[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 131 (Monday, July 11, 2005)]
[Pages 39804-39808]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E5-3629]



[Docket No. 030-28641]

Notice of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant 
Impact for Approval of Decommissioning Plan for Test Area C-74L at 
Eglin Air Force Base, FL

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact 
for License Amendment.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: D. Blair Spitzberg, Ph.D., Chief, Fuel 
Cycle and Decommissioning Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, 
Region IV, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, 
Suite 400, Arlington, TX 76011. Telephone: (817) 860-8100; e-mail: 
[email protected].


[[Page 39805]]

I. Introduction

    The Department of the Air Force (the licensee) submitted a 
decommissioning plan (DP) to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
(NRC) by Memorandum dated May 24, 2002. Supplemental information was 
provided by Memoranda dated November 1, 2002, August 21, 2003, October 
27, 2004, and January 13, 2005. The licensee requested that the DP for 
Test Area C-74L at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) be approved. The NRC is 
considering the issuance of an amendment to Master Materials License 
42-23539-01AF which will approve the DP. If approved by the NRC, the 
licensee will be authorized to conduct decommissioning activities in 
accordance with the DP.
    The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of 
this licensing action in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR 
Part 51. The EA was developed to provide sufficient evidence and 
analysis for determining whether to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement or Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Based on the 
results of the EA, the NRC has determined that a FONSI is appropriate.

II. Environmental Assessment

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to approve the DP which will allow the 
licensee to conduct decommissioning in accordance with the procedures 
and processes provided in the DP. The approval of the DP would be 
accomplished by license amendment to NRC Materials License 42-23539-
01AF following the NRC decision that the DP meets the standards 
specified in 10 CFR Part 20 and related NRC guidance documents.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The licensee intends to remediate Test Area C-74L and ultimately 
remove the site from its license (and the associated AFB radioactive 
material permit) because it no longer conducts NRC-licensed activities 
at this location. If the site is properly decommissioned, the licensee 
would then be in compliance with the Timeliness Rule requirements of 10 
CFR 30.36, ``Expiration and Termination of Licenses and Decommissioning 
of Sites and Separate Buildings or Outdoor Areas.''

