[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 76 (Wednesday, April 22, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 18303-18304]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-9197]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 76 / Wednesday, April 22, 2009 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 18303]]


10 CFR Part 50

[PRM-50-89; NRC-2007-0018]

Raymond A. West; Consideration of Petition in Rulemaking Process

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Closure of petition for rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received a 
petition for rulemaking dated December 14, 2007, and revised on 
December 19, 2007, filed by Raymond A. West (petitioner). The petition 
was docketed by the NRC and has been assigned Docket No. PRM-50-89. The 
petitioner is requesting that the NRC amend the regulations that govern 
domestic licensing of production and utilization facilities at nuclear 
power plants. Specifically, the petitioner is requesting that the 
regulations that govern codes and standards at nuclear power plants be 
amended to provide applicants and licensees a process for requesting 
NRC approval of changes or modifications to American Society of 
Mechanical Engineers Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (ASME Code) cases 
that are listed in the relevant NRC-approved regulatory guides cited in 
the current regulations. The petitioner believes that the current 
requirements do not allow changes or modifications to be proposed as 
alternatives to NRC-approved ASME Code cases. This action provides 
notice that the NRC will consider the petitioner's request in the NRC's 
rulemaking process.

DATES: The petition for rulemaking docketed as PRM-50-89 is closed on 
April 22, 2009.

ADDRESSES: The NRC is not soliciting comments at this time. Further NRC 
action on the issues raised by this petition will be accessible at the 
federal rulemaking portal, http://www.regulations.gov, by searching on 
rulemaking docket ID: [NRC-2007-0018].
    You can access publicly available documents related to this 
petition for rulemaking using the following methods:
    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
search for documents filed under the following rulemaking docket ID: 
    NRC's Public Document Room: The public may examine, and have copied 
for a fee, publicly available documents at the NRC's Public Document 
Room (PDR), Public File Area, Room O1F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland.
    NRC's Agencywide Document Access and Management System (ADAMS): 
Publicly available documents created or received at the NRC are 
available electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this page, the public can gain 
entry into ADAMS, which provides text and image files of NRC's public 
documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS or if there are problems 
in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the PDR reference 
staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: L. Mark Padovan, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555. Telephone: 301-415-1423 or Toll-Free: 1-800-368-5642 or by e-
mail: [email protected].


I. Background

    The NRC has received a petition for rulemaking dated December 14, 
2007, as revised on December 19, 2007, submitted by Raymond A. West 
(petitioner). The petitioner requests that the NRC amend 10 CFR Part 
50, ``Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities.'' 
Specifically, the petitioner requests that 10 CFR 50.55a, ``Codes and 
Standards,'' be amended to permit licensees and applicants to directly 
request approval of an alternative for changes to NRC-approved ASME 
Code cases.
    The NRC determined that the petition met the threshold sufficiency 
requirements for a petition for rulemaking under 10 CFR 2.802. The 
petition was docketed by the NRC as PRM-50-89 on December 26, 2007.

II. Discussion of the Petition

    The petitioner states that 10 CFR 50.55a currently provides no 
defined provisions to allow applicants or licensees to request changes 
or modifications to ASME Code cases listed in NRC Regulatory Guides 
1.84, 1.147, or 1.192 that NRC has approved for use under Sec. Sec.  
50.55a(b)(4), (b)(5), and (b)(6).
    The petitioner states that requirements in Sec.  50.55a(a)(3) for 
proposing alternatives to the requirements in Sec.  50.55a(a) are 
limited to the requirements in paragraphs (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g) 
of that section. The petitioner further states that alternatives to 
requirements in Sec.  50.55a(b) are not permitted. The petitioner 
believes that although these requirements were appropriate for many 
years, when Sec. Sec.  50.55a(b)(4), (b)(5), and (b)(6) were added, 
Sec.  50.55a(a)(3) could no longer be used for ``direct approval'' of 
changes or modifications to NRC-approved ASME Code cases.
    The petitioner notes that ASME Code cases are written by ASME to 
provide alternatives to existing requirements or to introduce new 
technologies or methodologies. The petitioner states that it typically 
takes 4 years for a particular ASME Code case to be accepted for 
generic use by applicants or licensees in regulatory guides. Most 
applicants or licensees are willing to wait for generic approval 
because of the estimated minimum $12,000 cost to request approval of a 
particular ASME Code case before it is accepted for use in a regulatory 
guide. The petitioner states that, in many instances when an attempt is 
made to use a newly-approved ASME Code case, there are one or two 
requirements in the code case that cannot be met because:
    (1) The need for the ASME Code case has broadened beyond the scope 
of the approved case,
    (2) The committee that developed the ASME Code case did not foresee 
all possible uses of a particular case, or
    (3) Limitations at a particular site may preclude using an ASME 
Code case without modification.
    The petitioner is concerned that problems occur when there is an 
immediate need to use an ASME Code case that contains most of the 
requirements needed to resolve an issue

