[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 203 (Monday, October 22, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 59563-59572]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-20761]



[[Page 59563]]

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 50-354]


 PSEG Nuclear, LLC; Hope Creek Generating Station Draft 
Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Related 
to the Proposed License Amendment To Increase the Maximum Reactor Power 
Level

AGENCY: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
SUMMARY: The NRC has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) as 
its evaluation of a request by the PSEG Nuclear, LLC (PSEG) for license 
amendments to increase the maximum thermal power at Hope Creek 
Generating Station (HCGS) from 3,339 megawatts-thermal (MWt) to 3,840 
MWt. The EA assesses environmental impacts up to a maximum thermal 
power level of 3,952 MWt, as the applicant's environmental report was 
based on that power level. As stated in the NRC staff's position paper 
dated February 8, 1996, on the Boiling-Water Reactor (BWR) Extended 
Power Uprate (EPU) Program, the NRC staff would prepare an 
environmental impact statement if it believes a power uprate would have 
a significant impact on the human environment. The NRC staff did not 
identify any significant impact from the information provided in the 
licensee's EPU application for HCGS or from the NRC staff's independent 
review; therefore, the NRC staff is documenting its environmental 
review in an EA. The draft EA and Finding of No Significant Impact are 
being published in the Federal Register with a 30-day public comment 
period.

Environmental Assessment

Plant Site and Environs

    HCGS is located on the southern part of Artificial Island, on the 
east bank of the Delaware River, in Lower Alloways Creek Township, 
Salem County, New Jersey. While called Artificial Island, the site is 
actually connected to the mainland of New Jersey by a strip of 
tideland, formed by hydraulic fill from dredging operations on the 
Delaware River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The site is 15 
miles south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, 18 miles south of 
Wilmington, Delaware, 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 
and 7.5 miles southwest of Salem, New Jersey. The station is located on 
a 300-acre site.
    The site is located in the southern region of the Delaware River 
Valley, which is defined as the area immediately adjacent to the 
Delaware River and extending from Trenton to Cape May Point, New 
Jersey, on the eastern side, and from Morrisville, Pennsylvania, to 
Lewes, Delaware, on the western side. This region is characterized by 
extensive tidal marshlands and low-lying meadowlands. Most land in this 
area is undeveloped. A great deal of land adjacent to the Delaware 
River, near the site, is public land, owned by the Federal and State 
governments. The main access to the plant is from a road constructed by 
PSEG. This road connects with Alloways Creek Neck Road, about 2.5 
miles, east of the site. Access to the plant site and all activities 
thereon are under the control of PSEG.

Identification of the Proposed Action

    HCGS is a single unit plant that employs a General Electric BWR 
that was designed to operate at a rated core thermal power of 3,339 
MWt, at 100-percent steam flow, with a turbine-generated rating of 
approximately 1,139 megawatts-electric (MWe).
    In 1984, NRC issued operating license NPF-57 to HCGS, authorizing 
operation up to a maximum power level of 3,293 MWt. In 2001, NRC 
authorized a license amendment for a 1.4 percent power uprate from 
3,293 MWt to 3,339 MWt and issued an Environmental Assessment and 
Finding of No Significant Impact for Increase in Allowable Thermal 
Power Level (NRC 2001).
    By letter dated September 18, 2006, PSEG proposed an amendment to 
the operating license for HCGS, to increase the maximum thermal power 
level by approximately 15 percent, from 3,339 MWt to 3,840 MWt. The 
change is considered an EPU because it would raise the reactor core 
power levels more than 7 percent above the originally licensed maximum 
power level. According to the licensee, the proposed action would 
involve installation of a higher efficiency turbine and an increase in 
the heat output of the reactor. This would increase turbine inlet flow 
requirements and increase the heat dissipated by the condenser to 
support increased turbine exhaust steam flow requirements. In the 
turbine portion of the heat cycle, increases in the turbine throttle 
pressure and steam flow would result in a small increase in the heat 
rejected to the cooling tower and the temperature of the water being 
discharged into the Delaware River. In addition, there would be an 
increase in the particulate air emission and an increase in the 
contaminants that are in the blowdown water discharge.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    PSEG (2005) evaluated the need for additional electrical generation 
capacity in its service area for the planning period of 2002-2011. 
Information provided by the North American Electric Reliability Council 
showed that, in order to meet projected demands, generating capacity 
must be increased by at least 2 percent per year for the Mid-Atlantic 
Area Council and the PJM Interconnection, LLC (PSEG 2005). Such demand 
increase would exceed PSEG's capacity to generate electricity for its 
customers.
    PSEG determined that a combination of increased power generation 
and purchase of power from the electrical grid would be needed to meet 
the projected demands. Increasing the generating capacity at HCGS was 
estimated to provide lower-cost power than can be purchased on the 
current and projected energy market. In addition, increasing nuclear 
generating capacity would lessen the need to depend on fossil fuel 
alternatives that are subject to unpredictable cost fluctuations and 
increasing environmental costs.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    At the time of issuance of the operating license for HCGS, the NRC 
staff noted that any activity authorized by the license would be 
encompassed by the overall action evaluated in the Final Environmental 
Statement (FES) for the operation of HCGS that was issued by the NRC in 
December 1984 (NRC 1984). This EA summarizes the non-radiological and 
radiological impacts that may result from the proposed action.

Non-Radiological Impacts

Land Use Impacts

    The potential impacts associated with land use (including 
aesthetics and historic and archaeological resources) include impacts 
from construction and plant modifications at HCGS. While some plant 
components would be modified, most plant changes related to the 
proposed EPU would occur within existing structures, buildings, and 
fenced equipment yards housing major components within the developed 
part of the site. No new construction would occur, and no expansion of 
buildings, roads, parking lots, equipment storage areas, or 
transmission facilities would be required to support the proposed EPU 
(PSEG 2005).
    Existing parking lots, road access, offices, workshops, warehouses, 
and restrooms would be used during

[[Page 59564]]

construction and plant modifications. Therefore, land use would not 
change at HCGS. In addition, there would be no land use changes along 
transmission lines (no new lines would be required for the proposed 
EPU), transmission corridors, switchyards, or substations. Because land 
use conditions would not change at HCGS and because any disturbance 
would occur within previously disturbed areas, there would be no impact 
to aesthetic resources and historic and archeological resources in the 
vicinity of HCGS (PSEG 2005).
    The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) was promulgated to encourage 
and assist States and territories in developing management programs 
that preserve, protect, develop, and, where possible, restore the 
resources of the coastal zone. A ``coastal zone'' is generally 
described as the coastal waters and the adjacent shore lands strongly 
influenced by each other. This includes islands, transitional and 
intertidal areas, salt marshes, wetlands, beaches, and Great Lakes 
waters. Activities of Federal agencies that are reasonably likely to 
affect coastal zones shall be consistent with the approved coastal 
management program (CMP) of the State or territory to the maximum 
extent practical. The CZMA provisions apply to all actions requiring 
Federal approval (new plant licenses, license renewals, materials 
licenses, and major amendments to existing licenses) that affect the 
coastal zone in a State or territory with a Federally approved CMP. On 
April 23, 2007, PSEG submitted an application requesting the State of 
New Jersey to perform the Federal consistency determination in 
accordance with CZMA. On July 3, 2007, the New Jersey Department of 
Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Land Use Regulation Program, acting 
under Section 307 of the Federal Coastal Management Act, agreed with 
the certification that the EPU is consistent with the approved New 
Jersey Coastal Management Program.
    The impacts of continued operation of HCGS under EPU conditions are 
bounded by the evaluation in the FES for operation (NRC 1984). 
Therefore, the potential impacts to land use, aesthetics, and historic 
and archaeological resources from the proposed EPU would not be 
significant.

