[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 164 (Thursday, August 23, 2012)]
[Pages 51071-51072]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-20743]



[Docket No. 50-316; NRC-2012-0199]

Indiana Michigan Power Company, Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, 
Unit 2, Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) is 
considering issuance of an exemption and an amendment to Renewed 
Facility Operating License No. DPR-74, issued to Indiana Michigan Power 
Company (the licensee), for operation of Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, 
Unit 2 (CNP-2), located in Berrien County, Michigan, in accordance with 
Sec. Sec.  50.12 and 50.90 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (10 CFR). In accordance with 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC 
performed an environmental assessment documenting its findings as 

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Actions

    The proposed actions would issue an exemption from certain 
requirements of 10 CFR, Section 50.46 and Appendix K, regarding fuel 
cladding material, and revise the Technical Specifications document, 
which is Appendix A to Renewed Facility Operating License DPR-74, to 
permit use of a Westinghouse proprietary material, Optimized 
ZIRLOTM, for fuel rod cladding. The licensee will be 
authorized to a peak load average burnup limit of 62 gigawatt-days per 
metric ton uranium (GWD/MTU).
    The proposed actions are in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated September 29, 2011, as supplemented on July 25, 2012.

The Need for the Proposed Actions

    The proposed actions to issue an exemption to the fuel cladding 
requirement of 10 CFR 50.46 and Appendix K, and to amend the Technical 
Specifications to permit use of Optimized ZIRLOTM clad fuel 
rods to a peak rod average burnup limit of 62 GWD/MTU would allow for 
more effective fuel management. If the exemption and amendment are not 
approved, the licensee will not be provided the opportunity to use 
Optimized ZIRLOTM fuel design with a peak rod average burnup 
as high as 62 GWD/MTU; the licensee would thus lose fuel management 

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Actions

    In this environmental assessment regarding the impacts of the use 
of Optimized ZIRLOTM clad fuel with the possible burnup up 
to 62 GWD/MTU, the Commission is relying on the results of the updated 
study conducted for the NRC by the Pacific Northwest National 
Laboratory (PNNL), entitled ``Environmental Effects of Extending Fuel 
Burnup Above 60 GWD/MTU'' (NUREG/CR-6703, PNNL-13257, January 2001). 
Environmental impacts of high burnup fuel up to 75 GWD/MTU were 
evaluated in the study, but some aspects of the review were limited to 
evaluating the impacts of the extended burnup up to 62 GWD/MTU, because 
of the need for additional data on the effect of extended burnup on gap 
release fractions. All the aspects of the fuel-cycle were considered 
during the study, from mining, milling, conversion, enrichment and 
fabrication through normal reactor operation, transportation, waste 
management, and storage of spent fuel.
    The amendment and exemption would allow CNP-2 to use Optimized 
ZIRLOTM clad fuel up to a burnup limit of 62 GWD/MTU. The 
NRC staff has completed its evaluation of the proposed actions and 
concludes that such changes would not adversely affect plant safety, 
and would have no adverse effect on the probability of any accident. 
For the accidents that involve damage or melting of the fuel in the 
reactor core, fuel rod integrity has been shown to be unaffected by 
extended burnup under consideration; therefore, the consequences of an 
accident will not be affected by fuel burnup to 62 GWD/MTU. For the 
accidents in which the reactor core remains intact, the increased 
burnup may slightly change the mix of fission products that could be 
released, but because the radionuclides contributing most to the dose 
are short-lived, increased burnup would not have an effect on the 
consequences beyond the consequences of previously evaluated accident 
scenarios. Thus, there will be no significant increase in projected 
dose consequences of postulated accidents associated with fuel burnup 
up to 62 GWD/MTU, and

[[Page 51072]]

doses will remain well below regulatory limits.
    Regulatory limits on radiological effluent releases are independent 
of burnup. The requirements of 10 CFR part 20, 10 CFR 50.36a, and 
Appendix I to 10 CFR part 50 ensure that routine releases of gaseous, 
liquid or solid radiological effluents to unrestricted areas is kept 
``As Low As is Reasonably Achievable.'' Therefore, the NRC staff 
concludes that during routine operations, there would be no significant 
increase in the amount of gaseous radiological effluents released into 
the environment as a result of the proposed actions, nor will there be 
a significant increase in the amount of liquid radiological effluents 
or solid radiological effluents released into the environment.
    The proposed actions will not change normal plant operating 
conditions (i.e., no changes are expected in the fuel handling, 
operational, or storing processes). The fuel storage and handling, 
radioactive waste, and other systems which may contain radioactivity 
are designed to assure adequate safety under normal conditions. There 
will be no significant changes in radiation levels during these 
evolutions, and no significant increase in the allowable individual or 
cumulative occupational radiation exposure is expected to occur.
    The use of Optimized ZIRLOTM clad fuel with a burnup 
limit of 62 GWD/MTU will not change the potential environmental impacts 
of incident-free transportation of spent nuclear fuel or the accident 
risks associated with spent fuel transportation if the fuel is cooled 
for 5 years after being discharged from the reactor. A PNNL report for 
the NRC (NUREG/CR-6703, January 2001) concluded that doses associated 
with incident-free transportation of spent fuel with burnup to 75 GWD/
MTU are bound by the doses given in 10 CFR 51.52, Table S-4 for all 
regions of the country, based on the dose rates from the shipping casks 
being maintained within regulatory limits. Increased fuel burnup will 
decrease the annual discharge of fuel to the spent fuel pool which will 
postpone the need to remove spent fuel from the pool.
    NUREG/CR-6703 determined that no increase in environmental effects 
of spent fuel transportation accidents is expected as a result of 
increasing fuel burnup to 75 GWD/MTU.
    Based on the nature of the amendment and exemption, these proposed 
actions do 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 actions. Accordingly, the NRC staff 
concludes that there are no significant environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed actions.
    For more detailed information regarding the environmental impacts 
of extended fuel burnup, please refer to the study conducted by PNNL 
for the NRC, entitled ``Environmental Effects of Extending Fuel Burnup 
Above 60 GWD/MTU'' (NUREG/CR-6073, PNNL-13257, January 2001, Accession 
No. ML010310298). The NRC staff's detailed safety review will be 
conveyed in the Safety Evaluation issued concurrently with the 

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Actions

    As an alternative to the proposed actions, the NRC staff considered 
denial of the proposed actions (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Denial of the application would result in no change in current 
environmental impacts. Thus, the environmental impacts of the proposed 
actions and the alternative action are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

    The proposed actions do not involve the use of any different 
resources than those previously considered in the Final Environmental 
Statement for Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, Unit 2, or the Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: 
Regarding Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2--Final Report 
(NUREG-1437, Supplement 20), dated May 2005.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on June 1, 2012, the NRC 
staff consulted with the Michigan State official regarding the 
environmental impact of the proposed action. The State officials had no 

Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC staff 
concludes that the proposed actions will not have a significant effect 
on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC staff 
determined not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the 
proposed action.
    For further details with respect to the proposed actions, see the 
licensee's letters dated September 29, 2011, and July 25, 2012. 
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 documents created or received at the NRC are 
accessible electronically from the 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 email to [email protected].

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 16th day of August 2012.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Peter S. Tam,
Senior Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch III-1, Division of 
Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2012-20743 Filed 8-22-12; 8:45 am]