[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 171 (Friday, September 3, 1999)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 48496-48507]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-22764]



[[Page 48495]]

_______________________________________________________________________

Part III





Nuclear Regulatory Commission





_______________________________________________________________________



10 CFR Part 51



Changes to Requirements for Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear 
Power Plant Operating Licenses; Final Rules

Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 171 / Friday, September 3, 1999 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 48496]]



NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 51

RIN 3150-AG05


Changes to Requirements for 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 (NRC) is amending its 
regulations on the environmental information required in applications 
to renew the operating licenses of nuclear power plants. This amendment 
expands the generic findings about the environmental impacts due to 
transportation of fuel and waste to and from a single nuclear power 
plant. Specifically, this amendment adds to findings concerning the 
cumulative environmental impacts of convergence of spent fuel shipments 
on a single destination, rather than multiple destinations, and the 
environmental impact of transportation of higher enriched and higher 
burnup spent fuel during the renewal term. The effect of this amendment 
is to permit the NRC to make a generic finding regarding the impacts so 
that an analysis of these impacts will not have to be repeated for each 
individual license renewal application. This action reduces the 
regulatory burden on applicants for license renewal by replacing 
individual plant operating license renewal reviews with a generic 
review of these topics. Also, this amendment incorporates rule language 
to be consistent with the findings in NUREG-1437, ``Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' 
(May 1996), which addresses local traffic impacts attributable to 
continued operation of the nuclear power plant during the license 
renewal term.
    In analyzing the environmental impact of transporting spent fuel 
and waste in the vicinity of a single repository, the NRC evaluated the 
impact in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain and specifically the impacts 
in the vicinity of Las Vegas, NV. The NRC elected to evaluate the 
impacts in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain because Yucca Mountain is the 
only location currently being evaluated for a repository under the 
Nuclear Waste Policy Act. The NRC's analysis of the impacts in the 
vicinity of Yucca Mountain in this instance does not prejudge the 
eventual licensing of Yucca Mountain as a repository. Rather, it 
reflects NRC's existing license renewal process by reflecting current 
repository activities and policies. If an application is filed by the 
Department of Energy (DOE), the licensing process for a repository in 
the vicinity of Yucca Mountain will constitute an entirely separate 
regulatory action from the proposed final rule. Furthermore, if, based 
on technical or national policy considerations, some site other than 
Yucca Mountain is selected in the future for study as a repository, the 
NRC will evaluate the applicability of the generic environmental impact 
statement for the license renewal process to other proposed repository 
sites.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 4, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donald P. Cleary, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001, telephone: 301-415-3903; e-mail: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467), the Commission published in the 
Federal Register a final rule amending 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 
rulemaking was based on the analyses reported in the final report of 
NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License 
Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (GEIS) (May 1996). The rulemaking drew on 
the considerable experience of operating nuclear power plants in order 
to generically assess many of the environmental impacts, so that 
repetitive reviews of issues whose impacts are well understood could be 
minimized. In the statement of considerations accompanying the final 
rule, the Commission stated that before the final rule became 
effective, the Commission was seeking comments on the treatment of low-
level waste (LLW) storage and disposal impacts, the cumulative 
radiological effects from the uranium fuel cycle, and the effects from 
the disposal of high-level waste (HLW) and spent fuel. In response to 
the June 5, 1996, final rule, a number of commentors stated that the 
requirements for the review of transportation of HLW in the rule were 
unclear with respect to (1) the use and legal status of 10 CFR 51.52, 
``Table S-4-- Environmental Impact of Transportation of Fuel and Waste 
To and From One Light-Water-Cooled Nuclear Power Reactor,'' in plant-
specific license renewal reviews; (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 HLW repository 
should be considered in a plant-specific license renewal review.
    After considering the comments received on the rule, the Commission 
republished the rule in the Federal Register on December 18, 1996 (61 
FR 66537). The rule at 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M) continued to require, 
``The environmental effects of transportation of fuel and waste shall 
be reviewed in accordance with 10 CFR 51.52.'' However, in response to 
comments received, the following requirement was added:

    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 as a representative site for the 
purpose of impact analysis as long as that site is under 
consideration for licensing.

Also in response to the comments, the Commission stated that:

    As part of its effort 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 burnup 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 1.1
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    \1\ In NUREG-1437 and in the rule, Category 1 issues are those 
environmental issues for which the analysis and findings have been 
determined to be applicable to all nuclear power plants or to plants 
with specific types of cooling systems or other common plant or site 
characteristics. Absent new information that significantly changes 
the finding, these generic findings may be adopted in plant license 
renewal reviews. Category 2 issues are those that analysis has shown 
that one or more of the criteria of Category 1 cannot be met and, 
therefore, additional plant-specific review is required.
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    In SECY-97-279, titled ``Generic and Cumulative Environmental 
Impacts of Transportation of High-Level Waste (HLW) in the Vicinity of 
a HLW Repository,'' dated December 3, 1997, the NRC staff informed the 
Commission that it was the staff's preliminary view that its 
supplemental analyses of the generic and cumulative impacts of the 
transportation of HLW and of the implications of higher burnup fuel for 
transportation impacts support a reasonable technical and legal 
determination that transportation of HLW is a Category 1 issue and may 
be generically adopted in a license renewal application. In a Staff 
Requirements Memorandum (SRM) dated January 13,

[[Page 48497]]

1998, the Commission directed the NRC staff to proceed with rulemaking 
to amend 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M) to categorize the impacts of 
transportation of HLW as a Category 1 issue. In a memorandum dated July 
1, 1998, the NRC staff informed the Commission of its plans for 
amending 10 CFR part 51.
    In that memorandum the NRC staff also proposed, as an 
administrative amendment, to address local traffic impacts attributable 
to continued operation of the plant during the license renewal term. 
This issue was identified as a Category 2 issue in NUREG-1437, Section 
4.7.3.2 and the overall issue of transportation was designated as 
Category 2 in the rule (see 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, 
Table B-1, ``Public Services, Transportation''). However, the specific 
issue of local transportation impacts during the renewal term was 
inadvertently omitted from 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J) and its inclusion 
in Table B-1 is not explicitly stated. The basic transportation concern 
identified in NUREG-1437 is the potential adverse contribution of a 
larger plant work force to traffic flow in the vicinity of the power 
plant.
    To address the above issues, the Commission issued proposed 
amendments to 10 CFR part 51 on February 26, 1999 (64 FR 9884), and 
provided a public comment period of 60 days. The supplemental analysis, 
which supports this rule, is reported in NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, Addendum 
1, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of 
Nuclear Plants: Main Report Section 6.3--`Transportation,' Table 9.1 
`Summary of findings on NEPA issues for license renewal of nuclear 
power plants,' Final Report.'' The draft for comment was published in 
February 1999 and the final report is expected to be published in 
August 1999.
    The public comment period closed on April 27, 1999. Extensive 
public comments were received, including concerns by some commentors 
about the length of the comment period. Although the NRC did not extend 
the public comment period, the NRC staff did consider comments dated as 
late as June 25, 1999, and received as late as early July 1999. The NRC 
staff's responses to the comments are provided below. As explained in 
more detail below, the comments have led to both the use of more 
conservative assumptions in the analysis reported in Addendum 1 and a 
fuller explanation of the analysis. The regulatory text has been edited 
for clarification but there is no material change from the proposed 
rule.

