[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 140 (Friday, July 20, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42771-42774]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-17733]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 50-264; NRC-2012-0026]


License Renewal for the Dow Chemical TRIGA Research Reactor

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact; 
availability.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Geoffrey A. 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 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-
0893; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) is 
considering issuance of a renewed Facility Operating License No. R-108, 
to be held by Dow Chemical (Dow, or the licensee), which would 
authorize continued operation of the Dow Training, Research, Isotope 
production, General Atomics (TRIGA) Research Reactor, located in 
Midland County, MI. Therefore, as required by Title 10 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 51.21, the NRC is issuing this 
Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact. The 
renewed license will be issued following the publication of this 
document.

II. EA Summary

    Identification of the Proposed Action: The proposed action would 
renew Facility Operating License No. R-108 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 April 1, 2009, 
as supplemented on September 24, 2010; January 12, February 11, April 
20, May 12, May 27, August 12, August 31, October 12, November 10, and 
December 6, 2011; and January 13, January 20, February 7, and June 11, 
2012. In accordance with 10 CFR 2.109, the existing license remains in 
effect until the NRC takes final action on the renewal application.
    Need for the Proposed Action: The proposed action is needed to 
allow the continued operation of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor to 
routinely provide opportunities to conduct neutron activation analysis, 
isotope production, neutron radiography, and irradiation studies for a 
period of 20 years.
    Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action: The NRC completed its 
safety evaluation of the proposed action to issue a renewed Facility 
Operating License No. R-108 to allow continued operation of the Dow 
TRIGA Research Reactor for an additional 20 years and concluded there 
is reasonable assurance that the Dow TRIGA Research 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 Dow TRIGA Research Reactor is located on the Michigan Division 
of the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI and is a part of the 
Analytical Sciences Laboratory. The reactor is housed in a laboratory 
building constructed of concrete panel, concrete block walls, and steel 
frame. The reactor site comprises of the reactor building. Adjacent to 
the site are research buildings to the east and other industrial 
buildings in the outlying area. The nearest residence is located 
approximately 480 meters (530 yards) from the site boundary.
    The Dow TRIGA Research Reactor is a pool-type, light water 
moderated and cooled research reactor licensed to operate at a steady-
state power level of 300 kilowatt (kW) thermal power. The fuel is 
located at the bottom of an aluminum lined concrete pool with a volume 
of approximately 19,000 liters (5,000 gallons) and a depth of 6.5 
meters (21.5 feet). The reactor is fueled with standard low-enriched 
uranium TRIGA fuel. A detailed description of the reactor can be found 
in the Safety Analysis Report (SAR) for the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor 
dated April 1, 2009. There were two major modifications to the Facility 
Operating License No. R-108 since renewal of the license on May 8, 
1989. License Amendment No. 6 dated December 13, 1990, approved 
installation of a microprocessor based instrument and control system. A 
heat exchanger upgrade was completed in 2005, and a review in 
accordance with 10 CFR 50.59 was completed by the licensee prior to 
return to operation.
    The licensee has not requested a change to the facility design or 
operating conditions as part of the renewal request. No changes are 
being made in the types or quantities of effluents that may be released 
off site. The licensee has systems in place to control 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. 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, the NRC staff finds that 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 for the last six 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 
finds that releases of radioactive material and personnel exposures 
were all well within applicable regulatory limits. Based on its 
evaluation, the NRC staff concludes 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 an exhaust vent located 8 feet above ground on the 
side of the reactor room, at a volumetric flow rate of approximately 48 
cubic meters per

[[Page 42772]]

