[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 145 (Friday, July 27, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44222-44224]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18281]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

National Nuclear Security Administration


Notice of Availability of the Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of 
Energy.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the 
availability of the Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (SPD Supplemental EIS; DOE/EIS-0283-S2) 
for public comment. DOE also is announcing the dates, times and 
locations for public hearings to receive comments on the Draft SPD 
Supplemental EIS. The Draft SPD Supplemental EIS analyzes the potential 
environmental impacts of alternatives for disposition of 13.1 metric 
tons (14.4 tons) of surplus plutonium for which DOE has not made a 
disposition decision, including 7.1 metric tons (7.8 tons) of plutonium 
from pits that were declared excess to national defense needs. It also 
updates previous DOE NEPA analyses on plutonium disposition to consider 
additional options for pit disassembly and conversion, which entails 
processing plutonium metal components to produce an oxide form of 
plutonium suitable for disposition, and the use of mixed oxide (MOX) 
fuel fabricated from surplus plutonium in domestic commercial nuclear 
power reactors to generate electricity, including five reactors at two 
specific Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reactor plants. DOE is not 
revisiting the decision to fabricate 34 metric tons (MT) (37.5 tons) of 
surplus plutonium into MOX fuel in the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility 
(MFFF) (65 FR 1608, January 11, 2000 and 68 FR 20134, April 24, 2003), 
now under construction at DOE's Savannah River Site (SRS) in South 
Carolina, and to irradiate the MOX fuel in commercial nuclear reactors 
used to generate electricity.
    TVA is a cooperating agency on this SPD Supplemental EIS. TVA is 
considering the use of MOX fuel, produced as part of DOE's Surplus 
Plutonium Disposition Program, in its nuclear power reactors.

DATES: DOE invites Federal agencies, state and local governments, 
Native American tribes, industry, other interested organizations, and 
members of the public to comment on the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS 
during a 60-day public comment period which starts with the publication 
of the Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability in the 
Federal Register and ends on September 25, 2012. Comments received 
after this date will be considered to the extent practicable. DOE will 
hold public hearings on the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS; the dates, 
times and locations are listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

[[Page 44223]]


ADDRESSES: Please direct written comments on the Draft SPD Supplemental 
EIS to Ms. Sachiko McAlhany, SPD Supplemental EIS NEPA Document 
Manager, U.S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box 2324, Germantown, MD 
20874-2324. Comments may also be submitted via email to 
spdsupplementaleis@saic.com or by toll-free fax to 877-865-0277. DOE 
will give equal weight to written, email, fax, telephone, and oral 
comments. Questions regarding the Supplemental EIS process and requests 
to be placed on the SPD Supplemental EIS mailing list should be 
directed to Ms. McAlhany by any of the means given above or by calling 
toll-free 877-344-0513.
    For general information about the DOE NEPA process, please contact: 
Ms. Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance 
(GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20585, telephone (202) 586-4600, or leave a message at 
1-800-472-2756. Additional information regarding DOE NEPA activities 
and access to many of DOE's NEPA documents are available on the 
Internet through the DOE NEPA Web site at http://www.energy.gov/nepa.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DOE has prepared the Draft SPD Supplemental 
EIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 
the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations that implement 
the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and DOE 
regulations implementing NEPA (10 CFR part 1021).
    Background: To reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, 
DOE is engaged in a program to disposition its surplus, weapons-usable 
plutonium in an environmentally sound manner, by converting such 
plutonium into proliferation-resistant forms that can never again be 
readily used in nuclear weapons. The U.S. inventory of surplus 
plutonium is in several forms. The largest quantity is plutonium metal 
in pits (a nuclear weapons component). The remainder is non-pit 
plutonium, which includes plutonium oxides and metal in a variety of 
forms and purities.
    DOE has already decided to fabricate 34 metric tons (MT) (37.5 
tons) of surplus plutonium into MOX fuel in the MFFF (65 FR 1608, 
January 11, 2000 and 68 FR 20134, April 24, 2003), now under 
construction at SRS, and to irradiate the MOX fuel in commercial 
nuclear reactors used to generate electricity, thereby rendering the 
plutonium into a spent fuel form not readily usable in nuclear weapons. 
DOE is not revisiting this decision in the SPD Supplemental EIS.
    DOE announced its intent to prepare the SPD Supplemental EIS in a 
notice of intent (NOI) in 2007 to analyze the potential environmental 
impacts of alternatives to disposition about 13 MT of surplus plutonium 
for which it had not previously made disposition decisions (72 FR 
14543; March 28, 2007). DOE amended the NOI in 2010 to refine its 
information on the quantity and types of surplus weapons-usable 
plutonium material, evaluate additional alternatives, and no longer 
consider one of the alternatives identified in the 2007 NOI (75 FR 
41850; July 19, 2010). DOE also proposed to revisit its January 2000 
decision to construct and operate a new Pit Disassembly and Conversion 
Facility (PDCF) in the F-Area at SRS (65 FR 1608; January 11, 2000) and 
analyze installation and operation of pit disassembly and conversion 
capabilities in an existing building in K-Area at SRS. DOE amended the 
NOI for a second time in 2012 (77 FR 1920, January 12, 2012) to add 
additional options for pit disassembly and conversion, which could 
involve the use of Technical Area 55 (TA-55) at the Los Alamos National 
Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, H-Canyon/HB-Line at SRS, as well as 
the K-Area and the MFFF, both at SRS. The 2007 NOI, the 2010 Amended 
NOI, and the 2012 second Amended NOI are available at http://www.energy.gov/nepa and at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/nepa/spdsupplementaleis.