Discussion

Relationship of This Rulemaking to Repository Licensing

    The NRC is promulgating this rule in order to meet its National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities to consider the 
environmental impact of its license renewal decisions. In 1996 (61 FR 
28467 and 61 FR 66537), the NRC published a rule that codified 
conclusions regarding the environmental impacts of license renewal (see 
10 CFR part 51, Appendix B to subpart A). The amendment issued in the 
present Notice constitutes a relatively small addition to those 
previously published conclusions. In particular, as discussed above, 
this amendment ensures among other things that the NRC has considered 
the likely impacts of transporting spent fuel generated during the 
license renewal period over a single transportation corridor in the 
vicinity of a waste repository.
    Because the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada currently represents the 
most likely candidate for a repository, the NRC has used that site as a 
representative site for its analysis in lieu of considering 
transportation to an unspecified, hypothetical site. The decision to 
use Yucca Mountain for the purposes of the current analysis, however, 
in no way increases or decreases the likelihood that Yucca Mountain 
will in fact be licensed as a repository for the nation's high level 
waste. Instead, it simply provides the NRC with the information it 
needs to gauge the potential impacts from licensing nuclear power 
plants for an additional 20 year period. If an application is filed by 
the Department of Energy (DOE), the licensing process for a repository 
in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain will constitute an entirely separate 
regulatory action from this final rule. Any NRC decision on a 
repository license will be accompanied by separate safety and 
environmental analyses that will include a thorough examination of the 
environmental impacts stemming from the construction and operation of 
the repository. If the analyses prepared for the repository licensing 
decision yield results that are inconsistent with those reached in the 
present notice, it is likely that the NRC will have to amend the 
conclusions in Table B-1 of Part 51 to conform with the new findings.

Amendments to the Rule

    The current regulations require each applicant for license renewal 
to review the environmental effects of transportation of fuel and waste 
in accordance with 10 CFR 51.52, and to discuss the generic and 
cumulative impacts associated with transportation in the vicinity of 
the candidate HLW repository site at Yucca Mountain (see 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M)). The NRC staff has performed a generic assessment 
of these cumulative impacts, which is reported in NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, 
Addendum 1. The analysis focused on Clark County, Nevada because it 
represents the area with the largest population in the vicinity of the 
potential repository. The final rule codifies the conclusions of this 
analysis in 10 CFR Part 51. In addition, the NRC staff has generically 
considered the potential impacts of transporting higher enriched and 
higher burnup fuel than is currently covered in 10 CFR 51.52 and is 
codifying these findings with this final rule. That assessment 
concludes that the impacts of transporting fuel and waste generated 
during the license renewal period are small and are consistent with the 
impacts of the values in Table S-4 of the Commission's regulations 
(Sec. 51.52). Under the Commission's regulations for the environmental 
review of license renewal decisions (see 10 CFR part 51, subpart A, 
appendix B), the Commission may reach a conclusion of ``small'' impact 
for a particular issue if the:

* * * 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.

    The final rule amends the issue of transportation of fuel and waste 
from Category 2 to Category 1. In order to reach this Category 1 
conclusion on an issue and thus not require site specific analysis of 
the issue pursuant to Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(i), the Commission has made the 
following findings in accordance with the definitions set out in 10 CFR 
Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B:
    (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, in this case ``small'' has been 
assigned to the impacts (except for collective off site radiological 
impacts from the fuel cycle

[[Page 48498]]

and from high level waste and spent fuel disposal 2); and
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    \2\ This exception only applies to the two entries in Table B-1 
labeled ``Offsite radiological impacts (collective effects)'' and 
``Offsite radiological impacts (spent fuel and high level waste 
disposal).
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    (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.
    As a result of this Category 1 finding, neither applicants nor the 
NRC staff will need to prepare a separate analysis of the issue for 
individual license renewal applications as long as no new and 
significant information exists. The analysis in NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, 
Addendum 1 which forms the technical basis for the rulemaking, relies 
on a series of conservative assumptions. As such, the results of the 
analysis overestimate the environmental impacts of spent fuel shipments 
converging on one location, such as Yucca Mountain. Although the NRC 
staff has assessed these impacts as if Yucca Mountain would be the only 
HLW repository, the NRC staff believes that the impacts calculated for 
Yucca Mountain bound the impacts that would be experienced for a site 
other than Yucca Mountain. It is unlikely that any other repository 
site would have an exposed population greater than that assumed for Las 
Vegas and it is unlikely that spent-fuel shipments from all points of 
origin converge on and are transported through one metropolitan area. 
If an alternative to a high level waste repository at Yucca Mountain is 
considered in the future, the NRC may need to determine whether such an 
alternative includes new and significant information that may change 
the regulatory outcome.
    In addition to considering the cumulative impacts of transportation 
in the vicinity of a repository, the NRC also considered whether use of 
higher burnup or higher enriched fuel that is shipped to a repository 
results in impacts consistent with the NRC regulations 
(Sec. 51.52,`Table S-4--Environmental Impact of Transportation of Fuel 
and Waste To and From One Light-Water-Cooled Nuclear Power Reactor'). 
The environmental consequences of incremental increases in the burnup 
of fuel and the associated use of higher enrichment fuel are discussed 
in Section 6.2.3 of NUREG-1437. Section 6.2.3 addresses the sensitivity 
of the data presented in Table S-3 and Table S-4 to the growing use of 
higher enriched fuel and higher fuel burnup. Table S-3 summarizes 
natural resource use and effluents to the environment for the uranium 
fuel cycle, from mining to ultimate disposal of spent fuel. The 
discussion of the implications for the environmental impact data 
reported in Table S-4 was not repeated or referenced in Section 6.3, 
which addresses the incremental impacts of license renewal on the 
transportation of fuel and waste to and from nuclear power plants. 
Addendum 1 and this final rule clarify the NRC findings on the 
sensitivity of values in Table S-4 to the use of higher enrichment fuel 
and higher burnup fuel presently in use. The analysis concludes that 
shipment of higher enriched or higher burnup fuel results in impacts 
consistent with the impacts in Table S-4, 10 CFR 51.52. It should be 
noted that cask designs used to transport or store higher enriched fuel 
and higher burnup fuel require specific NRC review and approval.
    In the course of preparing the final rule, several non-substantive 
changes to the wording and organization of the regulatory text were 
made in order to maintain the rule's internal consistency. First, the 
content of the proposed language in Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J) regarding 
local transportation impacts in the vicinity of the licensed plant was 
also placed into Table B-1 under ``Public Services, Transportation'' 
under the Socioeconomics section of the Table. Similarly, the proposed 
language in Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M) has not been included in the final 
rule because the matters covered by Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(ii) only apply to 
Category 2 issues and, as such, the inclusion of matters related to a 
Category 1 issue in that section would not have been appropriate. 
Instead, the content of the language that had been proposed for 
Sec. 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(M) is adequately covered by the amended entry in 
Table B-1 itself under the issue of ``Transportation'' in the Uranium 
Fuel Cycle and Waste Management section.

Response to Comments

    Thirty-one comment letters were received on the proposed rule from 
power reactor licensees, State and local Government agencies, the 
nuclear power industry and its legal affiliations, a public interest 
group, and an individual. Most of the comments were from the State of 
Nevada, Clark and Nye Counties, Nevada, and local government entities 
in Nevada. These comments focused on the NRC not involving Nevada in 
scoping and designing the study in Addendum 1 and on perceived 
deficiencies in the scope and thoroughness of the analysis in the 
Addendum. The State of Utah also submitted extensive comments that 
focused on concerns with the scope and thoroughness of the supporting 
analysis in Addendum 1, including the lack of consideration of the 
proposed Private Fuel Storage Facility at Skull Valley, Utah. Industry 
comments focused on clarifications in the rule language.
    The written comments have been summarized and grouped into issue 
categories. As a result of the NRC staff's review of all written 
comments, some modifications and clarifications have been incorporated 
into Addendum 1--notably, the use of more conservative assumptions in 
the analyses and a fuller explanation of those analyses. In addition, 
the rule language has been edited for clarification. The NRC staff has 
also prepared responses, given below, to the issues raised by the 
commentors.
Issue 1--Public Notice
    Comment: The titles of the notices published in the Federal 
Register were inaccurate and misleading because they do not clearly 
indicate the subject matter of the proposed rule and Addendum 1 that 
addresses transportation of spent nuclear fuel.
    Response: The NRC believes that the titles properly reflect the 
regulatory action being taken. As required by NRC 
regulations,3 a notice of the proposed rule and a Notice of 
Availability of Addendum 1 were published in the Federal Register (64 
FR 9884 and 64 FR 9889, February 26, 1999). While the notice's title 
did not include the specific term ``transportation,'' the titles define 
the subject matter of the regulation to be affected; the title of the 
proposed rule is ``Changes to Requirements for Environmental Review for 
Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses.'' The title of the 
Notice of Availability is ``Changes to Requirements for Environmental 
Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses, 
Availability of Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.'' Addendum 
1 supplements specific sections of NUREG-1437, Generic Environmental 
Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (May 1996). This 
limited function is indicated by the title of Addendum 1, Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: 
Main Report Section 6.3--``Transportation,'' Table 9.1 ``Summary of 
findings on NEPA issues

