[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 114 (Wednesday, June 15, 2005)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34700-34702]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-11800]



10 CFR Part 54

[Docket No. PRM-54-02]

Andrew J. Spano, County of Westchester, NY; Receipt of Petition 
for Rulemaking

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; notice of receipt.


SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is publishing for 
public comment a notice of receipt of a petition for rulemaking, dated 
May 10, 2005, which was filed with the Commission by Andrew J. Spano, 
County Executive, Westchester County, New York. The petition was 
docketed by the NRC on May 13, 2005, and has been assigned Docket No. 
PRM-54-02. The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations 
to provide that a renewed license will be issued only if the plant 
operator demonstrates that the plant meets all criteria and 
requirements that would be applicable if the plant was being proposed 
de novo for initial construction.

DATES: Submit comments by August 29, 2005. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the Commission 
is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of the following methods. 
Please include PRM-54-02 in the subject line of your comments. Comments 
on petitions submitted in writing or in electronic form will be made 
available for public inspection. Because your comments will not be 
edited to remove any identifying or contact information, the NRC 
cautions you against including any information in your submission that 
you do not want to be publicly disclosed.
    Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
    E-mail comments to: [email protected]. If you do not receive a reply e-
mail confirming that we have received your comments, contact us 
directly at (301) 415-1966. You may also submit comments via the NRC's 
rulemaking Web site at http://ruleforum.llnl.gov. Address questions 
about our rulemaking Web site to Carol Gallagher (301) 415-5905; e-mail 
[email protected]. Comments can also be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal http://www.regulations.gov.

[[Page 34701]]

    Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 
20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays. (Telephone 
(301) 415-1966).
    Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 
(301) 415-1101.
    Publicly available documents related to this petition may be viewed 
electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's Public 
Document Room (PDR), Room O1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. The PDR reproduction contractor 
will copy documents for a fee. Selected documents, including comments, 
may be viewed and downloaded electronically via the NRC rulemaking Web 
site at http://ruleforum.llnl.gov.
    Publicly available documents created or received at the NRC after 
November 1, 1999, are available electronically at the NRC's Electronic 
Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this 
site, the public can gain entry into the NRC's Agencywide Document 
Access and Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image 
files of NRC's public documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS or 
if there are problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, 
contact the PDR Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737 or by 
e-mail to [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael T. Lesar, Chief, Rules and 
Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of 
Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001, Telephone: 301-415-7163 or Toll Free: 800-368-5642.


The Petitioner

    The petitioner is the County Executive of Westchester County, New 
York. Westchester County is a political subdivision, and municipality, 
of the State of New York, and is located immediately north of New York 
City. It is 450 square miles in size. It has a southern border with New 
York City (Bronx County) and a northern border with Putnam County. It 
is flanked on the west side by the Hudson River and on the east side by 
Long Island Sound and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The total 
population of Westchester County, as measured in the 2000 Census, is 
923,459. The 2000 population is over 100,000 more than it was as 
measured in the 1960 Census.
    Westchester County is the host county for the Nuclear Generation 
Stations at the Indian Point Energy Facility (Indian Point or IP), 
located in the Village of Buchanan, Town of Cortlandt. The petitioner 
states that because of the presence of the Indian Point facility, 
Westchester County has long had an interest and concern with the 
environmental, emergency, and public safety issues with respect to 
Indian Point.


    There are two nuclear power plants at Indian Point: IP2 and IP3. 
These are currently operated by single purpose entities controlled by 
the Entergy Corporation (Entergy). IP2 & IP3's operating licenses are 
scheduled to expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The petitioner 
believes that in accordance with industry trends, Entergy could apply 
for license extensions for up to an additional twenty years, provided 
certain operating, environmental, and safety conditions are met.
    The petitioner states that he is concerned with the criteria that 
will be used by the Commission in deciding whether to grant license 
extensions. The petitioner is concerned that the scope of the 
Commission's current regulations is too limited and that, as a result, 
the safety of the residents and communities near Indian Point will be 
in question during any extended operating period. The petitioner states 
that many factors have changed (see below) since the construction of 
IP2 and IP3. The petitioner believes that these changes have a 
significant impact on the safety of the community, yet they are not 
considered under the current license renewal regulations.
    The petitioner states that building a nuclear power plant in the 
United States in the 1960s and 1970s represented a mutual commitment 
between the utility owner and the local community for a specific and 
limited period of time. The atmosphere during those early days (prior 
to 1979), according to the petitioner, was generally positive, in which 
local host communities would receive significant property taxes, the 
public would be assured of reliable low-cost power, and utility owners 
had a long period of time to recover their investments. He asserts that 
the Indian Point facilities were located in Westchester County, after 
New York City sites were rejected and that the local communities 
perceived the benefits of siting the facilities in Westchester County 
to be having direct access to reliable low-cost power and positive 
local economic impacts. The projects created massive numbers of 
employment opportunities and were initially seen as safe technical 
ventures. The petitioner also asserts that both the local community and 
the utility had long term commitments to the facility, with the public 
having little recourse to question safety and operational issues after 
plant construction started and the utility having the right to the use 
of the plant for the full term of the license, often 40 years.
    The petitioner states that after living with nuclear power plants 
for the past three decades, several events have changed that 
landscape--Three Mile Island-2, the Browns Ferry fire, utility 
bankruptcies, the Chernobyl accident, delays at Yucca Mountain, Davis-
Besse reactor head problems, and the events of September 11, 2001. As a 
result, he states that plant orders have ceased and the public has 
become justifiably concerned about nuclear power plant safety. The 
petitioner states that these concerns are particularly sensitive at 
Indian Point, because of its proximity to major population centers, 
periodic leaks of radioactive material, difficult (if not impossible) 
evacuation issues, and its proximity to the World Trade Center.

