[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 72 (Friday, April 13, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22362-22365]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8917]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 70-0398; NRC-2012-0091]


Exemption Requests for Special Nuclear Material License SNM-362, 
Department of Commerce, Gaithersburg, MD

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Availability of environmental assessment and finding of no 
significant impact.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary T. Adams, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-492-3113; email: 
Mary.Adams@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the issuance 
of exemptions from Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 
36.27(b) and 36.31(a), to be included in the renewal of Special Nuclear 
Material (SNM) License SNM-362 for the U.S. Department of Commerce, 
National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, 
Maryland. NIST requested renewal of SNM-362 in an application dated 
June 29, 2007 (ML072140750). NIST revised the license renewal 
application on March 23, 2011 (ML110940239) to include three requests 
for exemption from NRC regulations in 10 CFR 36.27(b), 36.31(a), and 
70.24.
    Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(c)(14)(v), renewal of materials licenses 
issued under 10 CFR Part 70 for research and

[[Page 22363]]

development and for educational purposes is a category of actions which 
the NRC has determined does not individually or cumulatively have a 
significant effect on the human environment, and as such, this category 
of actions does not require environmental review or the preparation of 
an Environmental Assessment (EA). However, in addition to its 
application for renewal, NIST has also requested specific exemptions 
from three NRC regulations, and the exemption requests require 
environmental review unless the exemptions themselves are also subject 
to categorical exclusion. One of the exemption requests, that request 
related to 10 CFR 70.24, has also been determined to belong to the 
categorically excluded action, specifically those identified in 10 CFR 
51.22(c)(25). This determination will be discussed in the safety 
evaluation report that will support the license renewal.
    In accordance with 10 CFR 51.21 the NRC has prepared this EA to 
assess the environmental impacts of granting the remaining two 
exemption requests from 10 CFR 36.27(b) and 36.31(a). Based on the EA, 
the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) 
is appropriate, and therefore an EIS will not be prepared.

II. Environmental Assessment

    On March 23, 2011, NIST provided a revised request for renewal of 
SNM-362, which authorizes the receipt, possession, and use of source, 
byproduct, and SNM for research and development purposes. NIST uses 
licensed materials for research, development, calibration, and testing 
activities. NIST develops, maintains, and disseminates national 
standards for ionizing radiation and radioactivity to support health 
care, industry, and homeland security. Examples of this work include 
development of reference materials and measurement calibration services 
for radiopharmaceuticals; maintaining and disseminating standards used 
by hospitals to calibrate systems; and development of standards and 
protocols for radiation measurement instruments used in homeland 
security. Activities for which the licensed material is used are 
described in the license renewal application (LRA).
    Materials License SNM-362 was first issued by the Atomic Energy 
Commission in 1960 to the National Bureau of Standards, renamed in 1988 
to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST is a 
Federal agency within the Department of Commerce. The SNM license was 
renewed in 1979, 1985, 1991, and 1997. The current license was 
scheduled to expire on July 31, 2007. In accordance with 10 CFR Part 
70, NIST submitted an application requesting renewal of Materials 
License SNM-162 on June 29, 2007 (Agencywide Documents Access and 
Management System [ADAMS] Accession No. ML072140750) and, in accordance 
with the timely renewal provision of 10 CFR 70.38(a), the license has 
remained in effect. In addition to the SNM license, NIST holds a test 
reactor operating license, TR-5 (Docket No. 50-184), and an NRC Exempt 
Distribution License No. 19-23454-01E (Docket No. 30-22202) for 
byproduct material. In response to an NRC Request for Additional 
Information (ADAMS Accession No. ML103210269), NIST provided a third 
revised LRA on March 23, 2011 (ADAMS Accession No. ML110940239), which 
included the requests for exemption from 10 CFR 36.27(b), 36.31(a), and 
70.24.\1\ The exemption requests that are under consideration in this 
EA are related to 10 CFR 36.27(b) and 36.31(a). The exemptions were 
first granted by the NRC in Amendment 2 to SNM-362 issued on November 
23, 1999 (ADAMS accession numbers ML993350644 and ML993350646). This EA 
addresses the action of continuing these previously-granted exemptions 
in the renewed license.
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    \1\ The exemption request for 10 CFR 70.24 is categorically 
excluded from the requirement to perform an environmental assessment 
by 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25). The categorical exclusion determination for 
the criticality accident alarm system exemption will be documented 
in the Safety Evaluation Report supporting the license renewal.
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Description of the Proposed Action

