[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 126 (Thursday, July 2, 2009)]
[Pages 31723-31725]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-15704]



Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury

AGENCY: Department of Energy.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: As required by the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 
110-414), hereafter referred to as the Act, the Department of Energy 
(DOE or the Department) plans to designate a facility or facilities for 
the long-term management and storage of elemental mercury generated 
within the United States. To this end, the Department intends to 
prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 regulations of the 
President's Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) 
and DOE's implementing procedures (10 CFR part 1021). This EIS will 
evaluate alternatives for such a facility or facilities in order to 
have the requisite capability operational by January 1, 2013, as 
stipulated in the Act. The United States Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) is a cooperating agency for this EIS.

DATES: DOE invites public comment on the scope of this EIS during a 45-
day public scoping period commencing July 2, 2009 and ending on August 
17, 2009. In defining the scope of the EIS, DOE will consider all 
comments received or postmarked by the end of the scoping period. 
Comments received or postmarked after the scoping period end date will 
be considered to the extent practicable. For dates, times and locations 
of public scoping meetings, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS may be submitted by 
mail to: Mr. David Levenstein, EIS Document Manager, P.O. Box 2612, 
Germantown, MD 20874, by toll free fax to 1-877-274-5462; or through 
the EIS Web site at http://www.mercurystorageeis.com.
    To be placed on the EIS distribution list, any of the methods 
listed under ADDRESSES above can be used. In requesting a copy of the 
Draft EIS, please specify whether the request is for a copy of the 
Summary only, the entire Draft EIS, or the entire Draft EIS (which 
includes the Summary) on a compact disc. In addition, the Draft EIS 
will be available on the DOE NEPA Web site at http://www.gc.energy.gov/NEPA/ and at the EIS Web site referenced above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information about the EIS, 
please contact David Levenstein, EIS Document Manager, Office of 
Regulatory Compliance (EM-10), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. For general information 
concerning DOE's NEPA process, contact: Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, 
Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-20), U.S. Department of 
Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, e-mail: 
[email protected]; telephone 202-586-4600, fax 202-586-7031, or leave 
a message at 1-800-472-2756. This Notice will be available at http://www.gc.energy.gov/NEPA/ and at  http://www.mercurystorageeis.com.



    The Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-414) prohibits, as 
of January 1, 2013, the sale, distribution, or transfer of elemental 
mercury by Federal agencies to any other Federal agency, any State or 
local government agency, or any private individual or entity that is 
under the control of a Federal agency (with certain limited 
exceptions). It also prohibits the export of elemental mercury from the 
United States effective January 1, 2013 (subject to certain essential 
use exceptions). Section 5 of the Act, Long-Term Storage, directs DOE 
to designate a facility or facilities for the long-term management and 
storage of elemental mercury generated within the United States. DOE's 
facility or facilities must be operational by January 1, 2013, and 
ready to accept custody of elemental mercury delivered to such a 
facility. The Act also requires DOE to assess fees based upon the pro 
rata costs of long-term management and storage.
    Inventory: There are several sources of elemental mercury in the 
United States, including mercury used in the chlorine and caustic soda 
manufacturing process (i.e., chlor-alkali industry), reclaimed from 
recycling and waste recovery activities, and generated as a byproduct 
of the gold mining process. In addition, DOE stores approximately 1,200 
metric tons of elemental mercury at the Y-12 National Security Complex 
in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Department of Defense (DOD) stores 

[[Page 31724]]

4,400 metric tons of elemental mercury at various locations.
    An EPA report, ``Mercury Storage Cost Estimates'' (2007), estimates 
the total amount of elemental mercury from non-governmental sources 
that would be eligible for DOE storage is between 7,500 and 10,000 
metric tons over a 40-year period. DOE plans to use such estimates and 
other credible sources of information to develop an annual and long-
term inventory estimate for EIS evaluation. During the scoping period, 
DOE invites commentors to provide inventory data on elemental mercury 
for consideration in the EIS.

Purpose and Need for Action

    DOE needs to develop a capability for the safe and secure long-term 
management and storage of elemental mercury as required by the Act. 
Accordingly, the Department needs to identify an appropriate facility 
or facilities to host this activity.

Proposed Action

    DOE proposes to select one or more existing (including modification 
as needed) or new facilities for the long-term management and storage 
of elemental mercury in accordance with the Act. Facilities to be 
constructed as well as existing or modified facilities must comply with 
applicable requirements of Section 5(d) of the Act, Management 
Standards for a Facility, including the requirements of the Solid Waste 
Disposal Act, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 
(RCRA), and other permitting requirements. DOE intends to identify the 
facility or facilities through the NEPA process. EPA is a cooperating 
agency on the EIS.

