[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Pages 19362-19366]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7675]



[Docket No. 50-288; NRC-2011-0172]

Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for 
License Renewal for the Reed College/Reed College Research Reactor

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Geoffrey Wertz, Project Manager, 
Research and Test Reactor Licensing Branch, Division of Policy and 
Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555. Telephone: 301-415-0893; 
email: [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) is 
considering issuance of a renewed Facility Operating License No. R-112, 
to be held by Reed College (the licensee), which would authorize 
continued operation of the Reed Research Reactor (the facility), 
located in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Therefore, as required 
by Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 51.21, the NRC 
is issuing this Environmental

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Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact. The renewal license 
will be issued following the publication of this notice.

II. EA Summary

Identification of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would renew Facility Operating License No. R-
112 for a period of 20 years from the date of issuance of the renewed 
license. The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated August 29, 2007, as supplemented by letters dated 
January 26, July 30, October 15, 2010, and May 20, August 3, December 
12, 2011, and January 27, 2012. In accordance with 10 CFR 2.109, 
because the renewal application was timely filed, the existing license 
remains in effect until the NRC takes final action on the renewal 

Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action is needed to allow the continued operation of 
the Reed Research Reactor to routinely provide teaching, research, and 
services to numerous institutions for a period of 20 years.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has completed its safety evaluation of the proposed action 
to issue a renewed Facility Operating License No. R-112 to allow 
continued operation of the Reed Research Reactor for a period of 20 
years and concludes there is reasonable assurance that the reactor will 
continue to operate safely for the additional period of time. The 
details of the NRC staff's safety evaluation will be provided with the 
renewed license that will be issued as part of the letter to the 
licensee approving its license renewal application. This document 
contains the environmental assessment of the proposed action.
    The Reed Research Reactor is located on the eastern side of the 
main campus of Reed College, which is situated on approximately 100 
acres of land in southeastern Portland, Oregon. The Reed Research 
Reactor serves about 1,300 students. The Reed Research Reactor is 
housed in a section of the Psychology Building constructed specifically 
for that purpose. The section of the Psychology building housing the 
Reed Research Reactor serves as a confinement and is primarily 
constructed of concrete, brick, and steel. The operations boundary of 
the Reed Research Reactor encompasses the reactor room and control 
room. The site boundary encompasses the entire Psychology Building and 
all areas 76 meters (250 feet) from the center of the reactor pool, 
including the Psychology and Chemistry Buildings. The nearest permanent 
residences are about 215 meters (700 feet) from the reactor, located in 
both the northeast and south directions. Reed College dormitories, 
housing approximately 30 students from August to May, are located 
approximately 150 meters (500 feet) south of the reactor.
    The Reed Research Reactor is a pool-type, light water moderated and 
cooled research reactor licensed to operate at a steady-state power 
level of 250 kilowatts (thermal) (kW(t)). The Reed Research Reactor is 
a non-pulsing reactor. The reactor core is located at the bottom of an 
in-ground aluminum tank which is 3 meters (10 feet) wide and 4.6 meters 
(15 feet) long with a 1.5 meter (5 foot) radius at each end. The tank 
is 7.6 meters (25 feet) deep and is bolted at the bottom to a 0.6 meter 
(24 inch) thick poured concrete slab. The aluminum tank is surrounded 
by approximately 0.76 meters (2.5 feet) of concrete. The aluminum tank 
is filled with demineralized water to a depth of 7.5 meters (24.5 
feet), providing approximately 6 meters (20 feet) of shielding water 
above the top of the core.
    The reactor was originally fueled and operated with both aluminum 
and stainless steel clad heterogeneous fuel elements consisting of 
nominally 20% enriched uranium-235 in a zirconium hydride matrix. In 
February 2011, the aluminum clad fuel in the reactor was replaced with 
stainless steel clad fuel exclusively provided by the University of 
Arizona, resulting in a core composed of all stainless steel clad fuel 
elements. The aluminum clad fuel was subsequently permanently removed 
from the facility. Many years of experience with operating Training 
Research and Isotope production General Atomic (TRIGA) reactors has 
shown that stainless steel clad fuel provides better resistance against 
potential cladding failure, and is thus less susceptible to leaking 
radionuclides into the reactor pool and environment. A detailed 
description of the changes in the reactor as a result of the 
replacement of the aluminum clad fuel with stainless steel clad fuel is 
provided in the NRC staff's Safety Evaluation Report accompanying the 
license renewal. The 250 kW(t) core consists typically of about 87 
TRIGA fuel elements positioned between a top and bottom grid plate. The 
reactor core is in the form of a right circular cylinder of about 23 
centimeter (9 inch) radius and 38 centimeter (15 inch) length, 
positioned with axis vertical on one focus of a 3 meter (10 foot) by 
4.6 meter (15 foot) tank with a 1.5 meter (5 foot) radius on each long 
end. Criticality is controlled and shutdown margin assured by 3 control 
rods in the form of aluminum or stainless-steel clad boron carbide or 
borated graphite. The control rods are guided by guide tubes that are 
inserted through the top grid plate and attached to the bottom grid 
plate by means of a special locking device. The core is cooled by 
natural convection of the water that occupies about one-third of the 
core volume.
    The licensee has not requested any other changes to the facility 
design or operating conditions as part of the application for license 
renewal. No changes are being made in the types or quantities of 
effluents that may be released off site. The licensee has systems in 
place for controlling the release of radiological effluents and 
implements a radiation protection program to monitor personnel 
exposures and releases of radioactive effluents. As discussed in the 
NRC staff's safety evaluation, the systems and radiation protection 
program are appropriate for the types and quantities of effluents 
expected to be generated by continued operation of the reactor. 
Accordingly, there would be no increase in routine occupational or 
public radiation exposure as a result of license renewal. As discussed 
in the NRC staff's safety evaluation, the proposed action will not 
significantly increase the probability or consequences of accidents. 
Therefore, license renewal would not change the environmental impact of 
facility operation. The NRC staff evaluated information contained in 
the licensee's application and data reported to the NRC by the licensee 
in annual reports for the last several years of operation to determine 
the projected radiological impact of the facility on the environment 
during the period of the renewed license. The NRC staff found that 
releases of radioactive material and personnel exposures were all well 
within applicable regulatory limits. Based on this evaluation, the NRC 
staff concluded that continued operation of the reactor would not have 
a significant environmental impact.