[[Page 48499]]

for license renewal of nuclear power plants,'' Draft Report for 
Comment.
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    \3\ 10 CFR 2.804, ``Notice of proposed rulemaking'' and 10 CFR 
51.117, ``Draft environmental impact statement'notice of 
availability.''
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    The rule change and the supporting Addendum 1 affect only the 
plant-specific environmental analysis required to be submitted in the 
Environmental Report of an applicant for the renewal of a nuclear power 
plant operating license and the plant-specific supplemental 
environmental impact statement prepared by the NRC. Even though the 
analysis in Addendum 1 focuses on spent-fuel shipments converging on 
the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, that analysis and 
the resulting rule affect only the review requirements for renewal of 
an individual nuclear power plant operating license. It is not intended 
that Addendum 1 or the revised rule support any other regulatory 
decision by the NRC.
Issue 2--Communications
    Comment: NRC failed to consult with Nevada State agencies, Nevada 
local governments, and with Nevada Indian Tribes.
    Response: As discussed above, a variety of organizations and 
government agencies submitted substantive comments in response to the 
proposed rule. The NRC has considered these comments and, in many 
cases, altered its analysis as a result of this input. Prior to 
issuance of the proposed rule for comment, however, the NRC did not 
seek any pre-publication input from Nevada state agencies, Nevada local 
Governments, and Nevada Indian Tribes for the following reasons. First, 
the rule involves a narrow aspect of the environmental review of 
individual nuclear power plant license renewal decisions, which is a 
regulatory decision completely separate from the regulatory 
requirements that will guide the NRC licensing review of a HLW 
repository and from the decision process leading to a DOE site 
recommendation on Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the site DOE currently has 
under study. This rule amends the December 18, 1996, rule with respect 
to two questions not adequately answered:
    1. Are the current environmental impact values in Table S-4, based 
on several destinations, still reasonable to incorporate in a license 
renewal review that assumes a single destination for spent fuel at 
Yucca Mountain, Nevada?
    2. Are the current environmental impact values in Table S-4 (which 
are based on fuel enriched to no greater than 4 percent, the average 
level of irradiation of spent fuel not exceeding 33,000 MWd/MTU, and 
shipment no less than 90 days after discharge from the reactor) still 
reasonable to incorporate in a license renewal review of plants that 
may use fuel enriched up to 5 percent and potentially ship spent fuel 
with a burnup of up to 62,000 MWd/MTU?
    The amendment has no direct regulatory impact on any entity within 
Nevada. The selection of Yucca Mountain for the generic evaluation of 
transportation impacts was made because that site is currently the only 
one under consideration for a high-level-waste (HLW) repository. Before 
HLW is actually transported to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the State, local 
Governments, Indian Tribes, and the public have the opportunity to 
provide input on site-specific transportation impacts by commenting on 
DOE's draft EIS for the proposed repository at the Yucca Mountain site, 
which was made available for a 180-day comment period beginning on 
August 13, 1999 (http://www.ynp.gov).
    Also, the need for and scope of the current rule amendment were 
identified within the context of a preceding rulemaking that specified 
the plant-specific content of the environmental review of applications 
for the renewal of individual nuclear power plant operating licenses. 
The previous final rule was published in the Federal Register first on 
June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467), and again with minor modifications on 
December 18, 1996 (61 FR 66537). The Commission stated in the December 
Federal Register notice, ``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.''
Issue 3--Transportation Analysis
    Comment: NRC failed to consult relevant Yucca Mountain 
transportation risk and impact studies.
    Response: The publications cited by commentors have been reviewed 
for information that may be of direct use within the limited focus and 
purpose of the current rule. Most of the information in these documents 
was found to be potentially more relevant to a detailed site-specific 
review of Yucca Mountain than to the generic analysis for this rule. 
That information has been brought to the attention of those 
organizational units within the NRC responsible for activities relating 
to DOE's study on the Yucca Mountain site so they can appropriately 
consider the information in any future prelicensing activities 
involving Yucca Mountain. Specific to the current rule, the demographic 
data used as inputs to the RADTRAN computer code, which was used to 
generate the impact analysis in Addendum 1 were more current than data 
used in many of the studies cited by the commentors.
    Comment: NRC failed to consult the full spectrum of transportation 
mode and route scenarios.
    Response: The purpose of this rule and associated analysis is to 
reach conclusions regarding the likely environmental impact of license 
renewal. As noted above, this amendment is an addition to generic 
assessments of license renewal environmental impacts already codified 
in the Commission's regulations at 10 CFR part 51, subpart A, appendix 
B. It is not an environmental impact statement for a repository at 
Yucca Mountain for which DOE is responsible and, as such, does not 
delve into the expansive range of different transportation modes and 
route scenarios that would be considered in the context of a decision 
on Yucca Mountain as the possible site for the facility itself. 
Instead, the NRC has sought to determine a conservative estimate of the 
likely impacts from transporting fuel and waste generated, during the 
license renewal term, in the vicinity of a potential repository. In 
doing so, the NRC considered only those transportation modes and route 
scenarios that would likely result in the greatest impacts. For the 
proposed rule, the NRC staff--in consultation with the DOE staff--
determined that truck shipments through densely populated areas of 
Clark County, Nevada, would have the highest potential impacts among 
the alternative transportation scenarios and modes that would receive 
serious consideration in decisions relating to the suitability of the 
site undergoing study for a repository at Yucca Mountain. The NRC 
continues to believe that using these route scenarios and modes to 
generate conservative estimates is reasonable for the purpose of this 
rulemaking.
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of routine 
transportation radiological risks due to use of an average dose rate 
lower than the regulatory limit.
    Response: The RADTRAN analysis reported in the final Addendum 1 has 
been modified to use the most conservative assumption that the 
radiation levels for all shipments are at the regulatory limit of 0.1 
mSv/hour [10

[[Page 48500]]

