[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 122 (Wednesday, June 24, 2020)]
[Pages 37963-37964]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13646]




Format Options for Requesting and Documenting Evaluation of 

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of format for certain relief requests from licensees.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is notifying the 
public of an online submission option and format for documenting the 
NRC's evaluation of a request for an alternative to the regulatory 

DATES: The format described in this document will take effect on June 
19, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2020-0145 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-2020-0145. Address 
questions about NRC docket IDs 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].
     NRC's Public Website: The online form is available in the 
NRC's public website at https://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/covid-19/reactors/.

Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone: 301-415-
7422, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency (PHE) for 
the United States to aid the nation's healthcare community in 
responding to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). On March 11, 
2020, the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the 
World Health Organization.
    As discussed during a public meeting held on March 20, 2020, with 
nuclear industry representatives and members of the public, this is an 
unprecedented time for our country, the NRC, and its regulated 
entities. The NRC is committed to following the NRC's Principles of 
Good Regulation (independence, openness, efficiency, clarity, and 
reliability) while performing our mission. In keeping with these 
principles, the NRC is providing additional flexibility by creating an 
online submission form licensees may use to request relief in the form 
of alternatives under Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR) Section 50.55a(z), ``Alternatives to codes and standards 
requirements,'' from certain NRC regulatory requirements in 10 CFR 
50.55a(b) through (h).
    The regulations in 10 CFR 50.55a(z), ``Alternatives to codes and 
standards requirements,'' state:
    Alternatives to the requirements of paragraphs (b) through (h) of 
this section or portions thereof may be used when authorized by the 
Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. A proposed alternative 
must be submitted and authorized prior to implementation. The applicant 
or licensee must demonstrate that:

    (1) Acceptable level of quality and safety. The proposed 
alternative would provide an acceptable level of quality and safety; 
    (2) Hardship without a compensating increase in quality and 
safety. Compliance with the specified requirements of this section 
would result in hardship or unusual difficulty without a 
compensating increase in the level of quality and safety.

    In response to the COVID-19 PHE and the anticipated requests by 
licensees for

[[Page 37964]]

alternatives to certain regulatory requirements in 10 CFR 50.55a, 
``Codes and standards,'' the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 
is providing a Web-based online form that licensees may use to submit 
their requests. The online form may only be used for requests to use 
alternatives submitted under 10 CFR 50.55a(z). The form may be used 
regardless of whether the request is related to COVID-19. Any licensee 
wishing to request an alternative under 10 CFR 50.55a(z) may use the 
form. Use of the online form by licensees is optional. Whether a 
licensee chooses to use a traditional method to submit a request or 
opts to use the online submission form, the licensee must adhere to the 
requirements of 10 CFR 50.4, ``Written Communications,'' and submit all 
information necessary for the NRC to conduct a technical evaluation of 
the request. The licensee's submittal will be captured as an official 
agency record in ADAMS. The public and stakeholders will have access 
through ADAMS to the licensee's request and the supporting information 
provided by the licensee.
    Additionally, the NRC will use a streamlined format for documenting 
its regulatory and technical evaluation and issuing an approval of a 
licensee's request for an alternative under 10 CFR 50.55a(z). This 
format is different from the expedited processing the NRC has used on 
some COVID-related matters. It will not affect the way in which the NRC 
reviews the requests for alternatives, it will just streamline format 
in which that review is documented. This streamlined format will still 
consist of a safety evaluation that documents the rationale for the 
NRC's decision. The NRC expects that the streamlined format will reduce 
the amount of information repeated from other sources, such as the 
licensee's application. For example, safety evaluations will no longer 
extensively quote from the application in a ``Licensee's Proposed 
Alternative'' section. That information will, however, still be 
available to the public in the application, which the safety evaluation 
will cite, along with an ADAMS accession number. The format will still 
provide the same level of detail for the NRC's regulatory and technical 
evaluation of the licensee's request. The public will continue to have 
the same level of access to the information documenting the NRC staff's 
decision in response to the licensee's request. The online form is 
available in the NRC's public website at https://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/covid-19/reactors/.

    Dated: June 19, 2020.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
James G. Danna,
Chief, Plant Licensing Branch 1, Division of Operating Reactor 
Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2020-13646 Filed 6-23-20; 8:45 am]