[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 83 (Thursday, April 30, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24291-24293]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-10126]



[[Page 24291]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 50-271; NRC-2015-0111]


Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power 
Station

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Draft environmental assessment and finding of no significant 
impact; request for comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering 
issuance of exemptions in response to a request from Entergy Nuclear 
Operations, Inc. (Entergy or the licensee) that would permit the 
licensee to reduce its emergency planning (EP) activities at the 
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY). The licensee is seeking 
exemptions that would eliminate the requirements for the licensee to 
maintain offsite radiological emergency plans and reduce some of the 
onsite EP activities based on the reduced risks at VY, which is 
permanently shutdown and defueled. However, requirements for certain 
onsite capabilities to communicate and coordinate with offsite response 
authorities would be retained. In addition, offsite EP provisions would 
still exist through State and local government use of a comprehensive 
emergency management plan process in accordance with the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 
(CPG) 101, ``Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans.'' 
The NRC staff is issuing, for public comment, this draft environmental 
assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) associated 
with the proposed exemptions.

DATES: Submit comments by June 1, 2015. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the Commission 
is able to ensure consideration only for comments received 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-2015-0111. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-
3463; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, 
Mail Stop: OWFN-12-H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001.
    For additional direction on obtaining information and submitting 
comments, see ``Obtaining Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Kim, Office of Nuclear Reactor 
Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington DC 20555-
0001; telephone: 301-415-4125; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Obtaining Information and Submitting Comments

A. Obtaining Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2015-0111 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this this draft EA and 
FONSI. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this 
this draft EA and FONSI using any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2015-0111.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain 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]. For 
the convenience of the reader, the ADAMS accession numbers are provided 
in a table in the ``Availability of Documents'' section of this 
document.
     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-2015-0111 in your comment submission.
    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 into ADAMS.

II. Introduction

    VY is a permanently shutdown and defueled nuclear power plant that 
is in the process of decommissioning. VY is located in Windham County, 
Vermont, 5 miles south of Brattleboro, Vermont. Entergy is the holder 
of the Renewed Facility Operating License No. DPR-28 for VY. VY has 
been shut down since December 29, 2014, and the final removal of fuel 
from the VY reactor vessel was completed on January 12, 2015. By letter 
dated January 12, 2015, Entergy submitted to the NRC a certification of 
the permanent cessation of power operations at VY and the permanent 
removal of fuel from the VY reactor vessel. As a permanently shutdown 
and defueled facility, and pursuant to section 50.82(a)(2) of Title 10 
of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), VY is no longer authorized 
to be operated or to have fuel placed into its reactor vessel, but the 
licensee is still authorized to possess and store irradiated nuclear 
fuel. Irradiated nuclear fuel is currently stored onsite at VY in a 
spent fuel pool (SFP) and in an independent spent fuel storage 
installation (ISFSI).
    The licensee has requested exemptions for VY from certain EP 
requirements in 10 CFR part 50, ``Domestic Licensing of Production and 
Utilization Facilities.'' The NRC regulations concerning EP do not 
recognize the reduced risks after a reactor is permanently shut down 
and defueled. As such, a permanently shutdown and defueled reactor, 
such as VY, must continue to maintain the same EP requirements as an 
operating power reactor under the existing regulatory requirements. To 
establish a level of EP commensurate with the reduced risks of a 
permanently shutdown and defueled reactor, Entergy requires exemptions 
from certain EP regulatory requirements before it can change its 
emergency plans.

[[Page 24292]]

    The NRC is considering issuing to Entergy exemptions from portions 
of 10 CFR 50.47, ``Emergency plans,'' and 10 CFR part 50, appendix E, 
``Emergency Planning and Preparedness for Production and Utilization 
Facilities,'' which would eliminate the requirements for Entergy to 
maintain offsite radiological emergency plans and reduce some of the 
onsite EP activities based on the reduced risks at VY, due to its 
permanently shutdown and defueled status. Based on the decision of the 
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Brodsky v. NRC 
associated with a fire protection exemption for Indian Point Nuclear 
Generating Unit No. 3, and demonstrated public interest in this 
exemption request, particularly the State of Vermont, the NRC is 
issuing for public comment, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.33, this draft EA and 
FONSI associated with the exemption request. The NRC has concluded that 
the proposed action will have no significant environmental impact.

