[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 83 (Monday, April 30, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 25375-25378]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10314]



10 CFR Parts 50 and 52

[PRM-50-104; NRC-2012-0046]

Emergency Planning Zone

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; notice of receipt and request for 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) 
is publishing for public comment a notice of receipt for a petition for 
rulemaking (PRM), dated February 15, 2012, which was filed with the NRC 
by Mr. Michael Mariotte on behalf of the Nuclear Information and 
Resource Service (NIRS or the petitioner) and 37 co-petitioners. The 
petition was docketed by the NRC on February 17, 2012, and assigned 
Docket No. PRM-50-104. The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its 
regulations to expand the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) for nuclear 
power plants.

DATES: Submit comments by July 16, 2012. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is 
able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may access information and comment submissions related 
to this petition for rulemaking, which the NRC possesses and is 
publicly available, by searching on http://www.regulations.gov under 
Docket ID NRC-2012-0046. You may submit comments by the following 
     Federal rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0046. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: [email protected].
     Email comments to: [email protected]. If you do 
not receive an automatic email reply confirming receipt, then contact 
us at 301-415-1677.
     Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission at 301-415-1101.
     Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and 
Adjudications Staff.
     Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. (Eastern Time) Federal 
workdays; telephone: 301-415-1677.

[[Page 25376]]

    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

Announcements, and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative 
Services, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone: 301-492-3667, email: 
[email protected].


I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2012-0046 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information for this petition for rulemaking. 
You may access information related to this petition for rulemaking, 
which the NRC possesses and is publicly available, by the following 
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0046.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-
4737, or by email to [email protected]. The PRM is available in 
ADAMS under Accession No. ML12048B004.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

B. Submitting Comments

    Please include Docket ID NRC-2012-0046 in the subject line of your 
comment submission, in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make 
your comment submission available to the public in this docket.
    The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact 
information in comment submissions that you do not want to be publicly 
disclosed. The NRC posts all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as entering the comment submissions into 
ADAMS, and the NRC does not edit comment submissions to remove 
identifying or contact information.
    If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons 
for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to 
include identifying or contact information in their comment submissions 
that they do not want to be publicly disclosed. Your request should 
state that the NRC will not edit comment submissions to remove such 
information before making the comment submissions available to the 
public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. The Petitioner and the 37 Co-Petitioners

    The PRM describes the petitioner and the 37 co-petitioners as 
``environmental and civic organizations with members who live within 
100 miles of U.S. nuclear power plants and who are concerned that 
current NRC emergency planning requirements are not adequate to protect 
their health and safety in the event of an accident at the plant.''
    The NIRS is a non-profit organization founded in 1978, which serves 
as a ``national information and networking center for people concerned 
about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable 
energy issues.'' In addition, the NIRS is described as an organization 
that provides public education on issues such as deregulation of 
radioactive materials, new reactor licensing, transportation of 
radioactive waste, and nuclear reactor safety.

III. The Petition

    The petitioner requests that the NRC amend Title 10 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 50.47, ``Emergency Plans,'' and Appendix E 
to 10 CFR Part 50, ``Emergency Planning and Preparedness for Production 
and Utilization Facilities,'' and include the modifications in 10 CFR 
Part 52, ``Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power 
Plants.'' Specifically, the petitioner requests that (1) the Plume 
Exposure Pathway EPZ radius be expanded from a 10-mile radius to a 25-
mile radius, (2) a new 50-mile radius Emergency Response Zone, with 
more limited requirements than the Plume Exposure Pathway EPZ, be 
established, (3) the Ingestion Pathway EPZ radius be expanded from a 
50-mile radius to a 100-mile radius, and (4) the ``emergency plans are 
tested to encompass initiating and/or concurrent natural disasters that 
may affect both accident progression and evacuation conduct.'' The 
petitioner asserts that ``the requested amendments are essential for 
the protection of public health and safety in light of the real-world 
experience of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, which were more 
severe and affected a much larger geographical area than provided for 
in NRC regulations.''
    The petitioner states that ``[t]he NRC should amend 10 CFR 
50.47(c)(2) to create a three-tiered emergency planning zone * * *.'' 
The petitioner's three-tiered EPZ includes a 25 mile Plume Exposure 
Pathway EPZ, 50 mile Emergency Response Zone, and 100 mile Ingestion 
Exposure Pathway Zone. The following paragraphs provide a summary of 
the petitioner's proposed revisions to 10 CFR 50.47(c)(2).

