[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 47 (Tuesday, March 11, 2014)]
[Pages 13685-13687]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-05236]




Monitoring of Neutron-Absorbing Materials in Spent Fuel Pools

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Draft generic letter; public meeting and request for comment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this 
draft generic letter to address degradation of neutron-absorbing 
materials in the spent fuel pool (SFP). The NRC has determined that it 
is necessary to obtain plant-specific information requested in the 
draft generic letter so that the NRC can determine if the degradation 
of the neutron-absorbing materials in the SFP is being managed to 
maintain reasonable assurance that the materials are capable of 
performing their intended safety function, and if the licensees are in 
compliance with the regulations.

DATES: Submit comments by May 12, 2014. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the Commission 
is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods 
(unless this document describes a different method for submitting 
comments on a specific subject):
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2014-0040. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3422; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact 
the individual(s) listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section 
of this document.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, 
Mail Stop: 3WFN 06-44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001.
    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

[[Page 13686]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Krepel, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-302-0399; email: [email protected].


I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2014-0040 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this document. You may 
access publicly-available information related to this action by any of 
the following methods:
     Federal rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2014-0040.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents Collection 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 
ADAMS accession number for each document referenced in this document 
(if that document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time 
that a document is referenced.
     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-2014-0040 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 that you do not want to be publicly disclosed in your 
comment submission. The NRC will post all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as enter the comment submissions into 
ADAMS. The NRC does not routinely 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 that they do not want to be 
publicly disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should 
state that the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to 
remove such information before making the comment submissions available 
to the public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. Discussion

    The NRC is issuing Generic Letter NRC-2014-0040, ``Monitoring of 
Neutron-Absorbing Materials in Spent Fuel Pools,'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13100A086) to request submittal of information from the stated 
licensees regarding the credited neutron-absorbing materials in the 
spent fuel pool (SFP) and associated surveillance or monitoring 
programs. Recent operating experience and regulatory actions have shown 
some gaps in the NRC knowledge base and regulatory guidance associated 
with management of the effects of aging on the neutron-absorbing 
materials in the SFP. Follow-up investigations of the identified gaps 
resulted in some NRC concerns with existing methods used in the 
industry to ensure compliance with the nuclear criticality safety (NCS) 
requirements in Sec.  50.68 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (10 CFR) and in General Design Criterion 62 (found in 
Appendix A of 10 CFR Part 50). In light of recent findings related to 
neutron-absorbing material degradation and uncertainties in the tools 
used to monitor the current condition of neutron-absorbing materials in 
the SFP, the NRC decided to request detailed information in order to 
verify compliance with the applicable NCS requirements and to determine 
if any further regulatory action is necessary. The draft generic letter 
contains a more detailed discussion of the issues involved and the 
information being requested.

III. Cumulative Effects of Regulation

    The NRC is considering the cumulative effects of regulation (CER) 
as they relate to this Generic Letter. The CER considers the challenges 
licensees face in addressing the implementation of new regulatory 
positions, programs, and requirements (e.g., rulemaking, guidance, 
backfits, inspections). The CER initiative stems from the total burden 
imposed on licensees by the NRC from simultaneous or consecutive 
regulatory actions that can adversely affect the licensee's capability 
to implement those requirements while continuing to operate or 
construct its facility in a safe and secure manner. The NRC proposed 
several rulemaking process enhancements to address CER in SECY-11-0032, 
``Consideration of the Cumulative Effects of Regulation in the 
Rulemaking Process,'' dated October 11, 2011 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML112840466). In SECY-12-0137, ``Implementation of the Cumulative 
Effects of Regulation Process Changes,'' dated October 5, 2012 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML12223A162) built upon the recommendations in SECY-11-
0032. In its Staff Requirements Memorandum to SECY-12-0137 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML13071A635), the Commission directed the staff to, among 
other items, ``continue to develop and implement outreach tools that 
will allow NRC to consider more completely the overall impacts of 
multiple rules, orders, generic communications, advisories, and other 
regulatory actions on licensees and their ability to focus effectively 
on items of greatest safety importance.''
    With regard to this generic letter, the NRC requests that licensees 
comment about any CER challenges they may face. Specifically, the NRC 
requests comment on the following questions:
    a. In light of any current or projected cumulative effects, does 
this generic letter request provide sufficient time for licensees to 
respond with the information requested, including any need to develop 
this information through supporting engineering calculation or 
    b. If a current or projected cumulative effect poses a significant 
challenge, what should be done to address it? For example, if more time 
is required to develop and provide the information, what period of time 
is sufficient? Are there equally effective alternatives to providing 
the requested information to the NRC that reduce the cumulative 
    c. Do other (NRC or other regulatory agency) regulatory actions 
(e.g., Orders, rules, generic letter, bulletins, 50.54(f) requests) 
influence licensee responses to this draft generic letter? If so what 
are they and do you have a suggested approach to reduce the cumulative 
effects in light of these other regulatory actions?
    d. Are there other projects that licensees are undertaking, plan to 
undertake, or should be undertaking that provide greater safety 
benefit, that might be displaced or delayed as a result of the 
expenditure of effort and resources to respond to this generic letter?
    e. Are there unintended consequences associated with responding to 
this generic letter at this time?

[[Page 13687]]

    f. Please comment on the NRC's supporting justification for this 
generic letter.

IV. Public Meeting

    The NRC plans to hold an informational public meeting approximately 
45 days into the public comment period to discuss draft Generic Letter 
NRC-2014-0040, ``Monitoring of Neutron-Absorbing Materials in Spent 
Fuel Pools'', and to obtain feedback from members of the public. The 
public meeting will be transcribed by a court reporter. The public 
meeting notice will be made available electronically in ADAMS and 
posted on the NRC's Public Meeting Schedule Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm. The agenda for 
the public meeting will be noticed no fewer than 10 days prior to the 
meeting on the Public Meeting Schedule Web site. Any meeting updates or 
changes will be made available on this Web site. Information regarding 
topics to be discussed, changes to the agenda, whether the meeting has 
been cancelled or rescheduled, and the time allotted for public 
comments can be obtained from the Public Meeting Schedule Web site. 
Comments regarding the draft Generic Letter must be submitted in 
accordance with paragraph I.B of this document. Comments from the 
public meeting will not be considered as official comments to this 
Federal Register notice.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 27th day of February, 2014.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Sheldon Stuchell,
Acting PGCB Branch Chief, Generic Communications Branch, Division of 
Policy and Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2014-05236 Filed 3-10-14; 8:45 am]