[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 41 (Wednesday, March 3, 2010)]
[Pages 9622-9623]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-4381]



[Docket Nos. 50-424 and 50-425; NRC-2010-0023]

Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.; Vogtle Electric 
Generating Plant, Units 1 and 2; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. (SNC, the licensee), is 
the holder of Renewed Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-68 and NPF-
81, which authorizes operation of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, 
Units 1 and 2 (VEGP). 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 Burke County, Georgia.

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 programs. The amendments to 10 CFR 73.55 
published on March 27, 2009 establish and update generically applicable 
security requirements similar to those previously imposed by Commission 
orders issued after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and 
implemented by licensees. In addition, the amendments to 10 CFR 73.55 
include additional requirements to further enhance site security based 
upon insights gained from implementation of the post September 11, 
2001, security orders. It is from one requirement of these new 
requirements that VEGP now seeks an exemption from the March 31, 2010, 
implementation date. All other physical security requirements 
established by this recent rulemaking have already been or will be 
implemented by the licensee by March 31, 2010.
    By letter dated November 6, 2009, as supplemented by letter dated 
November 20, 2009, the licensee requested an exemption in accordance 
with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' The licensee's letters 
contain proprietary information and, accordingly, those portions are 
not available to the public. The licensee has requested an exemption 
from the March 31, 2010, compliance date stating that a number of 
issues will present a significant challenge to timely completion of the 
project related to a specific requirement in 10 CFR Part 73. 
Specifically, the request is to extend the compliance date for one 
specific requirement from the current March 31, 2010, deadline to 
September 27, 2010. Being granted this exemption for the one item will 
allow the licensee to complete the modifications designed to update 
equipment and incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet the noted 
regulatory requirement.

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, licensed under 10 CFR Part 50, 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.
    NRC approval of this exemption would; as noted above, allow an 
extension from March 31, 2010, to September 27, 2010, for the 
implementation date for one specific requirement of the new rule. 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 law.
    In the draft final rule provided to the Commission (SECY-08-0099 
dated July 9, 2008), 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 achieve full 
    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 generic industry request to 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. 

[[Page 9623]]

Nuclear Energy Institute). The licensee's request for an exemption is 
therefore consistent with the approach set forth by the Commission as 
discussed in the June 4, 2009, letter.

VEGP Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in its letter dated 
November 6, 2009, as supplemented November 20, 2009, requesting an 
exemption. It describes a comprehensive plan to install equipment 
related to a certain requirement in the new Part 73 rule and provides a 
timeline for achieving full compliance with the new regulation. The 
submittals contain proprietary information regarding the site security 
plan, details of the specific requirement of the regulation for which 
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 September 27, 2010. The timeline provides dates 
indicating (1) when various phases of the project begin and end (i.e., 
design, field construction), (2) outages scheduled for each unit, and 
(3) when critical equipment will be ordered, installed, tested and 
become operational.
    Notwithstanding the schedular exemption for this limited 
requirement, the licensee will continue to be in compliance with all 
other applicable physical security requirements as described in 10 CFR 
73.55 and reflected in its current NRC approved physical security 
program. By September 27, 2010, VEGP will be in full compliance with 
all the regulatory requirements of 10 CFR 73.55, as issued on March 27, 

4.0 Conclusion for Part 73 Schedule Exemption Request

    The NRC staff has reviewed the licensee's submittals and concludes 
that the licensee has provided adequate justification for its request 
for an extension of the compliance date to September 27, 2010, with 
regard to a specific requirement of 10 CFR 73.55.
    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that pursuant to10 CFR 
73.5, ``Specific exemptions,'' an 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. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants the requested 
    The NRC staff has determined that the long-term benefits that will 
be realized when the VEGP equipment installation is complete justifies 
extending the full compliance date with regard to the specific 
requirement of 10 CFR 73.55. The security measure, that VEGP needs 
additional time to implement, is a new requirement imposed by the March 
27, 2009, amendments to 10 CFR 73.55, and is in addition to those 
required by the security orders issued in response to the events of 
September 11, 2001. 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 
    As per the licensee's request and the NRC's regulatory authority to 
grant an exemption from the March 31, 2010, implementation deadline for 
the requirement specified in the SNC letter dated November 6, 2009, as 
supplemented November 20, 2009, the licensee is required to be in full 
compliance by September 27, 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, ``Finding 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 75 FR 3943; dated January 25, 2010.
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24 day of February 2010.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Allen G. Howe,
Acting Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of 
Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2010-4381 Filed 3-2-10; 8:45 am]