[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 99 (Friday, May 21, 2004)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29337-29339]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 04-11510]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 70-1113]


Global Nuclear Fuel--Americas, LLC, Environmental Assessment and 
Finding of No Significant Impact Related to Proposed Exemption From 
Fissile Classification and Fissile Material Package Requirements

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Finding of no significant impact and environmental assessment.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin M. Ramsey, Fuel Cycle Facilities 
Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Mail Stop T-8A33, Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone (301) 415-7887 
and e-mail kmr@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the 
issuance of an amendment to NRC Materials License SNM-1097 to allow a 
one-time exemption from fissile material classification and the fissile 
material package requirements in 10 CFR 71.55 and the standards for 
arrays of fissile material packages in 10 CFR 71.59 for the shipment of 
certain radioactive waste materials by Global Nuclear Fuel--Americas, 
LLC (GNF or licensee) to a disposal facility and to impose license 
conditions on the shipment. The NRC has prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) in support of this action. Based upon the EA, the NRC 
has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is 
appropriate and, therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
will not be prepared.

II. Environmental Assessment

Background

    GNF is authorized under NRC Materials License SNM-1097 to 
manufacture nuclear reactor fuel utilizing special nuclear material 
(SNM), specifically low-enriched uranium. During operation, GNF has 
accumulated a large amount of noncombustible materials contaminated 
with small amounts of fissile material (legacy materials). The legacy 
materials include piping, equipment parts, ceiling tiles, and concrete 
blocks. GNF believes that it will difficult and burdensome to 
demonstrate that this material meets the present regulatory 
requirements in 10 CFR 71.53 for exemption from fissile material 
classification and from the fissile material package standards of 10 
CFR 71.55 and 71.59.
    On January 26, 2004, NRC published a final rule amending its 
regulations in 10 CFR Part 71 on packaging and transporting radioactive 
material, ``Compatibility with IAEA Transportation Safety Standards 
(TS-R-1) and Other Transportation Safety Amendments,'' (69 FR 3698; 
January 26, 2004). The final rule, in part, makes changes in fissile 
material exemption requirements to address the unintended economic 
impacts of NRC's emergency final rule, ``Fissile Material Shipments and 
Exemptions,'' (62 FR 5907; February 10, 1997). In particular, the 
revised requirements for exemption from classification as fissile 
material (placed in revised 10 CFR 71.15) provide greater flexibility 
to licensees shipping radioactive material than is provided in 10 CFR 
71.53. The effective date of the final rule is October 1, 2004.
    On April 19, 2004, GNF requested permission to use the revised 
fissile material exemption in 10 CFR 71.15(c) prior to October 1, 2004. 
Use of this revised requirement would allow GNF to ship approximately 
800 containers of legacy materials without these legacy materials being 
classified as fissile materials and without needing to comply with the 
fissile material packaging requirements of 10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59. 
Because GNF wants to make this shipment before the effective date of 
the amended part 71 final rule, the provisions of amended 10 CFR 71.15 
are unavailable to GNF. However, under the provisions of 10 CFR 71.8, 
NRC may grant an exemption from the requirements of the regulations in 
part 71 that it determines is authorized by law and will not endanger 
life or property nor the common defense and security. Accordingly, NRC 
is considering issuing an exemption to GNF from fissile material 
classification and from the fissile material packaging requirements of 
10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59, together with conditions that would be placed 
in the license to govern this one-time shipment of approximately 800 
containers of legacy materials. The purpose of this document is to 
assess the environmental consequences of the

[[Page 29338]]

proposed exemption and proposed license conditions.

Review Scope

    The purpose of this EA is to assess the environmental impacts of 
issuing a license amendment to GNF which grants an exemption from 
fissile classification and from 10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59 and imposes 
conditions on the shipment of approximately 800 containers of legacy 
materials. It does not approve issuance of the license amendment. This 
assessment will determine whether to issue a FONSI or to prepare an 
EIS. Should NRC issue a FONSI, no EIS will be prepared.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to amend NRC Materials License SNM-1097 to 
exempt the licensee from fissile material classification and from 
fissile material package standards in 10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59 for a one-
time shipment of approximately 800 containers of legacy materials and 
to impose the following conditions on this shipment:
    Fissile material meeting the following requirements is exempt from 
classification as fissile material and from the fissile material 
package standards of 10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59, but is subject to all 
other requirements of 10 CFR Part 71:
    (1) Low concentrations of solid fissile material commingled with 
solid nonfissile material, provided that:
    (i) There is at least 2000 grams of solid nonfissile material for 
every gram of fissile material, and
    (ii) There is no more than 180 grams of fissile material 
distributed within 360 kilograms of contiguous nonfissile material.
    (2) Lead, beryllium, graphite, and hydrogenous material enriched in 
deuterium may be present in the package, but must not be included in 
determining the required mass of solid nonfissile material.
    These conditions are required to provide reasonable assurance that 
the material will not pose an unsafe criticality hazard during 
transport.

