[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 47 (Thursday, March 11, 2010)]
[Pages 11578-11579]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-4526]



[Docket Nos. 50-263; NRC-2010-0045]

Northern States Power Company of Minnesota, Monticello Nuclear 
Generating Plant; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Northern States Power Company of Minnesota (NSPM, the licensee) is 
the holder of Facility Operating License No. DPR-22, which authorizes 
operation of the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant (MNGP). The 
license provides, 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 a General Electric boiling-water reactor 
located in Wright County, Minnesota.

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 two of these new 
requirements that NSPM 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 3, 2009, the licensee requested an 
exemption in accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' The 
licensee's November 3, 2009, letter contains security-related 
information and, accordingly, is not available to the public. The 
licensee submitted a redacted version of its exemption request on 
December 15, 2009, which is publicly available. 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 to extend the compliance date for two 
specific items from the current March 31, 2010, deadline to June 30, 
2011. Being granted this exemption for the two items would allow the 
licensee to complete the modifications designed to update aging 
equipment and incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet the noted 
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.
    This exemption would, as noted above, allow an extension from March 
31, 2010, until June 30, 2011, to allow for temporary noncompliance 
with the new rule in two specified areas. 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 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, 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 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.

MNGP's Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in its November 3, 2009, 
request for exemption. It described a comprehensive plan to install 
equipment related to certain requirements in the new Part 73 rule and 
provided a timeline for achieving

[[Page 11579]]

full compliance with the new regulation. The submittal 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 and why the 
required changes to the site's security configuration cannot be 
completed by the deadline, and a timeline with critical path activities 
that will bring MNGP into full compliance by June 30, 2011. The 
timeline provides dates indicating when (1) construction will begin on 
various phases of the project (e.g., buildings, fences); (2) critical 
equipment will be ordered, installed, tested and become operational; 
and (3) anticipated impediments to construction such as planned 
refueling outages and winter weather conditions that may impair 
    Notwithstanding the schedular 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 June 30, 2011, MNGP will be in full compliance with all the 
regulatory requirements of 10 CFR 73.55, as issued on March 27, 2009.

4.0 Conclusion for Part 73 Schedule Exemption Request

    The NRC staff has reviewed the licensee's submittal and concludes 
that the licensee has provided adequate justification for its request 
for an extension of the compliance date to June 30, 2011, with regard 
to the specified requirements of 10 CFR 73.55.
    Accordingly, 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. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants the requested 
    The long-term benefits that will be realized when the modifications 
to the two specific items are complete justify exceeding the full 
compliance date in the case of this particular licensee. The security 
measures that the licensee needs additional time to implement are new 
requirements imposed by the 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 staff 
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 exemption.
    As per the licensee's request and the NRC's regulatory authority to 
grant an exemption from the March 31, 2010, deadline for the 
requirement specified in the licensee's November 3, 2009, submittal, 
the licensee is required to be in full compliance by June 30, 2011. 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 6224, dated February 8, 2010).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24th 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. 2010-4526 Filed 3-10-10; 8:45 am]