[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 63 (Friday, April 2, 2010)]
[Pages 16869-16871]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-7449]



[Docket No. 50-255; NRC-2010-0127]

Entergy Nuclear Operations, LLC; Palisades Nuclear Plant; 

1.0 Background

    Entergy Nuclear Operations, LLC (ENO) (the licensee) is the holder 
of Facility Operating License No. DPR-20, which authorizes operation of 
Palisades Nuclear Plant (PNP). 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 one pressurized-water reactor located in 
Van Buren County, Michigan.

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

[[Page 16870]]

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 ENO 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, 
    By letter dated January 14, 2010, (inadvertently dated January 14, 
2009), as supplemented by letter dated February 16, 2010, the licensee 
requested an exemption in accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific 
exemptions.'' The licensee's January 14, 2010, and February 16, 2010, 
letters, have certain portions which contain security-related 
information and, accordingly, are not available to the public. 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 three requirements that would be in place by August 
31, 2010, versus the March 31, 2010, deadline. Being granted this 
exemption for the three requirements would allow the licensee to 
complete the modifications designed to update aging equipment and 
incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet or exceed 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.
    NRC approval of this exemption request, as noted above, would allow 
an extension from March 31, 2010, to August 31, 2010, for the 
implementation date for three specified areas of the new rule. 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 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 any such 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 (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.

ENO Schedule Exemption Request

    The licensee provided detailed information in Attachments 1, 2, and 
3 of its supplemental submittal to its January 14, 2010, letter, 
requesting an exemption. It describes a comprehensive plan which 
provides a timeline for achieving full compliance with the new 
regulation. Attachments 1, 2, and 3 contain 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, and a timeline with 
``critical path'' activities that would enable the licensee to achieve 
full compliance by August 31, 2010. The timeline provides dates 
indicating when (1) construction will begin on various phases of the 
project (i.e., new buildings and fences), and (2) critical equipment 
will be installed, tested and become operational.
    Notwithstanding the schedule exemptions of these limited 
requirements, the licensee indicated that it 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 August 31, 2010, the licensee also stated 
that PNP 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 NRC staff has reviewed the licensee's submittals and concludes 
that the ENO has provided adequate justification for its request for an 
extension of the compliance date to August 31, 2010, 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,'' 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 PNP modifications are completed justifies 
exceeding the full compliance date in the case of this particular 
licensee. The security measures PNP 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 currently 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 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 three 
requirements specified in Attachments 1, 2, and 3 of

[[Page 16871]]

the ENO letter dated January 14, 2010, supplemented by letter dated 
February 16, 2010, the licensee is required to be in full compliance by 
August 31, 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 14473; dated March 25, 2010].
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 25th 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. 2010-7449 Filed 4-1-10; 8:45 am]