[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 131 (Monday, July 11, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 39808-39810]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E5-3630]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 030-30429]


Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact for License Amendment for Core Laboratories, 
Houston, TX

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jack E. Whitten, Branch Chief, Nuclear 
Materials Licensing Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, 
Region RIV, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, 
Suite 400, Arlington, TX 76011. Telephone: (817) 860-8197; fax number 
(817) 860-8263; e-mail: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the 
issuance of a license amendment to Material License No. 42-26928-01 
issued to Core Laboratories, Inc., (dba ProTechnics) to authorize the 
utilization of cesium-137 in quantities in excess of limits listed in 
10 CFR 30.71 for well logging activities at temporary job sites where 
NRC maintains jurisdiction. The NRC has prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) in support of this action in accordance with the 
requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. Based on the EA, the NRC has determined 
that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate. The 
amendment will be issued following the publication of this Notice.

II. Environmental Assessment

Background

    Core Laboratories, Inc., (Core Laboratories) is a well logging 
licensee based in Houston, Texas, and conducts tracer operations using 
radioactive materials in oil and natural gas fields worldwide. Core 
Laboratories is licensed by both the NRC and Agreement States 
(Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas) to conduct well logging operations.
    By letter dated July 14, 1997, Core Laboratories requested that NRC 
grant an amendment to allow the use of radioactive collar markers 
containing activities of byproduct material exceeding the limits listed 
in 10 CFR 30.71. An EA was written and based on the EA, the NRC 
concluded that a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) was 
appropriate. The EA and the FONSI were published in the 67 Federal 
Register (FR) 5320, February 5, 2002. On March 9, 2002, Core 
Laboratories was granted an amendment authorizing an exemption to 10 
CFR 30.71. This amendment authorized Core Laboratories to use pipe 
collar markers containing iridium-192, scandium-46, antimony-124, 
cobalt-60, and cesium-137 with activities up to 50 micro curies 
([mu]Ci).
    On February 23, 2004, Core Laboratories requested an amendment to 
increase the activity of radioactive markers containing cesium-137 from 
the 50 [mu]Ci, previously approved, with activities up to 100 [mu]Ci. 
This 100 [mu]Ci activity exceeds the quantities of byproduct material 
listed for use as pipe collar markers in oil and gas wells in 10 CFR 
39.47, 10 CFR 30.71, and the activities authorized in the March 9, 
2002, license amendment to Core Laboratories' byproduct material 
license. The NRC has reviewed the licensee's amendment request and has 
developed this EA to assess the environmental consequences of this 
licensing action using the guidance provided in NUREG-1748, 
Environmental Review Guidance for Licensing Actions Associated with 
NMSS Programs.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to amend the license and modify the previous 
exemption by approving the licensee's request to use radioactive 
markers containing 100 [mu]Ci cesium-137 for use as pipe collar markers 
in oil and gas wells. This proposed activity exceeds the limits of 
radioactive markers authorized in 10 CFR 39.47 and 10 CFR 30.71.
    The radioactive markers Core Laboratories requested authorization 
to use in well logging activities are either installed directly in the 
pipe collars or are placed on the pipe collar threads and secured 
between the pipe casing joints and are not easily removed. Once 
installed in a well bore, the pipe casing and collars are cemented into 
place.
    By letter dated July 14, 1997, Core Laboratories in its 
correspondence to NRC, describes the procedures it will have in place 
involving the customer or well owner/operator. These procedures state, 
in part, that the customer or well owner/operator must contact Core 
Laboratories in the event the radioactive pipe collar markers must be 
removed. Core Laboratories will be available on site to secure and take 
possession of the collar markers upon their return to the surface. 
Additionally, Core Laboratories will provide the customer or well 
owner/operator a copy of Attachment XII-1 (Core Laboratories' 
Radioactive Collar Marker Utilization Log) as a written record of the 
requirement to notify Core Laboratories if markers returned to the 
surface before a specified date.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action is necessary so that Core Laboratories can 
efficiently carry out its business of well logging in the oil and gas 
industry. The need for an increase in activity for cesium-137 is due to 
the heavier density of the materials being used in the well logging 
application. The higher activity radioactive markers will allow, when 
logging certain oil and gas wells, for more accurate pipe collar 
location

[[Page 39809]]