minute (1700 cubic feet per minute). A fume hood in the laboratory 
adjacent to the reactor room used for sample preparation exhausts 
through a stack on top of the reactor building. 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 calculations to 
estimate the production level of Argon-41 associated with operation of 
the reactor at high power. The licensee's calculations indicated that 
annual Argon-41 release would result in an offsite concentration of 
9.8E-10 microcuries per milliliter ([mu]Ci/ml), which is below the 
limit of 1.0E-8 [mu]Ci/ml specified in 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B for 
air effluent releases. The NRC staff reviewed the licensee's 
calculation and found it to be acceptable. The bounding calculation of 
total gaseous radioactive releases is less than two percent of the air 
effluent concentration limits set by 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B. The 
potential annual radiation dose to a member of the general public 
resulting from this concentration is approximately 0.00056 
milliSieverts (mSv) (0.056 millirems (mrem)), and this demonstrates 
compliance with the dose limit of 1 mSv (100 mrem) set by 10 CFR 
20.1301. Additionally, this potential radiation dose demonstrates 
compliance with the air emissions dose constraint of 0.1 mSv (10 mrem) 
specified in 10 CFR 20.1101(d).
    The licensee disposes of liquid radioactive wastes by solidifying 
liquid waste. The NRC staff's review of Dow TRIGA Research Reactor 
annual reports covering the last 6 years indicated that the licensee 
reported no routine releases of liquid radioactive waste by any of the 
disposal methods.
    Solid low-level radioactive waste generated at the Dow TRIGA 
Research Reactor is disposed under the guidance of the Radiation Safety 
Committee and the site Radiation Safety Officer using the Dow Radiation 
Protection Manual. The bulk of the waste consists of samples, sample 
vials, gloves, and paper towels. 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. The licensee stated that no spent nuclear fuel has been 
shipped from the site to date. To comply with the Nuclear Waste Policy 
Act of 1982, Dow Chemical Company 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 Dow TRIGA Research Reactor and that DOE is 
obligated to take the fuel from the site for final disposition.
    Chapter K of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor SAR stated that 
personnel exposures are well within the limits set by 10 CFR 20.1201, 
and are as low as is reasonably achievable (ALARA). The Radiation 
Protection Program tracks personnel exposures, which are usually less 
than 0.01 mSv (10 mrem) per year. Personnel dosimeters mounted on the 
interior walls of the reactor room provide a quarterly measurement of 
total radiation exposures at those locations. These dosimeters 
typically measure annual doses of less than 0.1 mSv (100 mrem) in the 
reactor room. No changes in reactor operation that would lead to an 
increase in occupational dose are expected as a result of the proposed 
action.
    Based on the NRC staff's review of the past 6 years of data from 
the Dow TRIGA research reactor annual reports, the NRC staff concluded 
that operation of the Dow TRIGA 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 license renewal.
Environmental Effects of Accidents
    Accident scenarios are discussed in Chapter M of the Dow TRIGA 
Research Reactor SAR. The maximum hypothetical accident (MHA) is the 
uncontrolled release of the gaseous fission products contained in the 
gap between the fuel and the fuel cladding in one fuel element to the 
reactor building and into the environment. The licensee conservatively 
calculated doses to facility personnel and the maximum potential dose 
to a member of the public in the event of the MHA. The NRC staff 
performed independent calculations to verify that the doses provided by 
the licensee represented conservative estimates for the MHA. The 
results are provided in the DTRR License Renewal Safety Evaluation 
Report. The NRC staff concluded that the maximum doses resulting from 
this hypothetical accident would be well below the limits in 10 CFR 
Part 20 of 50 mSv (5000 mrem) for occupational workers, and 1 mSv (100 
mrem) for members of the public. The proposed action will not increase 
the probability or consequences of accidents.

B. Non-Radiological Impacts

    The Dow TRIGA Research Reactor core is cooled by a light water 
primary system consisting of the reactor pool, a heat removal system, 
and a 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 allows 
several hours of full-power operation without any secondary cooling. 
The heat removal system transfers heat to the secondary system via a 
100 kW-heat exchanger and a 1 megawatt (MW) heat exchanger. The 
secondary system normally uses a 1 MW, closed loop system, through a 
chiller which discharges the heat directly to atmosphere. The secondary 
system may be cooled by a 100 kW heat exchanger. The heat is 
transferred to potable water which is discharged to a sewer system. 
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.
    Based on the information described above, the NRC staff finds that 
release of thermal effluents from the DOW TRIGA Research Reactor will 
not have a significant effect on the environment. The licensee complies 
with the appropriate Michigan Department of Environmental Protection 
permit for secondary water discharge, and no violations of the permit 
have occurred. Given that the proposed action does not involve any 
change in the operation of the reactor, 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 Environmental Justice. The following presents a 
brief discussion of impacts associated with these laws and other 
requirements.

A. Endangered Species Act

    Federally- or State-listed protected species have not been found in 
the immediate vicinity of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor, and effluents 
and emissions from the reactor have had no impact on critical habitat. 
Therefore, no

[[Page 42773]]

effects on the aquatic or terrestrial habitat in the vicinity of the 
Dow TRIGA Research Reactor or to threatened, endangered, or protected 
species under the Endangered Species Act would be expected. The NRC 
staff consulted the State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources 
and Environment who stated, ``The project should have no impact on rare 
or unique natural features at the locations specified above if it 
proceeds according to the plans provided.''

B. Coastal Zone Management Act

    The Dow TRIGA Research Reactor is not located within any managed 
coastal zones, nor would the effluents and emissions from the Dow TRIGA 
Research Reactor impact any managed coastal zones.

C. National Historic Preservation Act

    The NHPA requires Federal agencies to consider the effects of their 
undertakings on historic properties. The National Register of Historic 
Places (NRHP) lists the closest historic property as the Midland County 
Courthouse. The Midland County Courthouse is located at 301 West Main 
Street, Midland, MI, and is approximately 2.1 km (1.3 miles) northwest 
of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor. Given the distance between the 
facility and the Midland County Courthouse, continued operation of the 
Dow TRIGA Research Reactor will not impact any historical sites. A 
Section 106 Review was submitted to the State Historic Preservation 
Office regarding this activity. The State Historic Preservation Office 
concurred that this activity did not affect historic properties.