Cooling Tower Impacts

    HCGS has one natural draft cooling tower that is currently used to 
reduce the heat output to the environment. The potential impacts 
associated with cooling tower operation under the proposed EPU could 
affect aesthetics, salt drift deposition, noise, fogging or icing, 
wildlife, and particulate emissions.
    The proposed EPU would not result in significant changes to 
aesthetics such as cooling tower plume dimension at HCGS. Atmospheric 
emissions from the natural draft cooling tower consist primarily of 
waste heat and water vapor resulting in persistent cloudlike plumes. 
The size of the cooling tower plume depends on the meteorological 
conditions such as temperature, dew point, and relative humidity. For 
the proposed EPU, NRC does not anticipate any change in the dimension 
of the plume under equivalent meteorological conditions as evaluated in 
the FES. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that there would be no 
significant aesthetic impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower 
operation for the proposed action.
    Native, exotic, and agricultural plant productivity may be 
adversely affected by the increased salt concentration in the drift 
deposited directly on soils or directly on foliage. FES has indicated 
that the salt drift deposition must be above 90 lbs/acre/year before 
agriculture plant productivity would be reduced. PSEG has estimated 
that the proposed EPU would not significantly increase the rate of salt 
drift deposition from the increase in cooling tower operation. PSEG has 
estimated that the increase in salt drift deposition rate would be 9 
percent to a maximum of 0.109 lbs/acre/year. Therefore, the NRC staff 
concludes that there would be no significant salt drift deposition 
impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed 
action.
    Because the HCGS cooling tower is natural draft, no increase in 
noise is expected. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that there would 
be no significant noise impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower 
operation for the proposed action.
    PSEG has indicated that there would be no significant increase in 
fogging or icing expected for the proposed EPU. Increased ground-level 
fogging and icing resulting from water droplets in the cooling tower 
drift may interfere with highway traffic. The 1984 FES evaluated the 
impacts of fogging and icing associated with the operation of the 
natural draft cooling tower at HCGS and found these impacts to be 
insignificant and inconsequential. The fact that the nearest 
agricultural or residential land is located several miles from the site 
further minimizes the potential for impact. Therefore, the NRC staff 
concludes that there would be no significant fogging or icing impacts 
associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed action.
    The 1984 FES has stated that although some birds may collide with 
cooling tower, unpublished surveys at existing cooling towers indicated 
that the number would be relatively small. The proposed EPU would not 
increase the risk of wildlife colliding with cooling tower. Therefore, 
the NRC staff concludes that there would be no significant wildlife 
impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed 
action.
    The proposed EPU would increase the particulates emission rate from 
the HCGS cooling tower, from the current rate of 29.4 pounds per hour 
(lbs/hr) to an average rate of 35.6 lbs/hr (maximum 42.0 lbs/hr). 
Particulates (primarily salts) from the cooling tower have an 
aerodynamic particle size of less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10). 
The NJDEP has imposed a maximum hourly emission rate for particulates 
at 30 lbs/hr. Therefore, the projected particulate emission rate from 
the HCGS cooling tower, due to the proposed EPU, would exceed the NJDEP 
emission regulatory limit. On March 30, 2007, NJDEP issued a Public 
Notice and Draft Title V Air Operating Permit for the HCGS cooling 
tower, proposing to authorize a variance to the HCGS air operating 
permit with an hourly emission rate of 42 lbs/hr (NJDEP 2007a). On June 
13, 2007, NJDEP issued the final Title V Air Operating Permit for HCGS 
allowing a 42 lbs/hr particulate emission rate for the proposed EPU.
    Since particulates from HCGS cooling tower consist primarily of 
salts with particle size of less than 10 microns, the FES evaluated the 
environmental impacts on air quality and found the impacts to be minor. 
Furthermore, a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) non-
applicability analysis was submitted to the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA)
    Region 2, by PSEG on March 4, 2004. Based on the information 
provided by PSEG, EPA concluded that the EPU project would not result 
in a significant increase in emissions and would not be subject to PSD 
review (NJDEP 2007a). In addition, NJDEP has stated that the Bureau of 
Technical Services reviewed the Air Quality Modeling for the proposed 
Hope Creek uprate project and determined that the project would meet 
the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the New Jersey Ambient 
Air Quality Standards. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that there 
would be no significant particulate emission impacts associated with 
HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed action.

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Transmission Facility Impacts

    The potential impacts associated with transmission facilities 
include changes in transmission line right-of-way (ROW) maintenance and 
electric shock hazards due to increased current. The proposed EPU would 
not require any physical modifications to the transmission lines.
    PSEG's transmission line ROW maintenance practices, including the 
management of vegetation growth, would not change. PSEG did not provide 
an estimate of the increase in the operating voltage due to the EPU. 
Based on experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes 
that the increase in the operating voltage would be negligible. Because 
the voltage would not change significantly, there would be no 
significant change in the potential for electric shock. Modifications 
to onsite transmission equipment are necessary to support the EPU; such 
changes include replacement of the high- and low-pressure turbines, and 
the replacement of the main transformer (PSEG 2005). No long-term 
environmental impacts from these replacements are anticipated.
    The proposed EPU would increase the current, which would affect the 
electromagnetic field. The National Electric Safety Code (NESC) 
provides design criteria that limit hazards from steady-state currents. 
The NESC limits the short-circuit current to the ground to less than 5 
milliamperes. There would be an increase in current passing through the 
transmission lines associated with the increased power level of the 
proposed EPU. The increased electrical current passing through the 
transmission lines would cause an increase in electromagnetic field 
strength. However, since the increase in power level is approximately 
15 percent, the impact of exposure to electromagnetic fields from the 
offsite transmission lines would not be expected to increase 
significantly over the current impact. The transmission lines meet the 
applicable shock prevention provision of the NESC. Therefore, even with 
the slight increase in current attributable to the EPU, adequate 
protection is provided against hazards from electrical shock.
    The 1984 FES evaluated bird mortality resulting from collision with 
towers and conductors. The FES has estimated that only 0.07 percent of 
the mortality of waterfowls from causes other than hunting resulted 
from collision with towers and conductors at HCGS. Because the proposed 
EPU does not require physical modifications to the transmission line 
system, the additional impacts of bird mortality would be minimal.
    The impacts associated with transmission facilities for the 
proposed action would not change significantly relative to the impacts 
from current plant operation. There would be no physical modifications 
to the transmission lines, transmission line ROW maintenance practices 
would not change, there would be no changes to transmission line ROW or 
vertical ground clearances, and electric current passing through the 
transmission lines would increase only slightly. Therefore, the NRC 
staff concludes there would be no significant impacts associated with 
transmission facilities for the proposed action.

