[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 159 (Wednesday, August 19, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 41944-41946]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-19849]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2008-0213; Docket No. 040-06394]


Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact for License Amendment to Source Materials License 
No. SMB-141, for Unrestricted Release of a Portion of the Department of 
the Army, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Army 
Research Laboratory Facility at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Issuance of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for License Amendment.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Betsy Ullrich, Senior Health 
Physicist, Commercial and R&D Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials 
Safety, Region I, 475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 
19406; telephone (610) 337-5040; fax number (610) 337-5269; or by e-
mail: Elizabeth.Ullrich@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the 
issuance of a license amendment to Source Materials License No. SMB-
141. This license is held by the Department of the Army, U.S. Army 
Research, Development And Engineering Command (ARDEC), Army Research 
Laboratory (ARL) (the Licensee), for its U.S. Army Research Laboratory 
(the Facility), located at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. 
Issuance of the amendment would authorize release of the R-14 Range for 
unrestricted use. The Licensee requested this action in a letter dated 
May 11, 2009. The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in 
support of this proposed action in accordance with the requirements of 
Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); Part 51 (10 CFR Part 51). 
Based on the EA, the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No Significant 
Impact (FONSI) is appropriate with respect to the proposed action. The 
amendment will be issued to the Licensee following the publication of 
this FONSI and EA in the Federal Register.

II. Environmental Assessment

Identification of Proposed Action

    The proposed action would approve the Licensee's May 11, 2009, 
license amendment request, resulting in release of the R-14 Range for 
unrestricted use. License No. SMB-141 was issued on April 12, 1961, 
pursuant to 10 CFR Part 40, and has been amended periodically since 
that time. This license authorized the Licensee to use uranium and 
thorium for purposes of conducting research and development activities; 
fabrication, modification, and testing of components, parts, and/or 
devices; and munitions testing.
    The R-14 Range is situated on Spesutie Island within the Aberdeen 
Proving Ground and consists of structures used for munitions testing, 
support buildings for administrative activities, storage, and other 
support services. The R-14 Range is located in an area which is 
primarily undeveloped forest and wetlands. The R-14 Range occupies an 
area of about 5.28 acres, of which 0.2 acres is occupied by three 
remaining buildings. Within the R-14 Range, use of licensed materials 
was confined to R-14 Blast Chamber, Firing Tube, Air Handling System, 
Hot Line Building and Water Treatment Shed and areas of the Laydown 
Yard, Firing Line and the Grassy Field south of the Blast Chamber.
    On November 6, 2007, the Licensee ceased licensed activities at the 
R-14 Range and initiated a survey and decontamination of the R-14 
Range. Based on the Licensee's historical knowledge of the site and the 
conditions of the R-14 Range, the Licensee determined that only routine 
decontamination activities, in accordance with their NRC-approved, 
operating radiation safety procedures, were required. The Licensee was 
not required to submit a decommissioning plan to the NRC because worker 
cleanup activities and procedures are consistent with those approved 
for routine operations. The Licensee conducted surveys of the R-14 
Range and provided information to the NRC to demonstrate

[[Page 41945]]

