[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 119 (Thursday, June 20, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 37281-37324]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-14310]



[[Page 37281]]

Vol. 78

Thursday,

No. 119

June 20, 2013

Part II





Nuclear Regulatory Commission





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10 CFR Part 51, 54





Revisions to Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant 
Operating Licenses; Preparation of Environmental Reports for Nuclear 
Power Plant License Renewal Applications; License Renewal of Nuclear 
Power Plants; Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Standard 
Review Plans for Environmental Reviews; Final Rules

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 119 / Thursday, June 20, 2013 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 37282]]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 51

RIN 3150-AI42
[NRC-2008-0608]


Revisions to Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power 
Plant Operating Licenses

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is amending its 
environmental protection regulations by updating the Commission's 1996 
findings on the environmental effect of renewing the operating license 
of a nuclear power plant. The final rule redefines the number and scope 
of the environmental impact issues that must be addressed by the NRC 
during license renewal environmental reviews. This final rule also 
incorporates lessons learned and knowledge gained from license renewal 
environmental reviews conducted by the NRC since 1996.

DATES: This rule is effective on July 22, 2013. However, compliance is 
not required until June 20, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2008-0608 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information for this final rule. You may 
access information and comment submittals related to this final 
rulemaking, which the NRC possesses and is publicly available, by the 
following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2008-0608. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section 
of this final rule.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-
4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The ADAMS accession number 
for each document referenced in this notice (if that document is 
available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is 
referenced. In addition, for the convenience of the reader, the ADAMS 
accession numbers are provided in a table in Section XII, 
``Availability of Documents,'' of this document.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville 
Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Stewart Schneider, Office of 
Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-4123; email: 
Stewart.Schneider@nrc.gov; or Mr. Jeffrey Rikhoff, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-1090; email: Jeffrey.Rikhoff@nrc.gov.

Executive Summary

Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 authorizes the NRC to issue 
commercial nuclear power plant operating licenses for up to 40 years. 
The NRC's regulations allow for the renewal of these operating licenses 
for up to an additional 20 years. The license renewal process includes 
reviewing a license renewal application, conducting the assessment, and 
then, if all applicable safety standards are met, renewing the license. 
The NRC's review of a license renewal application proceeds along two 
independent regulatory tracks: one for safety issues and another for 
environmental issues. The license renewal process is defined by a clear 
set of regulations that are designed to ensure safe operation and 
protection of the environment during the license renewal term. The 
NRC's regulations for the license renewal safety review are set forth 
in Part 54 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR). The 
NRC's environmental protection regulations are set forth in 10 CFR part 
51.
    The renewal application is the principal document that an applicant 
provides to both request and support renewal for a nuclear power 
reactor's operating license. The license renewal application includes 
both general and technical information that demonstrates that an 
applicant is in compliance with the NRC's regulations in 10 CFR part 
54. During the renewal process, the license renewal applicant must 
confirm whether the design assumptions used for the original licensing 
basis will continue to be valid throughout the period of extended 
operation and that the aging effects will be adequately managed. The 
applicant must demonstrate that the effects of aging will be managed in 
such a way that the intended functions of ``passive'' or ``long-lived'' 
structures and components (such as the reactor vessel, reactor coolant 
system, piping, steam generators, pressurizer, pump casings, and 
valves) will be maintained during the license renewal term (also known 
as the period of extended operation). For active components, such as 
motors, diesel generators, cooling fans, batteries, relays, and 
switches, the Commission's ongoing regulatory oversight programs 
already ensure that the components continue to perform their intended 
function during the period of license renewal. This information must be 
sufficiently detailed in the application to permit the NRC staff to 
determine if the applicant's management of these issues is adequate to 
allow operation during the extended period of operation without undue 
risk to the public and workers' health and safety.
    In addition to the safety assessment, the applicant must also 
prepare an evaluation of the potential impacts to the environment of 
facility operation for an additional 20 years. Under the NRC's 
environmental protection regulations in 10 CFR part 51, which implement 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), renewal of a nuclear 
power plant operating license requires the preparation of an 
environmental impact statement (EIS). To support the preparation of 
these EISs, the NRC issued a rule in 1996 to define which impacts would 
essentially be the same at all nuclear power plants (Category 1 issues) 
and which ones could be different at different plants and would require 
a plant-specific analysis to determine the impacts (Category 2 issues). 
For each license renewal application, those impacts that require a 
plant-specific analysis must be analyzed by the applicant in its 
environmental report and by the NRC in its associated EIS. The final 
rule amends those regulations by updating the Commission's 1996 rule. 
The final rule redefines the number and scope of the environmental 
impact issues that must be addressed by the NRC and applicants during 
license renewal environmental reviews. These changes are based 
primarily on lessons learned and knowledge gained from license renewal 
environmental reviews conducted by the NRC since 1996.
    The NRC prepared a regulatory analysis to determine the expected 
quantitative and qualitative costs and benefits of the final rule. The 
analysis concluded that the final rule will result

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in net savings to the industry and the NRC. For more information, 
please see the regulatory analysis (ADAMS Accession No. ML110760321).

Summary of the Major Rule Changes

    In the 1996 rule, there were 92 environmental impact issues, 23 of 
which required a plant-specific analysis (Category 2 issues) during 
license renewal environmental reviews. In the final rule, there are 78 
environmental impact issues, 17 of which require a plant-specific 
analysis. The following bullets summarize the major changes to the 
rule:
     Based on the related nature of the issues, several 
Category 1 issues were consolidated with other Category 1 issues. This 
includes some issues that were changed from Category 2 to Category 1 
and subsequently combined with other, related Category 1 issues. 
Similarly, several Category 2 issues were combined with related 
Category 2 issues.
     New Category 1 issues were added: geology and soils; 
effects of dredging on surface water quality; groundwater use and 
quality; exposure of terrestrial organisms to radionuclides; exposure 
of aquatic organisms to radionuclides; effects of dredging on aquatic 
organisms; impacts of transmission line right-of-way management on 
aquatic resources; employment and income; tax revenues; human health 
impacts from chemicals; and physical occupational hazards.
     Several issues were changed from Category 2 to Category 1: 
Offsite land use, air quality, public services (several issues), and 
population and housing.
     New Category 2 issues were added: Radionuclides released 
to groundwater, water use conflicts with terrestrial resources, water 
use conflicts with aquatic resources, and cumulative impacts.
     One uncharacterized issue was reclassified as Category 2: 
Environmental justice/minority and low-income populations.
     One Category 1 issue was revised to narrow the scope of 
its finding due to the United States Court of Appeals for the District 
of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) decision in New York v. NRC, 681 
F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012), which vacated the NRC's 2010 Waste 
Confidence Decision and Rule (75 FR 81032 and 81037; December 23, 
2010): Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel.
     One Category 1 issue was reclassified as uncategorized due 
to the New York v. NRC decision: Offsite radiological impacts of spent 
nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background
II. Public Meetings
III. Discussion
IV. Response to Public Comments
    A. Overview
    B. Summary of Comments Resulting in Substantive Changes to the 
Rule
    C. Summary of Other Comments
V. Related Issues of Importance
    A. Fukushima Events
    B. Removal of References to the Waste Confidence Decision and 
Rule
    C. Effective and Compliance Dates for Final Rule
    D. Best Management Practices
    E. Definition of ``Historic Properties''
VI. Revisions to 10 CFR 51.53
    A. Reclassifying Category 2 Issues as Category 1 Issues
    B. Adding New Category 2 Issues
VII. Response to Specific Request for Voluntary Information
VIII. Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1
IX. Section-by-Section Analysis
X. Guidance Documents
XI. Agreement State Compatibility
XII. Availability of Documents
XIII. Voluntary Consensus Standards
XIV. Environmental Impact--Categorical Exclusion
XV. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement
XVI. Plain Writing
XVII. Regulatory Analysis
XVIII. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification
XIX. Backfitting and Issue Finality
XX. Congressional Review Act

I. Background

Rulemaking History

    In 1986, the NRC initiated a program to develop license renewal 
regulations and associated regulatory guidance in anticipation of 
receiving applications for the renewal of nuclear power plant operating 
licenses. In 1996, the NRC published a final rule that amended the 
environmental protection regulations in 10 CFR part 51 for applicants 
seeking to renew an operating license for up to an additional 20 
years.\1\ The 1996 final rule was based upon the analyses and findings 
of a May 1996 NRC environmental impact statement, ``Generic 
Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,'' 
NUREG-1437 (the ``1996 GEIS'') (Vol. 1, ``Main Report,'' ADAMS 
Accession No. ML040690705; Vol. 2, ``Appendices,'' ADAMS Accession No. 
ML040690738).
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    \1\ 61 FR 28467 (June 5, 1996).
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    Based upon the findings of the 1996 GEIS, the 1996 final rule 
identified those license renewal environmental impact issues for which 
a generic analysis had been determined to be appropriate and therefore, 
did not have to be addressed by a license renewal applicant in its 
plant-specific environmental report or by the NRC in its plant-specific 
supplemental environmental impact statements (SEISs) to the 1996 GEIS. 
Similarly, based upon the findings of the 1996 GEIS, the 1996 final 
rule identified those environmental impacts for which a site- or plant-
specific analysis was required, both by the applicant in its 
environmental report and by the NRC in its SEIS. The 1996 final rule, 
amongst other amendments to 10 CFR part 51, added Appendix B to Subpart 
A of 10 CFR part 51, ``Environmental Effect of Renewing the Operating 
License of a Nuclear Power Plant.'' Appendix B included Table B-1, 
``Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear 
Power Plants,'' which summarized the findings of the 1996 GEIS.
    In preparing the 1996 GEIS, the Commission determined that certain 
environmental impacts associated with the renewal of a nuclear power 
plant operating license were the same or similar for all plants and, as 
such, could be treated on a generic basis. In this way, repetitive 
reviews of these environmental impacts could be avoided. The Commission 
based its generic assessment of certain environmental impacts on the 
following factors:
    (1) License renewal will involve nuclear power plants for which the 
environmental impacts of operation are well understood as a result of 
lessons learned and knowledge gained from operating experience and 
completed license renewals.
    (2) Activities associated with license renewal are expected to be 
within this range of operating experience; thus, environmental impacts 
can be reasonably predicted.
    (3) Changes in the environment around nuclear power plants are 
gradual and predictable.
    The 1996 GEIS improved the efficiency of the license renewal 
process by: (1) Providing an evaluation of the types of environmental 
impacts that may occur from renewing commercial nuclear power plant 
operating licenses; (2) identifying and assessing impacts that are 
expected to be generic (i.e., the same or similar) at all nuclear power 
plants or plants with specified plant or site characteristics; and (3) 
defining the number and scope of environmental impacts that need to be 
addressed in plant-specific SEISs to the 1996 GEIS.
    In short, the 1996 final rule identified environmental impact 
issues (i.e., Category 1 issues) \2\ that do not have to

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be addressed by licensees in environmental reports for nuclear power 
plant license renewal applications or by the NRC in plant-specific 
SEISs because these issues have been addressed generically for all 
nuclear power plants in the 1996 GEIS. Similarly, the 1996 final rule 
also identified environmental impact issues (i.e., Category 2 issues) 
\3\ that must be addressed in plant-specific reviews by licensees in 
their environmental reports and by the NRC in the SEISs.
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    \2\ A Category 1 issue is one that meets the following criteria: 
(1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been 
determined to apply either to all plants or, for some issues, to 
plants having a specific type of cooling system or other specified 
plant or site characteristic; (2) a single significance level (i.e., 
small, moderate, or large) has been assigned to the impacts (except 
for collective offsite radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and 
from high-level waste and spent fuel disposal); and (3) mitigation 
of adverse impacts associated with the issue has been considered in 
the analysis, and it has been determined that additional plant-
specific mitigation measures are not likely to be sufficiently 
beneficial to warrant implementation.
    \3\ A Category 2 issue is one where one or more of the Category 
1 criteria cannot be met, and therefore additional plant-specific 
review is required.
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    On December 18, 1996 (61 FR 66537), the NRC amended the final rule 
published in 1996 to incorporate minor clarifying and conforming 
changes and to add language omitted from Table B-1 in Appendix B to 
Subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 (hereafter ``Table B-1 in Appendix B to 
Subpart A of 10 CFR Part 51'' is referred to as ``Table B-1'').

1999 Final Rule

    The NRC amended 10 CFR part 51, including Table B-1, on September 
3, 1999 (64 FR 48496). This amendment expanded the generic findings 
pertaining to the environmental impacts resulting from transportation 
of fuel and waste to and from a single nuclear power plant. This 
amendment also incorporated rule language consistent with the 1996 
GEIS, which addressed local traffic impacts attributable to the 
continued operations of a nuclear power plant during the license 
renewal term.

Current Rulemaking

    As stated in the 1996 final rule that incorporated the findings of 
the GEIS in 10 CFR part 51, the NRC recognized that environmental 
impact issues might change over time and that additional issues may 
need to be considered. As further stated in the preamble to Table B-1, 
the NRC indicated that it intended to review the material in Table B-1 
on a 10-year basis.
    The NRC began this review on June 3, 2003, by publishing a notice 
of intent to revise the 1996 GEIS (68 FR 33209). As part of this 
process and pursuant to 10 CFR 51.29, the NRC conducted scoping and 
held a series of public meetings (see 74 FR 38119 for more details). 
The original public comment period began in June 2003 and closed in 
September 2003. The project was inactive for the next 2 years due to 
limited NRC staff resources and competing demands. On October 3, 2005 
(70 FR 57628), the NRC reopened the public comment period and extended 
it until December 30, 2005.
    On July 31, 2009 (74 FR 38117), the NRC published the proposed 
rule, ``Revisions to Environmental Review for Renewal of Nuclear Power 
Plant Operating Licenses,'' for public comment in the Federal Register. 
The proposed rule would amend Table B-1 by updating the Commission's 
1996 findings on the environmental impacts related to the renewal of 
nuclear power plant operating licenses and other NRC environmental 
protection regulations (e.g., 10 CFR 51.53, which sets forth the 
contents of the applicant's environmental report). Together with the 
proposed rule, the NRC also published a notice of availability of the 
draft revised GEIS (ADAMS Accession No. ML090220654); a proposed 
Revision 1 of Regulatory Guide (RG) 4.2, Supplement 1, ``Preparation of 
Environmental Reports for Nuclear Power Plant License Renewal 
Applications'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML091620409); and a proposed 
Revision 1 to NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, ``Standard Review Plans for 
Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML090230497), in the Federal Register (74 FR 38238). All of the 
documents requested public comments.
    The proposed amendments were based on consideration of (1) Comments 
received from the public during the public scoping period, (2) a review 
of comments received on plant-specific SEISs completed since the 1996 
GEIS was issued, and (3) lessons learned and knowledge gained from 
previous and ongoing license renewal environmental reviews. The history 
of this rulemaking is discussed in more detail in the July 31, 2009 (74 
FR 38117), proposed rule. The draft revised GEIS provided the 
regulatory basis for the July 2009 proposed rule.
    The proposed rule provided a 75-day public comment period, which 
closed on October 14, 2009. The NRC received requests to extend the 
comment period to provide the public more time to analyze and review 
the legal, regulatory, and policy issues covered by the proposed rule 
and supporting documents. On October 7, 2009 (74 FR 51522), the NRC 
granted the requests, and the public comment period for the proposed 
rule and the proposed revisions to the GEIS, the regulatory guide, and 
standard review plan was extended to January 12, 2010.

II. Public Meetings

    During the public comment period, the NRC conducted six public 
meetings to solicit comments on the proposed rule, draft revised GEIS, 
and related draft guidance documents. The official transcripts, written 
comments, and meeting summaries for the following public meetings are 
available electronically for public inspection at the NRC's PDR or 
online in the NRC Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html:
    (1) September 15, 2009, Atlanta, GA (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092810007);
    (2) September 17, 2009, Newton, MA (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092931681);
    (3) September 24, 2009, Oak Brook, IL (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092931545);
    (4) October 1, 2009, Rockville, MD (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092931678);
    (5) October 20, 2009, Pismo Beach, CA (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML093070174); and
    (6) October 22, 2009, Dana Point, CA (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML093100505).
    A summary of these meetings is publicly available under ADAMS 
Accession No. ML093070141.
    On June 21, 2011, the NRC conducted another public meeting to 
discuss final rule implementation in Rockville, MD. No public comments 
were solicited at this meeting because the public comment period for 
the proposed rule had closed on January 12, 2010. A summary of this 
meeting is publicly available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML11182B535.

III. Discussion

1996 GEIS

    Under the NRC's environmental protection regulations in 10 CFR part 
51, which implements Section 102(2) of NEPA, renewal of a nuclear power 
plant operating license requires the preparation of an EIS (see 10 CFR 
51.20(b)(2)). The 1996 GEIS summarized the findings of a systematic 
inquiry into the environmental impacts of continued operations and 
refurbishment activities associated with license renewal. Of the 92 
environmental issues identified and analyzed by the NRC, 69 issues were 
determined to be generic (i.e., Category 1); 21 were determined to be 
plant-specific (i.e., Category 2); and two did not fit into either 
category (i.e., uncategorized). Category 1 issues concern those 
potential environmental impacts resulting from license renewal that are 
common or generic to all

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nuclear power plants (or for some issues, to plants having a specific 
type of cooling system or other specified plant or site 
characteristic). Category 2 issues concern those potential 
environmental impacts resulting from license renewal that are not 
common or generic to all nuclear power plants and, as such, require a 
plant-specific analysis to determine the level of impact. The two 
uncategorized issues would be addressed by the NRC in each SEIS. Table 
B-1 summarizes the findings of the environmental impact analyses 
conducted for the 1996 GEIS and lists each issue and its category 
level.
    Impact levels (small, moderate, or large) were determined for most 
NEPA issues (e.g., land use, air, water) evaluated in the 1996 GEIS. A 
small impact means that the environmental effects are not detectable, 
or are so minor that they would neither destabilize nor noticeably 
alter any important attribute of the resource. A moderate impact means 
that the environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but 
not destabilize, important attributes of the resource. A large impact 
means that the environmental effects would be clearly noticeable and 
would be sufficient to destabilize important attributes of the 
resource.
    The 1996 GEIS has been effective in focusing the NRC's resources on 
important license renewal environmental impact issues and has increased 
the efficiency of the environmental review process. Currently, 73 
nuclear units at 43 plant sites have received renewed operating 
licenses.

Revised GEIS

    The revised GEIS (Vol. 1, ``Main Report,'' ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13106A241; Vol. 2, ``Public Comments,'' ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13106A242; and Vol. 3, ``Appendices,'' ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13106A244) is both an update and a re-evaluation of the potential 
environmental impacts arising from the renewal of an operating license 
for a nuclear power reactor for an additional 20 years. Lessons learned 
and knowledge gained during previous license renewal environmental 
reviews provided a significant source of new information for the 
revised GEIS. In addition, public comments received during previous 
license renewal environmental reviews were re-examined to validate 
existing environmental issues and identify new ones. In preparing the 
revised GEIS, the NRC considered the need to modify, add to, 
consolidate, or delete any of the 92 environmental issues evaluated in 
the 1996 GEIS.
    In the proposed rule and draft revised GEIS, the NRC carried 
forward 78 environmental impact issues for detailed consideration. 
Fifty-eight of these issues were determined to be Category 1. Of the 
remaining 20 issues, 19 were determined to be Category 2 and one issue, 
``Electromagnetic fields, chronic effects,'' remained uncategorized.\4\ 
These issues were summarized in the July 31, 2009 (74 FR 38117), 
proposed rule.
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    \4\ ``Electromagnetic fields, chronic effects'' remains an 
uncategorized issue. Due to the lack of a scientific consensus on 
the impacts of chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields, the NRC 
has not categorized this issue and did not perform a plant-specific 
analysis. Once a scientific consensus is reached, the NRC will 
categorize the issue for license renewal.
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    Based on public comments received on the proposed rule and draft 
revised GEIS, a number of the environmental impact issues identified in 
the proposed rule were re-evaluated for detailed consideration in the 
final revised GEIS and are reflected in the changes made by the final 
rule. These changes are discussed in detail in Section VIII, ``Final 
Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1,'' of this document and are 
briefly summarized as follows:
    (1) ``Air quality during refurbishment (nonattainment and 
maintenance areas)'' issue was changed from a Category 2 to a Category 
1 issue and renamed, ``Air quality impacts (all plants).''
    (2) ``Groundwater and soil contamination'' issue was changed from a 
Category 2 to a Category 1 issue and consolidated with the 
``Groundwater use and quality'' issue into a single renamed Category 1 
issue, ``Groundwater contamination and use (non-cooling system 
impacts).''
    (3) ``Thermal impacts on aquatic organisms'' issue was changed to 
remove several Category 1 thermal impacts issues (these Category 1 
issues were consolidated together with a Category 2 thermal impact 
issue in the proposed rule) to create a new separate combined Category 
1 issue, ``Infrequently reported thermal impacts (all plants),'' which 
also includes the previously separate ``Stimulation of aquatic nuisance 
species (e.g., shipworms),'' Category 1 thermal impact issue.
    (4) ``Impingement and entrainment of aquatic organisms'' issue was 
changed to remove a single impingement and entrainment Category 1 issue 
(consolidated with other impingement and entrainment issues in the 
proposed rule) to create a new, separate Category 1 issue, 
``Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton (all plants).''
    In addition to the changes previously discussed, the NRC has made 
changes to the ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel'' issue and the 
``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal'' issue as a result of the United States Court of 
Appeals decision in New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012), 
which vacated the NRC's 2010 Waste Confidence Decision and Rule (75 FR 
81032 and 81037; December 23, 2010). The Category 1 ``Onsite storage of 
spent nuclear fuel'' issue was revised to limit the period of time 
covered by the issue to the license renewal term. Similarly, the NRC 
revised the Category 1 issue, ``Offsite radiological impacts of spent 
nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal'' by reclassifying the issue 
from a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small to an 
uncategorized issue with an impact level of uncertain. Section V of 
this document, ``Related Issues of Importance,'' provides further 
details on the NRC's revisions to these issues in response to the New 
York v. NRC decision.
    Ultimately, 59 environmental impact issues were determined to be 
Category 1 and would not require additional plant-specific analysis 
unless new and significant information is identified during the license 
renewal environmental review. Of the remaining 19 issues, 17 were 
determined to be Category 2, one remained uncategorized with respect to 
determining the impact level (``Chronic effects of electromagnetic 
fields (EMFs)''), and one was reclassified from Category 1 to 
uncategorized (``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level waste disposal''). These 78 issues were evaluated in the 
revised GEIS and are summarized in the final rule. No environmental 
issues identified in Table B-1 and evaluated in the 1996 GEIS were 
eliminated, but certain issues were consolidated or grouped according 
to similarities.
    Environmental issues in the revised GEIS are arranged by resource 
area. This perspective is a change from the 1996 GEIS in which 
environmental issues are arranged by power plant systems (e.g., cooling 
systems, transmission lines) and activities (e.g., refurbishment). The 
structure of the revised GEIS conforms to the NRC's standard format for 
EISs found in Appendix A to Subpart A of 10 CFR part 51, ``Format for 
Presentation of Material in Environmental Impact Statements.'' The 
environmental impacts of license renewal activities, including plant 
operations, maintenance, and

[[Page 37286]]

refurbishment activities, along with replacement power alternatives, 
are addressed in each resource area. The revised GEIS evaluated 
environmental impact issues under the following resource areas: (1) 
Land use and visual resources, (2) air quality and noise, (3) geologic 
environment, (4) water resources (surface water resources and 
groundwater resources), (5) ecological resources (terrestrial 
resources, aquatic resources, special status species and habitats), (6) 
historic and cultural resources, (7) socioeconomics, (8) human health, 
(9) environmental justice, and (10) waste management and pollution 
prevention. The final rule revises Table B-1 to follow the 
organizational format of the revised GEIS.
    In the 1996 GEIS, the NRC assumed that licensees would need to 
conduct major refurbishment activities to ensure the safe and economic 
operation of nuclear power plants beyond the current license term. 
Activities included replacement and repair of major components and 
systems, upgrades, and equipment. Replacement of many systems, 
structures, and components included steam generators and pressurizers 
for pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and recirculation piping systems 
for boiling water reactors (BWRs). It was assumed that many nuclear 
power plants would also undertake construction projects to replace or 
improve infrastructure. Such projects could include construction of new 
parking lots, roads, storage buildings, structures, and other 
facilities.
    Licensee practice since publication of the 1996 GEIS has shown that 
many refurbishment activities have already taken place (e.g., steam 
generator and vessel head replacement). Most license renewal applicants 
have not identified any refurbishment activities associated with 
license renewal. Therefore, the revised GEIS assumes that impacts from 
refurbishment activities outside of license renewal have been accounted 
for in annual site evaluation reports, environmental operating reports, 
and radiological environmental monitoring program reports. Detailed 
analyses have not been performed for refurbishment actions in the 
revised GEIS. Instead, the impacts of typical activities during the 
license renewal term, including any refurbishment activities, are 
addressed for each resource area.
    Environmental impacts of license renewal and the resources that 
could be affected are identified in the revised GEIS. The general 
analytical approach for identifying environmental impacts was to: (1) 
Describe the nuclear power plant activity that could result in an 
environmental impact, (2) identify the resource that may be affected, 
(3) evaluate past license renewal reviews and other available 
information, (4) assess the nature and magnitude of the environmental 
impact on the affected resource, (5) characterize the significance of 
the effects, and (6) determine whether the results of the analysis 
apply to all nuclear power plants (i.e., whether the impact issue is 
Category 1 or Category 2).
    The revised GEIS, and therefore the final rule, retains the 1996 
GEIS definitions of a Category 1 and Category 2 issue. While some 
Category 2 issues have been changed to Category 1, no Category 1 issue 
has been changed to Category 2. The final rule makes four major types 
of changes:
    (1) New Category 1 Issues: New Category 1 issues are either new 
Category 1 issues (i.e., not previously evaluated in the 1996 GEIS and 
listed in Table B-1) or multiple Category 1 issues from the 1996 GEIS 
(and listed as multiple Category 1 issues in Table B-1 of the current 
rule) that have been consolidated into a single Category 1 issue in the 
revised GEIS and in Table B-1. An applicant for license renewal does 
not need to assess the potential environmental impacts from these 
issues in its environmental report. However, under 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(iv), the applicant is still responsible for reporting in 
the environmental report any ``new and significant information'' of 
which the applicant is aware. If the applicant is not aware of any new 
and significant information that changes the conclusion in the revised 
GEIS, the applicant must state this determination in the environmental 
report. The NRC has addressed the environmental impacts of these 
Category 1 issues generically for all plants in the revised GEIS.
    (2) New Category 2 Issues: New Category 2 issues are either new 
Category 2 issues (i.e., not previously evaluated in the 1996 GEIS and 
listed in Table B-1) or multiple Category 2 issues from the 1996 GEIS 
(and listed as multiple Category 2 issues in Table B-1 of the current 
rule) that have been consolidated into a single Category 2 issue in the 
revised GEIS and in Table B-1. For each new Category 2 issue, an 
applicant must conduct a plant-specific assessment of the potential 
environmental impacts related to that issue and include it in its 
environmental report. The NRC will then analyze the potential 
environmental impacts related to that issue in the SEIS.
    (3) Existing Issue Category Changes from Category 2 to Category 1: 
These are issues that were determined to be Category 2 in the 1996 GEIS 
and have been re-evaluated and determined to be Category 1 in the 
revised GEIS. Table B-1 has been amended by the final rule. An 
applicant is no longer required to conduct a plant-specific assessment 
of the environmental impacts associated with these issues in its 
environmental report. Similarly, the NRC is no longer required to 
analyze the potential environmental impacts related to that issue in 
the SEIS. However, consistent with the requirements of 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(iv), an applicant is still required to describe in its 
environmental report any ``new and significant information'' of which 
it is aware.
    (4) Existing Issue Changes from Category 1 to Uncategorized: The 
``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal'' issue \5\ was determined to be a Category 1 issue in 
the 1996 GEIS, but given the DC Circuit decision in New York v. NRC, 
the NRC reclassified the issue to uncategorized in the revised GEIS. 
Table B-1 has been amended by the final rule. Because the issue is 
uncategorized in this final rule, pending further action by the 
Commission, an applicant is not required to conduct a plant-specific 
assessment of the environmental impacts associated with this issue in 
its environmental report.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ The issue was named ``Offsite radiological impacts (spent 
fuel and high waste disposal)'' in the 1996 rule and GEIS.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

IV. Response to Public Comments

A. Overview

    The public comment period for the proposed rule, draft revised 
GEIS, and draft guidance documents associated with this rulemaking, 
ended on January 12, 2010. The NRC received 32 document submissions 
containing comments from industry stakeholders, representatives of 
Federal and State agencies, and other interested parties. The NRC also 
received verbal comments at the six public meetings held during the 
public comment period. A detailed description of all public comments 
submitted on the proposed rule, draft revised GEIS, and draft guidance 
documents, and the NRC's responses to those comments, are contained in 
separate documents (see Section XII, ``Availability of Documents,'' of 
this document). The following section summarizes the major issues 
raised during the public comment period resulting in substantive 
changes to the rule and other issues raised for which no changes were 
made to the rule.