Water Use Impacts

    Potential water use impacts from the proposed EPU include localized 
effects on the Delaware Estuary and changes to plant water supply. HCGS 
is located on the eastern shore of the Delaware Estuary. The estuary is 
approximately 2.5 miles wide, and the tidal flow past HCGS is 
approximately 259,000 million gallons per day (MGD) (NRC 2001). The 
Delaware Estuary is the source of cooling water for the HCGS 
circulating water system, a closed-cycle system that utilizes a natural 
draft cooling tower. During normal plant operations, water usage at 
HCGS accounts for less than 0.03 percent of the average tidal flow of 
the Delaware Estuary (PSEG 2005).
    HCGS's service water system withdraws approximately 67 MGD from the 
Delaware Estuary for cooling and makeup water. When estuary water 
temperature is less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F), two pumps 
operate to supply an average service water flow rate of approximately 
37,000 gallon per minute (gpm). When estuary water temperature is 
greater than 70 [deg]F, three pumps operate to supply an average 
service water flow rate of approximately 52,000 gpm (Najarian 
Associates 2004). Estuary water is delivered to the cooling tower basin 
and acts primarily as makeup water to the circulating water system--
replacing 47 MGD that are returned to the estuary as cooling tower 
blowdown, and depending upon meteorological conditions and the 
circulating water flow rate, replacing approximately 10-13 MGD of 
cooling water that are lost through evaporation from the cooling tower. 
Approximately 7 MGD of the 67 MGD are used for intake screen wash water 
and strainer backwash. The circulating water system has an operating 
capacity of 11 million gallons; however, approximately 9 million 
gallons of water actually reside in the circulating water system at any 
given time. Water is re-circulated through the condensers at a rate of 
approximately 550,000 gpm (PSEG 2005). No changes to the HCGS 
circulating water or service water systems are expected due to the 
proposed EPU; therefore, the proposed EPU would not increase the amount 
of water withdrawn from or discharged to the Delaware Estuary.
    Consumptive use of surface water by HCGS is not expected to change 
substantively as a result of the proposed EPU and is regulated by the 
Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) through a water use contract. 
The proposed EPU would likely result in a small increase in cooling 
tower blowdown temperature. To mitigate this temperature increase, PSEG 
has modified its cooling tower to improve its thermal performance, and 
as discussed in the following section, thermal discharge to the 
Delaware Estuary would remain within the regulatory limits set by the 
New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit 
granted to HCGS by NJDEP (PSEG 2005; NJDEP 2002).
    Two groundwater wells access the Raritan aquifer to provide 
domestic and process water to HCGS. The wells are permitted by NJDEP 
and are also regulated by DRBC. The proposed EPU would not increase the 
use of groundwater by HCGS or change the limits of groundwater use 
currently set by DRBC (PSEG 2005). As such, the conclusions in the 1984 
FES regarding groundwater use at HCGS would remain valid for the 
proposed EPU.
    The proposed EPU would not increase the amount of surface water 
withdrawn from the Delaware Estuary and groundwater use at HCGS would 
not increase. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes the proposed EPU would 
have negligible water use impacts on the estuary.

Discharge Impacts

    Potential impacts to a water body from power plant discharge 
include increased turbidity, scouring, erosion, sedimentation, 
contamination, and water temperature. Because the proposed EPU would 
not increase the amount of cooling tower blowdown discharged to the 
Delaware Estuary, turbidity, scouring, erosion, and sedimentation would 
not be expected to significantly impact the estuary. Additionally, the 
proposed EPU would not introduce any new contaminants to the Delaware 
Estuary and would not significantly increase any potential contaminants 
that are presently regulated by the station's NJPDES permit. The 
concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the cooling tower 
blowdown would increase due to

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the increased rate of evaporation; however, the amount of blowdown 
discharged to the estuary would decrease, and the concentration of TDS 
would remain within the station's NJPDES permit limits.
    Although the amount of water withdrawn from the Delaware Estuary 
would remain unchanged, the proposed EPU would result in a slight 
increase in the temperature of the cooling tower blowdown discharged to 
the estuary. The station's NJPDES permit imposes limits on the 
temperature of the blowdown and the amount of heat rejected to the 
estuary by the HCGS circulating water system. The NJDES permit 
specifies that the 24-hour average maximum blowdown temperature is 
limited to 97.1 [deg]F, and heat rejection is limited to 662 million 
British thermal units per hour (MBTU/hr) from September 1 through May 
31 and 534 MBTU/hr from June 1 through August 31. DRBC also imposes 
thermal regulations on HCGS through the NJPDES permit, specifying that 
the net temperature increase of the Delaware Estuary may not exceed 4 
[deg]F from September through May, and 1.5 [deg]F from June through 
August or estuary water temperature may not exceed a maximum of 86 
[deg]F, whichever is less. These limitations apply to waters outside of 
the heat dissipation area, which extends 2,500 feet upstream and 
downstream of the discharge point and 1,500 feet offshore from the 
discharge point. The NJPDES permit provides an exception for occasional 
excess blowdown temperatures during extreme meteorological conditions 
(a coincident occurrence of a wet-bulb temperature above 76 [deg]F and 
relative humidity below 60 percent); however, the net temperature 
limitations may never be exceeded (Najarian Associates 2004).
    The 1984 FES concluded that the station's shoreline discharge would 
not adversely affect the estuary because of its large tidal influence, 
which would dilute, mix, and rapidly dissipate the heated effluent 
(PSEG 2005). Hydrothermal modeling conducted for the proposed EPU 
determined that, even during extreme meteorological conditions, the 
post-EPU increase in cooling tower blowdown temperature would not 
exceed 91.7 [deg]F, and the station would continue to comply with all 
applicable Delaware Estuary water quality standards set by the 
station's NJPDES permit and DRBC (Najarian Associates 2004).
    In addition to setting thermal discharge limits, the NJPDES permit 
also regulates all surface and wastewater discharges from the station. 
The NJPDES permit, effective March 1, 2003, regulates discharge from 
six outfalls at HCGS, including the cooling tower blowdown, low volume 
oily wastewater, stormwater, and sewage treatment; these discharges 
ultimately flow to the Delaware Estuary. As required by the NJPDES 
permit, in addition to temperature, cooling tower blowdown is monitored 
for flow, pH, chlorine produced oxidants (CPOs), total suspended 
solids, TDS, and total organic carbon. HCGS operates a dechlorination 
system that utilizes ammonium bisulfate to reduce CPOs in the blowdown. 
Furthermore, acute and chronic biological toxicity tests were routinely 
performed on cooling tower blowdown from 1998 through 2001 to comply 
with NJDEP non-toxicity regulations (PSEG 2005).
    The NJPDES permit sets monitoring, sampling, and reporting 
requirements for all HCGS discharges. A search of the NJDEP Open Public 
Records Act Datamine online database revealed no water quality 
violations for HCGS (NJDEP 2007).
    With the exception of increased blowdown temperature and TDS 
concentration, as discussed above, the proposed EPU would not be 
expected to alter the composition or volume of any other effluents, 
including stormwater drainage, oily water, and sewage treatment (PSEG 
2005). Blowdown temperature and composition, and Delaware Estuary water 
temperatures would remain in compliance with the station's NJPDES 
permit, and the proposed EPU would not result in changes in any other 
effluents to the estuary. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the 
proposed EPU would result in negligible impacts on the Delaware Estuary 
from HCGS discharge.

