[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 178 (Friday, September 13, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56775-56805]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21708]



[[Page 56775]]

Vol. 78

Friday,

No. 178

September 13, 2013

Part II





Nuclear Regulatory Commission





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10 CFR Part 51





Waste Confidence--Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel; Proposed 
Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 178 / Friday, September 13, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 51

[NRC-2012-0246]
RIN 3150-AJ20


Waste Confidence--Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposes revising 
its generic determination on the environmental impacts of the continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond a reactor's licensed life for 
operation and prior to ultimate disposal. The NRC has prepared a draft 
generic environmental impact statement to support this proposed rule. 
The Commission proposes to conclude that the analysis generically 
addresses the environmental impacts of continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor and 
supports the determinations that it is feasible to safely store spent 
nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor and to 
have a mined geologic repository within 60 years following the licensed 
life for operation of a reactor. The proposed rule also would clarify 
that the generic determination applies to a license renewal for an 
independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). In addition, the 
proposed rule would make conforming amendments to the Commission's 2013 
findings on the environmental effects of renewing the operating license 
of a nuclear power plant to address issues related to the storage of 
spent nuclear fuel after a reactor's licensed life for operation and 
the offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal.

DATES: Submit comments on the proposed rule by November 27, 2013. 
Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical 
to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments 
received on or before this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to this proposed rule 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-2012-0246. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3422; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section 
of this document.
     Email comments to: Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov. If you do 
not receive an automatic email reply confirming receipt, then contact 
us at 301-415-1677.
     Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission at 301-415-1101.
     Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and 
Adjudications Staff.
     Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. (Eastern Time) Federal 
workdays; telephone: 301-415-1677.
    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: Merri Horn, Office of Nuclear Material 
Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-287-9167; email: Merri.Horn@nrc.gov; or 
Timothy McCartin, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; 
telephone: 301-287-9259; email: Timothy.McCartin@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Executive Summary

Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to improve the efficiency of 
the NRC's licensing process by adopting into the NRC's regulations an 
analysis of the generic environmental impacts of the continued storage 
of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operations of a 
reactor (continued storage). The NRC has prepared a draft generic 
environmental impact statement of the environmental impacts of 
continued storage, which provides a regulatory basis for the rule. This 
proposed rule would codify the results of the analyses from the generic 
environmental impact statement in Sec.  51.23 of Title 10 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), ``Temporary storage of spent nuclear 
fuel after cessation of reactor operation-generic determination of no 
significant environmental impact.'' The NRC's licensing proceedings for 
nuclear reactors and ISFSIs have historically relied upon the generic 
determination in 10 CFR 51.23 to satisfy the agency's obligations under 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with respect to the narrow 
area of the environmental impacts of continued storage. If this 
proposed rule is adopted as a final rule, the NEPA analyses for future 
reactor and spent-fuel-storage facility licensing actions would not 
need to consider the environmental impacts of continued storage on a 
site specific basis.

Summary of the Major Rule Changes

    The major proposed changes to the rule are summarized as follows:
     The title of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to 
``Environmental impacts of storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the 
licensed life for operation of a reactor.''
     Paragraph (a) of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to provide 
the Commission's generic determination on continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel. The proposed amendments would state that the Commission 
has concluded that the analysis in NUREG-2157, ``Waste Confidence 
Generic Environmental Impact Statement'' (DGEIS) generically supports 
the environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel 
beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor and supports the 
Commission's determinations that it is feasible to safely store spent 
nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor and to 
have a mined geologic repository within 60 years following the licensed 
life for operation of a reactor.
     Paragraph (b) of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to clarify 
that license renewals for an ISFSI are included in the scope of the 
generic determination.
     Conforming changes would be made to 10 CFR 51.61, 
51.80(b), and 51.97(a) to clarify that ISFSI license renewals are 
included in the scope of the generic determination.
     The ``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel 
and high-level waste disposal'' issue would be reclassified as a 
Category 1 impact in Table B-1 of appendix B of 10 CFR part 51, 
``Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear 
Power Plants,'' and the finding column entry would be revised to 
address continued storage.
     The finding column entry for the ``Onsite storage of spent 
nuclear fuel'' issue'' in Table B-1 appendix B of subpart A of 10 CFR 
part 51 would be revised to include the period of continued storage 
beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor.