[[Page 37287]]

B. Summary of Comments Resulting in Substantive Changes to the Rule

    Several issues were raised during the public comment period that 
resulted in substantive changes to the proposed rule, which are briefly 
discussed in the following paragraphs.
    Seismic issues. Many commenters wanted seismic issues to be 
included in the rule and pointed out the importance of reassessing 
seismic conditions in determining the safety of operating nuclear power 
plants. Industry commenters disagreed and argued that seismology should 
not be considered as part of the issue of ``Impacts of nuclear plants 
on geology and soils'' in the proposed rule because it is an ongoing 
safety issue that is being addressed at all plants.
    NRC Response. The NRC agrees with the industry commenters that 
consideration of seismic conditions is an ongoing safety issue. 
Although seismic conditions at nuclear power plants were generically 
discussed in the revised GEIS as part of the geologic environment, 
seismology was not identified as a separate issue in the revised GEIS 
because the NRC considered historical earthquake data for each nuclear 
power plant when that plant was first licensed. The NRC requires all 
licensees to take seismic hazards into account in order to maintain 
safe operating conditions at all nuclear power plants. When new seismic 
hazard information becomes available, the NRC evaluates the new data 
and models to determine if any changes are needed at existing plants. 
This continuous oversight process, which includes seismic safety, 
remains separate from license renewal and takes place on an ongoing 
basis at all licensed nuclear facilities.
    Sections 3.4 and 4.4.1 of the revised GEIS explain that geologic 
and seismic conditions were considered in the original design of 
nuclear power plants and are part of the license bases for operating 
plants. Seismic conditions are attributes of the geologic environment 
that are not affected by continued plant operations and refurbishment 
and are not expected to change appreciably during the license renewal 
term for all nuclear power plants. The findings relative to geologic 
and soil conditions were re-evaluated in the revised GEIS and as such, 
the issue has been renamed, ``Geology and soils,'' in Table B-1, and 
the findings have been revised for clarity.
    Air quality impacts. Several commenters objected to the issue, 
``Air quality (nonattainment and maintenance areas),'' being listed as 
a Category 2 issue in the proposed rule. These commenters argued that 
air quality impacts would be small even in worst-case situations, 
because licensees are required to operate within State air permit 
requirements.
    NRC Response. The NRC agrees with the commenters. The final rule 
revises Table B-1 by reclassifying the issue as a Category 1 issue. 
Operating experience has shown that the potential impact from emergency 
generators and boilers on air quality would be small for all plants 
and, given the infrequency and short duration of maintenance testing, 
would not be an air quality concern even at plants located in or 
adjacent to nonattainment areas.
    In addition, the analysis presented in the revised GEIS has shown 
that the worst-case emissions from cooling tower drift and particulate 
emissions at operating plants were also small. Air quality impacts from 
vehicle, equipment, and fugitive dust emissions associated with 
refurbishment would also be small for most plants but could be a cause 
for concern for plants located in or near air quality nonattainment or 
maintenance areas. However, the impacts are expected to be temporary 
and would cease once projects were completed. In addition, operating 
experience has shown that refurbishment activities have not required 
the large numbers of workers and extended durations conservatively 
predicted and analyzed in the 1996 GEIS, nor have such activities 
resulted in exceedances in the de minimis thresholds for criteria 
pollutants in nonattainment and maintenance areas. Consequently, the 
NRC agrees with these commenters' arguments that air quality impacts 
would be small for all plants and, therefore, a Category 1 issue.
    Groundwater and soil contamination. Several commenters objected to 
the new Category 2 issue, ``Groundwater and soil contamination,'' in 
the proposed rule and asserted that contamination from industrial 
practices is addressed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA) and State regulations that monitor and address these impacts. 
Specifically, the use, storage, disposal, release, and/or cleanup of 
spilled or leaked solvents, hydrocarbons, and other potentially 
hazardous materials are governed by the Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act (RCRA); Comprehensive Environmental Response, 
Compensation, and Liability Act; Toxic Substances Control Act; Federal 
Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and the Federal Water 
Pollution Control Act (also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA)).
    NRC Response. While classified as a Category 2 issue in the 
proposed rule, further consideration of the ``Groundwater and soil 
contamination'' issue and public comments revealed that the potential 
impacts on groundwater and soil quality from common industrial 
practices (e.g., the use, handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals, 
petroleum products, waste, and hazardous material) can be addressed 
generically because industrial practices employed by nuclear power 
plants are not unique, but common to all industrial facilities. The NRC 
concludes that the overall impact of industrial practices on 
groundwater use and quality from past and current operations is small 
for all nuclear power plants and not expected to change appreciably 
during the license renewal term. The NRC agrees with the commenters to 
the extent that clarification was needed and that common industrial 
practices that can cause groundwater or soil contamination can be 
addressed generically as a Category 1 issue.
    Further, the final rule combines the reclassified ``Groundwater and 
soil contamination'' issue with the Category 1 proposed rule issue, 
``Groundwater use and quality,'' and renames the consolidated Category 
1 issue as ``Groundwater contamination and use (non-cooling system 
impacts).'' These issues were consolidated because they both consider 
the impact of industrial activities associated with the continued 
operations of a nuclear power plant (not directly related to cooling 
system effects) on groundwater use and quality. Consolidating these 
issues also conforms to the resource-based approach used in the revised 
GEIS and serves to facilitate the license renewal environmental review 
process.
    The finding column of Table B-1 for ``Impacts of refurbishment on 
groundwater use and quality'' prior to the final rule, as analyzed in 
the 1996 GEIS, indicated that impacts of continued operations and 
refurbishment on groundwater use and quality would be small, as 
extensive dewatering is not anticipated, and the application of best 
management practices for handling any materials produced or used during 
activities would reduce impacts. These findings were re-evaluated in 
the revised GEIS and are retained in the finding column of Table B-1 
for the consolidated issue.
    This new consolidated issue also considers the impacts on 
groundwater, soil, and subsoil from the industrial use of solvents, 
hydrocarbons, heavy metals, or other chemicals at nuclear power plant 
sites during the license renewal

[[Page 37288]]

term, including the impacts resulting from the use of wastewater 
disposal ponds or lagoons (both lined or unlined). Industrial practices 
at all nuclear power plants have the potential to contaminate 
groundwater and soil, especially on sites with unlined wastewater and 
storm water lagoons. Contaminants have been found in groundwater and 
soil samples at some nuclear power plants during previous license 
renewal environmental reviews.
    Any groundwater and soil contamination at operating nuclear power 
plants is subject to characterization and clean-up under EPA- and 
State-regulated remediation and monitoring programs. In addition, 
wastewater disposal ponds and lagoons are subject to discharge 
authorizations under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System (NPDES) and related State wastewater discharge permit programs. 
Each operating nuclear power plant must comply with these EPA and State 
regulatory requirements. As such, each site has an established program 
for handling chemicals, waste, and other hazardous materials. Moreover, 
nuclear power plant licensees are expected to employ best management 
practices, both in minimizing effluents and in remediation. Thus, this 
new consolidated issue, as set forth in the final revised GEIS and the 
final rule, is listed as a Category 1 issue.

C. Summary of Other Comments

    Radionuclides in groundwater. Several commenters expressed 
opposition to the inclusion of a new Category 2 issue, ``Radionuclides 
released to groundwater,'' with an impact estimate of small to moderate 
in the proposed rule. Some commenters indicated that the issue category 
should be changed to Category 1; others suggested that the levels of 
significance should range to large. The argument for changing the issue 
to Category 1 was based on the voluntary industry-wide initiative, 
Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) 07-07, ``Industry Ground Water 
Protection Initiative--Final Guidance Document'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML072610036), designed to protect groundwater.
    NRC Response. This new, Category 2 issue evaluates the potential 
contamination and degradation of groundwater resources resulting from 
inadvertent discharges of radionuclides into groundwater from nuclear 
power plants. Within the past several years, there have been numerous 
events at power reactor sites that involved unknown, uncontrolled, and 
unmonitored releases of radionuclides into the groundwater. The number 
of these events and the high level of public controversy have made this 
an issue that the NRC believes needs a ``hard look,'' as required by 
NEPA.
    As a voluntary action, NEI 07-07 cannot be enforced by the NRC. As 
such, no violations can be issued against a licensee who fails to 
comply with the guidance in NEI 07-07. Furthermore, the NRC cannot rely 
on a voluntary initiative as a basis to ensure that the nuclear power 
industry will monitor and have adequate information available for the 
NRC to determine whether the issue does or does not have an adverse 
impact on groundwater resources.
    Regarding the magnitude of impact, the NRC bases its determination 
of small to moderate impact on a review of existing plants that have 
had inadvertent releases of radioactive liquids. Even though the NRC 
expects impacts for all plants to be within this range, a conclusion of 
large impact would not be precluded for a future license renewal review 
based on new and significant information, if the data supports such a 
conclusion. As reflected in the revised final GEIS and the final rule, 
``Radionuclides released to groundwater,'' remains a Category 2 issue.
    Radiation exposures to the public. Several commenters identified 
recent studies that claim an association between cancer risk and 
proximity to nuclear power facilities.
    NRC Response. The NRC's regulatory limits for radiological 
protection are set to protect workers and the public from the harmful 
health effects (i.e., cancer and other biological impacts) of radiation 
to humans. The limits are based on the recommendations of scientific 
standards-setting organizations. These radiation standards reflect 
extensive scientific study by national and international organizations. 
The NRC actively participates in and monitors the work of these 
organizations to remain current on the latest trends in radiation 
protection. If the NRC determines that there is a need to revise its 
radiation protection regulations, it will initiate a separate 
rulemaking. The models recognized by the NRC for use by licensees to 
calculate dose incorporate conservative assumptions to ensure that 
workers and members of the public are adequately protected from 
radiation.
    On April 7, 2010, the NRC announced that it asked the National 
Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform a state-of-the-art study on cancer 
risk for populations surrounding nuclear power facilities (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML100970142). The NAS has a broad range of medical and 
scientific experts who can provide the best available analysis of the 
complex issues involved in discussing cancer risk and commercial 
nuclear power plants. The NAS is a nongovernmental organization 
chartered by the U.S. Congress to advise the nation on issues of 
science, technology, and medicine. Through the National Research 
Council and Institute of Medicine, it carries out studies independently 
of the Government, using processes designed to promote transparency, 
objectivity, and technical rigor. More information on its methods for 
performing studies is available at http://www.nationalacademies.org/studycommitteprocess.pdf.
    The NAS study will update the 1990 U.S. National Institutes of 
Health National Cancer Institute (NCI) report, ``Cancer in Populations 
Living Near Nuclear Facilities'' (NCI 1990), which concluded there was 
no evidence that nuclear facilities may be linked causally with excess 
death from leukemia or from other cancers in populations living 
nearby.\6\ The study's objectives are to: (1) Evaluate whether cancer 
risk is different for populations living near nuclear power facilities, 
(2) include cancer occurrence, (3) develop an approach to assess cancer 
risk in geographic areas that are smaller than the county level, and 
(4) evaluate the study results in the context of offsite doses from 
normal reactor operations. The study began in the summer of 2010 and is 
expected to be completed within 4 years. The final revised GEIS has 
added a discussion on the NRC's sponsorship of this follow-up to the 
1990 NCI study.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ More information on this report is available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/nuclear-facilities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel, waste disposal, and Yucca 
Mountain. Several commenters expressed concern about the increasing 
volume of spent nuclear fuel at existing power plant sites and the 
availability of a geological repository at Yucca Mountain for future 
waste disposal.
    NRC Response. The Commission is aware that geologic disposal, at 
Yucca Mountain or elsewhere, may not be available in the timeframe that 
was originally envisioned. As an alternative, the Commission has 
considered the storage of spent nuclear fuel on reactor sites where it 
is generated. The impacts associated with onsite storage of spent 
nuclear fuel at nuclear power plant sites during the license renewal 
term are discussed in Section 4.11.1.2 of the revised GEIS. The impacts 
associated with offsite radiological impacts from

[[Page 37289]]

spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal are discussed in 
Section 4.11.1.3 of the revised GEIS. In light of the DC Circuit's 
decision in New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471, the NRC has revised two 
Table B-1 issues, ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel'' and 
``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal.'' Section V of this document, ``Related Issues of 
Importance,'' provides a discussion of the NRC's revisions to these two 
issues, as well as the actions the NRC has taken or will take in 
response to the New York v. NRC decision.
    Postulated accidents. Numerous comments were received on the NRC's 
evaluation and classification of postulated accidents in the draft 
revised GEIS. One commenter disagreed with the GEIS' conclusion that 
environmental impact from design basis accidents (DBAs) is small. Also, 
several commenters disagreed with the GEIS conclusion that the 
environmental impact from severe accidents is small and further, that 
the evaluation is not adequate because of its use of probability-
weighted risk assessments. Their position is that for severe accidents, 
the revised GEIS should also evaluate the consequences of reactor 
accidents and expand the evaluation to include spent fuel pool 
accidents and accidents due to age-related plant component degradation. 
In addition, some of the commenters stated that the NRC has gained 
enough information from the many plant licenses it has renewed to make 
a determination, on a generic basis, that the ``severe accidents'' 
issue should be reclassified as Category 1.
    NRC Response.
    Design Basis Accidents. The NRC does not agree that the GEIS' 
evaluation of DBAs is incorrect. The NRC evaluates and presents the 
potential consequences of DBAs in nuclear power plant licensing 
documents and considers them in the GEIS for license renewal.
    In order to receive NRC approval for an initial operating license, 
an applicant must submit a final safety analysis report (FSAR) as part 
of its application. The FSAR presents the applicable design criteria 
and design information for the proposed reactor, as well as 
comprehensive data on the proposed site. The FSAR also discusses 
hypothetical reactor accident situations and addresses the safety 
features that prevent and mitigate those accidents. During the initial 
licensing process for a power reactor, the NRC reviews the FSAR to 
determine whether or not the plant design meets the NRC's regulations.
    At initial licensing, the NRC also considered the environmental 
impact of DBAs at each operating nuclear power plant. The DBAs are 
those events that both the applicant and the NRC evaluate to ensure 
that the plant can withstand normal and abnormal transients (e.g., 
rapid changes in reactor power) without undue risk to the health and 
safety of the public. Although the NRC does not expect that all of 
these postulated events will occur during the life of the plant, the 
NRC evaluates them to establish the basis for the preventive and 
mitigative safety systems of the facility. The acceptance criteria for 
DBAs are described in 10 CFR part 50, ``Domestic Licensing of 
Production and Utilization Facilities,'' and 10 CFR part 100, ``Reactor 
Site Criteria.'' Compliance with these regulations provides reasonable 
assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety.
    During operations, the NRC requires each power plant licensee to 
maintain acceptable design and performance criteria in accordance with 
the NRC's regulations, including during any license renewal period. 
Therefore, the calculated releases from DBAs will remain within the 
NRC's regulatory limits.
    The 1996 GEIS, in Section 5.2, discusses the impacts of potential 
accidents. It contains a discussion of plant accidents and 
consequences. This discussion addresses general characteristics of 
design basis (and severe) accidents, characteristics of fission 
products, meteorological considerations, possible exposure pathways, 
potential adverse health effects, avoiding adverse health effects, 
accident experience and observed impacts, and emergency preparedness. 
The revised GEIS reexamined the information from the 1996 GEIS and 
concluded that it is still valid. Because the information on DBAs is 
valid and has not changed, the revised GEIS does not repeat the 
information from the 1996 GEIS.
    Severe Accidents. The NRC does not agree with the comments that the 
revised GEIS evaluation is inadequate regarding the impacts from severe 
accidents because it uses probability-weighted risk assessments. Severe 
accidents (i.e., beyond design basis accidents) are those that could 
result in substantial damage to the reactor core, whether or not there 
are serious off-site consequences. The 1996 GEIS estimated and 
considered the potential impacts on human health and economic factors 
from full-power severe reactor accidents initiated by internal events 
at different types of nuclear facilities located in different types of 
settings. That evaluation included modeling the release of radioactive 
materials into the environment and modeling the pathways (i.e., 
exposure to the radioactive plume, inhalation of radioactivity, 
consumption of contaminated food) through which members of the public 
could potentially be exposed to doses of radiation. Based on the 
calculated doses, the GEIS reported the consequences (i.e., potential 
early and latent fatalities) from such accidents. In developing a 
potential impact level, however, the NRC took into account the very low 
probability of such events, as well as their potential consequences, 
and concluded that the likely impact from individual nuclear power 
plants is small.
    In the revised GEIS, the NRC expanded the scope of the severe 
accident evaluations and used more recent technical information that 
included both internal and external event core-damage frequency, as 
well as improved severe accident source terms, spent fuel pool 
accidents, low power and reactor shutdown events, new radiation risk-
coefficients from the National Academy of Sciences, ``Health Risks from 
Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: Biological Effects of 
Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII'' report,\7\ and risk impacts of reactor 
power uprates and higher fuel burn-up levels. As a result, the revised 
GEIS considers updated information in determining the potential 
consequences of a reactor accident. Considering this updated 
information and that severe reactor accidents remain unlikely, the 
revised GEIS concludes that the environmental impacts of a severe 
accident remain small.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ The BEIR VII report can be accessed at http://search.nap.edu/napsearch.php?term=beir+vii. The NRC staff reviewed 
this report in SECY-05-0202, ``Staff Review of the National 
Academies Study of the Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of 
Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII),'' dated October 29, 2005 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML052640532).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The NRC notes, however, that the GEIS is not the primary vehicle 
the NRC uses to address and regulate risks from severe accidents. The 
NRC's regulations and regulatory practices employ safety standards in 
the design, construction, and operation of nuclear power plants as well 
as risk models to ensure the public is adequately protected on an on-
going basis. The NRC's ongoing oversight addresses the public's risk 
from nuclear power plant accidents, accounts for the effects of 
proposed changes that may be made as part of power plant operations, 
and considers new information about the facility or its environment 
when necessary.

[[Page 37290]]

    Although the NRC has determined that impacts from severe accidents 
are small for all facilities, the NRC continues to maintain that severe 
accidents cannot be a Category 1 issue because plant-specific 
mitigation measures vary greatly based on plant designs, safety 
systems, fuel type, operating procedures, local environment, 
population, and siting characteristics. Thus, severe accidents remain a 
Category 2 issue. Accordingly, the NRC has not changed the requirements 
in 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(L) that an applicant's environmental report 
must contain a discussion that considers alternatives to mitigate 
severe accidents if the NRC has not previously considered this issue in 
an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment for the 
facility.
    Spent Fuel Pool Accidents. The 1996 GEIS included a quantitative 
analysis of a severe accident involving a reactor operating at full 
power. A qualitative evaluation of SFP accidents is presented in 
Appendix E of the revised GEIS. Based on this evaluation, the revised 
GEIS concludes that the environmental impacts from accidents involving 
SFPs are comparable to those from the reactor accidents at full power 
that were evaluated in the 1996 GEIS and as such, SFP accidents do not 
warrant separate evaluation. Based on the continued validity of 
conclusions from the 1996 GEIS, as affirmed by the Commission (see 
following paragraph), the revised GEIS does not contain a quantitative 
evaluation of SFP accidents.
    The issue of an accident involving the spent fuel pool was 
specifically addressed by the NRC in its denial of two petitions for 
rulemaking (PRM): PRM-51-10 and PRM-51-12, submitted by the Attorney 
General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006 and the Attorney 
General of California in 2007, respectively.\8\ The petitioners 
requested that the NRC initiate a rulemaking concerning the 
environmental impacts of the high density storage of spent nuclear fuel 
in SFPs. The petitioners asserted that ``new and significant 
information'' shows that the NRC incorrectly characterized the 
environmental impacts of high-density spent fuel storage as 
``insignificant'' in the 1996 GEIS for the renewal of nuclear power 
plant licenses. Specifically, the petitioners asserted that spent fuel 
stored in high-density SFPs is more vulnerable to a zirconium fire than 
the NRC concluded in its NEPA analysis. The NRC denied the two 
petitions, and the NRC denial was upheld by the United States Court of 
Appeals.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ These PRMs were denied in the same Federal Register notice 
(73 FR 46204; August 8, 2008).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Aging-related Degradation. Issues related to age-related plant 
component degradation are addressed in the NRC's safety evaluation of 
the plant's license renewal application. The regulations covering the 
safety review for license renewal are in 10 CFR part 54, ``Requirements 
for Renewal of Operating Licenses for Nuclear Power Plants.''
    The 1996 GEIS discusses the potential effects of age on the 
physical plant and notes that such deterioration could result in an 
increased likelihood of component or structure failure that could 
increase the rate of plant accidents. The GEIS notes that the NRC 
requires an applicant for license renewal to address the issue of age-
related degradation by identifying, in an integrated plant assessment 
process, those passive, long-lived structures and components that are 
susceptible to age-related degradation and whose functions are 
necessary to ensure that the facility's current licensing basis is 
maintained. The GEIS found that the safety evaluation performed by the 
NRC as part of the license renewal process provides reasonable 
assurance that age-related degradation is managed and adequate 
protection of the health and safety of the public is maintained during 
the license renewal period. Therefore, the 1996 GEIS concluded, ``. . . 
the probability of any radioactive releases from accidents will not 
increase over the license renewal period.'' Based on nuclear power 
plants' continued compliance with 10 CFR part 54 to manage age-related 
degradation, the revised GEIS did not alter or revise this conclusion 
from the 1996 GEIS.
    Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Several commenters 
discussed the need to include a discussion of the effects of climate 
change on plant operations and the effect of continued operations 
during the license renewal period on environmental resources affected 
by climate change.
    NRC Response. The NRC acknowledges these concerns. The NRC has 
begun to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its 
implications for global climate change in its environmental reviews for 
both new reactor and license renewal applications. Changes in climate 
have the potential to affect air and water resources, ecological 
resources, and human health, and should be taken into account when 
evaluating cumulative impacts over the license renewal term.
    Subsequent to the publication of the proposed rule and during the 
public comment period, the Commission issued a memorandum and order 
concerning two combined operating license applications for new reactor 
units at the Tennessee Valley Authority Bellefonte site in Alabama and 
the Duke Energy Carolinas Lee site in South Carolina (CLI-09-21). The 
memorandum and order stated:

because the Staff is currently addressing the emerging issues 
surrounding greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews 
required for the licensing of nuclear facilities, we believe it is 
prudent to provide the following guidance to the Staff. We expect 
the Staff to include consideration of carbon dioxide and other 
greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental reviews for major 
licensing actions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The 
Staff's analysis for reactor applications should encompass emissions 
from the uranium fuel cycle as well as from construction and 
operation of the facility to be licensed. The Staff should ensure 
that these issues are addressed consistently in agency NEPA 
evaluations and, as appropriate, update Staff guidance documents to 
address greenhouse gas emissions.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ In the matter of Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Combined 
License Application for William States Lee III Nuclear Station, 
Units 1 and 2); In the matter of Tennessee Valley Authority 
(Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4), CLI-09-21 (NRC 
November 3, 2009).

    Presently, insufficient data exists to support an impact level on a 
generic basis. The NRC only has direct emission data for a handful of 
facilities. Although some states have varying reporting requirements, 
GHG emissions reporting nationwide is in its infancy. The EPA 
promulgated its GHG emissions reporting rule on October 30, 2009 (74 FR 
56260). In accordance with this rule, the first industry reporting date 
was March 31, 2011.\10\ Moreover, the 25,000 annual metric ton 
reporting threshold EPA established in the final rule of October 30, 
2009, is not an indication of what EPA considers to be a significant 
(or insignificant) level of GHG emissions on a scientific basis, but a 
threshold chosen by EPA for policy evaluation purposes.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ 74 FR at 56267: October 30, 2009, codified at 40 CFR 
98.3(b) (``The annual GHG report must be submitted no later than 
March 31 of each calendar year for GHG emissions in the previous 
calendar year'').
    \11\ The EPA concluded for policy evaluation purposes, that the 
25,000 metric ton threshold more effectively targets large 
industrial emitters and suppliers, covers approximately 85 percent 
of the U.S. emissions, and minimizes the burden on smaller 
facilities (74 FR 56264; October 30, 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In order to comply with the Commission's direction in CLI-09-21 and 
in response to the comments received, a new section, ``Greenhouse Gas 
Emissions and Climate Change'' (Chapter 4, Section 4.12.3), summarizing 
the potential cumulative

[[Page 37291]]

impacts of GHG emissions and global climate change, has been added to 
the final revised GEIS. The NRC will also include within each SEIS a 
plant-specific analysis of any impacts caused by GHG emissions over the 
course of the license renewal term as well as any impacts caused by 
potential climate change upon the affected resources during the license 
renewal term. The final rule was not revised to include any reference 
to GHG emissions or climate change.
    Recent advances in alternative energy technologies. Several 
commenters asserted that much of the information describing alternative 
energy technologies did not reflect the state-of-the-science. In some 
cases, commenters noted facts and events that occurred after the 
publication date of the draft revised GEIS.
    NRC Response. The NRC has updated the final revised GEIS to 
incorporate the latest information on replacement power alternatives, 
but it is inevitable that rapidly evolving technologies will outpace 
the information presented in the final revised GEIS. Incorporation of 
this information is more appropriately made in the context of plant-
specific license renewal reviews, rather than in the evaluations 
contained in the revised GEIS. As with renewable energy technologies, 
energy policies are evolving rapidly. While the NRC acknowledges that 
legislation, technological advancements, and public policy can underlie 
a fundamental paradigm shift in energy portfolios, the NRC cannot make 
decisions based on anticipated or speculative changes. Instead, the NRC 
considers the status of replacement power alternatives and energy 
policies when conducting plant-specific reviews. The final revised GEIS 
has been updated to clarify the NRC's approach to conducting 
replacement power alternative evaluations.
    Emergency preparedness and security. Several commenters expressed 
concern with emergency preparedness, evacuation, and safety and 
security at nuclear power plants. Commenters stated that these topics 
were not addressed in the proposed rule and not adequately covered in 
the revised GEIS and should be included in the scope of the plant-
specific SEISs.
    NRC Response. Emergency preparedness and planning are part of the 
current licensing basis for each holder of a 10 CFR part 50 operating 
license and are outside the regulatory scope of license renewal. Before 
a plant is licensed to operate, the NRC must have ``reasonable 
assurance that adequate protective measures can and will be taken in 
the event of a radiological emergency'' (10 CFR 50.47). The 
Commission's regulatory scheme provides continuing assurance that 
emergency planning for every operating nuclear power plant is adequate. 
The Commission has determined that there is no need for a special 
review of emergency planning issues in the context of an environmental 
review for license renewal because the ongoing decisions and findings 
concerning emergency preparedness at nuclear power plants address 
concerns as they arise.
    The Commission considered the need for a review of emergency 
planning issues in the context of license renewal during its rulemaking 
proceedings on 10 CFR part 54, which included public notice and 
comment. As discussed in the Statement of Considerations for the 10 CFR 
part 54 rulemaking (56 FR 64966; December 13, 1991), the programs for 
emergency preparedness at nuclear power facilities apply to all nuclear 
power facility licensees and require the specified levels of protection 
from each licensee regardless of plant design, construction, or license 
date. The NRC requirements related to emergency planning are in the 
regulations at 10 CFR 50.47 and Appendix E to 10 CFR part 50, 
``Emergency Planning and Preparedness for Production and Utilization 
Facilities.'' These requirements apply to all holders of operating 
licenses and will continue to apply to facilities with renewed 
licenses. Through its standards and required exercises, the Commission 
reviews existing emergency preparedness plans throughout the life of 
any facility, keeping up with changing demographics and other site-
related factors.
    Further, the NRC actively reviews its regulatory framework to 
ensure that the regulations are current and effective. The agency began 
a major review of its emergency preparedness framework in 2005, 
including a comprehensive review of the emergency preparedness 
regulations and guidance, the issuance of generic communications 
regarding the integration of emergency preparedness and security, and 
outreach efforts to interested persons to discuss emergency 
preparedness issues. These activities informed a rulemaking effort to 
enhance the NRC's emergency preparedness regulations and guidance. This 
effort culminated in a final rule, which was published in the Federal 
Register on November 23, 2011 (76 FR 72560).
    Security issues are not tied to a license renewal action but are 
treated on an ongoing basis as a part of the current (and renewed) 
operating license. If issues related to security are discovered at a 
nuclear power plant, they are addressed immediately, and any necessary 
changes are reviewed and incorporated under the current operating 
license. For example, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 
2001, the NRC issued security-related orders and guidance to nuclear 
power plant licensees. These orders and guidance included interim 
measures for emergency planning. Nuclear industry groups and Federal, 
State, and local government agencies assisted in the prompt 
implementation of these measures and participated in drills and 
exercises to test these new planning elements. The NRC reviewed 
licensees' commitments to address these requirements and verified their 
implementation through inspections to ensure public health and safety.
    In summary, the issue of security is not unique to nuclear power 
plants requesting license renewal. The NRC routinely assesses threats 
and other information provided by other Federal agencies and sources. 
The NRC also ensures that licensees meet their security requirements 
through its ongoing regulatory process (routine inspections) as a 
current and generic regulatory issue that affects all nuclear power 
plants. Therefore, as discussed in the Statement of Considerations for 
the 10 CFR part 54 rulemaking (56 FR 64966), the Commission determined 
that there is no need for an evaluation of security issues in the 
context of a license renewal review.

V. Related Issues of Importance

    This section addresses five issues of related importance to the 
final rule: (1) Consideration of the recent events at the Fukushima 
Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, (2) removal of those parts of the final 
rule that refer to and rely upon the NRC's Waste Confidence Decision 
and Rule, (3) a description of the final rule's effective and 
compliance dates, (4) clarification of the term ``best management 
practices,'' and (5) deletion of the proposed definition of the term 
``historic properties.''