Impacts on Aquatic Biota

    The potential impacts to aquatic biota from the proposed action are 
primarily due to operation of the cooling water system and to 
maintenance of transmission line ROWs. Cooling water withdrawal affects 
aquatic populations through impingement of larger individuals (e.g., 
fish, some crustaceans, turtles) on the intake trash bars and debris 
screens and entrainment of smaller organisms that pass through the 
screens into the cooling water system. The proposed action would not 
change the volume or rate of cooling water withdrawn. Most of the 
additional heat generated under the proposed EPU would be dissipated by 
the cooling tower, and PSEG proposes no changes to the cooling water 
system.
    Discharge of heated effluent alters natural thermal and current 
regimes and can induce thermal shock in aquatic organisms. The HCGS 
effluent would change under the proposed EPU. Because the volume of 
makeup water withdrawn from the estuary would remain unchanged and the 
volume of evaporative loss from the cooling tower would increase, the 
volume of the blowdown released as effluent, which is the difference 
between the water withdrawn and the water lost to evaporation, would 
decrease. The increased evaporation would leave behind more solids in 
the blowdown, so the concentration of TDS in the effluent would be an 
average of about 9 percent higher than under current operations 
(Najarian Associates 2004). The effluent would also be somewhat warmer, 
but modeling predicts that all present NJPDES permit conditions for the 
effluent would still be met (Najarian Associates 2004).
    PSEG proposes no new transmission line ROWs and no change in 
current maintenance procedures for transmission line ROWs under the 
proposed EPU, so this potential source of impact will not be considered 
further for aquatic resources.
    The potential receptors of the environmental stressors of 
impingement, entrainment, and heat shock are the aquatic communities in 
the Delaware Estuary near HCGS. Ecologists typically divide such 
communities into the following categories for convenience when 
considering ecological impacts of power plants: Microbes, 
phytoplankton, submerged aquatic vegetation, invertebrate zooplankton, 
benthic invertebrates, fish, and sometimes birds, reptiles (e.g., sea 
turtles), and marine mammals. Of these, effects of power plant 
operation have been consistently demonstrated only for fish.
    Unless otherwise noted, the following information on Delaware 
Estuary fish and blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is from information 
summarized in the 2006 Salem NJPDES Permit Application (NJDEP 2006). 
Salem is an adjacent nuclear power plant that has conducted several 
large studies in support of permitting of its once-through cooling 
water system. About 200 species of fish have been reported from the 
Delaware Estuary. Some are resident, some are seasonal migrants, and 
some are occasional strays. In its NJPDES Permit Application, PSEG 
selected 11 species, one invertebrate and ten fish, as species 
representative of the aquatic community (Table 1).

[[Page 59567]]



        Table 1.--Species Representative of the Delaware Estuary Aquatic Community Near Artificial Island
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Common name                      Scientific name                         Comment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blue Crab...............................  Callinectes sapidus........  Swimming crab, abundant in the estuary.
                                                                        Recreational and commercial species.
Alewife.................................  Alosa pseudoharengus.......  Anadromous herring; abundant in the
                                                                        estuary.
American Shad...........................  Alosa sapidissima..........  Anadromous herring; abundant in the
                                                                        estuary. Recreational and commercial
                                                                        species.
Atlantic Croaker........................  Micropogonias undulatus....  Drum family. Delaware Estuary stock may
                                                                        be single population. Recreational and
                                                                        commercial species.
Atlantic Menhaden.......................  Brevoortia tyrannus........  Herring. Larvae and juveniles use the
                                                                        estuary as a nursery. Commercial
                                                                        species.
Atlantic Silverside.....................  Menidia menidia............  Resident in intertidal marsh creeks and
                                                                        shore zones.
Bay Anchovy.............................  Anchoa mitchelli...........  Common in the bay and tidal river zones.
Blueback Herring........................  Alosa aestivalis...........  Anadromous herring; abundant in the
                                                                        estuary.
Spot....................................  Leiostomus xanthurus.......  Drum family. Juveniles use the estuary as
                                                                        a nursery. Recreational and commercial
                                                                        species.
Striped Bass............................  Morone saxatilis...........  Anadromous temperate bass. Recreational
                                                                        and commercial species.
Weakfish................................  Cynoscion regalis..........  Drum family. Larvae and juveniles use the
                                                                        estuary as nursery. Recreational and
                                                                        commercial species.
White Perch.............................  Morone americana...........  Temperate bass. Year-round residents
                                                                        anadromous within estuary. Recreational
                                                                        species.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: NJDEP 2006.

    HCGS is located in the Delaware Estuary between the Delaware River 
upstream and the wide Delaware Bay downstream. Estuaries are drowned 
river valleys where fresh water from rivers mixes with the higher 
salinity water of the ocean and bays. In estuaries, salinity and water 
temperature may change with season, tides, and meteorological 
conditions. Typically, few species are resident in an estuary all of 
their lives, perhaps because surviving the wide variations in salinity 
and temperature poses physiological challenges to fish and 
invertebrates. The predominant resident fish species in the Delaware 
Estuary are hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus), white perch (Morone 
americana), bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchelli), Atlantic and tidewater 
silversides (Menidia menidia and M. peninsulae, respectively), naked 
goby (Gobiosoma bosc), and mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus).
    Resident fish species are represented by Atlantic silversides, bay 
anchovy, and white perch (Table 1). Atlantic silversides are relatively 
small common fish that inhabit intertidal creeks and shore zones. They 
mature in less than a year and seldom live beyond 2 years. Although 
there may be no discernable long-term trend in abundance in the 
Delaware Estuary, the short-term trend appears to be decreasing 
abundance. Bay anchovy may be the most abundant species in the estuary. 
This small fish overwinters in deep areas of the lower estuary and 
near-shore coastal zone. Though bay anchovies tend to stay in the lower 
part of the estuary, they stray as far north as Trenton. They tend to 
mature in the summer following their birth. Typically two spawning 
peaks occur, one in late May and one in mid-July, although some 
spawning occurs all summer. Most spawning occurs where salinity exceeds 
20 parts per thousand (ppt), but some spawning may occur throughout the 
estuary. Although no long-term trend in abundance is evident, abundance 
since the mid-1990s appears to be declining. White perch are found 
throughout the brackish portions of the estuary. They are anadromous 
within the estuary (``semi-anadromous''), meaning that they undergo a 
seasonal migration from the deeper, more saline areas where they 
overwinter in fresh, shallow waters in the spring to spawn and then 
return to more brackish waters. They typically mature in 2 to 3 years. 
The abundance of white perch in the Delaware Estuary appears to be 
stable or increasing, possibly in response to long-term improvements in 
water quality.
    Adult blue crabs are resident macro-invertebrates in the Delaware 
Estuary, although their larvae are not. After mating in shallow 
brackish areas of the upper estuary in spring, adult females migrate to 
the mouth of the bay. The eggs, which are extruded and carried on the 
undersides of females, hatch typically in the warm (77-86 [deg]F), high 
salinity (18-26 ppt) waters of the lower bay in summer. After hatching, 
the larvae pass through seven planktonic stages, called zoeae, and move 
offshore with near-shore surface currents. The first post-larval stage, 
called a megalops, uses wind-driven currents and tides to move inshore. 
They then metamorphose to the first crab stage and move up the estuary. 
Adult male crabs do not migrate from the upper estuary. Crabs typically 
mature when 1 or 2 years old. Between 1980 and 2004, blue crab 
abundance in the Delaware Estuary appears to have increased.
    Anadromous species live their adult lives at sea and migrate into 
fresh water to spawn. The most common anadromous fish species in the 
Delaware Estuary are alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), American shad (A. 
sapidissima), blueback herring (A. aestivalis), and striped bass 
(Morone saxatilis), of which the first three are members of the herring 
family. The endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is 
also anadromous. The ecology of the three herrings is similar, as is 
their appearance. All use the estuary as spawning and nursery habitat. 
All migrate to fresh water in the spring and are believed to return to 
their natal streams to spawn. The newly hatched larvae are planktonic 
and move downstream with the current. Juveniles remain in freshwater 
nursery areas throughout the summer and migrate to sea in the fall. 
They then remain at sea until maturity and migrate along the coast. 
Alewife have become more abundant since 1980, although the trend since 
1990 is unclear. Abundance of American shad in the Delaware Estuary 
drastically declined in the early 1900s due to poor water quality, dam 
construction, over-fishing, and habitat destruction. American shad 
began to recover in the 1960s and 1980s and appears to be recovering 
still. No trends are evident in blueback herring abundance.
    Striped bass is a fairly large member of the temperate bass family, 
which also includes white perch. Adult striped bass, which may reach 
weights of over 100 pounds, migrate up the estuary to fresh and 
brackish waters in the spring to spawn and are believed to return to 
their natal rivers and streams for spawning. The newly hatched larvae 
are