III. Draft Environmental Assessment

Description of the Proposed Action

    The proposed action would exempt Entergy from meeting certain 
requirements set forth in 10 CFR 50.47 and appendix E to 10 CFR part 
50. More specifically, Entergy requested exemptions from: (1) Certain 
requirements in 10 CFR 50.47(b) regarding onsite and offsite emergency 
response plans for nuclear power reactors; (2) certain requirements in 
10 CFR 50.47(c)(2) to establish plume exposure and ingestion pathway EP 
zones for nuclear power reactors; and (3) certain requirements in 10 
CFR part 50, appendix E, section IV, which establishes the elements 
that make up the content of emergency plans. The proposed action of 
granting these exemptions would eliminate the requirements for Entergy 
to maintain offsite radiological emergency plans and reduce some of the 
onsite EP activities at VY, based on the reduced risks at the 
permanently shutdown and defueled reactor. However, requirements for 
certain onsite capabilities to communicate and coordinate with offsite 
response authorities would be retained. Additionally, if necessary, 
offsite protective actions could still be implemented using a 
comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP) process. A CEMP in this 
context, also referred to as an emergency operations plan (EOP), is 
addressed in Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) 
Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101. The CPG 101 is the 
foundation for State, territorial, tribal, and local EP in the United 
States. It promotes a common understanding of the fundamentals of risk-
informed planning and decision making, and helps planners at all levels 
of government in their efforts to develop and maintain viable, all-
hazards, all-threats emergency plans. An EOP is flexible enough for use 
in all emergencies. It describes how people and property will be 
protected; details who is responsible for carrying out specific 
actions; identifies the personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and 
other resources available; and outlines how all actions will be 
coordinated. A CEMP is often referred to as a synonym for ``all-
hazards'' planning.
    The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's 
application dated March 14, 2014, as supplemented by letters dated 
August 29, 2014, and October 21, 2014. In its letters dated August 29, 
2014, and October 21, 2014, Entergy provided responses to the NRC 
staff's requests for additional information concerning the proposed 
exemptions.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The proposed action is needed for Entergy to revise the VY 
emergency plan to reflect the permanently shutdown and defueled status 
of the facility. The EP requirements currently applicable to VY are for 
an operating power reactor. There are no explicit regulatory provisions 
distinguishing EP requirements for a power reactor that has been 
permanently shut down from those for an operating power reactor. 
Therefore, since the 10 CFR part 50 license for VY no longer authorizes 
operation of the reactor or emplacement or retention of fuel into the 
reactor vessel, as specified in 10 CFR 50.82(a)(2), the occurrence of 
postulated accidents associated with reactor operation is no longer 
credible.
    In its exemption request, the licensee identified four possible 
radiological accidents at VY in its permanently shutdown and defueled 
condition. These are: (1) A fuel-handling accident; (2) a radioactive 
waste-handling accident; (3) a loss of SFP normal cooling (i.e., boil 
off); and (4) an adiabatic heat up of the hottest fuel assembly. The 
NRC staff evaluated these possible radiological accidents in the 
Commission Paper (SECY) 14-0125, ``Request by Entergy Nuclear 
Operations, Inc., for Exemptions from Certain Emergency Planning 
Requirements,'' dated November 14, 2014. In SECY-14-0125, the NRC staff 
verified that Entergy's analyses and calculations provided reasonable 
assurance that if the requested exemptions were granted, then: (1) For 
a design-basis accident (DBA), an offsite radiological release will not 
exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Protective Action 
Guides (PAGs) at the site boundary, as detailed in the EPA ``PAG 
Manual, Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological 
Incidents,'' dated March 2013, which was issued as Draft for Interim 
Use and Public Comment; and (2) in the unlikely event of a beyond DBA 
resulting in a loss of all SFP cooling, there is sufficient time to 
initiate appropriate mitigating actions, and if a release is projected 
to occur, there is sufficient time for offsite agencies to take 
protective actions using a CEMP to protect the health and safety of the 
public. The Commission approved the NRC staff's recommendation to grant 
the exemptions based on this evaluation in its Staff Requirements 
Memorandum to SECY-14-0125, dated March 2, 2015.
    Based on these analyses, the licensee states that complete 
application of the EP rule to VY, in its particular circumstances as a 
permanently shutdown and defueled reactor would not serve the 
underlying purpose of the rule or is not necessary to achieve the 
underlying purpose of the rule. Entergy also states that it would incur 
undue costs in the application of operating plant EP requirements for 
the maintenance of an emergency response organization in excess of that 
actually needed to respond to the diminished scope of credible 
accidents for a permanently shutdown and defueled reactor.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC staff concluded that the exemptions, if granted, would not 
significantly increase the probability or consequences of accidents at 
VY in its permanently shutdown and defueled condition. There would be 
no significant change in the types of any effluents that may be 
released offsite. There would be no significant increase in the amounts 
of any effluents that may be released offsite. There would be no 
significant increase in individual or cumulative occupational or public 
radiation exposure. Therefore, there are no significant radiological 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.
    With regard to potential non-radiological impacts, the proposed 
action does not have any foreseeable impacts to land, air, or water 
resources, including impacts to biota. In addition,