mrem/hour] at 2 m [6.6 ft] from the shipment vehicle surface. As noted 
in Section 2.2.3 of Addendum 1, this assumption is sufficiently 
conservative to bound the analysis of routine transportation 
radiological risk and allow a reasonable assessment of that risk. 
Actual average radiation levels and associated doses would be much 
lower because shipments must be designed so that the regulatory limits 
are not exceeded. The use of the regulatory limits in the revised 
analysis results in higher dose estimates for incident-free 
transportation. However, these revised estimates are still small as 
defined in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B. Consequently, the 
conclusion regarding the radiological risks of routine transportation 
remains valid.
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of routine 
transportation radiological risks to members of the public residing, 
working, or institutionally confined at locations near shipping routes.
    Response: The analysis encompasses members of the public residing, 
working, or institutionally confined at locations near shipping routes 
by assuming that the resident population along the transportation 
routes is exposed to every shipment. The text of Sect. 2.3 of Addendum 
1, has been revised to state this assumption and its effects on the 
revised analysis more clearly. In addition, more conservative 
assumptions of truck speed have been used in the revised RADTRAN 
analysis thus extending the exposure time to individuals along the 
transportation route. These assumptions further ensure that members of 
the public cited by the commentors would be encompassed by the dose and 
risk assessments. As expected, the use of these more conservative 
assumptions leads to higher estimates of radiation dose to the public. 
However, these revised dose estimates remain well below regulatory 
limits for members of the public and small compared to natural 
background and other sources of radiation exposure.
    Several commentors indicated that Addendum 1 should focus on unique 
and location-specific circumstances of the transportation routes and 
population centers. However, the analysis in Addendum 1 is generic and 
was designed to support only the limited scope of the decision 
regarding this rule change. The NRC believes that the routes chosen 
represent a conservative analysis due to the higher number of people 
who live along these routes. Because the purpose of this rule is to 
provide a generic analysis for the limited purpose of determining the 
likely impact of transportation during the license renewal term, the 
large analytical effort required for the identification of specific 
population locations and traffic circumstances is not warranted within 
the context of the current rule. Although the comments raise valid 
issues, those concerns should be resolved within the context of 
studying, and making decisions concerning, the suitability of the 
candidate repository site at Yucca Mountain and regulatory requirements 
governing transportation of spent fuel.
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of radiological risks 
resulting from traffic gridlock incidents.
    Response: Traffic gridlock incidents are not specifically analyzed 
in NUREG-1437 because of the limited scope and generic nature of the 
analysis (see response to comment on consideration of risks to members 
of the public, above). However, the revised RADTRAN analysis 
conservatively includes approximately two hours of stationary time in 
Clark County (during a 100 to 140 mile trip depending upon the route) 
for each truck shipment; and traffic gridlock could be one of the 
reasons for the truck being stationary.
    To a limited extent, the incorporation of more conservative 
assumptions of truck speed into the revised RADTRAN analysis 
compensates for an analysis of traffic gridlock by allowing for 
increased exposure time at any given point during transport. As noted 
earlier, these revised assumptions lead to higher but still small dose 
estimates. In addition, the routes used in the analysis in Addendum 1 
were deliberately chosen to maximize estimated dose. Actual routes 
would be less likely to have significant areas where traffic gridlock 
occurs. The selection of the actual routes, for example, would comply 
with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway 
Administration regulations (49 CFR Part 397, Subpart D) that require 
minimizing the time in transit (i.e., avoiding periods of great traffic 
congestion) for routing radioactive shipments.
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of routine 
transportation radiological risks to vehicle inspectors and escorts.
    Response: The RADTRAN analysis in the revised Addendum 1 uses the 
regulatory dose rate limit of .02 mSv/hour (2 mrem/hour) for the 
vehicle crew. In addition, a discussion of potential doses to escorts 
has been included in Addendum 1, Section 2.2.3. In the analysis, both 
the escorts and drivers are assumed to be exposed to the regulatory 
limit, although the dose to the escorts would realistically be less 
than that to the drivers. Even with these more conservative 
assumptions, the estimated dose and risk to the crew are small and 
below regulatory limits.
    The risk to vehicle inspectors would be encompassed by the addition 
of stationary time for the transport truck in Clark County (see 
response to comment about traffic gridlock, above). Again, the 
estimated dose and risk are increased by the use of more conservative 
assumptions; but they remain small and below regulatory limits.
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of severe 
transportation accident risks.
    Response: The Commission has evaluated the potential radiological 
hazards of severe transportation accidents involving truck and rail 
spent nuclear fuel (SNF) shipments (NUREG/CR-4829, ``Shipping Container 
Response to Severe Highway and Railway Accident Conditions'' February 
1987, commonly referred to as the modal study). The modal study 
evaluated SNF shipping casks certified to NRC standards against thermal 
and mechanical forces generated in actual truck and rail accidents. 
This evaluation included an assessment of cask performance for a number 
of severe transportation accidents, including the Caldecott Tunnel 
fire. The modal study concluded that there would be no release in 994 
of 1,000 real accidents, and that a substantially lower fraction of 
accidents could result in any significant release. These results when 
combined with the probability of a severe accident involving a shipment 
of SNF, demonstrate that the overall risk associated with severe 
accidents of SNF shipping casks is very low. The results of the modal 
study were factored into the analysis for this rulemaking, as an input 
to the RADTRAN computer code. Additional analyses were performed to 
address the possible impacts of accidents involving higher burnup fuel.
    The consequences associated with an individual SNF shipment have an 
upper bound, based on the amount of material in the package, the 
availability of mechanisms to disperse the radioactive contents, the 
locations and number of receptors, and post-event intervention than 
would occur. Further, this upper bound in transit might reasonably be 
expected to be less than that at the origin or destination points 
(where more SNF would be stored), and some events themselves might be 
expected to have greater consequences than the damage they cause to the 
SNF cask. The NRC recognizes that there are some conceivable events 
(not necessarily traditional `transportation accidents'), that might be 
hypothesized to occur to a SNF cask while in transport. Even

[[Page 48501]]

though these events have an extremely low probability of occurring, 
they might result in high consequences if they were to occur. The NRC 
considers these events to be remote and speculative and thus, does not 
call for detailed consideration. Because the NRC traditionally 
considers risk to be the product of the probability of an event and its 
resultant consequences, events with such low probability of occurring 
have a negligible contribution to the overall risk. In addition, as the 
probabilities of the events become very low, the value of insights to 
be gained, for use in regulatory decisions, is not apparent.
    Comment: The study underestimates Clark County's residential 
population and growth rate. In addition, the study does not account for 
the large nonresident population, resulting in underestimates of risk 
and impacts.
    Response: In keeping with the generic nature and limited intent of 
the analysis, the original analysis used best available data and best 
estimates of existing population and population growth rates. In 
response to commentors' concerns and to reflect the potentially large 
population growth rate of Clark County, the NRC staff has incorporated 
higher population estimates into the analysis to provide conservative 
(higher than best estimate) assessments of potential impacts. However, 
as indicated by the comment, the task of estimating the impacts on the 
area population is more complex than assuming a population growth rate. 
Both the rate of growth of the population and changes in location of 
the population within the county are important. As stated in Addendum 
1, populations within a half mile of the transportation route are the 
most affected by the transportation activities. Therefore, in order to 
ensure that the size of the affected population is conservative, the 
NRC staff's analysis not only increases over time the existing 
population densities along the assumed transportation routes, but also 
forecasts increased residential, business, and transient/tourist 
populations in the areas of likely development.
Issue 4--Cumulative Impacts
    Comment: NRC failed to consider cumulative impacts of all spent 
fuel, HLW, and low-level-waste shipments.
    Response: Table S-4 shows the environmental impacts of 
transportation of fuel and waste directly attributable to one nuclear 
power plant. The current rulemaking was narrowly focused on the 
question of whether the impact values given in Table S-4 would be 
different with spent fuel shipments converging on one destination, 
Yucca Mountain--the candidate site under study by DOE for a repository, 
rather than several destinations. Table S-4 does not consider non-
commercial power reactor shipments of fuel and waste. Nevertheless, a 
discussion of the cumulative impacts of transporting spent fuel, HLW, 
and low-level waste through southern Nevada has been added to Addendum 
1 (Section 2.4). To estimate the potential cumulative effects of DOE 
shipments of LLW to the Nevada Test Site as well as shipments of HLW to 
a possible repository, the NRC staff used information published in 
DOE's Waste Management Programmatic EIS (DOE/EIS-0200--F) May 1997. To 
ensure that cumulative impacts are not underestimated, the NRC staff 
selected alternatives in the EIS that led to the highest numbers of 
shipments to the Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain. The results of 
the analysis indicate that the cumulative doses and expected cancer 
fatalities resulting from the civilian SNF and the DOE shipments are 
small compared to the risk of cancer from other causes.
    Comment: Commentors stated that cumulative impacts along the 
Wasatch Front must be considered.
    Response: The State of Utah maintains that a study similar to the 
one conducted for Las Vegas and Clark County must be conducted for the 
cumulative impacts along the Wasatch Front that would originate from 
the proposed Private Fuel Storage Facility to be located at Skull 
Valley, Utah. Such an analysis is beyond the scope of this generic 
rulemaking because the Commission directed that cumulative impacts 
attributed to transportation be analyzed only in the vicinity of Yucca 
Mountain. However, the NRC is currently reviewing a site-specific 
application for construction and operation of the proposed Private Fuel 
Storage Facility at Skull Valley in a separate regulatory action. A 
site-specific study of the cumulative impacts of transportation is part 
of that review. The study will be reported in a draft Environmental 
Impact Statement to be published for public comment. Its availability 
will be noticed in the Federal Register.
Issue 5--Legal Requirements
    Comment: NRC failed to conduct a legally sufficient risk 
assessment. Use of a model such as RADTRAN is not in and of itself 
sufficient to meet the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act. The NRC must consider consequences of low-probability, 
high-consequence accidents not included in RADTRAN, including unique 
local conditions, unforeseen events, sabotage, and human error in cask 
design. The NRC should adopt the comprehensive risk assessment approach 
for SNF and HLW transportation described in Golding and White, 
Guidelines on the Scope, Content, and Use of Comprehensive Risk 
Assessment in the Management of High-Level Nuclear Waste Transportation 
(1990).
    Response: See the response above regarding consideration of severe 
accident risk (low probability, high consequence accidents) during 
transportation.
    The NRC's regulatory program will continue to ensure that the risk 
of severe transportation accidents are minimized. Physical security for 
spent fuel transportation is regulated under 10 CFR 73.37. The 
regulatory philosophy is designed to reduce the threat potential to 
shipments and to facilitate response to incidents and recovery of 
packages that might be diverted in transit. Although the analysis 
supporting the current rule does not account for the potential for 
human error, activities related to the design, fabrication, 
maintenance, and use of transportation packages are conducted under an 
NRC-approved Quality Assurance Program. This helps to provide 
consistency in performance and helps reduce the incidence of human 
error. While a location-specific transportation risk assessment is 
included in the DOE EIS for the decisions relating to a possible Yucca 
Mountain repository, the NRC staff believes that the analysis conducted 
for this rulemaking provides an adequate consideration of the impacts 
from license renewal. Further, through its regulatory, licensing, and 
certification functions, the NRC has tried to ensure that 
transportation of SNF is performed safely with minimum risk to the 
public, and that vehicle crashes while transporting SNF do not result 
in severe accidents. Similarly, DOE is expected to ensure that the 
routes and procedures chosen for SNF transport to the repository 
provide ample protection of the public health and safety and the NRC 
reviews and approves the selected routes.
    The analysis in Addendum 1 shows that even with conservative 
assumptions, the cumulative radiological and non-radiological accident 
risks of SNF transport in Clark County are small. However, there are a 
number of opportunities to further reduce human health impacts. These 
include transporting SNF by rail rather than by truck. This would 
reduce human health effects by reducing the number of shipments and the 
likelihood

