[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 150 (Thursday, August 6, 2009)]
[Pages 39348-39349]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-18822]




Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Involvement With the Navy's 
Remediation of the Hunters Point Shipyard Site in San Francisco, CA

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of jurisdiction and future involvement.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has decided that 
it will take a limited involvement approach to stay informed about the 
Navy's ongoing remediation of the Hunters Point Shipyard (HPS) site in 
San Francisco, California. NRC will rely on the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 
process and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9 
oversight. This notice discusses NRC's jurisdiction and future limited 
involvement at the HPS site and how it plans on staying informed about 
the Navy's remediation in the future.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert L. Johnson, Division of Waste 
Management and Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State 
Materials and Environmental Management Programs, Mail Stop T-8F5, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone: 
(301) 415-7282; e-mail: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In July 2007 the Navy requested 
clarification about NRC`s jurisdiction and potential involvement with 
the Navy's ongoing remediation of radioactive material at the HPS site. 
In response to the Navy's request, NRC reviewed key HPS site documents, 
met with the Navy, and conducted a site visit in October 2007. NRC also 
met with representatives from EPA Region 9, the State of California 
agencies involved with the HPS site, and the City of San Francisco. In 
addition to evaluating potential NRC involvement, these meetings were 
used to obtain an understanding of the site, the Navy's remediation, 
and the oversight roles and issues of the key parties involved with the 
remediation. Based on this information, the NRC staff evaluated NRC's 
jurisdiction for the materials at the HPS site and evaluated options 
for NRC involvement. These options and the staff's recommendations were 
provided to the Commission in SECY-08-0077. This Commission paper also 
gives background about the HPS and the Navy's ongoing remediation. The 
Commission provided its direction to the staff on June 26, 2008, in 
SRM-SECY-08-0077. The results of the staff's evaluation and the 
Commission's decision are summarized in the answers to the following 

1. What is NRC's regulatory jurisdiction for the Navy's remediation of 
the HPS site?

    Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) licenses for radioactive material 
used by the Navy in both the shipyard and the Navy Radiological Defense 
Laboratory (NRDL) at the HPS site were terminated in the 1970s after 
extensive radiological surveys of the facilities confirmed that the 
facilities met the radiological standards at that time. Therefore, 
after termination of the AEC licenses, neither the NRC nor its 
predecessor, AEC, exercised direct regulatory authority over the 
residual contamination at the HPS site. Subsequently, the Navy 
conducted radiological surveys and completed a Historical Radiological 
Assessment of the site in 2004. These studies provided new information 
about the suspected and confirmed radiological contamination for the 
entire HPS site. Based on this new information, the Navy and NRC assume 
that any remaining licensable material is likely commingled with atomic 
weapons testing material. Both types of radioactive material were used 
at the NRDL. NRC has jurisdiction for the licensable material. However, 
under Section 91(b) of the AEA, the atomic weapons testing material is 
outside of NRC's jurisdiction.

2. What is NRC's future involvement with the Navy's ongoing remediation 
of the HPS site?

    NRC will rely on the ongoing Navy remediation under the CERCLA 
process and EPA regulatory oversight for the licensable radioactive 
material assumed to be present at the HPS site. NRC would not exercise 
its regulatory authority and would not require compliance with its 
decommissioning regulations. NRC would not conduct any formal 
regulatory reviews or participate in the ongoing CERCLA comment process 
for the Navy's remediation. The NRC staff would have a limited 
involvement to stay informed about the Navy's remediation of the 
remaining parcels, which is expected to take about 10 years.
    The basis for this approach is that NRC can reasonably rely on the 
CERCLA process and EPA oversight of this Superfund site because the 
process should result in a level of protection of public health and 
safety and the environment that is generally equivalent to what would 
be provided if the NRC's decommissioning process was used. NRC believes 
that this is a reasonable approach because: (1) The licensable 
materials are inextricably commingled with the atomic weapons testing 
material over which NRC has no jurisdiction; (2) over-laying NRC 
requirements and oversight on the CERCLA process overseen by EPA 
provides no clear public health and safety benefit; (3) dual NRC-EPA 
regulation is avoided; (4) remediation can proceed under CERCLA; and 
(5) NRC would be in a position to respond to stakeholder questions in a 
timely and effective manner. NRC considered, but did not select the 
option of regulating the remediation through the Navy's Masters 
Material License with NRC. This option would have resulted in dual 
regulation, unnecessary expenditure of resources, and no benefit to 
public health and safety.

3. How will NRC stay informed about the Navy's remediation of the HPS 

    NRC anticipates that it would stay informed throughout the 
remediation process using existing mechanisms, such as documents 
received through standard distributions or that are available on the 
Administrative Record (e.g., records of decision and completion 
documents such as the finding of suitability to transfer). If 
necessary, NRC would request access to documents. Staff would read 
selected documents and conduct an annual site visit and progress 
meeting with the Navy, EPA, State agencies, and the City of San 
Francisco. The staff would use a risk-informed approach to focus on 
those elements of the Navy's remediation that are most important to the 
protection of public health and safety. The staff would also focus on 
those elements that are currently being planned but not yet implemented 
such as formal establishment of the institutional controls and 
engineered controls. Finally, NRC would also reserve the option of 
commenting to EPA if necessary to justify our continued reliance on the 
CERCLA process.

[[Page 39349]]

4. Have the Navy and EPA Region 9 agreed to NRC's approach?

    On January 16, 2009, NRC sent letters to both the Navy and EPA 
Region 9 that explained NRC's limited involvement approach and 
requested agreement to support the approach at the Hunters Point site. 
The Navy provided a response on April 1, 2009, that agreed to support 
NRC's approach. Similarly, EPA Region 9 provided a response on May 7, 
2009, that also supported NRC's approach.

5. What documents are available that provided additional information 
about NRC's involvement with the HPS site?

    The NRC staff's evaluation of jurisdiction and options for 
involvement is documented in a May 30, 2008, Commission paper (SECY-08-
0077) that is electronically available on NRC's Web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/secys/2008/secy2008-0077/2008-0077scy.pdf.
    The Commission's decision and direction to the staff is documented 
in a June 30, 2008, Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM-SECY-08-0077) 
that is also electronically available on NRC's Web site at:  http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/srm/2008/2008-0077srm.pdf.
    The letters mentioned above from the NRC, the Navy, and EPA Region 
9 are available from the NRC's Agencywide Document Access and 
Management System using the following accession numbers:
    NRC's January 16, 2009, letter to the Navy ML083440652.
    NRC's January 16, 2009, letter to the EPA ML083430426.
    Navy's April 1, 2009, letter to NRC ML091120805.
    EPA's May 7, 2009, letter to NRC ML091460102.

    Dated at Rockville, MD, this 29th day of June, 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Keith I. McConnell,
Deputy Director, Decommissioning and Uranium Recovery Licensing 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, 
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management 
[FR Doc. E9-18822 Filed 8-5-09; 8:45 am]