[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 4 (Wednesday, January 7, 2004)]
[Notices]
[Pages 944-947]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 04-315]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 50-423]


Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., Millstone Power Station, Unit 
No. 3; Exemption

1.0 Background

    Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. (DNC or the licensee) is the 
holder of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-65 and NPF-49, which 
authorize operation of Millstone Power Station, Unit Nos. 2 and 3 (MP2 
and MP3), respectively. The licenses provide, among other things, that 
the licensee is subject to all rules, regulations, and orders of the 
U.S.

[[Page 945]]

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, the Commission) now or hereafter in 
effect.
    The facility consists of two pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) 
located in New London County in Connecticut; this exemption addresses 
only MP3. The nuclear steam system supplier for MP2 is Combustion 
Engineering, and the supplier for MP3 is Westinghouse Electric 
Corporation.

2.0 Request/Action

    Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Sec.  
54.17(c) stipulates that an application for a renewed license may not 
be submitted to the Commission earlier than 20 years before the 
expiration of the operating license currently in effect.
    DNC, however, requested by application dated December 13, 2002, as 
supplemented by letters dated April 28, 2003, and September 3, 2003, a 
schedular exemption from the 20-year restriction specified in 10 CFR 
54.17(c) to allow it to submit a renewal application for MP3 earlier 
than 20 years before expiration of its operating license. Such an 
exemption would allow DNC to submit one application for renewal of the 
operating licenses of both MP2 and MP3, with the goal of attaining 
efficiencies for preparation and review of the application. The current 
operating license for MP2 (DPR-65) expires on July 31, 2015, whereas 
the current operating license for MP3 (NPF-49) expires on November 25, 
2025. At the time the exemption request was filed, MP2 had more than 29 
years of operating experience and MP3 had more than 18 years 
experience.

3.0 Discussion

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 54.15, the Commission may, upon application by 
any interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from 
the requirements of 10 CFR part 54, in accordance with the provisions 
of 10 CFR 50.12, when (1) The exemptions are authorized by law, (2) 
will not present an undue risk to public health or safety, and (3) are 
consistent with the common defense and security. However, an exemption 
will not be granted unless special circumstances are present, as 
defined in Section 50.12(a)(2).

3.1 Authorized by Law

    The Commission's basis for establishing the 20-year limit contained 
in 10 CFR 54.17(c) is discussed in the 1991 Statements of Consideration 
for part 54 of 10 CFR (56 FR 64963). The limit was established to 
ensure that substantial operating experience was accumulated by a 
licensee before a renewal application is submitted such that any plant-
specific concerns regarding aging would be disclosed. In amending the 
rule in 1995, the Commission sought public comment on whether the 20-
year limit should be reduced. The Commission determined that sufficient 
basis did not exist to generically reduce the 20-year limit. However, 
the Commission did indicate in the Statements of Consideration for the 
amended rule (60 FR 22488), that it was willing to consider plant-
specific exemption requests by applicants who believe that sufficient 
information is available to justify applying for license renewal prior 
to 20 years from expiration of the current license. DNC's exemption 
request is consistent with the Commission's intent to consider plant-
specific requests and is permitted by 10 CFR 54.15.
    The current operating licenses for MP2 and MP3, were issued in 
accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (AEA), and 10 
CFR 50.51 which limit the duration of an operating license to a maximum 
of 40 years. In accordance with 10 CFR 54.31, the renewed license will 
be of the same class as the operating license currently in effect and 
cannot exceed a term of 40 years. Therefore, the terms of the renewed 
licenses for MP2 and MP3, are limited both by law and the Commission's 
regulations to 40 years. Additionally, 10 CFR 54.31(b) states that:

A renewed license will be issued for a fixed period of time, which 
is the sum of the additional amount of time beyond the expiration of 
the operating license (not to exceed 20 years) that is requested in 
a renewal application plus the remaining number of years on the 
operating license currently in effect. The term of any renewed 
license may not exceed 40 years.