[[Page 48502]]

of accidents. In addition, shipping SNF via the proposed beltway would 
reduce health impacts compared to shipping via the current interstate 
highway system. The implementation of such mitigative measures must 
await future decisions that fall well outside of the scope of this 
rulemaking. In addition, for the purposes of individual license renewal 
rule decisions, no plant specific mitigation measures were found 
appropriate for addressing the impacts identified in the Addendum. The 
NRC staff notes that DOE addresses transportation impacts, mitigation 
measures, and alternative transportation modes in its EIS for the 
proposed repository at Yucca Mountain.
Issue 6--Socioeconomics
    Comment: NRC failed to consider socioeconomic impacts.
    Response: Several commentors raised an issue of public perception 
of risk of waste shipments and its effect on tourism and property 
values. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the NRC is 
obligated to consider the effects on the physical environment that 
could result from the proposed action. Effects that are not directly 
related to the physical environment must have a reasonably close causal 
relationship to a change in the physical environment. The Supreme Court 
ruling in Metropolitan Edison Co. v. People Against Nuclear Energy, 460 
U.S. 766 (1983) has narrowly circumscribed, if not entirely eliminated, 
an agency's NEPA obligation to consider impacts arising solely from the 
public's perception that an agency's action has created risks of 
accidents. Accordingly, it is not necessary to consider the impacts on 
tourism and property values from the public's perception of risk.
    The socioeconomic impacts of plant refurbishment and continued 
operation during the renewal period are discussed in the plant-specific 
supplement to the GEIS for each individual license renewal applicant. 
The NRC recognizes that there will likely be increased costs in the 
unlikely event of an accident. However, for the majority of 
transportation accidents that may occur, the associated costs are 
small. For the most severe accidents analyzed by the RADTRAN computer 
code, the costs could be substantial. Given the low probability of such 
accidents, the socioeconomic impacts of transportation of SNF do not 
alter the Commission's conclusions regarding the impacts of this issue.
Issue 7--Higher Burnup Fuel
    Comment: There was insufficient consideration of extended fuel 
burnup issues.
    Response: Section 3 of Addendum 1 addresses the issues associated 
with extended fuel burnup in detail. The NRC staff's analysis of higher 
burnup fuel examined the issues of radiation doses due to higher dose 
rates during shipment, higher radiation doses in the event of 
transportation accidents, and the potential for a criticality in the 
very unlikely event that high burnup fuel geometry is altered during a 
transportation accident.
    The analysis done by the NRC staff concluded that higher burnup 
fuel would likely cause higher dose rates during transportation and 
that dose rates following transportation accidents with radiological 
releases would also increase, all other things being equal. However, 
despite the increased dose rates the potential impacts on the transport 
crews and the affected members of the public would still be acceptably 
small. The analysis of the potential for criticality following a change 
in fuel geometry as the result of a transportation accident determined 
that such an event was not a concern.
Issue 8--Environmental Justice
    Comment: NRC failed to consider Environmental Justice.
    Response: The analysis suggests that the routes through downtown 
Las Vegas, Nevada may run through areas containing a higher proportion 
of low-income and minority groups than the beltway routes. However, as 
discussed in Sections 2.3 and 2.4 Addendum, the radiological and 
nonradiological impacts of transportation of SNF are small. In 
addition, these small impacts are dispersed throughout the entire 
routes and do not appear to fall disproportionately in any one area. 
Based on the analysis performed the NRC staff concludes the overall 
impacts of transportation of SNF will not likely be disproportionately 
high or adverse for any minority or low-income population.
Issue 9--Regulatory Text
    Comment: Several suggestions for clarifying the regulatory text 
were offered.
    Response: The rule has been revised to make it clear that the 
environmental impact values in Table S-4 (10 CFR 51.52) may be used to 
account for the environmental effects of transportation of fuel and 
waste to and from a nuclear power plant at a repository such as Yucca 
Mountain, Nevada, which is under consideration as a HLW repository. If, 
in the future, Yucca Mountain is removed from consideration as a HLW 
repository, the Commission will evaluate whether the generic analysis 
performed for the current rule is applicable to other sites that are 
considered. If fuel enrichment greater than 5 percent Uranium-235 and 
fuel burnup of greater than 62,000 MWd/MTU are approved by the 
Commission, the Commission will consider a rulemaking to assess the 
continuing generic applicability of Table S-4 to environmental reviews 
for license renewal.
    Comment: The addition to the rule of local transportation impacts 
associated with continued operation of a plant during the license 
renewal period needs further clarification in the rule language and in 
the Supplementary Information.
    Response: The rule was revised to clarify that the issue of 
``Public services, Transportation'' in Table B-1 of Appendix B to 
Subpart A of 10 CFR Part 51 involves the contribution of highway 
traffic directly attributable to refurbishment and continued operation 
of a plant during the license renewal period to changes in the service 
levels of highways in the vicinity of the plant. The majority of 
traffic directly attributable to a plant is commuting plant workers.
    Comment: Paragraph (M) of 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii) should be deleted.
    Response: The rule language has been amended and Paragraph (M) has 
been deleted. This change from the proposed rule was necessary in order 
to provide consistency with 51.53(c)(3)(ii), as this section only deals 
with Category 2 issues. Since the cumulative impacts of transportation 
of SNF in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain is no longer a Category 2 
issue, inclusion in 51.53(c)(3)(ii) is no longer necessary.
Other Comments
    This section addresses the comments that are not encompassed by the 
issue summaries and responses given above. In addition, some comments 
were received after the close of the comment period. These comments 
were reviewed, and most were found to be similar to comments already 
addressed by the issue summaries and responses. However, the comments 
that raised new ideas relevant to Addendum 1 are also presented in this 
section. For these late comments, revisions to Addendum 1 were 
necessarily minimal.
    Comment: Addendum 1 assumes that truck transport would have the 
highest doses. This assumption is not necessarily valid. Also, a 
different route that avoids Las Vegas should be

