[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 127 (Tuesday, July 2, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 39781-39782]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-15840]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2013-0136]


Consequence Study of a Beyond-Design-Basis Earthquake Affecting 
the Spent Fuel Pool for a U.S. Mark I Boiling Water Reactor

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Draft report; request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing a 
draft report for public comment, titled Consequence Study of a Beyond-
Design-Basis Earthquake Affecting the Spent Fuel Pool for a U.S. Mark I 
Boiling Water Reactor (also referred to as the Spent Fuel Pool Study). 
The purpose of this study was to examine if faster removal of older, 
colder spent reactor fuel from pools to dry cask storage significantly 
reduces risks to public health and safety. Based on previous research 
showing earthquakes present the dominant risk for spent fuel pools, the 
draft study evaluated how a potential pool leakage from an unlikely 
severe earthquake might cause the used fuel to overheat and release 
radioactive material to the environment. This study provides publicly 
available consequence estimates of a hypothetical spent fuel pool 
accident initiated by a low likelihood seismic event at a specific 
reference plant. The study compares high-density and low-density spent 
fuel pool loading conditions and assesses the benefits of post-9/11 
mitigation measures. Past risk studies have shown that storage of spent 
fuel in a high-density configuration is safe and risk of a large 
release due to an accident is very low. This draft study's results are 
consistent with earlier research conclusions that spent fuel pools are 
robust structures that are likely to withstand severe earthquakes 
without leaking. The NRC continues to believe, based on this study and 
previous studies that spent fuel pools provide adequate protection of 
public health and safety. The study's results will help inform the 
Commission's evaluation of whether expedited movement of spent fuel 
from spent fuel pools to dry storage sooner than current practice 
provides a substantial increase in safety. The insights from this 
analysis will inform a broader regulatory analysis of the spent fuel 
pools at all U.S. operating nuclear reactors as part of the NRC's Japan 
Lessons-learned Tier 3 plan.

DATES: Submit comments by August 1, 2013. Comments received after this 
date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC staff 
is able to ensure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods 
(unless this document describes a different method for submitting 
comments on a specific subject):
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2013-0136. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.
    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Algama, Office of Nuclear 
Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-251-7940; email: Don.Algama@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2013-0136 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this document. You may 
access information related to this document, which the NRC possesses 
and is

[[Page 39782]]

publicly available, by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2013-0136.
     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. The draft report is available electronically in ADAMS under 
Accession No. ML13133A132.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

B. Submitting Comments

    Please include Docket ID NRC-2013-0136 in the subject line of your 
comment submission, in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make 
your comment submission available to the public in this docket.
    The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact 
information that you do not want to be publicly disclosed in your 
comment submission. The NRC will post all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as enter the comment submissions into 
ADAMS. The NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove 
identifying or contact information.
    If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons 
for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to 
include identifying or contact information that they do not want to be 
publicly disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should 
state that the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to 
remove such information before making the comment submissions available 
to the public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. Discussion

    The draft report documents a consequence study that continues the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission's examination of the risks and 
consequences of postulated spent fuel pool accidents. The purpose of 
this study is to examine if faster removal of spent reactor fuel from 
pools to dry cask storage significantly reduces risks to public health 
and safety. Based on previous research showing earthquakes present the 
dominant risk for spent fuel pools, the draft study evaluated how a 
potential pool leakage from an unlikely severe earthquake might cause 
the used fuel to overheat and release radioactive material to the 
environment. A spent fuel pool's robust concrete structure and 
stainless steel liner keep more than 20 feet of water above the spent 
fuel stored within it ensuring ample cooling for the spent fuel and 
adequate radiation shielding for plant personnel. This study compared 
potential accident consequences from a pool nearly filled with spent 
fuel and a pool in which fuel that has cooled sufficiently has been 
removed at a selected U.S. Mark I boiling-water reactor spent fuel 
pool.
    The staff first evaluated whether a severe, though unlikely, 
earthquake would damage the spent fuel pool to the point of leaking. In 
order to assess the consequences that might result from a spent fuel 
pool leak, the study assumed seismic forces greater than the maximum 
earthquake reasonably expected to occur at the reference plant 
location. The NRC expects that the ground motion used in this study is 
more challenging for the spent fuel pool structure than that 
experienced at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant from the 
earthquake that occurred off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. That 
earthquake did not result in any spent fuel pool leaks. In the small 
likelihood that such an extreme earthquake caused a leak, the staff 
then analyzed how the spent fuel could overheat and potentially release 
radioactive material into the environment. Finally, the staff analyzed 
what the public health and environmental effects of a radiological 
release would be in the area surrounding the plant.
    This draft study's results for the specific reference plant and 
earthquake analyzed are consistent with past studies' conclusions that 
spent fuel pools are likely to withstand severe earthquakes without 
leaking. The draft study shows the likelihood of a radiological release 
from the spent fuel after the analyzed severe earthquake at the 
reference plant to be very low. The regulatory analysis for this study 
indicates that expediting movement of spent fuel from the pool does not 
provide a substantial safety enhancement for the reference plant. The 
NRC will use this study in a broader regulatory analysis of the spent 
fuel pools at all U.S. operating nuclear reactors as part of its Japan 
Lessons-Learned activities. The NRC continues to believe, based on this 
study and previous studies that spent fuel pools provide adequate 
protection of public health and safety.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24th day of June, 2013.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Richard Lee,
Chief, Fuel and Source Term Code Development Branch, Division of 
Systems Analysis, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research.
[FR Doc. 2013-15840 Filed 7-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P