[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 49 (Monday, March 15, 2010)]
[Pages 12314-12315]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-5556]



[Docket Nos. 50-390 and 50-391; NRC-2010-0019]

Tennessee Valley Authority: Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 
2 Exemption

1.0 Background

    Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA, the licensee) is the holder of 
Facility Operating License Number NPF-90, which authorizes operation of 
the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant (WBN), Unit 1. TVA obtained construction 
permit for Unit 2 that is currently being reviewed for a requested 
operating licensing process; Unit 2 must meet the same requirements as 
a licensed plant per Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR) part 73, ``Physical protection of plants and materials,'' Section 
    The facility consists of two Westinghouse pressurized-water 
reactors (Unit 1 in operation and Unit 2 under construction), located 
in Rhea County, Tennessee.

2.0 Request/Action

    Section 73.55, ``Requirements for physical protection of licensed 
activities in nuclear power reactors against radiological sabotage,'' 
of 10 CFR part 73, published March 27, 2009, effective May 6, 2009, 
with a full implementation date of March 1, 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 new requirements that WBN, Units 1 
and 2 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 
January 11, 2010, the licensee requested an exemption in accordance 
with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' Portions of the licensee's 
November 6, 2009, letter contain safeguards and security sensitive 
information and, accordingly, are not available to the public. The 
January 11, 2010, letter is publicly available (Agencywide Documents 
Access and Management System Accession No. ML100130167). 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 for three specific 10 CFR 73.55 
requirements that would be in place by September 24, 2012, versus the 
March 31, 2010, deadline. Being granted 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 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 73.55(a)(5), the 
date applies to Unit 2 as well. 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 September 24, 2012. 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, NRC approval of the licensee's 
exemption request 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 (74 FR 13926, March 27, 2009). 
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 power reactor security 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 these changes could be accomplished 
through a variety of licensing mechanisms, including exemptions. Since 
issuance of the final rule, the Commission has rejected generic 
industry requests 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. 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.

Watts Bar Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in its November 6, 2009, 
letter, as supplemented by letter dated January 11, 2010, requesting an 
exemption. The NRC staff finds that the licensee has provided an 
adequate basis for the exemption request as well as appropriate 
detailed justification that describes the reason additional time is 
needed. Specifically, the WBN, Units 1 and 2 will be undertaking 
multiple large scope modifications to the physical protection program 
through four interrelated projects that require multiple supporting 
sub-tasks. These sub-tasks must be completed in sequence due to the 
complex interconnectivity of each project to other program components. 
The licensee has provided sufficiently

[[Page 12315]]

detailed technical information that supports the described solution for 
meeting the identified requirements. Because of the large scope of the 
proposed modifications and upgrades, significant engineering analysis, 
design, and planning are required to ensure system effectiveness upon 
completion of the four projects. In addition to project-specific tasks 
and procurement details, the TVA has also identified a variety of site-
specific considerations that will impact the final completion date, 
such as refueling outages, manpower resources, engineering/design 
changes during construction, and/or weather conditions that may impact 
completion milestones. As with all construction activities, the 
licensee must also account for site-specific safety and construction 
methods regarding the areas in which work is to be performed, the 
location of existing infrastructure such as buried power lines, and/or 
unanticipated delays that could significantly impact the project 
schedules. These site-specific safety and construction methods must be 
accounted for in the proposed schedule that, in turn, impacts the final 
compliance date requested. The TVA has contracted a common provider to 
perform design work at two other TVA sites concurrently with work 
required at the WBN, Units 1 and 2. The licensee has provided a 
coordinated/combined schedule for all four projects at WBN, Units 1 and 
2 that outlines the sequence in which work must be conducted to ensure 
effective system connectivity. The required tasks/changes must be 
completed in sequence at each site to support all program upgrades 
being performed and to ensure effective connectivity of each project.
    The upgrades that the licensee identified within their exemption 
request support their solution for meeting the three specified 
requirements, and the proposed schedule is supported by the complexity 
and scope of the projects described to include tasks and sub-tasks, 
timing issues, and potential delays.
    The proposed implementation schedule depicts the critical activity 
milestones of the security system upgrades; is consistent with the 
licensee's solution for meeting the requirements; is consistent with 
the scope of the modifications and the issues and challenges 
identified; and is consistent with the licensee's requested compliance 
    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 September 24, 2012, WBN, Units 1 and 2 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 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 24, 2012, with regard to 
three 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 NRC staff has determined that the long-term benefits that will 
be realized when the security system upgrades are complete justify 
exceeding the full compliance date and the proposed implementation 
schedule is consistent with the scope of the modifications in the case 
of this particular licensee. The security measures WBN, Units 1 and 2 
needs additional time to implement 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 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, implementation deadline for 
the three items specified in Enclosure 1 of the TVA letter dated 
November 6, 2009, as supplemented by letter dated January 11, 2010, the 
licensee is required to be in full compliance by September 24, 2012. 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 3945, dated January 25, 2010).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 9th day of March 2010.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Joseph G. Giitter,
Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2010-5556 Filed 3-12-10; 8:45 am]