A. Fukushima Events

    On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake off the east coast of 
Honshu, Japan produced a devastating tsunami that struck the coastal 
town of Fukushima. The six-unit Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant 
was directly impacted by these events. The resulting damage caused the 
failure of several of the units' safety systems needed to maintain 
cooling water flow to the reactors. As a result of the loss of cooling, 
the fuel overheated, and there

[[Page 37292]]

was a partial meltdown of the fuel contained in several of the 
reactors. Damage to the systems and structures containing reactor fuel 
resulted in the release of radioactive material to the surrounding 
environment.
    In response to the earthquake, tsunami, and resulting reactor 
accidents at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (hereafter 
referred to as the ``Fukushima events''), the Commission directed the 
NRC staff to convene an agency task force of senior leaders and experts 
to conduct a methodical and systematic review of the relevant NRC 
regulatory requirements, programs, and processes, including their 
implementation, and to recommend whether the agency should make near-
term improvements to its regulatory system. As part of the short-term 
review, the task force concluded that, while improvements are expected 
to be made as a result of the lessons learned from the Fukushima 
events, the continued operation of nuclear power plants and licensing 
activities for new plants do not pose an imminent risk to public health 
and safety.\12\
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    \12\ Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st 
Century, The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the 
Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident'' (July 12, 2011) (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML111861807).
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    During the time that the task force was conducting its review, 
groups of individuals and non-governmental organizations petitioned the 
Commission to suspend all licensing decisions in order to conduct a 
separate, generic NEPA analysis to determine whether the Fukushima 
events constituted ``new and significant information'' under NEPA that 
must be analyzed as part of environmental reviews. The Commission found 
the request premature and noted, ``[i]n short, we do not know today the 
full implications of the [Fukushima] events for U.S. facilities.'' \13\ 
However, the Commission found that if ``new and significant information 
comes to light that requires consideration as part of the ongoing 
preparation of application-specific NEPA documents, the agency will 
assess the significance of that information, as appropriate.'' \14\ The 
Federal courts of appeal and the Commission have interpreted NEPA such 
that an EIS must be updated to include new information only when that 
new information provides ``a seriously different picture of the 
environmental impact of the proposed project from what was previously 
envisioned.'' \15\
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    \13\ Union Electric Co. d/b/a Ameren Missouri (Callaway Plant, 
Unit 2), CLI-11-05, -- NRC --, -- (slip op. at 30) (Sept. 9, 2011).
    \14\ Id. at 30-31.
    \15\ Id. at 31 (quoting Hydro Resources, Inc. (2929 Coors Road, 
Suite 101, Albuquerque, NM 87120), CLI-99-22, 50 NRC 3, 14 (1999) 
(citing Marsh v. Oregon Natural Resources Council, 490 U.S. 360, 373 
(1989))). The Commission also noted that it can modify a facility's 
operating license outside of a renewal proceeding and made clear 
that ``it will use the information from these activities to impose 
any requirement it deems necessary, irrespective of whether a plant 
is applying for or has been granted a renewed operating license.'' 
Id. at 26-27.
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    In the context of the revised GEIS and this rulemaking, the 
Fukushima events are considered a severe accident (i.e., a type of 
accident that may challenge a plant's safety systems at a level much 
higher than expected) and more specifically, a severe accident 
initiated by an event external to the plant. The 1996 GEIS concluded 
that risks from severe accidents initiated by external events (such as 
an earthquake) could have potentially high consequences but found that 
external events are adequately addressed through a consideration of a 
severe accident initiated by an internal event (such as a loss of 
cooling water). Therefore, an applicant for license renewal need only 
analyze the environmental impacts from an internal event in order to 
adequately characterize the environmental impacts from either type of 
event. The revised GEIS examined more recent and up-to-date information 
regarding external events and concluded that the analysis in the 1996 
GEIS remains valid. The Fukushima events are not considered in the 
revised GEIS because the analysis in the revised GEIS was completed 
prior to the Fukushima events.
    The NRC's evaluation of the consequences of the Fukushima events is 
ongoing. As such, the NRC will continue to evaluate the need to make 
improvements to existing regulatory requirements based on the task 
force report and additional studies and analyses of the Fukushima 
events as more information is learned. To the extent that any revisions 
are made to the NRC's regulatory requirements, they would be made 
applicable to nuclear power reactors regardless of whether or not they 
have a renewed license. Therefore, no additional analyses have been 
performed in the revised GEIS as a result of the Fukushima events. In 
the event that the NRC identifies information from the Fukushima events 
that constitutes new and significant information with respect to the 
environmental impacts of license renewal, the NRC will discuss that 
information in its site-specific SEISs to the GEIS, as it does with all 
such new and significant information.

B. Removal of References to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule

    The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule represented the Commission's 
generic determination that spent nuclear fuel can continue to be stored 
safely and without significant environmental impacts for a period of 
time after the end of the licensed life for operation of a nuclear 
power plant.\16\ This generic determination meant that the NRC did not 
need to consider the storage of spent nuclear fuel after the end of a 
reactor's licensed life for operation in the NEPA documents that 
support its reactor and spent-fuel storage license application reviews.
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    \16\ The NRC first adopted the Waste Confidence Decision and 
Rule in 1984. The NRC amended the decision and rule in 1990, 
reviewed them in 1999, and amended them again in 2010. 49 FR 34694 
(August 31, 1984); 55 FR 38474 (September 18, 1990); 64 FR 68005 
(December 6, 1999); and 75 FR 81032 and 81037 (December 23, 2010). 
The NRC made a minor amendment to the rule in 2007 to clarify that 
it applies to combined licenses. 72 FR 49509 (August 28, 2007). The 
Waste Confidence Decision and Rule are codified in the NRC 
regulation 10 CFR 51.23.
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    On December 23, 2010, the Commission published a revision of the 
Waste Confidence Decision and Rule to reflect information gained from 
experience in the storage of spent nuclear fuel and the increased 
uncertainty in the siting and construction of a permanent geologic 
repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste.\17\ In response to the 2010 Waste Confidence Decision and Rule, 
the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont, along 
with several other parties, challenged the Commission's NEPA analysis 
in the decision, which provided the regulatory basis for the rule. On 
June 8, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia 
Circuit, in New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012), vacated the 
NRC's Waste Confidence Decision and Rule, after finding that it did not 
comply with NEPA.
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    \17\ 75 FR 81032 and 81037.
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    The court concluded that the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule is 
a major federal action necessitating either an EIS or an environmental 
assessment that results in a ``finding of no significant impact.'' In 
vacating the 2010 decision and rule, the court identified three 
specific deficiencies in the analysis:
    1. As to the Commission's conclusion that permanent disposal will 
be available ``when necessary,'' the court held that the Commission did 
not evaluate the environmental effects of failing to secure permanent 
disposal;
    2. As to the storage of spent fuel on-site at nuclear plants after 
the expiration

[[Page 37293]]

of a plant's operating license, the court concluded that the Commission 
failed to properly examine the risk of spent fuel pool leaks in a 
forward-looking fashion; and
    3. Also related to the post-license storage of spent fuel, the 
court concluded that the Commission failed to properly examine the 
consequences of spent fuel pool fires.
    In response to the court's ruling, the Commission issued CLI-12-16 
on August 7, 2012 (ADAMS Accession No. ML12220A212), in which the 
Commission determined that it would not issue licenses that rely upon 
the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule until the issues identified in 
the court's decision are appropriately addressed by the Commission. 
CLI-12-16 provided, however, that the decision not to issue licenses 
only applied to final license issuance; all licensing reviews and 
proceedings should continue to move forward. In SRM-COMSECY-12-0016, 
``Approach for Addressing Policy Issues Resulting from Court Decision 
to Vacate Waste Confidence Decision and Rule,'' dated September 6, 2012 
(ADAMS Accession No. 12250A032), the Commission directed the NRC staff 
to proceed with a rulemaking that includes the development of a generic 
EIS to support a revised Waste Confidence Decision and Rule and to 
publish both the EIS and the revised decision and rule in the Federal 
Register within 24 months. The Commission indicated that both the EIS 
and the revised Waste Confidence Decision and Rule should build on the 
information already documented in various NRC studies and reports, 
including the existing environmental assessment that the NRC developed 
as part of the 2010 Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. The Commission 
directed that any additional analyses should focus on the three 
deficiencies identified in the court's decision. The Commission also 
directed that the NRC staff provide ample opportunity for public 
comment on both the draft EIS and the proposed Waste Confidence 
Decision and Rule.
    In accordance with CLI-12-16, the NRC will not approve any site-
specific license renewal applications until the deficiencies identified 
in the court's decision have been resolved. Two Table B-1 license 
renewal issues that rely, wholly or in part, upon the Waste Confidence 
Decision and Rule are the ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel'' and 
``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal.'' Both of these issues were classified as Category 1 in 
the 10 CFR part 51 rule that was promulgated in 1996; the 2009 proposed 
rule continued the Category 1 classification for both of these issues. 
As part of the NRC's response to the New York v. NRC decision, this 
final rule revises these two issues accordingly. Specifically, this 
final rule revises the Category 1 ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear 
fuel'' issue to narrow the period of onsite storage to the license 
renewal term. In both the 1996 rule \18\ and the 2009 proposed rule, 
the NRC relied upon the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule to make a 
generic finding that spent nuclear fuel could be stored safely onsite 
with no more than a small environmental impact for the term of the 
extended license (from approval of the license renewal application to 
the expiration of the operating license) plus a 30-year period 
following the permanent shutdown of the power reactor and expiration of 
the operating license.\19\
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    \18\ The issue was named ``On-site spent fuel'' in the 1996 
rule.
    \19\ Prior to the December 23, 2010, final rule, 10 CFR 51.23(a) 
read: ``The Commission has made a generic determination that, if 
necessary, spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely 
and without significant environmental impacts for at least 30 years 
beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term 
of a revised or renewed license) of that reactor at its spent fuel 
storage basin or at either onsite or offsite independent spent fuel 
storage installations.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule provided the basis for the 
30-year period following the permanent shutdown of the reactor and 
expiration of the operating license. The 2010 Waste Confidence Decision 
and Rule extended this post-reactor shutdown onsite storage period from 
30 years to 60 years. Given the New York v. NRC decision, and pending 
the issuance of a generic EIS and revised Waste Confidence Decision and 
Rule (as directed by SRM-COMSECY-12-0016), the final rule excludes from 
this issue the period of onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel following 
the permanent shutdown of the power reactor and expiration of the 
operating license. As revised by this final rule, this issue now covers 
the onsite storage of spent fuel for the term of the extended license 
only.
    Similarly, this final rule revises the Category 1 issue ``Offsite 
radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high level waste 
disposal.'' \20\ In both the 1996 rule and the 2009 proposed rule, this 
issue pertained to the long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level waste, including possible disposal in a deep geologic 
repository. Although the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule did not 
assess the impacts associated with disposal of spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level waste in a repository, it did reflect the Commission's 
confidence, at the time, in the technical feasibility of a repository 
and when that repository could have been expected to become available. 
Without the analysis in the Waste Confidence Decision, the NRC cannot 
assess how long the spent fuel will need to be stored onsite. 
Therefore, the final rule reclassifies this issue from a Category 1 
issue with no assigned impact level to an uncategorized issue with an 
impact level of uncertain.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ The issue was named ``Offsite radiological impacts (spent 
fuel and high level waste disposal)'' in the 1996 rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Upon issuance of the generic EIS and revised Waste Confidence Rule, 
the NRC will make any necessary conforming amendments to this rule. As 
referenced previously, the Commission will not approve any license 
renewal application for an operating nuclear power plant until the 
issues identified in the court's decision are appropriately addressed 
by the Commission.

C. Effective and Compliance Dates for Final Rule

    The amendments made by the final rule shall be effective 30 days 
after the final rule's publication in the Federal Register. License 
renewal applicants are not required to comply with the amended rule 
until 1 year after the final rule's publication in the Federal 
Register. The Commission has decided on a 1-year compliance date given 
the long lead time required for preparation of license renewal 
applicant environmental reports.

D. Best Management Practices

    ``Best management practices'' is a term used to describe a type, 
method, or treatment technique for preventing pollution or reducing the 
quantities of pollutants released to the environment. The term, as used 
herein, includes the physical components used to control or minimize 
pollution (e.g., filters, barriers, mechanical devices, and retention 
ponds), as well as operational or procedural practices (e.g., 
minimizing use of a pollutant, spill control, and operator training). 
Best management practices are used in a variety of industrial sectors. 
In the nuclear power reactor sector, as in other industrial sectors, 
best management practices offer flexibility to achieve a balance 
between protecting the environment and the efficiency and economic 
limitations associated with the operations of a given plant. Both in 
the 1996 GEIS and in the revised GEIS, several issues have been 
determined to be a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small based 
upon the assumption that the license renewal applicant employs and will 
continue to employ best management practices

[[Page 37294]]

during the license renewal term. The NRC's regulatory experience has 
shown that licensees employ such best management practices.
    The NRC's jurisdiction is limited to radiological health and safety 
and common defense and security. Therefore, the NRC does not generally 
impose a requirement that its licensees adopt those best management 
practices that concern non-radiological pollutants. The NRC nuclear 
power plant licensees, however, are subject to a host of regulatory 
requirements that are monitored and enforced by other Federal agencies 
(e.g., the EPA) or State or local regulatory agencies. The NRC-licensed 
nuclear power plants must obtain a variety of permits from these other 
agencies before they can operate (e.g., under the CWA, a licensee must 
obtain a NPDES permit from the EPA or, if the EPA has delegated its CWA 
authority to a particular State, from the appropriate agency of that 
State). These permits typically require that the licensee adopt and 
adhere to best management practices.
    Therefore, an assumption underlying the revised GEIS is that NRC 
licensees will use best management practices to comply with other 
Federal, State, and local government requirements to prevent or reduce 
the quantities of non-radiological pollutants released to the 
environment. This description of best management practices is not a 
regulatory or policy change by the NRC because the use of best 
management practices by nuclear power plant licensees was also an 
underlying assumption of the 1996 GEIS. Rather, the NRC seeks to make 
transparent its basis for determining that certain issues are Category 
1 issues with a small level of impact.

E. Definition of ``Historic Properties''

    The proposed rule would have amended 10 CFR part 51 by adding a 
definition of the term ``historic properties'' to 10 CFR 51.14(a). Upon 
further consideration, the NRC determined that adding the definition 
was unnecessary. The NRC's license renewal determination to renew or 
not renew a nuclear power plant operating license is considered an 
undertaking as defined by Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act (NHPA) and its implementing regulations in 36 CFR part 
800. The regulations define the term ``historic property'' in 36 CFR 
800.16(l)(1). The NRC uses the term ``historic property'' or ``historic 
properties'' in the same context as set forth in 36 CFR 800.16(l)(1).

VI. Revisions to 10 CFR 51.53

    The final rule revises 10 CFR 51.53 to conform to those changes 
made by the final rule to Table B-1. Because some Category 2 issues 
have been reclassified as Category 1 issues, license renewal applicants 
no longer need to assess these issues and, therefore, the final rule 
removes the requirements for applicants to provide information on these 
issues in their environmental reports. The final rule also adds new 
requirements to 10 CFR 51.53 for the new Category 2 issues for which 
applicants are now required to provide information in their 
environmental reports. The following describes each revision.

A. Reclassifying Category 2 Issues as Category 1 Issues

    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(F). The final rule removes and reserves 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(F) because the final rule reclassifies the Category 
2 issue, ``Air quality during refurbishment (nonattainment and 
maintenance areas),'' to Category 1 and renames the issue, ``Air 
quality impacts (all plants).'' The removed regulatory language 
required the applicant to assess anticipated vehicle exhaust emissions 
at the time of refurbishment for plants located in or near a 
nonattainment or maintenance area, as those terms are defined under the 
Clean Air Act.
    The final rule reclassifies this issue as Category 1 based upon 
public comments received on the proposed rule \21\ and a subsequent re-
evaluation of the data in the draft revised GEIS, which showed that air 
quality impacts from refurbishment have not resulted in exceedances in 
the de minimis thresholds for criteria pollutants in nonattainment and 
maintenance areas due to construction vehicle, equipment, and fugitive 
dust emissions. Significant air quality impacts are no longer 
anticipated from future license renewals. Therefore, applicants no 
longer need to assess the impacts on air quality of continued 
operations and refurbishment associated with license renewal in their 
environmental reports.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ The proposed rule renamed the ``Air quality during 
refurbishment (nonattainment and maintenance areas)'' issue as ``Air 
quality (nonattainment and maintenance areas)'' and retained the 
Category 2 classification.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section IV, ``Response to Public Comments,'' of this document 
provides a summary of the comments received on this issue, and Section 
VIII, ``Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1,'' of this 
document discusses this issue in more detail under Issue 5, ``Air 
quality impacts (all plants).''
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I). The final rule removes and reserves 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I) because several Category 2 socioeconomic issues 
are reclassified as Category 1. The removed regulatory language 
required the applicant to assess the impacts of the proposed license 
renewal on housing availability, land use, and public schools (impacts 
from refurbishment activities only) within the vicinity of the plant. 
Additionally, the removed regulatory language required the applicant to 
assess the impact of population increases attributable to the proposed 
project on the public water supply. Specifically, the final rule 
reclassifies the following 1996 GEIS Category 2 socioeconomic issues: 
Housing impacts; \22\ Public services: public utilities; \23\ Public 
services, education (refurbishment); \24\ Offsite land use 
(refurbishment); and Offsite land use (license renewal term).\25\
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    \22\ The final rule renames this issue as ``Population and 
housing'' (see Issue (55) under Section VIII, ``Final Actions and 
Basis for Changes to Table B-1,'' of this document).
    \23\ The final rule merges this issue into the consolidated 
issue, ``Community services and education'' (see Issue (54) under 
Section VIII of this document).
    \24\ The final rule merges this issue into the consolidated 
issue, ``Community services and education'' (see Issue (54) under 
Section VIII of this document).
    \25\ The final rule merges ``Offsite land use (refurbishment)'' 
and ``Offsite land use (license renewal term) into the consolidated 
issue, ``Offsite land use'' (see Issue (2) under Section VIII of 
this document).
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    The final rule reclassifies these issues as Category 1 because 
significant changes in housing availability, land use, and increased 
population demand attributable to the proposed refurbishment project on 
the public water supply have not occurred at relicensed nuclear power 
plants. Therefore, impacts to these resources are no longer anticipated 
for future license renewals. In addition, refurbishment activities 
(such as steam generator and vessel head replacement) have not required 
the large numbers of workers and the months of time that were 
conservatively analyzed in the 1996 GEIS. As such, significant impacts 
on housing availability, land use, public schools, and the public water 
supply are no longer anticipated from continued operations during the 
license renewal term and refurbishment associated with license renewal.
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J). The final rule removes and reserves 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J) because the Category 2 issue, ``Public services, 
transportation,'' is reclassified as Category 1 (the final rule also 
renames the issue, ``Transportation''). The removed

[[Page 37295]]

regulatory language required the applicant to assess the impact of 
highway traffic generated by the proposed project on the level of 
service of local highways during periods of license renewal 
refurbishment activities and during the term of the renewed license. 
Therefore, applicants no longer need to assess the impacts on local 
traffic volumes of continued operations and refurbishment associated 
with license renewal in their environmental reports.
    The issue was reclassified to Category 1 because refurbishment 
activities (such as steam generator and vessel head replacement) have 
not required the large numbers of workers and the months of time that 
was conservatively analyzed in the 1996 GEIS. As such, significant 
transportation impacts are not anticipated from future refurbishment 
activities. Section VIII, ``Final Actions and Basis for Changes to 
Table B-1,'' of this document discusses this issue in more detail under 
Issue 56, ``Transportation.''
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O). The proposed rule added a new paragraph 
10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O) to address ``Groundwater and soil 
contamination'' as a Category 2 issue. However, based upon public 
comments received on the proposed rule \26\ and further evaluation by 
the NRC, it was determined that this issue is properly classified as 
Category 1. Therefore, the proposed paragraph was not adopted by the 
final rule.\27\
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    \26\ Section IV, ``Response to Public Comments,'' of this 
document provides a summary of the comments received on this issue.
    \27\ The final rule merges this issue into the consolidated 
issue, ``Groundwater contamination and use (non-cooling system 
impacts)'' (see Issue (20) under Section VIII of this document).
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B. Adding New Category 2 Issues

    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(N). The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(N) \28\ to address ``Minority and low-income 
populations'' as a Category 2 issue. This new Category 2 issue is 
listed under the resource area ``Environmental Justice'' in the revised 
Table B-1. It addresses the effects of nuclear power plant operations 
and refurbishment associated with license renewal on minority 
populations and low-income populations living in the vicinity of the 
plant. This issue was listed in the original Table B-1 but was not 
evaluated in the 1996 GEIS. The finding in the original Table B-1 
stated that ``[t]he need for and the content of an analysis of 
environmental justice will be addressed in plant specific reviews.'' 
This issue was not classified as either a Category 1 or 2 issue in the 
1996 GEIS because guidance for implementing Executive Order (E.O.) 
12898, dated February 16, 1994 (59 FR 7629), which initiated the 
Federal government's environmental justice program, was not available 
before the completion of the 1996 GEIS.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ The final rule adopts the proposed rule language.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In August 2004, the Commission issued a policy statement on 
implementation of E.O. 12898: ``NRC's Policy Statement on the Treatment 
of Environmental Justice Matters in NRC Regulatory and Licensing 
Actions'' (69 FR 52040). As stated therein, ``the NRC is committed to 
the general goals of E.O. 12898, [and] it will strive to meet those 
goals through its normal and traditional NEPA review process.'' By 
making this a Category 2 issue, the final rule requires license renewal 
applicants to identify, in their environmental reports, minority and 
low-income populations and communities residing in the vicinity of the 
nuclear power plant. The NRC will then assess the information provided 
by the applicant in the NRC's plant-specific environmental review.
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O). The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O) \29\ to address ``Cumulative impacts'' as a 
Category 2 issue. This new Category 2 issue was added to Table B-1 to 
evaluate the potential cumulative impacts of continued operations 
during the license renewal term and refurbishment associated with 
license renewal at nuclear power plants. The NRC did not address 
cumulative impacts in the 1996 GEIS but has been evaluating these 
impacts in plant-specific supplements to the GEIS. The Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) in 40 CFR 1508.7 defines cumulative impacts 
as ``the impact on the environment which results from the incremental 
impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably 
foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-
Federal) or person undertakes such other actions.'' \30\ The NRC 
considers potential cumulative impacts on the environment resulting 
from the incremental impact of license renewal when added to other 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ The proposed rule added this paragraph as 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(P). The final rule redesignates it as 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O) because paragraph 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O) of 
the proposed rule, which concerned ``Groundwater and soil 
contamination'' (see discussion in Section VI, ``A. Reclassifying 
Category 2 Issues as Category 1 Issues,'' of this document) was not 
adopted by the final rule.
    \30\ The NRC's regulations in 10 CFR part 51 incorporate the CEQ 
definition of cumulative impacts (10 CFR 51.14(b)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The final rule change requires license renewal applicants to 
provide information about other past, present, and reasonably 
foreseeable future actions occurring in the vicinity of the nuclear 
power plant that may result in a cumulative impact. An example of the 
type of information to be provided includes data on the construction 
and operation of other power plants and other industrial commercial 
facilities in the vicinity of the nuclear power plant. Section VIII, 
``Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1,'' of this document 
discusses this issue in more detail under Issue 73, ``Cumulative 
impacts.''
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(P). The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(P) \31\ to address ``Radionuclides released to 
groundwater'' as a Category 2 issue. This new Category 2 issue has been 
added to Table B-1 to evaluate the potential combined impact of 
inadvertent discharges of radioactive liquids from all plant systems 
into groundwater. The issue is relevant to license renewal because all 
commercial nuclear power plants have spent fuel pools, liquid storage 
tanks, and piping that contain and transport radioactive liquids. Over 
time, these systems and piping have a potential to degrade and release 
radioactive liquids that could migrate into the groundwater. The NRC 
has investigated several cases where radioactive liquids have been 
inadvertently released into the groundwater in an uncontrolled manner. 
In accordance with NRC requirements, residual activity from these 
inadvertent releases is subject to characterization and evaluation of 
the potential hazard. For this new Category 2 issue, the license 
renewal applicant is required to provide information on radioactive 
liquids released to groundwater.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ The proposed rule added this paragraph as 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(Q). The final rule redesignates it as paragraph 10 
CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(P) because the paragraph added as 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O) by the proposed rule, which concerned groundwater 
and soil contamination caused by non-radionuclide, industrial 
contaminants, was not adopted by the final rule (see discussion in 
Section VI, ``A. Reclassifying Category 2 Issues as Category 1 
Issues,'' of this document).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the final rule, the NRC modified the language of the proposed 
rule to specify that only ``documented'' releases need to be included 
in the applicant's environmental report. The NRC provides specific 
guidance on what constitutes a documented release in Regulatory Guide 
4.2, Supplement 1, Revision 1, ``Preparation of Environmental Reports 
for Nuclear

[[Page 37296]]

Power Plant License Renewal Applications.''
    Section IV, ``Response to Public Comments,'' of this document 
provides a summary of the comments received on this issue, and Section 
VIII, ``Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1,'' of this 
document discusses this issue in more detail under Issue 27, 
``Radionuclides released to groundwater.''

VII. Response to Specific Request for Voluntary Information

    In Section VII of the Statement of Considerations for the July 31, 
2009 (74 FR 38129-38130), proposed rule, the NRC requested voluntary 
information from industry about refurbishment activities and employment 
trends at nuclear power plants. Information on refurbishment would have 
been used to evaluate the significance of impacts from this type of 
activity. Information on employment trends would have been used to 
assess the significance of socioeconomic effects of ongoing plant 
operations on local economies.
    The NRC received no response to these requests. The NRC interprets 
this lack of response on these issues to mean that information on major 
refurbishment and replacement activities and employment trends is 
either unavailable or insufficient to assist the NRC in re-evaluating 
the significance of refurbishment-related environmental impacts and 
socioeconomic effects of ongoing plant operations on local economies. 
Although no information was received regarding refurbishment activities 
and employment trends at nuclear power plants, the NRC believes that it 
has sufficient information based on lessons learned and knowledge 
gained from completed license renewal environmental reviews to 
substantiate the conclusions made in the final rule and GEIS.

VIII. Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1

    The final rule revises Table B-1 to reflect the changes made in the 
revised GEIS. The revised GEIS is being made available with the final 
rule and provides a summary change table (in Appendix B) comparing the 
92 environmental issues in the 1996 GEIS with the 78 environmental 
issues in the revised GEIS.

Land Use

    (1) Onsite Land Use: ``Onsite land use'' remains a Category 1 
issue. The final rule amends Table B-1 by making minor clarifying 
changes to the finding column entry for this issue. Specifically, the 
final rule replaces the sentence ``Projected onsite land use changes 
required during refurbishment and the renewal period would be a small 
fraction of any nuclear power plant site and would involve land that is 
controlled by the applicant,'' with ``Changes in onsite land use from 
continued operations and refurbishment associated with license renewal 
would be a small fraction of the nuclear power plant site and would 
involve only land that is controlled by the licensee.''
    (2) Offsite Land Use: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
consolidating two Category 2 issues, ``Offsite land use 
(refurbishment),'' with an impact level range small to moderate, and 
``Offsite land use (license renewal term),'' with an impact level range 
small to large, and reclassifying the consolidated issue as a Category 
1 issue, with an impact level of small, and naming the consolidated 
issue, ``Offsite land use.'' The final rule also creates a new Category 
1 issue, ``Tax revenues'' (Issue 53), which concerns the impact of 
license renewal on state and local tax revenues, thereby removing tax 
revenues from the 1996 GEIS ``Offsite land use (license renewal term)'' 
issue. The final rule amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for 
``Offsite land use (refurbishment)'' and ``Offsite land use (license 
renewal term),'' and by adding an entry for ``Offsite land use.'' The 
finding column entry of ``Offsite land use'' states ``[o]ffsite land 
use would not be affected by continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal.''
    The Table B-1 finding column entry for the ``Offsite land use 
(refurbishment)'' issue indicated that impacts may be of moderate 
significance at plants in low population areas. Similarly, the finding 
column entry for the ``Offsite land use (license renewal term)'' issue 
indicates that significant changes (moderate to large) in land use may 
be associated with population and tax revenue changes resulting from 
license renewal. As described in the 1996 GEIS, environmental impacts 
are considered to be small if refurbishment activities were to occur at 
plants located in high population areas and if population and tax 
revenues would not change.
    As reflected in the revised GEIS, significant impacts on offsite 
land use are not anticipated. Previous plant-specific license renewal 
reviews conducted by the NRC have shown no substantial increases in the 
number of workers during the license renewal term and that 
refurbishment activities (such as steam generator and vessel head 
replacement) have not required the large numbers of workers and the 
months of time that was conservatively estimated in the 1996 GEIS. 
These reviews support a finding that offsite land use impacts during 
the license renewal term would be small for all nuclear power plants.
    (3) Offsite Land Use in Transmission Line Right-of-Ways (ROWs): The 
final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Power line right of way'' 
issue as ``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways 
(ROWs).'' It remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. 
The final rule amends the Table B-1 finding column entry for this issue 
by replacing the statement,

    Ongoing use of power line right of ways would continue with no 
change in restrictions. The effects of these restrictions are of 
small significance.

with the following:

    Use of transmission line ROWs from continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal would continue with no 
change in land use restrictions.

    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to 
the issue column entry for ``Offsite land use in transmission line 
right-of-ways (ROWs),'' concerning the extent to which transmission 
lines and their associated ROWs have been analyzed in the revised GEIS. 
The footnote states,

    This issue applies only to the in-scope portion of electric 
power transmission lines which are defined as transmission lines 
that connect the nuclear power plant to the substation where 
electricity is fed into the regional power distribution system and 
transmission lines that supply power to the nuclear plant from the 
grid.

    As stated in the revised GEIS, the final environmental statements 
(essentially, the equivalent of environmental impact statements) 
prepared for the original construction of the various nuclear power 
plants (the construction permits) and for the initial operating 
licenses evaluated the impacts of those transmission lines built to 
connect the nuclear power plant to the regional electrical grid. Since 
the original construction of those lines, regional expansion of the 
electrical distribution grid has resulted in incorporation of those 
lines originating at the power plant substations. In most cases, the 
transmission lines originating at the power plant substations are no 
longer owned or managed by the nuclear power plant licensees. These 
lines would remain in place and be energized regardless of whether the 
subject nuclear power plant license was renewed or not. For this 
reason, those transmission lines that would not be impacted by a 
license renewal decision (i.e., those lines that would not be

[[Page 37297]]

dismantled or otherwise decommissioned as a result of a plant 
terminating operations because its operating license had not been 
renewed) are considered beyond the scope of, and as such are not 
analyzed in, the revised GEIS.