Table of Contents

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

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    A. Accessing Information
    B. Submitting Comments
II. Background
III. Discussion
    A. General Information
    A1. What action is the NRC taking?
    A2. What is the Waste Confidence proceeding?
    A3. Why is the NRC doing this now?
    A4. Whom would this action affect?
    A5. Why is the NRC generically addressing the environmental 
impacts of continued storage?
    A6. What types of waste are addressed by Waste Confidence?
    A7. What activities are not covered by the Waste Confidence 
DGEIS and proposed rule?
    A8. How is spent nuclear fuel stored?
    A9. How can the NRC conduct a generic review when spent nuclear 
fuel is stored at specific sites? Why has a site-specific review not 
been conducted?
    A10. Would the waste confidence rulemaking authorize the storage 
of spent nuclear fuel at the operating reactor site near me?
    A11. What environmental reviews would be precluded from a site-
specific licensing action after the waste confidence rulemaking is 
complete?
    A12. Why is there not a separate Waste Confidence Decision 
document?
    A13. How can the NRC complete the environmental impact statement 
and rulemaking in 24 months?
    A14. What is the status of the extended storage effort?
    A15. How can the NRC proceed with this rulemaking while research 
on the extended storage of spent nuclear fuel is ongoing?
    A16. Did the NRC factor in information from the Spent Fuel Pool 
Study in the DGEIS?
    A17. Did the NRC address accidents in the DGEIS?
    A18. Does the NRC plan to hold public meetings on the Waste 
Confidence DGEIS and proposed rule?
    A19. How can I stay informed of Waste Confidence activities?
    A20. How frequently does the NRC plan to revisit the Waste 
Confidence GEIS and rule?
    A21. What should I consider as I prepare to submit my comments 
to the NRC?
    B. Waste Confidence Rulemaking
    B1. What is the purpose of this Waste Confidence Rulemaking?
    B2. What is meant by the phrase ``Licensed Life for Operation of 
a Reactor?''
    B3. What timeframes are being considered in the DGEIS?
    B4. What is the significance of the levels of impact in the 
DGEIS (SMALL, MODERATE, LARGE)?
    B5. What are the environmental impacts of at-reactor continued 
storage?
    B6. What are the environmental impacts of away-from-reactor 
continued storage?
    B7. Does a potentially LARGE impact on historic and cultural 
resources affect the generic determination in the waste confidence 
DGEIS?
    B8. How will the proposed rule address the impacts from 
continued storage of spent nuclear fuel?
    B9. What are the key assumptions used in the DGEIS?
    B10. What did the NRC assume regarding the continuation of 
institutional controls and why?
    B11. How would significant changes in these assumptions be 
addressed under the NRC's regulatory framework?
    B12. What is the technical basis for concluding that continued 
storage can occur safely?
    B13. If the NRC is considering extending the timeframe of safe 
storage, how is that not de facto on site disposal?
    B14. Does the U.S. Department of Energy's motion to withdraw its 
Yucca Mountain application affect the NRC's conclusion that geologic 
disposal is technically feasible?
    B15. What changes are being proposed for the timing of a 
geologic repository?
    B16. Why does the NRC think it is feasible that a repository can 
be available in 60 years?
    B17. How does this rulemaking relate to the licensing of future 
away-from-reactor ISFSIs?
    B18. How does this rulemaking relate to the certification of 
spent fuel storage casks and use of the 10 CFR part 72 general 
storage license to store spent nuclear fuel at operating or 
decommissioned reactor facilities that are licensed under 10 CFR 
parts 50 or 52 by the NRC?
    B19. How can a future site-specific reactor EIS or supplement 
that references the GEIS be used to understand the environmental 
impacts of the no-action alternative of not approving nuclear power 
operations at a proposed site?
    B20. What changes are being proposed to address continued 
storage for license renewal?
    C. Decision
    C1. Introduction
    C2. Geologic Repository--Technical Feasibility and Availability
    C3. Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
    C3.a. Regulatory Framework
    C3.b. Safe Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
    C3.b.i. Technical Feasibility of Wet Storage
    C3.b.ii. Technical Feasibility of Dry Storage
    C.3.b.iii. Summary of Technical Feasibility of Spent Nuclear 
Fuel Storage
IV. Additional Issues for Public Comment
V. Discussion of Proposed Amendments by Section
VI. Availability of Documents
VII. Agreement State Compatibility
VIII. Plain Writing
IX. Voluntary Consensus Standards
X. Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Availability
XI. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement
XII. Regulatory Analysis
XIII. Regulatory Flexibility Certification
XIV. Backfitting and Issue Finality

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2012-0246 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information for this proposed rule. You may 
access information related to this proposed rule, which the NRC 
possesses and is publicly-available, by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0246.
     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 proposed rule (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 VI, Availability 
of Documents, of this document.
     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-2012-0246 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 and 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.

