[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 44 (Monday, March 8, 2010)]
[Pages 10517-10519]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-4830]



[Docket No. 50-298; NRC-2010-0061]

Nebraska Public Power District, Cooper Nuclear Station; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD or the licensee) is the holder 
of Facility Operating License No. DPR-46 which authorizes operation of 
the Cooper Nuclear Station (CNS). The license provides, among other 
things, that the facility is subject to the rules, regulations, and 
orders of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, the Commission) now 
or hereafter in effect.

[[Page 10518]]

    The facility consists of a boiling-water reactor located in Nemaha 
County, Nebraska.

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 in the 
Federal Register on 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 three of these 
additional requirements that CNS 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 application dated December 22, 2009, the licensee requested an 
exemption in accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' The 
licensee's letter contains security-related information and, 
accordingly, those portions are not available to the public. The 
licensee has requested an exemption from the March 31, 2010, 
implementation date, stating that it must complete a number of 
modifications to the current site security configuration before all 
requirements can be met. Specifically, the request is for three 
requirements that would be met by August 31, 2010, instead of the March 
31, 2010, deadline. Granting this exemption for the three items would 
allow the licensee to complete the modifications designed to update 
aging equipment and incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet or 
exceed the regulatory requirements.

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, as noted above, would allow an 
extension from March 31, 2010, until August 31, 2010, of the 
implementation date for three specific requirements of the new rule. As 
stated above, 10 CFR 73.5 allows the NRC to grant exemptions from the 
requirements of 10 CFR Part 73. The NRC staff has determined that 
granting of the licensee's proposed exemption would 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 provided 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 
achieve 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 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, as documented in the letter from R.W. Borchardt (NRC) to M.S. 
Fertel (Nuclear Energy Institute) dated June 4, 2009. 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.

CNS Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in the Attachment to its 
letter dated December 22, 2009, requesting an exemption. The licensee 
is requesting additional time to implement certain new requirements due 
to the amount of engineering and design, material procurement, 
construction and installation activities, inclement weather, and a fall 
2009 refueling outage. The licensee describes a comprehensive plan to 
expand the protected area with upgrades to the security capabilities of 
its CNS site and provides a timeline for achieving full compliance with 
the new regulation. The Attachment to the licensee's letter contains 
security-related information regarding the site security plan, details 
of the specific requirements of the regulation for which the site 
cannot be in compliance by the March 31, 2010, deadline, justification 
for the exemption request, a description of the required changes to the 
site's security configuration, and a timeline with critical path 
activities that would bring the licensee into full compliance by August 
31, 2010. The timeline provides dates indicating when (1) construction 
will begin on various phases of the project (e.g., new buildings and 
fences), and (2) critical equipment will be ordered, installed, tested 
and become operational. A redacted version of the licensee's exemption 
request, including attachment, is publicly available at Agencywide 
Documents Management and Access System (ADAMS) Accession No. 
    Notwithstanding the scheduler exemptions for these limited 
requirements, 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 August 31, 2010, CNS 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 submittal 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 August 31, 2010.

[[Page 10519]]

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that pursuant to 10 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 long-term benefits that will be realized when the CNS 
modifications are complete justifies extending the full compliance date 
in the case of this particular licensee. The security measures that CNS 
needs additional time to complete, are new requirements imposed by 
March 27, 2009, amendments to 10 CFR 73.55, and are in addition to 
those required by the security orders issued in response to the events 
of September 11, 2001. Therefore, the NRC concludes 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, deadline for the three 
items specified in the Attachment to NPPD's letter dated December 22, 
2009, the licensee is required to be in full compliance with 10 CFR 
73.55 by August 31, 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 8153; February 23, 2010).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 26th 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. 2010-4830 Filed 3-5-10; 8:45 am]