Visual Resources

    (4) Aesthetic Impacts: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
consolidating three Category 1 issues, ``Aesthetic impacts 
(refurbishment),'' ``Aesthetic impacts (license renewal term),'' and 
``Aesthetic impacts of transmission lines (license renewal term),'' 
each with an impact level of small, into one new Category 1 issue, 
``Aesthetic impacts.'' The new consolidated issue also has an impact 
level of small. The 1996 GEIS concluded that renewal of operating 
licenses and the refurbishment activities would have no significant 
aesthetic impact during the license renewal term. Impacts are 
considered to be small if the visual appearance of plant and 
transmission line structures would not change. Previous license renewal 
reviews conducted by the NRC show that the appearance of nuclear power 
plants and transmission line structures do not change significantly 
over time or because of refurbishment activities. Therefore, because 
aesthetic impacts are not anticipated and the three issues are similar, 
they have been consolidated to facilitate the environmental review 
process. The final rule amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for 
``Aesthetic impacts (refurbishment),'' ``Aesthetic impacts (license 
renewal term),'' and ``Aesthetic impacts of transmission lines (license 
renewal term),'' and adding an entry for ``Aesthetic impacts.'' The 
finding column entry for the new combined entry states ``[n]o important 
changes to the visual appearance of plant structures or transmission 
lines are expected from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal.''

Air Quality

    (5) Air Quality Impacts (All Plants): The final rule amends Table 
B-1 by renaming the ``Air quality during refurbishment (nonattainment 
and maintenance areas)'' issue as ``Air quality impacts (all plants).'' 
The final rule reflects the revised GEIS's expansion of the issue to 
include air emission impacts from emergency diesel generators, boilers, 
and particulate emissions from cooling towers. Based on public comments 
received on the proposed rule and the re-evaluation of information as 
described in the revised GEIS, the final rule further amends Table B-1 
by revising this Category 2 issue, with an impact level range small to 
large, to a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small.\32\ The 
final rule further amends Table B-1 by revising the finding column 
entry for this issue to state,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \32\ Under the proposed rule, the issue had been proposed to be 
renamed ``Air quality (nonattainment and maintenance areas);'' it 
would have remained a Category 2 issue with an impact level range of 
small to large (74 FR 38121, 38134; July 31, 2009).

    Air quality impacts from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal are expected to be small at all 
plants. Emissions resulting from refurbishment activities at 
locations in or near air quality nonattainment or maintenance areas 
would be short-lived and would cease after these refurbishment 
activities are completed. Operating experience has shown that the 
scale of refurbishment activities has not resulted in exceedance of 
the de minimis thresholds for criteria pollutants, and best 
management practices including fugitive dust controls and the 
imposition of permit conditions in State and local air emissions 
permits would ensure conformance with applicable State or Tribal 
Implementation Plans.
    Emissions from emergency diesel generators and fire pumps and 
routine operations of boilers used for space heating would not be a 
concern, even for plants located in or adjacent to nonattainment 
areas. Impacts from cooling tower particulate emissions even under 
the worst-case situations have been small.

    Operating experience has shown that air quality impacts from these 
emission sources (including particulate emissions from cooling towers 
at operating plants) have been small at all nuclear power plants, 
including those plants located in or adjacent to nonattainment areas.
    In addition, air quality impacts during refurbishment have also 
been small. These types of emissions could be a cause for concern if 
they occur at plants located in or near air quality nonattainment or 
maintenance areas. However, these impacts have been temporary and would 
cease once these activities were completed. Operating experience has 
also shown that refurbishment activities have not required the large 
numbers of workers and the months of time that was conservatively 
predicted and analyzed in the 1996 GEIS, nor have such activities 
resulted in exceedances in the de minimis thresholds for criteria 
pollutants in nonattainment and maintenance areas.
    Implementation of best management practices, including fugitive 
dust controls as required by the imposition of conditions in State and 
local air emissions permits, would ensure conformance with applicable 
State or Tribal Implementation Plans, in accordance with EPA's revised 
General Conformity Regulations (75 FR 17254; April 5, 2010). On the 
basis of these considerations, the NRC has concluded that the air 
quality impact of continued nuclear power plant operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal would be small for all 
plants.
    (6) Air Quality Effects of Transmission Lines: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to the issue column entry for 
``Air quality effects of transmission lines,'' concerning the extent to 
which transmission lines and their associated right of ways have been 
analyzed under the revised GEIS. This footnote is the same one that was 
added to Issue 3, ``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways 
(ROWs).'' See the description of the changes made by the final rule to 
Issue 3 for further explanation of this amendment.

Noise

    (7) Noise Impacts: The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the 
issue ``Noise'' as ``Noise impacts.'' The issue remains a Category 1 
issue with an impact level of small. The final rule further amends 
Table B-1 by making minor clarifying changes to the finding column 
entry for this issue. Specifically, the final rule replaces the 
sentence ``Noise has not been found to be a problem at operating plants 
and is not expected to be a problem at any plant during the license 
renewal term,'' with ``Noise levels would remain below regulatory 
guidelines for offsite receptors during continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal.''

Geologic Environment

    (8) Geology and Soils: The final rule amends Table B-1 by adding a 
new Category 1 issue, ``Geology and soils.'' This issue has an impact 
level of small. The finding column entry for this issue states,

    The effect of geologic and soil conditions on plant operations 
and the impact of continued operations and refurbishment activities 
on geology and soils would be small for all nuclear power plants and 
would not change appreciably during the license renewal term.

    This issue was not evaluated in the 1996 GEIS, as described in the 
proposed rule.\33\ This new Category 1 issue considers geology and 
soils from the perspective of those resource conditions or attributes 
that can be affected by

[[Page 37298]]

continued operations during the renewal term. The final rule does not 
require the license renewal applicant to assess this issue in its 
environmental report unless the applicant is aware of new and 
significant information about geologic and soil conditions and 
associated impacts at or near the nuclear power plant site that could 
change the conclusion in the GEIS.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ The proposed rule named the issue ``Impacts of nuclear 
plants on geology and soils.'' Under the proposed rule, the issue 
was also a Category 1 issue, with an impact level of small (74 FR 
38121, 38134; July 31, 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    An understanding of geologic and soil conditions has been well 
established at all nuclear power plants and associated transmission 
lines during the current licensing term, and these conditions are 
expected to remain unchanged during the 20-year license renewal term 
for each plant. The impact of these conditions on plant operations and 
the impact of continued power plant operations and refurbishment 
activities on geology and soils are small for all nuclear power plants 
and not expected to change appreciably during the license renewal term. 
Operating experience shows that any impacts to geologic and soil strata 
would be limited to soil disturbance from construction activities 
associated with routine infrastructure renovation and maintenance 
projects during continued plant operations. Implementing best 
management practices would reduce soil erosion and subsequent impacts 
on surface water quality. Information in plant-specific SEISs prepared 
to date and reference documents have not identified these impacts as 
being significant.

Surface Water Resources

    (9) Surface Water Use and Quality (Non-Cooling System Impacts): The 
final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 1 issues, 
``Impacts of refurbishment on surface water quality'' and ``Impacts of 
refurbishment on surface water use,'' both with an impact level of 
small, and names the consolidated issue, ``Surface water use and 
quality (non-cooling system impacts).'' These two issues were 
consolidated because the impacts of refurbishment on both surface water 
use and quality are negligible and the effects are closely related. The 
consolidated issue has also been expanded to include the impacts of 
continued operations. The consolidated issue is a Category 1 issue with 
an impact level of small.
    The final rule amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for 
``Impacts of refurbishment on surface water quality'' and ``Impacts of 
refurbishment on surface water use'' and adding an entry for ``Surface 
water use and quality (non-cooling system impacts).'' The finding 
column entry for the new consolidated issue states,

    Impacts are expected to be small if best management practices 
are employed to control soil erosion and spills. Surface water use 
associated with continued operations and refurbishment associated 
with license renewal would not increase significantly or would be 
reduced if refurbishment occurs during a plant outage.

    The NRC expects licensees to use best management practices during 
the license renewal term for both continuing operations and 
refurbishment activities. Use of best management practices will 
minimize soil erosion. In addition, implementation of spill prevention 
and control plans will reduce the likelihood of any liquid chemical 
spills. If refurbishment activities take place during a plant outage, 
with the reactor shutdown, the overall water use by the facility will 
be reduced. Based on this conclusion, the impact on surface water use 
and quality during the license renewal term will continue to be small 
for all plants.
    (10) Altered Current Patterns at Intake and Discharge Structures, 
(11) Altered Salinity Gradients, (12) Altered Thermal Stratification of 
Lakes, and (13) Scouring Caused by Discharged Cooling Water: These four 
issues remain Category 1 issues, each with an impact level of small. 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by making minor clarifying changes to 
the finding column entries for each of these issues.
    The final rule amends the ``Altered current patterns at intake and 
discharge structures'' finding column entry by replacing the statement,

    Altered current patterns have not been found to be a problem at 
operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem 
during the license renewal term.

with the following:

    Altered current patterns would be limited to the area in the 
vicinity of the intake and discharge structures. These impacts have 
been small at operating nuclear power plants.

    The final rule amends the ``Altered salinity gradients'' finding 
column entry by replacing the statement,

    Salinity gradients have not been found to be a problem at 
operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem 
during the license renewal term.

with the following:

    Effects on salinity gradients would be limited to the area in 
the vicinity of the intake and discharge structures. These impacts 
have been small at operating nuclear power plants.

    The final rule amends the ``Altered thermal stratification of 
lakes'' finding column entry by replacing the statement,

    Generally, lake stratification has not been found to be a 
problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be 
a problem during the license renewal term.

with the following:

    Effects on thermal stratification would be limited to the area 
in the vicinity of the intake and discharge structures. These 
impacts have been small at operating nuclear power plants.

    The final rule amends the ``Scouring caused by discharged cooling 
water'' finding column entry by replacing the statement,

    Scouring has not been found to be a problem at most operating 
nuclear power plants and has caused only localized effects at a few 
plants. It is not expected to be a problem during the license 
renewal term.

with the following:

    Scouring effects would be limited to the area in the vicinity of 
the intake and discharge structures. These impacts have been small 
at operating nuclear power plants.

    These changes reflect the findings of environmental reviews 
conducted since the publication of the 1996 GEIS, which show that the 
effects of these four issues are localized in the vicinity of the 
plant's intake and discharge structures.
    (14) Discharge of Metals in Cooling System Effluent: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by renaming ``Discharge of other metals in waste 
water'' as ``Discharge of metals in cooling system effluent.'' It 
remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final 
rule also makes minor clarifying changes to the finding column entry 
for this issue. Specifically, the final rule amends the finding column 
entry by replacing the statement,

    These discharges have not been found to be a problem at 
operating nuclear power plants with cooling-tower-based heat 
dissipation systems and have been satisfactorily mitigated at other 
plants. They are not expected to be a problem during the license 
renewal term.

with the following:

    Discharges of metals have not been found to be a problem at 
operating nuclear power plants with cooling-tower-based heat 
dissipation systems and have been satisfactorily mitigated at other 
plants. Discharges are monitored and controlled as part of the 
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit 
process.

    (15) Discharge of Biocides, Sanitary Wastes, and Minor Chemical 
Spills: The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 1 
issues, ``Discharge of chlorine or other biocides'' and ``Discharge of 
sanitary wastes and minor chemical spills,'' both with an impact level 
of small, and naming the consolidated issue ``Discharge of biocides, 
sanitary wastes,

[[Page 37299]]

and minor chemical spills.'' The consolidated issue is a Category 1 
issue with an impact level of small. Specifically, the final rule 
amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for ``Discharge of chlorine or 
other biocides'' and ``Discharge of sanitary wastes and minor chemical 
spills'' and adding an entry for ``Discharge of biocides, sanitary 
wastes, and minor chemical spills.'' The finding column entry for the 
new consolidated issue states,

    The effects of these discharges are regulated by Federal and 
State environmental agencies. Discharges are monitored and 
controlled as part of the NPDES permit process. These impacts have 
been small at operating nuclear power plants.

    (16) Surface Water Use Conflicts (Plants with Once-Through Cooling 
Systems): ``Water use conflicts (plants with once-through cooling 
systems)'' remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by adding the word ``Surface'' to the 
title of this issue.
    (17) Surface Water Use Conflicts (Plants with Cooling Ponds or 
Cooling Towers Using Makeup Water from a River): The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by adding the term ``surface'' and removing the terms 
``small'' and ``low flow'' from the title and the associated numerical 
definition contained in 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A) for low flow rivers 
from this and other related river flow issues. This issue remains a 
Category 2 issue with an impact range of small to moderate. The final 
rule also amends the finding column entry by replacing the statement,

    The issue has been a concern at nuclear power plants with 
cooling ponds and at plants with cooling towers. Impacts on instream 
and riparian communities near these plants could be of moderate 
significance in some situations. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A).

with the following:

    Impacts could be of small or moderate significance, depending on 
makeup water requirements, water availability, and competing water 
demands.

    The 1996 GEIS distinguished between surface water use impacts 
during low flow conditions on ``small'' versus ``large'' rivers. Any 
river, regardless of size, can experience low flow conditions of 
varying severity during periods of drought and changing conditions in 
the affected watersheds such as upstream diversions and use of river 
water. Similarly, the NRC has determined that the use of the term ``low 
flow'' in categorizing river flow is of little value considering that 
plants that withdraw makeup water from a river can experience low flow 
conditions and would be required to conduct a plant-specific assessment 
of water use conflicts.
    (18) Effects of Dredging on Surface Water Quality: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Effects of 
dredging on surface water quality,'' which evaluates the impacts of 
dredging to maintain intake and discharge structures at nuclear power 
plant facilities. This issue has an impact level of small. The finding 
column entry for this issue states,

    Dredging to remove accumulated sediments in the vicinity of 
intake and discharge structures and to maintain barge shipping has 
not been found to be a problem for surface water quality. Dredging 
is performed under permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and 
possibly, from other State or local agencies.

    The impact of dredging on surface water quality was not considered 
in the 1996 GEIS and was not listed in Table B-1 prior to this final 
rule. Most plants have intake and discharge structures that must be 
maintained by periodic dredging of sediment accumulated in or on the 
structures. The NRC has found that dredging, while temporarily 
increasing turbidity in the source water body, generally has little 
long-term effect on water quality. In addition to maintaining intake 
and discharge structures, dredging is often done to keep barge slips 
and channels open to service the plant. Dredged material is most often 
disposed on property owned by the applicant and usually contains no 
hazardous materials. Dredging must be performed under a permit issued 
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and consequently, each 
dredging action would be subject to a site-specific environmental 
review conducted by the Corps. Temporary impacts of dredging are 
measurable in general water quality terms, but the impacts have been 
shown to be small.
    (19) Temperature Effects on Sediment Transport Capacity: There are 
no changes to this issue, and it remains a Category 1 issue with an 
impact level of small.

Groundwater Resources

    (20) Groundwater Contamination and Use (Non-Cooling System 
Impacts): The final rule amends Table B-1 by expanding the scope of 
``Impacts of refurbishment on groundwater use and quality'' issue to 
include the effects of continued nuclear power plant operations during 
the license renewal term. This Category 1 issue, with an impact level 
of small, was renamed ``Groundwater use and quality'' in the proposed 
rule.
    The final rule also amends Table B-1 by changing the proposed 
rule's new Category 2 issue ``Groundwater and soil contamination,'' 
with an impact range of small to moderate (see 74 FR 38122, 38135), to 
Category 1, with an impact level of small. This issue was then 
consolidated with the ``Groundwater use and quality'' issue and renamed 
``Groundwater contamination and use (non-cooling system impacts).'' 
These issues were consolidated because they consider the impact of 
industrial activities associated with the continued operations of a 
nuclear power plant (not directly related to cooling system effects) 
and refurbishment on groundwater use and quality. The final rule 
further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which 
states,

    Extensive dewatering during the original construction on some 
sites will not be repeated during refurbishment on any sites. Any 
plant wastes produced during refurbishment will be handled in the 
same manner as in current operating practices and are not expected 
to be a problem during the license renewal term.

with the following:

    Extensive dewatering is not anticipated from continued 
operations and refurbishment associated with license renewal. 
Industrial practices involving the use of solvents, hydrocarbons, 
heavy metals, or other chemicals, and/or the use of wastewater ponds 
or lagoons have the potential to contaminate site groundwater, soil, 
and subsoil. Contamination is subject to State or Environmental 
Protection Agency regulated cleanup and monitoring programs. The 
application of best management practices for handling any materials 
produced or used during these activities would reduce impacts.

    The consolidated Category 1 issue considers the impacts from 
groundwater use and the impacts on groundwater, soil, and subsoil from 
the industrial use of solvents, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, or other 
chemicals at nuclear power plant sites from continued operation during 
the license renewal term and refurbishment. The consolidated issue also 
includes the use of wastewater disposal ponds or lagoons and non-
radionuclide, industrial contaminants released inadvertently or as 
effluents into the environment. Industrial practices at all nuclear 
power plants have the potential to contaminate groundwater and soil, 
especially on sites with unlined wastewater and storm water ponds or 
lagoons. Any contamination of this type is subject to characterization 
and clean-up under EPA or State regulated remediation and monitoring 
programs.
    Non-radionuclide contaminants have been found in groundwater and 
soil

[[Page 37300]]

samples at some nuclear power plants during previous license renewal 
environmental reviews. Release of these contaminants into groundwater 
and soil degrades the quality of these resources, even if applicable 
groundwater quality standards are not exceeded. However, each site has 
its own program for handling chemicals, waste, and other hazardous 
materials in accordance with Federal and State regulations and is 
expected to employ best management practices. The use of wastewater 
disposal ponds or lagoons, whether lined or unlined, may increase the 
potential for groundwater and soil contamination. However, they are 
subject to discharge authorizations under NPDES and related State 
wastewater discharge permit programs.
    The finding column of Table B-1 for ``Groundwater use and quality'' 
prior to this final rule, as analyzed in the 1996 GEIS, indicated that 
impacts of continued operations and refurbishment on groundwater use 
and quality would be small, as extensive dewatering is not anticipated. 
This finding was re-evaluated in the revised GEIS and is retained in 
Table B-1.
    While the proposed rule's ``Groundwater and soil contamination'' 
issue was identified as a Category 2 issue, further consideration of 
the ``Groundwater and soil contamination'' issue and public comments 
revealed that the potential impacts on groundwater and soil quality 
from common industrial practices can be addressed generically, as these 
practices are common to all industrial facilities and are not unique to 
nuclear power plants. Moreover, as supported by the analysis in the 
revised GEIS, the NRC concludes that the overall impact of industrial 
practices on groundwater use and quality from past and current 
operations is small for all nuclear power plants and not expected to 
change appreciably during the license renewal term.
    (21) Groundwater Use Conflicts (Plants that Withdraw Less Than 100 
Gallons per Minute [gpm]): The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming 
the ``Ground-water use conflicts (potable and service water; plants 
that use <100 gpm)'' issue as ``Groundwater use conflicts (plants that 
withdraw less than 100 gallons per minute [gpm]).'' It remains a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final rule further 
amends Table B-1 by making minor clarifying changes to the finding 
column entry for this issue. Specifically, the final rule replaces the 
entry statement ``Plants using less than 100 gpm are not expected to 
cause any ground-water conflicts,'' with ``Plants that withdraw less 
than 100 gpm are not expected to cause any groundwater use conflicts.''
    (22) Groundwater Use Conflicts (Plants that Withdraw More Than 100 
Gallons per Minute [gpm]): The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
consolidating two Category 2 issues, ``Groundwater use conflicts 
(potable and service water, and dewatering; plants that use >100 gpm)'' 
and ``Ground-water use conflicts (Ranney wells),'' each with an impact 
level range of small to large, and names the consolidated issue, 
``Groundwater use conflicts (plants that withdraw more than 100 gallons 
per minute [gpm]).'' Because Ranney wells produce significantly more 
than 100 gpm, the Ranney wells issue was consolidated with the general 
issue of groundwater use conflicts for plants using more than 100 gpm 
of groundwater. The consolidated issue is a Category 2 issue, with an 
impact level range of small to large. The final rule further amends 
Table B-1 by removing the entries for ``Groundwater use conflicts 
(potable and service water, and dewatering; plants that use >100 gpm)'' 
and ``Ground-water use conflicts (Ranney wells)'' and adding an entry 
for ``Groundwater use conflicts (plants that withdraw more than 100 
gallons per minute [gpm]).'' The finding column entry for the new 
consolidated issue states ``Plants that withdraw more than 100 gpm 
could cause groundwater use conflicts with nearby groundwater users.''
    (23) Groundwater Use Conflicts (Plants with Closed-Cycle Cooling 
Systems that Withdraw Makeup Water from a River): The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by renaming ``Ground-water use conflicts (plants using 
cooling towers withdrawing makeup water from a small river)'' as 
``Groundwater use conflicts (plants with closed-cycle cooling systems 
that withdraw makeup water from a river).'' It remains a Category 2 
issue, with an impact level range of small to large. The final rule 
further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which 
states,

    Water use conflicts may result from surface water withdrawals 
from small water bodies during low flow conditions which may affect 
aquifer recharge, especially if other ground-water or upstream 
surface water users come on line before the time of license renewal. 
See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A).

with the following:

    Water use conflicts could result from water withdrawals from 
rivers during low-flow conditions, which may affect aquifer 
recharge. The significance of impacts would depend on makeup water 
requirements, water availability, and competing water demands.

    The 1996 GEIS distinguished between surface water use impacts 
during low flow conditions on ``small'' versus ``large'' rivers. Any 
river, regardless of size, can experience low flow conditions of 
varying severity during periods of drought and changing conditions in 
the affected watersheds such as upstream diversions and use of river 
water. The NRC has thus determined that the use of the term ``small 
river'' or ``small water bodies'' is of little value considering that 
plants that withdraw makeup water from a river can experience low-flow 
conditions and would be required to conduct a plant-specific assessment 
of water use conflicts.
    (24) Groundwater Quality Degradation Resulting from Water 
Withdrawals: The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two 
Category 1 issues, ``Ground-water quality degradation (Ranney wells)'' 
and ``Ground-water quality degradation (saltwater intrusion),'' each 
with an impact level of small, and names the consolidated issue, 
``Groundwater quality degradation resulting from water withdrawals.'' 
The consolidated issue remains a Category 1 issue, with an impact level 
of small. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the 
entries for ``Ground-water quality degradation (Ranney wells)'' and 
``Ground-water quality degradation (saltwater intrusion)'' and, by 
adding an entry for ``Groundwater quality degradation resulting from 
water withdrawals.'' The finding column entry for the consolidated 
issue states ``Groundwater withdrawals at operating nuclear power 
plants would not contribute significantly to groundwater quality 
degradation.'' The two issues were consolidated as they both consider 
the possibility of groundwater quality becoming degraded as a result of 
plant operations drawing water of potentially lower quality into the 
aquifer.
    (25) Groundwater Quality Degradation (Plants with Cooling Ponds in 
Salt Marshes): The final rule amends Table B-1 by revising the title of 
the issue ``Ground-water quality degradation (cooling ponds in salt 
marshes)'' to ``Groundwater quality degradation (plants with cooling 
ponds in salt marshes).'' The issue remains a Category 1 issue, with an 
impact level of small. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by 
replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Sites with closed-cycle ponds may degrade ground-water quality. 
Because water in salt marshes is brackish, this is not a concern for 
plants located in salt marshes.

with the following:


[[Page 37301]]


    Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds could degrade groundwater 
quality. However, groundwater in salt marshes is naturally brackish 
and thus, not potable. Consequently, the human use of such 
groundwater is limited to industrial purposes.

    The final rule change to the finding column entry reflects the 
NRC's response to a public comment on the proposed rule by: (1) 
Deleting the term ``plants'' to eliminate any confusion that the NRC 
might have meant marsh ``plants'' rather than ``nuclear power plants;'' 
and (2) clarifying that the focus of this issue is on the degradation 
of groundwater quality for human use. Brackish groundwater has limited 
human use, thus, any impacts on groundwater quality caused by continued 
operations and refurbishment associated with license renewal are not 
significant.
    (26) Groundwater Quality Degradation (Plants with Cooling Ponds at 
Inland Sites): The final rule amends Table B-1 by revising the title of 
the issue ``Ground-water quality degradation (cooling ponds at inland 
sites)'' to ``Groundwater quality degradation (plants with cooling 
ponds at inland sites).'' The issue remains a Category 2 issue, with an 
impact level range of small to large. The final rule further amends 
Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds may degrade ground-water 
quality. For plants located inland, the quality of the ground water 
in the vicinity of the ponds must be shown to be adequate to allow 
continuation of current uses. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(D).

with the following:

    Inland sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds could degrade 
groundwater quality. The significance of the impact would depend on 
cooling pond water quality, site hydrogeologic conditions (including 
the interaction of surface water and groundwater), and the location, 
depth, and pump rate of water wells.

    (27) Radionuclides Released to Groundwater: The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by adding a new Category 2 issue, ``Radionuclides released to 
groundwater,'' with an impact level range of small to moderate, to 
evaluate the potential impact of discharges of radionuclides from plant 
systems into groundwater. The finding column entry for this issue 
states,

    Leaks of radioactive liquids from plant components and pipes 
have occurred at numerous plants. Groundwater protection programs 
have been established at all operating nuclear power plants to 
minimize the potential impact from any inadvertent releases. The 
magnitude of impacts would depend on site-specific characteristics.

    This new Category 2 issue has been added to evaluate the potential 
impact to groundwater quality from the discharge of radionuclides from 
plant systems, piping, and tanks. This issue was added because within 
the past several years there have been events at nuclear power reactor 
sites that involved unknown, uncontrolled, and unmonitored releases of 
radioactive liquids into the groundwater. The issue is relevant to 
license renewal because this experience has shown that components and 
piping at nuclear power plants have the potential to leak radioactive 
material into the groundwater and degrade its quality. While the NRC's 
regulations in 10 CFR part 20 and in 10 CFR part 50 limit the amount of 
radioactive material released (i.e., from routine and inadvertent 
sources) from a nuclear power plant into the environment, the 
regulations are focused on protecting the public, not the quality of 
the groundwater. Therefore, as required by NEPA, the NRC must consider 
the potential impacts to the groundwater from radioactive liquids 
released into groundwater.
    The majority of the inadvertent radioactive liquid release events 
involved tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. However, 
in some of the events, radioactive isotopes of cesium and strontium 
have also been released. Non-routine releases of radioactive liquids 
into the groundwater have occurred from plant systems and buried 
piping.
    In 2006, the NRC's Executive Director for Operations chartered a 
task force to conduct a lessons-learned review of these incidents. On 
September 1, 2006, the Task Force issued its report: ``Liquid 
Radioactive Release Lessons Learned Task Force Report'' (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML062650312). A significant conclusion of the report 
dealt with the potential health impacts to the public from the 
inadvertent releases. Although there were numerous events where 
radioactive liquids were released to the groundwater in an unplanned, 
uncontrolled, and unmonitored fashion, based on the data available, the 
task force did not identify any instances where public health and 
safety was adversely impacted. However, the task force did not evaluate 
the impact of the releases to groundwater quality. The task force also 
identified that under the existing regulatory requirements, the 
potential exists for radioactive liquid releases from leaking systems 
to not be detected for a period of time and, therefore, the 
contaminants could migrate into groundwater.
    In response to these groundwater events, NEI, which represents the 
nuclear industry, in 2007 committed to the NRC to develop a voluntary 
initiative for each nuclear power plant to have a site-specific 
groundwater protection program. NEI provided guidance to the nuclear 
industry (NEI 07-07, ADAMS Accession No. ML072610036) on the 
development and implementation of a groundwater protection program. The 
program covers the assessment of plant systems and components, site 
hydrogeology, and methods to detect leaks to determine the needs for 
each site-specific program. To monitor the actions of the nuclear 
industry, the NRC routinely inspects nuclear power plant licensees to 
verify continued implementation of the Groundwater Protection 
Initiative programs, to review records of identified leakage and spill 
events, to assess whether the source of the leak or spill was 
identified and mitigated, and to review any remediation actions taken 
for effectiveness.
    On the basis of the information and experience with these 
groundwater events and the evaluation in the revised GEIS, the NRC 
concludes that the impact to groundwater quality from the release of 
radionuclides is dependent on site-specific variables and could be 
small or moderate, depending on the magnitude of the leak, 
radionuclides involved, and the response time of plant personnel to 
identify and stop the leak in a timely fashion. Therefore, 
``Radionuclides released to groundwater'' is a Category 2 issue and, as 
such, a site-specific evaluation in the environmental report is needed 
for each application for license renewal. Similarly, the NRC will 
analyze this issue in the SEIS for each license renewal action.

Terrestrial Resources

    (28) Effects on Terrestrial Resources (Non-Cooling System Impacts): 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Refurbishment 
impacts'' issue as ``Effects on terrestrial resources (non-cooling 
system impacts).'' It remains a Category 2 issue, with an impact level 
range of small to large.\34\ The issue, as set forth in the 1996 GEIS, 
addressed only the impacts upon terrestrial resources resulting from 
any refurbishment activities during the license renewal term. The 
analysis in the revised GEIS builds on the analysis in the 1996 GEIS to 
include the environmental impacts resulting from continued plant 
operations during the license renewal term. The final rule

[[Page 37302]]

further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which 
states,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ The proposed rule named the issue, ``Impacts of continued 
plant operations on terrestrial ecosystems'' (74 FR 38123, 38136; 
July 31, 2009).

