[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 142 (Monday, July 26, 2010)]
[Pages 43571-43572]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-18241]



[Docket Nos. 50-413 and 50-414; NRC-2010-0260]

Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC; Catawba Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 
2; Environmental Assessment And Finding of No Significant Impact

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of amendments to Renewed Facility Operating License No. NPF-35 
and Renewed Facility Operating License No. NPF-52, issued to Duke 
Energy Carolinas, LLC (the licensee), for operation of the Catawba 
Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2 (Catawba 1 and 2), respectively, located 
in York County, South Carolina, in accordance with Title 10 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 50, Section 50.90. In accordance 
with 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC performed an environmental assessment 
documenting its findings. The NRC concluded that the proposed action 
would have no significant environmental impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would revise the Renewed Facility Operating 
Licenses by removing a condition in Appendix B of the Renewed Facility 
Operating Licenses for Catawba 1 and 2 which had limited the peak rod 
average burnup to 60 gigawatt-days per metric ton uranium (GWD/MTU) 
until completion of an NRC environmental assessment supporting an 
increased limit. The proposed action would allow an increase of the 
maximum rod average burnup to as high as 62 GWD/MTU. The licensee has 
procedures in place to ensure that maximum rod burnup will not exceed 
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated October 29, 2009.

The Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action to delete the license condition for fuel burnup 
is needed to allow a higher maximum rod average burnup of 62 GWD/MTU, 
which would allow for more effective fuel management. If the amendment 
is not approved, the licensee will not be provided the opportunity to 
increase maximum rod average burnup to as high as 62 GWD/MTU and allow 
fuel management flexibility.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    In this environmental assessment regarding the impacts of the use 
of extended burnup fuel beyond 60 GWD/MTU, the Commission is relying on 
the results of the updated study conducted for the NRC by the Pacific 
Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), entitled ``Environmental Effects 
of Extending Fuel Burnup Above 60 GWD/MTU'' (NUREG/CR-6703, PNNL-13257, 
January 2001). Environmental impacts of high burnup fuel up to 75 GWD/
MTU were evaluated in the study, but some aspects of the review were 
limited to evaluating the impacts of the extended burnup up to 62 GWD/
MTU, because of the need for additional data on the effect of extended 
burnup on gap release fractions. All the aspects of the fuel-cycle were 
considered during the study, from mining, milling, conversion, 
enrichment and fabrication through normal reactor operation, 
transportation, waste management, and storage of spent fuel.
    The amendment would allow Catawba 1 and 2 to extend lead rod 
average burnup to 62 GWD/MTU. The NRC staff has completed its 
evaluation of the proposed action and concludes that such changes would 
not adversely affect plant safety, and would have no adverse affect on 
the probability of any accident. For the accidents that involve damage 
or melting of the fuel in the reactor core, fuel rod integrity has been 
shown to be unaffected by extended burnup under consideration; 
therefore, the probability of an accident will not be affected. For the 
accidents in which core remains intact, the increased burnup may 
slightly change the mix of fission products that could be released in 
the event of a serious accident, but because the radionuclides 
contributing most to the dose are short-lived, increased burnup would 
not have an effect on the consequences of a serious accident beyond the 
previously evaluated accident scenarios. Increases in projected dose 
consequences of postulated accidents associated with fuel burnup up to 
62 GWD/MTU are not considered significant, and remain well below 
regulatory limits.
    Regulatory limits on radiological effluent releases are independent 
of burnup. The requirements of 10 CFR Part 20, 10 CFR 50.36a, and 
Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50 ensure that routine releases of gaseous, 
liquid or solid radiological effluents to unrestricted areas is kept 
``As Low As is Reasonably Achievable.'' Therefore, NRC staff concludes 
that during routine operations, there would be no significant increase 
in the amount of gaseous radiological effluents released into the 
environment as a result of the proposed action, nor will there be a 
significant increase in the amount of liquid radiological effluents or 

[[Page 43572]]

radiological effluents released into the environment.
    The proposed action will not change normal plant operating 
conditions. No changes are expected in the fuel handling, operational 
or storing processes. The fuel storage and handling, radioactive waste, 
and other systems which may contain radioactivity are designed to 
assure adequate safety under normal conditions. There will be no 
significant changes in radiation levels during these evolutions. No 
significant increase in the allowable individual or cumulative 
occupational radiation exposure is expected to occur.
    The use of extended irradiation will not change the potential 
environmental impacts of incident-free transportation of spent nuclear 
fuel or the accident risks associated with spent fuel transportation if 
the fuel is cooled for 5 years after being discharged from the reactor. 
The PNNL report for the NRC (NUREG/CR-6703, January 2001), concluded 
that doses associated with incident-free transportation of spent fuel 
with burnup to 75 GWD/MTU are bounded by the doses given in 10 CFR 
51.52, Table S-4 for all regions of the country, based on the dose 
rates from the shipping casks being maintained within regulatory 
limits. Increased fuel burnup will decrease the annual discharge of 
fuel to the spent fuel pool which will postpone the need to remove 
spent fuel from the pool.
    NUREG/CR-6703 determined that no increase in environmental effects 
of spent fuel transportation accidents are expected as a result of 
increasing fuel burnup to 75 GWD/MTU.
    Based on the nature of the exemption, the proposed action does not 
result in changes to land use or water use, or result in changes to the 
quality or quantity of non-radiological effluents. No changes to the 
National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit are needed. No 
effects on the aquatic or terrestrial habitat in the vicinity or the 
plant, or to threatened, endangered, or protected species under the 
Endangered Species Act, or impacts to essential fish habitat covered by 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act are expected. There are no impacts to the air 
or ambient air quality. There are no impacts to historic and cultural 
resources. There would be no noticeable effect on socioeconomic 
conditions in the region. Therefore, no changes or different types of 
non-radiological environmental impacts are expected as a result of the 
proposed action. Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no 
significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.
    For more detailed information regarding the environmental impacts 
of extended fuel burnup, please refer to the study conducted by PNNL 
for the NRC, entitled ``Environmental Effects of Extending Fuel Burnup 
Above 60 GWD/MTU'' (NUREG/CR-6073, PNL-13257, January 2001, Agencywide 
Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. 
ML010310298). The details of the NRC staff's Safety Evaluation will be 
provided in the amendment that will be issued as part of the letter to 
the licensee approving the amendment.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the NRC staff considered 
denial of the proposed action (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Denial of the application would result in no change in current 
environmental impacts. The environmental impacts of the proposed action 
and the alternative action are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

    The action does not involve the use of any different resources than 
those previously considered in the Final Environmental Statement for 
Catawba Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, or the Generic Environmental 
Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: Regarding 
Catawba Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2--Final Report (NUREG-1437, 
Supplement 9), dated December 2002.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on June 16, 2010, the NRC 
staff consulted with the South Carolina State official, Ms. SE Jenkins, 
of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 
regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The State 
official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC staff 
concludes that the proposed action will not have a significant effect 
on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC staff 
determined not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the 
proposed action.
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's letter dated October 29, 2009 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML093140092). Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at 
the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 
Public File Area O1 F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, 
Maryland. Publicly available records will be accessible electronically 
from the ADAMS Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at the 
NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html.
    Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who encounter problems 
in accessing the documents located in ADAMS should contact the NRC PDR 
Reference staff by telephone at 1-800-397-4209 or 301-415-4737, or send 
an e-mail to [email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 15th day of July 2010.
    For The Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Jon Thompson,
Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch II-1, Division of Operating 
Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2010-18241 Filed 7-23-10; 8:45 am]