Alternatives

    In addition to a No Action Alternative, in this SPD Supplemental 
EIS DOE evaluates four action alternatives to disposition 13.1 metric 
tons (14.4 tons) of surplus plutonium for which DOE has not made a 
disposition decision, including 7.1 metric tons (7.8 tons) of plutonium 
from pits that were declared excess to national defense needs. Within 
each action alternative, DOE also evaluates options for pit disassembly 
and conversion. The action alternatives are: (1) Immobilization to 
Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) Alternative--glass can-in-
canister immobilization for both surplus non-pit and disassembled and 
converted pit plutonium; (2) MOX Fuel Alternative--fabrication of the 
disassembled and converted pit plutonium and 4 of the 6 metric tons of 
the non-pit plutonium into MOX fuel at MFFF for use in domestic, 
commercial nuclear power reactors to generate electricity and 
disposition of the surplus plutonium that is not suitable for MFFF as 
transuranic (TRU) waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a 
deep geologic repository in southeastern New Mexico; (3) H-Canyon/HB-
Line to DWPF Alternative--processing the surplus non-pit plutonium in 
the existing H Canyon/HB Line at SRS and subsequent disposal as high 
level nuclear waste (HLW) (i.e., vitrification in the existing DWPF) 
and fabrication of the pit plutonium into MOX fuel at MFFF; and (4) 
WIPP Alternative--disposal of the surplus non-pit plutonium as TRU 
waste at WIPP and fabrication of the pit plutonium into MOX fuel at 
MFFF.
    Pit Disassembly and Conversion Options: DOE evaluated the range of 
reasonable pit disassembly and conversion options and combinations of 
options for analysis in the SPD Supplemental EIS: (1) A standalone PDCF 
at F-Area at SRS, (2) a pit disassembly and conversion project (PDC) at 
K-Area at SRS, (3) a pit disassembly and conversion capability in the 
Plutonium Facility (PF-4) in TA-55 at LANL and metal oxidation in MFFF, 
and (4) a pit disassembly and conversion capability in PF-4 at LANL 
with the potential for pit disassembly in K-Area, conversion to oxide 
in H-Canyon/HB-Line, and conversion to oxide in MFFF at SRS.
    Use of MOX Fuel: This SPD Supplemental EIS also analyzes the 
potential environmental impacts of using MOX fuel fabricated from 
surplus plutonium in domestic commercial nuclear power reactors to 
generate electricity, including five reactors at two specific TVA 
reactor plants.
    Preferred Alternative: The MOX Fuel Alternative is DOE's Preferred 
Alternative for surplus plutonium disposition. DOE's preferred option 
for pit disassembly and the conversion of surplus plutonium metal, 
regardless of its origins, to feed for MFFF is to use some combination 
of facilities at TA-55 at LANL and K Area, H Canyon/HB Line, and MFFF 
at SRS, rather than to construct a new standalone facility. This would 
likely require the installation of additional equipment and other 
modifications to some of these facilities. DOE's preferred alternative 
for disposition of surplus plutonium that is not suitable for MOX fuel 
fabrication is disposal at WIPP. The TVA does not have a preferred 
alternative at this time regarding whether to pursue irradiation of MOX 
fuel in TVA reactors and which reactors might be used for this purpose.
    Invitation for Public Comment on the Draft SPD EIS: DOE will hold 
six public hearings on the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS at the following 
dates, times, and locations:

[[Page 44224]]

     August 21, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Holiday Inn Express, 
60 Entrada Drive, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544.
     August 23, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Courtyard by 
Marriott Santa Fe, 3347 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507.
     August 28, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Pecos River Village 
Conference Center, 711 Muscatel Drive, Carlsbad, NM 88220.
     September 4, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) North Augusta 
Municipal Center, 100 Georgia Avenue, North Augusta, South Carolina 
29841.
     September 11, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Chattanooga 
Convention Center, 1150 Carter Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402.
     September 13, 2012 (5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Calhoun Community 
College, Decatur Campus, Aerospace Building, 6250 Highway 31 North, 
Tanner, AL 35671.
    Individuals who would like to present comments orally at these 
hearings should register upon arrival at the hearing. Speaking time 
will be allotted by the hearing moderator to each individual wishing to 
speak to ensure that all who wish to speak have the opportunity to do 
so. DOE representatives will be available during an open house portion 
of these hearings to discuss the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS. Following 
a presentation by DOE, the public will have an opportunity to provide 
oral and written comments during the formal portion of the hearing. In 
preparing the final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE will consider all 
comments presented at the hearing, comments received by fax or email 
and comments postmarked by the end of the comment period. DOE will 
consider comments received after that date to the extent practicable.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2012.
Thomas P. D'Agostino,
Under Secretary for Nuclear Security.
[FR Doc. 2012-18281 Filed 7-26-12; 8:45 am]
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