    Refurbishment impacts are insignificant if no loss of important 
plant and animal habitat occurs. However, it cannot be known whether 
important plant and animal communities may be affected until the 
specific proposal is presented with the license renewal application. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(E).

with the following:

    Impacts resulting from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal may affect terrestrial communities. 
Application of best management practices would reduce the potential 
for impacts. The magnitude of impacts would depend on the nature of 
the activity, the status of the resources that could be affected, 
and the effectiveness of mitigation.

    (29) Exposure of Terrestrial Organisms to Radionuclides: The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Exposure of 
terrestrial organisms to radionuclides.'' The new issue has been 
determined to have an impact level of small. The finding column entry 
for this issue states,

    Doses to terrestrial organisms from continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal are expected to be 
well below exposure guidelines developed to protect these organisms.

    This new issue evaluates the potential impact of radionuclides on 
terrestrial organisms resulting from continued operations of a nuclear 
power plant during the license renewal term and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal. This issue was not evaluated in the 
1996 GEIS. Subsequent to the publication of the 1996 GEIS, however, 
members of the public and various Federal and State agencies commented 
on the need to evaluate the potential impact of radionuclides on 
terrestrial organisms during plant-specific license renewal reviews.
    The revised GEIS evaluates the potential impact of radionuclides on 
terrestrial biota at nuclear power plants from continued operations 
during the license renewal term. For the evaluation, site-specific 
radionuclide concentrations in environmental media (e.g., water, air, 
milk, crops, food products, sediment, and fish and other aquatic biota) 
were obtained from publicly available Radiological Environmental 
Monitoring Program (REMP) annual reports from 15 nuclear power plants. 
The REMP is conducted at every NRC licensed nuclear power plant to 
assess the environmental impacts from plant operations. This is done by 
collecting samples of environmental media from areas surrounding the 
plant for analysis to measure the amount of radioactivity, if any, in 
the samples. The media samples reflect the radiation exposure pathways 
to the public from radioactive effluents released by the nuclear power 
plant and from background radiation (i.e., cosmic sources, naturally-
occurring radioactive material, including radon and global fallout). 
These 15 plants were selected to represent sites that reported a range 
of radionuclide concentrations in the sample media and included both 
boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors. Site-specific 
radionuclide concentrations in water and sediments, as reported in the 
plant's REMP reports, were used in the calculations. The calculated 
radiation dose rates to terrestrial biota, based on exposure to 
radioactivity in the environmental media, were compared against 
radiation-safety guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Energy 
(DOE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the National 
Council of Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), and the 
International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The NRC 
concluded that the impacts of radionuclides on terrestrial biota from 
past and current normal operations are small for all nuclear power 
plants and should not change appreciably during the license renewal 
term.
    (30) Cooling System Impacts on Terrestrial Resources (Plants with 
Once-Through Cooling Systems or Cooling Ponds): The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by renaming the ``Cooling pond impacts on terrestrial 
resources'' issue as ``Cooling system impacts on terrestrial resources 
(plants with once-through cooling systems or cooling ponds).'' It 
remains a Category 1 issue, with an impact level of small. The analysis 
in the revised GEIS expands the scope of this issue to include plants 
with once-through cooling systems. This analysis concludes that the 
impacts on terrestrial resources from once-through cooling systems, as 
well as from cooling ponds, is of small significance at all plants. The 
final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column 
entry, which states,

    Impacts of cooling ponds on terrestrial ecological resources are 
considered to be of small significance at all sites.

with the following:

    No adverse effects to terrestrial plants or animals have been 
reported as a result of increased water temperatures, fogging, 
humidity, or reduced habitat quality. Due to the low concentrations 
of contaminants in cooling system effluents, uptake and accumulation 
of contaminants in the tissues of wildlife exposed to the 
contaminated water or aquatic food sources are not expected to be 
significant issues.

    (31) Cooling Tower Impacts on Vegetation (Plants with Cooling 
Towers): The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 
1 issues, ``Cooling tower impacts on crops and ornamental vegetation'' 
and ``Cooling tower impacts on native plants,'' both issues having an 
impact level of small, and names the consolidated issue, ``Cooling 
tower impacts on vegetation (plants with cooling towers).'' The 
consolidated issue is a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. 
The two issues were consolidated to conform to the resource-based 
approach used in the revised GEIS. With the recent trend of replacing 
lawns with native vegetation, some ornamental plants and crops are 
native plants, and the original separation into two issues is 
unnecessary and cumbersome. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by 
removing the entries for ``Cooling tower impacts on crops and 
ornamental vegetation'' and ``Cooling tower impacts on native plants,'' 
and by adding an entry for ``Cooling tower impacts on vegetation 
(plants with cooling towers).'' The finding column entry for the new 
consolidated issue states,

    Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or increased humidity 
associated with cooling tower operation have the potential to affect 
adjacent vegetation, but these impacts have been small at operating 
nuclear power plants and are not expected to change over the license 
renewal term.

    (32) Bird Collisions with Plant Structures and Transmission Lines: 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 1 issues, 
``Bird collisions with cooling towers'' and ``Bird collision with power 
lines,'' both issues having an impact level of small. The final rule 
also expands the scope of the consolidated issue to address collisions 
with all plant structures and names the issue, ``Bird collisions with 
plant structures and transmission lines.'' The consolidated issue is a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The two issues were 
consolidated to conform to the resource-based approach used in the 
revised GEIS. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the 
entries for ``Bird collisions with cooling towers'' and ``Bird 
collision with power lines,'' and by adding an entry for ``Bird 
collisions with plant structures and transmission lines.'' The finding 
column entry for the new consolidated issue states,


[[Page 37303]]


    Bird collisions with cooling towers and other plant structures 
and transmission lines occur at rates that are unlikely to affect 
local or migratory populations and the rates are not expected to 
change.

    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to 
the issue column entry for ``Bird collisions with plant structures and 
transmission lines,'' concerning the extent to which transmission lines 
and their associated right of ways have been analyzed under the revised 
GEIS. This footnote is the same one that was added to Issue 3, 
``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways (ROWs).'' See the 
description of the changes made by the final rule to Issue 3 for 
further explanation of this amendment.
    (33) Water Use Conflicts with Terrestrial Resources (Plants with 
Cooling Ponds or Cooling Towers Using Makeup Water from a River): The 
final rule amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 2 issue, ``Water 
use conflicts with terrestrial resources (plants with cooling ponds or 
cooling towers using makeup water from a river),'' to evaluate water 
use conflict impacts with terrestrial resources in riparian 
communities. The 1996 GEIS already addresses the resource aspects of 
this issue, and 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A) requires a plant-specific 
analysis of the impacts of surface water withdrawals from rivers for 
cooling pond or cooling tower makeup on riparian ecological 
communities. However, this stand-alone issue was created to clearly 
separate out the related aspects and potential impacts on terrestrial, 
riparian communities associated with surface water withdrawals from a 
river for consumptive cooling water uses. The new issue has an impact 
level range of small to moderate. The finding column entry for this 
issue states,

    Impacts on terrestrial resources in riparian communities 
affected by water use conflicts could be of moderate significance.

    As described in the revised GEIS, such impacts could occur when 
water that supports these resources is diminished because of decreased 
availability due to droughts; increased water demand for agricultural, 
municipal, or industrial usage; or a combination of these factors. The 
potential range of impact levels at plants, subject to license renewal, 
with cooling ponds or cooling towers using makeup water from a river 
cannot be generically determined. The NRC has also removed the term 
``low flow'' from the title of this issue, as set forth in the proposed 
rule, and other related river flow issues in the final rule as 
previously discussed in this section (see Issue 17, ``Surface Water Use 
Conflicts (Plants with Cooling Ponds or Cooling Towers Using Makeup 
Water from a River)'').
    (34) Transmission Line Right-of-Way (ROW) Management Impacts on 
Terrestrial Resources: The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating 
two Category 1 issues, ``Power line right-of-way management (cutting 
and herbicide application)'' and ``Floodplains and wetland on power 
line right-of-way,'' each with an impact level of small, and names the 
consolidated issue, ``Transmission line right-of-way (ROW) management 
impacts on terrestrial resources.'' The consolidated issue is a 
Category 1 issue, with an impact level of small. The two issues were 
consolidated to conform to the resource-based approach used in the 
revised GEIS. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the 
entries for ``Power line right-of-way management (cutting and herbicide 
application)'' and ``Floodplains and wetland on power line right-of-
way,'' and, by adding an entry for ``Transmission line right-of-way 
(ROW) management impacts on terrestrial resources.'' The finding column 
entry for the consolidated issue states,

    Continued ROW management during the license renewal term is 
expected to keep terrestrial communities in their current condition. 
Application of best management practices would reduce the potential 
for impacts.

    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to 
the issue column entry for ``Transmission line right-of-way (ROW) 
management impacts on terrestrial resources,'' concerning the extent to 
which transmission lines and their associated rights of way have been 
analyzed under the revised GEIS. This footnote is the same one that was 
added to Issue 3, ``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways 
(ROWs).'' See the description of the changes made by the final rule to 
Issue 3 for further explanation of this amendment.
    (35) Electromagnetic Fields on Flora and Fauna (Plants, 
Agricultural Crops, Honeybees, Wildlife, Livestock): There are no 
changes to this issue, and it remains a Category 1 issue with a small 
level of impact. The final rule amends Table B-1 by appending a 
footnote to the issue column entry for ``Electromagnetic Fields on 
Flora and Fauna (Plants, Agricultural Crops, Honeybees, Wildlife, 
Livestock),'' concerning the extent to which transmission lines and 
their associated rights of way have been analyzed under the revised 
GEIS. This footnote is the same one that was added to Issue 3, 
``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways (ROWs).'' See the 
description of the changes made by the final rule to Issue 3 for 
further explanation of this amendment.

Aquatic Resources

    (36) Impingement and Entrainment of Aquatic Organisms (Plants with 
Once-Through Cooling Systems or Cooling Ponds): The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 2 issues, ``Entrainment of fish 
and shellfish in early life stages (for plants with once-through 
cooling and cooling pond heat dissipation systems)'' and ``Impingement 
of fish and shellfish (for plants with once-through cooling and cooling 
pond heat dissipation systems),'' both with impact level ranges of 
small to large, and names the consolidated issue, ``Impingement and 
entrainment of aquatic organisms (plants with once-through cooling 
systems or cooling ponds).'' The consolidated issue is a Category 2 
issue with an impact level range of small to large. The final rule 
further amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for ``Entrainment of 
fish and shellfish in early life stages (for plants with once-through 
cooling and cooling pond heat dissipation systems)'' and ``Impingement 
of fish and shellfish (for plants with once-through cooling and cooling 
pond heat dissipation systems),'' and, by adding an entry for 
``Impingement and entrainment of aquatic organisms (plants with once-
through cooling systems or cooling ponds).'' The finding column entry 
for the consolidated issue states,

    The impacts of impingement and entrainment are small at many 
plants, but may be moderate or even large at a few plants with once-
through and cooling-pond cooling systems, depending on cooling 
system withdrawal rates and volumes and the aquatic resources at the 
site.

    For the revised GEIS, these issues were consolidated to facilitate 
the review process in keeping with the resource-based approach and to 
allow for a more complete analysis of the environmental impact. Nuclear 
power plants typically conduct separate sampling programs to estimate 
the numbers of organisms entrained and impinged, which explains the 
original separation of these issues. However, it is the consolidated 
effects of entrainment and impingement that reflect the total impact of 
the cooling system intake on the resource. Environmental conditions are 
different at each nuclear power plant site, and impacts cannot be 
determined generically.

[[Page 37304]]

    (37) Impingement and Entrainment of Aquatic Organisms (Plants with 
Cooling Towers): The final rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating two 
Category 1 issues, ``Entrainment of fish and shellfish in early life 
stages (for plants with cooling tower-based heat dissipation systems)'' 
and ``Impingement of fish and shellfish (for plants with cooling tower-
based heat dissipation systems),'' both with impact levels of small, 
and names the consolidated issue, ``Impingement and entrainment of 
aquatic organisms (plants with cooling towers).'' The consolidated 
issue is a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final 
rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for ``Entrainment 
of fish and shellfish in early life stages (for plants with cooling 
tower-based heat dissipation systems)'' and ``Impingement of fish and 
shellfish (for plants with cooling tower-based heat dissipation 
systems),'' and by adding an entry for ``Impingement and entrainment of 
aquatic organisms (plants with cooling towers).'' The finding column 
entry for the consolidated issue states,

    Impingement and entrainment rates are lower at plants that use 
closed-cycle cooling with cooling towers because the rates and 
volumes of water withdrawal needed for makeup are minimized.

    The two issues have been consolidated given their similar nature 
and to facilitate the environmental review process consistent with the 
resource-based approach in the revised GEIS.
    (38) Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton (all plants): 
There are no changes to this issue, and it remains a Category 1 issue 
with an impact level of small. The proposed rule had consolidated two 
Category 2 issues, ``Entrainment of fish and shellfish in early life 
stages (for plants with once-through cooling and cooling pond heat 
dissipation systems)'' and ``Impingement of fish and shellfish (for 
plants with once-through cooling and cooling pond heat dissipation 
systems)'' with the Category 1 issue, ``Entrainment of phytoplankton 
and zooplankton (for all plants)'' (74 FR 38124, 38136; July 31, 2009). 
Under the proposed rule, the consolidated issue would have been a 
Category 2 issue, with an impact range of small to large. Subsequent to 
the publication of the proposed rule, the NRC determined that such 
consolidation would have the effect of making ``Entrainment of 
phytoplankton and zooplankton (all plants),'' which is an issue generic 
to all plants (Category 1), a site-specific issue (Category 2). As 
there is no basis to support making the ``Entrainment of phytoplankton 
and zooplankton (all plants)'' a site-specific issue, the NRC 
determined not to adopt the proposed rule change. Instead, only the two 
Category 2 issues were consolidated (see Issue 36), and this issue 
remains separate.
    (39) Thermal Impacts on Aquatic Organisms (Plants with Once-Through 
Cooling Systems or Cooling Ponds): The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
renaming the issue, ``Heat shock (for plants with once-through and 
cooling pond heat dissipation systems)'' as ``Thermal Impacts on 
Aquatic Organisms (plants with once-through cooling systems or cooling 
ponds).'' It remains a Category 2 issue with an impact level range of 
small to large. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing 
the finding column entry for this issue, which states,

    Because of continuing concerns about heat shock and the possible 
need to modify thermal discharges in response to changing 
environmental conditions, the impacts may be of moderate or large 
significance at some plants. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(B).

with the following:

    Most of the effects associated with thermal discharges are 
localized and are not expected to affect overall stability of 
populations or resources. The magnitude of impacts, however, would 
depend on site-specific thermal plume characteristics and the nature 
of aquatic resources in the area.

    Environmental conditions are different at each nuclear power plant 
site, and thermal impacts associated with once-through and cooling pond 
heat dissipation systems cannot be determined generically. The proposed 
rule had consolidated the Category 2 issue, ``Heat shock (for plants 
with once-through and cooling pond heat dissipation systems)'' with 
four Category 1 issues, ``Cold shock (for all plants),'' ``Thermal 
plume barrier to migrating fish (for all plants),'' ``Distribution of 
aquatic organisms (for all plants),'' and ``Premature emergence of 
aquatic insects (for all plants)'' (74 FR 38124, 38136; July 31, 2009). 
These issues were proposed for consolidation to facilitate the 
environmental review process because they are all caused by thermal 
effects. The final rule consolidates these four Category 1 issues with 
another Category 1 issue, ``Stimulation of nuisance organisms (e.g., 
shipworms),'' as Issue 41, ``Infrequently reported thermal impacts (all 
plants),'' as described later in this section.
    (40) Thermal Impacts on Aquatic Organisms (Plants with Cooling 
Towers): The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the issue ``Heat 
shock (for plants with cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems)'' 
as ``Thermal Impacts on Aquatic Organisms (Plants with Cooling 
Towers).'' It remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. 
The final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column 
entry for this issue, which states, ``Heat shock has not been found to 
be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with this type of 
cooling system and is not expected to be a problem during the license 
renewal term,'' with the following, ``Thermal effects associated with 
plants that use cooling towers are expected to be small because of the 
reduced amount of heated discharge.''
    The proposed rule had consolidated the Category 1 issue, ``Heat 
shock (for plants with cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems)'' 
with four other Category 1 issues, ``Cold shock (for all plants),'' 
``Thermal plume barrier to migrating fish (for all plants),'' 
``Distribution of aquatic organisms (for all plants),'' and ``Premature 
emergence of aquatic insects (for all plants)'' (74 FR 38124, 38136). 
These issues were proposed for consolidation to facilitate the 
environmental review process because they are all caused by thermal 
effects. The final rule consolidates these four Category 1 issues with 
another Category 1 issue, ``Stimulation of nuisance organisms (e.g., 
shipworms),'' as Issue 41, ``Infrequently reported thermal impacts (all 
plants),'' as described in the following paragraphs.
    (41) Infrequently Reported Thermal Impacts (All Plants): The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating five Category 1 issues, ``Cold 
shock (for all plants),'' ``Thermal plume barrier to migrating fish 
(for all plants),'' ``Distribution of aquatic organisms (for all 
plants),'' ``Premature emergence of aquatic insects (for all plants),'' 
and ``Stimulation of Nuisance Organisms (e.g., Shipworms),'' each with 
an impact level of small, and names the consolidated issue, 
``Infrequently reported thermal impacts (all plants).'' The 
consolidated issue is a Category 1 issue, with an impact level of 
small. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the entries 
for ``Cold shock (for all plants),'' ``Thermal plume barrier to 
migrating fish (for all plants),'' ``Distribution of aquatic organisms 
(for all plants),'' ``Premature emergence of aquatic insects (for all 
plants),'' and ``Stimulation of Nuisance Organisms (e.g., Shipworms),'' 
and, by adding an entry for ``Infrequently reported thermal impacts 
(all plants).'' The finding column entry for the new consolidated issue 
states,


[[Page 37305]]


    Continued operations during the license renewal term are 
expected to have small thermal impacts with respect to the 
following:
    Cold shock has been satisfactorily mitigated at operating 
nuclear plants with once-through cooling systems, has not endangered 
fish populations or been found to be a problem at operating nuclear 
power plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds, and is not 
expected to be a problem.

    Thermal plumes have not been found to be a problem at operating 
nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem.
    Thermal discharge may have localized effects but is not expected 
to affect the larger geographical distribution of aquatic organisms.
    Premature emergence has been found to be a localized effect at 
some operating nuclear power plants but has not been a problem and 
is not expected to be a problem.
    Stimulation of nuisance organisms has been satisfactorily 
mitigated at the single nuclear power plant with a once-through 
cooling system where previously it was a problem. It has not been 
found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling 
towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be a problem.

    The five issues are consolidated to facilitate the environmental 
review process because they are all caused by thermal effects resulting 
from operation of a plant's cooling system. Previous license renewal 
reviews conducted by the NRC have shown that the previously described 
thermal issues have not been a problem at operating nuclear power 
plants and would not change during the license renewal term, and so no 
future impacts are anticipated.
    (42) Effects of Cooling Water Discharge on Dissolved Oxygen, Gas 
Supersaturation, and Eutrophication: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
consolidating three Category 1 issues, ``Eutrophication,'' ``Gas 
supersaturation (gas bubble disease),'' and ``Low dissolved oxygen in 
the discharge,'' each with an impact level of small, and names the 
consolidated issue, ``Effects of cooling water discharge on dissolved 
oxygen, gas supersaturation, and eutrophication.'' The consolidated 
issue is a Category 1 issue, with an impact level of small. The three 
issues are consolidated given their similar nature and to facilitate 
the environmental review process. The final rule further amends Table 
B-1 by removing the entries for ``Eutrophication,'' ``Gas 
supersaturation (gas bubble disease),'' and ``Low dissolved oxygen in 
the discharge,'' and, by adding an entry for ``Effects of cooling water 
discharge on dissolved oxygen, gas supersaturation, and 
eutrophication.'' The finding column entry for the new consolidated 
issue states,

    Gas supersaturation was a concern at a small number of operating 
nuclear power plants with once-through cooling systems but has been 
mitigated. Low dissolved oxygen was a concern at one nuclear power 
plant with a once-through cooling system but has been mitigated. 
Eutrophication (nutrient loading) and resulting effects on chemical 
and biological oxygen demands have not been found to be a problem at 
operating nuclear power plants.

    (43) Effects of Non-Radiological Contaminants on Aquatic Organisms: 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the issue ``Accumulation of 
contaminants in sediments or biota'' as ``Effects of non-radiological 
contaminants on aquatic organisms.'' The renamed issue remains a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final rule further 
amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Accumulation of contaminants has been a concern at a few nuclear 
power plants but has been satisfactorily mitigated by replacing 
copper alloy condenser tubes with those of another metal. It is not 
expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.

with the following:

    Best management practices and discharge limitations of NPDES 
permits are expected to minimize the potential for impacts to 
aquatic resources during continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal. Accumulation of metal contaminants 
has been a concern at a few nuclear power plants, but has been 
satisfactorily mitigated by replacing copper alloy condenser tubes 
with those of another metal.

    (44) Exposure of Aquatic Organisms to Radionuclides: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Exposure of 
Aquatic Organisms to Radionuclides,'' with an impact level of small. 
The finding column entry for this issue states,

    Doses to aquatic organisms are expected to be well below 
exposure guidelines developed to protect these aquatic organisms.

    The issue has been added to evaluate the potential impact of 
radionuclide discharges upon aquatic organisms, based on comments from 
members of the public and Federal and State agencies raised during the 
license renewal process for various plants.
    The revised GEIS evaluates the potential impact of radionuclides on 
aquatic organisms at nuclear power plants from continued operations 
during the license renewal term. For the evaluation, site-specific 
radionuclide concentrations in environmental media (e.g., water, air, 
milk, crops, food products, sediment, and fish and other aquatic biota) 
were obtained from publicly available REMP annual reports from 15 
nuclear power plants. The REMP is conducted at every NRC licensed 
nuclear power plant to assess the environmental impacts from plant 
operations. This is done by collecting samples of environmental media 
from areas surrounding the plant for analysis to measure the amount of 
radioactivity, if any, in the samples. The media samples reflect the 
radiation exposure pathways to the public from radioactive effluents 
released by the nuclear power plant and from background radiation 
(i.e., cosmic sources, naturally-occurring radioactive material, 
including radon and global fallout). These 15 plants were selected to 
represent sites that reported a range of radionuclide concentrations in 
the sample media and included both boiling water reactors and 
pressurized water reactors. Site-specific radionuclide concentrations 
in water and sediments, as reported in the plant's REMP reports, were 
used in the calculations. The calculated radiation dose rates to 
aquatic organisms, based on exposure to radioactivity in the 
environmental media, were compared against radiation-safety guidelines 
issued by DOE, IAEA, NCRP, and ICRP. The NRC concluded that the impacts 
of radionuclides on aquatic organisms from past and current normal 
operations are small for all nuclear power plants and should not change 
appreciably during the license renewal term.
    (45) Effects of Dredging on Aquatic Organisms: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Effects of 
dredging on aquatic organisms,'' with an impact level of small, to 
evaluate the impacts of dredging on aquatic organisms. The finding 
column entry for this issue states,

    Dredging at nuclear power plants is expected to occur 
infrequently, would be of relatively short duration, and would 
affect relatively small areas. Dredging is performed under permit 
from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and possibly, from other 
State or local agencies.

    Licensees conduct dredging to maintain intake and discharge 
structures at nuclear power plant facilities and in some cases, to 
maintain barge slips. Dredging may disturb or remove benthic 
communities. In general, maintenance dredging for nuclear power plant 
operations occur infrequently, is of relatively short duration, and 
affects relatively small areas. Dredging is performed under a permit 
issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and consequently, each 
dredging action is subject to a site-specific environmental review 
conducted by the Corps. Dredging

[[Page 37306]]

activities may also require permits from various State or local 
agencies.
    (46) Water Use Conflicts with Aquatic Resources (Plants with 
Cooling Ponds or Cooling Towers using Makeup Water from a River): The 
final rule amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 2 issue, ``Water 
use conflicts with aquatic resources (plants with cooling ponds or 
cooling towers using makeup water from a river),'' with an impact level 
range of small to moderate, to evaluate water use conflicts with 
aquatic resources in stream communities. The 1996 GEIS already 
addresses the resource aspects of this issue, and 10 CFR 
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A) requires a plant-specific analysis of the impacts of 
surface water withdrawals from rivers for cooling pond or cooling tower 
makeup on stream (i.e., aquatic) ecological communities. However, this 
stand-alone issue was created to clearly separate out the related 
aspects and potential impacts on aquatic communities associated with 
surface water withdrawals from a river for consumptive cooling water 
uses.
    The finding column entry for this issue states,

    Impacts on aquatic resources in stream communities affected by 
water use conflicts could be of moderate significance in some 
situations.

    Such impacts could occur when water that supports these resources 
is diminished because of decreased availability due to droughts; 
increased water demand for agricultural, municipal, or industrial 
usage; or a combination of these factors. The potential range of impact 
levels at plants, subject to license renewal, with cooling ponds or 
cooling towers using makeup water from a river cannot be generically 
determined. The NRC has also removed the term ``low flow'' from the 
title of this issue, as set forth in the proposed rule, and other 
related river flow issues in the final rule as previously discussed in 
this section (see Issue 17, ``Surface Water Use Conflicts (Plants with 
Cooling Ponds or Cooling Towers Using Makeup Water from a River)'').
    (47) Effects on Aquatic Resources (Non-Cooling System Impacts): The 
final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Refurbishment'' issue as 
``Effects on aquatic resources (non-cooling system impacts).'' \35\ It 
remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final 
rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, 
which states,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \35\ The proposed rule had renamed this issue ``Refurbishment 
impacts on aquatic resources.'' (74 FR 38125, 38136; July 31, 2009).

    During plant shutdown and refurbishment there will be negligible 
effects on aquatic biota because of a reduction of entrainment and 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
impingement of organisms or a reduced release of chemicals.

with the following:

    Licensee application of appropriate mitigation measures is 
expected to result in no more than small changes to aquatic 
communities from their current condition.

    (48) Impacts of Transmission Line Right-of-Way (ROW) Management on 
Aquatic Resources: The final rule amends Table B-1 by adding a new 
Category 1 issue, ``Impacts of transmission line right-of-way (ROW) 
management on aquatic resources,'' with an impact level of small, to 
evaluate the impact of transmission line ROW management on aquatic 
resources during the license renewal term. The finding column entry for 
this issue states,

    Licensee application of best management practices to ROW 
maintenance is expected to result in no more than small impacts to 
aquatic resources.

    Impacts on aquatic resources from transmission line ROW maintenance 
could occur as a result of the direct disturbance of aquatic habitats, 
soil erosion, changes in water quality (from sedimentation and thermal 
effects), or inadvertent releases of chemical contaminants from 
herbicide use. As described in the revised GEIS, the NRC expects any 
impact on aquatic resources resulting from transmission line ROW 
maintenance to be small, short term, and localized for all plants 
because of licensee application of best management practices.
    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to 
the issue column entry for ``Impacts of Transmission Line Right-of-Way 
(ROW) Management on Aquatic Resources,'' concerning the extent to which 
transmission lines and their associated ROW have been analyzed under 
the revised GEIS. This footnote is the same one that was added to Issue 
3, ``Offsite land use in transmission line right-of-ways (ROWs).'' See 
the description of the changes made by the final rule to Issue 3 for 
further explanation of this amendment.
    (49) Losses from Predation, Parasitism, and Disease Among Organisms 
Exposed to Sublethal Stresses: There are no changes to this issue, and 
it remains a Category 1 issue, with an impact level of small.

Special Status Species and Habitats

    (50) Threatened, Endangered, and Protected Species and Essential 
Fish Habitat: The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the issue 
``Threatened or endangered species'' as ``Threatened, endangered, and 
protected species and essential fish habitat.'' The final rule expands 
the scope of the issue to include essential fish habitats protected 
under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(MSA). The renamed and expanded issue is a Category 2 issue. The final 
rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, 
which states,

    Generally, plant refurbishment and continued operations are not 
expected to adversely affect threatened or endangered species. 
However, consultation with appropriate agencies would be needed at 
the time of license renewal to determine whether threatened or 
endangered species are present and whether they would be adversely 
affected. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(E).

with the following:

    The magnitude of impacts on threatened, endangered, and 
protected species, critical habitat, and essential fish habitat 
would depend on the occurrence of listed species and habitats and 
the effects of power plant systems on them. Consultation with 
appropriate agencies would be needed to determine whether special 
status species or habitats are present and whether they would be 
adversely affected by continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal.

    The final rule also amends Table B-1 by removing the words ``SMALL, 
MODERATE, or LARGE'' from the finding column entry because the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires other findings.\36\ In complying 
with the ESA, the NRC determines whether the effects of continued 
nuclear power plant operations and refurbishment (1) would have no 
effect, (2) are not likely to adversely affect, (3) are likely to 
adversely affect, or (4) are likely to jeopardize the listed species or 
adversely modify the designated critical habitat of Federally listed 
species populations or their critical habitat during the license 
renewal term. For listed species where the NRC has found that its 
action is ``likely to adversely affect'' the species or habitat, the 
NRC may further characterize the effects as ``is [or is not] likely to 
jeopardize listed species or adversely modify designated critical 
habitat.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \36\ The proposed rule did not reflect this change (74 FR 38125, 
38137; July 31, 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Similarly, the MSA also requires other findings. In complying with 
the MSA, the NRC determines whether the effects

[[Page 37307]]

of continued nuclear power plant operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal would have: (1) No adverse impact, (2) 
minimal adverse impact, or (3) substantial adverse impact to the 
essential habitat of federally managed fish populations during the 
license renewal term. Therefore, the NRC believes that reporting its 
ESA and MSA findings instead of the ``SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE'' 
significance levels of impact will clarify the results.

