[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 114 (Tuesday, June 15, 2004)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33426-33427]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 04-13367]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket Nos. 50-206, 50-361, and 50-362]


Southern California Edison Company, San Onofre Nuclear Generating 
Station; Exemption From Certain Low-Level Waste Shipment Tracking 
Requirements in 10 CFR Part 20 Appendix G

 1.0 Background

    The Southern California Edison Company (SCE) is the licensee and 
holder of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-13, NPF-10, and NPF-15 
issued for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Units 1, 2, 
and 3, respectively, located in San Diego County, California. SONGS 
Unit 1 is a permanently shutdown nuclear reactor facility while Units 2 
and 3 are operating reactors. Beginning around 1999, the amount of 
radioactive waste shipped from the site significantly increased. The 
majority of the radioactive waste generated by the site is related to 
Unit 1 decommissioning activities. Inherent to the decommissioning 
process, large volumes of slightly contaminated concrete rubble and 
debris are generated that require shipment for disposal in offsite low-
level radioactive waste burial sites. Due primarily to the volume of 
radioactive waste, SCE has encountered an increase in the number of 
routine shipments that take longer than 20 days from transfer to the 
shipper to receipt acknowledgment from the burial site. Each shipment 
with receipt notifications greater than 20 days requires a special 
investigation and report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 
which the licensee believes to be burdensome and unnecessary to meet 
the intent of the regulation.

2.0 Request/Action

    In a letter to the Commission dated January 26, 2004, SCE requested 
an exemption from the requirements in 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix G, 
Section III.E, to investigate and file a report to the NRC if shipments 
of low-level radioactive waste are not acknowledged by the intended 
recipient within 20 days after transfer to the shipper. This exemption 
would extend the time period that can elapse during shipments of low-
level radioactive waste before SCE is required to investigate and file 
a report to the NRC from 20 days to 35 days. The exemption would be 
limited to rail and combination truck/rail shipping methods. The 
exemption request is based on a statistical analysis of the historical 
data of low-level radioactive waste shipment times from the licensee's 
site to the disposal site.

3.0 Discussion

    The proposed action would grant an exemption to extend the 20-day 
investigation and reporting requirements for shipments of low-level 
radioactive waste to 35 days. Since 1999, SCE has made over 150 
shipments of low-level radioactive waste as part of the decommissioning 
efforts at the facility. MHF Logistical Solutions is the rail broker 
company used by SCE to perform these shipments. MHF Logistical 
Solutions has a tracking system that monitors the progress of the 
shipments from their originating point at SONGS to their final 
destination at Envirocare of Utah, Inc. The shipments are made by 
either rail or combination truck/rail and, according to SCE, the 
transportation time alone takes over 16 days on average, with one 
shipment taking 57 days.
    In addition, administrative procedures at Envirocare and mail 
delivery can add up to 11 additional days. Based on historical data and 
estimates of the remaining waste at SONGS Unit 1, SCE could have to 
perform over 100 investigations and reports to the NRC during the next 
five years if the 20-day notification criteria is maintained. The 
licensee affirms that the low-level radioactive waste shipments will 
always be tracked throughout transportation until they arrive at their 
intended destination. SCE believes that the need to investigate, trace, 
and report to the NRC on the shipment of low-level radioactive waste 
packages not reaching their destination within 20 days does not serve 
the underlying purpose of the rule and is not necessary. As a result, 
SCE states that granting this exemption will not result in an undue 
hazard to life or property.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.2301, the Commission may, upon application by 
a licensee or upon its own initiative, grant an exemption from the 
requirements of regulations in 10 CFR Part 20 if it determines the 
exemption is authorized by law and would not result in undue hazard to 
life or property. There are no provisions in the Atomic Energy Act (or 
in any other Federal statute) that impose a requirement to investigate 
and report on low-level radioactive waste shipments that have not been 
acknowledged by the recipient within 20 days of transfer. Therefore, 
the Commission concludes that there is no statutory prohibition on the 
issuance of the requested exemption and the Commission is authorized to 
grant the exemption by law.
    The Commission acknowledges that based on the statistical analysis 
of low-level radioactive waste shipments from the SONGS site, the need 
to investigate and report on shipments that take longer than 20 days 
could result in an excessive administrative burden on the licensee. The 
Commission asserts that the underlying purpose of the rule is to 
investigate a late shipment that may be lost, misdirected, or diverted. 
Because of the oversight and monitoring of radioactive waste shipments 
throughout the entire journey from SONGS to the disposal site, it is 
unlikely that a shipment could be lost, misdirected, or diverted 
without the knowledge of the carrier or SCE. Furthermore, by extending 
the elapsed time for receipt acknowledgment to 35 days before requiring 
investigations and reporting, a reasonable upper limit on shipment 
duration (based on historical analysis) is still maintained if a 
breakdown of normal tracking systems were to occur. Consequently, the 
Commission finds that there is no hazard to life or property by 
extending the investigation and reporting time for low-level 
radioactive waste shipments from 20 days to 35 days for rail and 
combination truck/rail shipments. Therefore, the Commission concludes 
that the underlying purpose of 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix G, Section 
III.E will be met.

[[Page 33427]]

4.0 Conclusion

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 
20.2301, the exemption requested by SCE in its January 26, 2004, letter 
is authorized by law and will not result in undue hazards to life or 
property. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants SCE an exemption to 
extend the 20-day investigation and reporting requirements for 
shipments of low-level radioactive waste, as required by 10 CFR Part 
20, Appendix G, Section III.E, to 35 days.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.31, the Commission has determined that the 
granting of this exemption will not have a significant effect on the 
quality of the human environment as documented in Federal Register 
notice 69 FR 23229 (April 28, 2004).
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 2nd day of June, 2004.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Daniel M. Gillen,
Acting Director, Division of Waste Management and Environmental 
Protection, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 04-13367 Filed 6-14-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P