[[Page 18304]]

but cannot be used without a modification. The petitioner cites an 
effort to mitigate primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) in 
Alloy 82/182 welds after an ASME Code case was approved by the NRC for 
use in the appropriate regulatory guide for weld overlay of stainless 
steel material but not for austenitic nickel-based material that was 
subject to potential PWSCC. The petitioner states that this issue 
resulted in licensees having to perform a ``work-a-round'' by 
requesting usage of some ASME Code cases with modifications. The 
petitioner has concluded that use of ASME Code cases with modifications 
cannot be performed under Sec.  50.55a(a)(3).
    The petitioner describes the ``work-a-round'' that is accepted by 
the NRC is for an applicant or licensee to propose an alternative to 
the governing ASME Code requirements, such as using ASME Code Section 
XI requirements, instead of requesting usage of an ASME Code case with 
a change or modification. The petitioner states that the NRC allows 
this type of alternative under Sec.  50.55a(a)(3) because the 
provisions of Sec.  50.55a(g) govern use of ASME Code Section XI. The 
petitioner states that, if the need for an alternative is urgent, the 
only choice an applicant or licensee has is to perform the ``work-a-
round'' described above that the petitioner states has been done 
routinely. The petitioner has concluded that the NRC has determined 
that no mechanism for evaluating a licensee's proposal to an existing 
NRC approved voluntary alternative is allowed by Sec.  50.55a(a)(3) 
because it would be ``providing an alternative to an alternative.''
    The petitioner has proposed draft rulemaking text to address these 
issues. The petitioner states that his proposed amendments to Sec.  
50.55a will clarify this regulation to correct administrative issues 
associated with alternatives to ASME Code cases when an urgent issue 
arises that cannot be solved under the current regulatory provisions.

III. NRC Review of the Petition

    The NRC reviewed the issues raised by the petitioner and determined 
the following:
     Code cases often provide alternatives that have technical 
merit and, in many instances, are incorporated into future ASME Code 
     The ASME Code case process itself constitutes a method of 
how a licensee can seek to obtain ASME approval for a variation of a 
previously-approved code case. Sec.  50.55a(a)(3) currently provides 
specific approaches for obtaining NRC approval of alternatives to ASME 
Code provisions. Inasmuch as ASME Code cases are analogous to ASME Code 
provisions, it is not unreasonable to provide an analogous regulatory 
approach for obtaining NRC approval of alternatives to ASME Code cases.
    For these reasons, the NRC has determined that the issues raised in 
this petition should be considered in the NRC's Common Prioritization 
of Rulemaking process. The NRC uses this process to determine which 
rulemaking actions to pursue based on available resources and how the 
actions maintain safety, ensure security of nuclear facilities and 
materials, increase effectiveness, and maintain openness with 
stakeholders. Members of the public can track the progress of the 
issues raised in the petition as they go through the rulemaking process 
via the ``NRC Regulatory Agenda: Semiannual Report (NUREG-0936),'' or 
online at http://www.regulations.gov; search on rulemaking docket ID 
NRC-2007-0018. The changes requested in the petition may or may not be 
incorporated into 10 CFR 50.55a exactly as requested. With this action, 
PRM-50-89 is considered resolved and administratively closed.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 3rd day of April 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
R.W. Borchardt,
Executive Director for Operations.
[FR Doc. E9-9197 Filed 4-21-09; 8:45 am]