[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 147 (Monday, August 2, 2010)]
[Pages 45167-45171]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-18888]




Notice of Public Workshop on a Potential Rulemaking for Spent 
Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facilities

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

ACTION: Notice of Public Workshop.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to conduct 
two public workshops to solicit public input on major issues associated 
with the development of a regulatory basis document that, if necessary, 
will form the basis of a potential rulemaking for spent nuclear fuel 
reprocessing facilities. The public workshops are intended to solicit 
the views of representatives of interests that may be affected by a 
potential rulemaking for reprocessing facilities. Members of the public 
are invited to provide written

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comments on the issues presented in this notice and to attend the 
workshops to provide feedback on the issues associated with the 
development of a regulatory basis for a potential rulemaking. The 
public workshops will be held in Rockville, Maryland on September 7-8, 
2010 and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the week of October 4, 

DATES: Members of the public may provide feedback at the transcribed 
public workshops or may submit written comments on the issues 
discussed. The comment period closes on November 5, 2010. NRC plans to 
consider these stakeholder views in the development of a regulatory 
basis for a potential rulemaking on reprocessing. Written comments may 
be sent to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section. Questions about 
participation in the round table discussion at the public workshops 
should be directed to the facilitator at the address listed in the 
ADDRESSES section. Members of the public planning to attend the 
workshops are invited to RSVP at least ten (10) days prior to each 
workshop. Replies should be directed to the points of contact listed in 
the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. The public workshops will 
be held in Rockville, Maryland on September 7-8, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 5 
p.m. and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the week of October 4, 2010, 
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The September 7-8, 2010 workshop will be held at 
the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, 
located at 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. The exact dates 
and location for the October 2010 workshop in Albuquerque, NM will be 
noticed no fewer than ten (10) days prior to the workshop on the NRC's 
electronic public workshop schedule at http://www.nrc.gov/publicinvolve/public-meetings/index.cfm. In addition, the final agenda 
for both public workshops will also be noticed at the above referenced 
website address. Please refer to the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
for additional information on the issues proposed for discussion at the 
public workshops.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to the Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative 
Services, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Mail Stop TWB 5B01M, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and cite the 
publication date and page number of this Federal Register notice, or by 
fax at 301-492-3446. Comments may also be submitted electronically at 
http://www.regulations.gov and search for documents filed under Docket 
ID NRC-2010-0267. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol 
Gallagher 301-492-3668; e-mail [email protected]. Because your 
comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact 
information, the NRC cautions you against including any information in 
your submission that you do not want to be publicly disclosed.
    The NRC requests that any party soliciting or aggregating comments 
received from other persons for submission to the NRC inform those 
persons that the NRC will not edit their comments to remove any 
identifying or contact information, and therefore, they should not 
include any information in their comments that they do not want 
publicly disclosed.
    Questions regarding participation in the roundtable discussions 
should be submitted to the facilitator, Francis Cameron, by telephone 
at 240-205-2091, or by e-mail at [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jose Cuadrado, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone 301-492-3287; e-mail 
[email protected], or Jeannette Arce, Office of Nuclear Material 
Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001, telephone 301-492-3411; e-mail [email protected].
    The public may examine and have copied for a fee, publicly 
available documents at the Public Document Room, One White Flint North, 
11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available documents 
created or received at NRC after November 1, 1999, are available 
electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, the public can gain 
entry into the NRC's Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS), which provides text and image files of NRC's public documents. 
If you do not have access to ADAMS, contact the Public Document Room at 
1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to [email protected].


