[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 143 (Wednesday, July 25, 2001)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38646-38648]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-18539]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Revision to the Record of Decision for the Department of Energy's 
Waste Management Program: Treatment and Storage of Transuranic Waste

AGENCY: Department of Energy.

ACTION: Revision to record of decision.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE), pursuant to 10 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) 1021.315, is revising the Record of Decision (ROD) 
for the DOE Waste Management Program: Treatment and Storage of 
Transuranic (TRU) Waste, issued on January 20, 1998 (63 Federal 
Register (FR) 3629) and revised previously on December 29, 2000 (65 FR 
82985). The Department has now decided to transfer approximately 300 
cubic meters of contact-handled transuranic (CH-TRU) waste from the 
Mound Plant in Ohio to the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina 
for storage, characterization, and repackaging prior to sending it to 
the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico for disposal. The 
CH-TRU waste will be shipped to SRS in specially designed railcars 
under an exemption granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation 
(DOT). The exemption allows for the shipment of 10 railcar loads, each 
containing no more than 200 curies of plutonium, and is in effect 
through May 2002. Previously in its ROD, based in part on the analysis 
in the Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (WM 
PEIS, DOE/EIS-0200F, dated May 1997), DOE had decided (with one 
exception) that each DOE site would prepare its own TRU waste for 
disposal and store it onsite until it is shipped to WIPP. Because DOE 
is closing the Mound Plant and the site is being converted into a 
commercial/industrial park, establishing a new capability at Mound to 
repackage its TRU waste to meet the specifications for shipment to WIPP 
is not practical or cost-effective.
    DOE needs to ship its TRU waste from the Mound Plant to another 
site for repackaging into the TRU Package Transporter-II (TRUPACT-II) 
containers that are required for shipments to WIPP.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Copies of the WM PEIS, the 1998 WM 
PEIS ROD for TRU waste, the first revised WM PEIS ROD for TRU waste 
(issued in 2000), this revised ROD, and the Supplement Analysis for 
Transportation of TRU Waste from the Mound Plant to SRS for 
Repackaging, Characterization, and Storage (DOE/EIS-0200-SA02) will be 
available on DOE's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Web at: 
http://tis.eh.doe.gov/nepa under DOE NEPA Analyses. To request copies 
of any of these documents, please write or call:
    The Center for Environmental Management Information, P.O. Box 
23769, Washington, DC 20026-3769, Telephone: 1-800-736-3282 (in 
Washington, DC 202-863-5084).
    For further information regarding disposal of TRU waste at WIPP, 
contact: Ms. Lynne Smith, WIPP Office (EM-23), Office of Environmental 
Management, U.S. Department of Energy, 19001 Germantown Road, 
Germantown, Maryland 20874-1290, Telephone: 301-903-3124.
    For further information on the DOE program for the management of 
TRU

[[Page 38647]]

waste at the Mound Plant or this revision to the ROD, contact: Mr. 
Robert S. Rothman, Miamisburg Environmental Management Project, Ohio 
Field Office, U.S. Department of Energy, 1 Mound Road, Miamisburg, Ohio 
45342, Telephone: 937-865-3823.
    For information on DOE's NEPA process, contact: Ms. Carol 
Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, EH-42, U.S. 
Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 
20585, Telephone: 202-586-4600, or leave a message at 1-800-472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:   

I. Background

    The WM PEIS, DOE/EIS-0200F, May 1997, evaluated the potential 
environmental impacts of treating and storing TRU waste. In the 1998 WM 
PEIS ROD for TRU waste, DOE decided that ``each of the Department's 
sites that currently has or will generate TRU waste will prepare and 
store its waste on site'' prior to shipment to WIPP. (The only 
exception to this decision was the Sandia National Laboratory in New 
Mexico, which will ship its waste to the Los Alamos National Laboratory 
for disposal preparation and storage before disposal in WIPP.) DOE also 
noted that ``in the future, the Department may decide to ship TRU 
wastes from sites where it may be impractical to prepare them for 
disposal to sites where DOE has or will have the necessary 
capability,'' stating that ``transportation of TRU waste would occur 
only in situations where the sites at which the waste is located lack 
the capability to prepare it for disposal.'' The WM PEIS ROD also 
stated that the sites that could receive TRU waste shipments from other 
sites were the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, 
the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the SRS, and the Hanford Site, and 
that such decisions would be subject to appropriate review under NEPA.
    The Miamisburg Environmental Management Project of the DOE Ohio 
Field Office is responsible for managing approximately 300 cubic meters 
of CH-TRU waste from past and present activities and future plans at 
the Mound Plant. Most of this waste (pipes and waste boxes) is too 
large to ship in the Type B TRUPACT-II containers that must be used to 
transport CH-TRU waste to WIPP. The Mound Plant does not possess the 
necessary facilities or equipment to reduce the size of and repackage 
the TRU waste to meet WIPP's shipping requirements and therefore would 
need to establish such a capability at the Mound Plant in order to 
place its inventory of TRU waste into TRUPACT-II containers for direct 
shipment to WIPP.