25 Mile Plume Exposure Pathway EPZ

    The petitioner proposes the following revision to 10 CFR 
50.47(c)(2) with regards to the plume exposure pathway EPZ:

    A Plume Exposure Pathway zone shall consist of an area about 25 
miles (40 km) in radius. Within this zone, detailed plans must be 
developed to provide prompt and effective evacuation and other 
appropriate protective measures, including conducting of biannual 
full-scale emergency evacuation drills. Sirens will be installed 
within this zone to alert the population of the need for evacuation. 
Transportation for elderly, prison and school populations shall be 
provided within this zone. Emergency shelters shall be located 
outside of the 25-mile zone.

    The petitioner asserts that the expansion of the plume exposure 
pathway EPZ from a 10 mile radius to a 25 mile radius ``would provide 
no new requirements other than expansion of the EPZ.''

50 Mile Emergency Response Zone

    The petitioner proposes the following revision to 10 CFR 
50.47(c)(2) with regards to an Emergency Response Zone:

    The [emergency response zone] shall be about 50 miles in radius. 
Within this 50 mile zone, the licensee must identify evacuation 
routes for all residents within this zone and annually provide 
information to all residents within this zone about these routes and 
which they are supposed to take in the event of an emergency. The 
licensee must make basic pre-arrangements for potential transport of 
disabled/hospital/prison populations. Emergency centers for the 
public currently located less than 25 miles out shall be relocated 
to 25 miles or further out. Information shall be made available to 
the public within this zone through television, internet and radio 
alerts, text message notices, and other appropriate means of public 

    The petitioner notes that this revision ``would require measures be 
carried out between the new 25 mile Plume Exposure Pathway EPZ and a 
new Emergency Response Zone of about a 50 mile radius.'' The petitioner 
states that the Plume Exposure Pathway EPZ

[[Page 25377]]

emergency evacuation requirements and biannual exercises are not 
required in the Emergency Response Zone. The petitioner further states 
``this new zone would provide a modest level of pre-planning that would 
enable rapid expansion of the 25 mile zone when necessary. Information 
regarding evacuation such as identification of evacuation routes and 
locations of emergency shelters in the event of a large scale disaster 
would be identified and would be provided to members of the public 
annually, and a limited number of other pre-arrangements would be 

100 Mile Ingestion Exposure Pathway Zone

    The petitioner proposes the following revision to 10 CFR 
50.47(c)(2) with regards to the ingestion pathway EPZ:

    The ingestion pathway EPZ shall be about 100 miles in radius. In 
the event of a radioactive release, the deposition of radionuclides 
on crops, other vegetation, bodies of surface water and ground 
surfaces can occur. Measures will be implemented to protect the 
public from eating and drinking food and water that may be 
contaminated. Information shall be made available to the public 
within this zone through television and radio alerts, text message 
notices, and other appropriate means of public communication.

    The petitioner states that ``[t]he current Ingestion Exposure 
Pathway Zone exists to protect food, water and anything intended for 
human consumption within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant.'' The 
petitioner further states ``[g]iven that radiation can, and does, have 
far-reaching effects on food on a large radius, the Ingestion Pathway 
EPZ should be expanded.''

Drills and Exercises

    The petitioner proposes amending 10 CFR 50.47(b)(14) with regards 
to drills and exercises by adding:

    Within the emergency evacuation zone full scale drills and 
exercises will be conducted on a biannual basis. Every other 
exercise and drill shall include a scenario involving an initiating 
or concurrent regionally-appropriate natural disaster.

