[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 28 (Tuesday, February 11, 2020)]
[Pages 7795-7796]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02681]



[Docket No. 50-271; NRC-2020-0039]

NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning Co., LLC; Vermont Yankee 
Nuclear Power Station

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Exemption; issuance.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing an 
exemption in response to an August 28, 2019, request from NorthStar 
Nuclear Decommissioning Company (NorthStar NDC), for the Vermont Yankee 
Nuclear Power Station, from the requirement to investigate and report 
to the NRC when NorthStar NDC does not receive notification of receipt 
of a shipment, or part of a shipment, of low-level radioactive waste 
within 20 days after transfer from the Vermont Yankee facility. 
NorthStar NDC requested that the time period for it to receive 
acknowledgement that the shipment has been received by the intended 
recipient be extended from 20 to 45 days to avoid an excessive 
administrative burden as operational experience indicates that rail or 
mixed mode shipments may take more than 20 days to reach their 

DATES: The exemption was issued on February 5, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2020-0039 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 Website: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2020-0039. Address 
questions about NRC docket IDs in Regulations.gov to Jennifer Borges; 
telephone: 301-287-9127; 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 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, 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 is available in ADAMS) is provided the first 
time that it is mentioned in 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jack D. Parrott, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-6634, email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The text of the exemption is attached.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 5th day of February 2020.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Bruce A. Watson,
Chief, Reactor Decommissioning Branch, Division of Decommissioning, 
Uranium Recovery, and Waste Programs, Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
and Safeguards.

Attachment--Exemption From Certain Low-Level Waste Shipment Tracking 
Requirements of 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix G, Section III.E

I. Background

    The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY), licensed under Title 
10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) part 50 (renewed license 
no. DPR-28, docket no. 50-271), is located in the town of Vernon, 
Vermont, in Windham County on the western shore of the Connecticut 
River immediately upstream of the Vernon Hydroelectric Station. VY 
employed a General Electric boiling water reactor nuclear steam supply 
system licensed to generate 1,912 megawatts (thermal energy). The 
operating license for VY was issued on March 21, 1972, and commercial 
operation commenced on November 30, 1972. The license was renewed on 
March 21, 2011. VY permanently ceased operations on December 29, 2014 
and on January 12, 2015 (ADAMS Accession No. ML15013A426), the licensee 
certified to the NRC that it had permanently ceased operations at VY 
and that all fuel from the reactor vessel had been permanently removed.
    The VY renewed operating license was transferred to NorthStar NDC 
by NRC order issued October 11, 2018 (ADAMS Accession No. ML18248A096). 
Upon implementation of the license transfer, on January 11, 2019, 
NorthStar NDC commenced dismantlement and decommissioning activities at 
the VY site that included the generation of low-level radioactive 
waste. This waste is primarily destined for transfer to the Waste 
Control Specialists disposal site in Andrews, Texas by rail or mixed 
mode shipment, such as a combination of truck/rail shipments. 
Decommissioning of VY is scheduled to be complete by 2030.

II. Request/Action

    By letter dated August 28, 2019 (ADAMS Accession No. ML19252A056), 
NorthStar NDC requested an exemption from 10 CFR part 20, Appendix G, 
``Requirements for Transfers of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Intended 
for Disposal at Licensed Land Disposal Facilities and Manifests,'' 
section III.E. for disposals from the VY facility. Section III.E 
requires that the shipper of any low-level radioactive waste to a 
licensed land disposal facility must investigate and trace the shipment 
if the shipper has not received notification of the shipment's receipt 
by the disposal facility within 20 days after transfer. In addition, 
Section III.E requires licensees to report such missing shipments to 
the NRC. Specifically, NorthStar NDC is requesting an exemption from 
the requirements in 10 CFR part 20, Appendix G, Section III.E, under 
the provisions of 10 CFR 20.2301, ``Applications for exemptions,'' to 
extend the time period for NorthStar NDC to receive acknowledgement 
that the shipment has been received from 20 to 45 days after transfer 
for rail or mixed mode shipment from VY to the intended recipient.
    Inherent to the decommissioning process, large volumes of low-level 
radioactive waste are generated and require disposal. The licensee has 
transported low-level radioactive waste from VY to distant locations 
such as the waste disposal facility operated by Waste Control 
Specialists in Andrews, Texas. Experience with waste shipments from VY 
and other decommissioning power reactor sites indicates that rail or 
mixed-mode transportation time to waste disposal facilities has, in 
several instances, exceeded the 20-day receipt of notification 
requirement. In addition, administrative processes at the disposal 
facility and mail delivery times can further delay the issuance or 
arrival of the receipt of notification.

