[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 220 (Friday, November 14, 2003)]
[Pages 64665-64668]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-28499]



[Docket No. 70-27]

Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact of 
License Amendment for BWX Technologies, Inc.

ACTION: Notice of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) for Amendment of BWX Technologies, Inc., 
Materials License SNM-42 to approve the Final Status Survey Plan and 
Decommissioning Plan for Industrial Waste Landfill 1.


Facilities Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mail Stop T8-A33, Washington, DC 20555-
0001, telephone (301) 415-5269 and e-mail [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the 
amendment of Special Nuclear Material License SNM-42 to approve the 
Final Status Survey Plan (FSSP) and Decommissioning Plan (DP) for 
Industrial Waste Landfill 1 (ILW1) at the

[[Page 64666]]

BWX Technologies, Inc., facility located in Lynchburg, VA, and has 
prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of this action.
    Pursuant to NRC regulations (10 CFR part 51) which implement the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
the NRC staff prepared an EA to evaluate the environmental impacts 
associated with approval of the FSSP and DP for ILW 1. Based on this 
evaluation the NRC has concluded that a FONSI is appropriate for the 
proposed licensing action.
    The NRC published a Federal Register notice on October 23, 2002 (67 
FR 65146), with a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing on the proposed 
action. No request for a hearing was received.

