[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 207 (Thursday, October 25, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65137-65139]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-26295]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 207 / Thursday, October 25, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 65137]]


10 CFR Part 51

RIN 3150-AJ20

Consideration of Environmental Impacts of Temporary Storage of 
Spent Fuel After Cessation of Reactor Operation

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Request for comments on the notice of intent to prepare and 
environmental impact statement and notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) 
is updating its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. The NRC intends to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to support the 
rulemaking to update the Commission's Waste Confidence Decision and 
Rule, and is conducting a scoping process to gather information 
necessary to prepare the EIS. As part of the scoping process the NRC is 
planning to hold two public meetings on November 14, 2012, and two 
webinars on December 5 and 6, 2012.

DATES: Any interested party may submit comments on the scope of the 
Waste Confidence environmental review. The deadline to submit comments 
is January 2, 2013. The NRC staff is able to ensure consideration only 
for comments received on or before this date. There will be no 
extensions to this comment period; however, to the extent practical 
staff will consider comments received after January 2, 2013. Interested 
parties will be given additional opportunities to comment on any draft 
EIS and proposed rule that are prepared as part of this effort.

ADDRESSES: Information and comment submissions related to this action, 
which the NRC possesses and are publicly available, may be accessed by 
searching on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket ID NRC-2012-0246.
    Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0246. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: [email protected].
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, 
Mail Stop: TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001.
     Fax comments to: RADB at 301-492-3446

Project Manager, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 
301-492-3425; email: [email protected].


I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2012-0246 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information related to the EIS and Waste 
Confidence Decision update and rule. Information related to this 
action, which the NRC possesses and is publicly available, may be 
accessed by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Public comments and 
supporting materials related to this notice can be found at http://www.regulations.gov by searching on Docket ID NRC-2012-0246.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents created or 
received at the NRC 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. 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, 301-415-
4737, or by email to [email protected].
     NRC's Public Document Room (PDR): The public may examine 
and have copied, for a fee, publicly available documents at the NRC's 
PDR, O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852.
     NRC's Public Web site: Additional information regarding 
the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule and the EIS can be accessed 
online at the NRC's Web site: http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/wcd.html. The Web site will be periodically updated with 
information related to the EIS development and opportunities for public 

B. Submitting Comments

    Comments submitted in writing or in electronic form will be posted 
on the Federal rulemaking Web site, http://www.regulations.gov. Please 
include Docket ID NRC-2012-0246 in the subject line of your comment 
submission. Because your comments will not be edited to remove any 
identifying or contact information, the NRC cautions you against 
including any information in your submission that you do not want to be 
publicly disclosed.
    The NRC requests that any party soliciting or aggregating comments 
received from other persons for submission to the NRC inform those 
persons that the NRC will not edit their comments to remove any 
identifying or contact information; therefore, they should not include 
any information in their comments that they do not want publicly 

II. Background

    The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule represent the Commission's 
generic determination that spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely and 
without significant environmental impacts for a period of time after 
the end of the licensed life of a nuclear power plant (in 1984 and 1990 
the time period was 30 years after the end of the license, and in 2010 
it was increased to 60 years). This generic analysis is reflected in 
section 51.23 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), 
which is intended to satisfy the NRC's National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) obligations with respect to post-licensed-life storage of 
spent nuclear fuel. Historically, the Waste Confidence

[[Page 65138]]

Decision has consisted of five findings and a technical basis for each 
    The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule were first adopted in 1984 
in response to Minnesota v. NRC, 602 F.2d 412 (D.C. Cir. 1979). The 
Decision and Rule were amended in 1990, reviewed in 1999, and amended 
again in 2010. (SRM-SECY-09-0090; under ADAMS Accession No. ML102580229 
and 75 FR 81037; December 23, 2010).
    In response to the 2010 Decision and Rule, the States of New York, 
New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont, and several other parties 
challenged the Commission's NEPA analysis in the Decision, which 
provided the regulatory basis for the Rule. On June 8, 2012, the D.C. 
Circuit Court found that some aspects of the 2010 Decision did not 
satisfy the NRC's NEPA obligations and vacated the Decision and Rule. 
(New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012)).
    The Court concluded that the Waste Confidence Rulemaking is a major 
Federal action necessitating either an EIS or an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) that results in a Finding of No Significant Impact. In 
vacating the 2010 decision and rule, the Court identified three 
specific deficiencies in the analysis:
    1. Related to the Commission's conclusion that permanent disposal 
will be available ``when necessary,'' the Court held that the 
Commission did not evaluate the environmental effects of failing to 
secure permanent disposal;
    2. Related to the storage of spent fuel on site at nuclear plants 
for 60 years after the expiration of a plant's operating license, the 
Court concluded that the Commission failed to properly examine the risk 
of spent fuel pool leaks in a forward-looking fashion;
    3. Also related to the post-licensed-life storage of spent fuel, 
the Court concluded that the Commission failed to properly examine the 
consequences of spent fuel pool fires.
    Waste Confidence, though applicable only to the period after the 
licensed life of a reactor, is part of the basis for agency licensing 
decisions on new reactor licensing, reactor license renewal, and 
independent spent fuel storage installation licensing (see generally 10 
CFR 51.23). The Commission has decided that no final licenses will be 
issued until a new Waste Confidence Decision and Rule are in effect. 
(CLI-12-016). The NRC is now preparing a revised Decision and Rule to 
address the issues identified by the Court. This Federal Register 
notice is the first step in that process.
    In a rulemaking, the Commission must consider the effect of its 
actions on the environment in accordance with NEPA. Section 102(1) of 
NEPA requires that policies, regulations, and public laws of the United 
States be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies 
set forth in NEPA. It is the intent of NEPA to have Federal agencies 
consider environmental issues in their decision-making processes.
    NRC regulations implementing NEPA are contained in 10 CFR Part 51, 
``Environmental protection regulations for domestic licensing and 
related regulatory functions.'' To fulfill its responsibilities under 
NEPA, the NRC is preparing an EIS to support the potential update to 
the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule.
    The Commission's regulations in 10 CFR 51.26, ``Requirement to 
publish notice of intent and conduct scoping process,'' contain 
requirements for conducting a scoping process prior to preparation of 
an EIS, including preparation of a notice of intent in the Federal 
Register regarding the EIS and indication that the scoping process may 
include holding a public scoping meeting.