[[Page 7796]]

III. Discussion

A. The Exemption Is Authorized by Law

    The NRC's regulations in 10 CFR 20.2301 allow the Commission to 
grant exemptions from the requirements of the regulations in 10 CFR 
part 20 if it determines the exemption would be authorized by law and 
would not result in undue hazard to life or property. There are no 
provisions in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (or in any 
other Federal statute) that impose a requirement to investigate and 
report on low-level radioactive waste shipments that have not been 
acknowledged by the recipient within 20 days of transfer. Therefore, 
the NRC concludes that there is no statutory prohibition on the 
issuance of the requested exemption and the NRC is authorized to grant 
the exemption by law.
    With respect to compliance with Section 102(2) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4332(2) (NEPA), the NRC staff has 
determined that the proposed action, namely, the approval of the 
NorthStar NDC exemption request, is within the scope of the two 
categorical exclusions listed at 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25)(vi)(B) and 10 CFR 
51.22(c)(25)(vi)(C). The categorical exclusion listed at 10 CFR 
51.22(c)(25)(vi)(B) concerns approval of exemption requests from 
reporting requirements and the categorical exclusion listed at 10 CFR 
51.22(c)(25)(vi)(C) concerns approval of exemption requests from 
inspection or surveillance requirements. Therefore, no further analysis 
is required under NEPA.

B. The Exemption Would Not Result in Undue Hazard to Life or Property

    The purpose of 10 CFR part 20, Appendix G, Section III.E is to 
require licensees to investigate, trace, and report radioactive 
shipments that have not reached their destination, as scheduled, for 
unknown reasons. Data from the VY (for example see NorthStar NDC 
reports on investigation pursuant to 10 CFR part 20, Appendix G (ADAMS 
Accession Nos. ML19233A015, ML19233A032, ML19233A019, ML20014D560, and 
ML19347B109) found that several shipments took longer than 20 days, and 
one up to 59 days, to reach the Waste Control Specialist disposal 
facility in Andrews, Texas once they left the VY facility. The NRC 
acknowledges that, based on the history of low-level radioactive waste 
shipments from VY, the need to investigate, trace and report on 
shipments that take longer than 20 days could result in an excessive 
administrative burden on the licensee. As stated in the request for 
exemption, NorthStar NDC will request a daily update to be provided for 
the location of the shipment from the appropriate carriers of the low-
level radioactive waste shipments.
    Because of the oversight and monitoring of radioactive waste 
shipments throughout the entire journey from VY to the disposal site, 
it is unlikely that a shipment could be lost, misdirected, or diverted 
without the knowledge of the carrier or NorthStar NDC. Furthermore, by 
extending the elapsed time for receipt acknowledgment to 45 days before 
requiring investigations, tracing, and reporting, a reasonable upper 
limit on shipment duration (based on historical analysis) is still 
maintained if a breakdown of normal tracking systems were to occur. 
Consequently, the NRC finds that extending the receipt of notification 
period from 20 to 45 days after transfer of the low-level radioactive 
waste as described by NorthStar NDC in its August 28, 2019, letter 
would not result in an undue hazard to life or property.

IV. Conclusions

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 
20.2301, the exemption is authorized by law and will not result in 
undue hazard to life or property. Therefore, the Commission hereby 
grants NorthStar NDC an exemption from 10 CFR part 20, Appendix G, 
Section III.E to extend the receipt of notification period from 20 days 
to 45 days after transfer for rail or mixed-mode shipments of low-level 
radioactive waste from the VY facility to a licensed land disposal 

[FR Doc. 2020-02681 Filed 2-10-20; 8:45 am]