    NIST has been licensed by the NRC for the possession and use of SNM 
in license SNM-362 since 1960. The exemptions from 10 CFR 36.27(b) and 
36.31(a) have been parts of SNM-362 since 1999. The proposed actions 
are to continue to exempt the licensee from the requirement that the 
radiation room must be equipped with a fire extinguishing system 
capable of extinguishing a fire without the entry of personnel into the 
room (10 CFR 36.27(b)); and the requirements that (1) the console key 
must be attached to a portable radiation survey meter by a chain or 
cable, and (2) the door to the radiation room must require the same key 
used for source movement (i.e., control console key) (10 CFR 36.31(a)) 
upon renewal of Materials License SNM-362. Continuing these exemptions 
in the renewed license does not require or authorize any change in 
licensee operations.
    The action of renewing SNM-362 is an action that is categorically 
excluded from environmental review under 10 CFR 51.22(c)(14)(v), which 
includes issuance, amendment, or renewal of materials licenses issued 
pursuant to 10 CFR Parts 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, or 70 
authorizing the use of radioactive materials for research and 
development and educational purposes. The inclusion of the two 
exemptions requested by NIST in the LRA is an action that requires an 
EA in accordance with 10 CFR 51.21.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The first part of the proposed action is a continued exemption from 
10 CFR 36.27(b), which requires that the irradiation room at a 
panoramic irradiator be equipped with a fire extinguishing system 
capable of extinguishing a fire without the entry of personnel into the 
room. The system for the irradiation room must have a shut-off valve to 
control flooding into unrestricted areas.
    In the initial 1999 request for exemption, NIST indicated that 
equipment limitations and facility age (then nearly 40 years old) would 
prevent NIST from complying with 10 CFR 36.27(b). The second part of 
the proposed action is a continued exemption from 10 CFR 36.31(a). 10 
CFR 36.31(a) requires that the key that operates the irradiator be 
attached to a portable radiation survey meter by a chain or cable. In 
addition, NIST stated that the age of the facility (then nearly 40 
years old) and the interconnectivity of the safety features would make 
it prohibitively expensive to modify the facility to meet the same-key 
requirement and would offer no enhancement of safety.

Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    An alternative to granting the continued exemption to 10 CFR 
36.27(b) is to deny the exemption request and require NIST to provide 
the irradiation room with a fire extinguishing system capable of 
extinguishing a fire without the entry of personnel into the room with 
a shut-off valve to control flooding into unrestricted areas.
    An alternative to granting the continued exemption to 10 CFR 36.31 
is to deny the exemption request and require NIST to provide that the 
key that actuates the mechanism that moves the sources of a panoramic 
irradiator be attached to a portable radiation survey meter by a chain 
or cable.

[[Page 22364]]

