[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 108 (Tuesday, June 5, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33204-33205]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-13614]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury

AGENCY: Department of Energy.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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SUMMARY: As required by the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (the Act), 
the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to identify a facility or 
facilities for the long-term management and storage of elemental 
mercury generated in the United States. To this end, DOE intends to 
prepare a supplement to the January 2011 Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury to 
analyze additional alternatives, in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This supplemental EIS (SEIS) will 
evaluate alternatives for a facility at and in the vicinity of the 
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

DATES: DOE invites public comment on the scope of this SEIS until July 
5, 2012. The first scoping meeting will be held on June 26, 2012, from 
5:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at the Skeen-Whitlock Building auditorium at the U.S. 
DOE, Carlsbad Field Office, 4021 National Parks Highway, Carlsbad, New 
Mexico 88220. An open house will be held on the same day at the same 
location from 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. A second scoping meeting will be held 
on June 28, 2012, from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza 
Albuquerque, 1901 University Blvd. NE., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102. 
An open house will be held on the same day at the same location from 
4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the SEIS should be sent to: 
Mr. David Levenstein, Document Manager, Office of Environmental 
Compliance (EM-11), U.S. Department of Energy, Post Office Box 2612, 
Germantown, Maryland 20874; to the Mercury Storage EIS Web site at 
http://mercurystorageeis.com/; or via email to 
David.Levenstein@em.doe.gov.
    This Notice will be available on the Internet at http://www.energy.gov/NEPA/ and on the project Web site at http://mercurystorageeis.com/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request further information about 
the SEIS or the Mercury Storage EIS, or to be placed on the SEIS 
distribution list, use any of the methods (mail, Web site, or email) 
listed under ADDRESSES above. In requesting a copy of the Draft SEIS, 
please specify a request for a paper copy of the Summary only; a paper 
copy of the full SEIS; the full SEIS on a computer CD; or any 
combination thereof.
    For general information concerning DOE's NEPA process, please 
contact: Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and 
Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue 
SW., Washington, DC 20585, either by telephone at (202) 586-4600, by 
fax at (202) 586-7031, or leave a message at 1-800-472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-414) amends the 
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (15 U.S.C. 2605(f)) to prohibit the 
sale, distribution, or transfer by Federal agencies to any other 
Federal agency, any state or local government agency, or any private 
individual or entity, of any elemental mercury under the control or 
jurisdiction of a Federal agency (with certain limited exceptions). It 
also amends TSCA (15 U.S.C. 2611(c)) to prohibit the export of 
elemental mercury from the U.S. effective January 1, 2013 (subject to 
certain essential use exemptions). Section 5 of the Act, Long-Term 
Storage, directs DOE to designate a facility or facilities for the 
long-term management and storage of elemental mercury generated within 
the U.S. Pursuant to this law, this facility is required to be 
operational and ready to accept custody of any elemental mercury 
generated within the U.S. by January 1, 2013. The Act also requires DOE 
to assess fees based upon the pro rata costs of long-term management 
and storage of elemental mercury delivered to the facility or 
facilities.
    The sources of elemental mercury in the U.S. include mercury used 
in the chlorine and caustic soda manufacturing process (i.e., chlor-
alkali industry), reclaimed from recycling and waste recovery 
activities, and generated as a byproduct of the gold mining process. In 
addition, DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration stores 
approximately 1,200 metric tons of elemental mercury at the Oak Ridge 
Reservation in Tennessee.
    To evaluate the range of reasonable alternatives for siting, 
constructing and operating a facility or facilities to meet its 
obligations under the Act, DOE prepared the Mercury Storage EIS (DOE/
EIS-0423) in accordance with NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 
CFR parts 1500-1508 and 10 CFR part 1021) and issued the Mercury 
Storage Final EIS in January 2011 (76 FR 5156). DOE estimated that up 
to approximately 10,000 metric tons of elemental mercury would need to 
be managed and stored at the DOE facility during the 40-year period of 
analysis. These estimates do not include approximately 4,400 metric 
tons of elemental mercury that the Department of Defense (DOD) stores 
at its facility in Hawthorne, Nevada.

Purpose and Need for Action

    As indicated in the Mercury Storage EIS, DOE needs to designate a 
facility for the long-term management and storage of elemental mercury 
generated within the U.S., as required by the Act.