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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 into ADAMS.

II. Background

    In the late 1970s, a number of environmental groups and States 
challenged the NRC regarding issues related to the storage and disposal 
of spent nuclear fuel beyond a reactor's licensed life for operation. 
In 1977, the Commission denied a petition for rulemaking (PRM), PRM-50-
18, filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that asked 
the NRC to determine whether radioactive wastes generated in nuclear 
power reactors can be disposed of without undue risk to public health 
and safety and to refrain from granting pending or future requests for 
reactor operating licenses until the NRC made such a determination. The 
Commission stated in its denial that, as a matter of policy, it ``. . . 
would not continue to license reactors if it did not have reasonable 
confidence that the wastes can and will in due course be disposed of 
safely'' (42 FR 34391, 34393; July 5, 1977, pet. for rev. dismissed sub 
nom., NRDC v. NRC, 582 F.2d 166 (2d Cir. 1978)).
    At about the same time, interested parties challenged license 
amendments that permitted expansion of the capacity of spent fuel pools 
at two nuclear power plants, Vermont Yankee and Prairie Island. In 
1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 
in Minnesota v. NRC, 602 F.2d 412 (D.C. Cir. 1979), did not stay or 
vacate the license amendments, but did remand to the Commission the 
question of whether an offsite storage or disposal solution would be 
available for the spent nuclear fuel at the two facilities at the 
expiration of their licenses--at that time scheduled for 2007 and 
2009--and, if not, whether the spent nuclear fuel could be stored 
safely at those reactor sites until an offsite solution became 
available.
    In 1979, the NRC initiated a generic rulemaking proceeding that 
stemmed from these challenges and the Court's remand in Minnesota v. 
NRC. The purpose of the Waste Confidence rulemaking was to generically 
assess whether the Commission could have reasonable assurance that 
radioactive wastes produced by nuclear power plants ``can be safely 
disposed of, to determine when such disposal or offsite storage will be 
available, and to determine whether radioactive wastes can be safely 
stored onsite past the expiration of existing facility licenses until 
offsite disposal or storage is available'' (44 FR 61372, 61373; October 
25, 1979). On August 31, 1984, the Commission published the Waste 
Confidence Decision (Decision) (49 FR 34658) and a final rule (49 FR 
34688), codified at 10 CFR 51.23. This Decision provided an 
Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact 
(FONSI) to support the rule. In the 1984 Decision the Commission made 
five Findings:
    1. The Commission finds reasonable assurance that safe disposal of 
radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in a mined geologic repository 
is technically feasible;
    2. The Commission finds reasonable assurance that one or more mined 
geologic repositories for commercial high-level radioactive waste and 
spent nuclear fuel will be available by the years 2007-2009 \1\ and 
that sufficient repository capacity will be available within 30 years 
beyond the expiration of any reactor operating license to dispose of 
existing commercial high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel 
originating in such reactor and generated up to that time;
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    \1\ Under the court remand that precipitated the initial waste 
confidence review, the NRC was required to consider whether there 
was reasonable assurance that an offsite storage solution would be 
available by the years 2007-2009 and, if not, whether there was 
