[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 7 (Tuesday, January 12, 2021)]
[Pages 2464-2465]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-00410]



[Docket No. 52-025; NRC-2008-0252]

Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.; Vogtle Electric 
Generating Plant, Unit 3; Unit 3 Auxiliary Building Wall 11 Seismic Gap 

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Exemption and combined license amendment; issuance.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is granting an 
exemption to allow a departure from the certification information in 
Tier 1 of the plant-specific design control document (DCD) and is 
issuing License Amendment No. 182 to Combined License (COL) NPF-91. The 
COL is for construction and operation of the Vogtle Electric Generating 
Plant (VEGP) Unit 3, located in Burke County, Georgia. The granting of 
the exemption allows the changes to Tier 1 information asked for in the 
amendment. Because the acceptability of the exemption was determined in 
part by the acceptability of the amendment, the exemption and amendment 
are being issued concurrently.

DATES: The exemption and amendment were issued on August 4, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2008-0252 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-2008-0252. 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]. 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. The request for the 
amendment and exemption was designated License Amendment Request (LAR) 
20-001 and submitted by letter dated February 7, 2020, (ADAMS Accession 
No. ML20038A939).
     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 or 
301-415-4737, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (EST), Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cayetano Santos, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-7270; email: [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The NRC is issuing License Amendment No. 182 to COL NPF-91 and is 
granting an exemption from Tier 1 information in the plant-specific DCD 
for VEGP Unit 3. The generic AP1000 DCD is incorporated by reference in 
appendix D, ``Design Certification Rule for the AP1000,'' to part 52 of 
title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR). The exemption, 
granted pursuant to paragraph A.4 of section VIII, ``Processes for 
Changes and Departures,'' of 10 CFR part 52, appendix D, allows the 
licensee to depart from the Tier 1 information. With the requested 
amendment, SNC sought proposed changes to the north-south minimum 
seismic gap requirements above grade between the nuclear island and the 
annex building west of Column Line I from elevation 141 feet through 
154 feet to accommodate as-built localized nonconformances.
    Part of the justification for granting the exemption was provided 
by the review of the amendment. Because the exemption is necessary in 
order to issue the requested license amendment, the NRC granted the 
exemption and issued the amendment concurrently, rather than in 
sequence. This included issuing a combined safety evaluation containing 
the NRC staff's review of both the exemption and license amendment 
requests. The exemption met all applicable regulatory criteria set 
forth in Sec. Sec.  50.12, 52.7, and 52.63, and in section VIII.A.4 of 
appendix D to 10 CFR part 52. The license amendment was found to be 
acceptable as well. The combined safety evaluation is available in 
ADAMS under Accession No. ML20132A078.
    The exemption document for VEGP Unit 3 can be found in ADAMS under 
Accession No. ML20132A077. The exemption is reproduced (with the 
exception of abbreviated titles and additional citations) in Section II 
of this document. The amendment documents for COL NPF-91 are available 
in ADAMS under Accession No. ML20132A052. A summary of the amendment 
documents is provided in Section III of this document.

II. Exemption

    Reproduced in this notice is the exemption document issued to VEGP 
Unit 3. It makes reference to the combined safety evaluation that 
provides the reasoning for the findings made by the NRC (and listed 
under Item 1) in order to grant the exemption:
    1. In a letter dated February 7, 2020, Southern Nuclear Operating 
Company requested from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission an exemption 
to allow

[[Page 2465]]

departures from Tier 1 information in the certified DCD incorporated by 
reference in 10 CFR part 52, appendix D, ``Design Certification Rule 
for the AP1000 Design,'' as part of license amendment request (LAR) 20-
001, ``Unit 3 Auxiliary Building Wall Seismic Gap Requirements.''
    For the reasons set forth in Section 3.2 of the NRC staff's Safety 
Evaluation, the Commission finds that:
    A. The exemption is authorized by law;
    B. the exemption presents no undue risk to public health and 
    C. the exemption is consistent with the common defense and 
    D. special circumstances are present in that the application of the 
rule in this circumstance is not necessary to serve the underlying 
purpose of the rule;
    E. the special circumstances outweigh any decrease in safety that 
may result from the reduction in standardization caused by the 
exemption; and
    F. the exemption will not result in a significant decrease in the 
level of safety otherwise provided by the design.
    2. Accordingly, SNC is granted an exemption from the certified DCD 
Tier 1 information, with corresponding changes to Appendix C of the 
facility Combined License, as described in the licensee's request dated 
February 7, 2020. This exemption is related to, and necessary for, the 
granting of License Amendment No. 182, which is being issued 
concurrently with this exemption.
    3. As explained in Section 6.0 of the NRC staff's Safety 
Evaluation, this exemption meets the eligibility criteria for 
categorical exclusion set forth in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9). Therefore, 
pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact statement or 
environmental assessment needs to be prepared in connection with the 
issuance of the exemption.
    4. This exemption is effective as of the date of its issuance.

III. License Amendment Request

    By letter dated February 7, 2020, SNC requested that the NRC amend 
COL NPF-91 for VEGP Unit 3. The proposed amendment is described in 
Section I of this Federal Register notice.
    The Commission has determined for this amendment that the 
application complies with the standards and requirements of the Atomic 
Energy Act of 1954, as amended (the Act), and the Commission's rules 
and regulations. The Commission has made the findings required by the 
Act and the Commission's rules and regulations in 10 CFR chapter I, 
which are set forth in the license amendment.
    A notice of consideration of issuance of amendment to the COL, 
proposed no significant hazards consideration determination, and 
opportunity for a hearing in connection with this action, was published 
in the Federal Register on March 10, 2020 (85 FR 13944). No comments 
were received during the 30-day comment period.
    The Commission has determined that this amendment satisfies the 
criteria for categorical exclusion in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22. 
Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact 
statement or environmental assessment need be prepared for this 

IV. Final No Significant Hazards Consideration Determination

    A request for hearing was filed on May 11, 2020, by the Blue Ridge 
Environmental Defense League and its chapter, Concerned Citizens of 
Shell Bluff (collectively ``BREDL'') (ADAMS Package Accession No. 
ML20132D299). Under its regulations, the Commission may issue and make 
an amendment immediately effective, notwithstanding the pendency before 
it of a request for a hearing from any person, in advance of the 
holding and completion of any required hearing, where it has made a 
final determination that no significant hazards consideration is 
involved. While the hearing request was pending before an Atomic Safety 
and Licensing Board (ASLB), the NRC staff issued the amendment on 
August 4, 2020, after making a final determination that no significant 
hazards consideration was involved, as discussed in Section 4.0 of the 
combined safety evaluation.
    Subsequently, the ASLB denied BREDL's request for hearing and 
terminated the proceeding in its order LBP-20-08, dated August 10, 2020 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML20223A385). On September 4, 2020, BREDL appealed 
the ASLB decision (ADAMS Accession No. ML20248J166). On December 22, 
2020, the Commission affirmed the ASLB's decision (ADAMS Accession No. 

V. Conclusion

    For the reasons set forth in the combined safety evaluation, the 
staff granted the exemption and issued the amendment that SNC requested 
on February 7, 2020. The exemption and amendment were issued on August 
4, 2020, as part of a combined package to SNC (ADAMS Package Accession 
No. ML20132A032).

    Dated: January 7, 2021.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Omar R. Lopez-Santiago,
Chief, Vogtle Project Office, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2021-00410 Filed 1-11-21; 8:45 am]