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    Test Area C-74L is located in Walton County, Florida, within the 
north-central portion of Eglin AFB. The site is located approximately 
14 miles northwest of the city of Niceville, Florida. The test area 
lies within Section 11 of Range 21 West, Township 2 North. The test 
area currently consists of a 4-acre radiologically controlled area, 
fire control/ballistics building, gun corridor, target area, well house 
building, drum storage area, and surrounding land.
    From late-1974 to 1978, the area was used for pre-production 
testing of a gun system which used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. 
The licensee elected to discontinue DU munitions testing at this 
location. An estimated 16,315 pounds of DU was expended at the site. 
Approximately 9,257 pounds of DU were collected and disposed of during 
remediation activities conducted between March 1978 and June 1987. The 
remainder of the material has since been remediated, was dispersed or 
vaporized as part of DU ordinance testing, or remains onsite and 
requires remediation.
    The portions of the site that may have been contaminated with DU 
fragments include the ballistic building interior, ballistic and well 
house building exteriors, target area, 4-acre radiologically restricted 
grounds, and two drainage ditches. Previous radiological investigations 
included at least six soil sampling events that occurred between 1976-
1999. Limited reclamation activities have been conducted several times 
since 1980. A detailed site characterization study was conducted during 
1999 followed by additional limited characterization studies during 
2000-2001. At that time, the only area remaining to be remediated was 
the 4-acre radiologically controlled area.
    The ballistic building interior was not expected to contain 
radioactive material in measurable quantities, in part, because the 
building was not used to store DU munitions. The well house building 
was constructed after completion of DU testing although the land 
beneath the building was not radiologically surveyed prior to 
construction. The exteriors of these two buildings may contain small 
amounts of contamination as a result of possible wind dispersion of DU 
    Two drainage ditches are located on site property. Sample results 
indicated measurable quantities of radionuclides above background 
values. The licensee does not expect to conduct remediation activities 
in these ditches because the residual radioactivity is expected to be 
at levels below the NRC-approved release criteria.
    The radiological criteria for unrestricted use is provided in 10 
CFR 20.1402. This regulation states that a site will be considered 
acceptable for unrestricted use if the residual radioactivity that is 
distinguishable from background radiation results in a total effective 
dose equivalent to an average member of the public that does not exceed 
25 millirems (0.25 mSv) per year, including that from groundwater 
sources of drinking water, and that the residual radioactivity has been 
reduced to levels that are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).
    Current NRC guidance (Section 2.5 of NUREG-1757, Volume 2, 
``Consolidated NMSS Decommissioning Guidance'') recommends that 
licensees demonstrate compliance with the dose criteria by using dose 
modeling or derived concentration guideline levels (DCGLs) and final 
status survey results. The licensee's request to release the site for 
unrestricted use will be based on use of DCGLs and final status survey 
results. In the DP, the licensee proposes DCGLs for building interiors, 
building exteriors, equipment, and site soils. Through an internal 
review process, the NRC accepted the licensee's proposed building and 
equipment DCGLs, but rejected the licensee's proposed soil DCGL. By 
Memorandum dated August 21, 2003, the licensee accepted the NRC's 
alternate proposal for soil DCGL.
    Upon completion of the decommissioning project, the licensee is 
expected to submit the final status survey results to the NRC for 
review and approval. In addition, the NRC will conduct confirmatory 
sampling. If the results of the final status survey and any 
confirmatory surveys performed are below the NRC-approved DCGLs, the 
site will be found to be in compliance with the annual dose limit 
provided in 10 CFR 20.1402. If the surveys indicate that the results 
are above the DCGLs, then additional remediation may be necessary. 
Alternatively, the licensee will have to conduct an analysis to 
demonstrate that the survey results demonstrate compliance with the 
dose criteria.
    The remediation activities will result in potential exposure of 
workers to radioactive material. The primary radionuclide of concern is 
uranium-238. The DU is expected to be in the form of solid uranium 
oxide or uranium metal fragments. The primary health hazard is 
inhalation of DU. The health effects from DU include both chemical and 
radiological toxicity with the two important target organs being the 
kidneys and the lungs. In general, the health consequences are 
determined by the physical and chemical form of the DU as well as the 
level and duration of exposure.

[[Page 39806]]

