[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 97 (Thursday, May 21, 2009)]
[Pages 23897-23899]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-11860]



[Docket No. 72-04; NRC-2008-0333]

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact for the Renewal of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission License No. SNM-2503 for Oconee Nuclear Station Independent 
Spent Fuel Storage Installation

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Haimanot Yilma, Environmental Project 
Manager, Environmental Review Branch, Division of Waste Management and 
Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and 
Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Rockville, Maryland 20852. Telephone: (301) 415-8029; fax number: (301) 
415-3502; e-mail: [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering an 
application dated January 30, 2008, from Duke Power Company LLC d/b/a 
Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, (Duke) for the renewal of its Special 
Nuclear Material (SNM) License SNM-2503, under the provisions of 10 CFR 
part 72, for the receipt, possession, storage and transfer of spent 
fuel and other radioactive materials associated with spent fuel storage 
at the Oconee Nuclear Station (ONS) Independent Spent Fuel Storage 
Installation (ISFSI), located at the ONS site in Oconee County, South 
Carolina. If granted, the renewed license will authorize Duke to 
continue to store spent fuel in a dry cask storage system at the ISFSI. 
Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 72.42, the renewal term of the 
license for an ISFSI is limited to 20 years. Duke, however, has also 
submitted an exemption request with its license renewal application, 
pursuant to 10 CFR 72.7, seeking a license renewal term of 40 years. In 
accordance with 10 CFR 72.34, Duke's renewal application included an 
Environmental Report (which is attached as Enclosure 3, Appendix E of 
Duke's application).
    SNM-2503 expires on January 31, 2010. This renewal and exemption 
request, if granted, will extend the term of SNM-2503 to January 31, 
    The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of 
this action in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. 
Based on the EA, the NRC has determined that a Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate. If Duke's request is 
approved, the NRC will issue the renewed license following the 
publication of this EA and FONSI.

II. EA Summary

Description of the Proposed Action

    Duke requests approval to renew SNM-2503 for an additional 40 years 
at the ONS, South Carolina facility. If approved, Duke will be allowed 
to receive, possess, store and transfer the power reactor spent fuel 
and other radioactive materials associated with spent fuel storage at 
the ISFSI until January 31, 2050.

Need for the Proposed Action

    Duke owns and operates three nuclear power reactor units on the ONS 
site, Oconee Units 1, 2, and 3, which began commercial operation on 
July 15, 1973, September 9, 1974, and December 16, 1974, respectively. 
The current Facility Operating licenses (FOLs) for Oconee Units 1, 2, 
and 3 will expire on February 6, 2033; October 6, 2033; and July 19, 
2034, respectively. The ONS ISFSI is needed to provide continued spent 
fuel storage capacity so that the ONS can continue to generate 
electricity. SNM-2503, if renewed for only the 20 year term provided by 
the applicable regulation, 10 CFR 72.42, will expire on January 31, 
2030, which is approximately 4 years before the FOLs expire. During 
that time, Duke anticipates that the ISFSI will continue to be required 
for spent fuel storage in concert with the ONS spent fuel pools and the 
additional independent spent

[[Page 23898]]