A. Radiological Impact

Environmental Effects of Reactor Operations
    Gaseous radioactive effluents are discharged by the facility 
exhaust system via vents located approximately 3.6 meters (12 feet) 
above grade, at a volumetric flow rate of approximately 37.6 cubic 
meters per minute (1330

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cubic feet per minute). Other release pathways do exist; however, they 
are normally secured during reactor operation and have insignificant 
volumetric flow rates compared to the facility exhaust system. The only 
significant nuclide found in the gaseous effluent stream is argon-41. 
The licensee performed measurements of argon-41 production for normal 
conditions of reactor operation. Licensee calculations and analysis, 
based on those measurements, indicate that annual argon-41 releases 
result in an offsite concentration well below the limit of 1.0E-8 
microCuries per milliliter (3.7E-10 megaBequerels per milliliter) 
specified in 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B for air effluent releases. The 
NRC staff reviewed the licensee's calculations and analysis and found 
them to be reasonable. The licensee also performed measurements and 
calculations to estimate the potential of tritium in the reactor pool 
water. The licensee determined that tritium is not a concern for the 
Reed Research Reactor. The NRC staff reviewed the licensee's analysis 
and found it to be reasonable. Total gaseous radioactive releases 
reported to the NRC in the licensee's annual reports were less than one 
percent of the air effluent concentration limits set by 10 CFR part 20, 
Appendix B. The potential radiation dose to a member of the general 
public resulting from this concentration is approximately 0.3 millirem 
(0.003 milliSieverts (mSv)) and this demonstrates compliance with the 
dose limit of 100 millirem (1 mSv) set by 10 CFR 20.1301. Additionally, 
this potential radiation dose demonstrates compliance with the air 
emissions dose constraint of 10 millirem (0.1 mSv) specified in 10 CFR 
    The licensee maintains a policy to not release any liquid 
radioactive waste as an effluent. Small liquid samples and any small 
amount of liquid generated from activities such as minor 
decontamination are disposed by combining with absorbents and treating 
as solid waste. During the past 5 years, the licensee reported no 
releases of liquid radioactive waste from the Reed Research Reactor.
    The licensee oversees the handling of solid low-level radioactive 
waste generated at the Reed Research Reactor. The bulk of the waste 
consists of small items such as gloves, paper, plastic and small pieces 
of metal. The licensee disposes of the waste by decay-in-storage or 
shipment to a low level waste broker in accordance with all applicable 
regulations for transportation of radioactive materials. To comply with 
the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the licensee has entered into a 
contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that provides that 
DOE retains title to the fuel utilized at the Reed Research Reactor and 
that DOE is obligated to take the fuel from the site for final 
    As described in Chapter 11 of the Reed Research Reactor SAR, 
personnel exposures are well within the limits set by 10 CFR 20.1201 
and are as low as is reasonably achievable (ALARA). The licensee tracks 
exposures of personnel monitored with dosimeters, which are usually 
much less than 10 percent of the occupational limit of 5,000 millirem 
(50 mSv) per year. Area thermo-luminescent dosimeter (TLD) monitors 
mounted in the control room and other strategic locations provide an 
additional quarterly measurement of total radiation exposures at those 
locations. These TLDs typically report less than 200 millirem (2.0 mSv) 
total over a 1-year period. No changes in reactor operation that would 
lead to an increase in occupational dose are expected as a result of 
the proposed action.
    The licensee conducts an environmental monitoring program to record 
and track the radiological impact of the Reed Research Reactor 
operation on the surrounding unrestricted area. The program consists of 
continuous area monitors in the facility and periodic surveys in and 
around the facility. The licensee administers the program and maintains 
the appropriate records. Over the past five years, the survey program 
indicated that radiation exposures at the monitoring locations were not 
significantly higher than those measured at the control locations. 
Year-to-year trends in exposures are consistent between monitoring 
locations. Also, no correlation exists between total annual reactor 
operation and annual exposures measured at the monitoring locations. 
Based on its review of the past several of data as provided in the 
licensee's annual reports, the NRC staff concludes that operation of 
the Reed Research Reactor does not have any significant radiological 
impact on the surrounding environment. No changes in reactor operation 
that would affect off-site radiation levels are expected as a result of 
the proposed action.
Environmental Effects of Accidents
    Accident scenarios are discussed in Chapter 13 of the Reed Research 
Reactor SAR as supplemented in responses to Requests for Additional 
Information. The maximum hypothetical accident is the cladding rupture 
of one highly irradiated fuel element with no radioactive decay 
followed by the instantaneous release of the noble gas and halogen 
fission products into the air of the reactor room. The licensee 
conservatively calculated doses to facility personnel and the maximum 
potential dose to a member of the public. The NRC staff checked the 
licensee's calculations to verify that the doses represent conservative 
estimates for the maximum hypothetical accident. Occupational doses 
resulting from this accident would be well below the 10 CFR Part 20 
annual limit of 5,000 mrem (50 mSv). Maximum doses for members of the 
public resulting from this accident would be well below the 10 CFR Part 
20 annual limit of 100 mrem (1.0 mSv). The proposed action will not 
increase the probability or consequences of accidents.