III. Scoping Process for Environmental Impact Statement

    The purposes of this notice are: (1) to inform the public that the 
NRC staff will be preparing an EIS as part of revising the Waste 
Confidence Decision and Rule and (2) to provide the public with an 
opportunity to participate in the environmental scoping process as 
defined in 10 CFR 51.29. This step is the first opportunity for 
stakeholder participation in the Waste Confidence Decision and rule 
update following the June 2012 remand, and it occurs before the NRC has 
determined results or recommendations for the update. Additional 
opportunities for public participation will occur during the public 
comment period for the draft EIS, the revised Waste Confidence 
Decision, and the proposed Rule. Notices of these public participation 
opportunities will be published in the Federal Register.
    The NRC intends to gather the information necessary to prepare an 
EIS to evaluate the environmental impacts of the storage of spent 
nuclear fuel after cessation of reactor operations. This EIS will form 
the technical basis for the revision of the Waste Confidence Decision 
and Rule. Possible scenarios to be analyzed in the EIS include 
temporary spent fuel storage after cessation of reactor operation until 
a repository is made available in either the middle of the century or 
at the end of the century, and storage of spent fuel if no repository 
is made available by the end of the century. The affected environment 
may include a set of general characteristics and associated ranges to 
bound the environmental analysis of spent fuel storage throughout the 
United States. It is important to note that the environmental analysis 
in the EIS and the update of the Waste Confidence Decision and rule are 
generic activities. The EIS and update of the Decision and rule are 
therefore not the appropriate forums to consider site-specific issues 
or concerns.
    The NRC will first conduct a scoping process for the EIS and 
thereafter will prepare a draft EIS and draft Waste Confidence Decision 
and proposed Rule for public comment. Participation in this scoping 
process by members of the public and local, State, Tribal, and Federal 
government agencies is encouraged. The scoping process for the draft 
EIS will be used to accomplish the following:
    a. Define the proposed action that is to be the subject of the EIS;
    b. Determine the scope of the EIS and identify the significant 
issues to be analyzed in depth, including potential spent fuel storage 
scenarios for evaluation, such as availability of a delayed permanent 
repository towards the end of the century;
    c. Identify and eliminate from detailed study those issues that are 
peripheral or that are not significant. Also note that analysis of 
environmental impacts for this effort would be principally intended to 
provide input to decision-making for updating the Waste Confidence 
Decision and Rule and would not involve analysis of site-specific 
    d. Identify any environmental assessments and other EISs that are 
being or will be prepared that are related to but are not part of the 
scope of the EIS being considered;
    e. Identify other environmental review and consultation 
requirements related to the proposed action;
    f. Indicate the relationship between the timing of the preparation 
of the environmental analyses and the Commission's tentative planning 
and decision-making schedule;
    g. Identify any cooperating agencies and, as appropriate, allocate 
assignments for preparation and schedules for completing the EIS to the 
NRC and any cooperating agencies. No cooperating agencies are involved 
at this time;
    h. Describe how the EIS will be prepared, including any contractor 
assistance to be used. The NRC will prepare a draft EIS in accordance 
with its regulations in 10 CFR part 51. The NRC is obtaining contractor 
assistance in preparation of the EIS; and

[[Page 65139]]

    i. Obtain public input on potential locations for future public 
meetings on the draft EIS.
    The NRC invites the following entities to participate in the 
scoping process:
    a. Any Federal agency that has jurisdiction by law or special 
expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved, or that is 
authorized to develop and enforce relevant environmental standards,
    b. Any affected State and local government agencies, including 
those authorized to develop and enforce relevant environmental 
    c. Any affected Indian tribe, and
    d. Any person who requests or has requested an opportunity to 
participate in the scoping process.

