[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 205 (Tuesday, October 25, 2005)]
[Pages 61651-61654]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E5-5874]



[Docket No. 50-461]

Amergen Energy Company, LLC; Clinton Power Station, Unit 1; 
Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of an amendment to Facility Operating License No. NPF-62 
issued to AmerGen Energy Company, LLC (AmerGen or the licensee), for 
operation of Clinton Power Station, Unit 1 (CPS), located in DeWitt 
County, Illinois. Therefore, as required by 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC is 
issuing this environmental assessment and finding of no significant 

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would revise Technical Specification 4.3, 
``Fuel Assemblies,'' for CPS to reflect the increased fuel storage 
capacity in the spent fuel pool (SFP) and the addition of fuel storage 
capacity in the fuel cask storage pool. The proposed expansion will 
increase the total storage capacity from 2,512 to 4,159 fuel 
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated August 18, 2004, as supplemented on May 13 and 25, 
June 14, and August 17, 2005.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The loss of full core discharge capability at CPS is projected to 
occur during the February 2006 refueling outage, based on current 
projections. To maintain spent fuel storage capability, AmerGen would 
like to expand SFP storage capacity. The proposed action would result 
in the increased fuel storage capacity in the SFP and the addition of 
fuel storage capacity in the fuel cask storage pool. The proposed 
expansion will increase the total storage capacity from 2,512 to 4,159 
fuel assemblies. The additional capacity is expected to allow operation 
without loss of full-core discharge capability until the year 2016.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

Radioactive Waste Treatment

    CPS uses waste treatment systems designed to collect and process 
gaseous, liquid, and solid waste that might contain radioactive 
material. These radioactive waste treatment systems were evaluated in 
the Final Environmental Statement (FES) for CPS, Unit 1, dated May 
1982. The proposed changes to the SFP will not involve any change in 
the waste treatment systems described in the FES.

Gaseous Radioactive Wastes

    The increase in the number of spent fuel assemblies stored in the 
SFP will potentially result in an increase in the radioactive gasses 
evolving from the pool. However, the level of gaseous radioactivity in 
the pool water is dominated by the most recent reactor core offload to 
the pool, not the fuel already stored in the pool. Therefore, the 
storage of additional aged spent fuel assemblies in the pool will have 
a minimal contribution to radioactivity in the pool. The overall 
release of radioactive gases from CPS will remain within the limits of 
Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Section 20.1301.

Solid Radioactive Wastes

    Spent resins are generated by the processing of SFP water through 
the pools' purification system. These spent resins are disposed of as 
solid radioactive waste. Resin replacement is determined primarily by 
the requirement for water clarity and is normally done approximately 
once per year. No significant increase in the volume of solid 
radioactive waste is expected with the expanded storage capacity. 
During pool re-racking operations, small amounts of additional waste 
resin may be generated by the

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pools' cleanup systems on a one-time basis. Additional solid 
radioactive waste will consist of the existing contaminated fuel 
storage racks. The old existing fuel storage racks will be washed down 
prior to being removed from the pool to remove as much contamination as 
possible. Then the racks will be shipped to a volume reduction facility 
for processing and subsequent disposal at a burial site. Shipping 
containers and procedures will conform to Federal regulations as 
specified in 10 CFR Part 71, ``Packaging and Transportation of 
Radioactive Material,'' and to the requirements of any state through 
which the shipment may pass, as set forth by the state department of 

Liquid Radioactive Wastes

    The release of radioactive liquids will not be affected directly as 
a result of the SFP modifications. The SFP ion exchanger resins remove 
soluble radioactive materials from the pool water. When the resins are 
replaced, the small amount of resin sluice water that is released is 
processed by the radwaste systems. As previously stated, the frequency 
of resin replacement may increase slightly during the installation of 
the new racks. However, the increase in the amount of radioactive 
liquid released to the environment as a result of the proposed SFP 
expansion is expected to be negligible.