IV. The Petitioner's Bases

    The petitioner states, ``[w]ith the exception of a 2011 rule 
requiring licensees to use current U.S. census data to prepare 
evacuation time estimates (ETEs) and update them every 10 years, the 
NRC has made few significant improvements to its offsite emergency 
response regulations since they were promulgated in 1980.'' The 
petitioner notes that ``the NRC denied a set of petitions [submitted by 
the Citizens Task Force of Chapel Hill, et al.] to increase the size of 
the plume exposure pathway EPZ and the ingestion pathway EPZ'' in 1990. 
The petitioner asserts that ``[t]he Commission declined to revisit the 
assumptions about severe reactor accident risks that underlie its 
emergency planning regulations, concluding that the existing size of 
the EPZs was adequate to achieve `reasonable and feasible dose 
reduction' under the circumstances of each individual reactor site.'' 
The petitioner's bases for the petition are further presented in the 
following paragraphs.

Chernobyl, September 11, and Fukushima Experiences

    The petitioner cites reports and findings regarding the Chernobyl 
and Fukushima Dai-ichi accidents, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist 
attacks to support the petition. The petitioner asserts that ``[t]he 
accident at Fukushima, added to the experience of the Chernobyl 
disaster, demonstrates that the 10 mile plume exposure pathway EPZ and 
the 50 mile ingestion pathway EPZ are inadequate to protect the public 
health and safety, both because severe accidents are clearly more 
likely than any government previously has estimated and because their 
effects are far more widespread.'' The petitioner specifically cites 
the ``Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century: 
The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi 
Accident'' (Fukushima Task Force Report, ADAMS Accession No. 
ML111861807), dated July 12, 2011. The petitioner notes that the Task 
Force formed to examine the Fukushima disaster ``addressed the issues 
of protecting against accidents resulting from natural phenomena, 
mitigating the consequences of such accidents, and ensuring emergency 
preparedness'' in the Fukushima Task Force Report. The petitioner also 
notes that the Task Force ``made several recommendations, including 
strengthening and integrating onsite emergency response capabilities 
such as emergency operating procedures, severe accident management 
guidelines, and extensive damage mitigation guidelines.'' The 
petitioner asserts that ``the task force failed to make any 
recommendations on improving emergency response capabilities or 
expanding EPZ size, despite the Task Force's acknowledgement that it 
was necessary to evacuate Japanese residents up to and beyond a 20-
kilometer (12-mile) area around Fukushima.'' As the petitioner notes, 
the NRC is evaluating several Task Force recommendations related to 
emergency preparedness. More information about these activities is 
available through the NRC's public Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/japan/japan-info.html.

Real-World Experience and Improved Understanding of Severe Accident 
Risks at Nuclear Reactors

    The petitioner states that ``[t]he NRC's existing emergency 
planning regulations (and the NRC's decision in Citizens Task Force of 
Chapel Hill) are based primarily on experience gained by the Three Mile 
Island accident and on NRC reactor safety studies conducted from the 
1950s through the 1970s (for example, WASH-1400 and NUREG-1150) and are 
encapsulated in NUREG-0396.'' The petitioner notes that in 2006, ``the 
NRC began the State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) 
project to re-evaluate the `realistic consequences of a severe reactor 
accident.' '' The petitioner cites an October 2010 draft of the SOARCA 
report to support the petition. The petitioner asserts that ``real-
world experience at Fukushima trumps the computer modeling of SOARCA in 
any case and has presented the world--and the NRC--with an actual 
accident that exceeds postulated scenarios.'' The petitioner continues 
by stating ``[c]omputer models, simulations, evaluations of projected 
scenarios--all can be useful tools in evaluating the relative risks of 
complex systems like nuclear reactors. They can even be useful--in the 
absence of real-world information--in establishing regulations. But 
they exist primarily to generate postulated data in the absence of 
actual data--they are not a substitute for actual, real-world 

Real-World Experience and Improved Understanding of Severe Accident 
Risks at [Spent] Fuel Pools