reasonable assurance that the spent fuel could be stored safely at 
those sites beyond those dates. See State of Minnesota v. NRC, 602 
F.2d 412, 418 (D.C. Cir. 1979).
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    3. The Commission finds reasonable assurance that high-level 
radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel will be managed in a safe 
manner until sufficient repository capacity is available to assure the 
safe disposal of all high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear 
fuel;
    4. The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if necessary, 
spent nuclear fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely and 
without significant environmental impacts for at least 30 years beyond 
the expiration of that reactor's operating license at that reactor's 
spent fuel storage basin or at either onsite or offsite ISFSIs; and
    5. The Commission finds reasonable assurance that safe independent 
onsite or offsite spent fuel storage will be made available if such 
storage capacity is needed.
    The rule, 10 CFR 51.23, codified the analysis in the Decision and 
found that for at least 30 years beyond the expiration of a reactor 
operating license, no significant environmental impacts will result 
from the storage of spent nuclear fuel and expressed the Commission's 
reasonable assurance that a repository was likely to be available by 
2007-2009. The rule also stated that, as a result of this generic 
determination, the agency did not need to assess the site-specific 
impacts of continuing to store the spent nuclear fuel in either an 
onsite or offsite storage facility in new reactor licensing 
environmental impact statements (EIS) or EAs beyond the expiration 
dates of reactor licenses (10 CFR 51.23(b)). The rule also amended 10 
CFR part 50, ``Domestic licensing of production and utilization 
facilities,'' to require operating nuclear power reactor licensees to 
submit their plans for managing spent nuclear fuel at their site until 
the fuel is transferred to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for 
disposal (see 10 CFR 50.54(bb)).
    The Commission conducted its first review of the Decision and rule 
in 1989-1990. This review resulted in the revision of the second and 
fourth Findings to reflect revised expectations for the date of 
availability of the first repository, and to clarify that the 
expiration of a reactor's licensed life for operation referred to the 
full 40-year initial license for operation and any additional term of a 
revised or renewed license. On September 18, 1990, the Commission 
published the revised Decision (55 FR 38474) and the associated final 
rule (55 FR 38472). The revised Findings 2 and 4 in the 1990 revised 
Decision were:
    Finding 2: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that at least 
one mined geologic repository will be available within the first 
quarter of the twenty-first century, and sufficient repository capacity 
will be available within 30 years beyond the licensed life for 
operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) 
of any reactor to dispose of the commercial high-level radioactive 
waste and spent nuclear fuel originating in such reactor and generated 
up until that time.
    Finding 4: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if 
necessary, spent nuclear fuel generated at 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 ISFSIs.
    The Commission also amended 10 CFR 51.23(a) to reflect the revised 
timing of the availability of a geologic repository to the first 
quarter of the twenty-first century. The rule was also revised to 
reflect that the licensed life for operation may include the term of a 
revised or renewed license.
    The Commission conducted its second review of the Decision and rule