II. Environmental Assessment

1.0 Introduction

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has received a 
license request from BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT), dated June 11, 
2002, to amend SNM-42 to approve the DP and the FSSP for IWL1 (Ref. 1). 
The purpose of this document is to assess the environmental 
consequences of the proposed license amendment.
    The BWXT facility in Lynchburg, VA is authorized under SNM-42 to 
possess nuclear materials for the fabrication and assembly of nuclear 
fuel components. The facility fabricates research and university 
reactor components, and manufactures compact reactor fuel elements. The 
facility also performs recovery of scrap uranium. Research and 
development activities related to the fabrication of nuclear fuel 
components are also conducted.
1.1 Background
    BWXT began operations at the Lynchburg, VA facility in 1956. From 
1972 until 1990, BWXT, formerly Babcock and Wilcox, operated two 
industrial waste landfills, designated IWL1 and IWL2 (further 
subdivided into 2A and 2B). The landfills were operated under permits 
issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia. During an internal 
investigation in 1990, it was determined that the material in the 
landfills had been contaminated prior to disposal. Subsequent to the 
investigation, the NRC issued a violation for onsite disposal of 
radioactive material.
    In response to the violation, BWXT committed to submitting a 
characterization plan to the NRC for the industrial waste landfills. 
Following the completion of the characterization, BWXT's intention was 
to request permission to leave the contaminated material in place, as 
scoping surveys indicated that the criteria for unrestricted release 
could be demonstrated.
    In a submittal dated September 29, 1999, BWXT requested approval of 
Revision 0 of the Final Status Survey Report (FSSR) for the Industrial 
Waste Landfills at the Lynchburg, VA facility. In a response dated May 
19, 2000, the NRC staff concluded that IWLs 2A and 2B were acceptable 
for release, provided the licensee demonstrated that the cover would 
remain in place. However, the staff also determined that Trenches 2 and 
3 of IWL1 should be remediated. The FSSP and DP for IWL1 were submitted 
on June 11, 2002, and are the subject of this EA.
    The purpose of the FSSP and DP is to provide a plan for 
demonstrating that the levels of radioactive contamination in IWL1 
satisfy NRC requirements for complying with 10 CFR 70.38, which 
requires the licensee to decommission any outdoor area where no 
principal licensed activities are occurring. Based on knowledge of the 
source of contamination, as well as scoping survey information, the 
main radioactive contaminant present in IWL1 is highly enriched 
    The criteria that BWXT proposes to meet are found in the Branch 
Technical Position (BTP), ``Disposal or Onsite Storage of Thorium or 
Uranium Wastes from Past Operations'' (Ref. 2). This criteria was 
approved by the NRC for use at the BWXT site before the License 
Termination Rule was published in 1997. The criteria in the BTP which 
BWXT propose to meet are as follows:
    Option 1--Disposal of acceptably low concentrations enriched 
uranium with no restriction on burial. For enriched uranium, the 
maximum acceptable concentration is 30 pCi/gm.
    Option 2--Disposal of certain low concentrations of enriched 
uranium, when buried under prescribed conditions, with no subsequent 
land use restrictions and no continuing NRC licensing of the material. 
For enriched uranium, the maximum acceptable concentration is 100 pCi/
gm for soluble U and 250 pCi/gm for insoluble U. Conditions may be 
prescribed in the license, such as depth and distribution of material, 
to minimize the likelihood of intrusion. The prescribed burial 
conditions include demonstration that the buried material will be 
stabilized in place and not be transported away from the site and 
burial depth be at least four feet below the surface. The acceptability 
of the site for this type of disposal will depend upon topographical, 
geological, hydrogeological and meteorological characteristics of the 
1.2 Review Scope
    In accordance with 10 CFR part 51, this EA serves to (1) present 
information and analysis for determining whether to issue a FONSI or to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); (2) fufill the NRC's 
compliance with the NEPA when no EIS is necessary; and (3) facilitate 
preparation of an EIS when one is necessary. Should the NRC issue a 
FONSI, no EIS would be prepared and the license amendment would be 
    This document serves to evaluate and document the impacts of the 
proposed action. Other activities on the site have previously been 
evaluated and documented in the 1991 EA for the Renewal of the NRC 
license for BWXT (Ref. 3). The 1991 document is referenced when no 
significant changes have occurred. Besides the proposed licensing 
action, operations will continue to remain limited to those authorized 
by the license.
1.3 Proposed Action
    IWL1 is approximately 240 ft long, 150 ft wide, and has a maximum 
depth of 3 ft. There are 8 trenches in the landfill. BWXT will 
remediate Trench 2 and a portion of Trench 3 of IWL1. All of Trench 2 
and more than a third of Trench 3 will be excavated and the material 
will be properly disposed of as radioactive waste, a total volume of 
approximately 3750 ft\3\. A post-remediation scanning survey will be 
conducted for the excavation as well as any surrounding ``affected'' 
areas impacted by the exhumation activities. Elevated contaminated 
areas will be either exhumed for disposal as waste or flagged for 
additional sampling. Soil sampling will also be conducted within the 
excavation and one meter from the edge of the excavation to compare 
contamination levels to the guideline value.
    The rest of the trenches in the landfill would then remain buried 
and be capped with impermeable material to inhibit infiltration of 
surface water (precipitation). Two feet of cover has already been 
applied over the landfill, another 2 feet will be added for a total of 
4 feet of impermeable clay. This cap would be a continuous cover over 
all trenches, including up to 5 feet beyond the outermost trenches in 
the site. The cap would then be covered with 0.5 feet of topsoil to 
support growth of vegetation.
    Preparation, excavation, sampling, analysis, and report preparation 

[[Page 64667]]

scheduled to be conducted in approximately 42 months (Ref. 1).
    BWXT's specific objectives in the FSSP and the DP are to 
demonstrate that:

    [sbull] The residual contamination in IWL1, after removal of 
material from Trench 2 and part of Trench 3, meets the criteria in 
Option 1 or Option 2 of BTP, ``Disposal or Onsite Storage of Thorium or 
Uranium Wastes from Past Operations'' (SECY 81-576)(NRC 1981).
    [sbull] The environmental impact of any contamination above 
background poses no significant risk to the environment or the general 
public, and
    [sbull] The buried material will remain in place under Option 2 of 
the BTP criteria.
    BWXT has no plans at this time to release IWL1 from its NRC 
license. At the time of license termination for the entire BWXT site, 
the results of the area final status survey will be reassessed in order 
to include any possible dose contribution from the IWL1 in the dose 
assessment for the entire site and any impacts from possible 
recontamination of the IWL1.
1.4 Need for Proposed Action
    The need for this proposed action is to allow BWXT to dispose of 
contamination in IWL1 so as to be able to demonstrate that levels of 
radioactive contamination in IWL1 will satisfy NRC requirements for 
complying with 10 CFR 70.38.
1.5 Alternatives to the Proposed Action
    NRC considered two alternatives to the proposed action. These are 
described below.
Alternative 1--No action
    This alternative is to leave the site in its current, contaminated 
condition. Leaving the site in this condition would not comply with NRC 
regulations that require remediation of unused outdoor areas. 
Therefore, this alternative is not acceptable.
Alternative 2--Excavate the entire IWL1
    This alternative would require the licensee to recover and dispose 
of all of the material in the landfill. The NRC has concluded that this 
alternative is not preferable for the following reasons:
    [sbull] This option is more disruptive to the environment due to 
more disturbance of the soil; and
    [sbull] the soil which is not contaminated (below the cleanup 
criteria) will have to be sent to a municipal landfill which has the 
same environmental impacts as leaving it in place.

2.0 Affected Environment

    The affected environment is the BWXT site. A full description of 
the site and its characteristics is given in the 1991 EA for renewal 
(Ref. 3). The BWXT facility is located on a 525 acre (2 km\2\) site in 
the northeastern corner of Campbell County, approximately 5 miles (8 
km) east of Lynchburg, VA. This site is located in a generally rural 
area, consisting primarily of rolling hills with gentle slopes, farm 
land, and woodlands.

3.0 Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

3.1 Radiological Impacts
    Excavated material from Trenches 2 and 3 will be shipped to a 
licensed disposal facility. The licensee's radiological protection 
program, which is described in SNM-42, requires use of hazardous work 
permits and safety procedures that will limit doses to workers to less 
than or equal to the limits in 10 CFR part 20.
    Minor spills and/or releases may occur as contaminated soil is 
being prepared for shipment or during transport to an offsite disposal 
facility. However, considering that the majority of the waste stream 
expected to be generated during decommissioning comprises contaminated 
soil, these incidents would pose only negligible impact to human health 
and the environment. In the event of a spill of this nature, 
decontamination efforts and any required notification would be 
performed in accordance with the BWXT procedures.
    Residual concentrations of radionuclides in soil will be in 
compliance with the approved levels in the BTP. Using the conservative 
resident farmer scenarios, the RESRAD computer program calculates the 
radiological impact from the residual contamination to be approximately 
25 mrem/yr to the resident.
3.2 Non-Radiological Impacts
    Portions of the site, primarily the groundwater, are contaminated 
with solvents (PCE, TCE, etc.) from previous BWXT activities. These 
materials are the subject of an EPA and TDEC RCRA/HSWA Permit requiring 
investigation and remediation to EPA and Virginia standards in a 
timeframe agreed upon among EPA, Virginia Department of Health and 
BWXT. Therefore they are not addressed in this EA.
3.3 Historical and Archaeological Resources
    The only historic site on the National Register of Historic Places 
near the facility (within 5 miles) is the 19th century Mt. Athos 
Plantation, which is across the Mt. Athos Road to the east.
    The proposed action is not expected to adversely affect historic 
properties. The staff consulted the State of Virginia Liaison Officer 
for Historic Preservation and no comments were provided.
3.4 Biota
    The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is listed as a federally 
threatened species in Campbell County.
    One vascular plant, the smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) is 
listed as a federally endangered species, and two vascular plants, the 
sweet pine sap (Monotropsis odorata) and the Torrey's mountain-mint 
(Pycnanthemum torrei), are listed as species of concern in Campbell 
    Two fish, the orangefin madtom (Noturus gilberti) and the bigeye 
jumprock (Scartomyzon ariommus), are listed as species of concern in 
Campbell County.
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office 
determined that the proposed action will not have adverse impacts on 
threatened or endangered species, or their habitat.
3.5 Water Resources
    Surface water is not expected to be impacted from approval of this 
amendment application. There will be no direct effluent discharges to 
surface water as a result of the proposed activity. Surface water is 
expected to continue to be protected from site activities through 
release limits and monitoring programs, as required by the National 
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which is regulated by 
the State.
    Groundwater quality is not expected to be impacted by this 
operation. There will be no discharges to soils or surface water that 
could result in groundwater contamination from the proposed activity, 
and no withdrawals from groundwater wells which would drawdown the 
water table.
3.6 Construction Impacts
    No building construction will occur in this action. Therefore 
construction impacts are not applicable.
3.7 Impacts to Aesthetic, Economic, Cultural, Social, Air Quality, and 
Noise Resources
    There will be no discernable impacts on aesthetics, socio-economics 
or cultural resources because the work is being done by existing staff 
and the physical configuration of the facility will remain the same as 

