[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 136 (Tuesday, July 16, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42556-42558]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16988]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket Nos. 50-309 and 72-30; NRC-2013-0156]


Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company; Maine Yankee Atomic Power 
Plant Issuance of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact Regarding an Exemption Request

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Goshen, Project Manager, Division 
of Spent Fuel Storage and Transportation, Office of Nuclear Material 
Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555. Telephone: 301-287-9250, Fax number: 301-287-9341; Email: 
John.Goshen@nrc.gov.

1.0 Introduction

    On November 23, 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 
issued a final rule amending certain emergency planning (EP) 
requirements in the regulations that govern domestic licensing of 
production and utilization facilities (76 FR 72560; November 23, 2011) 
(EP Final Rule). The EP Final Rule was effective on December 23, 2011, 
with various implementation dates for each of the rule changes.
    Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) is holder of Facility 
Operating License DPR-36 for the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant (MY). 
The license, issued pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as 
amended, and part 50 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR), allows MY to possess and store spent nuclear fuel at the 
permanently shut down and decommissioned facility under the provision 
of 10 CFR part 72, subpart K, ``General License for Storage of Spent 
Fuel at Power Reactor Sites.'' In a letter dated August 7, 1997 
(Agencywide Document Access and Management System (ADAMS) Legacy 
Accession No. 9708140225), MYAPC informed the NRC that the MY facility 
had permanently ceased power operations and fuel had been removed from 
the reactor and placed in the fuel pool.
    After ceasing operations at the reactor, MYAPC began transferring 
spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool to the MY independent spent 
fuel storage installation (ISFSI) for long- term dry storage. These 
activities were completed in 2004, and final decommissioning of the 
reactor site was completed in 2005. The MY ISFSI is a vertical dry cask 
storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The ISFSI is located on 
approximately three acres of land that was not released for 
unrestricted use after completion of decommissioning of the reactor 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML052380223).
    On June 8, 2012, MYAPC submitted a letter, ``Request for Exemption 
to Revised Emergency Planning Regulations'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML12172A298 *), requesting exemption from specific EP requirements of 
10 CFR 50.47 and Appendix E to 10 CFR part 50 for the MY ISFSI.
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    * Document contains sensitive security related information and 
is not publically available.
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    MYAPC states that this exemption request and its impact on the 
corresponding emergency plan: (1) Is authorized by law; (2) will not 
present an undue risk to the public health and safety; and (3) is 
consistent with the common defense and security in accordance with 10 
CFR 50.12. MYAPC states that its intent in submitting this exemption 
request is to maintain the regulatory structure in place prior to 
issuance of the EP Final Rule and, therefore, does not propose any 
changes to the emergency plan or implementing procedures other than 
simple regulatory reference changes that can be implemented under 10 
CFR 50.54(q).

2.0 Discussion

    On August 7, 1997, MYAPC notified the NRC that it had decided to 
cease operating MY. On November 6, 1997 (ADAMS Legacy Accession No. 
9711130334), MYAPC requested an exemption from the provisions of 10 CFR 
50.54(q) that required emergency plans to meet all of the standards of 
10 CFR 50.47(b) and all of the requirements of Appendix E to 10 CFR 
part 50 so that the licensee would have to meet only certain EP 
standards and requirements. Additionally, MYAPC requested approval of a 
proposed MY Defueled Emergency Plan (DEP) that proposed to meet those 
limited standards and requirements.
    The NRC approved the requested exemption and the DEP on September 
3, 1998 (ADAMS Legacy Accession No. 9809140214). The safety evaluation 
report (SER) established EP requirements for MY as documented in the 
DEP. The NRC staff concluded that the licensee's emergency plan was 
acceptable in view of the greatly reduced offsite radiological 
consequences associated with the decommissioning plant status. The 
staff found that the postulated dose to the general public from any 
reasonably conceivable accident would not exceed the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) Protective Action Guides (PAGs), and for the 
bounding accident, the length of time available to respond to a loss of 
spent fuel cooling or reduction in water level gave confidence that 
offsite measures for the public could be taken without preparation.
    On August 28, 2002 (ADAMS Accession No. ML022550037 *), the DEP was 
revised under 10 CFR 50.54(q) to include an emergency plan specific to 
the onsite ISFSI as the licensee commenced moving spent nuclear fuel to 
the ISFSI. This ISFSI Emergency Plan was included as an Attachment III 
to the DEP.
    According to MYAPC, the power plant buildings have been dismantled 
and the materials to be removed have been shipped offsite. As part of 
completing decommissioning, all spent nuclear fuel and greater than 
class C waste was ultimately transferred to the ISFSI in February 2004.
    On September 27, 2004 (ADAMS Accession No. ML042790408 *), the DEP 
was revised under 10 CFR 50.54(q) to reflect that all spent nuclear 
fuel had been transferred into the ISFSI, the Spent Fuel Pool was 
drained, and all evolutions that could produce a radiological event 
serious enough to trigger the declaration of an emergency at the plant 
have been completed.