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in 1999 and concluded that experience and developments after 1990 had 
confirmed the Findings and made a comprehensive reevaluation of the 
Decision and rule unnecessary (64 FR 68005; December 6, 1999).
    In 2008, the Commission decided to conduct its third review of the 
Decision and rule as part of an effort to enhance the efficiency of 
upcoming combined operating license application proceedings. The 
Commission determined that it would be more efficient to resolve 
certain combined-license-proceeding issues generically, including those 
related to Waste Confidence. This review resulted in a revision of the 
second and fourth Findings to reflect revised expectations for the date 
of availability of the first repository and that spent nuclear fuel can 
be stored safely for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life for 
operation.
    In December 2010, the Commission published its revised Decision (75 
FR 81032; December 23, 2010) and associated final rule (75 FR 81037; 
December 23, 2010). The revised Findings 2 and 4 in the 2010 Decision 
were:
    Finding 2: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that 
sufficient mined geologic repository capacity will be available to 
dispose of the commercial high-level radioactive waste and spent 
nuclear fuel generated by any reactor when necessary.
    Finding 4: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if 
necessary, spent nuclear fuel generated in any reactor can be stored 
safely and without significant environmental impacts for at least 60 
years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the 
term of a revised or renewed license) of that reactor in a combination 
of storage in its spent fuel storage basin and either onsite or offsite 
ISFSIs.
    Section 51.23(a) of 10 CFR was amended to reflect revised Findings 
2 and 4. The changes reflected that spent nuclear fuel could be safely 
stored for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life for operation of 
a reactor and that sufficient mined geologic repository capacity would 
be available when necessary.
    In response to the 2010 Decision and rule, the States of New York, 
New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont; several public interest groups; 
and the Prairie Island Indian Community filed a lawsuit in the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that challenged 
the Commission's compliance with NEPA. On June 8, 2012, the Court ruled 
that some aspects of the 2010 Decision did not satisfy the NRC's NEPA 
obligations and vacated and remanded the Decision and rule (New York v. 
NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012) \2\). The Court concluded that the 
Waste Confidence rulemaking is a major federal action necessitating 
either an EIS or an EA that results in a FONSI. In vacating the 2010 
Decision and rule, the Court identified three specific deficiencies in 
the analysis:
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    \2\ The Court's ruling is available at: http://
www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/
57ACA94A8FFAD8AF85257A1700502AA4/$file/11-1045-1377720.pdf.
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    1. Related to the Commission's conclusion that permanent disposal 
will be available ``when necessary,'' the Court held that the 
Commission needed to include an evaluation of the environmental effects 
of failing to secure permanent disposal since there was a degree of 
uncertainty regarding whether a repository would be built;
    2. Related to continued storage of spent nuclear fuel, the Court 
concluded that the Commission had not adequately examined the risk of 
spent fuel pool leaks in a forward-looking fashion; and
    3. Also related to the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel, the 
Court concluded that the Commission had not adequately examined the 
consequences of potential spent fuel pool fires.
    In response to the Court's decision, on August 7, 2012, the 
Commission stated in Commission Order CLI-12-16 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML12220A094) that it would not issue reactor or ISFSI licenses 
dependent upon the Waste Confidence Decision and rule until the Court's 
remand is appropriately addressed. The Commission stated, however, that 
this determination extends only to final license issuance and that all 
licensing reviews and proceedings should continue to move forward.
    In the September 6, 2012, Staff Requirements Memorandum, ``Staff 
Requirements--COMSECY-12-0016--Approach for Addressing Policy Issues 
Resulting from Court Decision to Vacate Waste Confidence Decision and 
Rule'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML12250A032), the Commission directed the 
staff to develop a generic EIS to support an updated Waste Confidence 
Decision and rule. In response, the NRC formed the Waste Confidence 
Directorate in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards 
(NMSS) to oversee the development of the generic EIS and an update that 
would replace the previous Waste Confidence Decision and rule. The NRC 
began the environmental review process by publishing a Notice of Intent 
to prepare an EIS and conduct scoping (77 FR 65137; October 25, 2012). 
The NRC held one public meeting with a live Webcast and one Webcast-
only meeting in November 2012, and two Webinars in December 2012 to 
obtain public input on the scope of the environmental review.\3\ The 
transcripts for each of these meetings are available in ADAMS under 
Accession Nos. ML12331A347, ML12331A353, ML12355A174, and ML12355A187, 
respectively. The scoping period ended on January 2, 2013. Starting in 
January 2013, the NRC Waste Confidence Directorate has held monthly 
public teleconferences to provide updates on the status of Waste 
Confidence activities.
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    \3\ A Webcast is an Internet-based meeting that includes both 
audio and video feeds. A Webinar is an Internet-based meeting that 
does not include video.
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    The ``Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement 
Scoping Process Summary Report,'' which is available in ADAMS under 
Accession No. ML13060A128, provides a summary of the determinations and 
conclusions reached during the NRC's environmental scoping process. The 
Summary Report also contains a summary of comments received during the 
public scoping period and the NRC's responses. A separate document, 
``Scoping Comments on the Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact 
Statement,'' lists the scoping comments, organized by comment category 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML13060A130). The NRC is issuing this proposed 
rule and the draft NUREG-2157, ``Waste Confidence Generic Environmental 
Impact Statement'' (DGEIS) (ADAMS Accession No. ML13224A106) for public 
comment.

