[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 57 (Wednesday, March 25, 1998)]
[Pages 14479-14481]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-7809]



DOCKET NOS. STN 50-528, STN 50-529, AND STN 50-530

Arizona Public Service Company; Palo Verde Nuclear Generating 
Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, And 3 Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the Commission) is 
considering the issuance of amendments to Facility Operating License 
Nos. NPF-41, NPF-51, and NPF-74, issued to Arizona Public Service 
Company (the licensee), for operation of the Palo Verde Nuclear 
Generating Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3, (PVNGS), located in Maricopa 
County, Arizona.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed amendments will revise the existing, or current 
Technical Specifications (CTS) in their entirety for PVNGS and 
incorporate the guidance provided in NUREG-1432, ``Standard Technical 
Specifications, Combustion Engineering Plants,'' Revision 1, dated 
April 1995. The licensee proposed this action in an amendment request 
dated October 4, 1996, as supplemented by (1) the following 19 letters 
submitted in 1997 and dated January 31, March 16, May 30 (2 letters), 
June 6, July 18 (5 letters), August 31, September 18 (2 letters), 
September 19 (2 letters), November 7, November 14, November 26, and 
December 16; and (2) the letter dated February 12, 1998.

[[Page 14480]]

The Need for the Proposed Action

    It has been recognized that nuclear safety in all nuclear power 
plants would benefit from an improvement and standardization of the 
plant Technical Specifications (TS). The ``NRC Interim Policy Statement 
on Technical Specification Improvements for Nuclear Power Plants,'' (52 
FR 3788) contained proposed criteria for defining the scope of TS. 
Later, the Commission's ``Final Policy Statement on Technical 
Specifications Improvements for Nuclear Power Reactors,'' published on 
July 22, 1993 (58 FR 39132), incorporated lessons learned since 
publication of the interim policy statement and formed the basis for 
revisions to 10 CFR 50.36. The ``Final Rule'' (60 FR 36953) codified 
criteria for determining the content of TS. To facilitate the 
development of standard TS for nuclear power reactors, each power 
reactor vendor owners' group (OG) and the NRC staff developed standard 
TS. For PVNGS, the Standard Technical Specifications (STS) are in 
NUREG-1432. This document formed the basis for the PVNGS Improved 
Technical Specifications (ITS) conversion. The NRC Committee to Review 
Generic Requirements (CRGR) reviewed the STS, made note of its safety 
merits, and indicated its support of the conversion by operating plants 
to the STS.