fuel installation on the ONS site, constructed and operated under the 
10 CFR part 72 general license (10 CFR 72.210).
    It is unclear when DOE will begin to accept spent nuclear fuel at 
the Federal geological repository mandated by the Nuclear Waste Policy 
Act of 1982. Development of the repository continues to experience 
delays and it is not projected to commence operation until 2017, at the 
earliest. Even if DOE does begin taking spent fuel in 2017, it is 
unlikely that the ISFSI could be emptied of spent fuel before 2030. 
Duke's most recent decommissioning analyses, which assume DOE accepts 
ONS spent fuel beginning in 2015, project operation of the ISFSI 
licensed under SNM-2503, the subject of this proposed action, and the 
ISFSI operated under the general license, through 2044.
    Offsite shipment of the spent fuel from the ISFSI prior to a 2030 
expiration of the renewed license would not be practical for a variety 
of reasons. Currently, there are no commercial or federal facilities 
available to accept spent fuel. If such a facility becomes available, 
shipment would require repackaging of the spent fuel since the ISFSI 
canisters are not licensed for transport. Spent fuel shipping 
containers would have to be either leased or purchased. Also, this 
would result in considerable occupational exposure for both ONS 
personnel and personnel at the receiving facility. Finally, the spent 
fuel would still have to be shipped to the repository once it becomes 
    Transfer of the spent fuel from the SNM-2503 ISFSI into the ONS 
general license ISFSI, prior to a 2030 expiration of SNM-2503, would 
also not be practical. As the ISFSI storage units are not approved for 
use under the general license, this would require repackaging the spent 
fuel assemblies from the ISFSI into general license storage units. The 
cost of an additional 40 storage units coupled with the additional 
occupational exposure and the potential for fuel handling incidents, 
render this option impractical.
    Therefore, Duke, under 10 CFR 72.7, requests an exemption from the 
20 year renewal term specified in 10 CFR 72.42, and seeks a 40 year 
renewal term for SNM-2503, which would allow the ISFSI to continue to 
store spent fuel until January 31, 2050.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has prepared an EA that analyzed the impact of renewing 
SNM-2503 on 12 environmental categories: land use; transportation; 
socioeconomics; air quality; water quality; geology and soils; 
endangered and threatened species; noise; historic and cultural; scenic 
and visual; public and occupational health; and waste management as a 
result of the proposed action. Based on this assessment, the NRC staff 
has determined that no significant radiological or non-radiological 
impact from normal operations of the ISFSI during the 40 year renewal 
period are expected. The ISFSI is a passive facility that produces no 
liquid or gaseous effluents and requires no power or regular 
maintenance. The license renewal request does not require altering the 
site footprint nor does it change the operating processes of the 
existing facility; therefore there are no anticipated impacts in any of 
the above listed environmental categories.
    The radiological dose rates from the ISFSI will be limited by the 
design of the horizontal storage module. Occupational dose estimates 
from routine monitoring activities and transfer of spent fuel for 
disposal must be maintained ``as low as is reasonably achievable'' 
(ALARA) and must be within the limits of 10 CFR 20.1201 per the ONS 
radiation protection program. The annual dose to the nearest potential 
member of the public from ISFSI activities remains significantly below 
the annual dose limits specified in10 CFR 72.104 and 10 CFR 20.1301(a). 
The cumulative dose to an individual offsite from all site activities 
will be less than the limits specified in 10 CFR 72.104 and 10 CFR 
20.1301. These doses are also a small fraction of the doses resulting 
from naturally occurring terrestrial and cosmic radiation of about 300 
mrem/yr in the vicinity of the ONS ISFSI.
    Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed action will 
not result in a significant impact to human health or the environment.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    NRC staff consulted with other agencies regarding the proposed 
action, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South 
Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, the Economic Development 
Commission of Oconee County, the Oconee County Planning Office, the 
Oconee Soil and Water Conservation District Office, the Oconee County 
Park, Recreation and Tourism office, and the School District of Oconee 
County. The consultations ensured that the requirements of Section 7 of 
the Endangered Species Act and Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act were met and provided the designated liaison agency 
the opportunity to comment on the proposed action. The conclusions by 
all agencies consulted were consistent with the staff's conclusions.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the EA, the NRC staff concludes that there are no 
significant radiological or non-radiological impacts associated with 
the proposed action and that issuance of renewal of the license for the 
interim storage of spent nuclear fuel at the ONS ISFSI for a renewal 
term of 40 years will have no significant impact on the quality of the 
human environment. Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.31 and 51.32, a 
finding of no significant impact is appropriate and an EIS need not be 
prepared for the renewal of SNM-2503.

IV. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
renewal of SNM-2503 and supporting documentation, are available 
electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, you can access the 
NRC's Agency-wide Document Access and Management System (ADAMS), which 
provides text and image files of NRC's public documents. The ADAMS 
accession numbers for the documents related to this notice are:

                     Document ADAMS Accession Number
ONS ISFSI License Renewal Application       ML081280084
 (Duke's environmental report is at
 Enclosure 3, Appendix E of the
Consultation Letters: Section 106 and       ML081410669
 Section 7.
FWS Response Letter to Section 7 Request..  ML081850455
SHPO Response e-mail to section 106         ML091271071
RAI for EA Review.........................  ML083110387
Environmental Assessment..................  ML091340557

    If you do not have access to ADAMS or if there are problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC Public 
Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737 or 
by e-mail to [email protected].
    These documents may also be viewed electronically on the public 
computers located at the NRC's PDR, O1F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. The PDR reproduction contractor 
will copy documents for a fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 15th day of May 2009.

[[Page 23899]]

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Andrea Kock,
Chief, Environmental Review Branch, Environmental Protection and 
Performance Assessment Directorate, Division of Waste Management and 
Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and 
Environmental Management Programs.
[FR Doc. E9-11860 Filed 5-20-09; 8:45 am]