[[Page 42557]]

Therefore, the licensee terminated the DEP but retained the MY ISFSI 
Emergency Plan. This action eliminated all facets of the emergency plan 
not related to the ISFSI. The standalone MY ISFSI Emergency Plan 
reflected the emergency preparedness and response requirements 
applicable to MYAPC in light of the exemption granted in 1998. The 
ISFSI Emergency Plan provides reasonable assurance that adequate 
protective measures can and will be taken in the event of a 
radiological emergency at the MY ISFSI for the same reasons that the 
NRC found that the DEP met the applicable EP requirements. Since the 
approval and SER for the original MY DEP, MYAPC has not requested nor 
received substantive exemptions from emergency planning requirements.
    Revision 1 of the MY ISFSI Emergency Plan, February 17, 2011 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML110601310 *), reflects the current conditions, where 
the only thing remaining onsite is the ISFSI and its related support 
systems, structures, and components.
    With the Final EP Rule, several requirements in 10 CFR part 50 were 
modified or added, including changes in Sec.  50.47, Sec.  50.54, and 
Appendix E. Specific implementation dates were provided for each EP 
rule change. The Final EP Rule codified certain voluntary protective 
measures contained in NRC Bulletin 2005-02, ``Emergency Preparedness 
and Response Actions for Security-Based Events,'' and generically 
applicable requirements similar to those previously imposed by NRC 
Order EA-02-026, ``Order for Interim Safeguards and Security 
Compensatory Measures,'' dated February 25, 2002.
    In addition, the EP Final Rule amended other licensee emergency 
plan requirements to: (1) Enhance the ability of licensees in preparing 
for and in taking certain protective actions in the event of a 
radiological emergency; (2) address, in part, security issues 
identified after the terrorist events of September 11, 2001; (3) 
clarify regulations to effect consistent emergency plan implementation 
among licensees; and (4) modify certain EP requirements to be more 
effective and efficient. However, the EP Final Rule was only an 
enhancement to the NRC's regulations and was not necessary for adequate 
protection. On page 72563 of the Federal Register notice for the EP 
Final Rule, the Commission ``determined that the existing regulatory 
structure ensures adequate protection of public health and safety and 
common defense and security.''

