[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 194 (Thursday, October 7, 2010)]
[Pages 62151-62153]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-25276]



[Docket No. 50-134; NRC-2010-0053]

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact for the Leslie C. Wilbur Nuclear Reactor Facility 
at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ted Carter, Project Manager, Materials 
Decommissioning Branch, Division of Waste Management and Environmental 
Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental 
Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Two 
White Flint North, Mail Stop T8 F5, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852-2738 Telephone: (301) 414-5543; fax number: (301) 415-
5369; e-mail: [email protected].



    The NRC is considering the issuance of a license amendment to 
Material License No. R-61 issued to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute 
(WPI) to authorize decommissioning of its Leslie C. Wilbur Nuclear 
Reactor Facility (LCWNRF) located on the campus of WPI in the city of 
Worcester, Massachusetts for unrestricted use and termination of this 
license. NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) 
(ML102020428) in support of this amendment in accordance with the 
requirements of 10 CFR part 51. Based on the EA, the NRC has concluded 
that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate. The 
amendment will be issued following the publication of this Notice.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

    By letter dated March 31, 2009, (ADAMS ML090960651), as 
supplemented on September 30, 2009 (ADAMS ML092880231), the licensee 
submitted a Decommissioning Plan (DP) in accordance with 10 CFR 
50.82(b)(1), in order to dismantle the 10-kw (thermal) General Electric 
(GE) Reactor, to dispose of its component parts and radioactive 
material, and to decontaminate the facilities in accordance with the 
proposed DP to meet the NRC's unrestricted release criteria. After the 
NRC verifies that the release criteria have been met, Facility 
Operating License No. R-61 will be terminated. The licensee submitted 
an environmental report as part of the Final DP, dated September 2009, 
that addressed the estimated environmental impacts resulting from 
decommissioning the GE Reactor. The reactor is permanently shutdown, 
with the fuel removed from the core and stored in racks in the reactor 
pool. The objective of the decommissioning is the release of the 
reactor facility for unrestricted use.
    A notice of license amendment request and opportunity to request a 
hearing was published in the Federal Register on March 8, 2010 (75 FR 
10519-10524). No requests for a hearing were received.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action is necessary because of WPI's decision to 
permanently cease operations at the LCWNRF. As specified in 10 CFR 
50.82, any licensee may permanently cease operation and apply to the 
NRC for license termination and authorization to decommission the 
affected facility. Further, 10 CFR 51.53(d) provides that each 
applicant for a license amendment to authorize decommissioning of a 
production or utilization facility shall submit an environmental report 
with its application that reflects any new information or significant 
environmental changes associated with the proposed decommissioning 
activities. WPI is planning unrestricted use for the area that would be 

Environmental Impact of the Proposed Action

    Many of the potential environmental impacts that would normally be 
associated with a decommissioning project are not applicable to the WPI 
decommissioning program. The factors distinguishing the WPI 
decommissioning program include: The small size of the facility, the 

[[Page 62152]]

