Hand deliver comments to 11555 Rockville Pike, Maryland, 
between 7:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays.
    Copies of any comments received may be examined at the NRC Public 
Document Room, 2120 L Street NW. (Lower Level), Washington, DC.
    For information on submitting comments electronically, see the 
discussion under Electronic Access in the Supplementary Information 
Section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph J. Mate, Office of Nuclear 
Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001, telephone (301) 415-6202, or e-mail [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Environmental protection requirements applicable to NRC's domestic 
licensing and regulatory functions are addressed in 10 CFR part 51. 
Part 51 also establishes procedures for compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to 10 CFR 51.60, license 
applicants or licensees under 10 CFR part 40 and other parts, who seek 
approval for a specified list of actions must file an ``Applicant's 
Environmental Report'' or a ``Supplement to an Applicant's Report.'' 
The action specified in 10 CFR 51.60(b)(3) is ``Termination of a 
license for the possession and use of source material for uranium 
milling.''
    As promulgated in 1974, 10 CFR part 51 required that the Atomic 
Energy Commission (AEC) consider whether, under the circumstances of a 
particular facility, the AEC should prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) or environmental appraisal (EA) at license termination, 
and gave the AEC authority to obtain the necessary information from the 
licensee. At that time, few, if any, uranium mills had been subject to 
a full NEPA review. Also, there were no statutory or codified rules 
relevant to the closure of mill tailings sites and ground-water 
remediation. Hence, an environmental report by the licensee at the time 
of license termination was necessary to ensure proper remediation of 
the site before terminating the license. The requirement for the 
submission of an environmental report as part of the application for 
license terminations was created in 1980. However, reporting 
requirements that have come into existence since the mid 1970s covering 
activities that precede license termination have rendered the 
requirement for a separate environmental report at license termination 
unnecessary.

Discussion

    The current decommissioning requirements, for example, 10 CFR part 
40, appendix A, criterion 9, call for a licensee to submit several 
environmental reports throughout the process leading up to license 
termination. The licensee must submit applications for license 
amendments to undertake site reclamation and decommissioning activities 
that must be completed before the license may be terminated. Examples 
of such activities are decommissioning the mill, reclaiming the 
tailings, and remediating the ground-water contamination. These 
applications must be accompanied by an environmental report or a 
supplement to an environmental report. After the reclamation and 
decommissioning activities are completed, the licensee must submit 
another license amendment application, again accompanied by the 
necessary environmental report, requesting removal of the license 
conditions that required the reclamation and decommissioning work. The 
NRC staff reviews the application and issues a Technical Evaluation 
Report (TER) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or 
Environmental Assessment (EA).
    The NRC staff will conduct a safety and environmental review to 
ensure that the proposed actions meet the requirements in 10 CFR part 
40 before approval of each such application for a license amendment and 
license condition requiring the decommissioning and reclamation 
actions. Before license termination, the licensee also must comply with 
site and byproduct material ownership provisions that require ownership 
of byproduct material and land (including any interests connected to 
the land essential to ensure the long-term stability of the disposal 
site) to be transferred to the Federal Government or to the appropriate 
State Government.
    The termination process in effect at the time the rule was 
originally promulgated has been superseded by a multi-step process of 
application, reporting, and NRC staff review and approval that leads to 
the license termination. The sequence of events outlined above takes a 
number of years and will be completed before the licensee can request 
termination of the license. Because each step in the sequence requires 
an environmental report from the licensee, the environmental report 
that responds to 10 CFR 51.60(b)(3) at the time of license termination 
is simply a reiteration or summary of information previously submitted 
by the licensee earlier in the process. Hence, it does not provide any 
new information beyond that already submitted in previous reports, nor 
does its submittal have bearing on any regulatory decision being made. 
Elimination of the reporting requirement in 10 CFR 51.60(b)(3) would 
not affect the remaining requirements in 10 CFR 51.60, nor would 
changes be necessary to 10 CFR part 40 or to appendix A to part 40.

Electronic Access

    Comments may be submitted electronically, in either ASCII text or 
WordPerfect format (version 5.1 or later), by calling the NRC 
Electronic Bulletin Board on FedWorld, or directly via the Internet. 
The bulletin board may be accessed using a personal computer, a modem, 
and one of the commonly available communications software packages.
    Using a personal computer and modem, the NRC rulemaking subsystem 
on FedWorld can be accessed directly by dialing the toll free number: 
1-800-303-9672. Communication software parameters should be set as 
follows: parity to none, data bits to 8, and stop bits to 1 (N,8,1). 
Using ANSI or VT-100 terminal emulation, the NRC rulemaking subsystem 
can then be