The Proposed Amendment

    The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations to 
provide that a renewed license will be issued only if the plant 
operator demonstrates that the plant meets all criteria and 
requirements that would be applicable if the plant was being proposed 
de novo for initial construction. The petitioner also requests that 
Sec.  54.29 be amended to provide that a renewed license may be issued 
by the Commission if the Commission finds that, upon a de novo review, 
the plant would be entitled to an initial operating license in 
accordance with all criteria applicable to initial operating licenses, 
as set out in the Commission's regulations, including 10 CFR parts 2, 
19, 20, 21, 26, 30, 40, 50, 51, 54, 55, 71, 100 and the appendices to 
these regulations. The petitioner requests that corresponding 
amendments be made to Sec. Sec.  54.4, 54.19, 54.21, and 54.23, and 
that Sec.  54.30 be rescinded. The petitioner states that the criteria 
to be examined as part of a renewal application should include such 
factors as demographics, siting, emergency evacuation, site security, 
etc. This analysis should be performed in a manner that focuses the 
NRC's attention on the critical plant-specific factors and conditions 
that have the greatest potential to affect public safety.

Problems with the Current Process

    The petitioner believes that the process and criteria currently 
established in Part 54 is seriously

[[Page 34702]]

flawed. He states that the process for license renewal appears to be 
based on the theory that if the plant was originally licensed at the 
site, it is satisfactory to renew the license, barring any significant 
issues having to do with passive systems, structures, and components 
(SSCs). The petitioner states that the regulations should be broadened 
and sufficiently comprehensive to cover all of the facets (including 
consideration of a worst-case scenario) that were considered for 
initial construction. Alternatively, he states that the license renewal 
process should examine all issues related to the plant and its original 
license, and then concentrate on any issues that are new to that plant 
or have changed since the original license was issued or that deviate 
from the original licensing basis.
    The petitioner states that many key factors that affect nuclear 
plant licensing evolve over time; population grows, local/state Federal 
regulations evolve, public awareness increases, technology improves, 
and plant economic values change. As a result, roads and infrastructure 
required for a successful evacuation may not improve along with 
population density, inspection methods may not be adopted or may be 
used inappropriately, and regulations may alter the plant design after 
commercial operation. The petitioner believes that all of these factors 
should be examined and weighed in the formal 10 CFR part 54 relicensing 
    The petitioner states that prior to the concept of life extension 
for nuclear power plants, it was generally assumed that plants would 
exist as operating facilities for the rest of their design life, and 
then would enter a decommissioning phase. In fact, the collection of 
decommissioning funds from ratepayers initiated in the 1970s was based 
on a 40-year life.

Key Renewal Issues

    The petitioner states that it is time for the NRC to review, at the 
end of the 40 years of life, several questions that he asserts relate 
to key renewal issues about nuclear power plants on a plant-specific 
basis. These questions include the following:
     Could a new plant, designed and built to current 
standards, be licensed on the same site today? For example, given the 
population growth in Westchester County, it is uncertain if Indian 
Point would be licensed today. The population in the areas near Indian 
Point has outpaced the capacity of the road infrastructure to support 
it, making effective evacuation in an emergency unlikely.
     Have the local societal and infrastructure factors that 
influenced the original plant licensing changed in a manner that would 
make the plant less apt to be licensed today? For example, three of 
four counties surrounding Indian Point have not submitted certified 
letters in support of the emergency evacuation plan. That would not be 
a consideration under the current licensing process. However, the 
inability of local governments to support the safety of the evacuation 
plan should, at the very least, give serious pause before the licenses 
of the plants are renewed.
     Can the plant be modified to assure public health and 
safety in a post-9/11 era? For example, Indian Point cannot be made 
sufficiently safe according to James Lee Witt, former head of FEMA.
     Have local/State regulations changed that would affect the 
plant's continued operation? For example, Indian Point must convert 
from once-through cooling to a closed-cycle design using cooling 
     The original design basis of older nuclear power plants 
did not include extended onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF). At 
Indian Point for example, the current SNF storage plan includes one or 
more Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations onsite, which 
increases the overall risk to the local community.


    The petitioner believes that these key renewal issues should be 
considered in the license renewal process, along with safety, security, 
and certainly the condition of both passive and active SSCs. The 
petitioner believes that the current NRC license renewal analyses 
ignore these issues.
    The petitioner also believes that it is timely for the NRC to 
broaden the scope of license renewal investigations to assess the 
viability of the plants requesting license extension on a broad scale, 
one at least as broad as the original license hearings, and one that is 
site specific and site sensitive to an appropriate degree. Accordingly, 
the petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations concerning 
issuance of a renewed license.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 9th day of June 2005.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 05-11800 Filed 6-14-05; 8:45 am]