D. 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.

E. 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 license renewal and the continued operation of the Dow TRIGA 
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 Dow 
TRIGA Research Reactor and all are exposed to the same health and 
environmental effects generated from activities at the Dow TRIGA 
Research Reactor.
    Minority Populations in the Vicinity of the Dow TRIGA Research 
Reactor--According to 2010 census data, 7.2 percent of the total 
population (approximately 5,779 individuals) residing within a 10-mile 
radius of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor identified themselves as 
minority individuals. The largest minority groups were Hispanic or 
Latino (of any race) (1,848 or 2.3 percent) followed by Asian (1,582 or 
2 percent). According to U.S. Census Bureau 2010 estimates, about 7 
percent of the Midland County population identified themselves as 
minorities, with persons of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race) 
comprising the largest minority group (2.1 percent), followed by Asian 
(2.1 percent) and Black or African American (1.4 percent).
    Low-income Populations in the Vicinity of the Dow TRIGA Research 
Reactor--According to 2010 Census data, an average of 10.2 percent of 
families and 14.5 percent of individuals residing within counties in a 
10-mile radius of the reactor (Midland, Bay, and Saginaw Counties), 
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 Michigan was $45,413, while 12.1 
percent of families and 16.8 percent of the state population were 
determined to be living below the Federal poverty threshold. Midland 
County had a higher median household income average ($60,543) and a 
lower percent of families (7.1 percent) and individuals (10.4 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 information described above and the analysis of human 
health and environmental impacts presented in this environmental 
assessment, the proposed license renewal would not have 
disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental 
effects on minority and low-income populations residing in the vicinity 
of the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor.
Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action
    As an alternative to license renewal, the NRC staff considered 
denial of the proposed action. If the NRC denied the application for 
license renewal, facility operations would end and decommissioning 
would be required. The NRC staff notes that, even with a renewed 
license, the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor will eventually require 
decommissioning, at which time the environmental effects of 
decommissioning will occur. Decommissioning will be conducted in 
accordance with an NRC-approved decommissioning plan which will require 
a separate environmental review under 10 CFR 51.21. Cessation of 
facility operations would reduce radioactive effluents. However, as 
previously discussed in this environmental assessment, radioactive 
effluents resulting from facility operations constitute only a small 
fraction of the applicable regulatory limits. Therefore, the 
environmental impacts of license renewal and denial of the application 
for license renewal are similar. In addition, denial of the application 
for license renewal would cause the loss of the benefits of teaching, 
research, and services provided by facility operation.
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 License Amendment No. 6 to 
Facility Operating License No. R-108 for the Dow TRIGA Research Reactor 
dated December 13, 1990, which amended the Facility Operating License 
No. R-108 and technical specifications to allow the installation of a 
microprocessor based instrumentation and control system.
Agencies and Persons Consulted
    On February 2, 2102, the NRC provided a draft of this Environmental 
Assessment to the Resource Management Division of the Michigan 
Department of Environmental Quality for review. On March 5, 2012, the 
Resource Management Division of the Michigan Department of 
Environmental Quality responded by electronic mail agreeing with the 
conclusions of the draft EA, and otherwise had no comments.
    The State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources and 
Environment was consulted via its Web site on the proposed activity. On 
May 7, 2010, the Department of Natural Resources and

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Environment concurred that there was no effect on endangered species, 
and otherwise had no comments.
    On December 12, 2010, the NRC staff also provided information 
regarding the proposed activity to the State Historic Preservation 
Office for a Section 106 Review. On March 4, 2011, the State Historic 
Preservation Office concurred that the proposed action has no effect on 
historic properties.
Finding of No Significant Impact
    The NRC staff performed an environmental assessment of the proposed 
action. The NRC staff concludes that the proposed action will not have 
a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. 
Accordingly, the NRC staff has determined not to prepare an 
environmental impact statement for the proposed action.

III. Further Information

    Documents related to this proposed action, including the 
application for license renewal and supporting documentation, are 
available electronically at the NRC's Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, you can access the NRC's 
Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), which 
provides text and image files of NRC's public documents. The ADAMS 
accession numbers for the documents related to this document are: The 
application and its supplements, April 1, 2009 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092150443) and September 24, 2010 (ADAMS Accession No. ML102720859); 
January 12 (ADAMS Accession No. ML110130501), February 11 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML110490391), April 20 (ADAMS Accession No. ML113460120), 
May 12, (ADAMS Accession No. ML11136A229), May 27 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML112150327), August 12 (ADAMS Accession Nos. ML11228A116), August 31 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML11249A043), October 12 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML112930035), November 10 (ADAMS Accession No. ML113410168), and 
December 6, 2011 (ADAMS Accession No. ML113460038); and January 13 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML 12019A007), January 20, (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML12025A089 and ML12026A152), February 7, 2012 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML12040A128), and June 11, 2012 (ADAMS Accession No. ML12164A784). 
Letters and electronic mail from the State consultations, May 7, 2010 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML101340317), March 4, 2011 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML110740100), and March 5, 2012 (ADAMS Accession No. ML120730278). If 
you do not have access to ADAMS or if there are problems in accessing 
the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC's Public Document Room 
(PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, or 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, Room No. O1 F21 (first 
floor), One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for 
a fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 10th day of July, 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. 2012-17733 Filed 7-19-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P