scope of the planned decontamination and decommissioning work, the 
short duration of the proposed work, and the small radiological 
inventory within this facility. Based upon the work scope and approach 
described in the WPI DP, the potential for negative impact to the 
environment during the decommissioning of the WPI research reactor is 
small or not applicable.
    The DP states that all decontamination will be performed by trained 
personnel in accordance with the requirements of the radiation 
protection program, and will be overseen by a radiation safety officer 
with multiple years of experience in decommissioning health physics 
practices. All reactor and pool components will be removed from the 
facility as low level radioactive waste and managed in accordance with 
NRC requirements. The licensee estimates the total radiation exposure 
for the decommissioning process to be about 0.5 person-rem. In 
addition, by keeping the public at a safe distance, using access 
control, and by using the approved DP and WPI's radiation protection 
program to control effluent releases, the licensee expects the 
radiation exposure to the general public to be negligible. The 
licensee's conclusion is consistent with the estimate given for the 
``reference research reactor'' in NUREG-0586, ``Final Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement on Decommissioning of the Nuclear 
Facilities, August 1988.''
    Occupational and public exposure may result from offsite disposal 
of the low-level radioactive waste from the LCWNRF, which includes the 
GE reactor. In the DP the licensee stated that the handling, storage, 
and shipment of this radioactive waste will meet the requirements of 
subpart D, ``Technical Requirements for Land Disposal Facilities,'' of 
10 CFR part 61, ``Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of 
Radioactive Waste,'' 10 CFR part 71, ``Packaging and Transportation of 
Radioactive Material'' and 10 CFR 20.2006, ``Transfer for Disposal and 
Manifests.'' Low-level radioactive waste will be processed and package 
for disposal at a licensed low-level waste site such as the 
EnergySolutions, LLC facility in Clive, Utah.
    The NRC regulations at 10 CFR 20.1402 provide radiological criteria 
for release of a site for unrestricted use. Release criteria for 
unrestricted use is a Total Effective Dose Equivalent (TEDE) of less 
than 25 mrem per year from residual radioactivity above background and 
that the residual radioactivity has been reduced to levels that are as 
low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). The final status survey will be 
used to demonstrate that the predicted doses to a member of the public 
from any residual activity do not exceed the 25 mrem per year dose 
limit. The NRC will perform inspections and a confirmatory survey to 
verify the decommissioning activities and the final status survey.
    With regard to potential non-radiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not involve any historic sites. Proper precautions will be 
taken to reduce the exposure to dust from lead paint and asbestos. WPI 
has committed to compliance with applicable occupational health and 
safety requirements, primarily the federal Occupational Safety and 
Health Act (OSHA) of 1973.
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    The three alternatives for disposition of the LCWNRF, which 
includes the GE Reactor, are: DECON, SAFSTOR, and no action. WPI has 
proposed the DECON option. DECON is the alternative in which the 
equipment, structures, and portions of the facilities containing 
radioactive contaminants are removed or decontaminated to a level that 
permits the property to be released for unrestricted use. SAFSTOR is 
the alternative in which the nuclear facilities are placed and 
maintained in a condition that allows the nuclear facilities to be 
safely stored and subsequently decontaminated (deferred 
decontamination) to levels that permit release for unrestricted use. 
The no-action alternative would leave the facilities in their present 
configuration, without any decommissioning activities required or 
implemented. The SAFSTOR and no-action alternatives would entail 
continued surveillance and physical security measures to be in place 
and continued monitoring by licensee personnel. The SAFSTOR and no-
action alternatives would also require continued maintenance of the 
facilities. The radiological impacts of SAFSTOR and no-action would be 
less than the DECON option because of radioactive decay prior to the 
start of future decommissioning activities under the SAFSTOR and no 
action options. The SAFSTOR and no-action alternatives also would have 
no significant environmental impact. However, these options involve the 
continued use of resources during the SAFSTOR or no-action period. WPI 
has determined that the proposed action (DECON) is the most efficient 
use of the LCWNRF, including the GE Reactor, since it proposes to use 
the space that will become available for unrestricted use. In addition, 
the regulations in 10 CFR 50.82(b)(4)(i) allow an alternative which 
provides for delayed completion of decommissioning only when the delay 
is necessary to protect the public health and safety. The NRC staff 
finds that delay is not justified since the environmental impacts of 
the proposed action and the alternatives are similar and insignificant.

Alternative Use of Resources

    This action does not involve the use of any resources not 
previously considered in the Environmental Report submitted as part of 
the DP on September 30, 2009, for the LCWNRF Reactor.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    On June 29, 2010, NRC sent a copy of the draft EA to the Solid 
Waste Program, Bureau of Waste Prevention, Central Regional Office, 
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) regarding 
the environmental impact of the proposed action. After review, the MDEP 
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 human health or the environment. Accordingly, the NRC 
has 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 September 30, 2009 (ADAMS ML092880231), which 
is available for public inspection, and can be copied for a fee, at the 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Public Document Room (PDR), 
located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), 
Rockville, Maryland. The NRC maintains an Agency-wide Documents Access 
and Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image files of 
NRC's public documents. This document may be accessed through the NRC's 
Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at http://www.nrc.gov. 
Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who have problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS may contact the PDR reference 
staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737 or by e-mail at [email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 30th day of September, 2010.

[[Page 62153]]

    For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Paul Michalak,
Chief, Materials Decommissioning Branch, Decommissioning and Uranium 
Recovery Licensing Directorate, Division of Waste Management and 
Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials, and 
Environmental Management Programs.
[FR Doc. 2010-25276 Filed 10-6-10; 8:45 am]