[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 53 (Friday, March 19, 2010)]
[Pages 13327-13329]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-6064]



[Docket Nos. 50-259, 50-260 and 50-296; NRC-2010-0030]

Tennessee Valley Authority; Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Units 1, 
2, and 3; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA, the licensee) is the holder of 
Facility Operating License Numbers DPR-33, DPR-52 and DPR-68, which 
authorize operation of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Units 1, 2, and 
3 (BFN). 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 three boiling-water reactors located in 
Limestone County, Alabama.

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 three of these new 
requirements that BFN 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, 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

[[Page 13328]]

information and, accordingly, are not available to the public. On 
January 11, 2010, the licensee submitted a redacted version of its 
November 6, 2009, letter, which is publicly available (Agencywide 
Documents Access and Management System Accession No. ML100130168). 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 December 
20, 2012, versus the March 31, 2010, deadline. Being granted this 
exemption for the three items would allow the licensee additional time 
to complete the modifications designed to update aging equipment and 
incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet or exceed regulatory 

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 December 20, 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.

Browns Ferry 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 reasons additional time is 
needed. Specifically, the BFN will be undertaking multiple large scope 
modifications to the physical protection program through four 
interrelated projects that require supporting multiple subtasks. These 
subtasks must be completed in sequence due to the complex 
interconnectivity of each project to other program components. The 
licensee has provided sufficiently 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 weather conditions that may impact completion 
of milestones. As with all construction activities, the licensee must 
also account for site-specific safety and construction methods in the 
areas in which work is to be performed, the location of existing 
infrastructure such as buried power lines, and 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 concurrent with the work required at the 
BFN. The licensee has provided a coordinated/combined schedule for 
projects at BFN that outlines the sequence in which work must be 
conducted to ensure effective system connectivity. In addition, the 
required tasks/changes must be completed in sequence at each of the 
three sites to support all program upgrades being performed and to 
ensure effective connectivity of each project.
    The upgrades that the licensee identified within its exemption 
request for BFN support its solution for meeting the three specified 
requirements, and the proposed schedule is justified 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 schedule exemptions for these limited 
requirements, the licensee would 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 December 20, 2012, BFN would 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 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 December 20, 2012, with regard to 
three specified requirements of 10 CFR 73.55.

[[Page 13329]]

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that pursuant to 10 CFR 
73.5, the 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 exemption.
    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 that TVA needs 
additional time to implement at BFN 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 (publicly available version dated January 11, 2010), 
the licensee is required to be in full compliance by December 20, 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 5354, dated February 2, 2010).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 11th 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. 2010-6064 Filed 3-18-10; 8:45 am]