    To prevent potential health consequences from exposure to DU, the 
licensee has initiated a radiological safety program. External 
occupational exposure rates to DU is expected to be minimal based on 
previous exposure data. The internal exposure pathways will be 
controlled and monitored as necessary by the use of personnel 
protective equipment, strict hygiene practices, and air particulate and 
bioassay sampling. The licensee's proposed program for control of 
exposure to radioactive materials is typical for the type of work being 
conducted and is considered acceptable to the NRC to maintain 
occupational exposures within NRC limits.
    The Air Force, or a contractor for the Air Force, will be 
responsible for packaging and transporting the low-level radioactive 
wastes. Remediation of the site may have short-term non-radiological 
health and safety risks caused by the excavation, packaging, and 
shipping of the residual radioactive material. These non-radiological 
impacts include the normal risks of exhuming the wastes with earth-
moving equipment and transportation of the material to an out-of-state 
disposal facility. The risks include injury or death from a 
construction or transportation accident.
    There should be minimal risk to members of the public from exposure 
to radioactive wastes during transport because the radionuclides of 
concern will be dispersed within the soil, contained in authorized 
shipping containers, and shipped in accordance with U.S. Department of 
Transportation requirements.
    The reclaimed material will be transported to an out-of-state low 
level radioactive waste disposal facility licensed to accept and 
dispose of the wastes. The radiological health risks would be minimal 
to the workers of the disposal facility, in part, because the facility 
would have a radiation protection program in place to protect its 
workers. However, there is still a small risk of an occupational 
accident occurring while handling the waste material.
    In summary, the combination of the NRC-approved DCGLs, the 
licensee's proposed final status survey results, and the NRC's 
confirmatory survey results should demonstrate that annual doses to 
future occupants of the site will be less than the NRC's radiological 
criteria for unrestricted use of the facility. Additional details of 
the licensee's radiation safety program and NRC-approved DCGLs will be 
provided in the NRC's Safety Analysis Report that will be used to 
support the licensing decision. Furthermore, the radiological impacts 
of releasing the site for unrestricted use are bounded by the impacts 
evaluated in NUREG-1496, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement in 
Support of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for License Termination 
of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities.''
    The proposed action will have a short-term detrimental effect on 
the impacted area. The licensee plans to scrap portions of the ground 
surface to remove any residual radioactive material. This action will 
result in destruction of the cover vegetation and top soil, and may 
create airborne dust. In response, the licensee plans to implement a 
program that will minimize any long term damage. Dust suppression 
methods will be utilized as necessary. The area will be backfilled and 
revegetated if scraped.
    The site includes two drainage ditches. One ditch is located on the 
south side of the property and drains to the south-south east. The 
second ditch is located in the northeastern portion of the property and 
drains towards the northeast. There are two streams in the vicinity of 
Test Area C-74L. Rocky Creek is located about 700 feet (213 meters) 
south of the controlled area. A tributary to Rocky Creek is located 
about 1800 feet (549 meters) to the west of the site. A small dammed 
pond is located within the western tributary. The groundwater flow is 
anticipated to have a southward component towards Rocky Creek. 
Therefore, the remediation of the site has the potential for impacting 
the wildlife habitat in and around Rocky Creek.
    The NRC consulted with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service because the 
reclamation of the site could have an impact on the habitat of a 
endangered species, the Okaloosa darter. Okaloosa darters are found 
only in the Choctawhatchee Bay drainage in Florida, where they inhabit 
vegetated sand runs of clear creeks. According to the U.S. Fish & 
Wildlife Service, approximately 90 percent of the watershed drainage 
area in which the Okaloosa darter occurs is under the management of 
Eglin AFB.
    To protect the darter's habitat, the licensee has taken or plans to 
take several actions. First, an earthen berm currently exists on the 
southern portion of the radiologically restricted area. This berm is 
expected to help prevent contaminated soil from leaving the controlled 
area. Silt fencing will be used as necessary to supplement the berm. 
Manual remediation of areas of elevated activities in lieu of heavy 
equipment will help reduce the need for mechanical removal of the top 
six inches of soil in some areas. Dust suppression methods, including 
water trucks, will be utilized as necessary to prevent the spread of 
windblown contamination during reclamation. A decontamination pad will 
be used as necessary to decontaminate equipment. The licensee believes 
that light rain will percolate into the ground, although heavy rains 
may transport some soil material into the two drainage ditches. Scraped 
surface areas will be covered with plastic sheeting as necessary until 
    With respect to other potentially endangered or threatened species, 
the licensee claims that the indigo snake has been seen in the vicinity 
of Test Area C-74L but does not live within the radiologically 
controlled area. Reclamation activities are not expected to adversely 
impact the habitat of the indigo snake on Eglin AFB ranges. Further, 
the licensee claims that there are no red cockaded woodpecker colonies 
within Test Area C-74L. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately 
decided that the proposed action (reclamation of the site) was not 
likely to adversely affect resources protected by the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended. This conclusion was reported to the 
NRC by letter dated February 25, 2004.
    The surficial groundwater is about 50-60 feet (15-18 meters) below 
land surface. Geologic literature indicates that the surficial aquifer 
beneath the site extends to approximately 125 feet (38 meters) below 
land surface. The Pensacola Clay separates the surficial aquifer from 
the underlying Floridian aquifer system. The Pensacola Clay layer is 
about 160 feet (49 meters) thick, meaning that the drinking water 
aquifer is no less than 285 feet (87 meters) below the land surface. 
The hydraulically impenetrable Pensacola Clay layer would be expected 
to prevent any contamination that might be present in the surficial 
groundwater from reaching the Floridian aquifer system even if the 
surficial groundwater was contaminated with DU.
    The licensee has conducted site characterization studies and 
concluded that the land surface contamination of DU has not impacted 
the groundwater. Most contamination is found within the first 6 inches 
(15 centimeters) of soil except in selected locations. In these 
discrete locations, contamination is no more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) 
below the land surface. There are two drinking water wells in the 
vicinity of the site. One is located onsite and is 644 feet (196 
meters) deep. The second is located a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) away 

