[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 163 (Tuesday, August 24, 2010)]
[Pages 52045-52046]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-20915]



[NRC-2010-0281; Docket No. STN 50-530]

Arizona Public Service Company, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating 
Station, Unit 3; Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant 

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of a temporary exemption from the requirements of Title 10 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations, part 50 (10 CFR 50), section 50.46, 
``Acceptance criteria for emergency core cooling systems for light-
water nuclear power reactors,'' and 10 CFR part 50, appendix K, ``ECCS 
Evaluation Models,'' for Facility Operating License No. NPF-74, issued 
to Arizona Public Service Company (APS, the licensee), for operation of 
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS), Unit 3, located in 
Maricopa County, Arizona. Therefore, as required by 10 CFR 51.21, the 
NRC has performed an environmental assessment. Based on the results of 
the environmental assessment, the NRC is issuing a finding of no 
significant impact.

Environmental Assessment

    Identification of the Proposed Action:
    The proposed action would permit the use of fuel rods with 
Optimized ZIRLOTM cladding to be inserted into PVNGS, Unit 
3's core for Operating Cycles 16, 17, and 18. Since the requirements in 
10 CFR 50.46, specifically, and 10 CFR part 50, appendix K, implicitly, 
refer to the use of zircaloy or ZIRLO cladding, a temporary exemption 
is required to allow the use of fuel rods clad with an advanced 
zirconium-based alloy that is neither zircaloy nor ZIRLO. The temporary 
exemption would allow up to eight lead fuel assemblies (LFAs) 
manufactured by Westinghouse with fuel rods clad with Optimized 
ZIRLOTM to be inserted into the PVNGS, Unit 3 core during 
the fall 2010 refueling outage. The temporary exemption would allow the 
LFAs to be used for up to three operating cycles (Cycles 16, 17, and 
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated November 2, 2009 (Agencywide Documents Access and 
Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML093160596), as supplemented 
by letter dated May 12, 2010 (ADAMS Accession No. ML101410262).
    The Need for the Proposed Action:
    The proposed temporary exemption is needed by APS, as explained in 
its application dated November 2, 2009, in order ``to evaluate cladding 
for future fuel assemblies that may need to be of a more robust design 
than current fuel assemblies to allow for possible higher duty and/or 
extended burnup.'' The regulations specify standards and acceptance 
criteria only for fuel rods clad with zircaloy or ZIRLO. Consistent 
with 10 CFR 50.46, a temporary exemption is required to use fuel rods 
clad with an advanced alloy that is not zircaloy or ZIRLO. Therefore, 
the licensee needs a temporary exemption to insert up to eight LFAs 
containing Optimized ZIRLOTM cladding material into the 
PVNGS Unit 3 core for up to three cycles of operation.
    Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action:
    The NRC has completed its evaluation of the proposed action and 
concludes that the proposed exemption will not present any undue risk 
to the public health and safety. The NRC-approved Westinghouse Electric 
Company LLC (Westinghouse) topical reports, WCAP-16500-P-A Revision 0, 
``CE [Combustion Engineering] 16x16 Next

[[Page 52046]]

Generation Fuel Core Reference Report'' (Proprietary), dated August 
2007, and WCAP-12610-P-A and CENPD-404-P-A, ``Optimized 
ZIRLOTM'' (Proprietary), dated July 2006, have demonstrated 
that predicted chemical, mechanical, and material performance 
characteristics of the Optimized ZIRLOTM alloy cladding are 
bounded by those approved for zircaloy under anticipated operational 
occurrences (AOOs) and postulated accidents. The LFAs shall be placed 
in non-limiting core regions as required by PVNGS, Unit 3 Technical 
Specification 4.2.1, ``Fuel Assemblies.'' Also, APS and Westinghouse 
utilize NRC approved methods for the reload design process for the 
PVNGS reload cores containing Optimized ZIRLOTM fuel rod 
cladding. Therefore, the environmental impact, due to the unlikely 
event of an LFA clad failure, would be minimal and would be bounded by 
the environmental impacts associated with previous accident analyses.
    The details of the NRC staff's safety evaluation will be provided 
in the exemption that will be issued as part of the letter to the 
licensee approving the exemption to the regulation.
    The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability 
or consequences of accidents. No changes are being made in the types of 
effluents that may be released offsite. There is no significant 
increase in the amount of any effluent released offsite. There is no 
significant increase in occupational or public radiation exposure. 
Therefore, there are no significant radiological environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed action.
    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 of 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.
    Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action:
    As an alternative to the proposed action, the 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 
the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, NUREG-0841, dated February 
    Agencies and Persons Consulted:
    In accordance with its stated policy, on July 8, 2010, the NRC 
staff consulted with the Arizona State official, Aubrey Godwin of the 
Arizona Radiation Regulatory Authority 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 concludes 
that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined 
not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed 
    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
licensee's letter dated November 2, 2009, as supplemented by letter 
dated May 12, 2010. 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 Agencywide Documents Access and Management 
System (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 17th day of August 2010.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Nageswaran Kalyanam,
Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch IV, Division of Operating 
Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2010-20915 Filed 8-23-10; 8:45 am]