[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 59 (Monday, March 30, 2009)]
[Pages 14163-14165]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-6997]



[Docket No. 50-123; NRC-2009-0139]

Missouri University of Science and Technology Nuclear Research 
Reactor; Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) is 
considering issuance of a renewed Facility Operating License No. R-79,

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held by the Missouri University of Science and Technology (the licensee 
or MST), which would authorize continued operation of the Missouri 
University of Science and Technology Research Reactor (MSTR), located 
in Rolla City, Phelps County, Missouri. Therefore, as required by 10 
CFR 51.21, the NRC is issuing this Environmental Assessment and Finding 
of No Significant Impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would renew Facility Operating License No. R-79 
for a period of twenty years from the date of issuance of the renewed 
license. The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated August 20, 2004, as supplemented on November 16, 
November 27, and December 26, 2007, and January 17, March 6, June 26, 
September 16, and November 7, 2008. In accordance with 10 CFR 2.109, 
the existing license remains in effect until the NRC takes final action 
on the application.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action is needed to allow the continued operation of 
the MSTR to routinely provide teaching, research, and services to 
numerous institutions for a period of twenty years.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has completed its safety evaluation of the proposed action 
to issue a renewed Facility Operating License No. R-79 to allow 
continued operation of the MSTR for a period of twenty years and 
concludes there is reasonable assurance that the MSTR will continue to 
operate safely for the additional period of time. The details of the 
staff's safety evaluation will be provided with the renewed license 
that will be issued as part of the letter to the licensee approving its 
license renewal application.
    The MSTR is located in a separated building on the east side of the 
main campus of the MST. The reactor is housed in a steel frame 
structure with insulated metal walls. The reactor building footprint is 
49 feet x 33 feet (approximately 15 meters x 10 meters). Utilities such 
as electrical supply, sewage, and water are provided by the main campus 
systems. There are no nearby industrial, transportation, or military 
facilities that could pose a threat to the MSTR.
    In December 1961, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) issued an 
operating license to the University of Missouri--Rolla (renamed 
Missouri University of Science and Technology) for operation of a 
research reactor on its campus. The MSTR is based on the design of the 
bulk shielding reactor (BSR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which 
was a materials testing reactor (MTR). Reactors of this type have 
common features, such as light-water moderation, natural convection 
cooling, open pools, and plate-type fuel. This license, R-79, 
authorized the facility to operate at steady-state power levels up to 
10 kW(t). In 1967, the license was amended to allow operation up to its 
current power level of 200 kW(t). In 1992, the fuel was converted from 
high-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU). The low 
power level of the core allows for sufficient cooling by natural 
convection. The reactor's experimental facilities include a pneumatic 
transfer system, in-core irradiation tube, a beam tube, and a thermal 
column. There are four control rods loaded in any particular core 
configuration to allow the MSTR to routinely operate with various 
powers and experiments. The MSTR has no pulse capability. The sum of 
the absolute values of all experiments is limited to a maximum 
reactivity of 1.2% [Delta]k/k by technical specification, which is well 
below the maximum reactivity limit of 1.5% [Delta]k/k established in 
the safety analysis. The licensee's analysis in Chapter 13 of the 
safety analysis report (SAR) shows that a stepwise reactivity insertion 
of 1.5% [Delta]k/k does not adversely affect the health and safety of 
public and the reactor staff.
    The licensee has not requested any changes to the facility design 
or operating conditions as part of the renewal request. Therefore, the 
license renewal should not change the environmental impact of facility 
I. Radiological Impact
    Gaseous effluents are discharged by the reactor ventilation fan at 
a volumetric flow rate of approximately 140 m\3\/min (5 x 10\3\ ft\3\/
min). Other release pathways exist; however, they are normally secured 
during reactor operation and have insignificant volumetric flow rates 
compared to the ventilation fan. The dose rate at the reactor bridge 
with the reactor operating at 200 kW is less than 5 mrem/hr. Nitrogen-
16, argon-41, and direct radiation from the reactor core contribute to 
this dose rate. Nitrogen-16 has a very short half-life (7.13 sec), and 
the reactor has a core diffuser system which creates a water 
circulation pattern designed to suppress nitrogen-16 transported to the 
surface of the pool and reduce the reactor pool surface dose rate. 
Because of the short half-life of nitrogen-16 compared to the transit 
time, exposure to the public is negligible. Analysis of effluent 
samples has found only argon-41. The licensee measured the dose from 
normal operations to a person in the unrestricted area. The 
concentration of argon-41 leaving the reactor roof fan exhaust where 
argon-41 is released to the general public was measured at 4.24 x 
10-10 microcuries per milliliter ([mu]Ci/ml). The 
calculations very conservatively assume that the reactor operates 
continuously for a year and that the member of the public stands at the 
point of maximum exposure continuously for the entire year. Using the 
conservative assumption above, the measured result was 2 mrem. This is 
below the 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B, Table 2, limit of 50 mrem for 
submersion. The licensee also measured occupational exposure to argon-
41 in the reactor bay. Using the worst-case conditions, the 
conservative measurement of argon-41 concentration in the reactor 
building from pool release was 1.80 10-7 [mu]Ci/ml, more 
than a factor of 10 below the regulatory limit of 3.0 x 10-6 
[mu]Ci/ml (10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B). These calculations demonstrate 
that routine airborne effluents released from the MSTR are well within 
10 CFR Part 20 criteria for occupational workers and members of the 
public, and are therefore acceptable to the staff.
    Pool water activity is monitored monthly to ensure that no gross 
pool contamination or fuel cladding rupture has occurred. Liquid 
effluents are analyzed for radioactive contamination and approved by 
the MSTR Radiation Safety Office before discharge.
    Un-compacted solid low-level radioactive waste consists of gloves, 
pads, used resins, filters, and various activation products from 
experiments conducted using the MSTR. This radioactive waste is 
transferred to the MSTR Dangerous Materials Storage Facility (DMSF) for 
future shipment to a commercial burial site, 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 Part 
170 through 178.
    Facility personnel, staff, and students involved with the operation 
of the MSTR are assigned dosimeters. Personnel exposures reported to 
the NRC were within the limits set by 10 CFR 20.1201, and were as low 
as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Visitors are also monitored with 
direct reading dosimeters. No visitors received

