[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 137 (Monday, July 20, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 35208-35210]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-17164]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2009-0317]


Proposed Generic Communication; Emergency Response Data System 
Upgrade From Modem to Virtual Private Network Appliance

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of opportunity for public comment.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to 
issue a regulatory issue summary (RIS) to notify current and future 
power reactor licensees of pending changes to the technology used to 
transmit data from power reactor facility sites to the emergency 
response data system (ERDS) server at NRC Headquarters (HQ) and to 
solicit licensees to transition voluntarily to the new technology.
    The RIS is available through the NRC's Agencywide Documents Access 
and Management System (ADAMS) under accession number ML091350153.

DATES: Comment period expires September 3, 2009. Comments submitted 
after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but 
assurance of consideration cannot be given except for comments received 
on or before this date.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to the Chief, Rulemaking and 
Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of 
Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mail Stop TWB 
5B01M, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and cite the publication

[[Page 35209]]

date and page number of this Federal Register notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Stransky, Senior Emergency 
Response Coordinator, Operations Branch, Division of Preparedness and 
Response, Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555. Telephone: (301) 
415-6411; fax number: (301) 415-6382; e-mail: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2009-XX; Emergency Response Data System 
Upgrade From Modem to Virtual Private Network Appliance

Addressees

    All holders of operating licenses for nuclear power reactors under 
the provisions of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 
Part 50, ``Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization 
Facilities,'' except those that have ceased operations and have 
certified that fuel has been permanently removed from the reactor 
vessel.
    All holders of, and applicants for, nuclear power plant 
construction permits under the provisions of 10 CFR Part 50, ``Domestic 
Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities.'' All holders of, 
and applicants for, combined licenses under the provisions of 10 CFR 
Part 52, ``Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power 
Plants.''

Intent

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this 
regulatory issue summary (RIS) to notify current and future power 
reactor licensees of pending changes to the technology used to transmit 
data from power reactor facility sites to the emergency response data 
system (ERDS) server at NRC Headquarters (HQ) and to solicit licensees 
to transition voluntarily to the new technology.

Background

    In Appendix E to 10 CFR Part 50, the NRC requires power reactor 
licensees to transmit ERDS data to a server at NRC HQ. Licensees 
currently use analog modulator/demodulators (modems) to establish 
point-to-point data connections. Although this technology was state of 
the art when ERDS was first implemented, it is now obsolete, and 
replacement equipment is no longer readily available. In addition, the 
use of modems inherently introduces a cyber security vulnerability to 
the systems to which they are attached.
    As part of the NRC's current effort to modernize the ERDS 
infrastructure, the NRC has been working with individual licensees to 
develop an acceptable solution to replace the existing modems. The most 
promising technology explored was virtual private network (VPN) 
technology used to create a secure point-to-point data pathway between 
the licensee site and NRC HQ. This VPN technology is a current, stable, 
and reliable information technology industry standard. In addition, 
this technology will permit all ERDS-enabled facilities to connect to 
NRC HQ simultaneously, thus, enhancing the NRC's ability to respond to 
incidents that may affect multiple licensees simultaneously, such as 
grid instability events.
    From September 2008 through December 2008, the NRC conducted 
prototype testing with several licensees (i.e., Exelon Nuclear 
Corporation, Progress Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority) to 
investigate the viability of using a VPN for the secure transmission of 
data from power reactor facilities to the ERDS server located at NRC 
HQ. The NRC provided VPN appliances and configuration support to these 
licensees. All major test objectives were met. Based on the success of 
the prototype testing and on the interest expressed by numerous 
licensees, the NRC intends to proceed with the replacement of existing 
analog modems with VPN devices. The purpose of this RIS is to solicit 
licensees to transition voluntarily to the VPN technology.