Description of the Proposed Change

    The proposed revision to the CTS is based on NUREG-1432 and on 
guidance provided by the Commission in its Final Policy Statement. Its 
objective is to completely rewrite, reformat, and streamline the CTS. 
Emphasis is placed on human factors principles to improve clarity and 
understanding of the TS. The Bases section of the TS has been 
significantly expanded to clarify and better explain the purpose and 
foundation of each specification. In addition to NUREG-1432, portions 
of the CTS were also used as the basis for the development of the PVNGS 
ITS. Plant-specific issues (e.g., unique design features, requirements, 
and operating practices) were discussed with the licensee, and generic 
matters with Combustion Engineering and other OGs.
    The proposed changes from the CTS can be grouped into four general 
categories. These categories are characterized as relocated 
requirements, administrative changes, less restrictive changes 
involving deletion of requirements, and more restrictive changes, and 
are as follows:
    1. Relocated requirements are items which are in the CTS but do not 
meet the criteria set forth in the Final Policy Statement. The Final 
Policy Statement establishes a specific set of objective criteria for 
determining which regulatory requirements and operating restrictions 
should be included in the TS. Relocation of requirements to documents 
with an established control program, controlled by the regulations or 
the TS, allows the TS to be reserved only for those conditions or 
limitations upon reactor operation which are necessary to obviate the 
possibility of an abnormal situation or event giving rise to an 
immediate threat to the public health and safety, thereby focusing the 
scope of the TS. In general, the proposed relocation of items from the 
CTS to the Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (UFSAR), appropriate 
plant-specific programs, plant procedures, or ITS Bases follows the 
guidance of NUREG-1432. Once these items have been relocated to other 
licensee-controlled documents, the licensee may revise them under the 
provisions of 10 CFR 50.59 or other NRC-approved control mechanisms, 
which provide appropriate procedural means to control changes by the 
    2. Administrative changes involve the reformatting and rewording of 
requirements, consistent with the style of the STS in NUREG-1432, to 
make the TS more readily understandable to plant operators and other 
users. These changes are purely editorial in nature, or involve the 
movement or reformatting of requirements without affecting the 
technical content. Application of a standardized format and style will 
also help ensure consistency is achieved among specifications in the 
TS. During this reformatting and rewording process, no technical 
changes (either actual or interpretational) to the TS will be made 
unless they are identified and justified.
    3. Less restrictive changes and the deletion of requirements 
involve portions of the CTS which (1) provide information that is 
descriptive in nature regarding the equipment, systems, actions, or 
surveillances, (2) provide little or no safety benefit, and (3) place 
an unnecessary burden on the licensee. This information is proposed to 
be deleted from the CTS and, in some instances, moved to the proposed 
Bases, UFSAR, or procedures. The removal of descriptive information to 
the Bases of the TS, UFSAR, or procedures is permissible because these 
documents will be controlled through a process that utilizes 10 CFR 
50.59 and other NRC-approved control mechanisms. The relaxations of 
requirements were the result of generic NRC actions or other analyses. 
They will be justified on a case-by-case basis for PVNGS and described 
in the safety evaluation to be issued with the license amendments.
    4. More restrictive requirements are proposed to be implemented in 
some areas to impose more stringent requirements than are in the CTS. 
These more restrictive requirements are being imposed to be consistent 
with the STS. Such changes have been made after ensuring the previously 
evaluated safety analysis for PVNGS was not affected. Also, other more 
restrictive technical changes have been made to achieve consistency, 
correct discrepancies, and remove ambiguities from the TS. Examples of 
more restrictive requirements include: placing a Limiting Condition for 
Operation (LCO) on plant equipment which is not required by the CTS to 
be operable; more restrictive requirements to restore inoperable 
equipment; and more restrictive surveillance requirements.
    There are seven other proposed changes to the CTS that will be 
included in the proposed amendments to convert the CTS to the ITS for 
PVNGS. These other changes have, or will be, the subject of Federal 
Register Notices of Consideration of Issuance of Amendment. These 
proposed changes are changes to the CTS or deviations to the ISTS and 
are the following:
    1. LCO, containment air temperature, the maximum air 
temperature would be decreased from  120  deg.F to 
 117  deg.F, to incorporate instrument uncertainties.
    2. LCO, containment spray system (CSS) applicability, the 
LCO would be revised to eliminate the need to enter an emergency 
shutdown action requirement during a routine shutdown when the CSS is 
intentionally made inoperable.
    3. Surveillance Requirement (SR), containment spray 
header piping water level, the minimum water level would be reduced 
from 115 feet to 113 feet to include instrument uncertainty.
    4. SR, allowable pressure drop across the hydrogen 
purge filtration unit, the allowable pressure drop across the hydrogen 
purge exhaust air filtration unit for the hydrogen purge cleanup system 
would be reduced from 8.4 inches of water gauge to 2.26 inches of water 
gauge as a result of a revised analysis.
    5. SR, frequency of testing the engineered safety feature 
actuation system (ESFAS) subgroup relays, would be extended from 62 
days to 9 months on a staggered test basis in accordance with an NRC-
approved topical report.
    6. Applicability Note for LCO 3.5.1, safety injection tank minimum 

