[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 23 (Friday, February 4, 2005)]
[Pages 6047-6049]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-2137]



[Docket No. 70-3098]

Duke Cogema Stone and Webster's Proposed Mixed Oxide Fuel 
Fabrication Facility; Notice of Availability of Final Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final environmental impact statement.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matthew Blevins, Senior Project 
Manager, Environmental and Performance Assessment Directorate, Division 
of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555. Telephone: (301) 415-7684; e-mail: [email protected].
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory

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Commission (NRC) is issuing a Final Environmental Impact Statement 
(FEIS) on the proposed construction and operation of a mixed oxide 
(MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site in South 
Carolina. The FEIS is being issued as part of the NRC's decision-making 
process on whether to authorize Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS), a 
contractor of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to construct and 
operate the proposed MOX fuel fabrication facility (MOX facility).
    The proposed MOX facility would convert depleted uranium dioxide 
and weapons-grade plutonium dioxide into MOX fuel. The FEIS discusses 
the purpose and need for the proposed MOX facility, and reasonable 
alternatives to the proposed action, including the no-action 
alternative. The FEIS also discusses the environment potentially 
affected by the proposal, presents and compares the potential 
environmental impacts resulting from the proposed action and its 
alternatives, and identifies mitigation measures that could eliminate 
or lessen the potential environmental impacts.
    The FEIS is being issued as part of the NRC's decision-making 
process on whether to authorize DCS to begin construction of the 
proposed MOX facility. The FEIS will also be relevant to any later 
decision on whether to authorize DCS to operate the MOX facility. Based 
on the evaluation in the FEIS, the NRC environmental review staff have 
concluded that the proposed action will generally have small effects on 
the public and existing environment. This FEIS reflects the final 
analysis of environmental impacts of DCS's proposal and its 
alternatives including the consideration of public comments received by 
the NRC. In addition, the FEIS provides summaries of the substantive 
public comments on the draft EIS, and responses, as appropriate.
    Several pages in the FEIS have been removed from public access 
based on the additional security reviews that the NRC initiated on 
October 25, 2004. The material on these pages is being withheld 
pursuant to 10 CFR 2.390(a).\1\

    \1\ Please note that the MOX proceeding is governed by the old 
10 CFR Part 2 provisions. Under the old regulation, the material 
being withheld is in accordance with 10 CFR 2.790(a).

ADDRESSES: The NRC maintains an Agencywide Documents Access and 
Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image files of NRC's 
public documents. The FEIS and its appendices may be accessed through 
the NRC's Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. If you do not have access to ADAMS 
or if there are problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, 
contact the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-
397-4209, 301-415-4737 or by e-mail to [email protected]. Please note that on 
October 25, 2004, the NRC suspended public access to ADAMS, and 
initiated an additional security review of publicly available documents 
to ensure that potentially sensitive information is removed from the 
ADAMS database accessible through the NRC's Web site. Pending 
resumption of public access to ADAMS, interested members of the public 
may obtain copies of the referenced documents that have undergone 
security screening by contacting the Public Document Room at the above 
phone number.
    The FEIS is also available for inspection at the Commission's 
Public Document Room, U.S. NRC's Headquarters Building, 11555 Rockville 
Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland. Upon written request and to 
the extent supplies are available, a single copy of the FEIS can be 
obtained for a fee by writing to the Office of the Chief Information 
Officer, Reproduction and Distribution Services Section, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; by electronic mail at 
[email protected]; or by fax at (301) 415-2289.
    A selected group of documents associated with the MOX facility may 
also be obtained from the Internet on NRC's MOX facility Web page: 
http://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/mox/licensing.html (case 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In January 2000, the DOE issued a Record of 
Decision pertaining to its surplus plutonium disposition program and 
the DOE's 1999 EIS related to this program (65 FR 1608). The 
fundamental purpose of the DOE program is to ensure that plutonium 
produced for nuclear weapons and declared excess to national security 
needs is converted to forms that are inaccessible and unattractive for 
use in nuclear weapons.
    The FEIS for the proposed MOX facility was prepared by the staff of 
the NRC and its contractor, Argonnne National Laboratory, in compliance 
with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the NRC's 
regulations for implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 51). The proposed action 
involves a decision by NRC of whether to authorize DCS to construct and 
later operate the proposed MOX facility at the Savannah River Site to 
convert surplus weapons plutonium into MOX fuel.
    If approved by the NRC, the proposed MOX facility would be built in 
the F-Area of the DOE's Savannah River Site (SRS). Feedstock (surplus 
plutonium dioxide and depleted uranium dioxide) would have to be 
transported to SRS to make the MOX fuel. To support operation of the 
proposed MOX facility, two other new facilities would have to be built 
by the DOE at the SRS. Infrastructure upgrades, such as construction 
waste transfer pipelines, electric utility line realignment, and 
addition of access roads, would also be required. Any MOX fuel made at 
the proposed MOX facility would be transported to mission reactors, 
where it would be irradiated.
    The NRC published a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental 
Impact Statement for the proposed MOX facility, and to conduct a 
scoping process, in the Federal Register on March 7, 2001 (66 FR 
13794). NRC staff subsequently held scoping meetings, and issued a 
Scoping Summary Report in August 2001. In April 2002, DOE issued an 
amended Record of Decision changing its planned approach for surplus 
weapons plutonium disposition (67 FR 19432). On August 22, 2002, the 
NRC announced public meetings to discuss changes in DCS Environmental 
Report (ER) that resulted from changes in DOE's plans (67 FR 54501). 
The meetings were held on September 17, 2002, in Savannah, Georgia, 
September 18, 2002, in Augusta, Georgia, and September 19, 2002, in 
Charlotte, North Carolina. On June 20, 2003, DCS submitted Revision 3 
of its ER, and on August 13, 2003, DCS submitted Revision 4 of its ER, 
and on June 10, 2004, DCS submitted Revision 5 of its ER. These 
revisions are summarized in Appendix J of the FEIS.
    The FEIS describes the proposed action, and alternatives to the 
proposed action, including the no-action alternative. The FEIS 
discussion of the no-action alternative evaluates the environmental 
impacts of the continued storage of surplus plutonium in various DOE 
locations nationwide, in the event NRC decides not to approve the 
proposed MOX facility. Alternatives considered but not analyzed in 
detail include alternate locations for the proposed MOX facility in the 
F-Area, alternative technology and design options, immobilization of 
surplus plutonium instead of producing MOX fuel, deliberately making 
off-specification MOX fuel, and the Parallex Project, the latter of 
which involves irradiating the MOX fuel in Canadian Deuterium-Natural 
Uranium Reactors. Additionally, the FEIS compares the impacts of using 

[[Page 6049]]

particulate air filters to the impacts of using sand filters for 
removal of particulate air emissions.
    After weighing the impacts, costs, and benefits of the proposed 
action and comparing alternatives (see Chapter 4 of the FEIS), the NRC 
staff, in accordance with 10 CFR 51.91(d), sets forth its final NEPA 
recommendation regarding the proposed action. The NRC staff recommends 
that, unless safety issues mandate otherwise, the action called for is 
the issuance of the proposed license to DCS with conditions to protect 
environmental values.
    The NRC staff in the Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards 
are currently completing the safety review of DCS' construction 
authorization request. The final decision is currently scheduled for 
the Spring of 2005.

    Dated in Rockville, Maryland, this 21st day of December, 2004.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Scott C. Flanders,
Deputy Director, Environmental and Performance Assessment Directorate, 
Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, Office of 
Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 05-2137 Filed 2-3-05; 8:45 am]