[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 6 (Monday, January 10, 2005)]
[Pages 1742-1743]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-400]



[Docket No. 50-395]

South Carolina Electric & Gas Company; Virgil C. Summer Nuclear 
Station; Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of an exemption from Title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations, Part 50, Sections 50.44, and 50.46 and Appendix K, for the 
Renewed Facility Operating License No. NPF-12, issued to South Carolina 
Electric & Gas Company (the licensee), for operation of the Virgil C. 
Summer Nuclear Station (VSNS), located in Fairfield County, South 
Carolina. Therefore, as required by 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC has performed 
an environmental assessment as described in this notice and has made a 
finding of no significant impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would allow operation with up to four lead test 
assemblies (LTAs) containing fuel rods with Optimized 
ZIRLOTM and several different developmental clad alloys in 
the core.
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated September 3, 2004, as supplemented by letter dated 
November 11, 2004.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed exemption is needed because the NRC regulations 
identified above specifically refer to light-water reactors containing 
fuel consisting of uranium oxide pellets enclosed in zircaloy or ZIRLO 
tubes. A new zirconium-based alloy cladding has been developed, which 
is not the same chemical composition as zircaloy or ZIRLO. Therefore, 
the licensee needs an exemption to insert up to four assemblies 
containing the new fuel cladding material into the VSNS reactor core 
for test during operation.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has completed its safety evaluation of the proposed action 
and concluded that it will not present an undue risk to the public 
health and safety. The safety evaluation performed by Westinghouse, 
upon which the licensee is relying, demonstrates that the predicted 
chemical, mechanical and material performance of the Advance zirconium-
based cladding is within that approved for Zircaloy-4 or ZIRLO under 
all anticipated operational occurrences and postulated accidents. 
Furthermore, the LTAs will be placed in nonlimiting core locations. In 
the unlikely event that cladding failures were to occur in the LTAs, 
environmental impact would be minimal and is bounded by previous 
environmental impact statements.
    The details of the NRC staff's safety evaluation will be provided 
as an enclosure to the letter to the licensee granting the exemption.
    The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability 
or consequences of accidents, no changes are being made in the types of 
effluents that may be released off site. There is no significant 
increase in occupational or public radiation exposure. Therefore, there 
are no significant radiological environmental impacts associated with 
the proposed action.
    With regard to potential nonradiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not have a potential to affect any historic sites. It does 
not affect nonradiological plant effluents and has no other 
environmental impact. Therefore, there are no significant 
nonradiological environmental impacts associated with the proposed 
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the staff considered 
denial of the proposed action (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Denial of the application would result in no change in current 
environmental impacts. The environmental impacts of the proposed action 
and the alternative action are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

    The action does not involve the use of any different resources than 
those previously considered in the Final Environmental Statement for 
the VSNS, NUREG-0719, dated May 1981.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on December 15, 2004, the 
staff consulted with the South Carolina State official, Henry Porter of 
the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 
regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The State 
official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC concludes 
that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined 
not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed 
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's letter dated September 3, 2004, as supplemented by letter 
dated November 11, 2004. Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a 
fee, at the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White 
Flint North, Public File Area O1 F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first 
floor), Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available records will be 
accessible electronically from the Agencywide Documents Access and 
Management System (ADAMS) Public Electronic Reading Room on the 
Internet at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. 
Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who encounter problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS should

[[Page 1743]]

contact the NRC PDR Reference staff by telephone at 1-800-397-4209 or 
301-415-4737, or by e-mail to [email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 3rd day of January 2005.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Karen R. Cotton,
Project Manager, Section 1, Project Directorate II, Division of 
Licensing Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 05-400 Filed 1-7-05; 8:45 am]