II. Decision

    DOE has decided to transfer approximately 300 cubic meters of CH-
TRU waste (having a total of approximately 1,000 curies) from the Mound 
Plant to SRS for storage, characterization, and repackaging for 
disposal at WIPP. DOE will ship this Mound CH-TRU waste to SRS in OHOX 
railcars (formerly known as ATMX railcars), in accordance with a DOT 
exemption from the requirement for shipping this waste in a Type B 
container. DOE will make up to ten shipments, each with one OHOX 
railcar loaded with no more than 200 curies of TRU waste.

III. Basis for the Decision

    DOE is closing the Mound Plant and the site is being converted into 
a commercial/industrial park. Given DOE's plan to close the Mound 
Plant, establishing a new treatment capability at Mound to repackage 
its TRU waste, as would be necessary to meet the specifications for 
shipment to WIPP, is not practical or cost-effective. Moreover, the 
operation and eventual decontamination and decommissioning of such a 
waste treatment capability at Mound would delay closure of the site and 
generate additional waste that would require disposal. Thus, DOE needs 
to ship its TRU waste from the Mound Plant to another site for 
repackaging for shipment to WIPP.
    At SRS, the TRU waste will be managed with TRU waste from SRS; that 
is, the Mound waste will be stored, characterized, and then repackaged 
for shipment to WIPP for disposal. SRS is currently managing and will 
continue to manage large amounts of TRU waste (approximately 12,000 
cubic meters through 2033). SRS TRU waste is stored on pads in E-area. 
DOE has decided to construct and operate the TRU Waste 
Characterization/Certification Facility at the SRS, in which it will 
characterize, repackage (including size-reduce), and certify TRU waste 
for shipment for disposal at WIPP (SRS WM EIS, DOE/EIS-0217F, July 
1995, and Supplemental ROD SRS WM, 62 FR 27241, May 1997). Before 
implementing DOE's plans to construct and operate such a facility (in 
about 2012), however, DOE will determine what, if any, additional NEPA 
review is needed.
    DOE believes that use of the OHOX railcar will be a safe 
alternative to use of a Type B container for shipping the Mound TRU 
waste to SRS because of the terms of the DOT exemption, the design of 
the OHOX railcar, and the previous safe use record of the OHOX railcar. 
Under the DOT exemption (DOT-E 5948, June 26, 2000 and in effect 
through May 2002), the curie content per railcar can be no greater than 
200 curies, and there can be no more than ten shipments. With these 
limitations, DOE has calculated that the risks and consequences of 
shipping Mound TRU waste in OHOX railcars would be no greater than 
those estimated in the WM PEIS, even under severe accident conditions.
    The design criteria for the OHOX railcar included structural and 
fire resistant qualities for preventing or mitigating damage to the 
contents in the event of an accident. The car was originally designed 
and built for use in transporting nuclear weapons. It can withstand 
major impacts through its heavy cast-steel underframe and strong 
superstructure, including cross-bracing of the sides. The cars have 
been enhanced over the years by structural and insulation modifications 
and refurbished and certified to meet current railroad and DOT 
standards.

IV. Mitigation

    DOE believes that all practicable means to avoid and minimize 
environmental harm from implementing this revised decision have already 
been adopted in the 1998 WM PEIS ROD for TRU waste referenced above. Of 
particular note is DOE's commitment for assistance to States, tribal 
and local governments, and other public entities concerning human 
health and environmental and economic impacts, including transportation 
planning and emergency response assistance.

V. Prior NEPA Analyses

    The WM PEIS evaluated the shipment of approximately 1,390 curies of 
CH-TRU waste (in ten shipments) in TRUPACT-II containers from Mound to 
SRS for storage and preparation for disposal as part of the analysis of 
several Regionalized Alternatives for managing TRU waste. DOE recently 
prepared a Supplement Analysis for Transportation of TRU Waste from the 
Mound Plant to the SRS for Repackaging, Characterization, and Storage 
to determine whether the activities and impacts of transporting Mound 
TRU waste to SRS in OHOX railcars would present a substantial change in 
the proposed action relevant to environmental concerns or significant 
new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and 
bearing on the proposed action or its impacts and, consequently, 
whether a

[[Page 38648]]

supplemental EIS or a new EIS would be needed.
    Under the proposed transportation action compared to that analyzed 
for the WM PEIS, there would be a reduced total number of curies being 
shipped from the Mound Site to SRS, a lower external exposure rate, and 
the same or lower number of shipments. Under even severe accident 
scenarios, the releases of plutonium would be similar to those 
previously analyzed. The transportation risk analysis DOE prepared to 
support the DOT exemption for the proposed transportation action is 
summarized in and attached to the Supplement Analysis. DOE has 
concluded that the proposed action would not, either under incident-
free or accident conditions, present a substantial change relevant to 
environmental concerns or significant new circumstances or information 
relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action 
or its impacts. Therefore, DOE concluded that a supplemental EIS or a 
new EIS is not required under 40 CFR 1502.9(c) or 10 CFR 1021.314(c) to 
implement this proposal.

    Issued in Washington, D.C., this 13 day of July, 2001.
Carolyn L. Huntoon,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.
[FR Doc. 01-18539 Filed 7-24-01; 8:45 am]
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