Historic and Cultural Resources

    (51) Historic and Cultural Resources: The final rule amends Table 
B-1 by renaming the issue ``Historic and archaeological resources'' as 
``Historic and cultural resources.'' It remains a Category 2 issue. The 
final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column 
entry, which states,

    Generally, plant refurbishment and continued operations are 
expected to have no more than small adverse impacts on historic and 
archaeological resources. However, the National Historic 
Preservation Act requires the Federal agency to consult with the 
State Historic Preservation Officer to determine whether there are 
properties present that require protection. See Sec.  
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(K).

with the following:

    Continued operations and refurbishment associated with license 
renewal are expected to have no more than small impacts on historic 
and cultural resources located onsite and in the transmission line 
ROW because most impacts could be mitigated by avoiding those 
resources. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires 
the Federal agency to consult with the State Historic Preservation 
Officer (SHPO) and appropriate Native American Tribes to determine 
the potential effects on historic properties and mitigation, if 
necessary.

    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the words 
``SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE'' from the finding column entry \37\ 
because the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires the NRC 
to determine whether historic properties are present on or near the 
project site, and if so, whether the license renewal decision would 
result in any adverse effect upon such properties. Thus, the NRC in its 
plant-specific environmental review makes the following determinations: 
no historic properties present; historic properties are present, but 
not adversely affected; or there is an adverse effect.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \37\ The proposed rule did not reflect this change (74 FR 38125, 
38137; July 31, 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If continued operations and refurbishment associated with license 
renewal result in any adverse effects, the NHPA Section 106 process 
requires consultation with the requisite State Historic Preservation 
Officer (SHPO) and if appropriate, the requisite Tribal Historic 
Preservation Officer. The license renewal applicant is typically an 
active participant in such consultation, and the applicant may agree to 
commit to carrying out the appropriate mitigation measures. If an 
agreement is reached, the parties will execute a Memorandum of 
Agreement. Therefore, the NRC believes that reporting its NHPA findings 
in the plant-specific SEIS, instead of the ``SMALL, MODERATE, or 
LARGE'' significance levels of impact, will clarify the results.

Socioeconomics

    (52) Employment and Income, Recreation and Tourism: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Employment and 
income, recreation and tourism,'' which includes the ``tourism and 
recreation'' portion of a current Table B-1 Category 1 issue, ``Public 
services: public safety, social services, and tourism and recreation.'' 
The issue has an impact level of small. The final rule consolidates the 
tourism and recreation portion with the new generic analysis to cover 
employment and income given the similar nature of these issues and to 
facilitate the environmental review process. The revised GEIS provides 
an analysis of this consolidated issue and concludes that the impacts 
are generic to all plants undergoing license renewal. The finding 
column entry for this issue states,

    Although most nuclear plants have large numbers of employees 
with higher than average wages and salaries, employment, income, 
recreation, and tourism impacts from continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal are expected to be 
small.

    (53) Tax Revenues: The impact of changes to tax revenues was 
discussed in the 1996 GEIS, but was not listed in Table B-1. The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Tax 
revenues,'' to evaluate the impacts of license renewal on tax revenues. 
The issue has an impact level of small. The finding column entry for 
this issue states,

    Nuclear plants provide tax revenue to local jurisdictions in the 
form of property tax payments, payments in lieu of tax (PILOT), or 
tax payments on energy production. The amount of tax revenue paid 
during the license renewal term as a result of continued operations 
and refurbishment associated with license renewal is not expected to 
change.

    Refurbishment activities, such as steam generator and vessel head 
replacement, have not had a noticeable effect on the value of nuclear 
power plants, thus changes in tax revenues are not anticipated from 
future refurbishment activities. Refurbishment activities involve the 
one-for-one replacement of existing components and are generally not 
considered a taxable improvement. Also, new property tax assessments; 
proprietary payments in lieu of tax stipulations, settlements, and 
agreements; and State tax laws are continually changing the amounts 
paid to taxing jurisdictions by nuclear power plant owners, and these 
occur independent of license renewal and refurbishment activities.
    (54) Community Services and Education: The final rule amends Table 
B-1 by reclassifying two Category 2 issues, ``Public services: public 
utilities,'' with an impact level range of small to moderate, and 
``Public services, education (refurbishment),'' with an impact level 
range of small to large, as Category 1 issues. The final rule 
consolidates these two issues with the Category 1 issue, ``Public 
services, education (license renewal term),'' which has an impact level 
of small, and the ``Public safety and social service'' portion of the 
Category 1 issue, ``Public services: public safety, social services, 
and tourism and recreation,'' which also has an impact level of 
small.\38\ The final rule names the consolidated issue, ``Community 
services and education,'' and classifies it as a Category 1 issue with 
an impact level of small. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by 
removing the entries for ``Public services: public utilities,'' 
``Public services, education (refurbishment),'' ``Public services, 
education (license renewal term),'' and ``Public services: public 
safety, social services, and tourism and recreation,'' and by adding 
the entry for ``Community services and education.'' The finding column 
entry for the ``Community services and education'' issue states,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \38\ The ``tourism and recreation'' portion of the ``Public 
services: public safety, social services, and tourism and 
recreation'' issue was consolidated with the new generic analysis 
concerning employment and income to form the consolidated Category 1 
issue, ``Employment and income, recreation and tourism'' (see Issue 
52).

    Changes resulting from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal to local community and educational 
services would be small. With little or no change in employment at 
the licensee's plant, value of the power plant, payments on energy 
production, and PILOT payments expected during the license renewal 
term, community and educational services would not be affected by 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
continued power plant operations.

The four issues are consolidated because all public services are 
equally affected by changes in plant operations and refurbishment 
associated with

[[Page 37308]]

license renewal. Any changes in the number of workers at a nuclear 
power plant will affect demand for public services from local 
communities. Nevertheless, past environmental reviews conducted by the 
NRC since the issuance of the 1996 GEIS have shown that the number of 
workers at relicensed nuclear power plants has not changed 
significantly because of license renewal. Thus, no significant impacts 
on community services are anticipated from future license renewals. In 
addition, refurbishment activities, such as steam generator and vessel 
head replacement, have not required the large numbers of workers and 
the months of time that was conservatively analyzed in the 1996 GEIS, 
and as such, significant impacts on community services are no longer 
anticipated. Combining the four issues also facilitates the 
environmental review process.
    (55) Population and Housing: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
renaming the Category 2 issue, ``Housing impacts,'' with an impact 
level range of small to large, to ``Population and housing.'' The final 
rule reclassifies this issue as a Category 1 issue with an impact level 
of small. As described in the revised GEIS, the availability and value 
of housing are directly affected by changes in population. The final 
rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the entry for ``Housing 
impacts,'' and by adding an entry for ``Population and housing.'' The 
finding column entry for this issue states,

    Changes resulting from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal to regional population and housing 
availability and value would be small. With little or no change in 
employment at the licensee's plant expected during the license 
renewal term, population and housing availability and values would 
not be affected by continued power plant operations.

    As described in the revised GEIS, the NRC has determined that the 
impacts of continued operations and refurbishment activities on 
population and housing during the license renewal term would be small. 
Moreover, any impacts are not dependent on the socioeconomic setting of 
the nuclear power plant and are generic to all plants.
    (56) Transportation: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
reclassifying the Category 2 issue, ``Public services, 
Transportation,'' with an impact level range of small to large, as a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small, and renaming it 
``Transportation.'' The final rule further amends Table B-1 by 
replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Transportation impacts (level of service) of highway traffic 
generated during plant refurbishment and during the term of the 
renewed license are generally expected to be of small significance. 
However, the increase in traffic associated with additional workers 
and the local road and traffic control conditions may lead to 
impacts of moderate or large significance at some sites. See Sec.  
51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J).

with the following:

    Changes resulting from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal to traffic volumes would be small.

    As described in the revised GEIS, the NRC has determined that the 
numbers of workers have not changed significantly due to license 
renewal, so transportation impacts from continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal are no longer expected to 
be significant.

Human Health

    (57) Radiation Exposures to the Public: The final rule amends Table 
B-1 by consolidating two Category 1 issues, ``Radiation exposures to 
the public during refurbishment'' and ``Radiation exposure to public 
(license renewal term)'' and names the consolidated issue, ``Radiation 
exposures to the public.'' The consolidated issue is a Category 1 issue 
with an impact level of small. These issues are consolidated given 
their similar nature and to facilitate the environmental review 
process. The final rule amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for 
``Radiation exposures to the public during refurbishment'' and 
``Radiation exposure to public (license renewal term)'' and by adding 
an entry for ``Radiation exposures to the public.'' The finding column 
entry for this consolidated issue states,

    Radiation doses to the public from continued operations and 
refurbishment associated with license renewal are expected to 
continue at current levels, and would be well below regulatory 
limits.

    (58) Radiation Exposures to Plant Workers: The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by consolidating two Category 1 issues, ``Occupational 
radiation exposures during refurbishment'' and ``Occupational radiation 
exposures (license renewal term)'' and names the consolidated issue, 
``Radiation exposures to plant workers.'' The consolidated issue is a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. These issues are 
consolidated given their similar nature and to facilitate the 
environmental review process. The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
removing the entries ``Occupational radiation exposures during 
refurbishment'' and ``Occupational radiation exposures (license renewal 
term)'' and by adding an entry for ``Radiation exposures to plant 
workers.'' The finding column entry for the combined issue states,

    Occupational doses from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal are expected to be within the range 
of doses experienced during the current license term and would 
continue to be well below regulatory limits.

    (59) Human Health Impact from Chemicals: The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Human health impact from 
chemicals,'' to evaluate the potential impacts to plant workers and 
members of the public from exposure to chemicals. The new issue has an 
impact level of small. The finding column entry for this issue states,

    Chemical hazards to plant workers resulting from continued 
operations and refurbishment associated with license renewal are 
expected to be minimized by the licensee implementing good 
industrial hygiene practices as required by permits and Federal and 
State regulations. Chemical releases to the environment and the 
potential for impacts to the public are expected to be minimized by 
adherence to discharge limitations of NPDES and other permits.

    The evaluation addresses the potential impact of chemicals on human 
health resulting from normal operations of a nuclear power plant during 
the license renewal term. Impacts of chemical exposure to human health 
are considered to be small if the use of chemicals within the plant is 
in accordance with industrial safety guides and discharges of chemicals 
to water bodies are within effluent limitations designed to ensure 
protection of water quality and aquatic life.
    The disposal of hazardous chemicals used at nuclear power plants by 
licensees is subject to the RCRA and the CWA (which requires licensees 
to hold an NPDES permit). Adherence by the licensee to these statutory 
requirements should minimize adverse impacts to the environment, 
workers, and the public. It is anticipated that all plants would 
continue to operate in compliance with all applicable permits and that 
no mitigation measures beyond those implemented during the current 
license term would be warranted as a result of license renewal.
    A review of the documents, as referenced in the revised GEIS, 
operating monitoring reports, and consultations with utilities and 
regulatory agencies that were performed for the 1996 GEIS, indicated 
that the

[[Page 37309]]

effects of the discharge of chlorine and other biocides on water 
quality have been of small significance for all power plants. Small 
quantities of biocides are readily dissipated and/or are chemically 
altered in the body of water receiving them, so significant cumulative 
impacts to water quality would not be expected. The NRC expects no 
major changes in the operation of plant cooling systems during the 
license renewal term, so no changes are anticipated in the effects of 
biocide discharges on the quality of the receiving waters. The EPA and 
the States regulate discharges of sanitary wastes and heavy metals 
through NPDES permits. The NRC considers discharges that do not violate 
the permit limits to be of small significance. The effects of minor 
chemical discharges and spills on water quality are also expected to be 
of small significance during the license renewal term, and the 
appropriate regulating agencies would require the licensee to mitigate 
these discharges and spills as needed.
    (60) Microbiological Hazards to the Public (Plants with Cooling 
Ponds or Canals or Cooling Towers that Discharge to a River): The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Microbiological organisms 
(public health) (plants using lakes or canals, or cooling towers or 
cooling ponds that discharge to a small river)'' issue as 
``Microbiological hazards to the public (plants with cooling ponds or 
canals or cooling towers that discharge to a river).'' The issue 
remains a Category 2 issue, with an impact level range of small to 
large. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding 
column entry, which states,

    These organisms are not expected to be a problem at most 
operating plants except possibly at plants using cooling ponds, 
lakes, or canals that discharge to small rivers. Without site-
specific data, it is not possible to predict the effects 
generically. See Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(G).

with the following:

    These organisms are not expected to be a problem at most 
operating plants except possibly at plants using cooling ponds, 
lakes, or canals, or that discharge into rivers. Impacts would 
depend on site-specific characteristics.

    (61) Microbiological Hazards to Plant Workers: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Microbiological organisms 
(occupational health)'' issue as ``Microbiological hazards to plant 
workers.'' It remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. 
The final rule amends Table B-1 by adding the phrase ``as required by 
permits and Federal and State regulations'' to the end of the finding 
column entry.
    (62) Chronic Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs): The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Electromagnetic fields, chronic 
effects'' issue as ``Chronic effects of electromagnetic fields 
(EMFs).'' It remains an uncategorized issue with an impact level of 
uncertain because there is no national scientific consensus on the 
potential impacts from chronic exposure to EMFs. The final rule further 
amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Biological and physical studies of 60-Hz electromagnetic fields 
have not found consistent evidence linking harmful effects with 
field exposures. However, research is continuing in this area and a 
consensus scientific view has not been reached.

with the following:

    Studies of 60-Hz EMFs have not uncovered consistent evidence 
linking harmful effects with field exposures. EMFs are unlike other 
agents that have a toxic effect (e.g., toxic chemicals and ionizing 
radiation) in that dramatic acute effects cannot be forced and 
longer-term effects, if real, are subtle. Because the state of the 
science is currently inadequate, no generic conclusion on human 
health impacts is possible.

    Although there is no conclusion as to the impact level, and this 
issue is not considered to be a Category 1 issue in the sense that a 
generic conclusion on the impact level has not been reached, this issue 
will be treated uniformly in plant-specific SEISs by essentially 
providing the discussion appearing in this issue's finding column entry 
in Table B-1 until a national scientific consensus has been reached.
    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by appending a footnote to 
the issue column entry for ``Chronic Effects of Electromagnetic Fields 
(EMFs),'' concerning the extent to which transmission lines and their 
associated right of ways have been analyzed under the revised GEIS. 
This footnote is the same one that was added to Issue 3, ``Offsite land 
use in transmission line right-of-ways (ROWs).'' See the description of 
the changes made by the final rule to Issue 3 for further explanation 
of this amendment. In addition, the final rule retains the footnote 
that was appended to issue column entry but renumbers that footnote 
from ``5'' to ``6'' and retains the footnote that was appended to 
category column entry but renumbers that footnote from ``4'' to ``5.''
    (63) Physical Occupational Hazards: The final rule amends Table B-1 
by adding a new Category 1 issue, ``Physical occupational hazards,'' to 
evaluate the potential impact of physical occupational hazards on human 
health resulting from normal nuclear power plant operations during the 
license renewal term. The issue has an impact level of small. The 
finding column entry for this issue states,

    Occupational safety and health hazards are generic to all types 
of electrical generating stations, including nuclear power plants, 
and are of small significance if the workers adhere to safety 
standards and use protective equipment as required by Federal and 
State regulations.

    Through a Memorandum of Understanding (53 FR 43950; October 31, 
1988) between the NRC and the Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration (OSHA), plant conditions that result in an occupational 
risk, but do not affect the safety of licensed radioactive materials, 
are under the statutory authority of OSHA rather than the NRC. 
Nevertheless, the impact of physical occupational hazards on human 
health has been raised by the public, as well as Federal and State 
agencies during the license renewal process. As such, this issue has 
been added to allow for a more complete analysis of the human health 
impact of continued power plant operation during the license renewal 
term. Occupational hazards can be minimized by licensees when workers 
adhere to safety standards and use appropriate protective equipment, 
although fatalities and injuries from accidents can still occur. Data 
for occupational injuries in 2005 obtained from the U.S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics indicate that the rate of fatal injuries in the 
utility sector is less than the rate for many sectors (e.g., 
construction, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, 
fishing and hunting, wholesale trade, and mining) and that the 
incidence rate for nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses is the 
least for electric power generation, followed by electric power 
transmission control and distribution. It is expected that over the 
license renewal term, licensees would ensure that their workers 
continue to adhere to safety standards and use protective equipment, so 
adverse occupational impacts would be of small significance at all 
sites.
    (64) Electric Shock Hazards: The final rule amends Table B-1 by 
renaming the ``Electromagnetic fields, acute effects (electric shock)'' 
issue as ``Electric shock hazards.'' It remains a Category 2 issue with 
an impact level range of small to large. The final rule further amends 
Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    Electrical shock resulting from direct access to energized 
conductors or from induced charges in metallic structures have not 
been found to be a problem at most operating plants and generally 
are not expected to be a problem during the license

[[Page 37310]]

renewal term. However, site-specific review is required to determine 
the significance of the electric shock potential at the site. See 
Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii)(H).

with the following:

    Electrical shock potential is of small significance for 
transmission lines that are operated in adherence with the National 
Electrical Safety Code (NESC). Without a review of conformance with 
NESC criteria of each nuclear power plant's in-scope transmission 
lines, it is not possible to generically determine the significance 
of the electrical shock potential.

    The final rule's change to the finding column entry reflects the 
analysis in the revised GEIS concerning the potential of electrical 
shock from transmission lines. The final rule further amends Table B-1 
by appending a footnote to the issue column entry for ``Electric shock 
hazards,'' concerning the extent to which transmission lines and their 
associated right of ways have been analyzed under the revised GEIS. 
This footnote is the same one that was added to Issue 3, ``Offsite land 
use in transmission line right-of-ways (ROWs).'' See the description of 
the changes made by the final rule to Issue 3 for further explanation 
of this amendment.

Postulated Accidents

    (65) Design-Basis Accidents and (66) Severe Accidents: ``Design-
basis accidents,'' and ``Severe accidents,'' with impact levels of 
small, remain Category 1 and 2 issues, respectively. The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by making minor clarifying changes to the finding 
column entries for both of these issues.

Environmental Justice

    (67) Minority and Low-Income Populations: The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by adding a new Category 2 issue, ``Minority and low-income 
populations,'' to evaluate the impacts of continued operations and any 
refurbishment activities during the license renewal term on minority 
and low-income populations living in the vicinity of the plant. This 
issue was listed in Table B-1, prior to this final rule, but was not 
evaluated in the 1996 GEIS. In that table the finding column entry for 
this issue states, ``[t]he need for and the content of an analysis of 
environmental justice will be addressed in plant-specific reviews.''
    Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629; February 16, 1994) initiated the 
Federal government's environmental justice program. The NRC's ``Policy 
Statement on the Treatment of Environmental Justice Matters in NRC 
Regulatory and Licensing Actions'' (69 FR 52040; August 24, 2004) 
states, ``the NRC is committed to the general goals of E.O. 12898, 
[and] it will strive to meet those goals through its normal and 
traditional NEPA review process.'' Guidance for implementing E.O. 12898 
was not available prior to the completion of the 1996 GEIS. By making 
this a Category 2 issue, the final rule requires license renewal 
applicants to identify, in their environmental reports, minority and 
low-income populations and communities residing in the vicinity of the 
nuclear power plant.
    The final rule amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column 
entry, which states,

    The need for and the content of an analysis of environmental 
justice will be addressed in plant-specific reviews.

with the following:

    Impacts to minority and low-income populations and subsistence 
consumption resulting from continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal will be addressed in plant-specific 
reviews. See NRC Policy Statement on the Treatment of Environmental 
Justice Matters in NRC Regulatory and Licensing Actions (69 FR 
52040; August 24, 2004).

    The final rule does not adopt the proposed rule's impact range of 
small to moderate for this issue as E.O. 12898 requires a determination 
of whether human health and environmental effects of continued 
operations during the license renewal term and refurbishment associated 
with license renewal on minority and low-income populations would be 
disproportionately high and adverse. This determination will be made by 
the NRC in each plant-specific SEIS.
    The final rule removes the footnote from the category column entry 
for this issue and removes footnote ``6'' from Table B-1 as footnote 
``6'' is no longer necessary.

Waste Management

    (68) Low-Level Waste Storage and Disposal: This issue remains a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    The comprehensive regulatory controls that are in place and the 
low public doses being achieved at reactors ensure that the 
radiological impacts to the environment will remain small during the 
term of a renewed license. The maximum additional on-site land that 
may be required for low-level waste storage during the term of a 
renewed license and associated impacts will be small. 
Nonradiological impacts on air and water will be negligible. The 
radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts of long-term 
disposal of low-level waste from any individual plant at licensed 
sites are small. In addition, the Commission concludes that there is 
reasonable assurance that sufficient low-level waste disposal 
capacity will be made available when needed for facilities to be 
decommissioned consistent with NRC decommissioning requirements.

with the following:

    The comprehensive regulatory controls that are in place and the 
low public doses being achieved at reactors ensure that the 
radiological impacts to the environment would remain small during 
the license renewal term.

    (69) Onsite Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by renaming the ``Onsite spent fuel'' issue as ``Onsite 
storage of spent nuclear fuel.'' It remains a Category 1 issue with an 
impact level of small. As described in Section V, ``Related Issues of 
Importance,'' of this document, the final rule revises the finding 
column entry for this issue to reflect the D.C. Circuit's decision in 
New York v. NRC and the NRC's planned response thereto. Specifically, 
the final rule reduces the period of time covered by this issue from 
the period of extended license (from approval of the license renewal 
application to the expiration of the operating license) plus 30 years 
after the permanent shutdown of the reactor and expiration of the 
operating license to the period of extended license only. The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which 
states,

    The expected increase in the volume of spent fuel from an 
additional 20 years of operation can be safely accommodated on site 
with small environmental effects through dry or pool storage at all 
plants if a permanent repository or monitored retrievable storage is 
not available.

with the following:

    The expected increase in the volume of spent fuel from an 
additional 20 years of operation can be safely accommodated onsite 
during the license renewal term with small environmental effects 
through dry or pool storage at all plants.

    (70) Offsite Radiological Impacts of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-
Level Waste Disposal: The final rule amends Table B-1 by renaming the 
``Offsite radiological impacts (spent fuel and high level waste 
disposal)'' issue as ``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear 
fuel and high-level waste disposal.'' As described in Section V 
``Related Issues of Importance,'' of this document, the final rule 
revises the finding column entry for this issue to reflect the D.C. 
Circuit's decision in New York v. NRC and the NRC's planned response 
thereto. Specifically, the final rule reclassifies this issue from 
Category

[[Page 37311]]

1, with no impact level assigned, to an uncategorized issue with an 
impact level of uncertain. The final rule removes the description in 
the finding column entry and replaces it with the following: 
``Uncertain impact. The generic conclusion on offsite radiological 
impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste is not being 
finalized pending the completion of a generic environmental impact 
statement on waste confidence.'' Upon issuance of the generic EIS and 
revised Waste Confidence Rule, the NRC will make any necessary 
confirming amendments to this rule.
    (71) Mixed-Waste Storage and Disposal: This issue remains a 
Category 1 issue with an impact level of small. The final rule amends 
Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry for this issue, which 
states,

    The comprehensive regulatory controls and the facilities and 
procedures that are in place ensure proper handling and storage, as 
well as negligible doses and exposure to toxic materials for the 
public and the environment at all plants. License renewal will not 
increase the small, continuing risk to human health and the 
environment posed by mixed waste at all plants. The radiological and 
nonradiological environmental impacts of long-term disposal of mixed 
waste from any individual plant at licensed sites are small. In 
addition, the Commission concludes that there is reasonable 
assurance that sufficient mixed waste disposal capacity will be made 
available when needed for facilities to be decommissioned consistent 
with NRC decommissioning requirements.

with the following:

    The comprehensive regulatory controls and the facilities and 
procedures that are in place ensure proper handling and storage, as 
well as negligible doses and exposure to toxic materials for the 
public and the environment at all plants. License renewal would not 
increase the small, continuing risk to human health and the 
environment posed by mixed waste at all plants. The radiological and 
nonradiological environmental impacts of long-term disposal of mixed 
waste from any individual plant at licensed sites are small.

    (72) Nonradioactive Waste Storage and Disposal: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by renaming the issue ``Nonradiological waste'' as 
``Nonradiological waste storage and disposal.'' It remains a Category 1 
issue, with an impact level of small. The final rule further amends 
Table B-1 by replacing the finding column entry, which states,

    No changes to generating systems are anticipated for license 
renewal. Facilities and procedures are in place to ensure continued 
proper handling and disposal at all sites.

with the following:

    No changes to systems that generate nonradioactive waste are 
anticipated during the license renewal term. Facilities and 
procedures are in place to ensure continued proper handling, 
storage, and disposal, as well as negligible exposure to toxic 
materials for the public and the environment at all plants.

Cumulative Impacts

    (73) Cumulative Impacts: The final rule amends Table B-1 by adding 
a new Category 2 issue, ``Cumulative impacts,'' to evaluate the 
potential cumulative impacts of license renewal. The term ``cumulative 
impacts'' is defined in 10 CFR 51.14(b) by reference to the CEQ 
regulations, 40 CFR 1508.7, as ``the impact on the environment which 
results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of 
what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other 
actions.''
    For the purposes of analysis, past actions are considered to be 
when the nuclear power plant was licensed and constructed, present 
actions are related to current plant operations, and future actions are 
those that are reasonably foreseeable through the end of plant 
operations including the license renewal term. The geographic area over 
which past, present, and future actions are assessed depends on the 
affected resource.
    The final rule requires license renewal applicants to identify 
other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, such as 
the construction and operation of other power plants and other 
industrial and commercial facilities in the vicinity of the nuclear 
power plant. The finding column entry for this issue states,

    Cumulative impacts of continued operations and refurbishment 
associated with license renewal must be considered on a plant-
specific basis. Impacts would depend on regional resource 
characteristics, the resource-specific impacts of license renewal, 
and the cumulative significance of other factors affecting the 
resource.

Uranium Fuel Cycle

    (74) Offsite Radiological Impacts--Individual Impacts from Other 
than the Disposal of Spent Fuel and High-Level Waste: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Offsite radiological impacts 
(individual effects from other than the disposal of spent fuel and high 
level waste)'' issue as ``Offsite radiological impacts--individual 
impacts from other than the disposal of spent fuel and high-level 
waste.'' This issue remains a Category 1 issue with an impact level of 
small. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the finding 
column entry, which states,

    Off-site impacts of the uranium fuel cycle have been considered 
by the Commission in Table S-3 of this part. Based on information in 
the GEIS, impacts on individuals from radioactive gaseous and liquid 
releases including radon-222 and technetium-99 are small.

with the following:

    The impacts to the public from radiological exposures have been 
considered by the Commission in Table S-3 of this part. Based on 
information in the GEIS, impacts to individuals from radioactive 
gaseous and liquid releases, including radon-222 and technetium-99, 
would remain at or below the NRC's regulatory limits.

    (75) Offsite Radiological Impacts--Collective Impacts from Other 
than the Disposal of Spent Fuel and High-Level Waste: The final rule 
amends Table B-1 by renaming the ``Offsite radiological impacts 
(collective effects)'' issue as ``Offsite radiological impacts--
collective impacts from other than the disposal of spent fuel and high-
level waste.'' It remains a Category 1 issue with no impact level 
assigned. The final rule further amends Table B-1 by replacing the 
finding column entry, which states,

    The 100 year environmental dose commitment to the U.S. 
population from the fuel cycle, high level waste and spent fuel 
disposal excepted, is calculated to be about 14,800 person rem, or 
12 cancer fatalities, for each additional 20-year power reactor 
operating term. Much of this, especially the contribution of radon 
releases from mines and tailing piles, consists of tiny doses summed 
over large populations. This same dose calculation can theoretically 
be extended to include many tiny doses over additional thousands of 
years as well as doses outside the U.S. The result of such a 
calculation would be thousands of cancer fatalities from the fuel 
cycle, but this result assumes that even tiny doses have some 
statistical adverse health effect which will not ever be mitigated 
(for example no cancer cure in the next thousand years), and that 
these doses projected over thousands of years are meaningful. 
However, these assumptions are questionable. In particular, science 
cannot rule out the possibility that there will be no cancer 
fatalities from these tiny doses. For perspective, the doses are 
very small fractions of regulatory limits, and even smaller 
fractions of natural background exposure to the same populations.
    Nevertheless, despite all the uncertainty, some judgment as to 
the regulatory NEPA implications of these matters should be made and 
it makes no sense to repeat the same judgment in every case. Even 
taking the uncertainties into account, the Commission concludes that 
these impacts are acceptable in that these impacts would not be 
sufficiently large to require the NEPA conclusion, for any plant, 
that the option of extended operation under 10 CFR Part 54 should be 
eliminated. Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a 
single level of significance for the collective effects of the

[[Page 37312]]

fuel cycle, this issue is considered Category 1.

with the following:

    There are no regulatory limits applicable to collective doses to 
the general public from fuel-cycle facilities. The practice of 
estimating health effects on the basis of collective doses may not 
be meaningful. All fuel-cycle facilities are designed and operated 
to meet the applicable regulatory limits and standards. The 
Commission concludes that the collective impacts are acceptable.
    The Commission concludes that the impacts would not be 
sufficiently large to require the NEPA conclusion, for any plant, 
that the option of extended operation under 10 CFR Part 54 should be 
eliminated. Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a 
single level of significance for the collective impacts of the 
uranium fuel cycle, this issue is considered Category 1.