3.0 Regulatory Evaluation

    In the Final Rule for Storage of Spent Fuel in NRC-Approved Storage 
Casks at Power Reactor Sites (55 FR 29181; July 18, 1990), the NRC 
amended its regulations to provide for the storage of spent nuclear 
fuel under a general license on the site of any nuclear power reactor. 
In its Statement of Considerations (SOC) for the Final Rule (55 FR 
29185), the Commission responded to comments related to emergency 
preparedness for spent fuel dry storage, stating, ``The new 10 CFR 
72.32(c) . . . states that, `For an ISFSI that is located on the site 
of a nuclear power reactor licensed for operation by the Commission, 
the emergency plan required by 10 CFR 50.47 shall be deemed to satisfy 
the requirements of this section.' One condition of the general license 
is that the reactor licensee must review the reactor emergency plan and 
modify it as necessary to cover dry cask storage and related 
activities. If the emergency plan is in compliance with 10 CFR 50.47, 
then it is in compliance with the Commission's regulations with respect 
to dry cask storage.''
    In the SOC for the Final Rule for EP requirements for ISFSIs and 
Monitored Retrievable Storage Installation (MRS) (60 FR 32430; June 22, 
1995), the Commission stated, in part, that ``current reactor emergency 
plans cover all at- or near-reactor ISFSI's. An ISFSI that is to be 
licensed for a stand-alone operation will need an emergency plan 
established in accordance with the requirements in this rulemaking'' 
(60 FR 32431). The Commission responded to comments (60 FR 32435) 
concerning offsite emergency planning for ISFSIs or an MRS and 
concluded that ``the offsite consequences of potential accidents at an 
ISFSI or a MRS would not warrant establishing Emergency Planning 
Zones.''
    As part of the review for MYAPC's current exemption request, the 
staff also used the EP regulations in 10 CFR 72.32 and Spent Fuel 
Project Office Interim Staff Guidance (ISG)--16, ``Emergency 
Planning,'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML003724570) as references to ensure 
consistency between specific-licensed and general-licensed ISFSIs.

4.0 Technical Evaluation

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the Commission may, upon application by 
any interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from 
the requirements of 10 CFR part 50 when: (1) The exemptions are 
authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to public health or 
safety, and are consistent with the common defense and security; and 
(2) when special circumstances are present. The staff reviewed this 
request to determine whether the specific exemptions should be granted, 
and the safety evaluation (SE) is provided in its letter to MYAPC, 
dated May 2, 2013 (ADAMS Accession No. ML13112A842). After evaluating 
the exemption requests, the staff determined MYAPC should be granted 
the exemptions detailed in the SE.
    The NRC has found that MYAPC meets the criteria for an exemption in 
Sec.  50.12. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, and the 
Commission's regulations permit the Commission to grant exemptions from 
the regulations in 10 CFR part 50. Granting exemptions is consistent 
with the authority provided to the Commission in the Atomic Energy Act 
of 1954, as amended. Therefore, the exemption is authorized by law.
    As noted in Section 2.0, ``Discussion'' above, MYAPC's compliance 
with the EP requirements in effect before the effective date of the EP 
Final Rule demonstrated reasonable assurance of adequate protection of 
the public health and safety and common defense and security. In its 
SE, the NRC staff explains that MYAPC's implementation of its ISFSI 
emergency plan, with the exemptions, will continue to provide this 
reasonable assurance of adequate protection. Thus, granting the 
exemptions will not present an undue risk to public health or safety 
and is not inconsistent with the common defense and security.
    For the Commission to grant an exemption, special circumstances 
must exist. Under Sec.  50.12(a)(2)(ii), special circumstances are 
present when ``[a]pplication of the regulation in the particular 
circumstances would not serve the underlying purpose of the rule or is 
not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.'' These 
special circumstances exist here. The NRC has determined that MYAPC's 
compliance with the regulations described in its SE is not necessary 
for the licensee to demonstrate that, under its emergency plan, there 
is reasonable assurance that adequate protective measures can and will 
be taken in the event of a radiological emergency. Consequently, 
special circumstances are present because requiring MYAPC to comply 
with the regulations that the staff describes in its SE is not 
necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the EP regulations.

[[Page 42558]]

5.0 Environmental Assessment (EA)

Identification of Proposed Action

    By letter dated June 8, 2012, MYAPC submitted an exemption request 
in accordance with 10 CFR 50.12 from specific EP requirements of 10 CFR 
50.47 and Appendix E to 10 CFR part 50 for MY. Specifically, the 
exemption would eliminate unnecessary requirements associated with 
offsite consequences, protective actions, hostile action and emergency 
facilities due to the current status of MY.