measurements for longer periods of time. Radioactive markers with lower 
activities may result in Core Laboratories having to depend on less 
accurate pipe collar location measurements when logging oil and gas 
wells, thereby providing less accurate information to the well owner/
operator.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    Core laboratories provided calculations in its November 14, 1997, 
and February 27, 2004, letters that demonstrated that the 100 millirem 
in a year or 2 millirem in any one hour limits to a member of the 
public would not be exceeded at any time while using the pipe collar 
markers with increased 50 to 100 [mu]Ci activities.
    There will be no significant environmental impact realized from the 
proposed action, due to no material being released into the environment 
and all of the material being wholly contained within the pipe collars. 
Additionally, the pipe collar markers will be recovered by Core 
Laboratories should the casing containing the collars be removed from 
the well bores.
    If the collar markers are returned to the surface prior to having 
decayed to exempt quantity levels specified on Core Laboratories 
customer agreement, the customer is required to contact Core 
Laboratories to take possession of the markers. These markers are then 
removed from the equipment, placed into a lead shield, and then placed 
into a U.S. Department of Transportation 7A transport container for 
shipment back to Core Laboratories.
    Upon return to the storage facility, the markers are placed into 
waste storage to await decay or shipment to an authorized recipient for 
disposal when quantities of waste justifies such a shipment.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    The only alternative to the proposed action of increasing the 
activity of radioactive markers containing cesium-137 from 50 [mu]Ci to 
100 [mu]Ci is to take no action. The no-action alternative would be to 
allow the licensee to maintain radioactive marker activities currently 
authorized in Core Laboratories' NRC license. Again, there will be no 
significant environmental impact realized from the proposed action or 
the alternative to the proposed action, due to no material being 
released into the environment and all of the material being wholly 
contained within the pipe collars.
    On March 9, 2002, Core Laboratories was granted an amendment 
authorizing an exemption to 10 CFR 30.71 to use pipe collar markers 
containing iridium-192, scandium-46, antimony-124, cobalt-60, and 
cesium-137 with activities up to 50 [mu]Ci. An EA was published in the 
67 FR 55320, February 5, 2002, and based on the EA the NRC concluded 
that environmental impacts that would be created by the proposed action 
would not have a significant effect on the quality of the environment 
and did not warrant the preparation of an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS). Accordingly, it was determined that a FONSI was 
appropriate.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    Since the proposed action occurs downhole in the well bore and 
results in a permanent installation, the NRC has concluded that there 
is no potential to affect threatened or endangered species or historic 
resources. Therefore, no further consultation is required under Section 
7 of the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, NRC staff has determined 
that the proposed action is not the type of activity that has potential 
to cause effects on historic properties. Therefore, no further 
consultation is required under Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act.
    The NRC staff provided letters to the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) and Agreement States of Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico 
for their review and comments, in accordance with NUREG-1748, Section 
3.3. The Agreement States that were contacted provided no comments. By 
letter dated March 3, 2005, the EPA responded and recommended that the 
NRC, as a condition of approving the license amendment, have Core 
Laboratories provide notice to the Federal or State natural resource 
agency of which wells have the radioactive collar installed. The NRC 
staff took this comment into consideration and determined that Core 
Laboratories already provides notification to agreement states via 
reciprocity before performing well logging activities in the respective 
agreement states.

Conclusion

    Based in its review, the NRC staff has concluded that there are no 
significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed action 
and the preparation of an EIS is not warranted. The staff has 
determined that the proposed action, approval of the license amendment 
request to increase the activity of radioactive markers containing 
cesium-137 from the 50 [mu]Ci, to100 [mu]Ci, is the appropriate 
alternative for selection.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The NRC staff has concluded that the proposed action complies with 
10 CFR Part 20. Exposure to a member of the public would be less than 
the limits specified in 10 CFR 20.1302. The licensee provided 
calculations that demonstrated that the 100 millirem in a year or 2 
millirem in any one hour could not be exceeded when normal restricted 
boundaries were established. The NRC staff prepared this EA in support 
of the proposed action to amend the license. 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 EIS. Accordingly, it has been determined that a FONSI is 
appropriate.

IV. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
amendment and supporting documentation, are available electronically at 
the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. 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 ADAMS accession numbers for 
the documents related to this notice are listed below. If you do not 
have access to ADAMS or if there are problems in accessing the 
documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC's Public Document Room 
(PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to 
[email protected].
    These 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.

    1. NRC, ``Environmental Review Guidance for Licensing Actions 
Associated with NMSS Programs,'' NUREG-1748, August 2003. 
(ML032540811).
    2. NRC, ``Consolidated NMSS Decommissioning Guidance,'' NUREG-
1757, Volume 1, September 2003 (ML032530410).
    3. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Texas Bureau of 
Radiation Control License No. L03835, Amendment No. 41, expiration 
date August 31, 2005 (ML051510390).
    4. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Louisiana 
Department of Environmental Quality License No. LA-6678-L01, 
Amendment No. 17, expiration date October 31, 2004 (ML051510385).
    5. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories New Mexico 
Radiation Control Bureau License No. WL264-26, expiration date 
February 28, 2007 (ML051510393).

[[Page 39810]]

    6. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, 
February 23, 2004 (ML040580736).
    7. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, July 
14, 1997 (ML003724357).
    8. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, 
November 14, 1997 (ML003724675).
    9. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, 
February 4, 1998 (ML003724694).
    10. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, 
January 20, 1998 (ML003724684).
    11. ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories Letter to NRC, 
February 27, 2004 (ML040580735).
    12. Federal Register Volume 67, Number 24, pages 5320-5321
    13. NRC letter to Roger Mulder, State of Texas, January 7, 2005 
(ML050130550).
    14. NRC letter to Derrith Watchman-Moore, State of New Mexico, 
January 7, 2005 (ML050130548).
    15. NRC letter to Michael Henry, State of Louisiana, January 7, 
2005 (ML050130549).
    16. NRC letter to Robert Smith, EPA, January 7, 2005 
(ML050130547).
    17. NRC letter to Bruce Kobelski, EPA, January 7, 2005 
(ML050130545).
    18. EPA letter to Mark Satorius, NRC, March 3, 2005 
(ML050690294).

    Dated at Arlington, Texas, this 27th day of June, 2005.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jack E. Whitten,
Chief, Nuclear Materials Licensing Branch, Division of Nuclear 
Materials Safety, Region IV.
[FR Doc. E5-3630 Filed 7-8-05; 8:45 am]
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