    (76) Nonradiological Impacts of the Uranium Fuel Cycle: The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by making minor clarifying changes to the finding 
column entry for this issue. This issue remains a Category 1 issue with 
an impact level of small.
    (77) Transportation: This issue remains a Category 1 issue with an 
impact level of small. The final rule amends Table B-1 by replacing the 
finding column entry for this issue, which states,

    The impacts of transporting spent fuel enriched up to 5 percent 
uranium-235 with average burnup for the peak rod to current levels 
approved by NRC up to 62,000 MWd/MTU and the cumulative impacts of 
transporting high-level waste to a single repository, such as Yucca 
Mountain, Nevada are found to be consistent with the impact values 
contained in 10 CFR 51.52(c), Summary Table S-4--Environmental 
Impact of Transportation of Fuel and Waste to and from One Light-
Water-Cooled Nuclear Power Reactor. If fuel enrichment or burnup 
conditions are not met, the applicant must submit an assessment of 
the implications for the environmental impact values reported in 
Sec.  51.52.

with the following:

    The impacts of transporting materials to and from uranium-fuel-
cycle facilities on workers, the public, and the environment are 
expected to be small.

Termination of Nuclear Power Plant Operations and Decommissioning

    (78) Termination of Plant Operations and Decommissioning: The final 
rule amends Table B-1 by consolidating a new Category 1 issue, 
``Termination of nuclear power plant operations'' with six other 
Category 1 issues related to the decommissioning of a nuclear power 
plant: ``Radiation doses,'' ``Waste management,'' ``Air quality,'' 
``Water quality,'' ``Ecological resources,'' and ``Socioeconomic 
impacts,'' each with an impact level of small. The final rule names the 
consolidated issue, ``Termination of plant operations and 
decommissioning.'' The consolidated issue is a Category 1 issue with an 
impact level of small.
    The final rule further amends Table B-1 by removing the entries for 
``Radiation doses,'' ``Waste management,'' ``Air quality,'' ``Water 
quality,'' ``Ecological resources,'' and ``Socioeconomic impacts,'' 
and, by adding an entry for ``Termination of plant operations and 
decommissioning.'' The finding column entry for the consolidated issue 
states,

    License renewal is expected to have a negligible effect on the 
impacts of terminating operations and decommissioning on all 
resources.

    The 1996 GEIS analysis indicates that the six decommissioning 
issues are expected to be small at all nuclear power plant sites. The 
new issue addresses the impacts from terminating nuclear power plant 
operations and plant decommissioning. Termination of nuclear power 
plant operations results in the cessation of many routine plant 
operations as well as a significant reduction in the plant's workforce. 
It is assumed that termination of plant operations would not lead to 
the immediate decommissioning and dismantlement of the reactor or other 
power plant infrastructure.
    The final rule consolidates the six decommissioning issues and the 
termination of nuclear power plant operations issue into one Category 1 
issue to facilitate the environmental review process. For further 
information about the environmental effects of decommissioning, see the 
``2002 Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Decommissioning of 
Nuclear Facilities: Regarding the Decommissioning of Nuclear Power 
Reactors,'' NUREG-0586.

IX. Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following section-by-section analysis discusses the sections in 
10 CFR part 51 that are being amended as a result of the final rule.

Section 51.53(c)(2)

    The NRC is clarifying the required contents of the license renewal 
environmental report, which applicants must submit in accordance with 
10 CFR 54.23, ``Contents of application--environmental information,'' 
by revising the second sentence in this subparagraph to read, ``This 
report must describe in detail the affected environment around the 
plant, the modifications directly affecting the environment or any 
plant effluents, and any planned refurbishment activities.''

Sections 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A), (B), (C), and (E)

    For those applicants seeking an initial license renewal and holding 
either an operating license, construction permit, or combined license 
as of June 30, 1995, the environmental report shall include the 
information required in 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2) but is not required to 
contain assessments of the environmental impacts of certain license 
renewal issues identified as Category 1 (generically analyzed) issues 
in Appendix B to Subpart A of 10 CFR part 51. The environmental report 
must contain analyses of the environmental impacts of the proposed 
action, including the impacts of refurbishment activities, if any, 
associated with license renewal and the impacts of operation during the 
renewal term, for those issues identified as Category 2 (plant-specific 
analysis required) issues in Appendix B to Subpart A of 10 CFR part 51 
and must include consideration of alternatives for reducing adverse 
impacts of Category 2 issues. In addition, the environmental report 
must contain any new and significant information regarding the 
environmental impacts of license renewal of which the applicant is 
aware. The required analyses are listed in 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A)-
(P).
    The final rule language for 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A), (B), (C), 
(E), (F), (G), (I), (J), (K), and (N) consists of changes to conform to 
the final changes in Table B-1, which in turn, reflects the revised 
GEIS. The modified paragraphs more accurately reflect the specific 
information needed in the environmental report that will help the NRC 
conduct the environmental review of the proposed action.
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(A) is revised to incorporate the findings 
of the revised GEIS and to require applicants to provide information in 
their environmental reports regarding water use conflicts encompassing 
water availability and competing water demands, and related impacts on 
stream (aquatic) and riparian (terrestrial) communities. The numerical 
definition for a low flow river has also been deleted requiring that 
applicants withdrawing makeup water for cooling towers or cooling ponds 
from any river provide a plant-specific assessment of water use 
conflicts in their environmental reports.
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(B) is revised to replace ``heat shock'' 
with ``thermal changes'' to reflect the final changes in

[[Page 37313]]

Table B-1 as described earlier in this document under ``Aquatic 
Resources'' environmental impact Issue 39, ``Thermal impacts on aquatic 
organisms (plants with once-through cooling systems or cooling 
ponds).''
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(C) is revised to delete the reference to 
``Ranney wells'' to conform to the final changes made in the revised 
Table B-1.
    Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(E) is revised to expressly include nuclear 
power plant continued operations within the scope of the impacts to be 
assessed by license renewal applicants. The paragraph is further 
revised to expand the scope of the provision to include all Federal 
wildlife protection laws and essential fish habitat under the MSA.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(F)

    The final rule removes and reserves 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(F) 
because the final rule changes the Category 2 issue, ``Air quality 
during refurbishment (nonattainment and maintenance areas),'' to 
Category 1, ``Air quality impacts (all plants).''

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(G)

    The final rule language for 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(G) is revised to 
delete the numerical definition for a low flow river to conform to the 
final changes made in the revised Table B-1.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I)

    The final rule removes and reserves 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(I) 
because several Category 2 socioeconomic issues are reclassified as 
Category 1.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J)

    The final rule removes and reserves 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(J) 
because the final rule changes the Category 2 issue, ``Public services, 
Transportation,'' to Category 1, ``Transportation.''

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(K)

    The final rule language for 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(K) is revised to 
more accurately reflect the specific information needed in the 
environmental report that will help the NRC conduct the environmental 
review of the proposed action.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(N)

    The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 CFR 51.53 (c)(3)(ii)(N) to 
require license renewal applicants to provide information on the 
general demographic composition of minority and low-income populations 
and communities (by race and ethnicity) residing in the immediate 
vicinity of the plant that could be affected by the renewal of the 
plant's operating license, including any planned refurbishment 
activities, and ongoing and future plant operations.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(O)

    The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 CFR 51.53 (c)(3)(ii)(O) to 
require license renewal applicants to provide information about other 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions occurring in 
the vicinity of the nuclear power plant that may result in a cumulative 
effect.

Section 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(P)

    The final rule adds a new paragraph 10 CFR 51.53 (c)(3)(ii)(P) to 
require the license renewal applicant to assess the impact of any 
documented inadvertent releases of radionuclides to groundwater. The 
assessment must include a description of any groundwater protection 
program used for the surveillance of piping and components containing 
radioactive liquids for which a pathway to groundwater may exist. The 
assessment must also include a description of any past inadvertent 
releases, including the projected impact to the environment (e.g., 
aquifers, rivers, lakes, ponds) during the license renewal term.

Section 51.71(d)

    The final rule language for 10 CFR 51.71(d) is revised to make 
minor conforming changes to clarify the readability and to include the 
analysis of cumulative impacts. Cumulative impacts were not addressed 
in the 1996 GEIS, but are currently being evaluated by the NRC in 
plant-specific supplements to the GEIS. The NRC is modifying this 
paragraph to more accurately reflect the cumulative impacts analysis 
conducted for environmental reviews of the proposed action.

Section 51.95(c)

    The final rule language revisions to the introductory text of 10 
CFR 51.95(c) are administrative in nature and replace the reference to 
the 1996 GEIS for license renewal of nuclear power plants with a 
reference to the revised GEIS.

Section 51.95(c)(4)

    The final rule removes the terms ``resolved Category 2 issues'' and 
``open Category 2 issues'' from the second sentence of 10 CFR 
51.95(c)(4), makes other clarifying changes to enhance the readability 
of the sentence, corrects a typographical error, and removes otherwise 
ambiguous or unnecessary language. The terms ``resolved Category 2 
issues'' and ``open Category 2 issues'' are not defined nor used in 10 
CFR part 51. In addition, the revised GEIS does not contain these terms 
nor does the NRC use these terms in SEISs. The only instance in past 
NRC practice in which an ``open'' or ``resolved'' Category 2 issue 
arises is for the Category 2 ``Severe accidents'' issue. The ``Severe 
accidents'' issue requires the preparation of a severe accident 
mitigation alternatives (SAMA) analysis as a prerequisite to license 
renewal. If a license renewal applicant had not yet performed a SAMA 
analysis for a given plant, then the issue would remain ``open'' 
pending the completion of a SAMA analysis. Some licensees, however, 
have already performed a SAMA analysis at some point. Thus, if a 
license renewal applicant had performed a SAMA analysis for a 
particular plant, then the issue would be considered ``resolved,'' and 
there would be no need to repeat a SAMA analysis as part of a license 
renewal application. As the finding column entry for ``Severe 
accidents'' already provides for a previously prepared SAMA analysis, 
and the ``open'' or ``resolved'' terminology is not used in connection 
with any other GEIS issue, there is no need to retain this language in 
the second sentence of 10 CFR 51.95(c)(4).

Table B-1

    The final rule revises Table B-1 to follow the organizational 
format of the revised GEIS. Environmental issues in Table B-1 are 
arranged by resource area. The environmental impacts of license renewal 
activities, including plant operations and refurbishment along with 
replacement power alternatives, are addressed in each resource area. 
Table B-1 organizes environmental impact issues under the following 
resource areas: (1) Land use; (2) visual resources; (3) air quality; 
(4) noise; (5) geologic environment; (6) surface water resources; (7) 
groundwater resources; (8) terrestrial resources; (9) aquatic 
resources; (10) special status species and habitats; (11) historic and 
cultural resources; (12) socioeconomics; (13) human health; (14) 
postulated accidents; (15) environmental justice; (16) waste 
management; (17) cumulative impacts; (18) uranium fuel cycle; and (19) 
termination of nuclear power plant operations and decommissioning. 
Discussions of the environmental impact issues in each resource area 
and classification of issues into Category 1 or Category 2 are provided 
in Section VIII, ``Final Actions and Basis for Changes to Table B-1'' 
of this document. Additional changes to Table B-1 in the final rule 
were discussed previously in applicable resource areas in Section VIII. 
Footnote 1 was updated to reference the revised GEIS. A minor

[[Page 37314]]

edit was made to footnote 2, clause (3), to improve clarity. Footnote 4 
was added to define the in-scope electric transmission lines. 
Consequently, the previous footnotes 4 and 5 were renumbered as 
footnotes 5 and 6, respectively. The previous footnote 6 was deleted, 
as it is no longer needed.

X. Guidance Documents

    In the Rules and Regulations section of this issue of the Federal 
Register, the NRC is providing notice of the availability of three 
additional documents related to this final rule: (1) A revised GEIS, 
NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact statement for License 
Renewal of Nuclear Plants,'' Vol. 1, ``Main Report'' (ADAMS Accession 
No. ML13106A241); Vol. 2, ``Public Comments'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13106A242); and Vol. 3, ``Appendices'' (ADAMS Acession No. 
ML13106A244); (2) Revision 1 of Environmental Standard Review Plan 
(ESRP), NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, ``Standard Review Plans for 
Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants, Supplement 1: Operating 
License Renewal'' (ADAMS Acession No. ML13106A246); and (3) Revision 1 
of Regulatory Guide 4.2, Supplement 1, ``Preparation of Environmental 
Reports for Nuclear Power Plant License Renewal Applications'' (ADAMS 
Acession No. ML13067A354).
    The revised GEIS is intended to improve the efficiency of the 
license renewal process by (1) Providing an evaluation of the types of 
environmental impacts that may occur from renewing commercial nuclear 
power plant operating licenses, (2) identifying and assessing impacts 
that are expected to be generic (the same or similar) at all nuclear 
power plants (or plants with specific plant or site characteristics), 
and (3) defining the number and scope of environmental impact issues 
that need to be addressed in plant-specific supplemental EISs. The 
content of the revised GEIS is discussed further in Section III, 
``Discussion,'' of this document.
    Revision 1 of RG 4.2, Supplement 1, provides general procedures for 
the preparation of environmental reports, which are submitted as part 
of the license renewal application for a nuclear power plant in 
accordance with 10 CFR part 54. More specifically, this revised RG 
explains the criteria for addressing Category 2 issues in the 
environmental report as required by the revisions to 10 CFR part 51 
under the final rule.
    The revised ESRP provides guidance to the NRC staff on how to 
conduct a license renewal environmental review. The ESRP parallels the 
format in RG 4.2. The primary purpose of the ESRP is to ensure that 
these reviews focus on those environmental concerns associated with 
license renewal as described in 10 CFR part 51.

XI. Agreement State Compatibility

    Under the ``Policy Statement on Adequacy and Compatibility of 
Agreement States Programs,'' approved by the Commission on June 20, 
1997, and published in the Federal Register (62 FR 46517), this rule is 
classified as compatibility category ``NRC.'' Agreement State 
Compatibility is not required for Category ``NRC'' regulations. The NRC 
program elements in this category are those that relate directly to 
areas of regulation reserved to the NRC by the Atomic Energy Act of 
1954, as amended, or the provisions of Title 10 of the CFR. Although an 
Agreement State may not adopt program elements reserved to the NRC, it 
may wish to inform its licensees of certain requirements via a 
mechanism that is consistent with the particular State's administrative 
procedure laws. Category ``NRC'' regulations do not confer regulatory 
authority on the State.

XII. Availability of Documents

    The NRC is making the documents identified in the following table 
available to interested persons through one or more of the methods 
provided in the ADDRESSES section of this document.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Document                        PDR              Web                ADAMS Accession No.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NUREG-1437, Revision 1, ``Generic                       X                X   ML13106A241
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Vol. 1, ``Main Report''.
NUREG-1437, Revision 1, ``Generic                       X                X   ML13106A242
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Vol. 2, ``Public Comments''.
NUREG-1437, Revision 1, ``Generic                       X                X   ML13106A244
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Vol. 3, ``Appendices''.
Regulatory Guide 4.2, Supplement 1,                     X                X   ML13067A354
 Revision 1, ``Preparation of
 Environmental Reports for Nuclear Power
 Plant License Renewal Applications''.
NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Revision 1,                   X                X   ML13106A246
 ``Standard Review Plans for
 Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power
 Plants, Supplement 1: Operating License
 Renewal''.
Regulatory Analysis for RIN 3150-AI42,                  X                X   ML13029A471
 Final Rulemaking Revisions to
 Environmental Review for Renewal of
 Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses.
OMB Supporting Statement for RIN 3150-                  X                X   ML110760342
 AI42, Final Rulemaking Revisions to
 Environmental Review for Renewal of
 Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licenses.
SECY-12-0063, Final Rule: Revisions to                  X                X   ML110760033
 Environmental Protection Regulations for
 the Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant
 Operating Licenses (10 CFR part 50; RIN
 3150-AI42) (April 20, 2012).
Staff Requirements Memorandum for SECY-12-              X                X   ML12341A134
 0063 (December 6, 2012).
Meeting Between the U.S. Nuclear                        X                X   ML11182B535
 Regulatory Commission and Public
 Stakeholders Concerning Implementation
 of Final Rule for Revisions to the
 Environmental Protection Regulations for
 the Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant
 Operating Licenses and Other License
 Renewal Environmental Review Issues (TAC
 No. ME2308) (July 21, 2011).
Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor                   X                X   ML111861807
 Safety in the 21st Century, The Near-
 Term Task Force Review of Insights from
 the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident'' (July
 12, 2011).
NRC Press Release No. 10-060, ``NRC Asks                X                X   ML100970142
 National Academy of Sciences to Study
 Cancer Risk in Populations Living Near
 Nuclear Power Facilities'' (April 7,
 2010).
Summary of Public Meetings to Discuss                   X                X   ML093070141
 Proposed Rule Regarding Title 10, part
 51 of the Code of Federal Regulations
 and the Draft Revision to the Generic
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, NUREG-
 1437, Revision 1 (November 3, 2009).

[[Page 37315]]

 
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML093100505
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Dana Point, CA
 (October 22, 2009).
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML093070174
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Pismo Beach, CA
 (October 20, 2009).
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML092931678
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Rockville, MD (October
 1, 2009).
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML092931545
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Oak Brook, IL
 (September 24, 2009).
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML092931681
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Newton, MA (September
 17, 2009).
Official Transcript of Public Meeting to                X                X   ML092810007
 Discuss the Draft Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement, Atlanta, GA (September
 15, 2009).
NRC Response to Public Comments Received                X                X   ML111450013
 on Proposed 10 CFR part 51 Rule,
 ``Revisions to Environmental Review for
 Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating
 Licenses'' (RIN 3150-AI42).
NRC Response to Public Comments Related                 X                X   ML13067A355
 to Draft Regulatory Guide, DG-4015
 (Proposed Revision 1 of Regulatory Guide
 4.2, Supplement 1)--``Preparation of
 Environmental Reports for Nuclear Power
 Plant License Renewal Applications''
 (RIN 3150-AI42).
Regulatory History for Proposed Rule,                   X                X   ML093160539
 ``Revisions to Environmental Review for
 Renewal of Nuclear Power Plant Operating
 Licenses'' (RIN 3150-AI42).
Draft NUREG-1437, Vols. 1 and 2, Revision               X                X   ML090220654
 1--``Generic Environmental Impact
 Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear
 Plants''.
Draft Regulatory Guide, DG-4015 (Proposed               X                X   ML091620409
 Revision 1 of RG 4.2, Supplement 1),
 ``Preparation of Environmental Reports
 for Nuclear Power Plant License Renewal
 Applications''.
Draft NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Revision                X                X   ML090230497
 1--``Standard Review Plans for
 Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power
 Plants, Supplement 1: Operating License
 Renewal''.
NEI 07-07, ``Industry Ground Water                      X                X   ML072610036
 Protection Initiative--Final Guidance
 Document''.
Liquid Radioactive Release Lessons                      X                X   ML062650312
 Learned Task Force Final Report
 (September 1, 2006).
NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, Addendum 1, ``Generic               X                X   ML040690720
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Main Report, Section 6.3--
 Transportation, Table 9.1, Summary of
 NEPA Issues for License Renewal of
 Nuclear Power Plants.
NUREG-1437, Vol. 1, ``Generic                           X                X   ML040690705
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Main Report.
NUREG-1437, Vol. 2, ``Generic                           X                X   ML040690738
 Environmental Impact Statement for
 License Renewal of Nuclear Plants,''
 Appendices.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

XIII. Voluntary Consensus Standards

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, 
Public Law 104-113, requires that Federal agencies use technical 
standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus 
standards bodies unless using such a standard is inconsistent with 
applicable law or is otherwise impractical. This final rulemaking, 
which amends various provisions of 10 CFR part 51, does not constitute 
the establishment of a standard that contains generally applicable 
requirements.

XIV. Environmental Impact--Categorical Exclusion

    The NRC has determined that the promulgation of this final rule is 
a type of procedural action that meets the criteria of the categorical 
exclusion set forth in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(3)(i) and (iii). Therefore, 
neither an environmental impact statement nor an environmental 
assessment has been prepared for this final rule.

XV. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This final rule contains new or amended information collection 
requirements that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.). These requirements were approved by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), control number 3150-0021.
    The burden to the public for these information collections is 
estimated to be reduced by an average of 311.15 hours per response, 
including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data 
sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and 
reviewing the information collection. Send comments on any aspect of 
these information collections, including suggestions for reducing the 
burden, to the Information Services Branch (T-5 F53), U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by email to 
INFOCOLLECTS.RESOURCE@NRC.GOV; and to the Desk Officer, Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs, NEOB-10202, (3150-0021), Office of 
Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503, or by email to Chad--S.-- 
Whiteman@omb.eop.gov.

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a request for information or an information collection 
requirement unless the requesting document displays a currently valid 
OMB control number.

XVI. Plain Writing

    The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-274) requires Federal 
agencies to write documents in a clear, concise, well-organized manner 
that also follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or 
field and the intended audience. The NRC has attempted to use plain 
language in promulgating this rule consistent with the Federal Plain 
Writing Act guidelines.

[[Page 37316]]

XVII. Regulatory Analysis

    The NRC has prepared a regulatory analysis of this regulation. The 
analysis examines the costs and benefits of the alternatives considered 
by the NRC. Availability of the regulatory analysis is provided in 
Section XII, ``Availability of Documents,'' of this document.

XVIII. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 
605(b)), the NRC certifies that this rule does not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The final 
rule affects only nuclear power plant licensees filing license renewal 
applications. The companies that own these plants do not fall within 
the scope of the definition of ``small entities'' set forth in the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act or the size standards established by the NRC 
(10 CFR 2.810).

XIX. Backfitting and Issue Finality

    Issuance of this final rule does not constitute ``backfitting'' as 
defined in 10 CFR 50.109(a)(1) of the Backfit Rule and is not otherwise 
inconsistent with the applicable issue finality provisions in 10 CFR 
part 52. The final rule does not meet the definition of a backfit in 10 
CFR 50.109(a)(1) because the document is not a ``modification of or 
addition to systems, structures, components, or design of a facility; 
or the design approval or manufacturing license for a facility; or the 
procedures or organization required to design, construct or operate a 
facility.'' For these reasons, issuance of this final rule does not 
constitute ``backfitting'' within the meaning of the definition of 
``backfitting'' in 10 CFR 50.109(a)(1). Similarly, the issuance of the 
this final rule does not constitute an action inconsistent with any of 
the issue finality provisions in 10 CFR part 52.

XX. Congressional Review Act

    In accordance with the Congressional Review Act of 1996, the NRC 
has determined that this action is not a major rule and has verified 
this determination with the Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs of the OMB.

List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 51

    Administrative practice and procedure, Environmental impact 
statement, Nuclear materials, Nuclear power plants and reactors, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble and under the authority of 
the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; the Energy Reorganization 
Act of 1974, as amended; and 5 U.S.C. 552 and 553; the NRC amends 10 
CFR part 51 as follows:

Part 51--Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic 
Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions

0
1. The authority citation for part 51 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  Atomic Energy Act sec. 161, 1701 (42 U.S.C. 2201, 
2297f); Energy Reorganization Act secs. 201, 202, 211 (42 U.S.C. 
5841, 5842, 5851); Government Paperwork Elimination Act sec. 1704 
(44 U.S.C. 3504 note). Subpart A also issued under National 
Environmental Policy Act secs. 102, 104, 105 (42 U.S.C. 4332, 4334, 
4335); Pub. L. 95 604, Title II, 92 Stat. 3033 3041; Atomic Energy 
Act sec. 193 (42 U.S.C. 2243). Sections 51.20, 51.30, 51.60, 51.80. 
and 51.97 also issued under Nuclear Waste Policy Act secs. 135, 141, 
148 (42 U.S.C. 10155, 10161, 10168). Section 51.22 also issued under 
Atomic Energy Act sec. 274 (42 U.S.C. 2021) and under Nuclear Waste 
Policy Act sec. 121 (42 U.S.C. 10141). Sections 51.43, 51.67, and 
51.109 also issued under Nuclear Waste Policy Act sec. 114(f) (42 
U.S.C. 10134(f)).


0
2. Amend Sec.  51.53 by:
0
a. Revising the second sentence of paragraph (c)(2);
0
b. Revising the first sentence of paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(A);
0
c. Revising the second sentence of paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(B);
0
d. Revising paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(C);
0
e. Revising paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(E);
0
f. Removing and reserving paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(F);
0
g. Revising paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(G);
0
h. Removing and reserving paragraphs (c)(3)(ii)(I) and (J);
0
i. Revising paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(K); and
0
j. Adding paragraphs (c)(3)(ii)(N), (O), and (P).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  51.53  Postconstruction environmental reports.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) * * * This report must describe in detail the affected 
environment around the plant, the modifications directly affecting the 
environment or any plant effluents, and any planned refurbishment 
activities. * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) If the applicant's plant utilizes cooling towers or cooling 
ponds and withdraws makeup water from a river, an assessment of the 
impact of the proposed action on water availability and competing water 
demands, the flow of the river, and related impacts on stream (aquatic) 
and riparian (terrestrial) ecological communities must be provided. * * 
*
    (B) * * * If the applicant cannot provide these documents, it shall 
assess the impact of the proposed action on fish and shellfish 
resources resulting from thermal changes and impingement and 
entrainment.
    (C) If the applicant's plant pumps more than 100 gallons (total 
onsite) of groundwater per minute, an assessment of the impact of the 
proposed action on groundwater must be provided.
* * * * *
    (E) All license renewal applicants shall assess the impact of 
refurbishment, continued operations, and other license-renewal-related 
construction activities on important plant and animal habitats. 
Additionally, the applicant shall assess the impact of the proposed 
action on threatened or endangered species in accordance with Federal 
laws protecting wildlife, including but not limited to, the Endangered 
Species Act, and essential fish habitat in accordance with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
* * * * *
    (G) If the applicant's plant uses a cooling pond, lake, or canal or 
discharges into a river, an assessment of the impact of the proposed 
action on public health from thermophilic organisms in the affected 
water must be provided.
* * * * *
    (K) All applicants shall identify any potentially affected historic 
or archaeological properties and assess whether any of these properties 
will be affected by future plant operations and any planned 
refurbishment activities in accordance with the National Historic 
Preservation Act.
* * * * *
    (N) Applicants shall provide information on the general demographic 
composition of minority and low-income populations and communities (by 
race and ethnicity) residing in the immediate vicinity of the plant 
that could be affected by the renewal of the plant's operating license, 
including any planned refurbishment activities, and ongoing and future 
plant operations.
    (O) Applicants shall provide information about other past, present, 
and reasonably foreseeable future actions occurring in the vicinity of 
the nuclear plant that may result in a cumulative effect.
    (P) An applicant shall assess the impact of any documented 
inadvertent releases of radionuclides into groundwater. The applicant 
shall include in its assessment a description of any groundwater 
protection program

[[Page 37317]]

used for the surveillance of piping and components containing 
radioactive liquids for which a pathway to groundwater may exist. The 
assessment must also include a description of any past inadvertent 
releases and the projected impact to the environment (e.g., aquifers, 
rivers, lakes, ponds, ocean) during the license renewal term.

0
3. In Sec.  51.71, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  51.71  Draft environmental impact statement--contents.

* * * * *
    (d) Analysis. Unless excepted in this paragraph or Sec.  51.75, the 
draft environmental impact statement will include a preliminary 
analysis that considers and weighs the environmental effects, including 
any cumulative effects, of the proposed action; the environmental 
impacts of alternatives to the proposed action; and alternatives 
available for reducing or avoiding adverse environmental effects. 
Additionally, the draft environmental impact statement will include a 
consideration of the economic, technical, and other benefits and costs 
of the proposed action and alternatives. The draft environmental impact 
statement will indicate what other interests and considerations of 
Federal policy, including factors not related to environmental quality, 
if applicable, are relevant to the consideration of environmental 
effects of the proposed action identified under paragraph (a) of this 
section. The draft supplemental environmental impact statement prepared 
at the license renewal stage under Sec.  51.95(c) need not discuss the 
economic or technical benefits and costs of either the proposed action 
or alternatives except if benefits and costs are either essential for a 
determination regarding the inclusion of an alternative in the range of 
alternatives considered or relevant to mitigation. In addition, the 
supplemental environmental impact statement prepared at the license 
renewal stage need not discuss other issues not related to the 
environmental effects of the proposed action and associated 
alternatives. The draft supplemental environmental impact statement for 
license renewal prepared under Sec.  51.95(c) will rely on conclusions 
as amplified by the supporting information in the GEIS for issues 
designated as Category 1 in appendix B to subpart A of this part. The 
draft supplemental environmental impact statement must contain an 
analysis of those issues identified as Category 2 in appendix B to 
subpart A of this part that are open for the proposed action. The 
analysis for all draft environmental impact statements will, to the 
fullest extent practicable, quantify the various factors considered. To 
the extent that there are important qualitative considerations or 
factors that cannot be quantified, these considerations or factors will 
be discussed in qualitative terms. Consideration will be given to 
compliance with environmental quality standards and requirements that 
have been imposed by Federal, State, regional, and local agencies 
having responsibility for environmental protection, including 
applicable zoning and land-use regulations and water pollution 
limitations or requirements issued or imposed under the Federal Water 
Pollution Control Act. The environmental impact of the proposed action 
will be considered in the analysis with respect to matters covered by 
environmental quality standards and requirements irrespective of 
whether a certification or license from the appropriate authority has 
been obtained. While satisfaction of Commission standards and criteria 
pertaining to radiological effects will be necessary to meet the 
licensing requirements of the Atomic Energy Act, the analysis will, for 
the purposes of NEPA, consider the radiological effects of the proposed 
action and alternatives.
* * * * *
     Compliance with the environmental quality standards and 
requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (imposed by 
EPA or designated permitting states) is not a substitute for, and 
does not negate the requirement for NRC to weigh all environmental 
effects of the proposed action, including the degradation, if any, 
of water quality, and to consider alternatives to the proposed 
action that are available for reducing adverse effects. Where an 
environmental assessment of aquatic impact from plant discharges is 
available from the permitting authority, the NRC will consider the 
assessment in its determination of the magnitude of environmental 
impacts for striking an overall cost-benefit balance at the 
construction permit and operating license and early site permit and 
combined license stages, and in its determination of whether the 
adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that 
preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decision-makers would be unreasonable at the license renewal stage. 
When no such assessment of aquatic impacts is available from the 
permitting authority, NRC will establish on its own, or in 
conjunction with the permitting authority and other agencies having 
relevant expertise, the magnitude of potential impacts for striking 
an overall cost-benefit balance for the facility at the construction 
permit and operating license and early site permit and combined 
license stages, and in its determination of whether the adverse 
environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that 
preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning 
decision-makers would be unreasonable at the license renewal stage.
* * * * *
0
4. Amend Sec.  51.95 by revising paragraph (c) introductory text and 
the second sentence of paragraph (c)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  51.95  Postconstruction environmental impact statements.