[[Page 39807]]

has been permanently abandoned. The onsite drinking water well was 
sampled during 1983, and the sample result indicated no measurable 
quantities of radioactive materials above background values. Because 
the surficial groundwater is located 50-60 feet (15-18 meters) below 
surface, and the drinking water aquifer is located at least 285 feet 
(87 meters) below surface, the NRC concluded that the probability that 
DU contamination has impacted either the surficial or drinking water 
aquifer is highly unlikely.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    The licensee seeks NRC approval of the DP. The alternatives to the 
proposed action are: (1) The no-action alternative, or (2) to deny the 
amendment request and require the licensee to take some alternate 
1. No-Action Alternative
    One alternative available to the NRC is to take no action by 
denying the amendment request. Denial of the DP submittal would result 
in no change in current environmental conditions. The no-action 
alternative is not a feasible alternative because it will result in 
violation of the NRC's Timeliness Rule (10 CFR 30.36), which requires 
licensees to decommission their facilities when licensed activities 
2. Environmental Impacts of Alternative 2
    A second alternative is to deny the licensee's request in favor of 
alternate release criteria as allowed by Sec.  20.1403 (criteria for 
restricted conditions) or Sec.  20.1404 (alternate criteria). However, 
the NRC's analysis confirmed that the proposed action (approval of the 
DP as submitted) meets the license termination requirements of Sec.  
20.1402. Accordingly, the NRC has determined that the second 
alternative is not reasonable. Therefore, this alternative action is 
eliminated from further consideration in this EA.


    Based on its review, the NRC staff has concluded that the 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action do not 
warrant denial of the license amendment request. The NRC staff believes 
that the proposed action will result in minimal environmental impacts, 
including those to endangered species and critical habitats. The staff 
has determined that the proposed action, approval of the DP, is the 
appropriate alternative for selection.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    The NRC staff consulted with both the Florida State Historic 
Preservation Officer and the local U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office. 
The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources 
stated that no historic properties were known to exist in the area; 
therefore, the proposed decommissioning will have no effect on historic 
properties. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has informed the NRC that 
the proposed action (site reclamation) is not likely to adversely 
affect protected resources including endangered species and critical 
habitats. The NRC staff also consulted with the Florida Department of 
Health, Bureau of Radiation Control. By letter dated May 19, 2005, the 
State responded that it had no objections to the proposed EA and FONSI.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The NRC staff has concluded that the proposed action (amend the Air 
Force's license to approve the DP) complies with both the Timeliness 
Rule requirements of 10 CFR 30.36 and License Termination Rule 
requirements of 10 CFR 20.1402. On the basis of this EA, the NRC has 
concluded that there are no significant environmental impacts and the 
license amendment does not warrant the preparation of an Environmental 
Impact Statement. Accordingly, it has been determined that a Finding of 
No Significant Impact is appropriate.

IV. Further Information

    A copy of this document will be available electronically for public 
inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the Publicly 
Available Records (PARS) component of the NRC's document system. From 
this site, you can access the NRC's Agencywide Document Access and 
Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image files of NRC's 
public documents. The following references are available for inspection 
at NRC's Public Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public Electronic Reading Room). ADAMS accession 
numbers are located in parentheses following the reference.