1.0 Background

    The NRC has the authority under the Atomic Energy Act to license 
commercial spent fuel reprocessing facilities. Currently, 10 CFR Part 
50, ``Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities,'' 
provides the licensing framework for production and utilization 
facilities. Although a reprocessing facility is one type of production 
facility, its industrial processes are more akin to fuel cycle 
processes. This framework was established in the 1970's to license the 
first US reprocessing facilities. The policy decision by the Carter 
Administration to cease reprocessing initiatives was based, in part, on 
the proliferation risks posed by the early reprocessing technology. 
This policy ultimately halted NRC licensing activities for commercial 
reprocessing facilities. While that policy was reversed during the 
Reagan Administration, there was no longer any commercial interest in 
reprocessing and thus no need to update the existing reprocessing 
regulatory framework in Part 50.
    Although commercial reprocessing interest waned, the Department of 
Energy (DOE) continued to pursue reprocessing technology development 
through the National Laboratories. DOE has sought to decrease 
proliferation risk and spent fuel high level waste through developing 
more sophisticated reprocessing technology.
    During the Bush Administration, the Global Nuclear Energy 
Partnership (GNEP) rekindled the interest in commercial reprocessing. 
GNEP sought to expand the use of civilian nuclear power globally and 
close the nuclear fuel cycle through reprocessing spent fuel and 
deploying fast reactors to burn long-lived actinides. In response to 
these initiatives, the Commission, in Staff Requirements Memorandum 
(SRM) to SECY-07-0081, ``Regulatory Options for Licensing Facilities 
Associated with the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership,'' dated June 27, 
2007 (ADAMS ML071800084), directed the staff to complete an analysis of 
10 CFR Chapter I to identify regulatory gaps for licensing an advanced 
reprocessing facility and recycling reactor.
    In mid-2008, two nuclear industry companies informed the agency of 
their intent to seek a license for a reprocessing facility in the U.S. 
An additional company expressed its support for updating the regulatory 
framework for reprocessing, but stopped short of stating its intent to 
seek a license for such a facility. At the time, NRC staff also noted 
that progress on some Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) 
initiatives had waned and it appeared appropriate to shift the focus of 
the staff's efforts from specific GNEP-facility regulations to a more 
broadly applicable framework for commercial reprocessing facilities.
    In SECY-08-0134, titled, ``Regulatory Structure for Spent Fuel 

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dated September 12, 2008 (ADAMS ML082110363), the staff discussed the 
shift in its approach to developing the regulatory framework 
development for commercial reprocessing facilities. The staff noted 
that it would defer additional work on regulatory framework development 
efforts for advanced recycling reactors and focus on the framework 
revisions necessary to license a potential application for commercial 
reprocessing. As a result of this shift, the staff indicated that an 
additional review of the initial gap analysis was warranted.
    NRC staff performed a regulatory gap analysis and summarized it in 
SECY-09-0082, ``Update on Reprocessing Regulatory Framework--Summary of 
Gap Analysis,'' dated May 28, 2009 (ADAMS ML091520243). The staff's gap 
analysis identified 14 ``high'' priority gaps that must be resolved to 
establish an effective and efficient regulatory framework. The 
regulatory gaps broadly cover four main areas: (1) Reprocessing waste-
related issues, (2) physical protection and material control and 
accounting, (3) risk, and (4) licensing issues. The NRC staff's 
regulatory gap analysis considered several documents in its analysis, 
including: NUREG-1909, a white paper authored by the Advisory Committee 
on Nuclear Waste and Materials (ACNW&M) titled ``Background, Status and 
Issues Related to the Regulation of Advanced Spent Nuclear Fuel Recycle 
Facilities,'' issued June 2008; correspondence from the Union of 
Concerned Scientists titled, ``Revising the Rules for Materials 
Protection, Control and Accounting;'' and an NEI white paper titled, 
``Regulatory Framework for an NRC Licensed Recycling Facility.''
    Building on the gap analysis, efforts are currently underway to 
develop a regulatory (technical) basis to pursue rulemaking that would 
enable the effective licensing and regulation of reprocessing 
facilities. The status of the regulatory basis development and 
estimated schedule for completing the reprocessing regulatory 
development are summarized in a May 14, 2010, memorandum to the 
Commission (ADAMS ML101110444).
    In advance of NRC staff's development of the regulatory basis 
document for reprocessing facility licensing, and, if necessary, a 
possible rulemaking, the NRC will conduct public workshops inviting 
representatives of interested stakeholders in a ``roundtable'' format. 
At these workshops, NRC plans to discuss with stakeholders the issues 
to be considered in the development of the regulatory basis document 
for reprocessing facility licensing, which, in turn, will serve as the 
basis for possible rulemaking. NRC plans to consider these stakeholder 
views in the development of the regulatory basis document. In order to 
have a manageable discussion, the number of participants around the 
table will be limited. The NRC, through the workshop facilitator, will 
attempt to ensure broad participation by the spectrum of interests 
affected by the rulemaking, including citizen and environmental groups, 
nuclear industry interests, state, and local governments, and experts 
from academia and other federal agencies. Other members of the public 
are welcome to attend. Those not seated at the tables, including 
individual members of the public, will have the opportunity to provide 
feedback on each of the issues slated for discussion by the roundtable 
participants. Questions about participation in the roundtable 
discussion may be directed to the facilitator.
    Section 2.0 describes issues associated with the regulatory gaps in 
SECY-09-0082 and will broadly cover four main areas: (1) Reprocessing 
waste-related issues, (2) physical protection and material control and 
accounting, 3) risk, and (4) licensing issues.