[[Page 14481]]

pressure, would increase the minimum required nitrogen cover pressure 
for the safety injection tanks (SITs) from 254 psig to 260 psig to 
include instrument uncertainties.
    7. Action 3.1.5.d, misalignment distance for movable control 
assemblies, the criterion to enter the Action statement for the LCO for 
misalignment of control assemblies would be reduced from 19 inches to 
9.9 inches based on a revised analysis.
    These seven changes result in more restrictive conditions on safe 
plant operation, are based on new safety analyses for PVNGS, prevent 
unnecessary shutdowns when equipment is intentionally made inoperable, 
or do not affect existing safety analyses for PVNGS.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The Commission has completed its evaluation of the proposed 
revision to the CTS for PVNGS. Changes which are administrative in 
nature have been found to have no effect on the technical content of 
the TS. The increased clarity and understanding these changes bring to 
the TS are expected to improve the operators control of PVNGS in normal 
and accident conditions.
    Relocation of requirements from the CTS to other licensee-
controlled documents does not change the requirements themselves. 
Future changes to these requirements may then be made by the licensee 
under 10 CFR 50.59 and other NRC-approved control mechanisms which will 
ensure continued maintenance of adequate requirements. All such 
relocations have been found consistent with the guidelines of NUREG-
1432 and the Commission's Final Policy Statement.
    Changes involving more restrictive requirements have been found to 
enhance plant safety.
    Changes involving less restrictive requirements have been reviewed 
individually. When requirements have been shown to provide little or no 
safety benefit, or to place an unnecessary burden on the licensee, 
their removal from the TS was justified. In most cases, relaxations 
previously granted to individual plants on a plant-specific basis were 
the result of a generic action, or of agreements reached during 
discussions with the OG and found to be acceptable for the plant. 
Generic relaxations contained in NUREG-1432 have been reviewed by the 
NRC staff and found to be acceptable.
    In summary, the proposed revisions to the TS were found to provide 
control of plant operations such that reasonable assurance will be 
provided that the health and safety of the public will be adequately 
    These TS changes will not increase the probability or consequences 
of accidents, no changes are being made to the types of any effluent 
that may be released offsite, and there is no significant increase in 
the allowable individual or cumulative occupational exposure. Also, 
these changes do not affect the effect the design or operation of the 
plant, do not involve any modifications to the plant or any increase in 
the licensed power for the plant, and will not create any new or 
unreviewed environmental impacts that were not considered in the Final 
Environmental Statement (FES) related to the operation of PVNGS dated 
February 1982. Therefore, the Commission concludes that there are no 
significant radiological impacts associated with the proposed TS 
    With regard to potential non-radiological impacts, the proposed 
amendments involve features located entirely within the restricted area 
defined in 10 CFR Part 20. They do not affect non-radiological plant 
effluents and have no other environmental impact. Therefore, the 
Commission concludes that there are no significant non-radiological 
impacts associated with the proposed TS amendments.

Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    Since the Commission has concluded there is no measurable 
environmental impact associated with the proposed amendments, any 
alternatives with equal or greater environmental impact need not be 
evaluated. The principal alternative to the proposed amendments would 
be to deny the amendments. Denial of the licensee's application would 
not reduce the environmental impacts of PVNGS operations. The 
environmental impacts of the proposed action and the alternative action 
are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

    This action does not involve the use of any resources not 
previously considered in the FES for PVNGS dated February 1982.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on February 9, 1998, the 
staff consulted with the Arizona State official, Mr. William Wright of 
the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency, regarding the environmental 
impact of the proposed action. The State official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    Based upon the environmental assessment, the Commission concludes 
that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the Commission has 
determined not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the 
proposed action.
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's application dated October 4, 1996, as supplemented by (1) 19 
letters submitted in 1997 dated January 31, March 16, May 30 (2 
letters), June 6, July 18 (5 letters), August 31, September 18 (2 
letters), September 19 (2 letters), November 7, November 14, November 
26, and December 16, and (2) the letter dated February 12, 1998, which 
are available for public inspection at the Commission's Public Document 
Room, The Gelman Building, 2120 L Street, NW., Washington, DC, and at 
the local public document room located at the Phoenix Public Library, 
1221 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85004.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 19th day of March 1998.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jack N. Donohew,
Senior Project Manager, Project Directorate IV-1, Division of Reactor 
Projects--III/IV, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 98-7809 Filed 3-24-98; 8:45 am]