    The potential exists that because DNC's decision to apply early for 
license renewal for MP3, DNC may not obtain the maximum 20-year period 
of extended operation permitted by 10 CFR 54.31(b). Any actual 
reduction will depend on the date the renewed licenses are issued. If a 
reduction in the 20-year extension is required, and DNC desires further 
extension of MP3's operating licenses in the future, an additional 
renewal application can be submitted in accordance with 10 CFR part 54.
    Therefore, should the Commission determine to renew the MP3 
operating license, the term of the license will not exceed 40 years, 
and granting of MP3's exemption request will not result in violation of 
the AEA or the Commission's regulations.

3.2 No Undue Risk to Public Health and Safety

    DNC's exemption request seeks only schedular relief regarding the 
date of submittal, and not substantive relief from the requirements of 
10 CFR parts 51 or 54. DNC must still conduct all environmental reviews 
required by 10 CFR part 51 and all safety reviews and evaluations 
required by 10 CFR part 54 when preparing the applications for MP2 and 
MP3. The staff's review will verify that all applicable Commission 
regulations have been met before issuing the renewed licenses. 
Therefore, the staff finds that granting this schedular exemption will 
not represent an undue risk to public health and safety.

3.3 Consistent With the Common Defense and Security

    As discussed previously, the exemption requested is only a 
schedular exemption. The NRC staff will review the license renewal 
application DNC submits pursuant to the requested exemption, to 
determine whether all applicable requirements are fully met. 
Accordingly, granting the requested exemption will be consistent with 
the common defense and security.

3.4 Special Circumstances Supporting Issuance of the Exemption

    An exemption will not be granted unless special circumstances are 
present as defined in 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2). Specifically, 10 CFR 
50.12(a)(2)(ii) states that a special circumstance exists when 
``application of the regulation in the particular circumstances * * * 
is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.'' In 
initially promulgating 10 CFR 54.17(c) in 1991, the Commission stated 
that the purpose of the time limit was ``to ensure that substantial 
operating experience is accumulated by a licensee before it submits a 
renewal application'' (56 FR 64963). At that time, the NRC found that 
20 years of operating experience provided a sufficient basis for 
renewal applications. However, in issuing the amended 10 CFR part 54 in 
1995, the Commission indicated it would consider an exemption to this 
requirement if sufficient information was available on a plant-specific 
basis to justify submission of an application to renew a license before 
completion of 20 years of operation (60 FR 22488).
    The 20-year limit was imposed by the NRC to ensure that sufficient 
operating experience was accumulated to identify any plant-specific 
aging concerns. As set forth below, MP2 is sufficiently similar to MP3, 
such that the operating experience for MP2 applies to MP3. In

[[Page 946]]