2.0 Issues for Discussion

    During the public workshops, the NRC plans to solicit stakeholder 
comments and feedback during four separate discussion sessions. During 
each session, the NRC plans to discuss one of the four major categories 
of regulatory gaps for reprocessing facilities, as discussed in SECY-
09-0082 (ADAMS ML091520243). The NRC will use a roundtable discussion 
format for all four discussion sessions. The four main categories of 
regulatory gaps are: (1) Reprocessing waste related gaps, (2) physical 
protection and material control and accounting gaps, (3) risk gaps, and 
(4) licensing gaps. Below is a brief discussion of the individual gaps 
in each category.

I. Reprocessing Waste Related Gaps

a. Gap 2--Independent Storage of High-Level Waste
    No independent waste storage options are available under 10 CFR 
Part 72, ``Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent 
Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste, and Reactor-Related Greater 
Than Class C Waste,'' to accommodate interim, commercial independent 
storage of solidified high-level waste (HLW) from reprocessing 
facilities. NRC staff is developing a technical basis to establish the 
regulatory framework necessary for both the onsite storage and 
commercial independent storage of solidified HLW. Without this basis, 
there are no viable regulatory options for interim storage of 
solidified HLW from reprocessing facilities.
b. Gap 3--Waste Incidental to Reprocessing
    The NRC lacks regulations defining certain waste streams resulting 
from spent fuel reprocessing as waste incidental to reprocessing, or 
incidental waste, rather than HLW. If the NRC does not develop an 
incidental waste rule, then an applicant for a reprocessing facility 
would face regulatory uncertainty with regard to differentiating HLW 
from incidental wastes produced at its facility.
c. Gap 16--Waste Classification
    The waste classification tables in 10 CFR 61.55 include many 
radionuclides that would be associated with reprocessing waste streams. 
However, a few waste streams that contain radionuclides (e.g., krypton-
85 separated from gaseous effluent, noble metals and some lanthanides) 
were not considered in the development of 10 CFR 61.55, and are not 
listed in either Table 1 or Table 2. If the gap is not addressed, some 
wastes associated with reprocessing facilities could be classified as 
Class A, but they may not be suitable for near-surface disposal at some 
d. Gap 15--Waste Confidence
    The waste confidence decision published in the Federal Register on 
August 31, 1984 (49 FR 34658) discusses waste from reprocessing 
facilities in the first and third finding. The generic waste confidence 
rule in 10 CFR 51.23, ``Temporary Storage of Spent Fuel after Cessation 
of Reactor Operation--Generic Determination of No Significant 
Environmental Impact,'' applies only to waste from reactor facilities. 
Therefore, in their environmental report, applicants for reprocessing 
facility licenses will need to address long-term storage of their 
waste. If the regulatory basis supports expansion of the waste 
confidence rule to include HLW, and if the rule is amended, then 
consideration of the environmental impacts of interim HLW storage will 
be considered generically. If, on the other hand, the waste confidence 
rule is not amended to include HLW generated from spent fuel 
reprocessing facilities, then the environmental impacts of interim HLW 
storage will need to be analyzed on a

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site-specific basis (by the applicant in its environmental report and 
then by the staff in its National Environmental Policy Act 
environmental analysis).