Proposed Alternatives

    As required by the Council on Environmental Quality and DOE NEPA 
implementing procedures at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 and 10 CFR part 1021, 
respectively, DOE will evaluate the range of reasonable alternatives 
for a facility or facilities for the long-term management and storage 
of elemental mercury. These alternatives will include the modification 
of existing facilities as may be necessary. Recognizing that new 
construction may be needed at some candidate locations, DOE proposes to 
evaluate a generic, newly constructed facility that would meet RCRA 
requirements, such that new construction could be considered at some 
candidate locations along with modification of existing facilities as 
appropriate. DOE has developed the following preliminary criteria to 
use as a framework for identifying candidate host locations:
     The facility or facilities will not create significant 
conflicts with any existing DOE site mission and will not interfere 
with future mission compatibility;
     The candidate host location has an existing facility or 
facilities suitable for mercury storage with the capability and 
flexibility for operational expansion, if necessary;
     The facility or facilities is, or potentially will be, 
capable of complying with RCRA permitting requirements, including 
siting requirements;
     The facility or facilities has supporting infrastructure, 
including a capability or potential capability for flooring that would 
support mercury loadings;
     Storage of elemental mercury at the facility or facilities 
is compatible with local and regional land use plans;
     The facility or facilities is accessible to major 
transportation routes; and
     The candidate host location has sufficient information on 
hand in order to adequately characterize the site.
    In March 2009, DOE published a Request for Expressions of Interest 
in the Federal Register (74 FR 11923, March 20, 2009) as well as in the 
Federal Business Opportunities seeking interest from Federal agencies 
and from the private sector regarding potential locations for a 
facility or facilities where DOE can store and manage mercury pursuant 
to the Act. Based on the responses received and on the criteria 
identified above, DOE proposes to evaluate the following candidate host 
sites as alternatives for the long-term management and storage of 
elemental mercury:
     Grand Junction Disposal Site, Grand Junction, CO;
     Hanford Site, Richland, WA;
     Hawthorne Army Depot, Hawthorne, NV;
     Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID;
     Kansas City Plant, Kansas City, MO;
     Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC; and
     Waste Control Specialists, Andrews, TX.
    As required by NEPA, the EIS will evaluate a No Action alternative 
to serve as a basis for comparison with the action alternatives. Under 
the No Action alternative, long-term management and storage of 
privately-owned elemental mercury would remain the responsibility of 
its owners, and government-owned elemental mercury would remain at 
existing facilities.

Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues

    DOE proposes to address the issues listed below when considering 
the potential impacts of the proposed management and storage 
alternatives in the EIS. This list is presented to facilitate public 
comment during the scoping period and will be revisited as DOE 
considers the scoping comments. It is not intended to be comprehensive, 
nor to imply any predetermination of impacts.
     Potential effects on the public health from exposure to 
hazardous materials under routine operations and credible accident 
scenarios including natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, 
and seismic events);
     Impacts on surface and groundwater, floodplains and 
wetlands, and on water use and quality;
     Impacts on air quality (including global climate change) 
and noise;
     Impacts on plants and animals and their habitats, 
including species that are Federal- or State-listed as threatened or 
endangered, or of special concern;
     Impacts on geology and soil;
     Impacts on cultural resources such as historic, 
archeological, and Native American culturally important sites;
     Socioeconomic impacts on potentially affected communities;
     Environmental Justice, particularly whether or not long-
term elemental mercury management and storage activities have a 
disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority and low-income 
     Potential impacts on land-use plans, policies and 
controls, and visual resources;
     Pollution prevention and waste management practices and 
     Unavoidable adverse impacts, and irreversible and 
irretrievable commitments of resources;
     Potential cumulative environmental effects of past, 
present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions;
     Status of compliance with all applicable Federal, state 
and local statutes and regulations, international agreements, and 
required Federal and State environmental permits, consultations, and 
notifications; and
     Potential impacts of intentional destructive acts, 
including sabotage and terrorism.

EIS Process and Invitation To Comment

    NEPA implementing regulations require an early and open process for 
determining the scope of an EIS and for identifying the significant 
issues related to the proposed action. Accordingly, DOE invites Federal 
agencies, State,

[[Page 31725]]

local and Tribal governments, the general public and international 
community to comment on the scope of the EIS, including identification 
of reasonable alternatives and specific issues to be addressed.
    DOE will hold public scoping meetings from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on 
the following dates and locations:
     July 21, 2009 Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main 
Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501.
     July 23, 2009 Embassy Suites Kansas City--Plaza, 220 West 
43rd Street, Kansas City, MO 64111.
     July 28, 2009 Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 1515 
George Washington Way, Richland, WA 99352.
     July 30, 2009 North Augusta Municipal Center, 100 Georgia 
Avenue, North Augusta, SC 29841.
     August 4, 2009 El Capitan Resort, 540 F Street, Hawthorne, 
NV 89415.
     August 6, 2009 James Roberts Civic Center, 855 E. 
Broadway, Andrews, TX 79714.
     August 11, 2009 Shilo Inn/O'Callahans Convention Center, 
780 Lindsay Blvd., Idaho Falls, ID 83402.
    Additional details on the scoping meetings will be provided in 
local media and at http://www.mercurystorageeis.com.
    At each scoping meeting, DOE plans to hold an open house one hour 
prior to the formal portion of the meetings to allow participants to 
register to provide oral comments, view informational materials, and 
engage project staff. The registration table will have an oral comment 
registration form as well as a sign up sheet for those who do not wish 
to give oral comments but who would like to be included on the mailing 
list to receive future information. The public may provide written and/
or oral comments at the scoping meetings.
    Analysis of all public comments provided during the scoping 
meetings as well as those submitted as described in ADDRESSES above, 
will be considered in helping DOE further develop the scope of the EIS 
and potential issues to be addressed. DOE expects to issue a Draft EIS 
in the fall of 2009.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2009.
Scott Blake Harris,
General Counsel.
[FR Doc. E9-15704 Filed 7-1-09; 8:45 am]