addition, MP3 has accumulated significant operating experience. 
Accordingly, under the requested exemption, sufficient operating 
experience will have been accumulated to identify any plant-specific 
aging concerns for both units.
    DNC states that the two units at the Millstone site are similar in 
materials of construction and operating environments, many of the aging 
analyses to be performed for the structures, systems, and components 
(SSCs) of MP2 will be directly applicable to the SSCs of MP3. Both 
units are PWR units that utilize recirculating, U-tube type steam 
generators that produce saturated steam to drive turbine-generators. 
DNC states that the materials of construction for SSCs on both units 
are typically identical or similar. The materials used and the 
environments to which these materials are subjected determine the 
existence of aging effects. Both units at the Millstone site share 
common facilities/environments and have many similar components and 
materials.
    DNC also stated that many of the procedures that govern site 
activities are not unit-specific and require the consideration of 
operating experience at both Millstone units. Both units share many of 
the same maintenance activities and other existing aging management 
programs, making them more effective by relying on the experience at 
both units. The Millstone site organization shares a common operating 
experience review department, such that operating experience and 
corrective actions are continually shared between the units. The 
Millstone site also utilizes their Corrective Action Program (CAP), in 
which a multi-disciplinary team reviews Condition Reports (CRs). As 
part of this review, the team identifies CRs that could affect other 
operating units and that need to be evaluated for both units. The 
direct exchange of operating experience by this common operating 
experience review and by the CAP ensures the evaluation of MP2 aging 
issues that could be applicable to MP3. The shared operating experience 
and dedicated system engineering responsibilities also result in a 
continual evaluation of the effectiveness of plant programs used to 
manage the effects of aging of plant equipment for both units.
    While the units at the Millstone site have common operation, 
maintenance, use of operating experience, and environment, MP2 and MP3 
are of different PWR design. MP2 is a Combustion Engineering PWR design 
and MP3 is a Westinghouse 4-Loop PWR design. The nuclear steam supply 
system (NSSS) design, thermal output, containment and Category 1 
structures, of these two designs are significantly different. In a 
letter dated April 28, 2003, the applicant provided supplemental 
information to justify the applicability of MP2's operating experience 
as the basis for the exemption request or to discuss how industry-wide 
Westinghouse 4-Loop operating experience can supplement MP3's operating 
experience. In addition, on July 18, 2003, the NRC requested additional 
information to justify the applicability of MP2's containment and 
Category 1 structures operating experience as the basis for the 
exemption or to discuss how industry-wide operating experience can 
supplement MP3's operating experience.
3.4.1 NSSS Design
    The staff reviewed the supplemental information provided by the 
applicant in its letter to the NRC dated April 28, 2003. DNC compared 
the MP2 and MP3 NSSS SSCs to those in the applicable sections of the 
Generic Aging Lessons Learned (GALL) Report and listed the comparative 
results in the attachment to the letter. Based on Section II.A of the 
attachment and its related discussions, the applicant stated that the 
operating experience from MP2 is applicable to MP3 with regard to 
identifying NSSS-related aging effects. The staff reviewed the contents 
of Section II.A and determined that although there are differences in 
NSSS design and configuration between MP2 and MP3, both units do 
exhibit similar aging effects, and their aging effects are comparable 
to those of the GALL Report. The staff also reviewed the applicant's 
assertions that: (1) MP3 has the benefit of industry operating 
experience, particularly for those PWRs that have the same NSSS design 
(Surry and North Anna); (2) as of the date of their submittal, nine 
Westinghouse 4-Loop PWRs have accumulated at least 20 years of 
operating experience and five other plants have close to 20 years of 
operating experience; and (3) the MP3 license renewal application (LRA) 
will also reflect industry experience identified in the GALL Report as 
well as other industry programs.
    The staff finds that the justifications provided by the applicant 
for these assertions are based on factual information and are 
reasonable. Based on the above discussion, the staff concludes that 
with respect to MP2 and MP3 NSSS design, configuration, and management 
of NSSS-related aging effects, the applicant has provided adequate 
justifications for the NRC consideration of granting MP3's request for 
exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 54.17(c)
3.4.2 Thermal Output
    The staff reviewed the supplemental response provided by the 
applicant in its letter to the NRC dated April 28, 2003. The staff 
noted that DNC compared MP2 and MP3 thermal outputs, which results in 
differences in neutron flux and fluence to which the reactor vessels 
and the reactor vessel internals (RVI) are exposed. DNC indicated that 
the differences in thermal output do not significantly affect the 
reactor coolant temperature. In addition, it was noted that the MP2 and 
MP3 reactor vessel operating temperatures are similar and closely match 
those specified in the GALL Report for the PWR reactor vessel 
environment. The staff compared the operating temperatures through the 
reactor vessel integrity database with those in the GALL Report and 
found that the licensee's justification was reasonable.
    In addition, DNC indicated that the higher core power density and 
correspondingly, a higher fluence for MP3 which may result in the 
emergence of certain aging effects earlier in plant life than would be 
the case for MP2. However, it was noted that there are no unique aging 
effects for the MP3 RVI and that the same aging effects would require 
management for both units.
    The licensee also stated that on an industry-wide basis, the 
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Materials Reliability Program 
(MRP) addresses aging effects associated with PWR RVI. It was noted 
that the EPRI MRP reviewed the function of each internal PWR component 
(including Westinghouse and CE). For those internals that could impact 
safety, the EPRI MRP considered the aging mechanisms that could cause 
degradation of RVI component and is developing strategies to manage the 
resulting aging effects. Therefore, the licensee indicated that the 
operating experience gained from the EPRI MRP could be applied to MP3 
in assisting in the identification of plant-specific concerns regarding 
aging. The staff finds this approach acceptable.
    The staff finds that the justification provided by the applicant 
for these assertions are based on factual information and are 
reasonable. Based on the above discussion, the staff concludes that 
with respect to MP2 and MP3 thermal output differences, the applicant 
has provided adequate justification for the staff's consideration of 
granting the MP3 request for

