[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 60 (Tuesday, March 30, 2010)]
[Pages 15745-15746]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-7029]



[Docket Nos. STN 50-528, STN 50-529, and STN 50-530 NRC-2010-0114]

Arizona Public Service Company, et al. Palo Verde Nuclear 
Generating Station, Units 1, 2, and 3; Exemption

1.0 Background

    The Arizona Public Service Company (APS, the licensee) is the 
holder of Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-41, NPF-51, and NPF-74, 
which authorize operation of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station 
(PVNGS), Units 1, 2, and 3, respectively. 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, or the 
Commission) now or hereafter in effect.
    The facility consists of three pressurized-water reactors located 
in Maricopa County, Arizona.

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 on September 11, 2001, and implemented by the 
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 additional requirements that 
APS 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 December 21, 2009, as supplemented by letters dated 
February 16 and March 5, 2010, the licensee requested an exemption in 
accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific exemptions.'' The licensee's 
letters can be found in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management 
System (ADAMS), at Accession Nos. ML100040088, ML100550875, and 
ML100680760, respectively. The licensee's letters dated December 21, 
2009, and March 5, 2010, contain security-related information and, 
accordingly, those portions of the letters are being withheld from 
public disclosure. The licensee has requested an exemption from the 
March 31, 2010, implementation date stating that a number of issues 
will present a significant challenge to the timely completion of the 
projects related to certain specific requirements in 10 CFR Part 73. 
Specifically, the request is to extend the implementation date from the 
current March 31, 2010, deadline to June 30, 2010, for one specified 
item, and to December 17, 2010, for the second specified item. Granting 
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.

[[Page 15746]]

    NRC approval of this exemption, as noted above, would allow an 
extension of the implementation date from March 31, 2010, to June 30, 
2010, for one specific requirement to December 17, 2010, for the second 
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 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 law.
    In the draft final power reactor security 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 a 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.

PVNGS Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in the enclosure to its 
letter dated December 21, 2009, requesting an exemption, and provided 
further clarification in its letters dated February 16 and March 5, 
2010. In those letters, the licensee described a comprehensive plan to 
study, design, construct, test, and turn over the new equipment for the 
enhancement of the security capabilities at the PVNGS site and provided 
a timeline for achieving full compliance with the new regulation. The 
licensee's letters dated December 21, 2009, and March 5, 2010, contain 
security-related information regarding the site security plan, details 
of the specific requirements of the regulation for which the site 
cannot achieve compliance by the March 31, 2010, deadline, 
justification for the extension request, a description of the required 
changes to the site's security configuration, and a detailed timeline 
with critical path activities that would enable the licensee to achieve 
full compliance by December 17, 2010. The timeline provides dates 
indicating when (1) construction will begin on various phases of the 
project, (2) outages are scheduled for each unit, and (3) critical 
equipment will be ordered, installed, tested and become operational.
    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 17, 2010, PVNGS would be in full compliance with 
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 June 30, 2010, and to December 17, 
2010, respectively, for two specified requirements.
    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 NRC staff has determined that the long-term benefits that will 
be realized when the PVNGS security modifications are completed justify 
exceeding the full compliance date with regard to the specified 
requirements of 10 CFR 73.55. The significant security enhancements 
PVNGS 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 two items 
specified in the enclosure to the APS letter dated December 21, 2009, 
as supplemented by the APS letters dated February 16 and March 5, 2010, 
the licensee is required to be in full compliance by December 17, 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 13606; dated March 22, 2010). This exemption 
is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 23rd 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. 2010-7029 Filed 3-29-10; 8:45 am]