[[Page 59568]]

planktonic and move downstream with the current. Small juveniles use 
fresh and brackish areas as nurseries, and larger juveniles use the 
higher salinity waters of the lower estuary as feeding grounds. Adult 
striped bass live at sea and the lower estuary and migrate along the 
coast. Like American shad, the striped bass population in the Delaware 
Estuary declined prior to the 1980s but is now recovering.
    The most common marine species that use the estuary include 
weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), Atlantic 
croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), 
summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatas), and Atlantic menhaden 
(Brevoortia tyrannus). Four of these, weakfish, spot, Atlantic croaker, 
and Atlantic menhaden, are shown as representative in Table 1. Atlantic 
croaker, spot, and weakfish are members of the drum family. Adult 
Atlantic croaker inhabit the deep, open areas of the lower bay from 
late spring through mid-fall. They spawn from July through April along 
the continental shelf. Larval Atlantic croaker first move with the 
currents and later move to the shallow areas of the bay. Juveniles use 
the shallow areas and tidal creeks in fresh and brackish water as 
nurseries, but move into deeper water during colder periods. They 
mature at about 2 to 4 years of age. Abundance of Atlantic croaker in 
the Delaware Estuary has been increasing since the early 1990s. Spot 
spawn over the continental shelf from late September through April. 
Larvae live in the ocean then move to the Bay. The young juveniles move 
upstream into tidal creeks and tributaries with low salinity. Like 
Atlantic croaker, spot move into deeper water during colder periods. 
Spot mature at 1 to 3 years old. Abundance of spot appears to be 
negatively related to the abundance of Atlantic croaker and has been 
decreasing. Weakfish spawn in the mouth of Delaware Bay in mid-May 
through mid-September, and after hatching, the larvae move up into the 
estuary to nursery areas of lower salinity (3 to 15 ppt). In mid-to-
late summer they move south to mesohaline nursery grounds, and as 
temperatures decline in fall, the juveniles move south from the nursery 
areas to the continental shelf and south. They mature at an age of 1 or 
2 years. Abundance of weakfish in the Delaware Estuary appear to have 
increased from the 1970s to 1990s and then declined.
    Atlantic menhaden is a pelagic species that overwinters on the 
shelf, and large numbers overwinter off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. 
The population moves north along the coast in the spring and south in 
the fall. The populations spawn all year, and peak spawning occurs off 
the Delaware Bay in spring and fall. The larvae move by wind-driven 
currents into estuarine nursery grounds, where they transform to 
juveniles and move upstream to oligohaline waters and then move out the 
estuary with falling temperatures. In the fall, they congregate into 
dense schools and move out of the estuary and south along the coast. 
Atlantic menhaden mature at about age two. No trend in abundance in the 
Delaware Estuary is apparent.
    While the identity of species potentially affected by entrainment, 
impingement, and heat shock may be inferred from ecological information 
about the Delaware Estuary, the species affected cannot be verified, 
and the numbers cannot be quantified because no environmental 
monitoring programs are conducted at the HCGS. Impinged organisms are 
most likely to die, and the fish-return system does not function 
continuously to minimize mortality. All organisms entrained at HCGS, 
which operates a cooling tower, are probably killed from exposure to 
heat, mechanical, pressure-related stresses, and possibly biocidal 
chemicals before being discharged to the estuary.
    The NRC staff found few data with which to assess impacts to 
aquatic organisms due to operation of HCGS. Under the proposed EPU, 
water withdrawal rates would not change from present conditions. 
Entrainment and impingement impacts may change over time due to changes 
in the aquatic populations even though HCGS's water withdrawal rate 
would not change from present conditions. Impacts due to impingement 
and entrainment losses are minimized because the closed-cycle cooling 
system at the plant minimizes the amount of cooling water withdrawn 
from and heated effluent returned to the estuary. The water quality of 
the effluent (e.g., temperature, toxicity, TDS concentrations) would 
continue to meet present NJPDES permit conditions for protection of 
aquatic life. The staff concludes that the proposed EPU would have no 
significant impact to aquatic biota.

Essential Fish Habitat Consultation

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) 
identifies the importance of habitat protection to healthy fisheries. 
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is defined as those waters and substrata 
necessary for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.). Designating EFH is an 
essential component in the development of Fishery Management Plans to 
minimize habitat loss or degradation of fishery stocks and to take 
actions to mitigate such damage. The consultation requirements of 
Section 305(b) of the MSA provide that Federal agencies consult with 
the Secretary of Commerce on all actions or proposed actions 
authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely 
affect EFH. An EFH assessment for the proposed EPU was sent to the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under separate cover to 
initiate an EFH consultation.

Impacts on Terrestrial Biota

    The potential impacts to terrestrial biota from the proposed action 
would be those from transmission line ROW maintenance. Under EPU 
conditions, PSEG does not plan to change transmission line maintenance 
or add new transmission lines. In addition, PSEG does not plan to 
conduct major refurbishment of significant land-disturbing activities 
in order to implement the proposed EPU. Because no changes are planned 
that have the potential to impact terrestrial biota, the NRC staff 
concludes that the proposed EPU would have no impacts to terrestrial 
biota associated with transmission line ROW maintenance.

Threatened and Endangered Species and Critical Habitat

    In a letter dated December 8, 2006, pursuant to Section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1969, as amended, the NRC requested from the 
NMFS a list of species and information on protected, proposed, and 
candidate species and critical habitat that are under their 
jurisdiction and may be in the vicinity of HCGS and its associated 
transmission lines. In response, NMFS issued a letter dated January 26, 
2007, that provided information on the endangered shortnose sturgeon; 
Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), a candidate 
species for listing; and five species of endangered or threatened sea 
turtles: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys 
kempii), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas), 
and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles. The NRC staff 
investigated the effects of HCGS operation on these species and found 
that the primary concern for these endangered and threatened species is 
the risk of impingement or entrainment due to cooling water intake by 
the plant. The proposed EPU would not change the intake flow, and, 
therefore, would not increase in the risk of impingement and 
entrainment. To dissipate the additional heat created by the EPU, the

[[Page 59569]]

temperature of the plant's cooling water discharge would be slightly 
elevated, but still within the NJPDES 24-hour average temperature limit 
of 97.1 [deg]F. In addition, HCGS has had no takes of any of the 
endangered or threatened species listed above. Therefore, the NRC staff 
anticipates no effects related to the intake or discharge on threatened 
or endangered species under NMFS's jurisdiction, and on May 3, 2007, 
sent a letter to NMFS concluding the informal Section 7 consultation.
    Although an informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service regarding bald eagles was initiated for the HCGS, the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service delisted bald eagles pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act on July 9, 2007, and concluded the informal consultation.