* * * * *
    (c) Operating license renewal stage. In connection with the renewal 
of an operating license or combined license for a nuclear power plant 
under 10 CFR parts 52 or 54 of this chapter, the Commission shall 
prepare an environmental impact statement, which is a supplement to the 
Commission's NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for 
License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (June 2013), which is available in 
the NRC's Public Document Room, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852.
* * * * *
    (4) * * * In order to make recommendations and reach a final 
decision on the proposed action, the NRC staff, adjudicatory officers, 
and Commission shall integrate the conclusions in the generic 
environmental impact statement for issues designated as Category 1 with 
information developed for those Category 2 issues applicable to the 
plant under Sec.  51.53(c)(3)(ii) and any new and significant 
information. * * *
* * * * *

0
5. In appendix B to subpart A of part 51, Table B-1 is revised to read 
as follows:

Appendix B to Subpart A--Environmental Effect of Renewing the Operating 
License of a Nuclear Power Plant

* * * * *

[[Page 37318]]



          Table B-1--Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Category
                   Issue                         \2\                            Finding \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Land Use
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Onsite land use............................            1  SMALL. Changes in onsite land use from continued
                                                           operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal would be a small fraction of the nuclear
                                                           power plant site and would involve only land that is
                                                           controlled by the licensee.
Offsite land use...........................            1  SMALL. Offsite land use would not be affected by
                                                           continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal.
Offsite land use in transmission line right-           1  SMALL. Use of transmission line ROWs from continued
 of-ways (ROWs) \4\.                                       operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal would continue with no change in land use
                                                           restrictions.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Visual Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aesthetic impacts..........................            1  SMALL. No important changes to the visual appearance
                                                           of plant structures or transmission lines are
                                                           expected from continued operations and refurbishment
                                                           associated with license renewal.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Air Quality
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air quality impacts (all plants)...........            1  SMALL. Air quality impacts from continued operations
                                                           and refurbishment associated with license renewal are
                                                           expected to be small at all plants. Emissions
                                                           resulting from refurbishment activities at locations
                                                           in or near air quality nonattainment or maintenance
                                                           areas would be short-lived and would cease after
                                                           these refurbishment activities are completed.
                                                           Operating experience has shown that the scale of
                                                           refurbishment activities has not resulted in
                                                           exceedance of the de minimis thresholds for criteria
                                                           pollutants, and best management practices including
                                                           fugitive dust controls and the imposition of permit
                                                           conditions in State and local air emissions permits
                                                           would ensure conformance with applicable State or
                                                           Tribal Implementation Plans.
                                                          Emissions from emergency diesel generators and fire
                                                           pumps and routine operations of boilers used for
                                                           space heating would not be a concern, even for plants
                                                           located in or adjacent to nonattainment areas.
                                                           Impacts from cooling tower particulate emissions even
                                                           under the worst-case situations have been small.
Air quality effects of transmission lines              1  SMALL. Production of ozone and oxides of nitrogen is
 \4\.                                                      insignificant and does not contribute measurably to
                                                           ambient levels of these gases.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Noise
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noise impacts..............................            1  SMALL. Noise levels would remain below regulatory
                                                           guidelines for offsite receptors during continued
                                                           operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Geologic Environment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geology and soils..........................            1  SMALL. The effect of geologic and soil conditions on
                                                           plant operations and the impact of continued
                                                           operations and refurbishment activities on geology
                                                           and soils would be small for all nuclear power plants
                                                           and would not change appreciably during the license
                                                           renewal term.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Surface Water Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Surface water use and quality (non-cooling             1  SMALL. Impacts are expected to be small if best
 system impacts).                                          management practices are employed to control soil
                                                           erosion and spills. Surface water use associated with
                                                           continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal would not increase significantly
                                                           or would be reduced if refurbishment occurs during a
                                                           plant outage.
Altered current patterns at intake and                 1  SMALL. Altered current patterns would be limited to
 discharge structures.                                     the area in the vicinity of the intake and discharge
                                                           structures. These impacts have been small at
                                                           operating nuclear power plants.
Altered salinity gradients.................            1  SMALL. Effects on salinity gradients would be limited
                                                           to the area in the vicinity of the intake and
                                                           discharge structures. These impacts have been small
                                                           at operating nuclear power plants.
Altered thermal stratification of lakes....            1  SMALL. Effects on thermal stratification would be
                                                           limited to the area in the vicinity of the intake and
                                                           discharge structures. These impacts have been small
                                                           at operating nuclear power plants.
Scouring caused by discharged cooling water            1  SMALL. Scouring effects would be limited to the area
                                                           in the vicinity of the intake and discharge
                                                           structures. These impacts have been small at
                                                           operating nuclear power plants.
Discharge of metals in cooling system                  1  SMALL. Discharges of metals have not been found to be
 effluent.                                                 a problem at operating nuclear power plants with
                                                           cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems and have
                                                           been satisfactorily mitigated at other plants.
                                                           Discharges are monitored and controlled as part of
                                                           the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
                                                           (NPDES) permit process.

[[Page 37319]]

 
Discharge of biocides, sanitary wastes, and            1  SMALL. The effects of these discharges are regulated
 minor chemical spills.                                    by Federal and State environmental agencies.
                                                           Discharges are monitored and controlled as part of
                                                           the NPDES permit process. These impacts have been
                                                           small at operating nuclear power plants.
Surface water use conflicts (plants with               1  SMALL. These conflicts have not been found to be a
 once-through cooling systems).                            problem at operating nuclear power plants with once-
                                                           through heat dissipation systems.
Surface water use conflicts (plants with               2  SMALL or MODERATE. Impacts could be of small or
 cooling ponds or cooling towers using                     moderate significance, depending on makeup water
 makeup water from a river).                               requirements, water availability, and competing water
                                                           demands.
Effects of dredging on surface water                   1  SMALL. Dredging to remove accumulated sediments in the
 quality.                                                  vicinity of intake and discharge structures and to
                                                           maintain barge shipping has not been found to be a
                                                           problem for surface water quality. Dredging is
                                                           performed under permit from the U.S. Army Corps of
                                                           Engineers, and possibly, from other State or local
                                                           agencies.
Temperature effects on sediment transport              1  SMALL. These effects have not been found to be a
 capacity.                                                 problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not
                                                           expected to be a problem.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Groundwater Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Groundwater contamination and use (non-                1  SMALL. Extensive dewatering is not anticipated from
 cooling system impacts).                                  continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal. Industrial practices involving
                                                           the use of solvents, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, or
                                                           other chemicals, and/or the use of wastewater ponds
                                                           or lagoons have the potential to contaminate site
                                                           groundwater, soil, and subsoil. Contamination is
                                                           subject to State or Environmental Protection Agency
                                                           regulated cleanup and monitoring programs. The
                                                           application of best management practices for handling
                                                           any materials produced or used during these
                                                           activities would reduce impacts.
Groundwater use conflicts (plants that                 1  SMALL. Plants that withdraw less than 100 gpm are not
 withdraw less than 100 gallons per minute                 expected to cause any groundwater use conflicts.
 [gpm]).
Groundwater use conflicts (plants that                 2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Plants that withdraw more
 withdraw more than 100 gallons per minute                 than 100 gpm could cause groundwater use conflicts
 [gpm]).                                                   with nearby groundwater users.
Groundwater use conflicts (plants with                 2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Water use conflicts could
 closed-cycle cooling systems that withdraw                result from water withdrawals from rivers during low-
 makeup water from a river).                               flow conditions, which may affect aquifer recharge.
                                                           The significance of impacts would depend on makeup
                                                           water requirements, water availability, and competing
                                                           water demands.
Groundwater quality degradation resulting              1  SMALL. Groundwater withdrawals at operating nuclear
 from water withdrawals.                                   power plants would not contribute significantly to
                                                           groundwater quality degradation.
Groundwater quality degradation (plants                1  SMALL. Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds could
 with cooling ponds in salt marshes).                      degrade groundwater quality. However, groundwater in
                                                           salt marshes is naturally brackish and thus, not
                                                           potable. Consequently, the human use of such
                                                           groundwater is limited to industrial purposes.
Groundwater quality degradation (plants                2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Inland sites with closed-
 with cooling ponds at inland sites).                      cycle cooling ponds could degrade groundwater
                                                           quality. The significance of the impact would depend
                                                           on cooling pond water quality, site hydrogeologic
                                                           conditions (including the interaction of surface
                                                           water and groundwater), and the location, depth, and
                                                           pump rate of water wells.
Radionuclides released to groundwater......            2  SMALL or MODERATE. Leaks of radioactive liquids from
                                                           plant components and pipes have occurred at numerous
                                                           plants. Groundwater protection programs have been
                                                           established at all operating nuclear power plants to
                                                           minimize the potential impact from any inadvertent
                                                           releases. The magnitude of impacts would depend on
                                                           site-specific characteristics.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Terrestrial Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Effects on terrestrial resources (non-                 2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Impacts resulting from
 cooling system impacts).                                  continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal may affect terrestrial
                                                           communities. Application of best management practices
                                                           would reduce the potential for impacts. The magnitude
                                                           of impacts would depend on the nature of the
                                                           activity, the status of the resources that could be
                                                           affected, and the effectiveness of mitigation.
Exposure of terrestrial organisms to                   1  SMALL. Doses to terrestrial organisms from continued
 radionuclides.                                            operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal are expected to be well below exposure
                                                           guidelines developed to protect these organisms.
Cooling system impacts on terrestrial                  1  SMALL. No adverse effects to terrestrial plants or
 resources (plants with once-through                       animals have been reported as a result of increased
 cooling systems or cooling ponds).                        water temperatures, fogging, humidity, or reduced
                                                           habitat quality. Due to the low concentrations of
                                                           contaminants in cooling system effluents, uptake and
                                                           accumulation of contaminants in the tissues of
                                                           wildlife exposed to the contaminated water or aquatic
                                                           food sources are not expected to be significant
                                                           issues.

[[Page 37320]]

 
Cooling tower impacts on vegetation (plants            1  SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or
 with cooling towers).                                     increased humidity associated with cooling tower
                                                           operation have the potential to affect adjacent
                                                           vegetation, but these impacts have been small at
                                                           operating nuclear power plants and are not expected
                                                           to change over the license renewal term.
Bird collisions with plant structures and              1  SMALL. Bird collisions with cooling towers and other
 transmission lines \4\.                                   plant structures and transmission lines occur at
                                                           rates that are unlikely to affect local or migratory
                                                           populations and the rates are not expected to change.
Water use conflicts with terrestrial                   2  SMALL or MODERATE. Impacts on terrestrial resources in
 resources (plants with cooling ponds or                   riparian communities affected by water use conflicts
 cooling towers using makeup water from a                  could be of moderate significance.
 river).
Transmission line right-of-way (ROW)                   1  SMALL. Continued ROW management during the license
 management impacts on terrestrial                         renewal term is expected to keep terrestrial
 resources \4\.                                            communities in their current condition. Application
                                                           of best management practices would reduce the
                                                           potential for impacts.
Electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna              1  SMALL. No significant impacts of electromagnetic
 (plants, agricultural crops, honeybees,                   fields on terrestrial flora and fauna have been
 wildlife, livestock) \4\.                                 identified. Such effects are not expected to be a
                                                           problem during the license renewal term.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Aquatic Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impingement and entrainment of aquatic                 2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. The impacts of impingement
 organisms (plants with once-through                       and entrainment are small at many plants but may be
 cooling systems or cooling ponds).                        moderate or even large at a few plants with once-
                                                           through and cooling-pond cooling systems, depending
                                                           on cooling system withdrawal rates and volumes and
                                                           the aquatic resources at the site.
Impingement and entrainment of aquatic                 1  SMALL. Impingement and entrainment rates are lower at
 organisms (plants with cooling towers).                   plants that use closed-cycle cooling with cooling
                                                           towers because the rates and volumes of water
                                                           withdrawal needed for makeup are minimized.
Entrainment of phytoplankton and                       1  SMALL. Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton
 zooplankton (all plants).                                 has not been found to be a problem at operating
                                                           nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a
                                                           problem during the license renewal term.
Thermal impacts on aquatic organisms                   2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Most of the effects
 (plants with once-through cooling systems                 associated with thermal discharges are localized and
 or cooling ponds).                                        are not expected to affect overall stability of
                                                           populations or resources. The magnitude of impacts,
                                                           however, would depend on site-specific thermal plume
                                                           characteristics and the nature of aquatic resources
                                                           in the area.
Thermal impacts on aquatic organisms                   1  SMALL. Thermal effects associated with plants that use
 (plants with cooling towers).                             cooling towers are expected to be small because of
                                                           the reduced amount of heated discharge.
Infrequently reported thermal impacts (all             1  SMALL. Continued operations during the license renewal
 plants).                                                  term are expected to have small thermal impacts with
                                                           respect to the following:
                                                          Cold shock has been satisfactorily mitigated at
                                                           operating nuclear plants with once-through cooling
                                                           systems, has not endangered fish populations or been
                                                           found to be a problem at operating nuclear power
                                                           plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds, and is
                                                           not expected to be a problem.
                                                          Thermal plumes have not been found to be a problem at
                                                           operating nuclear power plants and are not expected
                                                           to be a problem.
                                                          Thermal discharge may have localized effects but is
                                                           not expected to affect the larger geographical
                                                           distribution of aquatic organisms.
                                                          Premature emergence has been found to be a localized
                                                           effect at some operating nuclear power plants but has
                                                           not been a problem and is not expected to be a
                                                           problem.
                                                          Stimulation of nuisance organisms has been
                                                           satisfactorily mitigated at the single nuclear power
                                                           plant with a once-through cooling system where
                                                           previously it was a problem. It has not been found to
                                                           be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with
                                                           cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected
                                                           to be a problem.
Effects of cooling water discharge on                  1  SMALL. Gas supersaturation was a concern at a small
 dissolved oxygen, gas supersaturation, and                number of operating nuclear power plants with once-
 eutrophication.                                           through cooling systems but has been mitigated. Low
                                                           dissolved oxygen was a concern at one nuclear power
                                                           plant with a once-through cooling system but has been
                                                           mitigated. Eutrophication (nutrient loading) and
                                                           resulting effects on chemical and biological oxygen
                                                           demands have not been found to be a problem at
                                                           operating nuclear power plants.
Effects of non-radiological contaminants on            1  SMALL. Best management practices and discharge
 aquatic organisms.                                        limitations of NPDES permits are expected to minimize
                                                           the potential for impacts to aquatic resources during
                                                           continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal. Accumulation of metal
                                                           contaminants has been a concern at a few nuclear
                                                           power plants but has been satisfactorily mitigated by
                                                           replacing copper alloy condenser tubes with those of
                                                           another metal.
Exposure of aquatic organisms to                       1  SMALL. Doses to aquatic organisms are expected to be
 radionuclides.                                            well below exposure guidelines developed to protect
                                                           these aquatic organisms.

[[Page 37321]]

 
Effects of dredging on aquatic organisms...            1  SMALL. Dredging at nuclear power plants is expected to
                                                           occur infrequently, would be of relatively short
                                                           duration, and would affect relatively small areas.
                                                           Dredging is performed under permit from the U.S. Army
                                                           Corps of Engineers, and possibly, from other State or
                                                           local agencies.
Water use conflicts with aquatic resources             2  SMALL or MODERATE. Impacts on aquatic resources in
 (plants with cooling ponds or cooling                     stream communities affected by water use conflicts
 towers using makeup water from a river).                  could be of moderate significance in some situations.
Effects on aquatic resources (non-cooling              1  SMALL. Licensee application of appropriate mitigation
 system impacts).                                          measures is expected to result in no more than small
                                                           changes to aquatic communities from their current
                                                           condition.
Impacts of transmission line right-of-way              1  SMALL. Licensee application of best management
 (ROW) management on aquatic resources \4\.                practices to ROW maintenance is expected to result in
                                                           no more than small impacts to aquatic resources.
Losses from predation, parasitism, and                 1  SMALL. These types of losses have not been found to be
 disease among organisms exposed to                        a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are
 sublethal stresses.                                       not expected to be a problem during the license
                                                           renewal term.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Special Status Species and Habitats
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Threatened, endangered, and protected                  2  The magnitude of impacts on threatened, endangered,
 species and essential fish habitat.                       and protected species, critical habitat, and
                                                           essential fish habitat would depend on the occurrence
                                                           of listed species and habitats and the effects of
                                                           power plant systems on them. Consultation with
                                                           appropriate agencies would be needed to determine
                                                           whether special status species or habitats are
                                                           present and whether they would be adversely affected
                                                           by continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Historic and Cultural Resources
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Historic and cultural resources \4\........            2  Continued operations and refurbishment associated with
                                                           license renewal are expected to have no more than
                                                           small impacts on historic and cultural resources
                                                           located onsite and in the transmission line ROW
                                                           because most impacts could be mitigated by avoiding
                                                           those resources. The National Historic Preservation
                                                           Act (NHPA) requires the Federal agency to consult
                                                           with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)
                                                           and appropriate Native American Tribes to determine
                                                           the potential effects on historic properties and
                                                           mitigation, if necessary.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Socioeconomics
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Employment and income, recreation and                  1  SMALL. Although most nuclear plants have large numbers
 tourism.                                                  of employees with higher than average wages and
                                                           salaries, employment, income, recreation, and tourism
                                                           impacts from continued operations and refurbishment
                                                           associated with license renewal are expected to be
                                                           small.
Tax revenues...............................            1  SMALL. Nuclear plants provide tax revenue to local
                                                           jurisdictions in the form of property tax payments,
                                                           payments in lieu of tax (PILOT), or tax payments on
                                                           energy production. The amount of tax revenue paid
                                                           during the license renewal term as a result of
                                                           continued operations and refurbishment associated
                                                           with license renewal is not expected to change.
Community services and education...........            1  SMALL. Changes resulting from continued operations and
                                                           refurbishment associated with license renewal to
                                                           local community and educational services would be
                                                           small. With little or no change in employment at the
                                                           licensee's plant, value of the power plant, payments
                                                           on energy production, and PILOT payments expected
                                                           during the license renewal term, community and
                                                           educational services would not be affected by
                                                           continued power plant operations.
Population and housing.....................            1  SMALL. Changes resulting from continued operations and
                                                           refurbishment associated with license renewal to
                                                           regional population and housing availability and
                                                           value would be small. With little or no change in
                                                           employment at the licensee's plant expected during
                                                           the license renewal term, population and housing
                                                           availability and values would not be affected by
                                                           continued power plant operations.
Transportation.............................            1  SMALL. Changes resulting from continued operations and
                                                           refurbishment associated with license renewal to
                                                           traffic volumes would be small.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Human Health
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Radiation exposures to the public..........            1  SMALL. Radiation doses to the public from continued
                                                           operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal are expected to continue at current levels,
                                                           and would be well below regulatory limits.
Radiation exposures to plant workers.......            1  SMALL. Occupational doses from continued operations
                                                           and refurbishment associated with license renewal are
                                                           expected to be within the range of doses experienced
                                                           during the current license term, and would continue
                                                           to be well below regulatory limits.

[[Page 37322]]

 
Human health impact from chemicals.........            1  SMALL. Chemical hazards to plant workers resulting
                                                           from continued operations and refurbishment
                                                           associated with license renewal are expected to be
                                                           minimized by the licensee implementing good
                                                           industrial hygiene practices as required by permits
                                                           and Federal and State regulations. Chemical releases
                                                           to the environment and the potential for impacts to
                                                           the public are expected to be minimized by adherence
                                                           to discharge limitations of NPDES and other permits.
Microbiological hazards to the public                  2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. These organisms are not
 (plants with cooling ponds or canals or                   expected to be a problem at most operating plants
 cooling towers that discharge to a river).                except possibly at plants using cooling ponds, lakes,
                                                           or canals, or that discharge into rivers. Impacts
                                                           would depend on site-specific characteristics.
Microbiological hazards to plant workers...            1  SMALL. Occupational health impacts are expected to be
                                                           controlled by continued application of accepted
                                                           industrial hygiene practices to minimize worker
                                                           exposures as required by permits and Federal and
                                                           State regulations.
Chronic effects of electromagnetic fields        N/A \5\  Uncertain impact. Studies of 60-Hz EMFs have not
 (EMFs) \4,6\.                                             uncovered consistent evidence linking harmful effects
                                                           with field exposures. EMFs are unlike other agents
                                                           that have a toxic effect (e.g., toxic chemicals and
                                                           ionizing radiation) in that dramatic acute effects
                                                           cannot be forced and longer-term effects, if real,
                                                           are subtle. Because the state of the science is
                                                           currently inadequate, no generic conclusion on human
                                                           health impacts is possible.
Physical occupational hazards..............            1  SMALL. Occupational safety and health hazards are
                                                           generic to all types of electrical generating
                                                           stations, including nuclear power plants, and are of
                                                           small significance if the workers adhere to safety
                                                           standards and use protective equipment as required by
                                                           Federal and State regulations.
Electric shock hazards \4\.................            2  SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Electrical shock potential
                                                           is of small significance for transmission lines that
                                                           are operated in adherence with the National
                                                           Electrical Safety Code (NESC). Without a review of
                                                           conformance with NESC criteria of each nuclear power
                                                           plant's in-scope transmission lines, it is not
                                                           possible to determine the significance of the
                                                           electrical shock potential.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Postulated Accidents
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Design-basis accidents.....................            1  SMALL. The NRC staff has concluded that the
                                                           environmental impacts of design-basis accidents are
                                                           of small significance for all plants.
Severe accidents...........................            2  SMALL. The probability-weighted consequences of
                                                           atmospheric releases, fallout onto open bodies of
                                                           water, releases to groundwater, and societal and
                                                           economic impacts from severe accidents are small for
                                                           all plants. However, alternatives to mitigate severe
                                                           accidents must be considered for all plants that have
                                                           not considered such alternatives.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Environmental Justice
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Minority and low-income populations........            2  Impacts to minority and low-income populations and
                                                           subsistence consumption resulting from continued
                                                           operations and refurbishment associated with license
                                                           renewal will be addressed in plant-specific reviews.
                                                           See NRC Policy Statement on the Treatment of
                                                           Environmental Justice Matters in NRC Regulatory and
                                                           Licensing Actions (69 FR 52040; August 24, 2004).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Waste Management
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-level waste storage and disposal.......            1  SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls that are
                                                           in place and the low public doses being achieved at
                                                           reactors ensure that the radiological impacts to the
                                                           environment would remain small during the license
                                                           renewal term.
Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel.......            1  SMALL. The expected increase in the volume of spent
                                                           fuel from an additional 20 years of operation can be
                                                           safely accommodated onsite during the license renewal
                                                           term with small environmental effects through dry or
                                                           pool storage at all plants.
Offsite radiological impacts of spent            N/A \5\  Uncertain impact. The generic conclusion on offsite
 nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal.               radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-
                                                           level waste is not being finalized pending the
                                                           completion of a generic environmental impact
                                                           statement on waste confidence.\7\
Mixed-waste storage and disposal...........            1  SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls and the
                                                           facilities and procedures that are in place ensure
                                                           proper handling and storage, as well as negligible
                                                           doses and exposure to toxic materials for the public
                                                           and the environment at all plants. License renewal
                                                           would not increase the small, continuing risk to
                                                           human health and the environment posed by mixed waste
                                                           at all plants. The radiological and nonradiological
                                                           environmental impacts of long-term disposal of mixed
                                                           waste from any individual plant at licensed sites are
                                                           small.
Nonradioactive waste storage and disposal..            1  SMALL. No changes to systems that generate
                                                           nonradioactive waste are anticipated during the
                                                           license renewal term. Facilities and procedures are
                                                           in place to ensure continued proper handling,
                                                           storage, and disposal, as well as negligible exposure
                                                           to toxic materials for the public and the environment
                                                           at all plants.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 37323]]

 
                                               Cumulative Impacts
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cumulative impacts.........................            2  Cumulative impacts of continued operations and
                                                           refurbishment associated with license renewal must be
                                                           considered on a plant-specific basis. Impacts would
                                                           depend on regional resource characteristics, the
                                                           resource-specific impacts of license renewal, and the
                                                           cumulative significance of other factors affecting
                                                           the resource.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Uranium Fuel Cycle
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Offsite radiological impacts--individual               1  SMALL. The impacts to the public from radiological
 impacts from other than the disposal of                   exposures have been considered by the Commission in
 spent fuel and high-level waste.                          Table S-3 of this part. Based on information in the
                                                           GEIS, impacts to individuals from radioactive gaseous
                                                           and liquid releases, including radon-222 and
                                                           technetium-99, would remain at or below the NRC's
                                                           regulatory limits.
Offsite radiological impacts--collective               1  There are no regulatory limits applicable to
 impacts from other than the disposal of                   collective doses to the general public from fuel-
 spent fuel and high-level waste.                          cycle facilities. The practice of estimating health
                                                           effects on the basis of collective doses may not be
                                                           meaningful. All fuel-cycle facilities are designed
                                                           and operated to meet the applicable regulatory limits
                                                           and standards. The Commission concludes that the
                                                           collective impacts are acceptable.
                                                          The Commission concludes that the impacts would not be
                                                           sufficiently large to require the NEPA conclusion,
                                                           for any plant, that the option of extended operation
                                                           under 10 CFR part 54 should be eliminated.
                                                           Accordingly, while the Commission has not assigned a
                                                           single level of significance for the collective
                                                           impacts of the uranium fuel cycle, this issue is
                                                           considered Category 1.
Nonradiological impacts of the uranium fuel            1  SMALL. The nonradiological impacts of the uranium fuel
 cycle.                                                    cycle resulting from the renewal of an operating
                                                           license for any plant would be small.
Transportation.............................            1  SMALL. The impacts of transporting materials to and
                                                           from uranium-fuel-cycle facilities on workers, the
                                                           public, and the environment are expected to be small.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Termination of Nuclear Power Plant Operations and Decommissioning
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Termination of plant operations and                    1  SMALL. License renewal is expected to have a
 decommissioning.                                          negligible effect on the impacts of terminating
                                                           operations and decommissioning on all resources.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Data supporting this table are contained in NUREG-1437, Revision 1, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement
  for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants'' (June 2013).
\2\ The numerical entries in this column are based on the following category definitions:
Category 1: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown:
(1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been determined to apply either to all plants or,
  for some issues, to plants having a specific type of cooling system or other specified plant or site
  characteristic;
(2) A single significance level (i.e., small, moderate, or large) has been assigned to the impacts (except for
  Offsite radiological impacts--collective impacts from other than the disposal of spent fuel and high-level
  waste); and
(3) Mitigation of adverse impacts associated with the issue has been considered in the analysis, and it has been
  determined that additional plant-specific mitigation measures are not likely to be sufficiently beneficial to
  warrant implementation.
The generic analysis of the issue may be adopted in each plant-specific review.
Category 2: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown that
  one or more of the criteria of Category 1 cannot be met, and therefore additional plant-specific review is
  required.
\3\ The impact findings in this column are based on the definitions of three significance levels. Unless the
  significance level is identified as beneficial, the impact is adverse, or in the case of ``small,'' may be
  negligible. The definitions of significance follow:
SMALL--For the issue, environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither
  destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource. For the purposes of assessing
  radiological impacts, the Commission has concluded that those impacts that do not exceed permissible levels in
  the Commission's regulations are considered small as the term is used in this table.
MODERATE--For the issue, environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but not to destabilize,
  important attributes of the resource.
LARGE--For the issue, environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize important
  attributes of the resource.
For issues where probability is a key consideration (i.e., accident consequences), probability was a factor in
  determining significance.
\4\ This issue applies only to the in-scope portion of electric power transmission lines, which are defined as
  transmission lines that connect the nuclear power plant to the substation where electricity is fed into the
  regional power distribution system and transmission lines that supply power to the nuclear plant from the
  grid.
\5\ NA (not applicable). The categorization and impact finding definitions do not apply to these issues.
\6\ If, in the future, the Commission finds that, contrary to current indications, a consensus has been reached
  by appropriate Federal health agencies that there are adverse health effects from electromagnetic fields, the
  Commission will require applicants to submit plant-specific reviews of these health effects as part of their
  license renewal applications. Until such time, applicants for license renewal are not required to submit
  information on this issue.
\7\ As a result of the decision of United States Court of Appeals in New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (DC Cir.
  2012), the NRC cannot rely upon its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule until it has taken those actions that
  will address the deficiencies identified by the D.C. Circuit. Although the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule
  did not assess the impacts associated with disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste in a
  repository, it did reflect the Commission's confidence, at the time, in the technical feasibility of a
  repository and when that repository could have been expected to become available. Without the analysis in the
  Waste Confidence Decision and Rule regarding the technical feasibility and availability of a repository, the
  NRC cannot assess how long the spent fuel will need to be stored onsite.



[[Page 37324]]

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 11th day of June 2013.
    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Annette L. Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2013-14310 Filed 6-19-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P