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The NRC established 10 CFR Part 36 to ``specify radiation safety 
requirements and licensing requirements for the use of licensed 
radioactive materials in irradiators.'' 58 FR 7715; February 9, 1993. 
At that time, the NRC issued an environmental assessment and finding of 
no significant impact which analyzed the environmental impacts of the 
requirements in 10 CFR Part 36, including sections 36.27 and 36.31 
(Ref. 3, Enclosure 4). Specifically, the NRC considered the 
environmental impacts of internal and external radiation exposure 
resulting from normal operations, accident scenarios, and abnormal 
operations. For each of these scenarios, the NRC determined that the 
safety requirements of the regulation would not have a significant 
environmental impact. As discussed below, the NRC has determined that 
the alternatives proposed by the licensee would have the same safety 
impact as the regulations, and as such, the environmental impacts that 
were analyzed by the NRC when the regulation was initially promulgated 
would remain unchanged, and the impacts would not be significant.
    Section 36.27(b) requires that the irradiation room at a panoramic 
irradiator be equipped with a fire extinguishing system capable of 
extinguishing a fire without the entry of personnel into the room. The 
system for the irradiation room must have a shut-off valve to control 
flooding into unrestricted areas.
    The irradiation room housing NIST's 10 CFR Part 36 panoramic 
irradiators are entirely of concrete construction. The rooms are 
limited in size so there is minimal opportunity for combustible 
materials to be stored in the area. NIST administratively limits 
storage of flammable materials in the rooms. As such, the most credible 
fire incident would be an electrical fire from the control, 
instrumentation, or lighting systems. This would not be sufficient to 
engulf or significantly endanger the source.
    To compensate for NIST's not complying with 10 CFR 36.27(b), NIST 
indicated that the signal from the heat or smoke detectors will alert 
the NIST Fire Protection Group, and that the irradiators are designed 
to retract the source when the electrical power fails or on loss of 
air, as may occur during a fire. Fire extinguishers at the site are 
available to fight small fires and operators are instructed to retract 
the source, if possible, prior to exiting the facility for a fire 
involving major portions of the facility. NRC staff determined that the 
alternative fire protection provisions identified by NIST provide an 
adequate level of safety for workers and the public.
    Based upon the compensatory measures provided by the licensee and 
described above, NRC staff has determined that potential environmental 
impacts from a fire in the irradiation room will not be increased by 
continuing the exemption from 10 CFR 36.27(b) because the compensatory 
measures control the likelihood of a fire to a level of protection 
equivalent to what would be provided by the prescribed measures in 
36.27(b). There are no environmental impacts of the proposed exemption 
to 10 CFR 36.27(b). Granting the exemption will not result in effluents 
to the environment or an increase in occupational exposure. It also 
will not increase the likelihood or consequences of a fire at the 
facility.
    Section 36.31(a) requires that the key that operates the irradiator 
be attached to a portable radiation survey meter by a chain or cable. 
In the 1999 exemption request, NIST stated that the age of the facility 
(then nearly 40 years old) and the interconnectivity of the safety 
features would make it prohibitively expensive to modify the facility 
to meet the same-key requirement and would offer no enhancement of 
safety. The key used to enter the irradiation room is captured in the 
lock when the door is opened. This means that physically the key cannot 
be moved out of its captured position if the door to the survey room is 
open. The distance from the lock to the source area is such that 
attaching the key to a survey meter would require a long chain that 
could be a trip hazard or get jammed in the chain of the access door 
when it is opening or closing. NIST's procedure requires that a survey 
meter be used when entering the room. Additionally, in lieu of 
attaching a survey meter to the key, NIST installed a radiation 
detector within the irradiation room. This detector indicates if the 
source is open, and it is tested every day that the unit is in 
operation. NRC agreed that the age of the facility and the limitations 
associated with modifying the safety features made it unreasonable to 
modify the facility to meet the requirement, and that the added 
radiation monitors, entrance controls, and security measures would 
provide comparable safety measures.
    Based upon the alternative radiation safety measures provided by 
the licensee and described above, NRC staff has confirmed that there 
are no environmental impacts of the proposed exemption to 10 CFR 
36.31(a). Granting the exemption will not result in any effluents to 
the environment or an increase in occupational exposure.

List of Agencies and Persons Consulted and Identification of Sources 
Used

    NRC staff consulted with the Maryland Department of the 
Environment. The Department was not opposed to the NRC findings.
    The NRC staff determined that consultation with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service for compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered 
Species Act is not necessary because the proposed action does not have 
the potential to affect listed species or critical habitat.
    The NRC staff reviewed the Maryland Inventory of Historic 
Properties and confirmed that there are no known archeological sites or 
other historic properties within or immediately adjacent to the NIST 
campus. Continuing the proposed exemptions in the renewed NIST license 
is not a type of activity that has potential to cause effects on 
historic properties. Therefore, no further consultation is required 
under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    Pursuant to 10 CFR Part 51, the NRC has considered the 
environmental consequences of taking the proposed action. 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.

III. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
license renewal and supporting documentation, are available 
electronically at the NRC Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, you may access ADAMS, which provides text 
and image files of NRC's public documents. The ADAMS accession numbers 
for the documents related to this Notice are:

    1. NIST Revised License Renewal Application for SNM-362, Docket 
No. 70-398, March 23, 2011, (ML110940239).
    2. Exemptions from 10 CFR Part 36 (TAC No. L31075) and Safety 
Evaluation Report, November 23, 1999 (ML993350644 and ML993350646).
    3. U.S. NRC, September 18, 1992, SECY-92-323, Final Rule on 
Licenses and Radiation Safety Requirements for Irradiators 
(ML120940618), Enclosure 4, Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
no Significant Impact, August 1992.


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    If you do not have access to ADAMS, or if there are problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS, please contact the NRC Public 
Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or 
by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. These documents may also be viewed 
electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's PDR, O1F21, 
One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike Rockville, MD 20852. The 
PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 5th day of April 2012.

    For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Kevin Ramsey,
Acting Chief, Fuel Manufacturing Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety 
and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2012-8917 Filed 4-12-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P