Summary of Issues

    This RIS informs licensees of a voluntary program that they can 
participate in to upgrade the technology used to transmit plant 
information to the ERDS server in order to address the following two 
issues:
    (1) The modem technology currently employed to transmit ERDS data 
from power reactor sites to NRC HQ is obsolete. In addition, 
replacement modems are no longer readily available.
    (2) The use of modems inherently introduces cyber security 
vulnerabilities to the systems to which they are attached.
    Based on the success of the prototype testing, the NRC has decided 
to enter into a voluntary program with individual licensees to replace 
the current NRC-supplied modem with an NRC supplied VPN appliance. As 
of May 1, 2009, licensees representing 19 sites have already expressed 
interest in transitioning to the VPN solution.
    Although ongoing implementation of the ERDS modernization project 
will change the device used to transmit data, it does not affect the 
criteria for transmitting ERDS data, the transmission frequency, the 
data point library, or any other aspect of ERDS implementation as 
described in 10 CFR 50.72(a)(4); Appendix E, ``Emergency Planning and 
Preparedness for Production and Utilization Facilities,'' to 10 CFR 
Part 50; and NUREG-1394, Revision 1, ``Emergency Response Data System 
Implementation,'' published in June 1991. The NRC staff also notes that 
the use of an NRC-provided VPN appliance, when properly configured, is 
consistent with guidance provided in Regulatory Guide 5.71, ``Cyber 
Security Programs for Nuclear Facilities,'' (Official Use Only-Security 
Related Information)
    Licensees interested in participating in the voluntary program to 
replace their modems with an NRC-supplied VPN appliance are encouraged 
to contact the ERDS support desk by telephone at (301) 415-0467 or 
through e-mail at [email protected]. The NRC will support licensee 
requests in the order in which they are received.

Backfit Discussion

    The intent of this RIS is to inform stakeholders of a change to the 
data transmission technology for ERDS information. This change is a 
part of the continuing ERDS modernization project, and it will provide 
improved technology and cyber security for both licensees and the NRC. 
This RIS informs stakeholders of the change to the technology to 
transmit ERDS data to the NRC in accordance with 10 CFR Part 50 and to 
solicit voluntary participation by licensees in a program to replace 
obsolete technology with modern equipment.
    This RIS provides licensees an opportunity to schedule a 
replacement of NRC-provided obsolete modems with NRC-provided VPN 
technology. The staff is not imposing any new positions on licensees. 
This RIS is not providing any new regulatory requirements. This RIS 
only conveys the NRC's plan to address issues with the current ERDS 
modem technology. No action is required on the part of any licensee; 
therefore, this document does not constitute a backfit under 10 CFR 
50.109, ``Backfitting.'' Consequently, the staff did not perform a 
backfit analysis.

Federal Register Notification

    Although this RIS is informational and does not represent a 
departure from current regulatory requirements, a notice of opportunity 
for public comment on this RIS was published in the Federal Register 
(74 FR xxxxx).

[[Page 35210]]

Congressional Review Act

    This RIS is not a rule as designated by the Congressional Review 
Act (5 U.S.C. 801-808) and, therefore, is not subject to the Act.

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This RIS does not contain information collections and, therefore, 
is not subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.).

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a request for information or an information collection 
requirement unless the requesting document displays a current valid 
Office of Management and Budget control number.

Contact

    Please direct any questions about this matter to one of the 
technical contacts listed below:

Glenn M. Tracy, Director, Division of Construction Inspection and 
Operational Programs, Office of New Reactors;
Timothy J. McGinty, Director, Division of Policy and Rulemaking, Office 
of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

    Technical Contacts:

Roberto Figueroa, (301) 415-6075, E-mail: [email protected].
Robert Stransky, (301) 415-6411, E-mail: [email protected]

End of Draft Regulatory Issue Summary

    Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's 
Public Document Room 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 
Internet at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/ADAMS/index.html. 
If you do not have access to ADAMS or if you have problems in accessing 
the documents in ADAMS, contact the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) 
reference staff at 1-800-397-4209 or 301-415-4737 or by e-mail to 
[email protected].


    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 13th day of July 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Martin C. Murphy,
Chief, Generic Communications Branch, Division of Policy and 
Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. E9-17164 Filed 7-17-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P