II. Physical Protection and Material Control and Accounting Gaps

a. Gap 4--Exclusion of Irradiated Fuel Reprocessing Facilities in 10 
CFR 74.51
    The regulation in 10 CFR 74.51, ``Nuclear Material Control and 
Accounting for Strategic Special Nuclear Material,'' currently excludes 
irradiated fuel reprocessing facilities from Category I material 
control and accounting (MC&A) requirements. Category I reprocessing 
facilities would not have the same MC&A requirements as other Category 
I facilities if the exclusion is not removed, yet comparable 
requirements may be needed to protect against theft and diversion of 
separated special nuclear material and other materials. Accordingly, it 
is necessary to remove this exclusion to ensure the security of 
material in any proposed Category I reprocessing facility.
b. Gap 8--Risk-Informing 10 CFR Part 73 and 10 CFR Part 74
    The current type and quantity-based categorization scheme in the 
existing regulations may pose an undue regulatory burden in operating a 
reprocessing facility. Current requirements for facility processes and 
reprocessed fuel assemblies may result in excessive security and 
safeguards measures for relatively unattractive materials. Risk-
informing 10 CFR Part 73, ``Physical Protection of Plants and 
Materials,'' and 10 CFR Part 74, ``Material Control and Accounting of 
Special Nuclear Material,'' is needed to prevent unintended 
consequences associated with a type and quantity-based material 
categorization scheme for potential materials resulting from a 
reprocessing operation.
c. Gap 17--Diversion Path Analysis Requirements
    There are no existing regulations for a diversion path analysis 
requirement under 10 CFR Part 74. Establishing diversion path analysis 
requirements would make 10 CFR Part 74 more risk-informed and would 
provide an effective detection and response program to mitigate 
potential safeguards vulnerabilities and system weaknesses. Under this 
requirement, affected reprocessing facilities would develop a more 
risk-informed safeguards program that considers a wide range of 
malevolent activities that might involve overt or covert adversaries. A 
burden would be imposed upon such facilities to conduct a diversion 
path analysis and address any identified vulnerability.
d. Gap 18--Approaches Toward Material Accounting Management
    NRC staff is considering different changes and improvements to 
material inventory requirements for reprocessing facilities. Currently, 
10 CFR 74.59(f) gives predefined quantity limits and timeliness 
requirements for Category I facilities, which must perform physical 
inventories every 6 months. Predefined limits on inventory difference 
determinations and the restriction on inventory periods could pose a 
regulatory challenge for reprocessing facilities, due to their large 
throughputs and inventories. Modern technology that has been developed 
or is being developed will help reprocessing facilities to meet the 
existing timeliness and quantity goals. Improved technology, such as 
near real time accounting, has been used at certain overseas 
reprocessing plants. This and other technologies can provide a more 
frequent inventory analysis without a facility shut-down, and will 
facilitate meeting the current timeliness and quantity goals. 
Additionally, incorporating a material holdup management program 
requirement into 10 CFR Part 74 to minimize the impact of material 
holdup could facilitate more accurate inventory accounting.
e. Gap 20--Advanced Fuel Cycles and Transuranic Special Nuclear 
Material (SNM) Classification
    Certain fissile elements such as americium (Am), neptunium (Np), 
and others, which are constituents of spent nuclear fuel, are currently 
not regulated or treated as other fissile or SNM material. Some 
advanced fuel cycle separation methods have the ability to separate 
these actinides, resulting in separated and pure fissile products. 
However, existing regulations do not address security risks for these 
types of fissile material. Although such advanced fuel cycle separation 
methods are not industrially mature and are still being researched, if 
advanced fuel cycles that separate these fissile elements receive 
commercial interest, the Commission may consider revisiting its policy 
of excluding these elements as SNM.

III. Risk Gaps

a. Gap 5--Risk Considerations for a Production Facility Licensed Under 
10 CFR Part 70
    Reprocessing facilities handle larger amounts of radioactive 
material than other fuel cycle facilities. These higher amounts 
increase the relative risk of these facilities. The NRC revised 10 CFR 
Part 70 in 2000 based on a limited number of lower risk fuel cycle 
facilities, and the revision did not consider higher risk reprocessing 
facilities. These higher risks are not adequately addressed in the 
methodology established in 10 CFR Part 70. Therefore, if left 
unchanged, the requirements for reprocessing facilities licensed under 
10 CFR Part 70 will be the same as those for the lower risk fuel cycle 
facilities. The NRC is considering various qualitative and quantitative 
approaches for establishing new risk assessment requirements for 
reprocessing facilities.
b. Gap 9--Baseline Design Criteria (BDC)/General Design Criteria (GDC)
    The existing baseline design criteria (BDC) in 10 CFR Part 70 do 
not comprehensively address hazards posed by the operation of a 
reprocessing facility. Although Appendix A, ``General Design Criteria 
for Nuclear Power Plants,'' to 10 CFR Part 50 provides general design 
criteria (GDC) for nuclear power plants, none of these GDC are specific 
to reprocessing facilities. The regulations in 10 CFR Part 70 have a 
few BDC directed more toward lower risk fuel cycle facilities. The NRC 
will consider multiple sources in establishing appropriate BDC or GDC 
for reprocessing facilities. The NRC will use the terms BDC and GDC 
interchangeably during its discussions.
c. Gap 11--Technical Specifications
    The provisions of 10 CFR Part 50 require technical specifications 
for reprocessing facilities. Such requirements may not be compatible 
with 10 CFR Part 70. For incorporation into 10 CFR Part 70, revisions 
will be needed to clarify the division between items relied on for 
safety (IROFS), which are derived from an integrated safety analysis 
(ISA), and technical specifications. Additionally, changes to technical 
specifications would require a license amendment, whereas similar 
changes under 10 CFR Part 70 licensed facilities could proceed under 
the facility change process in 10 CFR 70.72, ``Facility Changes and 
Change Process,'' if the changes meet these requirements.
d. Gap 7--Licensed Operators and Criteria for Testing and Licensing 
    Section 107 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, (AEA) 
requires production facilities to have licensed operators. However, the 
current criteria in 10 CFR Part 55, ``Operators'

