[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 185 (Friday, September 23, 2016)]
[Pages 65683-65684]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22987]




Geologic Trench Excavations for Paleoliquefaction Study at Dyer 
County, Tennessee Site

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact; 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has prepared an 
environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential environmental 
impacts that may arise as a result of excavating trenches to observe 
geologic features for a paleoliquefaction research project at a site 
located in Dyer County, Tennessee. The NRC has concluded that a finding 
of no significant impact (FONSI) is appropriate.

DATES: The EA and FONSI referenced in this document are available 
September 23, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2012-0271 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You 
may obtain publicly-available information related to this document 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0271. 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.
     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]. The 
ADAMS accession number for each document referenced (if it available in 
ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is referenced. The EA 
and the associated FONSI are publicly available in ADAMS under 
Accession No. ML16257A012.
     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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Tabatabai, Office of Nuclear 
Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-2382; email: [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The NRC is performing a paleoliquefaction research project at a 
site in Dyer County, which is located in northwestern Tennessee, to 
characterize past earthquakes in the central and eastern United States. 
Paleoliquefaction is a term describing specific geologic features 
attributed to seismic events that occurred before ground-motion 
measurements were taken or before detailed records were kept. 
Paleoliquefaction studies facilitate preparing and planning for future 
earthquakes by determining when past earthquakes occurred, along with 
their frequency and size. Liquefaction is the transformation of 
saturated granular material from a solid to a liquefied state as a 
result of increased pore-water pressure; thus, it leaves evidence 
behind in the geologic record. Typically the liquefied soil manifests 
as sand in the form of sand dikes (when the liquefied sand intrudes 
existing cracks or fissures) or sand blows (when the liquefied sand 
erupts and spills over). The results from this research will be used to 
update models implemented in probabilistic seismic hazard analyses to 
characterize ground motion at new nuclear power plant sites in 
accordance with section 100.23(d)(1) of title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (10 CFR). The results of this research may also implemented 
to re-evaluate seismic hazards at existing nuclear power plant sites.
    The research project will entail the excavation of four trenches by 
a backhoe at the project site. Each trench will measure about 3 feet 
wide (i.e., the width of a backhoe bucket), 5 feet deep, and range in 
length from 33 to 82 feet long. The proposed trenches are intentionally 
sited to enable the study of earthquake-induced liquefaction features. 
The excavation of the four trenches will be conducted by an NRC 
contractor. The estimated study time during which the trenches will 
remain in existence is approximately 2 weeks. The trenches will be 
backfilled at the conclusion of this study.
    The NRC has prepared an EA to evaluate the potential environmental 
impacts that may arise as a result of this research project in 
accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR part 51, of the NRC's 
regulations that implement Section 102(2) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended. Based on the EA, and in accordance with 
10 CFR 51.31(a), the NRC has concluded that a FONSI is appropriate. 
Geologic trenching this project will commence following publication of 
this Notice.

[[Page 65684]]

II. EA Summary

    The NRC has prepared the EA to evaluate the potential environmental 
impacts of the excavation of four trenches at the project site. In 
accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the NRC staff requested informal 
consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. No 
concerns were identified for Federally listed species or designated 
critical habitat. This project is temporary, minimally invasive, and 
will occur outside the critical nesting times for migratory birds.
    The NRC determined that there will be no adverse effects to any 
historic or cultural resources that may be located at the Pritchett 
    The NRC has determined that there will be no significant impacts to 
any other resource areas (e.g., surface water, groundwater, air 
quality) as a result of the proposed trench excavations, followed by 
the backfilling of these trenches at the conclusion of the study.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the EA, the NRC has concluded that there are no 
significant environmental impacts from the proposed work and has 
determined not to prepare an environmental impact statement. The EA and 
the associated FONSI are publicly available in ADAMS under Accession 
No. ML16257A012.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 15 day of September, 2016.
    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
John P. Burke,
Chief, Structural, Geotechnical, and Seismic Engineering Branch, 
Division of Engineering, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research.
[FR Doc. 2016-22987 Filed 9-22-16; 8:45 am]