that it meets the criteria in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20 for 
unrestricted release.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The Licensee has ceased conducting licensed activities at the R-14 
Range and seeks the unrestricted use of the R-14 Range.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The historical review of licensed activities conducted at the R-14 
Range shows that such activities involved use of the following 
radionuclides with half-lives greater than 120 days: uranium-234, 
uranium-235, and uranium-238. Prior to performing the final status 
survey, the Licensee conducted decontamination activities, as 
necessary, in the areas of the R-14 Range affected by these 
radionuclides.
    The Licensee conducted a final status survey during the period of 
May 7 through September 25, 2008. This survey covered all of the R-14 
Range affected land areas (Laydown Yard, Firing Line, and the Grassy 
Field) and structures (R-14 Blast Chamber, Firing Tube, Air Handling 
System, Hot Line Building, and Water Treatment Shed). The final status 
survey report was attached to the Licensee's amendment request dated 
May 11, 2009. The Licensee elected to demonstrate compliance with the 
radiological criteria for unrestricted release of buildings as 
specified in 10 CFR 20.1402 by using the screening approach described 
in NUREG-1757, ``Consolidated NMSS Decommissioning Guidance,'' Volume 
2. The Licensee used the radionuclide-specific derived concentration 
guideline levels (DCGLs), developed there by the NRC, which comply with 
the dose criterion in 10 CFR 20.1402. These DCGLs define the maximum 
amount of residual radioactivity on building surfaces, equipment, and 
materials that will satisfy the NRC requirements in Subpart E of 10 CFR 
Part 20 for unrestricted release. The Licensee's final status survey 
results were below these DCGLs and are in compliance with the As Low As 
Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) requirement of 10 CFR 20.1402. The NRC 
thus finds that the Licensee's final status survey results of buildings 
are acceptable.
    The Licensee elected to demonstrate compliance with the 
radiological criteria for unrestricted release of soils as specified in 
10 CFR 20.1402 by developing derived concentration guideline levels 
(DCGLs) for its R-14 Range. The Licensee conducted site-specific dose 
modeling using input parameters specific to the R-14 Range soils. The 
licensee used the relative fractions of uranium progeny fractions and 
the thickness of the contaminated zone at the R-14 Range, along with 
RESRAD default parameters and conservative input parameters from NRC 
and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance documents. The 
Licensee thus determined the maximum amount of residual radioactivity 
in soils that will satisfy the NRC requirements in Subpart E of 10 CFR 
Part 20 for unrestricted release. The NRC previously reviewed the 
Licensee's methodology and proposed DCGLs and concluded that the 
proposed DCGLs are acceptable for use as release criteria at the R-14 
Range. The NRC's approval of the Licensee's proposed DCGLs was 
published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2008 (73 FR 19263). The 
Licensee's final status survey results of soils were below these DCGLs, 
and are thus acceptable.
    Based on its review, the staff has determined that the affected 
environment and any environmental impacts associated with the proposed 
action are bounded by the impacts evaluated by the ``Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement in Support of Rulemaking on Radiological 
Criteria for License Termination of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities'' 
(NUREG-1496) Volumes 1-3 (ML042310492, ML042320379, and ML042330385). 
The staff finds there were no significant environmental impacts from 
the use of radioactive material at the R-14 Range. The NRC staff 
reviewed the docket file records and the final status survey report to 
identify any non-radiological hazards that may have impacted the 
environment surrounding the R-14 Range. No such hazards or impacts to 
the environment were identified. The NRC has identified no other 
radiological or non-radiological activities in the area that could 
result in cumulative environmental impacts.
    The NRC staff finds that the proposed release of the R-14 Range 
described above for unrestricted use is in compliance with 10 CFR 
20.1402. Although the Licensee will continue to perform licensed 
activities at other parts of the Facility, the Licensee must ensure 
that this decommissioned area does not become recontaminated. In 
connection with the eventual termination of License No. SMB-151, the 
Licensee will be required to show that all licensed areas and 
previously-released areas comply with the radiological criteria in 10 
CFR 20.1402. Based on its review, the staff considered the impact of 
the residual radioactivity at the R-14 Range and concluded that the 
proposed action will not have a significant effect on the quality of 
the human environment.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    Due to the largely administrative nature of the proposed action, 
its environmental impacts are small. Therefore, the only alternative 
the staff considered is the no-action alternative, under which the 
staff would leave things as they are by simply denying the amendment 
request. This no-action alternative is not feasible because it 
conflicts with 10 CFR 40.42(d), requiring that decommissioning of 
separate buildings or outdoor areas at source material facilities be 
completed and approved by the NRC after licensed activities there 
cease. The NRC's analysis of the Licensee's final status survey data 
confirmed that the R-14 Range meets the requirements of 10 CFR 20.1402 
for unrestricted release. Additionally, denying the amendment request 
would result in no change in current environmental impacts. The 
environmental impacts of the proposed action and the no-action 
alternative are therefore similar, and the no-action alternative is 
accordingly not further considered.

Conclusion

    The NRC staff has concluded that the proposed action is consistent 
with the NRC's unrestricted release criteria specified in 10 CFR 
20.1402. Because the proposed action will not significantly impact the 
quality of the human environment, the NRC staff concludes that the 
proposed action is the preferred alternative.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    NRC provided a draft of this Environmental Assessment to the 
Maryland Department of the Environment, Air and Radiation Management 
Administration and Hazardous Waste Administration (MDE) for review on 
June 15, 2009. On June 23, 2009, MDE responded by e-mail. The State 
agreed with the conclusions of the EA, and otherwise had no comments.
    The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action is of a 
procedural nature, and will not affect listed species or critical 
habitat. Therefore, no further consultation is required under Section 7 
of the Endangered Species Act. The NRC staff has also determined that 
the proposed action is not the type of activity that has the potential 
to cause effects on historic properties. Therefore, no further 
consultation is required under Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act.

[[Page 41946]]

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    The NRC staff has prepared this EA in support of the proposed 
action. On the basis of this EA, the NRC finds that there are no 
significant environmental impacts from the proposed action, and that 
preparation of an environmental impact statement is not warranted. 
Accordingly, the NRC has determined that a Finding of No Significant 
Impact is appropriate.

IV. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
license amendment and supporting documentation, are available 
electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, you can access the 
NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), which 
provides text and image files of NRC's public documents. The documents 
related to this action are listed below, along with their ADAMS 
accession numbers.
    1. Letter dated May 11, 2009 [ML091340490] and the enclosure 
``Draft Final, Final Status Survey Report, R-14 Range'' April 2009 
[ML091340611, ML091340637, ML092100380, ML091340648, ML091350126, 
ML091350204, ML091350218, ML091350225, ML091350237, ML091350250, 
ML091350255, ML091350234];
    2. NUREG-1757, ``Consolidated NMSS Decommissioning Guidance'';
    3. Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations; Part 20, Subpart E, 
``Radiological Criteria for License Termination'';
    4. Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations; Part 51, ``Environmental 
Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory 
Functions''; and
    5. NUREG-1496, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support 
of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for License Termination of NRC-
Licensed Nuclear Facilities.''
    If you do not have access to ADAMS, or if there are problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC Public 
Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or 
by e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov. These documents may also be viewed 
electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's PDR, O 1 
F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. 
The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee.

    Dated at Region I this 10th day of August 2009.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
James Dwyer,
Chief, Commercial and R&D Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, 
Region I.
[FR Doc. E9-19849 Filed 8-18-09; 8:45 am]
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