B. Non-Radiological Impacts

    The Reed Research Reactor core is cooled by a light water primary 
system consisting of the reactor pool, a heat removal system, and a 
filter and demineralizer water processing system. Cooling occurs by 
natural convection, with the heated coolant rising out of the core and 
into the bulk pool water. The large heat sink provided by the volume of 
primary coolant, approximately 95,000 liters (25,000 gallons) of water, 
allows several hours of full-power operation without any secondary 
cooling. The heat removal system transfers heat to the secondary system 
via a centrifugal pump, heat exchanger and a cooling tower. Both the 
primary and secondary system use make-up water filtered from the 
municipal water system. Precautions are taken with the secondary system 
to prevent biological growth and freezing. During operation, the 
secondary system is maintained at a higher pressure than the primary 
system to minimize the likelihood of primary system contamination 
entering the secondary system, and ultimately the environment. The 
licensee monitors both systems for purity and to detect leakage.
    Given that the proposed action does not involve any change in the 
operation of the reactor and the heat load dissipated to the 
environment, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed action will not 
have a significant impact on the local water supply.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Considerations
    The NRC has responsibilities that are derived from NEPA and from 
other environmental laws, which include the Endangered Species Act 
(ESA), Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), National Historic 
Preservation Act (NHPA), Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA), and 
Executive Order 12898

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Environmental Justice. The following presents a brief discussion of 
impacts associated with these laws and other requirements.
1. Endangered Species Act
    Federally- or State-listed protected species have not been found in 
the immediate vicinity of the Reed Research Reactor, and effluents and 
emissions from the reactor have not had an impact on critical habitat.
2. Coastal Zone Management Act
    The Reed Research Reactor is not located within any managed coastal 
zones, nor would the effluents and emissions from the reactor impact 
any managed coastal zones.
3. National Historic Preservation Act
    The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires Federal 
agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings on historic 
properties. The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) lists 
several historical sites in Multnomah County. However, none of the 
sites are within the general vicinity of the Reed Research Reactor site 
and, given its location, continued operations of the reactor will not 
impact any historical sites. The NRC contacted the State Historical 
Preservation Officer (SHPO) in Oregon and discussed the proposed 
action. The SHPO concurred that there are no historic properties 
affected by this action. Based on this information, the NRC finds that 
the potential impacts of the proposed action would have no adverse 
effect on historic and archaeological resources in the vicinity of the 
4. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
    The licensee is not planning any water resource development 
projects, including any modifications involving impounding a body of 
water, damming, diverting a stream or river, deepening a channel, 
irrigation, or altering a body of water for navigation or drainage.
5. Executive Order 12898--Environmental Justice
    The environmental justice impact analysis evaluates the potential 
for disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental 
effects on minority and low-income populations that could result from 
the relicensing and the continued operation of the Reed Research 
Reactor. Such effects may include human health, biological, cultural, 
economic, or social impacts. Minority and low-income populations are 
subsets of the general public residing around the reactor and all are 
exposed to the same health and environmental effects generated from 
activities at the rector.
    Minority Populations in the Vicinity of the Reed Research Reactor--
According to 2010 census data, 25.5 percent of the total population 
(approximately 276,157 individuals) residing within a 10-mile radius of 