Occupational Dose Consideration

    All operations involved in the fuel rack installations will follow 
detailed procedures prepared in accordance with as low as reasonably 
achievable (ALARA) principles. Personnel performing the re-racking 
operation will be given pre-job briefings to ensure awareness of job 
responsibilities and necessary precautions. Radiation protection 
personnel at CPS will monitor and control work, personnel traffic, and 
equipment movement in the SFP area to minimize contamination and assure 
that exposures are maintained ALARA. Personnel monitoring equipment 
(including thermoluminescence dosimeter (TLDs)), protective clothing, 
and respiratory protective equipment will be issued as required. 
Alarming dosimeters will be used as needed to confirm exposure and dose 
rates to workers.
    The licensee plans to use divers in the pool to remove underwater 
interferences and assist in fuel storage rack removal. Procedures for 
controlling diving operations will comply with the guidance in 
Regulatory Guide 8.38, ``Control of Access to High and Very High 
Radiation Areas in Nuclear Power Plants.'' During the diving 
operations, the licensee estimates that dose rates will average from 20 
to 40 mrem/hr. Special precautions such as physical barriers or tethers 
will be used to prevent a diver from coming in close proximity to 
highly radioactive materials in the pool. The diver will be confined to 
a safe diving area within the pool, which will be clearly delineated in 
the pre-job brief as well as physically marked in the pool. The diver 
will be visually monitored, either directly or remotely, at all times 
during the dive. In addition, the diver will be monitored by a remote 
dose telemetry system. This system enables the radiation protection 
personnel supervising the dive to obtain the dose being delivered to 
the diver's body. The diver will have a hand-held probe to complete 
radiological surveys when entering the water. Divers exiting the pool 
will be monitored for radiation and contamination, as will all items 
removed from the pool. Appropriate measures will be taken to minimize 
the spread of contamination. The existing fuel racks that are removed 
from the pool will be rinsed and surveyed as they break the water's 
surface, allowed to ``drip dry,'' and then placed in plastic shipping 
bags to contain any contamination until they are placed in shipping 
containers to be taken offsite for disposal.
    The increased storage capacity will not affect dose rates in areas 
adjacent to the SFP and transfer canal. The concrete side walls of the 
SFP provide sufficient shielding that the maximum dose rate in adjacent 
areas from fuel in the SFP is calculated to be 2 mrem/hr, if the pool 
is completely filled with freshly offloaded fuel. The walls of the fuel 
cask storage pool are not as thick, and the licensee's shielding 
calculations indicate that filling the racks that are proposed to be 
installed in the fuel cask storage pool with freshly offloaded fuel 
could result in dose rates of up to 26 mrem/hr in adjacent areas. This 
could be mitigated by filling the outer (peripheral) three rows of the 
storage cells with older (more decayed) fuel, thus reducing the maximum 
dose rate in the adjacent areas to 4.4 mrem/hr. The licensee will 
implement administrative controls to ensure that fuel stored in the 
peripheral storage cells will have been stored outside of the reactor 
for a minimum of 10 years, allowing sufficient decay time.
    On the basis of its review of the licensee's proposal, the NRC 
staff concludes that the CPS SFP re-racking operations can be performed 
in a manner that will ensure that doses to workers will be maintained 
ALARA and that the generation of additional solid radioactive waste 
will be minimized. The staff concludes that the projected dose for the 
project of 7 to 14 person-rem is in the range of doses for similar 
modifications at other nuclear plants.

