[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 58 (Friday, March 26, 2010)]
[Pages 14640-14641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-6718]



[Docket No. 50-397; NRC-2010-0084]

Energy Northwest Columbia Generating Station; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Energy Northwest (the licensee) is the holder of Facility Operating 
License No. NPF-21 which authorizes operation of the Columbia 
Generating Station (CGS). 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.
    The facility consists of a boiling-water reactor located in Benton 
County, Washington.

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 (74 FR 13926), 
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 of these additional requirements that 
the licensee 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 January 27, 2010, the licensee requested an 
exemption in accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' 
Attachment 1 to the licensee's letter contains security-related 
information and, accordingly, those portions of the letters are being 
withheld from public disclosure. A redacted version of the licensee's 
exemption request dated January 27, 2010, is publicly available in the 
Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. 
ML100481052. The licensee has requested an exemption from the March 31, 
2010, compliance date stating that it must accommodate a potential 
manufacturing delay that would result in a non-compliance of the new 
security requirements. Specifically, the request is to extend the 
implementation date from the current March 31, 2010, deadline to May 
15, 2010. Granting this exemption for the one item would afford the 
licensee additional time to perform necessary upgrades 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

[[Page 14641]]

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 May 15, 2010, of the 
implementation date for one specific requirement 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.

CGS Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in the Attachments to 
its letter dated January 27, 2010, requesting an exemption. The 
licensee is requesting additional time to perform necessary upgrades to 
the CGS security system due to manufacturing delays of one item at the 
vendor. The licensee describes a comprehensive plan to perform upgrades 
to the security capabilities of its CGS site and provides a timeline 
for achieving full compliance with the new regulation. Attachment 1 to 
the licensee's letter contains security-related 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, justification for the exemption request, a description 
of the required changes to the site's security configuration, and a 
timeline with the activities that would bring enable the licensee to 
achieve full compliance by May 15, 2010. The timeline provides dates 
indicating when the critical equipment will be received, installed, and 
become operational. Redacted versions of the licensee's exemption 
request are included in Attachments 2 and 3 to its January 27, 2010 
letter and are publicly available in ADAMS Accession No. ML100481052.
    Notwithstanding the schedule 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 May 15, 2010, CGS 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 to May 15, 2010 with regard to one specified 
requirement of 10 CFR 73.55.
    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 CGS 
modifications are complete justify extending the full compliance date 
in the case of this particular licensee. The security measure for which 
CGS needs additional time to complete is a new requirement imposed by 
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, 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 one item 
specified in the Attachments to the licensee's letter dated January 27, 
2010, the licensee is required to be in full compliance with 10 CFR 
73.55 by May 15, 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 10834; March 9, 2010].
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 19th day of March 2010.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Allen G. Howe,
Acting Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of 
Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2010-6718 Filed 3-25-10; 8:45 am]