Socioeconomic Impacts

    The potential socioeconomic impacts due to the proposed EPU include 
changes in the payments in lieu of taxes for Lower Alloways Creek 
Township and Salem County and changes in the size of the workforce at 
HCGS. Nearly 70 percent of HCGS employees currently resides in Salem, 
Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey.
    The proposed EPU would not increase the size of the HCGS workforce, 
since proposed plant modifications and other planned activities would 
be handled by the current workforce or would be phased in during 
planned outages. Also, the proposed EPU would not increase the size of 
the HCGS workforce during future refueling outages. Therefore, the 
proposed EPU would not have any measurable effect on annual earnings 
and income in Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties nor would 
there be any increased demand for community services.
    According to the 2000 Census, Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester 
County populations were about 20.4, 41.6, and 14.3 percent minority, 
respectively (USCB 2000). The percentages of minority populations 
residing in Salem and Gloucester Counties were well below the State 
minority population of 34.0 percent. In addition, the poverty rates for 
individuals living in Salem and Cumberland Counties were 9.5 and 15.0 
percent, respectively, which were higher than the State's average of 
8.5 percent (the Gloucester County poverty rate was 6.2 percent)(USCB 
2000a). Even though these percentages are relatively high, the proposed 
EPU would not have any disproportionately high and adverse impacts to 
minority and low-income populations, because no significant 
environmental impacts were identified during the analysis.
    The proposed EPU could affect the value of HCGS and the amount of 
monies paid to local jurisdictions, in-lieu-of-property tax payments, 
because the total amount of tax money to be distributed would increase 
as power generation increases and because the proposed EPU would 
increase HCGS's value, thus resulting in potentially larger payments to 
Lower Alloways Creek Township and Salem County. Also, because the 
proposed EPU would increase the economic viability of HCGS, the 
probability of early plant retirement would be reduced. Early plant 
retirement would have a negative impact on the local economy by 
reducing or eliminating payments to Lower Alloways Creek Township and 
Salem County and limiting employment opportunities in the region.
    Since the proposed EPU would not affect annual earnings and income 
in Salem County, nor demand for community services and due to the lack 
of significant environmental impacts on minority or low-income 
populations, there would be no significant socioeconomic or 
environmental justice impacts associated with the proposed EPU. 
Conversely, the proposed EPU could have a positive effect on the 
regional economy because of the potential increase in the payments in-
lieu-of-taxes received by the Lower Alloways Creek Township and Salem 
County, due to the potential increase in the book value of HCGS and 
long-term viability of HCGS.

Summary

    The proposed EPU would not result in a significant change in non-
radiological impacts in the areas of land use, water use, waste 
discharges, cooling tower operation, terrestrial and aquatic biota, 
transmission facility operation, or socioeconomic factors. No other 
non-radiological impacts were identified or would be expected. Table 2 
summarizes the non-radiological environmental impacts of the proposed 
EPU at HCGS.

       Table 2.--Summary of Non-Radiological Environmental Impacts
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Land Use.....................  No significant land use modifications;
                                installed temporary office space to
                                support EPU.
Cooling Tower................  No significant aesthetic impact; no
                                significant fogging or icing.
Transmission Facilities......  No physical modifications to transmission
                                lines or ROWs; lines meet shock safety
                                requirements; small increase in
                                electrical current would cause small
                                increase in electromagnetic field around
                                transmission lines.
Water Use....................  No configuration change to intake
                                structure; no increase rate of
                                withdrawal; slight increase in water
                                consumption due to increased
                                evaporation; no water use conflicts.
Discharge....................  Increase in water temperature and
                                containment concentration discharged to
                                Delaware River; would meet discharge
                                limits in current NJPDES permit
                                following EPU implementation.
Aquatic Biota................  Entrainment and impingement losses may
                                change over time due to changes in the
                                aquatic population but are minimized
                                because of the closed-cycle cooling
                                system utilized at the plant. The water
                                quality of the effluent would continue
                                to meet NJPDES permit conditions for
                                protection of aquatic life. EFH
                                consultation ongoing.
Terrestrial Biota............  No land disturbance or changes to
                                transmission line ROW maintenance are
                                expected; therefore, there would be no
                                significant effects on terrestrial
                                species or their habitat.
Threatened and Endangered      No significant impacts are expected on
 Species.                       threatened or endangered species or
                                their habitat. Informal consultation
                                with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
                                ongoing.
Socioeconomic................  No change in the size of HCGS labor force
                                required for plant operation and planned
                                outages; proposed EPU could increase
                                payments in-lieu-of-taxes to Lower
                                Alloways Creek Township and Salem County
                                as well as the book value of HCGS; there
                                would be no disproportionately high and
                                adverse impact on minority and low-
                                income populations.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Radiological Impacts

    The NRC staff evaluated radiological environmental impacts on waste 
streams, dose, accident analysis, and fuel cycle and transportation 
factors. Following is a general discussion of these issues and an 
evaluation of their environmental impacts.

Radioactive Waste Stream Impacts

    HCGS uses waste treatment systems designed to collect, process, and 
dispose of gaseous, liquid, and solid wastes that might contain 
radioactive material in a

[[Page 59570]]

safe and controlled manner such that the discharges are in accordance 
with the requirements of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(10 CFR) Part 20, and Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50.
    The licensee has indicated that operation at EPU conditions would 
not result in any changes in the operation or design of equipment in 
the radioactive waste solid waste, liquid waste, or gaseous waste 
management systems (GWMS). The safety and reliability of these systems 
would be unaffected by the power uprate. Neither the environmental 
monitoring of any of these waste streams nor the radiological 
monitoring requirements of the HCGS Technical Specifications and/or 
Offsite Dose Calculation Manual (ODCM) would be affected by the EPU. 
Furthermore, the EPU would not introduce any new or different 
radiological release pathways, nor would it increase the probability of 
either an operator error or an equipment malfunction, that would result 
in an uncontrolled radioactive release (PSEG 2005). The EPU would 
produce a larger amount of fission and activation products; however, 
the waste treatment systems are designed to handle the additional 
source term. The specific effects on each of the radioactive waste 
management systems are evaluated below.

Gaseous Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

    During normal operation, HCGS's GWMS processes and controls the 
release of gaseous radioactive effluents to the environment. The GWMS 
includes the off-gas system and various building ventilation systems. 
The radioactive release rate of the gaseous effluent is well monitored 
and administratively controlled by the HCGS ODCM (PSEG 2005). The 
single year highest annual releases of gaseous radioactive material, 
for the time period 2000-2004, were 6.30 Curies (Ci) for noble gases in 
2003, 0.0060 Ci for particulates in 2000, and 0.014 Ci for iodines in 
2004 (PSEG 2005).
    The licensee has estimated that the amount of radioactive material 
released in gaseous effluents would increase in proportion to the 
increase in power level (15 percent) (PSEG 2005). Based on experience 
from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this is an 
acceptable estimate. The dose to a member of the public, including the 
additional gaseous radioactive material that would be released from the 
proposed EPU, is calculated to still be well within the radiation 
standards of 10 CFR Part 20 and the dose design objectives of Appendix 
I to 10 CFR part 50. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the impact 
from the EPU would not be significant.