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    There may be minor, temporary impacts on air quality and noise 
during remediation activities. BWXT has dust control measures in place, 
and the use of equipment will not significantly change from that of the 
current industrial environment.

4.0 Environmental Monitoring

    A full description of the effluent monitoring program at the site 
is provided in the 1991 EA for renewal (Ref. 3). Monitoring programs at 
the BWXT facility comprise effluent monitoring of air and water and 
environmental monitoring of various media (air, soil, vegetation, and 
groundwater). This program provides a basis for evaluation of public 
health and safety impacts, for establishing compliance with 
environmental regulations, and for development of mitigation measures 
if necessary. The monitoring program is not expected to change as a 
result of the proposed action. The NRC has reviewed the location of the 
environmental monitoring program sampling points, the frequency of 
sample collection, and the trends of the sampling program results in 
conjunction with the environmental pathway and exposure analysis and 
has concluded that the monitoring program provides adequate protection 
of public health and safety.
    The area to be remediated will remain within licensee control and 
will be monitored according to the pertinent provisions of the license 
for operational and environmental monitoring.

5.0 Agencies and Individuals Consulted

    Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, was consulted and has 
no objection to the proposed action (phone call with Mark Campbell on 
August 26, 2003).
    State of Virginia Liason Officer for Historic Preservation was 
consulted and provided no comments on the proposed action.
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office was consulted 
and has no objection to the proposed action (phone call with Jolie 
Harrison on May 21, 2003).

6.0 References

    1. BWX Technologies, Inc. June 11, 2002 Final Status Survey Plan 
and Decommissioning Plan for the Industrial Waste Landfill 1. (ADAMS 
accession number ML021690397).
    2. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, October 5, 1981, Branch 
Technical Position, Disposal or Onsite Storage of Residual Thorium 
or Uranium (Either as Natural Ores or Without Daughters Present) 
From Past Operations (SECY 81-576).
    3. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, August 1991, 
Environmental Assessment for the Renewal of Special Nuclear Material 
License No. SNM-42.
    4. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, February 26, 2001, Letter 
to Arne Olsen from Philip Ting, ``BWXT Amendment No. 66, 
Postponement of Landfill No. 1 Decommissioning''.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The Commission has prepared the above Environmental Assessment 
related to the amendment of Special Nuclear Material License SNM-42. On 
the basis of the assessment, the Commission has concluded under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended to the 
Commission's regulation in subpart A of 10 CFR part 51, that 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action would not be 
significant and do not warrant the preparation of an Environmental 
Impact Statement. Accordingly, the Commission has determined that an 
Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

IV. Further Information

    In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's ``Rules of Practice,'' 
the documents related to this proposed action will be available 
electronically for public inspection from the Publicly Available 
Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). ADAMS is 
accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public Electronic Reading Room).

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 5th day of November, 2003.
    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
John Lubinski,
Fuel Cycle Facilities Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and 
Safeguards, Office of Nuclear Material Safety And Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 03-28499 Filed 11-13-03; 8:45 am]