Purpose and Need for Proposed Action

    GNF is currently manufacturing nuclear reactor fuel at its 
Wilmington, NC facility. It is requesting the license amendment to 
facilitate the transport and subsequent disposal of approximately 800 
containers of legacy materials stored at the site. The licensee has a 
contract with a disposal site that will expire before October 1, 2004. 
In order to ship these materials under its existing contract, it must 
obtain an exemption from fissile material classification and from the 
fissile material package requirements for this shipment.

Alternatives

    The alternatives available to NRC are:
    1. Approve the license amendment as above-described;
    2. No action (i.e., deny issuance of the license amendment)

Affected Environment

    The affected environment for the proposed action would be the 
immediate vicinity of the vehicle used to transport the material.
    The affected environment for no action is the GNF site. A full 
description of the site and its characteristics is given in the 1997 EA 
for the renewal of Special Nuclear Material License No. SNM-1097 (NRC, 
May 1997). The GNF facility is located on a site of about 1664 acres in 
New Hanover County, North Carolina, approximately 6 miles north of the 
city of Wilmington.

Environmental Impacts of Proposed Action

    The risk to human health from the transportation of all radioactive 
material in the U.S. was evaluated in the ``Final Environmental Impact 
Statement on the Transportation of Radioactive Material by Air and 
Other Modes,'' NUREG-0170 (NRC, 1977). The principal radiological 
environmental impact during normal transportation is direct radiation 
exposure to nearby persons from radioactive material in the package. 
The average annual individual dose from all radioactive material 
transportation in the U.S. was calculated to be approximately 0.5 mrem, 
well below the 10 CFR part 20 requirement of 100 mrem for a member of 
the public. The proposed action would result in additional shipments. 
Additional shipments would expose more members of the public to 
radiation, increase nonradiological truck emissions, and increase the 
risk of injuries from traffic accidents. However, the increases would 
be so small that the differences would be negligible.
    Occupational health was also considered in the Final Environmental 
Impact Statement on the Transportation of Radioactive Material by Air 
and Other Modes (NRC, 1977). The average annual occupational dose to 
the driver(s) is estimated to be 8.7 mSv (870 mrem), which is below the 
10 CFR part 20 requirement of 50 mSv (5000 mrem). The Department of 
Transportation (DOT) regulations in 49 CFR 177.842(g) require that the 
radiation dose rate may not exceed 0.02 mSv (2 mrem) per hour in any 
position normally occupied in a motor vehicle. The proposed action 
would not cause dose rates to the driver exceeding the DOT limit.
    The possibility of a criticality accident due to transportation of 
this material was evaluated during the development of the new rule 
containing the fissile material classification exemption, the substance 
of which is to be incorporated into the license as a condition for the 
one-time shipment planned by GNF. The results of the evaluation are 
documented in NUREG/CR-5342, ``Assessment and Recommendations for 
Fissile Material Packaging Exemptions and General Licenses Within 10 
CFR part 71'' (NRC, 1998). The evaluation concluded that the mass 
limits in the exemptions could be safely increased to provide greater 
flexibility to licensees shipping radioactive material. In addition, an 
EA was prepared and a FONSI was published in Section VIII of the final 
rule amending 10 CFR part 71 (NRC, January 2004). The EA explicitly 
considered the potential environmental impacts of the revised fissile 
material exemptions.
    Under the proposed action, the doses to the public and to the 
workers are not increased beyond those considered in the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement on the Transportation of Radioactive 
Material by Air and Other Modes (NRC, 1977). Therefore, shipment of 
these materials as proposed would be consistent with the assessment of 
environmental impacts and the conclusions in the Final Environmental 
Impact Statement on the Transportation of Radioactive Material by Air 
and Other Modes (NRC, 1977).
    The NRC has determined that the approval of the proposed amendment 
will not have a significant impact on effluent releases, environmental 
monitoring, water resources, geology, soils, air quality, demography, 
biota, or cultural or historic resources under normal transport 
conditions.