IV. Notice of Public Webcast Meetings and Webinars

    In accordance with 10 CFR 51.26, the scoping process for an EIS may 
include a public scoping meeting to help identify significant issues 
related to a proposed activity and to determine the scope of issues to 
be addressed in an EIS. The NRC staff has elected to hold two identical 
public scoping meetings on November 14, 2012, at NRC's headquarters, 
One White Flint North, First Floor Commission Hearing Room, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Both meetings will be web-
streamed via the NRC's Web site. See the NRC's Live Meeting Webcast 
page to participate: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html. The first meeting will convene at 1:00 p.m. EST and 
will continue until approximately 4:00 p.m. EST, with in-person 
attendance from members of the public welcome. The second meeting will 
be a webstream-only meeting held later in the evening to better 
accommodate stakeholders in Western time zones. The webstream-only 
meeting will convene at 9:00 p.m. EST (6:00 p.m. PST) and will continue 
until approximately 12:00 a.m. EST (9:00 p.m. PST). The late evening 
webstream-only meeting will not be open to the public for in-person 
attendance. Therefore, persons wishing to attend a scoping meeting in-
person at the NRC's headquarters must attend the 1:00 p.m. meeting.
    Additionally, in early December, the NRC will be hosting two public 
scoping webinars. The first webinar will take place on December 5, 
2012, from 1:00 p.m. EST through 4:00 p.m. EST. The second webinar will 
take place on December 6, 2012, from 9:00 p.m. EST (6:00 p.m. PST) 
through 12:00 a.m. EST (9:00 p.m. PST).
    All meetings and webinars will be transcribed and will include the 
following: (1) An overview by the NRC staff of the environmental review 
process, the proposed scope of the EIS to support the Waste Confidence 
Decision and Rule update, and the proposed review schedule; and (2) an 
opportunity for interested government agencies, organizations, and 
individuals to submit comments on the environmental issues or the 
proposed scope of the EIS. All meetings and webinars will have a 
moderated teleconference phone line so that remote attendees will have 
the opportunity to voice their comments. In addition to a moderated 
phone line, webinars will also feature a real-time instant messaging 
tool that will allow participants to type their questions and comments 
and send them to the NRC during the webinar.
    To be considered, comments must be provided either during the 
transcribed public meetings and webinars (in person, over the phone, or 
via the webinar instant messaging tool) or in writing, as discussed 
    To register for and request to present oral comments at the 
November 14 meetings, whether in-person or over the phone, please 
contact Ms. Susan Wittick or Ms. TR Rowe at 1-800-368-5642, extensions 
3187 or 3133, respectively. You may also register for and request to 
present comments at these meetings via email to [email protected]. To 
attend the 1:00 p.m. at the NRC's headquarters meeting in-person, 
please provide your full name as it appears on a government-issued 
photo ID, which you must present upon entering the NRC facility. 
Directions and parking information will be sent to you upon 
registration. While pre-registration for the November 14 meetings is 
encouraged, members of the public may also register to speak just prior 
to the start of each meeting.
    Public meeting notices for the November 14 meetings and the 
December 5 and 6 webinars will be posted on the NRC's public meeting 
Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm 
approximately 2 weeks before each meeting date. The meeting notices 
will contain additional information, including agendas, teleconference 
phone line details, and information on how to access and participate in 
the webinars. This information will also be provided on the NRC's Waste 
Confidence public Web site: http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/wcd.html.
    During all meetings and webinars, individual oral comments may be 
limited by the time available, depending on the number of persons who 
register to speak. Members of the public who have not registered may 
also have an opportunity to speak, if time permits. If special 
equipment or accessibility modifications (e.g., sign language 
interpreters, large print, oral interpreters) are needed to attend or 
present information at the afternoon meeting on November 14 at the 
NRC's headquarters, such requests should be brought to Ms. Wittick's or 
Ms. Rowe's attention no later than November 7, 2012, so that the NRC 
staff can determine whether the request can be accommodated.
    At the conclusion of the scoping process, the NRC will prepare a 
summary of the determinations and conclusions reached on the scope of 
the environmental review, including the significant issues identified, 
and will make this summary publicly available. The staff will then 
prepare and issue for comment the draft EIS, and update to the Waste 
Confidence Decision, and proposed Rule, which will be the subject of 
separate Federal Register notices and a series of public meetings at 
different locations throughout the country. After receipt and 
consideration of comments on the EIS and proposed Rule, the NRC will 
prepare a final EIS and rule, which will also be available to the 

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 19th day of October 2012.
Carrie Safford,
Deputy Director, Waste Confidence Directorate, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2012-26295 Filed 10-24-12; 8:45 am]