[[Page 48503]]

addressed. (A route through Nellis Air Force Base and down US-95 is 
being considered by DOE and it has been shown to have higher risks of 
accident fatalities and to increase the radiological risk.) Routes 
chosen in Addendum 1 do not bound the analysis properly.
    Response: The transportation and route scenarios and their 
underlying assumptions were designed to reflect situations that most 
likely would result in highest doses in order to bound the analysis 
properly as the routes chosen for this analysis were the most populated 
routes in the State of Nevada. Also, as noted in an earlier response, 
the NRC staff consulted DOE in determining that truck shipments through 
densely populated areas of Clark County, Nevada, would have the highest 
potential impacts among the alternative transportation scenarios that 
would be given serious consideration in decisions relating to the 
suitability of the site undergoing study for a repository at Yucca 
Mountain.
    The comment that a route from Nellis Air Force Base down US-95 is 
higher risk than those selected by the NRC staff provided no specific 
details concerning that assertion. In the NRC staff's view, any route 
that bypasses major centers of population will have significantly lower 
radiological impacts. With regard to traffic accident rates, while it 
may be true that certain routes will have accident rates that are 
higher than average, the average rates are low enough that modest 
increases from the average will not significantly change the staff's 
conclusions.
    Comment: SNF from California would go through Las Vegas twice (in 
route to Skull Valley and subsequently to Yucca Mountain), resulting in 
increased risk.
    Response: If the proposed SNF storage facility is licensed and 
built, some SNF may go through Clark County on the way to Skull Valley, 
Utah. The NRC staff has not analyzed this possible impact because it is 
not clear at this time that the proposed Skull Valley facility will be 
licensed or that the SNF would go through Las Vegas if the facility 
were built. In addition, SNF from California makes up only a small 
fraction of the SNF that would be shipped. The NRC staff concludes that 
the conservative assumptions used in the analysis more than compensate 
for minor changes in transportation plans that may develop for that 
fraction of the total SNF.
    Comment: The NRC should provide affected parties with some 
statement of the regulatory effect of the interrelationships between 
the numerous other similar analyses.
    Response: As a general matter, the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) requires all Federal agencies to perform an environmental 
review for certain actions they propose to conduct. In the context of 
nuclear waste management, several agencies have regulatory and 
operational responsibilities which may involve various proposed actions 
that, in turn, require the preparation of environmental impact 
statements (EISs). Inevitably, there may be a degree of overlap in the 
types of impacts discussed in these various EISs. However, the analysis 
developed by the NRC for the purposes of license renewal is not binding 
on future actions and associated environmental impact analyses.
    The NRC proposed action that has triggered the preparation of this 
rulemaking and the associated analysis of environmental impact is the 
agency's responsibility to review applications for the renewal of 
nuclear power plant licenses. In light of the discrete purpose of this 
rulemaking, the NRC has sought to gauge the impacts of license renewal 
given the information currently available on those impacts including 
the transportation of spent fuel. Even though these impacts do not 
occur at the plant site during license renewal, the NRC has considered 
them here pursuant to its NEPA responsibilities.
    Future EISs prepared by other agencies on proposed actions in the 
waste management arena (e.g., any recommendation by DOE on approval of 
the Yucca Mountain site for development of a repository) will 
undoubtedly address some of the same impacts covered by the analysis 
described in this notice. Some of these other impact statements are 
anticipated to be more detailed given their purpose and the 
availability of additional information in the future. This, however, 
does not diminish the adequacy of the NRC's action. This analysis is 
sufficient for the purpose it serves and it provides the Commission 
with the information needed to weigh the likely environmental impacts 
of SNF transportation for individual license renewals applications and 
reach informed decisions regarding the acceptability of these 
applications. The rule does not, however, dictate any particular result 
for future actions taken with regard to a waste repository or other 
waste management matters. Specifically, any generic conclusions by the 
Commission concerning the cumulative environmental impacts of 
transportation associated with nuclear power plants would in no way 
affect any DOE decision concerning the suitability of Yucca Mountain or 
any consideration that DOE may give to transportation impacts in making 
that decision.
    Comment: Addendum 1 is not meaningful to the public. For example, 
it is impossible to determine if the spent fuel isotope inventory shown 
in the sample pages of the RADTRAN printout matches the fuel considered 
in the Addendum.
    Response: In preparing Addendum 1, the NRC staff has attempted to 
write to a broad and diverse audience as much as possible. The NRC 
staff acknowledges that this rulemaking involves complicated, technical 
issues. However, the NRC staff has attempted to present these matters 
in the most clear manner possible. Addendum 1 has been revised and 
Table 2 provides the fuel isotope inventory that can be compared to the 
sample pages of the RADTRAN computer code printout.
    Comment: The study area is inaccurately defined and the location of 
some cities is incorrectly stated.
    Response: During the preparation of Addendum 1, the initial study 
area selected for analysis emphasized the urban areas in and near Las 
Vegas. Route selections were based in part on their proximity to those 
areas, not to county borders. However, in response to public comments, 
the study area was expanded to include the entire county. Consequently, 
the ``entry'' point for SNF shipments shifted to cities such as 
Mesquite.
    Comment: Addendum 1 should discuss potential mitigation measures, 
not rely on the DOE Yucca Mountain EIS for that discussion.
    Response: The analysis in Addendum 1 shows that, even with 
conservative assumptions, the cumulative radiological and non-
radiological accident risks of SNF transport in Clark County are small. 
However, there are a number of opportunities to further reduce human 
health impacts. These include transporting SNF by rail rather than by 
truck. This would reduce human health effects by reducing the number of 
shipments and the likelihood of accidents. In addition, shipping SNF 
via the proposed beltway would reduce health impacts compared to 
shipping via the current interstate highway system. The implementation 
of such mitigative measures must await future decisions that fall well 
outside of the scope of this rulemaking. In addition, for the purposes 
of individual license renewal rule decisions, no plant specific 
mitigation measures were found appropriate for addressing the impacts 
identified in the Addendum. The NRC notes that DOE addresses 
transportation

[[Page 48504]]

