[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 237 (Wednesday, December 9, 2020)]
[Pages 79228-79230]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26973]



[Docket No. 70-1151; NRC-2020-0263]

Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC; Columbia Fuel Fabrication 
Facility; and US Ecology, Inc.; Idaho Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act Subtitle C Hazardous Disposal Facility Located Near Grand 
View, Idaho

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact; 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing an 
environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact 
(FONSI) related to a request for alternate disposal, exemptions, and 
associated license amendment for the disposition of waste containing 
byproduct material and special nuclear material (SNM) from the 
Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC's (WEC) Columbia Fuel Fabrication 
Facility (CFFF) in Hopkins, South Carolina, under License Number SNM-
1107. Additionally, the NRC is considering the related action of 
approving exemptions to US Ecology, Inc. (USEI) from the NRC licensing 
requirements to allow USEI to receive and dispose the material from 
CFFF without an NRC license. The USEI disposal facility, located near 
Grand View, Idaho, is a Subtitle C Resource Conservation and Recovery 
Act (RCRA) hazardous waste disposal facility permitted by the State of 
Idaho to receive low-level radioactive waste and is not licensed. 
Approval of the alternate disposal request from WEC and the exemptions 
requested by WEC and USEI would allow WEC to transfer the specific 
waste from CFFF for disposal at USEI.

DATES: The EA and FONSI referenced in this document are available on 
December 9, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2020-0263 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-2020-0263. Address 
questions about 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].
     Attention: The PDR, where you may examine and order copies 
of public documents is currently closed. You may submit your request to 
the PDR via email at [email protected] or call 1-800-397-4209 
between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Tiktinsky, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-8740, email: 
[email protected].


I. Introduction

    By letter dated May 8, 2020 (ADAMS Accession No. ML20129J935; 
Package No. ML20129J934), as supplemented on September 22, 2020 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML20266G551), and October 13, 2020 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML20287A545), WEC requested an exemption and associated license 
amendment to License SNM-1107, issued for the operation of CFFF located 
in Hopkins, South Carolina. The requests are for NRC authorization for 
an alternate disposal of specified NRC-licensed byproduct and SNM from 
the CFFF. As required by section 51.21 of title 10 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (10 CFR), the NRC conducted an EA. Based on the 
results of the EA that follows, the NRC has determined that pursuant to 
10 CFR 51.31, preparation of an environmental impact statement for the 
exemption request is not required and pursuant to 10 CFR 51.32, 
issuance of a FONSI is appropriate.
    A corresponding exemption request from USEI, dated May 11, 2020 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML20280A601), would allow for possession and 
disposal of the byproduct and SNM materials at the USEI disposal site. 
USEI is a RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste disposal facility located 
near Grand View, Idaho.

II. Environmental Assessment

Description of the Proposed Action

    WEC and USEI requested NRC approval for a 10 CFR 20.2002 alternate 
disposal request, exemptions to 10 CFR part 70.3 and 10 CFR 30.3, and a 
conforming WEC license amendment to allow WEC to transfer specific 
waste from CFFF for disposal at the USEI disposal facility.
    Waste being considered in this request includes approximately 2,550 
cubic meters (m\3\; 90,000 cubic feet (ft\3\)) of radiologically 
contaminated soil, sludge, and debris associated with the East Lagoon, 
a treatment/settling pond that received effluents from multiple sources 
throughout the site. The East Lagoon is in the process of being closed 
in accordance with a consent agreement and regulations set by the South

[[Page 79229]]

Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). In 
addition to the material from the East Lagoon, the request also 
includes approximately 1,430 m\3\ (50,400 ft\3\) of previously dredged 
CaF2 sludge being stored on site. WEC proposes to mix these 
materials with Portland cement to stabilize the material for shipping. 
WEC proposes to transport this aggregated waste stream to USEI using a 
combination of trucks and railcars.
    In addition to this soil and sludge, the request also includes the 
shipping and disposal of up to 526 obsolete UF6 cylinders 
previously used for transportation. The cylinders are contaminated with 
SNM and U-238, and represent a disposal volume of approximately 651 
m\3\ (23,000 ft\3\) prior to downsizing. The UF6 Cylinders 
are solid form (steel), approximately 1.8 m (6 ft) in length and 0.76 m 
(2.5 ft) in diameter. The UF6 Cylinders are empty and have 
been through the UF6 Cylinder internal wash/rinse process 
following their last use. The UF6 Cylinders will be 
downsized to eliminate void space prior to packaging for shipment 
offsite for disposal. The UF6 Cylinders would be transported 
to the USEI site by trucks, separate from the aggregated waste 
    Both waste streams would be transported from CFFF in South Carolina 
to the USEI facility, Grand View, Idaho in the Owyhee Desert. The USEI 
facility is a RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste disposal facility 
permitted by the State of Idaho. The USEI site has both natural and 
engineered features that limit the transport of radioactive material. 
The natural features include a low precipitation rate [i.e., 18.4 cm/
year (7.4 in./year)] and a long vertical distance to groundwater (i.e., 
61-meter (203-ft) thick on average unsaturated zone below the disposal 
zone). The engineered features include an engineered cover, liners, and 
leachate monitoring systems. Because the USEI facility is not licensed 
by the NRC, this proposed action requires the NRC to exempt USEI from 
the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, and NRC licensing requirements with 
respect to USEI's requested receipt and disposal of this material.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The need for the proposed action is to authorize a safe and 
appropriate method of disposal for the subject waste material generated 
during day-to-day activities and currently being stored at the CFFF. 
Specifically, the East Lagoon is in the process of being closed in 
accordance with a consent agreement and regulations set by the SCDHEC. 
Thus, material associated with the East Lagoon must be removed from the 
site in order to comply with regulatory requirements. The proposed 
alternate disposal would also conserve low-level radioactive waste 
disposal capacity at licensed low-level radioactive disposal sites 
while ensuring that the material being considered is disposed of safely 
in a regulated facility.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC staff reviewed the information provided by WEC to support 
their 10 CFR 20.2002 alternate disposal request and for the specific 
exemptions from 10 CFR 30.3 and 10 CFR 70.3 in order to dispose of the 
aggregated waste and UF6 cylinders at USEI. Under the 10 CFR 
20.2002 criteria, a licensee may seek NRC authorization to dispose of 
licensed material using procedures not otherwise authorized by NRC 
regulations. The licensee's supporting analysis must show that the 
radiological doses arising from the proposed 10 CFR 20.2002 disposal 
will be as low as reasonably achievable and within the 10 CFR part 20 
dose limits.
    WEC performed a radiological assessment in consultation with USEI. 
Based on this assessment, WEC concludes that potential doses to members 
of the public, including transportation workers and USEI workers 
involved in processing and disposing of the waste upon its arrival at 
USEI, are less than 1 mrem/y, well within the ``few mrem'' criteria 
that the NRC established (see NUREG-1757, Volume 1, Revision 2).
    As documented in the Safety Evaluation Report (SER), the NRC staff 
reviewed scenarios and related input parameters considered by WEC and 
USEI and found that they are appropriate for the scenarios considered. 
The NRC staff also reviewed the projected doses from the post-closure 
and intruder scenarios at USEI and found them acceptable. NRC staff did 
note that the inadvertent intruder construction scenario had potential 
doses that were larger than the other inadvertent intruder scenarios 
evaluated, but the NRC does not consider this scenario to be feasible 
due to the configuration of the disposal cells and USEI's waste 
disposal practices. NRC staff also notes that the proposed disposals 
are also subject to regulation under RCRA.
    Based upon its evaluation above and its assessment of the potential 
impacts of the proposed action, in addition to focusing on the 
potential radiological impacts discussed above, this EA next considers 
potential environmental impacts from non-radiological materials. With 
regard to potential non-radiological impacts, the NRC staff concludes 
that approval of the proposed request to dispose of material with small 
amounts of radioactive material would not have significant 
environmental impacts, including effects on non-radiological effluents, 
air quality, or noise. In addition, approval of the proposed action 
will not significantly increase the probability or consequences of 
accidents as well as occupational and public radiation exposure because 
of the quantities and forms of material involved, as further evaluated 
in the NRC's SER.
    Therefore, due to the very small amounts of radioactive material 
involved, the evaluation above, and the NRC staff's analysis in the 
SER, the NRC staff finds that the environmental impacts of the proposed 
action are not significant.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the NRC staff considered 
the no-action alternative in which the NRC staff would deny the 
disposal request. Denial of the request would require WEC to find 
another disposal pathway for this material, and would ultimately only 
change the location of the disposal site. All other factors would 
remain the same or similar. Therefore, the no-action alternative was 
not further considered. NRC staff also notes that pursuing the no-
action alternative would result in the licensee potentially violating 
the SCDHEC requirements to remove the material from the East Lagoon so 
that it can be remediated while it identifies another disposal option.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    In accordance with its stated policy, on November 23, 2020, the 
staff consulted with SCDHEC and the Idaho Department of Environmental 
Quality regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed action. The 
state officials concurred with the EA and FONSI.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The proposed action consists of NRC approval of (a) WEC's and 
USEI's alternate disposal requests under 10 CFR 20.2002, (b) WEC and 
USEI's exemption requests under 10 CFR 30.11(a) and 10 CFR 70.11(a), 
and (c) the issuance of a conforming license amendment to WEC. Based on 
this EA, the NRC finds that there are no significant environmental 
impacts from the proposed action. Therefore, the NRC has determined, 
pursuant to 10 CFR

[[Page 79230]]

51.31, that preparation of an environmental impact statement is not 
required for the proposed action and a FONSI is appropriate.

IV. Availability of Documents

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

                Document                       ADAMS  accession No.
Request for Alternate Disposal Approval   ML20129J934 (Package).
 and Exemption for Specific Columbia
 Fuel Fabrication Facility Waste
 (License No. SNM-1197, Docket No. 70-
 1151), dated May 8, 2020.
Request for Exemptions under 10 CFR       ML20280A601.
 30.11 and 10 CFR 70.17 for Alternate
 Disposal of Wastes from Columbia Fuel
 Fabrication Facility Under 10 CFR
 20.2002, dated May 11, 2020.
Response to Request for Additional        ML20266G551.
 Information--Alternate Disposal
 Approval and Exemptions for Specific
 Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility
 Waste (License No. SNM-1107, Docket No.
 70-1151), dated September 22, 2020.
Response to Request for Additional        ML20287A545.
 Information--Alternate Disposal
 Approval and Exemptions for Specific
 Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility
 Waste (License No. SNM-1107, Docket No.
 70-1151), dated October 13, 2020.
Safety Evaluation Report................  ML20302A085.
NUREG-1757, Volume 1, Revision 2,         ML063000243.
 ``Consolidated Decommissioning

    Dated: December 3, 2020.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Damaris Marcano,
Acting Chief, Fuel Facility Licensing Branch, Division of Fuel 
Management, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2020-26973 Filed 12-8-20; 8:45 am]