[[Page 14165]]

any reportable or significant exposure in the past 20 years. No changes 
in reactor operation that would lead to an increase in occupational 
doses are expected as a result of license renewal.
    The environmental impacts of the fuel cycle and transportation of 
fuels and wastes are described in Tables S-3 and S-4 of 10 CFR 51.51 
and 10 CFR 51.52, respectively. An additional NRC generic environmental 
assessment (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 higher burn-up cycle and concluded that there is 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 MWt days per metric ton of uranium-235 (MWd/MTU). The MSTR 
uranium enrichment limit and the burn-up limit would stay within the 5 
percent and the 60,000 MWd/MTU limits. Therefore, the environmental 
impacts of the fuel cycle and transportation of fuels and wastes, to 
and from the site, would not be significant.
II. Non-Radiological Impact
    The MSTR core is submerged in an open pool containing 30,000 
gallons (113,560 liters) of demineralized light water. The core is 
cooled by natural convection. Heat from the water pool is dissipated 
primarily by evaporation into the reactor bay and discharged to the 
environment by the ventilation system. The auxiliary cooling system 
with a heat exchanger is also available to reduce the water temperature 
if needed. Release of thermal effluents from the MSTR will not have a 
significant effect on the environment. The small amount of waste heat, 
approximately 200 kW at full power operation, is released to the 
atmosphere by means of the dry cooler, and therefore will not lead to 
the creation of fog. Extensive drift will not occur at this heat 
dissipation rate.

Environmental Effects of Accidents

    The maximum hypothetical accident (MHA) scenario is discussed in 
Chapter 13 of the MSTR SAR. The accident scenario assumes that a 
capsule, containing fissile material after irradiation in the fuel 
experiment, breaks and releases all gaseous fission products in the 
reactor building and uncontrolled environment. In analyzing the MHA, 
occupational doses resulting from this accident would be 410 mrem (4.10 
mSV), which is more than a factor of ten below 10 CFR Part 20 limits of 
5000 mrem (50 mSV). Maximum doses for members of the general public 
were conservatively calculated to be 46 mrem (0.46 mSv), and are below 
the 10 CFR Part 20 limit of 100 mrem (1 mSv). The analysis shows that 
the failure of an irradiated fueled experiment will not exceed 10 CFR 
Part 20 limits. Therefore, it is acceptable to the staff.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Considerations

I. Endangered Species Act (ESA)
    The site occupied by the MSTR does not contain any Federally- or 
State-protected fauna or flora, nor do the MSTR effluents impact the 
habitats of any such fauna or flora.
II. Costal Zone Management Act (CZMA)
    The site occupied by the MSTR is not located within any managed 
coastal zones, nor do the MSTR effluents impact any managed coastal 
III. National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA)
    The National Register Information System lists several historical 
sites located around the Missouri University of Science and Technology, 
but operation of the MSTR will not impact any historical sites.
IV. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA)
    The licensee is not planning any water resource development 
projects, including any of the modifications relating to impounding a 
body of water, damming, diverting a stream or river, deepening a 
channel, irrigation, or altering a body of water for navigation or 

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to license renewal, the staff considered denial 
of the proposed action. If the Commission denied the application for 
license renewal, facility operations would end and decommissioning 
would be required with no significant impact on the environment. The 
environmental impacts of license renewal and this alternative action 
are similar. However, the benefits of teaching, research, and services 
provided by facility operation would be lost.

Alternative Use of Resources

    The proposed action does not involve the use of any different 
resources or significant quantities of resources beyond those 
previously considered in the issuance of Amendment No. 9 to Facility 
Operating License No. R-79 for the Missouri University of Science and 
Technology Research Reactor dated March 5, 1991, for the HEU to LEU 

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 

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on February 14, 2008, the NRC 
staff consulted with the Missouri State official, Floyd Gilzow, of the 
State Liaison Office, Department of Natural Resources, regarding the 
environmental impacts of the proposed action. The State official had no 
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's letter dated August 30, 2004 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML042820116), as supplemented by letters dated November 16, 2007 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML073240523), November 27, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML073320467), December 26, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML080070088), 
January 17, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML080240307), March 6, 2008 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML080930439), June 26, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML081820410), September 16, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML 082630565), 
and November 7, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML083190529), and 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 19th day of March, 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Kathryn Brock,
Chief, Research and Test Reactors Branch A, Division of Policy and 
Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. E9-6997 Filed 3-27-09; 8:45 am]