impacts, mitigation measures, and alternative transportation modes in 
its EIS for the proposed action to develop a repository at Yucca 
Mountain.
    Comment: Addendum 1 does not mention that the proposed repository 
which is the destination for shipments of spent nuclear fuel is in Nye 
County.
    Response: A statement noting that the proposed Yucca Mountain 
repository is in Nye County has been added to Addendum 1.
    Comment: No statements of baseline conditions are given in Addendum 
1.
    Response: Addendum 1 uses background and natural radiation levels 
as the baseline conditions against which dose estimates can be 
compared. Both are presented in Addendum 1 and are based in large part 
on information published by the National Council on Radiation 
Protection and Measurements.
    Comment: The analysis in Addendum 1 is limited to human health 
effects. Other potential impacts should be considered.
    Response: Addendum 1 was prepared to provide information regarding 
a proposed rule to determine whether the transportation of higher 
enriched, higher burnup fuel to a single destination is consistent with 
the values of Table S-4. Because the pertinent section of Table S-4 
concerns impact values for human health effects, Addendum 1 
concentrates on potential cumulative impacts to human health. However, 
Section 2.3 of Addendum 1 has been revised to look at the potentially 
most significant non-human health effect which is the potential 
increase in traffic volume in Clark County as the result of the 
transportation of SNF. The NRC staff conclusion is that the impacts are 
small.
    Comment: The analysis assumes the use of the large-capacity GA-4/9 
truck cask, which has not been certified and must be used in 
combination with specially designed trucks that have not been tested. 
It also assumes that these cask and truck systems will be available in 
sufficient quantity for the shipments. The commentor seeks assurance 
that the assumed truck cask system is feasible and that DOE's proposed 
regional service contractor approach would feasiblely result in the use 
of such a system for all shipments in the potential truck shipment 
campaign.
    Response: The analysis done by the NRC staff assumes that an 
adequate number of certified casks would be available. Addendum 1 used 
extremely conservative assumptions regarding SNF shipments and casks to 
ensure that the analysis would lead to maximum dose estimates. For 
example, the analysis of incident-free transportation impacts assumes 
the use of legal-weight trucks for shipment of the SNF, which results 
in more and smaller shipments. For the accident analysis, the use of 
the largest-capacity casks was assumed in order to maximize the amount 
of SNF that would be involved in the accident. These parameters were 
intended to bound the parts of the analysis, not to describe parts of 
the actual SNF shipment protocol such as the specific casks that will 
be used.
    Comment: The analysis appears to assume that oldest spent nuclear 
fuel would be shipped first to the repository. If so, how will 
institutional measures achieve this sequencing? If they do not, how 
will the maximum potential radioactive risk in shipment and storage or 
disposal be addressed?
    Response: The spent fuel will be shipped in casks certified by the 
NRC. In fact, the current practice of NRC issuing certificates of 
compliance for casks used for shipment of power reactor fuel is to 
specify 5 years as the minimum cooling period in a certificate.
    Comment: Addendum 1 uses national accident rate statistics. State 
and/or local rates would be more appropriate.
    Response: For the analysis of radiological accidents, data specific 
to Nevada were used in the RADTRAN computer code runs. However, for the 
analysis of non-radiological accidents, the NRC staff required data 
regarding not only accident rates but also injury and fatality 
statistics. Those data were not available except from the U.S. 
Department of Transportation.
    Comment: Water resource supplies within boundaries of the State of 
Nevada belong to the public. All waters are subject to appropriation 
for the beneficial use only under state law.
    Response: The water resources of the state will be unaffected by 
the transport of SNF through Clark County.
    Comment: Report failed to provide conditions for informed consent 
which requires disclosure to those affected, their understanding , and 
voluntary acceptance.
    Response: NRC regulations already contain values that the NRC 
considers to be acceptable environmental impacts from the shipment of 
SNF and other radioactive waste. In Addendum 1 the NRC staff is, in 
part, ensuring that the overall impacts of the transportation of the 
additional SNF that will be generated as the result of nuclear power 
plant license renewal are bounded, given the best information the NRC 
staff has at this time, by those values previously found acceptable. 
The values specified in the regulations are supported by analysis and 
were adopted into the regulations only after providing opportunity for 
public comment as part of the NRC's rulemaking process. As such, the 
NRC has followed all applicable legal requirements and appropriately 
carried out its responsibility to consider the environmental impacts of 
its license renewal decision.
    Comment: The NRC staff uses ``flawed'' science as evidenced by 
factors including a questionable definition of risk which fails to 
account for severe accidents, use of misleading if not false average 
radiation dose rates, manipulation of dose rate data to obtain 
acceptable results and lack of empirical data especially that 
applicable to transportation of SNF.
    Response: The decision before the Commission is whether the impacts 
of license renewal are so severe that they should preclude the option 
of license renewal. As such, the Commission has considered a reasonable 
estimate of impacts and not included remote and speculative scenarios 
that do not add to our regulatory decision (see also response to 
comment on severe accidents, above).
    In the analyses described in Addendum 1 the NRC staff uses dose 
rates that reflect the applicable regulatory limit rather than average 
dose rates. Even with these very conservative assumptions for dose 
rates, transportation modes, transportation routes, and a number of 
other factors, radiation impacts on the transport crews and the general 
public were not only found to be within all regulatory limits but small 
as well and there was no need to adjust the assumptions.
    Throughout Addendum 1 the NRC staff discusses the assumptions that 
were made and where applicable the empirical data used to support those 
assumptions is referenced. With respect to making judgements about the 
shipment of spent fuel the NRC staff has the benefit of data from over 
40 years of experience in shipping SNF in this country as well as 
overseas.
    Comment: High level waste management and transportation should not 
be a generic issue and Yucca Mountain should not be used for the study 
as DOE is behind schedule and it is not an approved site for SNF.
    Response: Given that the potential environmental impacts of the 
transportation of SNF resulting from license renewal are similar for 
all nuclear power plants who seek to renew their operating licenses, 
and that the NRC staff's analysis contained in Addendum 1 concludes 
that the impacts are likely to be small, the Commission feels it is 
appropriate to reclassify the issue as a Category 1 issue. Use of Yucca

[[Page 48505]]

Mountain, Nevada for purposes of the staff's analysis, as the 
destination of the SNF is appropriate as it is the only site presently 
under study. It must be emphasized that this generic environmental 
impact statement is required to make use of the best information 
available and at this time the assumption that Yucca Mountain is the 
destination is reasonable for purposes of the staff's analysis. If in 
the future, conditions change, the assumption made for this analysis 
may need to be reevaluated.
    Comment: Need to consider the intermodal option being considered by 
Congress for Caliente, Nevada.
    Response: The shipment of SNF by rail to Caliente and then 
transferring it to truck for shipment to Yucca Mountain is one of many 
options under consideration by DOE. Rather than speculate on which 
transportation option or options will ultimately be selected, the NRC 
staff has chosen a mode and routes to Yucca Mountain which in its 
judgement will have the greatest potential environmental impacts in 
order to do a bounding analysis for the purpose of this rulemaking.
    Comment: The analysis needs to address the impacts of above ground 
nuclear weapons testing being done at the Nevada Test Site.
    Response: For the purposes of considering the environmental impacts 
of license renewal, there does not appear to be a relevant connection 
between transportation impacts from civilian SNF and defense related 
weapons testing at the Nevada test site.
    Comment: The analysis relies on assumptions that are 25-30 years 
old and that have a number of problems including omission of important 
radionuclides (Iodine-129, Chlorine-36 and Cobalt-60), unrealistic 
RADTRAN assumptions including inadequate consideration of severe 
accidents, outdated assumptions from NUREG-0170 and WASH-1238 including 
the failure to consider the degradation of cladding during extended dry 
storage, and failure to consider the rail-heavy haul truck option.
    Response: With regard to the radionuclides, as indicated in Table 2 
of Addendum 1, Cobalt-60 is considered. While both Iodine-129 and 
Chlorine-36 are long lived, neither is a significant contributor to 
overall dose. Iodine-129 has a very low specific activity and Chlorine-
36 is a beta emitter.
    The issue of the severity of accidents considered in the NRC 
staff's analysis was addressed in an earlier response to comment. The 
assumptions that are used in the NRC staff's analysis have been 
periodically reviewed and found adequate. The hypothetical accident 
conditions of 10 CFR 71.73 have been evaluated against actual 
conditions encountered in highway and railway accidents and were found 
to be bounding as documented in NUREG/CR-4829, February 1987, 
``Shipping Container Response to Severe Highway and Railway Accident 
Conditions.'' As noted in Table 3 of Addendum 1, the version of RADTRAN 
used is updated to March 1999.
    Section 3 of Addendum 1 does consider the possible effect of 
cladding degradation on criticality in the context of increased burnup. 
That analysis would be equally applicable to any cladding degradation 
that might occur during prolonged dry storage of the SNF.
    With regard to what is asserted to be inadequate consideration of 
the potential radiological impacts of the rail-heavy haul truck option, 
the NRC staff has analyzed the radiological impacts of the truck mode 
along various routes through and around Las Vegas and concludes that 
they are the limiting scenarios. The largest doses in the incident-free 
conditions are now to the public. If the rail-heavy haul transport 
scenario was adopted, a substantial portion of the public exposure 
would be avoided, since in this scenario, the slow moving heavy haul 
truck transport would not move through a major population center.
    Comment: NRC must consider potential Indian Tribe claims of 
authority to regulate shipments across reservation lands.
    Response: This analysis is a generic study that assumes certain 
routes for the purpose of evaluating environmental impacts. Because the 
purpose of this study is neither to propose nor approve routes, the NRC 
does not need to consider tribal claims of authority to regulate 
shipments in the context of this analysis.
    Comment: The beltway is a county road, not part of the Federal 
highway system; it is not clear it can be used for shipments.
    Response: The DOT regulations do not require that SNF shipments 
only use federal highways. Therefore, the NRC assumed that the beltway 
is a possible route around Las Vegas.
    Comment: The NRC should address the implications of higher 
enrichment, higher burnup fuel for consequences of radiological 
sabotage, as NRC has done so far for the increase in burnup from 33,000 
MWd/MTU to 40,000 MWd/MTU (see 49 FR 23867, Proposed Revisions to 10 
CFR 73, Modification of Protection Requirements for Spent Fuel 
Shipments, 6/8/84).
    Response: The NRC has not quantified the likelihood of the 
occurrence of sabotage in this analysis because the likelihood of an 
individual attack cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. 
Nonetheless, the NRC has considered, for the purposes of this 
environmental impact statement and rulemaking, the environmental 
consequences of such an event. In the determination of the consequences 
of such an event, higher burnup is only one factor. Based on the 
staff's study of higher burnup fuel (NUREG-1437, Vol.1, Addendum 1, 
Table 2), the consequences of a sabotage event involving such fuel 
could be larger than those in the studies referenced by the commentor. 
However, given that the consequences of the studies referenced by the 
commentor were small, even modest increases due to the effects of 
higher burnup fuel would not result in unacceptably large consequences. 
Because burnup is not the only factor that could affect the 
consequences of a sabotage event, the staff continues to study this 
area. Should new and significant information result from the further 
study, actions addressing such information will be considered.
    Nevertheless, the extensive security measures required by NRC 
regulations make sabotage events extremely unlikely. Moreover, the 
casks required to be used to transport spent fuel are designed to 
withstand very substantial impacts during transport without loss of 
containment integrity. The cask designs should serve to further reduce 
the likelihood of release of radioactive material in the extremely 
unlikely event of sabotage. In view of the fact that NRC safeguards 
regulations make sabotage events extremely unlikely, and the fact that 
the cask designs themselves should make a release of radioactive 
material unlikely even were sabotage to occur, and based on our 
judgement that, in the extremely unlikely event that sabotage and 
releases did occur, the consequences from higher burnup fuel would not 
be unacceptably large, we have concluded that a more extensive study of 
higher burnup fuel consequences is not warranted for this environmental 
impact statement and rulemaking.
    On June 22, 1999, the Nevada Attorney General filed a petition with 
the Commission which requested the NRC to amend regulations governing 
safeguards for shipments of spent nuclear fuel against sabotage and 
terrorism and to initiate a comprehensive assessment. In particular, 
the petition indicated that