the reactor facility identified themselves as minority individuals. The 
largest minority groups were Hispanic or Latino (of any race) (112,079 
persons or 10.3 percent), followed by Asian (70,117 or 6.5 percent). 
According to U.S. Census Bureau 2010 estimates, about 27.9 percent of 
the Multnomah County population identified themselves as minorities, 
with persons of Hispanic or Latino origin comprising the largest 
minority group (10.9 percent), followed by Asian (6.8 percent) and 
Black or African American (5.8 percent).
    Low-income Populations in the Vicinity of the Reed Research 
Reactor--According to 2010 Census data, an average of 8.8 percent of 
families and 12.5 percent of individuals residing within counties in a 
10 mile radius of the reactor (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington 
Counties, Oregon, and Clark County, Washington), were identified as 
living below the Federal poverty threshold in 2010. The 2010 Federal 
poverty threshold was $22,314 for a family of four.
    According to American Community Survey Census data estimates for 
2010, the median household income for Oregon was $46,560, while 11 
percent of families and 15.8 percent of the state population were 
determined to be living below the Federal poverty threshold. Multnomah 
County had a higher median household income average ($48,043) and a 
higher percent of families (13.6 percent) and individuals (18.2 
percent) living below the poverty level, respectively.
    Impact Analysis--Potential impacts to minority and low-income 
populations would mostly consist of radiological effects, however 
radiation doses from continued operations associated with the license 
renewal are expected to continue at current levels, and would be well 
below regulatory limits.
    Based on this information and the analysis of human health and 
environmental impacts presented in this environmental assessment, the 
proposed relicensing would not have disproportionately high and adverse 
human health and environmental effects on minority and low-income 
populations residing in the vicinity of the Reed Research Reactor.
Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action
    As an alternative to license renewal, the NRC considered denying 
the proposed action. If the NRC denied the request for license renewal, 
reactor operations at the facility would cease and decommissioning 
would be required. The NRC notes that, even with a renewed license, the 
Reed Research Reactor will eventually be decommissioned, at which time 
the environmental effects of decommissioning would occur. 
Decommissioning would be conducted in accordance with an NRC-approved 
decommissioning plan which would require a separate environmental 
review under 10 CFR 51.21. Cessation of reactor operations at the Reed 
Research Reactor would reduce or eliminate radioactive effluents and 
emissions. However, as previously discussed in this environmental 
assessment, radioactive effluents and emissions from reactor operations 
constitute a small fraction of the applicable regulatory limits. 
Therefore, the environmental impacts of renewing the license and the 
denial of the request for license renewal would be similar. In 
addition, denying the request for license renewal would eliminate the 
benefits of teaching, research, and services provided by the Reed 
Research Reactor.
Alternative Use of Resources
    The proposed action does not involve the use of any different 
resources or significant quantities of resources beyond those 
previously considered in the issuance of Amendment No. 8 to Facility 
Operating License No. R-112 for the Reed Research Reactor dated January 
4, 2011, which increased the possession limit of special nuclear 
material and by-product material allowed to be received, possessed and 
used in the Reed Research Reactor.
Agencies and Persons Consulted
    In accordance with the agency's stated policy, on January 25, 2011, 
the NRC staff consulted with the Oregon State Liaison Officer regarding 
the environmental impact of the proposed actions. The consultation 
involved a thorough explanation of the environmental review, the 
details of this environmental assessment, and the NRC staff's findings. 
The State official indicated that the State had no issues or concerns 
with this action, that he understood the NRC review and had no comments 
regarding the proposed action.