Accident Considerations

    The licensee evaluated the impact of newly installed higher density 
storage racks in the SFP and fuel storage in the fuel cask storage pool 
on the current design basis accident (DBA) dose analyses, as discussed 
in the CPS Updated Safety Analysis Report. The DBAs that are 
potentially affected by the proposed change to the SFP storage capacity 
are the fuel handling accident (FHA) and the cask drop accident. By 
Amendment No. 147, dated April 3, 2002, the CPS licensing basis for the 
FHA was changed by a selective implementation of an alternative source 
term, per the provisions of 10 CFR 50.67. In support of that amendment 
request, AmerGen demonstrated that the radiological consequences of an 
FHA, either in the containment or in the fuel building, are within the 
offsite and control room dose acceptance criteria specified in NUREG-
0800, ``Standard Review Plan for the Review of Safety Analysis Reports 
for Nuclear Power Plants,'' and General Design Criterion 19 of 10 CFR 
Part 50, Appendix A, and well within the dose criteria given in 10 CFR 
    The NRC staff performed a review of the licensee's analysis of the 
proposed action on DBA dose analyses. Adding additional spent fuel 
storage does not increase the amount of fuel assumed to be damaged in 
an FHA, and the proposed action does not significantly change the 
source term in the DBA; therefore, the staff finds that the current 
licensing basis FHA dose analysis remains applicable after the 
expansion of the spent fuel storage capacity. The licensee plans to 
install spent fuel storage racks in the fuel cask storage pool. The 
licensee will implement administrative controls to ensure that fuel 
will be removed from the racks in the fuel cask storage pool prior to 
any fuel cask being moved in the area. Therefore, there would be no 
damage to spent fuel or radiological consequences as a result of a cask 
drop on the empty fuel storage racks in the fuel cask storage area. 
Based on its review, the staff finds that the current licensing basis 
analysis of the cask drop accident remains bounding with respect to 
radiological consequences.
    During removal and installation of fuel storage racks in the SFP 
and fuel cask storage pool, AmerGen will ensure that all work will be 
controlled and performed in strict accordance with specific written 
guidance. Any

[[Page 61653]]

movement of fuel assemblies required to support removal and 
installation of racks will be performed as during normal refueling 
operations, and no shipping cask movement will be performed during this 
time frame. The licensee will determine and follow safe load paths and 
written procedures to ensure that no racks are carried over any 
portions of the existing fuel storage racks containing fuel assemblies.
    Based on its review, the staff concludes that the current DBA dose 
analyses remain bounding for the installation of expanded spent fuel 
storage capacity in the SFP and fuel cask storage pool.
    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 the amount of any effluent 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 non-radiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not have a potential to affect any historic sites. It does 
not affect non-radiological plant effluents and has no other 
environmental impact. Therefore, there are no significant non-
radiological environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Alternatives to the Proposed Action

Shipping Fuel to a Permanent Federal Fuel Storage/Disposal Facility

    Shipment of spent fuel to a high-level radioactive storage facility 
is an alternative to increasing the onsite spent fuel storage capacity. 
However, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) proposed high-level 
radioactive waste repository is not expected to begin receiving spent 
fuel in the near future. Therefore, shipping the spent fuel to the DOE 
repository is not considered an alternative to increased onsite fuel 
storage capacity at this time.

Shipping Fuel to a Reprocessing Facility

    Reprocessing of spent fuel from CPS is not a viable alternative 
since there are no operating commercial reprocessing facilities in the 
United States. Therefore, spent fuel would have to be shipped to an 
overseas facility for reprocessing. However, this approach has never 
been used and it would require approval by the Department of State as 
well as other entities.
    Additionally, the cost of spent fuel reprocessing is not offset by 
the salvage value of the residual uranium; reprocessing represents an 
added cost.

Shipping the Fuel Offsite to Another Utility or another Exelon/AmerGen 

    The shipment of fuel to another utility or transferring fuel to 
another of the licensee's facilities would provide short-term relief 
from the shortage of SFP storage at CPS. However, the Nuclear Waste 
Policy Act of 1982, Subtitle B, Section 131(a)(1) clearly places the 
responsibility for the interim storage of spent fuel with each owner or 
operator of a nuclear plant. The SFPs at the other reactor sites were 
designed with capacity to accommodate spent fuel from those particular 
sites. Therefore, transferring spent fuel from CPS to other sites would 
create storage capacity problems at those locations. The shipment of 
spent fuel to another site or transferring it to another Exelon/AmerGen 
site is not an acceptable alternative because of increased fuel 
handling risks and additional occupational radiation exposure, as well 
as the fact that no additional storage capacity would be created.

