[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 171 (Friday, September 4, 2009)]
[Pages 45885-45886]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-21456]



[Docket Nos. 50-348 and 50-364; NRC-2009-0375]

Southern Nuclear Operating Company; Alabama Power Company; Joseph 
M. Farley Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Southern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC, the licensee) is the 
holder of Facility Operating License Numbers NPF-2 and NPF-8, which 
authorize operation of the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 
2 (FNP). The licenses provide, among other things, that the facility is 
subject to all rules, regulations, and orders of the U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC, the Commission) now or hereafter in effect.
    The facility consists of two pressurized water reactors located in 
Houston County, Alabama.

2.0 Request/Action

    Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 73, 
``Physical protection of plants and materials,'' Section 73.55, 
``Requirements for physical protection of licensed activities in 
nuclear power reactors against radiological sabotage,'' published March 
27, 2009, effective May 26, 2009, with a full implementation date of 
March 31, 2010, requires licensees to protect, with high assurance, 
against radiological sabotage by designing and implementing 
comprehensive site security plans.
    By letter dated June 9, 2009, as supplemented by letter dated July 
31, 2009 the licensee requested an exemption in accordance with 10 CFR 
73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' The licensee's June 9, 2009, letter and 
certain portions of its July 31, 2009 letter contain proprietary and 
safeguards information and, accordingly, are not available to the 
public. The licensee has requested an exemption from the March 31, 
2010, compliance date stating that it must complete a number of 
significant modifications to the current site security configuration 
before all requirements can be met. Specifically, the request is for 
three requirements that would be in place by December 15, 2010, versus 
the March 31, 2010 deadline. Being granted this exemption for the three 
items will allow the licensee to complete the modifications designed to 
update aging equipment and incorporate state-of-the-art technology to 
meet or exceed regulatory requirements.

[[Page 45886]]

3.0 Discussion of Part 73 Schedule Exemptions From the March 31, 2010, 
Full Implementation Date

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 73.55(a)(1), ``By March 31, 2010, each nuclear 
power reactor licensee shall implement the requirements of this section 
through its Commission-approved Physical Security Plan, Training and 
Qualification Plan, Safeguards Contingency Plan, and Cyber Security 
Plan referred to collectively hereafter as `security plans.' '' 
Pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, the Commission may, upon application by any 
interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from the 
requirements of 10 CFR Part 73 when the exemptions are authorized by 
law, and will not endanger life or property or the common defense and 
security, and are otherwise in the public interest. This exemption 
would, as noted above, allow an extension from March 31, 2010, until 
December 15, 2010, to allow for temporary noncompliance with the new 
rule in three specified areas. The NRC staff has determined that 
granting of the licensee's proposed exemption will not result in a 
violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or the 
Commission's regulations. Therefore, the exemption is authorized by 
    In the draft final rule sent to the Commission, the NRC staff 
proposed that the requirements of the new regulation be met within 180 
days. The Commission directed a change from 180 days to approximately 1 
year for licensees to fully implement the new requirements. This change 
was incorporated into the final rule. From this, it is clear that the 
Commission wanted to provide a reasonable timeframe for licensees to 
reach full compliance.
    As noted in the final rule, the Commission also anticipated that 
licensees would have to conduct site specific analyses to determine 
what changes were necessary to implement the rule's requirements, and 
that changes could be accomplished through a variety of licensing 
mechanisms, including exemptions. Since issuance of the final rule, the 
Commission has rejected a request to generically extend the rule's 
compliance date for all operating nuclear power plants, but noted that 
the Commission's regulations provide mechanisms for individual 
licensees, with good cause, to apply for relief from the compliance 
date (Reference: June 4, 2009 letter from R. W. Borchardt, NRC, to M. 
S. Fertel, Nuclear Energy Institute). The licensee's request for an 
exemption is therefore consistent with the approach set forth by the 
Commission and discussed in the June 4, 2009, letter.

Farley Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in Enclosure 1 of its 
supplemental submittal to the SNC June 9, 2009, letter requesting an 
exemption. It describes a comprehensive plan to expand the protected 
area (PA) by approximately 100 percent with upgrades to the security 
capabilities of its Farley site and provides a timeline for achieving 
full compliance with the new regulation. Enclosure 1 contains 
proprietary information regarding the site security plan, details of 
specific portions of the regulation where the site cannot be in 
compliance by the March 31, 2010, deadline and why the required changes 
to the site's security configuration, and a timeline with critical path 
activities that will bring the licensee into full compliance by 
December 15, 2010. The timeline provides dates indicating when (1) 
construction will begin on various phases of the project (i.e., new 
roads, buildings, and fences), (2) outages are scheduled for each unit, 
and (3) critical equipment will be ordered, installed, tested and 
become operational.
    As described in its submittals, the licensee will maintain the 
current PA until the site modifications are completely implemented by 
December 15, 2010. Enclosure 2 to the July 31, 2009, submittal includes 
safeguards (SGI) information that describes compensatory measures the 
licensee will incorporate into the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant Site 
Security Plan by the compliance date of March 31, 2010, which will 
supplement the protective measures already in place to maintain high 
assurance against radiological sabotage. The licensee indicated that 
with the incorporation of the extended protected area (PA) by December 
15, 2010, the Farley Nuclear Plant will be in full compliance with the 
regulatory requirements of 10 CFR 73.55, as issued on March 27, 2009.

4.0 Conclusion for Part 73 Schedule Exemption Request

    The staff has reviewed the licensee's submittals and concludes that 
the licensee has justified its request for an extension of the 
compliance date with regard to three specified requirements of 10 CFR 
73.55 until December 15, 2010.
    The Commission has determined that pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, 
``Specific exemptions,'' exemption from the March 31, 2010, compliance 
date is authorized by law and will not endanger life or property or the 
common defense and security, and is otherwise in the public interest. 
The licensee has compensatory measures as described in Enclosure 2 to 
its supplemental letter of July 31, 2009, that the staff finds 
acceptable. The basis for this determination is that the current site 
protective strategy has been approved by the NRC staff as providing 
high assurance for the protection of the facility and public from the 
effects of radiological sabotage. As a condition of the Commission's 
approval, these compensatory measures must be in place by March 31, 
2010, and incorporated into the site security plan in accordance with 
10 CFR 50.54(p)(2) or 10 CFR 50.90, as determined by the licensee to be 
    The long-term benefits that will be realized when the PA expansion 
is complete justifies exceeding the full compliance date in the case of 
this particular licensee. Therefore, it is concluded that the 
licensee's actions are in the best interest of protecting the public 
health and safety through the security changes that will result from 
granting this exemption.
    As per the licensee's request and the NRC's regulatory authority to 
grant an exemption to the March 31, 2010 deadline for the three items 
specified in Enclosure 1 of SNC letter dated July 31, 2009, the 
licensee is required to be in full compliance with 10 CFR 73.55 by 
December 15, 2010. In achieving compliance, the licensee is reminded 
that it is responsible for determining the appropriate licensing 
mechanism (i.e., 10 CFR 50.54(p) or 10 CFR 50.90) for incorporation of 
all necessary changes to its security plans.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.32, ``Find of no significant impact,'' the 
Commission has previously determined that the granting of this 
exemption will not have a significant effect on the quality of the 
human environment dated August 26, 2009 (74 FR 43169).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 27th day of August 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Joseph G. Giitter,
Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. E9-21456 Filed 9-3-09; 8:45 am]