Liquid Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

    During normal operation, HCGS's Liquid Waste Management System 
(LWMS) processes and controls the release of liquid radioactive 
effluents to the environment, such that the doses to individuals 
offsite are maintained within the limits of 10 CFR part 20 and the 
design objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50. The LWMS is designed 
to process the waste and then recycles it within the plant as 
condensate, reprocesses it through the radioactive waste system for 
further purification, or discharges it to the environment as liquid 
radioactive waste effluent in accordance with facility procedures which 
comply with New Jersey and Federal regulations. The radioactive release 
rate of the liquid effluent is well monitored and administratively 
controlled by the HCGS ODCM (PSEG 2005). The single year highest annual 
releases of liquid radioactive material, for the time period 2000-2004, 
were 54,742,400 gallons (2.072E+8 liters) and 0.068 Ci of fission and 
activating products in 2003 (PSEG 2005).
    Even though the EPU would produce a larger amount of radioactive 
fission and activation products and a larger volume of liquid to be 
processed, the licensee expects the LWMS to remove all but a small 
amount of the increased radioactive material. The licensee has 
estimated that the volume of radioactive liquid effluents released to 
the environment and the amount of radioactive material in the liquid 
effluents would increase by 2.2 percent, due to the EPU. Based on 
experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this 
is an acceptable estimate. The dose to a member of the public, 
including the additional liquid radioactive material that would be 
released from the proposed EPU, is calculated to still be well within 
the radiation standards of 10 CFR part 20 and the dose design 
objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50. Therefore, the NRC staff 
concludes that the impact from the EPU would not be significant.

Solid Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

    During normal operation, HCGS's Solid Waste Management System 
(SWMS) collects, processes, packages, and temporarily stores 
radioactive dry and wet solid wastes prior to shipment offsite and 
permanent disposal. The SWMS is designed to package the wet and dry 
types of radioactive solid waste for offsite shipment and burial, in 
accordance with the requirements of applicable NRC and Department of 
Transportation regulations, including 10 CFR part 61, 10 CFR part 71, 
and 49 CFR parts 170 through 178. This results in radiation exposures 
to a member of the public to be well within the limits of 10 CFR part 
20 and the design objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50. The 
volume of solid radioactive waste generated varied from about 11.7 to 
almost 90.4 cubic meters per year for the time period 2000-2004; the 
largest volume generated was 90.4 cubic meters in 2002. The amount of 
solid radioactive material in the waste generated varied from 1 to 
almost 600 Ci per year during that same period. The largest amount of 
radioactive material generated in the solid waste was 591 Ci in 2001 
(PSEG 2005).
    The EPU would produce a larger amount of radioactive fission and 
activation products, and treatment of this increase would require more 
frequent replacement or regeneration of SWMS filters and demineralizer 
resins. The licensee has estimated that the volume and radioactivity of 
solid radioactive waste would increase by approximately 14.7 percent 
from the average of the time period 2000-2004, due to the EPU (PSEG 
2005). Based on experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff 
concludes that this is an acceptable estimate. Therefore, the staff 
concludes that the impact from the increased volume of solid radwaste 
generated due to the EPU would not be significant.
    The licensee estimates that the EPU would require replacement of 10 
percent more fuel assemblies at each refueling. This increase in the 
amount of spent fuel being generated would require an increase in the 
number of dry fuel storage casks used to store spent fuel. However, the 
current dry fuel storage facility at HCGS can accommodate the increase.

Occupational Radiation Doses

    The proposed EPU would result in the production of more radioactive 
material and higher radiation dose rates in some areas at HCGS. PSEG's 
radiation protection staff will monitor these increased dose rates and 
make adjustments in shielding, access requirements, decontamination 
methods, and procedures as necessary to minimize the dose to workers. 
In addition, occupational dose to individual workers must be maintained 
within the limits of 10 CFR part 20 and as low as reasonably 
achievable.

[[Page 59571]]

    The licensee has estimated that after the implementation of EPU, 
the estimated annual average collective occupational dose would be in 
the range of 146 person-rem, representing a 16-percent increase of in-
plant occupation exposure (PSEG 2005). According to the 2004 report on 
``Occupational Radiation Exposure at Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors 
and Other Facilities,'' the highest HCGS occupational exposure is 240 
person-rem in 2004, for the time period 2002-2004 (NUREG 2004). The 
dose to a member of HCGS personnel from the radiation exposures 
described above, increased by 20 percent, would still be well within 
the radiation standards of 10 CFR part 20. Based on experience from 
EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that these estimates are 
acceptable. Based on these estimates, the NRC staff concludes that the 
increase in occupational exposure would not be significant.

Offsite Radiation Doses

    Offsite radiation dose consists of three components: Gaseous, 
liquid, and direct gamma radiation. As previously discussed under the 
Gaseous Radiological Wastes and Liquid Radiological Wastes sections, 
the estimated doses to a member of the public from gaseous and liquid 
effluents after the EPU is implemented would be within the dose design 
objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50.
    The final component of offsite dose is from direct gamma radiation 
dose from radioactive waste stored temporarily onsite, including spent 
fuel in dry cask storage, and radionuclides (mainly nitrogen-16) in the 
steam from the reactor passing through the turbine system. The high 
energy radiation from nitrogen-16 is scattered or reflected by the air 
above the site and represents an additional public radiation dose 
pathway known as ``skyshine.'' The licensee estimated that the offsite 
radiation dose from skyshine would increase linearly with the increase 
in power level from the EPU (15 percent); more nitrogen-16 is produced 
at the higher EPU power and less of the nitrogen-16 decays before it 
reaches the turbine system because of the higher rate of steam flow due 
to the EPU. The licensee's radiological environmental monitoring 
program measures radiation dose at the site boundary and in the area 
around the plant with an array of thermoluminescent dosimeters. The 
licensee estimated that the offsite radiation dose would increase to 
approximately 9.3 millirem (mrem), in proportion to the EPU power 
increase (15 percent) (PSEG 2005). Based on experience from EPUs at 
other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this is an acceptable 
estimate. EPA regulation 40 CFR part 190, and NRC regulation 10 CFR 
Part 20, limit the dose to any member of the public to 25 mrem per year 
to the whole body from the entire nuclear fuel cycle. The offsite dose 
from all sources, including radioactive gaseous and liquid effluents 
and direct radiation, would still be well within this limit after the 
EPU is implemented. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the 
increase in offsite radiation dose would not be significant.