Need for the Proposed Action

    In accordance with 10 CFR 50.82, the 10 CFR part 50 licensed area 
for MY has been reduced to a small area surrounding the ISFSI. In this 
condition, MY poses a significantly reduced risk to public health and 
safety from design basis accidents or credible beyond design basis 
accidents since these cannot result in radioactive releases which 
exceed EPA PAGS at the site boundary. Because of this reduced risk, 
compliance with all the requirements in 10 CFR 50.47 and 10 CFR part 
50, Appendix E is not appropriate. The requested exemption from 
portions of 10 CFR 50.47 and 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E is needed to 
continue implementation of the MY ISFSI emergency plan that is 
appropriate for a stand-alone ISFSI and is commensurate with the 
reduced risk posed by the facility. The requested exemption will allow 
spent fuel to continue to be stored safely without imposing burdensome 
and costly new requirements that provide no increased safety benefit.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has determined that, given the continued implementation of 
the MY ISFSI emergency plan, with the exemptions noted in its SE, no 
credible events would result in doses to the public beyond the owner 
controlled area boundary that would exceed the EPA PAGs. Additionally, 
the staff has concluded that the MY ISFSI emergency plan, with the 
exemptions described in its SE, provides for an acceptable level of 
emergency preparedness at the MYAPC facility in its shutdown and 
defueled condition, and also provides reasonable assurance that 
adequate protective measures can and will be taken in the event of a 
radiological emergency at the MYAPC facility. Based on these findings, 
the NRC concludes that there are no radiological environmental impacts 
due to granting the approval of the exemptions, the proposed action 
will not increase the probability or consequences of accidents, no 
changes are being made in the types or quantities of effluents that may 
be released offsite, and there is no significant increase in 
occupational or public radiation exposure. Therefore, there are no 
significant radiological environmental impacts associated with the 
proposed action. The proposed action does not affect non-radiological 
plant effluents and has no other environmental impact. Therefore, there 
are no significant non-radiological impacts associated with the 
proposed action. Based on the assessment above, the proposed action 
will not have a significant effect on the quality of the human 
environment.

Alternative to the Proposed Action

    Since there is no significant environmental impact associated with 
the proposed action, any alternatives with equal or greater 
environmental impact are not evaluated. The alternative to the proposed 
action would be to deny approval of the exemption. This alternative 
would have the same environmental impact.
Finding of No Significant Impact
    The environmental impacts of the proposed action have been reviewed 
in accordance with the requirements set forth in 10 CFR part 51. Based 
upon the EA, the Commission finds that the proposed action of granting 
an exemption will not significantly impact the quality of the human 
environment. Accordingly, the Commission has determined not to prepare 
an environmental impact statement for the proposed exemption.

6.0 Conclusion

    The NRC concludes that the licensee's request for an exemption from 
certain requirements of 10 CFR 50.47(b) and 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, 
Section IV as specified in the SE are acceptable in view of the greatly 
reduced offsite radiological consequences associated with the ISFSI.
    The exemption request has been reviewed against the acceptance 
criteria included in 10 CFR 50.47, Appendix E to 10 CFR part 50, 10 CFR 
72.32 and Interim Staff Guidance--16. The review considered the ISFSI 
and the low likelihood of any credible accident resulting in 
radiological releases requiring offsite protective measures. These 
evaluations were supported by the previously documented licensee and 
staff accident analyses. The staff concludes that: the MY ISFSI 
Emergency Plan provides: (1) An adequate basis for an acceptable state 
of emergency preparedness; and (2) the emergency plan, in conjunction 
with arrangements made with offsite response agencies, provides 
reasonable assurance that adequate protective measures can and will be 
taken in the event of a radiological emergency at the MYAPC facility.
    The NRC has determined that pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the 
exemptions described in the SE are authorized by law, will not endanger 
life or property or the common defense and security, and are otherwise 
in the public interest, and special circumstances are present.

7.0 Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
renewal and supporting documentation, are available online in the NRC 
library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, 
you can access the NRC's ADAMS, which provides text and image files of 
NRC's public documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS or if there 
are problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the 
NRC Public Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-
415-4737 or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. These documents may also 
be viewed electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's 
PDR, O 1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
MD 20852. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a 
fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 28th day of June, 2013.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Michele M. Sampson,
Acting Chief, Licensing Branch, Division of Spent Fuel Storage and 
Transportation, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2013-16988 Filed 7-15-13; 8:45 am]
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