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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 

III. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
license renewal and supporting documentation, are available online in 
the NRC Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this 
page, the public can gain entry into (ADAMS), which provides text and 
image files of the NRC's public documents. The application for license 
renewal, dated August 29, 2007 as supplemented by letters dated January 
26, July 30, October 15, 2010, and May 20, August 3, December 12, 2011, 
and January 27, 2012, is available electronically under ADAMS Accession 
Nos. ML092310567, ML100610121, ML102360016, ML102990489, ML111520559, 
ML11222A026, ML113630145, and ML12039A147. Also see the license's 
annual reports for years 2003-2004 (ADAMS Accession No. ML043620310), 
2004-2005 (ADAMS Accession No. ML052930194), 2005-2006 (ADAMS Accession 
No. ML062850518), 2006-2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML073040191), 2007-
2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML082890533), 2008-2009 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092720865), 2009-2010 (ADAMS Accession No. ML102440042), and 2010-
2011 (ADAMS Accession No. ML11221A161). If you do not have access to 
ADAMS or if there are problems in accessing the documents located in 
ADAMS, contact the NRC's PDR reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-
415-4737, or by email to [email protected]. These documents may also 
be viewed electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's 
PDR, O 1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first 
floor), Rockville, MD 20852. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy 
documents for a fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 21st day of March, 2012.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Jessie F. Quichocho,
Chief, Research and Test Reactors Licensing Branch, Division of Policy 
and Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2012-7675 Filed 3-29-12; 8:45 am]