Alternatives Creating Additional Storage Capacity

    Alternative technologies that would create additional storage 
capacity include rod consolidation, dry cask storage, modular vault dry 
storage, and constructing a new pool. Rod consolidation involves 
disassembling the spent fuel assemblies and storing the fuel rods from 
two or more assemblies into a stainless steel canister that can be 
stored in the spent fuel racks. Industry experience with rod 
consolidation is currently limited, primarily due to concerns for 
potential gap activity release due to rod breakage, the potential for 
increased fuel cladding corrosion due to some of the protective oxide 
layer being scraped off, and because the time-consuming consolidation 
activity could interfere with ongoing plant operations. Dry cask 
storage is a method of transferring spent fuel, after storage in the 
pool for several years, to high capacity casks with passive heat 
dissipation features. After loading, the casks are stored outdoors on a 
seismically qualified concrete pad. Concerns for dry cask storage 
include the need for special security provisions and high cost. Vault 
storage consists of storing spent fuel in shielded stainless steel 
cylinders in a horizontal configuration in a reinforced concrete vault. 
The concrete vault provides missile and earthquake protection and 
radiation shielding. Concerns for vault dry storage include security, 
land consumption, eventual decommissioning of the new vault, the 
potential for fuel or clad rupture due to high temperatures, and high 
cost. The alternative of constructing and licensing new SFPs is not 
practical for CPS because such an effort would require about 10 years 
to complete and would be an expensive alternative.
    The alternative technologies that could create additional storage 
capacity involve additional fuel handling with an attendant opportunity 
for an FHA, involve higher cumulative dose to workers affecting the 
fuel transfers, require additional security measures that are 
significantly more expensive, and would not result in a significant 
reduction in environmental impacts compared to the proposed re-racking 

Reduction of Spent Fuel Generation

    Generally, improved usage of the fuel and/or operation at a reduced 
power level would be an alternative that would decrease the amount of 
fuel being stored in the SFPs and, thus, increase the amount of time 
before the maximum storage capacities of the SFPs are reached. However, 
operating the plant at a reduced power level would not make effective 
use of available resources, and would cause unnecessary economic 
hardship on the licensee and its customers. Therefore, reducing the 
amount of spent fuel generated by reducing power is not considered a 
practical alternative.

Impact on SFP Storage From Increasing Length of Fuel Cycle

    By letter dated May 20, 2004, as supplemented May 23 and September 
30, 2005, the licensee requested changes to the Technical Specification 
Surveillance Requirement frequencies to support 24-month fuel cycles at 
CPS in accordance with the guidance of Generic Letter 91-04, ``Changes 
in Technical Specification Surveillance Intervals to Accommodate a 24-
Month Fuel Cycle.'' Currently, this request is under review by the NRC 
staff. If this request is approved, CPS will experience a loss of full 
core discharge capability sooner. Therefore, this is not a practical 
alternative to the proposed action.

The No-Action Alternative

    The NRC staff also 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

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environmental impacts of the proposed action and this 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 FES for CPS, Unit 1, dated May 1982.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on September 27, 2005, the 
NRC staff consulted with Illinois State Official, Frank Niziolek of the 
Illinois Emergency Management Agency, 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 August 18, 2004, as supplemented by letters 
dated May 13 and 25, June 14, and August 17, 2005. Documents may be 
examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's Public Document Room 
(PDR), located at One White Flint North, 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 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 contact the NRC PDR Reference staff at 1-800-
397-4209, or 301-415-4737, or send an e-mail to [email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 17th day of October, 2005.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Kahtan N. Jabbour,
Sr. Manager, Section 2, Project Directorate III, Division of Licensing 
Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
 [FR Doc. E5-5874 Filed 10-24-05; 8:45 am]