Proposed Action

    As also indicated in the Mercury Storage EIS, DOE proposes to 
construct one or more new facilities and/or select one or more existing 
facilities (including modification as needed) for the long-term 
management and storage of elemental mercury in accordance with the Act. 
Facilities to be constructed as well as existing or modified facilities 
must comply with applicable requirements of section 5(d) of the Act, 
Management Standards for a Facility, including the requirements of the 
Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended by the Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), and other permitting 
requirements.

Proposed Alternatives

    The Mercury Storage EIS evaluated seven candidate locations for the 
elemental mercury storage facility, as well as the No Action 
Alternative. Those candidate locations are: DOE Grand Junction Disposal 
site near Grand Junction, Colorado; DOE Hanford site near Richland, 
Washington; Hawthorne Army Depot near Hawthorne, Nevada; DOE Idaho 
National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho; DOE Kansas City Plant in 
Kansas City, Missouri; DOE Savannah River Site near Aiken, South 
Carolina; and Waste Control Specialists, LLC, site near Andrews, Texas.
    Since publication of the Final Mercury Storage EIS, DOE has 
reconsidered the range of reasonable alternatives evaluated in that 
EIS. Accordingly, DOE now proposes to evaluate two additional locations 
for a long-term mercury storage facility, both

[[Page 33205]]

near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which DOE operates for 
disposal of defense transuranic waste. One of the additional locations 
to be evaluated is in Section 20, Township 22 South, Range 31 East 
within the land subject to the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act (Pub. L. 102-
579) as amended (Act), across the WIPP access road from the WIPP 
facility. The second is in the vicinity of WIPP, but outside of the 
lands withdrawn by the Act, in Section 10, Township 22 South, Range 31 
East, approximately 3\1/2\ miles north of the WIPP facility. Through 
development of the SEIS, DOE will evaluate the cumulative impacts of 
constructing and operating a facility for long-term management and 
storage of elemental mercury with the ongoing and planned operations of 
WIPP for disposal of defense transuranic waste, as well as the 
potential disposal of greater-than-Class C waste (Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) Low-
level Radioactive Waste and GTCC-Like Waste (GTCC EIS, DOE/EIS-0375, 
February 2011). The locations to be evaluated in the SEIS would be 
suitable for an above-ground storage facility.

Identification of Environmental Issues

    DOE proposes to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the 
two additional alternatives for management and storage of elemental 
mercury as they apply to the following:
     Land use and visual resources.
     Geology, soils, and geologic hazards, including 
seismicity.
     Water resources (surface water and groundwater).
     Meteorology, air quality and noise.
     Ecological resources (terrestrial resources, wetlands and 
aquatic resources, and species that are Federal- or state-listed as 
threatened, endangered, or of special concern).
     Cultural and paleontological resources such as 
prehistoric, historic, or Native American sites.
     Site infrastructure.
     Waste management.
     Occupational and public health and safety, including from 
construction, operations, facility accidents, transportation, and 
intentional destructive acts.
     Ecological risk.
     Socioeconomic impacts on potentially affected communities.
     Environmental Justice (i.e., whether long-term mercury 
management and storage activities have a disproportionately high and 
adverse effect on minority and low-income populations).
     Facility closure.
     Cumulative impacts, including global commons cumulative 
impacts, i.e., ozone depletion and climate change.
     Potential mitigation measures.
     Unavoidable adverse environmental impacts.
     Irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources.
     Relationship between short-term uses of the environment 
and maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity.

Public Participation in the SEIS Process

    NEPA implementing regulations require an early and open process for 
determining the scope of an EIS (or SEIS) and for identifying the 
significant issues related to the proposed action. To ensure that the 
full range of issues related to the proposed action are addressed, DOE 
invites Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, and the 
general public to comment on the scope of the SEIS, including 
identification of reasonable alternatives and specific issues to be 
addressed. DOE will hold a public scoping meeting in Carlsbad, New 
Mexico, on June 26, 2012, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 28, 
2012, as previously described (see DATES).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2012.
Mark A. Gilbertson,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Site Restoration.
[FR Doc. 2012-13614 Filed 6-4-12; 8:45 am]
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