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accessed by selecting the ``Rules Menu'' option from the ``NRC Main 
Menu.'' For further information about options available for NRC at 
FedWorld, consult the ``Help/Information Center'' from the ``NRC Main 
Menu.'' Users will find the ``FedWorld Online User's Guides'' 
particularly helpful. Many NRC subsystems and databases also have a 
``Help/Information Center'' option that is tailored to the particular 
subsystem.
    The NRC subsystem on FedWorld can also be accessed by a direct dial 
phone number for the main FedWorld BBS, 703-321-3339, or by using 
Telnet via the Internet, fedworld.gov. If using 703-321-3339 to contact 
FedWorld, the NRC subsystem will be accessed from the main FedWorld 
menu by selecting the ``Regulatory, Government Administration and State 
Systems,'' then selecting ``Regulatory Information Mall.'' At that 
point, a menu will be displayed that has an option ``U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission'' that will take you to the NRC Online menu. The 
NRC Online area can also be accessed directly by typing ``/go nrc'' at 
a FedWorld command line. If you access NRC from the FedWorld's main 
menu, you may return to FedWorld by selecting the ``Return to 
FedWorld'' option from the NRC Online Menu. However, if you access NRC 
at FedWorld by using NRC's toll-free number, you will have full access 
to all NRC systems but you will not have access to the main FedWorld 
system.
    If you contact FedWorld using Telnet, you will see the NRC area and 
menus, including the Rules menu. Although you will be able to download 
documents and leave messages, you will not be able to write comments or 
upload files (comments). If you contact FedWorld using FTP, all files 
can be accessed and downloaded but uploads are not allowed; all you 
will see is a list of files without descriptions (normal Gopher look). 
An index file listing all files within a subdirectory, with 
descriptions, is included. There is a 15-minute time limit for FTP 
access.
    A rulemaking site also can be accessed through the NRC's home page 
on the World Wide Web (http://www.nrc.gov). This site provides the same 
access to rulemakings as the FedWorld bulletin board, and you will be 
able to upload files (comments) if that function is supported by your 
web browser.
    For more information on NRC bulletin boards at FedWorld call Mr. 
Arthur Davis, Systems Integration and Development Branch, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, telephone (301) 415-5780; 
e-mail AXD[email protected]. Information on the Rulemaking Web site can be 
obtained from Ms. Carol Gallagher, Division of Regulatory Applications, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, telephone 
(301) 415-5905; e-mail [email protected]

Procedural Background

    The NRC considers this action to be noncontroversial. Public 
comment is unnecessary because the amendment relieves a burden on 
licensees by eliminating a requirement that has no regulatory use or 
implications. This action will become effective on July 14, 1997. 
However, if the NRC receives significant adverse comments within June 
13, 1997 on the companion notice of proposed rulemaking, the NRC will 
publish a document that withdraws this action. The NRC will address the 
comments received in response to the proposed revisions that are 
published concurrently in the Proposed Rules section of this Federal 
Register. Such comments, if any, will be addressed in a subsequent 
final rule. Because comments are requested on the companion notice of 
proposed rulemaking, NRC will not initiate a second comment period.

Environmental Impact: Categorical Exclusion

    The Commission has determined that this final rule is the type of 
action described as a categorical exclusion in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(3). 
Therefore, neither an environmental impact statement nor an 
environmental assessment has been prepared for this final rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This direct final rule does not contain a new or significantly 
amended information collection requirement subject to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S. C. 3501 et seq). Existing requirements 
were approved by the Office of Management and Budget, approval number 
3150-0027.

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.

Regulatory Analysis

    The NRC staff prepared a regulatory analysis for this final 
regulation which covered two basic options: take no action and allow 
the requirement for an environmental report at license termination to 
remain in the regulations, or eliminate the requirement. The Commission 
has decided to eliminate the requirement through a direct final rule. 
This action would eliminate an unnecessary reporting requirement and 
the associated licensee burden to an estimated 11 licensees over the 
next 10 years.

Regulatory Flexibility Certification

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 
605(b), the Commission certifies that this rule does not have a 
significant economic impact upon a substantial number of small 
entities. This regulation potentially affects about 30 licensees who 
operate uranium mills. Only about 11 licensees will be affected over 
the next 10 years. The large majority of these licensees do not fall 
under the definition of small business entities. Additionally, this 
change to the regulation will result in a decrease in requirements by 
eliminating a current reporting requirement. Hence, there is no 
significant economic impact on any licensee, large or small.

Backfit Analysis

    The NRC had determined that the backfit rule, 10 CFR 50.109, does 
not apply to this rule, and therefore, a backfit analysis is not 
required because these amendments do not involve any provisions that 
would impose backfits as defined in 10 CFR 50.109(a)(1).

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.

List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 51

    Administrative practice and procedure, Environmental impact 
statements, Environmental regulations assessment and reports, NEPA 
procedures, 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, and 5 U.S.C. 552 and 553, the NRC is adopting 
the following amendment to 10 CFR part 51.

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

    1. The authority citation for 10 CFR part 51 continues to read as 
follows:


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    Authority: Sec. 161, 68 Stat. 948, as amended, sec. 1701, 106 
Stat. 2951, 2952, 2953, (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; and sec. 
193, Pub. L. 101-575, 104 Stat. 2835 (42 U.S.C. 2243). Sections 
51.20, 51.30, 51.60, 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 (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)).


Sec. 51.60  [Amended]

    2. In Sec. 51.60, paragraph (b)(3) is removed, paragraphs (b) (4), 
(5), and (6) are redesignated as paragraphs (b) (3), (4), and (5), and 
paragraph (a) is amended by revising the reference ``paragraphs (b)(1) 
through (b)(6)'' to read ``paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(5).''

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 21st day of April, 1997.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
L. Joseph Callan,
Executive Director for Operations.
[FR Doc. 97-12594 Filed 5-13-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P