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Licenses,'' are not applicable, in whole, to operators of reprocessing 
facilities. The NRC needs to develop criteria in 10 CFR Part 55, 
``Operators' Licenses,'' or in a reprocessing-specific regulation in a 
revised 10 CFR Part 70 or new Part 7X, for testing and licensing 
operators of reprocessing facilities.
e. Gap 19--Effluent Controls and Monitoring
    The requirements of 10 CFR Part 70 do not sufficiently address 
effluent controls and monitoring for reprocessing facilities [e.g., 
implementation of EPA regulations in 40 CFR Part 190, as required by 10 
CFR 20.1301(e)]. Additional requirements for effluent controls and 
monitoring may be needed for reprocessing facilities because of the 
amounts of radioactive material that are handled in them and greater 
potential for emissions. Although the regulations in 10 CFR 50.34a, 
``Design Objectives for Equipment To Control Releases of Radioactive 
Material in Effluents--Nuclear Power Plants,'' and 10 CFR 50.36a, 
``Technical Specifications on Effluents from Nuclear Power Reactors,'' 
specify requirements for utilization facilities, these would require 
modification to address reprocessing and recycling facilities.

IV. Licensing Gaps

a. Gap 1--Regulatory Framework Options, Part 50 or Part 70
    Currently, licensing a reprocessing facility under 10 CFR Part 50 
would pose a significant hindrance to effective and efficient 
licensing. The regulations in 10 CFR Part 70, as currently written, do 
not provide a regulatory framework to license a reprocessing facility. 
Therefore, the staff is evaluating options for either revising Part 50 
or Part 70, or develop regulations in a new Part 5X, or Part 7X.
b. Gap 6--Definition for Reprocessing Related Terms
    There are currently no definitions of the terms ``reprocessing,'' 
``recycling,'' and ``vitrification.'' Existing regulations in 10 CFR 
Parts 20, 50, 51, 60, 63, 70 and 72 use the term ``reprocessing'' 
without a definition. Accordingly, such definitions will need to be 
developed to describe both reprocessing and reprocessing facilities for 
10 CFR Chapter I.
c. Gap 10--One-Step Licensing and Inspection, Testing and Acceptance 
Criteria (ITAAC) Requirements
    Currently, regulations for one-step licensing of reprocessing 
facilities do not exist. One-step licensing necessitates requirements 
to verify that the constructed facility conforms to the approved, 
licensed design. For reactors, 10 CFR Part 52 identifies these 
requirements as ITAAC. The regulations in 10 CFR Part 52 do not apply 
to reprocessing or other production facilities, nor do the requirements 
for the approval of applications set forth in 10 CFR 70.23, 
``Requirements for the Approval of Applications,'' address reprocessing 
facilities. Clarity is needed in 10 CFR Part 70 to provide reasonable 
assurance that a reprocessing facility, undergoing a one-step licensing 
process, will have been constructed and will operate in conformity with 
the license, the AEA, and the Commission's rules and regulations.
d. Gap 12--Financial Protection Requirements and Indemnity Agreements 
(10 CFR Part 140)
    A reprocessing facility cannot be licensed without financial 
protection and indemnity agreements. Price Anderson protection and 
indemnity fees and amounts for reprocessing facilities are currently 
not included in 10 CFR Part 140, ``Financial Protection Requirements 
and Indemnity Agreements.'' Additionally, several appendices to 10 CFR 
Part 140 do not include forms for reprocessing facilities.
e. Gap 13--Schedule of Fees (10 CFR Part 170)
    The scope of 10 CFR Part 170, ``Fees for Facilities, Materials, 
Import and Export Licenses, and Other Regulatory Services under the 
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as Amended,'' does not include a production 
facility licensed outside 10 CFR Part 50.
f. Gap 14--Annual Fees (10 CFR Part 171)
    The regulations in 10 CFR Part 171, ``Annual Fees for Reactor 
Licenses and Fuel Cycle Licenses and Materials Licenses, Including 
Holders of Certificates of Compliance, Registrations, and Quality 
Assurance Program Approvals and Government Agencies Licensed by the 
NRC,'' do not include annual fees for reprocessing facility licenses. 
The scope of the regulation, described in 10 CFR 171.3, does not 
specifically include reprocessing or production facilities.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 23rd day of July 2010.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Marissa G. Bailey,
Deputy Director, Special Projects and Technical Support Directorate, 
Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2010-18888 Filed 7-30-10; 8:45 am]