[[Page 48506]]

NRC should factor into its regulations the changing nature of threats 
posed by domestic terrorists, the increased availability of advanced 
weaponry and the greater vulnerability of larger shipping casks 
traveling across the country. If, as a result of reviewing this 
petition, the NRC reaches conclusions that are inconsistent with the 
results or assumptions in the present rulemaking, the Commission will 
need to revisit the analysis presented here.

Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact: Availability

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

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This final rule decreases unnecessary regulatory burden on 
licensees by eliminating the requirement that license renewal 
applicants address the generic and cumulative environmental impacts 
associated with transportation operation in the vicinity of a HLW 
repository site (-400 hours, -2 responses), and adds a new requirement 
to address local traffic impacts attributable to continued operation of 
the plant during the license renewal term (+20 hours, +2 responses). 
The public burden for these information collections is estimated to 
average a reduction of 200 hours for each of 2 responses for the 
elimination of the above mentioned requirement, and an increase of 10 
hours for each of 2 responses for the new requirement, for a net burden 
reduction of 380 hours. Because the burden for this information 
collection is insignificant, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
clearance is not required. Existing requirements were approved by the 
OMB, approval number 3150-0021.

Public Protection Notification

    If a means used to impose an information collection does not 
display a currently valid OMB control number, the NRC may not conduct 
or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, the information 
collection.

Regulatory Analysis

    The regulatory analysis prepared for the final rule published on 
June 5, 1996 (61 FR 28467), and amended on December 18, 1996 (61 FR 
66537), to make minor clarifying and conforming changes and add 
language unintentionally omitted from the June 5, 1996 final rule. The 
rule is unchanged except for an increase in benefits derived from a 
reduction in the applicant burden of 190 hours of effort in preparing 
an application for renewal of a nuclear power plant operating license.
    This change increases the substantial cost saving of the final rule 
estimated in NUREG-1440, ``Regulatory Analysis for Amendments to 
Regulations for the Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power 
Plant Operating Licences.'' NUREG-1440 is available for inspection in 
the NRC Public Document Room, 2120 L Street NW. (Lower Level), 
Washington, DC. In addition, copies of NRC final documents cited here 
may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government 
Printing Office, PO Box 37082, Washington, DC 20013-7082. Copies are 
also available for purchase from the National Technical Information 
Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161.

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 will reduce the amount of information to be submitted by nuclear 
power plant licensees to facilitate NRC's obligations under the 
National Environmental Policy Act. 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).

Backfit Analysis

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

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

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

National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, Pub. 
L 104-113, requires that Federal agencies use technical standards 
developed by or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies unless 
the use of such a standard is inconsistent with applicable law or 
otherwise impractical. There are no consensus standards that apply to 
the analysis and findings process, nor to the requirements imposed by 
this rule. Thus the provisions of the Act do not apply to this rule.

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 to this notice 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; 
and sec.193, Pub. L. 101-575, 104 Stat. 2835, (42 U.S.C. 2243). 
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. In Sec. 51.53, paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(M) is removed and reserved 
and paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(J) is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 51.53  Post-construction environmental reports.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) * * *

[[Page 48507]]

    (J) All applicants shall assess the impact of highway traffic 
generated by the proposed project on the level of service of local 
highways during periods of license renewal refurbishment activities and 
during the term of the renewed license.
* * * * *
    (M) [Reserved].
* * * * *
    3. The ``Public services, Transportation'' issue under the 
Socioeconomics Section and the ``Transportation'' issue under the 
Uranium Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Section of Table B-1, Appendix 
B to Subpart A to 10 CFR Part 51 are revised to read as follows:

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

* * * * *

  Table B-1.--Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of
                        Nuclear Power Plants \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Issue                  Category           Findings
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
*                  *                  *                  *
                  *                  *                  *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Socioeconomics
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
*                  *                  *                  *
                  *                  *                  *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Public services, Transportation..            2  SMALL, MODERATE, OR
                                                 LARGE. Transportation
                                                 impacts (level of
                                                 service) of highway
                                                 traffic generated
                                                 during plant
                                                 refurbishment and
                                                 during the term of the
                                                 renewed license are
                                                 generally expected to
                                                 be of small
                                                 significance. However,
                                                 the increase in traffic
                                                 associated with
                                                 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).
 
*                  *                  *                  *
                  *                  *                  *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Uranium Fuel Cycle and Waste Management
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
*                  *                  *                  *
                  *                  *                  *
Transportation...................            1  SMALL. The impacts of
                                                 transporting spent fuel
                                                 enriched up to 5
                                                 percent uranium-235
                                                 with average burnup for
                                                 the peak rod to current
                                                 levels approved by NRC
                                                 up to 62,000 MWd/MTU
                                                 and the cumulative
                                                 impacts of transporting
                                                 high-level waste to a
                                                 single repository, such
                                                 as Yucca Mountain,
                                                 Nevada are found to be
                                                 consistent with the
                                                 impact values contained
                                                 in 10 CFR 51.52(c),
                                                 Summary Table S-4--
                                                 Environmental Impact of
                                                 Transportation of Fuel
                                                 and Waste to and from
                                                 One Light-Water-Cooled
                                                 Nuclear Power Reactor.
                                                 If fuel enrichment or
                                                 burnup conditions are
                                                 not met, the applicant
                                                 must submit an
                                                 assessment of the
                                                 implications for the
                                                 environmental impact
                                                 values reported in Sec.
                                                  51.52.
 
*                  *                  *                  *
                  *                  *                  *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Data supporting this table are contained in NUREG-1437, ``Generic
  Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants''
  (May 1996) and NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, Addendum 1, ``Generic Environmental
  Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: Main Report
  Section 6.3--`Transportation,' Table 9.1 `Summary of findings on NEPA
  issues for license renewal of nuclear power plants,' Final Report''
  (August 1999).

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 26th day of August, 1999.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 99-22764 Filed 9-2-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P