    1. NRC, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support of 
Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for License Termination of NRC-
Licensed Nuclear Facilities,'' NUREG-1496, July 1997 (ML042310492).
    2. Pugh, Capt. David L., Department of the Air Force Memorandum, 
``Review of Decommissioning Plan for Eglin AFB, Florida,'' May 24, 
2002 (ML021970666, ML021970669, ML021980188, ML021980239, 
ML021990724, ML021990330, ML021990377, ML021990737, ML021990743).
    3. Pugh, Capt. David L., Department of the Air Force Memorandum, 
``Clarification Request For C-74L Decommissioning Plan,'' November 
1, 2002 (ML023370482, ML023370535, ML023370648, ML023370660, 
ML023370675, ML023380282, ML023380332).
    4. Brockman, Ken E., NRC Letter to Air Force, ``Acknowledgment 
of Receipt of Decommissioning Plan,'' November 25, 2002 
    5. Spitzberg, D. Blair, NRC Memorandum, ``Notice of 
Consideration of Amendment Request for Department of the Air Force, 
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Opportunity for Providing 
Comments and Requesting a Hearing,'' January 27, 2003 (ML030270180).
    6. Brockman, Ken E., NRC Memorandum, ``Regional Technical 
Assistance Request Form,'' January 29, 2003 (ML030300253).
    7. Cain, Charles L., ``NRC Inspection Report 030-28641/2003-
01,'' February 11, 2003 (ML030420534).
    8. Kokajko, Lawrence E., NRC Memorandum, ``Review of Derived 
Concentration Guideline Levels (DCGLs) for Eglin Air Force Base,'' 
April 10, 2003 (ML031000111).
    9. Cain, Charles L., NRC Letter to Air Force, ``Request for 
Additional Information Regarding Eglin Air Force Base 
Decommissioning Plan,'' April 24, 2003 (ML031140240).
    10. Spitzberg, D. Blair, NRC Letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife 
Service, ``Request for Comments Regarding Endangered/Threatened 
Species and Critical Habitats,'' June 9, 2003 (ML031600579).
    11. Spitzberg, D. Blair, NRC Letter to Florida State Historic 
Preservation Officer, ``Request for Comments Regarding Cultural and 
Historical Resources at Eglin Air Force Base,'' June 9, 2003 
    12. Carmody, Gail A., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Letter to 
NRC, ``Reclamation and Decommissioning Uranium Munitions Site, Area 
C-74L,'' July 7, 2003 (ML031920346).
    13. Matthews, Janet Snyder, Florida Department of State Letter 
to NRC, ``Reclamation Activities Within a Four-Acre Property at Test 
Area C-74L, Walton County,'' July 8, 2003 (ML032050604).
    14. NRC, NUREG-1748, ``Environmental Review Guidance for 
Licensing Actions Associated With NMSS Programs,'' July 2003 
    15. Mather, Lt. Col. Kali K., Air Force Memorandum to NRC, 
``Supplement to the Decommissioning Plan for Test Area C-74L, Eglin 
AFB, FL,'' August 21, 2003 (ML032450123).
    16. NRC, NUREG-1757, ``Consolidated NMSS Decommissioning 
Guidance,'' Volumes 1-3, September 2003 (ML032530410, ML032530405, 
    17. Seiber, Stephen M., Air Force Letter to NRC, ``No Effect 
Determination,'' February 11, 2004 (ML040430157).
    18. Spitzberg, D. Blair, NRC letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife 
Services, ``Request for Comments Regarding Department of Air Force's 
Determination of No Effect,'' February 18, 2004 (ML040690296).

[[Page 39808]]

    19. Carmody, Gail A., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Response to 
NRC's Letter ``Request for Comments Regarding Department of Air 
Force's Determination of No Effect,'' February 25, 2004 
    20. Whitten, Jack E., NRC Letter to Air Force, ``Request for 
Additional Information Regarding Eglin Air Force Base 
Decommissioning Plan,'' February 19, 2004 (ML040500864).
    21. Whitten, Jack E., ``NRC Inspection Report 030-28641/04-
001,'' February 25, 2004 (ML040570122).
    22. Abell, Capt. Clint E., Air Force Memorandum to NRC, 
``Decommissioning Plan for Test Area C-74L, Eglin AFB, Florida,'' 
October 27, 2004 (ML043410237).
    23. Abell, Capt. Clint E., Air Force Memorandum to NRC, 
``Response to NRC Query of Decommissioning of Test Area C-74L, Eglin 
Air Force Base, Florida,'' January 13, 2005 (ML050320251).
    24. Passetti, William A., Florida Department of Health Letter to 
NRC, ``Environmental Assessment for Decommissioning of Test Area C-
74L at Eglin Air Force Base,'' May 19, 2005 (ML051640567).

    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 (800) 397-4209, (301) 415-4737 
or by e-mail to [email protected]. Documents may also be viewed 
electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's PDR, O 1 
F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. 
The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee.

    Dated at Arlington, Texas this 28th day of June, 2005.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
D. Blair Spitzberg,
Chief, Fuel Cycle & Decommissioning Branch, Division of Nuclear 
Materials Safety, Region IV.
[FR Doc. E5-3629 Filed 7-8-05; 8:45 am]