Postulated Accident Doses

    As a result of implementation of the proposed EPU, there would be 
an increase in the inventory of radionuclides in the reactor core; the 
core inventory of radionuclides would increase as power level 
increases. The concentration of radionuclides in the reactor coolant 
may also increase; however, this concentration is limited by the HCGS 
technical specifications. Therefore, the reactor coolant concentration 
of radionuclides would not be expected to increase significantly. Some 
of the radioactive waste streams and storage systems may also contain 
slightly higher quantities of radioactive material. The calculated 
doses from design basis postulated accidents for HCGS are currently 
well below the criteria of 10 CFR 50.67. The licensee has estimated 
that the radiological consequences of postulated accidents would 
increase approximately in proportion to the increase in power level 
from the EPU (15 percent). Based on experience from EPUs at other 
plants, the NRC staff concludes that this is an acceptable estimate. 
The calculated doses from design basis postulated accidents would still 
be well within the criteria of 10 CFR 50.67 after the increase due to 
the implementation of the EPU. These calculated doses are based on 
conservative assumptions for the purposes of safety analyses. Estimates 
of the radiological consequences of postulated accidents for the 
purposes of estimating environmental impact are made by the NRC using 
best estimate assumptions, which result in substantially lower dose 
estimates. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the increase in 
radiological consequences for postulated accidents due to the EPU would 
not be significant.

Fuel Cycle and Transportation Impacts

    The environmental impacts of the fuel cycle and transportation of 
fuel and waste are described in Tables S-3 and S-4 of 10 CFR 51.51 and 
10 CFR 51.52, respectively. An additional NRC generic EA (53 FR 30355, 
dated August 11, 1988, as corrected by 53 FR 32322, dated August 24, 
1988) evaluated the applicability of Tables S-3 and S-4 to a higher 
burn-up fuel cycle and concluded that there would be no significant 
change in environmental impact from the parameters evaluated in Tables 
S-3 and S-4 for fuel cycles with uranium enrichments up to 5 weight 
percent uranium-235 and burn-ups less than 60,000 MW days per metric 
ton of uranium-235 (MWd/MTU).
    The proposed EPU would increase the power level to 3,840 MWt, which 
is approximately 1 percent above the reference power level of 3,800 MWt 
for Table S-4. The increased power level of 3,840 MWt corresponds to 
approximately 1,265 MWe, which is 26.5 percent above the reference 
power level of 1,000 MWe for Table S-3. Part of the increase is due to 
a more efficient turbine design; this increase in efficiency does not 
affect the impacts of the fuel cycle and transportation of waste. More 
fuel will be used in the reactor (more fuel assemblies will be replaced 
at each refueling outage), and that will potentially affect the impacts 
of the fuel cycle and transportation of waste. However, the fuel 
enrichment and burn-up rate criteria will still be met because fuel 
enrichment will be maintained no greater than 5 weight percent uranium-
235, and the fuel burn-up rate will be maintained within 60 MWd/MTU. 
The NRC staff concludes that after adjusting for the effects of the 
more efficient turbine, the potential increases in the impact due to 
the uranium fuel cycle and the transportation of fuel and waste from 
the increased amount of fuel used would not be significant.

Summary

    Based on the NRC staff review of licensee submission and the FES 
for operation, it is concluded that the proposed EPU would not 
significantly increase the consequences of accidents, would not result 
in a significant increase in occupational or public radiation exposure, 
and would not result in significant additional fuel cycle environmental 
impacts. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that there would be no 
significant radiological environmental impacts associated with the 
proposed action. Table 3 summarizes the radiological environmental 
impacts of the proposed EPU at HCGS.

[[Page 59572]]



         Table 3.--Summary of Radiological Environmental Impacts
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gaseous Radiological           Increased gaseous effluents (20 percent)
 Effluents.                     would remain within NRC limits and dose
                                design objectives.
Liquid Radiological Effluents  Increased liquid effluents (2.2 percent)
                                would remain within NRC limits and dose
                                design objectives.
Solid Radioactive Waste......  Increased amount of solid radioactive
                                waste generated (14.7 percent by volume
                                & 20 percent by radioactivity) would
                                remain bounded by evaluation in the FES.
Occupational Radiation Doses.  Occupational dose would increase by
                                roughly 16 percent. Doses would be
                                maintained within NRC limits and as low
                                as is reasonably achievable.
Offsite Radiation Doses......  Radiation doses to members of the public
                                would increase to approximately 9.3 mrem
                                and continue to be well within NRC and
                                EPA regulations.
Postulated Accident Doses....  Calculated doses for postulated design-
                                basis accidents would remain within NRC
                                limits.
Fuel Cycle and Transportation  Fuel enrichment and burnup rate criteria
 Impacts.                       would be met. Potential increases in the
                                impact due to uranium fuel cycle and the
                                transportation of fuel and waste would
                                not be significant.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alternatives to Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the NRC staff considered 
denial of the proposed EPU (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Denial of the application would result in no change in the current 
environmental impacts. However, if the proposed EPU were not approved, 
other agencies and electric power organizations may be required to 
pursue alternative means of providing electric generation capacity to 
offset the increased power demand forecasted for the PJM regional 
transmission territory.
    A reasonable alternative to the proposed EPU would be to purchase 
power from other generators in the PJM network. In 2003, generating 
capacity in PJM consisted primarily of fossil fuel-fired generators: 
Coal generated 36.2 percent of PJM capacity, oil 14.3 percent, and 
natural gas 6.8 percent. This indicates that purchased power in the PJM 
territory would likely be generated by a fossil-fuel-fired facility. 
Construction (if new generation is needed) and operation of a fossil 
fuel plant would create impacts in air quality, land use, and waste 
management significantly greater than those identified for the proposed 
EPU at HCGS. HCGS does not emit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon 
dioxide, or other atmospheric pollutants that are commonly associated 
with fossil fuel plants. Conservation programs such as demand-side 
management could feasibly replace the proposed EPU's additional power 
output. However, forecasted future energy demand in the PJM territory 
may exceed conservation savings and still require additional generating 
capacity. Furthermore, the proposed EPU does not involve environmental 
impacts that are significantly different from those originally 
identified in the 1984 HCGS FES for operation.

Alternative Use of Resources

    This action does not involve the use of any resources not 
previously considered in the original FES for construction (AEC 1974).

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on July 24, 2007, the NRC 
staff consulted with the New Jersey State official, Mr. Jerry 
Humphreys, of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 
regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The state 
official stated that any comments would be provided during the 30-day 
public comment period.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the EA, the NRC concludes that the proposed action 
would 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 action.
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's application dated September 18, 2006, as supplemented on 
October 10, and October 20, 2006; February 14, February 16, February 
28, March 13 (2 letters), March 22, March 30 (2 letters), April 13, 
April 18, April 30, May 10, May 18 (3 letters), May 24, June 22, and 
August 3, 2007. 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 20852. 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 pdr@nrc.gov.

DATES: The comment period expires November 21, 2007. Comments received 
after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the 
Commission is only able to assure consideration of comments received on 
or before November 21, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to Chief, Rules and Directives 
Branch, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Mail Stop T-6D59, Washington, DC 20555-0001. Written comments may also 
be delivered to 11545 Rockville Pike, Room T-6D59, Rockville, Maryland 
20852 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays. Copies of 
written comments received will be electronically available at the NRC's 
Public Electronic Reading Room link, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html, on the NRC Web site or at the NRC's PDR located at One 
White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, 
Maryland 20852. 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 by e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NRC is considering issuance of an 
amendment to Facility Operating License No. NPF-057 issued to PSEG 
Nuclear, LLC for the operation of Hope Creek Generating Station, Unit 
1, located in Salem County, New Jersey.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John G. Lamb, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, Mail Stop O-8B1A, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, by telephone at (301) 415-3100, 
or by e-mail at JGL1@nrc.gov.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 12th day of October 2007.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Harold K. Chernoff,
Chief, Plant Licensing Branch I-2, Division of Operating Reactor 
Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. E7-20761 Filed 10-19-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P