[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 235 (Wednesday, December 9, 2009)]
[Page 65165]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-29327]

[[Page 65165]]



[Docket No. 050-133; NRC-2009-0541]

Pacific Gas and Electric, Humboldt Bay Power Plant, Unit 3; 
Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for an 
Exemption From Certain Control and Tracking Requirements in 10 CFR Part 
20 Appendix G Section III.E

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of an exemption from certain control and tracking requirements 
in 10 CFR part 20 appendix G section III.E for Facility Operating 
License No. DPR-7 issued to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E or the 
licensee), for Humboldt Bay Power Plant (HBPP) Unit 3, located in 
Humboldt County, California.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of Proposed Action

    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application for an exemption dated September 4, 2009. The licensee has 
requested an exemption from certain control and tracking requirements 
in 10 CFR part 20 appendix G section III.E, which require the licensee 
to investigate, and file a report with the NRC, if shipments of low-
level radioactive waste are not acknowledged by the intended recipient 
within 20 days after transfer to the shipper.
    The proposed action would grant an exemption to extend the time 
period that can elapse during shipments of low-level radioactive waste 
before the licensee is required to investigate and file a report with 
the NRC. Specifically, the exemption would extend the time period for 
the licensee to receive acknowledgment that the low-level radioactive 
waste shipment has been received by the intended recipient from 20 days 
to 45 days.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    PG&E is in the process of decommissioning HBPP Unit 3. During the 
decommissioning process, large volumes of slightly contaminated debris 
are generated and require disposal. PG&E transports low-level 
radioactive waste from HBPP Unit 3 to distant locations such as a waste 
disposal facility operated by Energy Solutions in Clive, Utah, and 
waste processors in Tennessee.
    The licensee's request to extend the 20-day investigation and 
reporting requirements for shipments of low-level radioactive waste to 
45 days is based on historical data derived from experience at Southern 
California Edison Company's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station 
(SONGS). That experience indicates that rail transportation time to 
waste disposal facilities frequently exceeded the 20-day reporting 
requirement. A review of the SONGS data indicates that transportation 
time for shipments by rail or truck/rail took over 16 days on average 
and, on occasion, took up to 57 days. HBPP is in a more remote location 
than SONGS and is not near a railhead. Shipping from HBPP may require a 
combination of truck/rail, barge/rail or barge/truck shipments. These 
mixed-mode shipments will be comprised of truck and barge shipments 
from HBPP to inland locations in California or nearby states, followed 
by rail shipments to the waste disposal facilities or processors. The 
additional step of transloading material at a remote railyard (e.g., 
unloading and loading, waiting for the train to depart) is expected to 
add to shipping delays that exceed the time of shipments from SONGS.
    The licensee affirms that the low-level radioactive waste shipments 
will always be tracked throughout transportation until they arrive at 
their intended destination. The licensee believes, and the staff 
agrees, that the need to investigate, trace, and report to the NRC on 
the shipment of low-level waste packages not reaching their destination 
within 20 days does not serve the underlying purpose of the rule. 
Therefore, the NRC staff finds that granting an exemption to extend the 
time period from 20 days to 45 days for mixed-mode shipments of low-
level radioactive waste will not result in an undue hazard to life or 

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has reviewed the licensee's proposed exemption request and 
concluded that the proposed exemption is procedural and administrative 
in nature.
    The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability 
or consequences of accidents, no changes are being made in the types of 
any effluents that may be released offsite, and 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 nonradiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not involve any historic sites. It does not affect 
nonradiological plant effluents and has no other environmental impact. 
Therefore, there are no significant nonradiological environmental 
impacts associated with the proposed action.
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

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.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    In accordance with NRC policy, on November 2, 2009, the staff 
consulted with a State of California official in the Radiologic Health 
Services, State Department of Health Services, regarding the 
environmental impact of the proposed action. The state official had no 

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 

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 1st day of December 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. E9-29327 Filed 12-8-09; 8:45 am]