Environmental Impacts of No Action Alternative

    Denying this amendment request would result in the continued 
storage of a large amount of contaminated material on the licensee's 
site. Although the risk of a release is low, the risk would remain. In 
addition, the material poses an ever-increasing financial liability 
because disposal must still be accomplished before the facility can be 
decommissioned and released for unrestricted use.
    The occupational health impacts would not change significantly as a 
result of denial of this amendment request. Occupational doses at the

[[Page 29339]]

facility may be slightly higher as a result of the need to continue 
surveillance and maintenance activities; however, the facility will 
continue to implement NRC-approved, radiation safety procedures for 
handling radioactive materials. Thus, the dose to workers under the no 
action alternative will remain within acceptable regulatory limits.
    The NRC has determined that denial of the proposed amendment will 
not have a significant impact on effluent releases, environmental 
monitoring, water resources, geology, soils, air quality, demography, 
biota, or cultural or historic resources at or near the GNF site.
    Based on its review, the NRC has concluded that the environmental 
impacts associated with the proposed action are insignificant and, 
therefore, do not warrant denial of the proposed license amendment. The 
NRC has determined that the proposed action, approval of the license 
amendment as described, is the appropriate alternative for selection. 
Based on an evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed 
license amendment, the NRC has determined that the proper action is to 
issue a FONSI in the Federal Register.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

    On May 6, 2004, the NRC staff provided the draft EA and FONSI to 
staff from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural 
Resources (DENR). On May 7, 2004, the DENR Radiation Protection Section 
responded that it had no comments.
    The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action is not a type 
of activity that has potential to cause effects on historical 
properties because it is administrative in nature. Therefore, no 
consultation is required under Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act.
    The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action is not a type 
of activity that has potential to effect threatened or endangered 
species, or critical habitat because it is administrative in nature. 
Therefore, no consultation is required under Section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act.

References

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), December 1977, NUREG-0170, 
``Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Transportation of 
Radioactive Material by Air and Other Modes,'' Accession No. 
ML022590265.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), February 10, 1997, 
``Fissile Material Shipments and Exemptions,'' Emergency Final Rule, 
10 CFR Part 71, 62 FR 5907.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), May 1997, ``Environmental 
Assessment for Renewal of Special Nuclear Material License SNM-
1097,'' Legacy Accession No. 9705080142.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), July 1998, NUREG/CR-5342, 
``Assessment and Recommendations for Fissile Material Packaging 
Exemptions and General Licenses Within 10 CFR Part 71.''
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), January 26, 2004, 
``Compatibility With IAEA Transportation Safety Standards (TS-R-1) 
and Other Transportation Safety Amendments,'' Final Rule, 10 CFR 
Part 71, 69 FR 3698.
Global Nuclear Fuel--Americas LLC (GNFA), April 19, 2004, 
``Exemption Request,'' ADAMS No. ML041190402.

III. Final Finding of No Significant Impact

    Pursuant to 10 CFR part 51, the NRC has considered the 
environmental consequences of amending NRC Materials License SNM-1097 
to exempt GNF from fissile material classification and from the fissile 
material package requirements in 10 CFR 71.55 and 71.59 for a one-time 
shipment of approximately 800 containers of legacy materials and to 
impose license conditions on the shipment. On the basis of this 
assessment, the Commission has concluded that environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed action would not be significant and the 
Commission is making a finding of no significant impact. Accordingly, 
preparation of an EIS is not warranted.

IV. Further Information

    For further details, see the references listed above. Documents may 
be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's Public Document Room 
(PDR), located at One White Flint North, Room O-1F21, 11555 Rockville 
Pike, Rockville, Maryland. In addition, documents related to this 
proposed action will be available electronically for public inspection 
from the NRC Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS). 
ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/
reading-rm/adams.html (the Public Electronic Reading Room). Persons who 
do not have access to ADAMS, or who encounter problems accessing 
documents in ADAMS, should contact the PDR reference staff at (800) 
397-4209 or (301) 415-4737, or by e-mail at pdr@nrc.gov.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this l4th day of May 2004.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Robert C. Pierson,
Director, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of 
Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 04-11510 Filed 5-20-04; 8:45 am]
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