[[Page 24293]]

there are also no known socioeconomic or environmental justice impacts 
associated with the proposed action. Therefore, there are no 
significant non-radiological environmental impacts associated with the 
proposed action.
    Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

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

Alternative Use of Resources

    The proposed action does not involve the use of any different 
resources than those previously considered in the Final Environmental 
Statement for VY, dated July 1972, as supplemented by NUREG-1437, 
Supplement 30, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License 
Renewal of Nuclear Plants: Regarding Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power 
Station,'' Volumes 1 and 2, published in August 2007.

Agencies or Persons Consulted

    The NRC staff did not enter into consultation with any other 
Federal agency or with the State of Vermont regarding the environmental 
impact of the proposed action. On April 24, 2015, the Vermont State 
representative was notified of this draft EA and FONSI.

IV. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The licensee has proposed exemptions from: (1) Certain requirements 
in 10 CFR 50.47(b) regarding onsite and offsite emergency response 
plans for nuclear power reactors; (2) certain requirements in 10 CFR 
50.47(c)(2) to establish plume exposure and ingestion pathway EP zones 
for nuclear power reactors; and (3) certain requirements in 10 CFR part 
50, appendix E, section IV, which establishes the elements that make up 
the content of emergency plans. The proposed action of granting these 
exemptions would eliminate the requirements for the licensee to 
maintain offsite radiological emergency plans and reduce some of the 
onsite EP activities at VY, based on the reduced risks at the 
permanently shutdown and defueled reactor. However, requirements for 
certain onsite capabilities to communicate and coordinate with offsite 
response authorities will be retained and offsite EP provisions will 
still exist through State and local government use of a CEMP.
    Consistent with 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC conducted the EA for the 
proposed action included in Section III of this document, and 
incorporated by reference in this finding. On the basis of this EA, the 
NRC concludes that the proposed action will not have a significant 
effect on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC 
has decided not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the 
proposed action.

V. Availability of Documents

    The documents identified in the following table are available to 
interested persons through one or more of the following methods, as 
indicated.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Document                                      ADAMS Accession  No./Web link/
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans, Comprehensive              http://www.fema.gov.
 Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101, Version 2.0, November 2010.
Docket No. 50-271, Request for Exemptions from Portions of 10 CFR 50.47 and 10    ADAMS Accession No.
 CFR 50, Appendix E, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, March 14, 2014.         ML14080A141.
Docket No. 50-271, Request for Exemptions from Portions of 10 CFR 50.47 and 10    ADAMS Accession No.
 CFR 50, Appendix E--Supplement 1, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, August    ML14246A176.
 29, 2014.
Docket No. 50-271, Request for Exemptions from Portions of 10 CFR 50.47 and 10    ADAMS Accession No.
 CFR 50, Appendix E--Supplement 2, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, October   ML14297A159.
 21, 2014.
Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents, U.S.   http://www.epa.gov.
 Environmental Protection Agency Draft for Interim Use and Public Comment, March
 2013.
SECY-14-0125, ``Request by Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. for Exemptions from   ADAMS Accession No.
 Certain Emergency Planning Requirements,'' November 14, 2014.                     ML14227A711.
Staff Requirements Memorandum to SECY-14-0125, ``Request by Entergy Nuclear       ADAMS Accession No.
 Operations, Inc., for Exemptions from Certain Emergency Planning                  ML15061A516.
 Requirements,'' March 2, 2015.
NUREG-1437, Supplement 30, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License   ADAMS Accession No.
 Renewal of Nuclear Plants Regarding Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station,''       ML071840398.
 August 2007.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24th day of April, 2015.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Meena K. Khanna,
Chief, Plant Licensing IV-2 and Decommissioning Transition Branch, 
Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor 
Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2015-10126 Filed 4-29-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 7590-01-P