[[Page 947]]

exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 54.17(c).
3.4.3 Containment and Category 1 Structures
    The staff reviewed the additional information provided by the 
applicant in its letter to the NRC dated September 3, 2003. In the 
attachment to the letter, DNC compared the MP2 and MP3 containment and 
Category 1 structures and components in Table 1; MP3 and other Stone 
and Webster Engineering Corp. plants' containment and Category 1 
structures and components in Table 2; and MP3 and the applicable 
sections of the GALL Report containment and Category 1 structures and 
components in Table 3. Based on the Table 1 comparisons and its related 
discussions, the applicant stated that the operating experience from 
MP2 is applicable to MP3 with identifying containment and Category 1 
structure-related aging effects, except when there were differences 
such as in the architect-engineer, containment type, and groundwater 
protection. For the differences previously noted, the applicant relied 
on the operating experience from plants (Table 2) that have the same 
architect-engineer, containment type, and groundwater protection such 
as North Anna Units 1 and 2, Surry Units 1 and 2, Beaver Valley Unit 1, 
and Haddam Neck. Even though these plants have the same architect-
engineer, containment type, and groundwater protection as MP3, the 
environments are different. MP3 is located in a coastal area and the 
other plants are located in inland environments. For the environmental 
difference, the applicant relied on the GALL Report for additional 
operating experience. The staff reviewed the applicant's assertions 
that MP3 also has the benefit of industry operating experience, 
particularly for those PWRs with the same architect engineer, 
containment type, and groundwater protection; and the MP3 LRA will also 
reflect industry experience identified in the GALL Report, as well as 
other industry programs.
    The staff finds that the justifications provided by the applicant 
for these assertions are based on factual information and are 
reasonable. Based on the above discussion, the staff concludes that, 
with respect to MP2 and MP3 containment and Category 1 structures 
design, structural configuration and management of structural-related 
aging effects, the applicant has provided adequate justifications for 
the NRC's consideration of granting MP3's request for exemption from 
the requirements of 10 CFR 54.17(c).
    Therefore, sufficient combined operating experience from MP2 and 
industry exists to satisfy the intent of 10 CFR 54.17(c), and the 
application of the regulation in this case is not necessary to achieve 
the underlying purpose of the rule. The staff finds that DNC's request 
meets the requirement, in 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2), that special 
circumstances exist to grant the exemption.

3.5 Summary

    Based on the foregoing, the staff finds that the requested 
exemption is acceptable in that it is authorized by law; will not 
present an undue risk to public health and safety; is consistent with 
the common defense and security; and that special circumstances are 
present, under 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2)(ii). Should DNC submit an application 
to renew the licenses for MP2 and MP3, the application must demonstrate 
full compliance with 10 CFR parts 51 and 54 for both units and include 
information addressing the similarity in design, operation, 
maintenance, operating experience, and environments of the units to 
support submittal of the dual-unit application. In the course of its 
review of an application to renew the licenses for the units at the 
Millstone site, the NRC staff will examine how the actual operating 
experience, available from both units and from industry, applies to the 
particular SSCs evaluated.

4.0 Conclusion

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 
50.12(a), the exemption is authorized by law, will not present an undue 
risk to the public health and safety, and is consistent with the common 
defense and security. Also, special circumstances are present. 
Therefore, the Commission hereby grants DNC a schedular exemption from 
the requirements of 10 CFR 54.17(c). Specifically, this schedular 
exemption allows DNC to apply for a renewed license for MP3 earlier 
than 20 years before the expiration of the operating license currently 
in effect.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.32, the Commission has determined that the 
granting of this exemption will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment (68 FR 7529).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 30th day of December, 2003.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Cornelius Holden,
Acting Director, Division of Licensing Project Management, Office of 
Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 04-315 Filed 1-6-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P