    The petitioner states that ``[spent] fuel pools pose a serious and 
dangerous threat to the populations surrounding nuclear plants. 
Accidents could cause widespread contamination of highly radioactive 
materials.'' The petitioner asserts that ``[r]adiation exposure would 
be significantly worse if there were to be [a spent] fuel pool accident 
in addition to a reactor accident.'' The petitioner makes the following 
statement regarding spent fuel pools: ``In theory, this form of storage 
is meant to be temporary. But, because offsite storage of irradiated 
fuel is currently unavailable, high density storage of this material 
has been permitted to occur.'' The petitioner also states, ``Aside from 
concerns associated with the dense packing of a pool, the pools 
themselves are located outside of

[[Page 25378]]

the primary containment which is designed to keep radiation which is 
released during an emergency event from escaping in to the environment. 
Because they are outside of the primary containment structure, they are 
more vulnerable than the core to natural disasters and terrorist 

Improved Understanding of Health Effects of Radiation

    The petitioner states ``[t]here is no `safe' dose of radiation, and 
as such the consideration of the effects of release of radiation should 
be given greater consideration.'' The petitioner cites the 2006 
National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences 
Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII Report and asserts 
the report confirms that ``any exposure to radiation--including 
background radiation--increases a person's risk of developing cancer.'' 
The petitioner states that ``the NRC and licensees must recognize that 
their emergency response programs must be designed to protect not only 
against radiation levels that would cause acute effects, but also 
radiation levels that would exceed annual exposure limits * * *.'' The 
petitioner asserts that ``a government policy that implicitly states, 
as do NRC's existing emergency planning regulations, that radiation 
exposure levels higher than normally allowable--by orders of 
magnitude--are acceptable under emergency conditions, is a government 
policy that is unsupportable and without basis in reality.''

Particular Problems Associated With Pressure Suppression Containments

    The petitioner asserts that ``[t]he failure of a pressure 
suppression containment can result in widespread radioactive 
contamination of areas surrounding nuclear plants.'' The petitioner 
states, ``In Japan, hydrogen explosions occurred at (at least) three GE 
Mark I reactors using a pressure suppression system.'' The petitioner 
also states, ``There are 23 GE Mark I nuclear reactors--about one-
quarter of the nation's reactors--essentially identical to the reactors 
that were destroyed at Fukushima, that are operational in the United 
States.'' The petitioner makes the following statement: ``Not only can 
the NRC no longer dismiss such accidents in the U.S., the NRC must 
instead assume that such accidents can occur in the U.S. and even, 
given the history of the nuclear age that large nuclear accidents are 
occurring at a much greater frequency than previously postulated, the 
NRC--at least for emergency planning purposes if nothing else--must 
assume that such accidents will occur in the U.S.''

Natural Disasters and Emergency Response Planning

    The petitioner states that ``[n]atural disasters have become 
increasingly prevalent in recent years causing concerns for nuclear 
reactors that are susceptible to various weather phenomena and 
disasters.'' The petitioner asserts that ``[c]urrent NRC emergency 
planning regulations do not reflect that natural disasters can both 
cause nuclear accidents and/or may occur concurrently with nuclear 
accidents.'' The petitioner requests the following:

    Emergency response planning for nuclear facilities must 
incorporate regionally-relevant initiating and concurrent natural 
disasters as a regular part of emergency exercises, to assure the 
most effective possible emergency response in the event of a nuclear 
accident triggered by or complicated by a natural disaster. For this 
reason, we propose that every other emergency exercise include a 
scenario that includes a regionally-relevant initiating and 
concurrent natural disaster. By ``regionally relevant'' we mean that 
plans should be made and exercises undertaken for the type of 
natural disaster most likely to affect a given licensee site * * *. 
However, for areas that may be affected by more than one type of 
natural disaster * * * each exercise should include a different 
regionally relevant scenario.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24th day of April 2012.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette L. Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2012-10314 Filed 4-27-12; 8:45 am]