[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 192 (Tuesday, October 6, 2009)]
[Pages 51339-51340]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-24053]



[Docket Nos. 50-361 and 50-362; NRC-2009-0439]

Southern California Edison Company; San Onofre Nuclear Generating 
Station, Unit 2 and Unit 3; Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of a temporary exemption from Title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (10 CFR) Part 50, Section 50.46 and 10 CFR 50, Appendix K, 
for Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-10 and NPF-15, issued to 
Southern California Edison Company (SCE, the licensee), for operation 
of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), Unit 2 and Unit 
3, respectively, located in San Diego County, California. Therefore, as 
required by 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC is issuing this environmental 
assessment and finding of no significant impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The requirements in 10 CFR 50.46 specifically, and 10 CFR 50, 
Appendix K implicitly, refer to the use of Zircaloy or ZIRLO cladding. 
Therefore, a temporary exemption is required to use fuel rods clad with 
an advanced zirconium-based alloy that is not either Zircaloy or ZIRLO. 
Unlike the current fuel assemblies, the lead fuel assemblies (LFAs) 
manufactured by AREVA NP will contain M5 alloy cladding material. The 
licensee has requested a temporary exemption to allow the use of M5 
alloy cladding.
    The temporary exemption would allow up to 16 LFAs manufactured by 
AREVA NP with M5 alloy cladding material to be inserted into the SONGS 
Unit 2 or Unit 3 reactor cores during the

[[Page 51340]]

upcoming (Cycle 16) refueling outages for each unit. The temporary 
exemption would allow the LFAs to be used for up to three operating 
cycles (Cycles 16, 17, and 18). Currently, eight AREVA NP LFAs are 
scheduled for installation in SONGS Unit 2 for Cycle 16.
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's request 
for exemption dated January 30, 2009, as supplemented by letter dated 
March 16, 2009.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed temporary exemption is needed by SCE to allow the use 
of M5 alloy clad LFAs to evaluate cladding material for use in future 
fuel assemblies and to provide a more robust design to eliminate grid 
to rod fretting fuel failures. The regulations specify standards and 
acceptance criteria only for fuel rods clad with Zircaloy or ZIRLO. 
Consistent with 10 CFR 50.46, a temporary exemption is required to use 
fuel rods clad with an advanced alloy that is not Zircaloy or ZIRLO. 
Therefore, the licensee needs a temporary exemption to insert up to 16 
LFAs containing new cladding material into the SONGS Unit 2 or Unit 3 
reactor cores.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has completed its safety evaluation of the proposed action 
and concludes that the proposed exemption will not present any undue 
risk to the public health and safety. The safety evaluation performed 
by Framatome ANP, Inc., ``BAW-10227P-A, Evaluation of Advanced Cladding 
and Structural Material (M5) in PWR Reactor Fuel, Framatome Cogema 
Fuels, February 2000,'' demonstrates that the predicted chemical, 
mechanical, and material performance characteristics of the M5 cladding 
are within those approved for Zircaloy under anticipated operational 
occurrences and postulated accidents. Furthermore, the LFAs will be 
placed in non-limiting locations. In the unlikely event that cladding 
failures occur in the LFAs, the environmental impact would be minimal 
and is bounded by previous accident analyses.
    The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability 
or consequences of accidents. No changes are being made in the types of 
effluents that may be released offsite. There is no significant 
increase in the amount of any effluent released offsite. There is no 
significant increase in occupational or public radiation exposure. 
Therefore, there are no significant radiological environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed action.
    With regard to potential non-radiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not have a potential to affect any historic sites. It does 
not affect non-radiological plant effluents, does not affect any 
environmental resources, and has no other environmental impact. 
Therefore, there are no significant non-radiological environmental 
impacts associated with the proposed action.
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.
    The details of the staff's safety evaluation will be provided in 
the exemption that will be issued as part of the letter to the licensee 
approving the exemption to the regulation.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the staff considered 
denial of the proposed action (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Denial of the application would result in no change in current 
environmental impacts. The environmental impacts of the proposed action 
and the alternative action are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

    The action does not involve the use of any different resources than 
those previously considered in the Final Environmental Statement for 
SONGS Units 2 and 3, dated May 12, 1981.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on April 8, 2009, the NRC 
staff consulted with the California State official, Mr. Steve Hsu of 
the Radiologic Health Branch of the California Department of Public 
Health, regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The 
State official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC concludes 
that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined 
not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed 
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's letter dated January 30, 2009, as supplemented by letter 
dated March 16, 2009, Agency Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS) Accession Nos. ML090360738 and ML090780251, respectively. 
Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's Public 
Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, Public File Area 
O1 F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland. 
Publicly available records will be accessible electronically from the 
ADAMS Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at the NRC Web 
site, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. Persons who do not have 
access to ADAMS or who encounter problems in accessing the documents 
located in ADAMS should contact the NRC PDR Reference staff by 
telephone at 1-800-397-4209 or 301-415-4737, or send an e-mail to 
[email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 28th day of September 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
James R Hall,
Senior Project Manager,
    Plant Licensing Branch IV, Division of Operating Reactor 
Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. E9-24053 Filed 10-5-09; 8:45 am]