III. Discussion

    This discussion section has been divided into three subsections to 
better present information on the proposed rule and the Waste 
Confidence proceeding. Section A provides general information related 
to the Waste Confidence proceeding. Section B provides information 
related to the proposed rule changes. Sections A and B are in a 
question and answer format. Lastly, Section C ``Decision'' provides a 
discussion of the issues and conclusions addressed in the DGEIS that 
had previously appeared in the Findings discussions of prior Waste 
Confidence decisions.

A. General Information

A1. What action is the NRC taking?
    The NRC is proposing to issue a rule to codify its generic 
determination on the environmental impacts of continued storage of 
spent nuclear fuel at, or away

[[Page 56780]]

from, reactor sites beyond a reactor's licensed life for operation. The 
analysis in the DGEIS provides a regulatory basis for the proposed 
rule.
A2. What is the Waste Confidence proceeding?
    Historically, the Commission's Waste Confidence proceeding 
represented the Commission's generic determination and generic 
environmental analysis that spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely and 
without significant environmental impacts for a period of time past the 
licensed life for operation of a reactor. This generic environmental 
analysis was reflected in 10 CFR 51.23, which addresses the NRC's NEPA 
obligations with respect to the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel 
beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor but before ultimate 
disposal.
    This proposed rule and the DGEIS represent a change in the format 
of the Commission's Waste Confidence proceeding. As discussed in more 
detail in Question A.12, because the Commission is preparing a DGEIS, 
which provides a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts 
associated with continued storage, it is no longer necessary to make a 
``finding of no significant impact,'' as that term is used in NEPA, 
associated with continued storage. This proposed rule then codifies the 
environmental impacts reflected in the DGEIS.
A3. Why is the NRC doing this now?
    On June 8, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of 
Columbia Circuit vacated the Commission's 2010 Waste Confidence 
rulemaking, and remanded the rulemaking to the NRC to address 
deficiencies related to the NRC's NEPA analysis. On September 6, 2012, 
the Commission instructed NRC staff to proceed with a generic EIS to 
analyze the environmental impacts of continued storage and address the 
issues raised in the Court's decision and to update the Waste 
Confidence rule in accordance with the analysis in the EIS. The DGEIS 
and this proposed rule implement the Commission's direction.
A4. Whom would this action affect?
    This proposed rule would affect any nuclear power reactor applicant 
and licensee undergoing issuance or renewal of an operating license for 
a nuclear power reactor under 10 CFR parts 50 or 54, ``Requirements for 
renewal of operating licenses for nuclear power plants''; issuance of a 
combined license for a nuclear power reactor under 10 CFR part 52, 
``Licenses, certifications, and approvals for nuclear power plants''; 
or some amendments of a license under 10 CFR parts 50 or 52. This 
proposed rule would also affect the issuance of an initial, amended, or 
renewed license for storage of spent nuclear fuel at an ISFSI under 10 
CFR part 72, ``Licensing requirements for the independent storage of 
spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, and reactor-related 
greater than Class C waste.'' The proposed rule could also affect 
participants in any proceeding addressing these licensing actions.
A5. Why is the NRC generically addressing the environmental impacts of 
continued storage?
    Since 1984, the NRC has generically addressed the environmental 
impacts of continued storage though a generic NEPA analysis and rule. 
Without a generic environmental impact analysis, site-specific 
consideration of the environmental impacts of continued storage would 
be necessary. The NRC's proposed reliance on a GEIS and rule to address 
environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel will 
enhance the NRC's efficiency in individual licensing reviews by 
addressing a set of issues that are the same or largely similar or can 
be reasonably predicted based on a well understood range of operating 
experience at each power reactor or storage site and codifying them. 
The generic determination in 10 CFR 51.23 would satisfy the NRC's NEPA 
obligations with respect to the environmental impacts of continued 
storage.
A6. What types of waste are addressed by Waste Confidence?
    The environmental analysis in the DGEIS and in this proposed rule 
covers low and high burn-up spent nuclear fuel generated in light-water 
nuclear power reactors. It also covers mixed oxide (MOX) fuel,\4\ since 
the MOX fuel would be substantially similar to existing light-water 
reactor fuel and is, in fact, being considered for use in existing 
light-water reactors in the United States. It also covers spent nuclear 
fuel from small modular reactors. Small modular light-water reactors 
being developed will use fuel very similar in form and materials to the 
existing operating reactors and will not, therefore, introduce new 
technical challenges to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Waste 
Confidence also covers the spent nuclear fuel from one high-temperature 
gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) built and commercially operated: Fort Saint 
Vrain. The spent nuclear fuel from Peach Bottom Unit 1 is not covered 
because its fuel has been removed from the site and transferred to the 
control of DOE, and the fuel is no longer regulated by the NRC (see 
Section 2.1.1.3 of the DGEIS).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Mixed oxide fuel (often called MOX fuel) is a type of 
nuclear reactor fuel that contains plutonium oxide mixed with either 
natural or depleted uranium oxide in ceramic pellet form.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A7. What activities are not covered by the Waste Confidence DGEIS and 
proposed rule?
    Waste Confidence does not consider transportation of spent nuclear 
fuel during reactor operation, disposal of spent nuclear fuel, or 
storage of spent nuclear fuel during the licensed life for operation of 
the power reactor. Additionally, Waste Confidence does not address 
foreign spent nuclear fuel, non-power reactor spent fuel (e.g., fuel 
from research and test reactors), defense waste, Greater-than-Class C 
low-level waste, reprocessing of commercial spent nuclear fuel, and the 
need for nuclear power.
    The NRC is participating in pre-application reviews of the DOE's 
Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). The NGNP would use nuclear fuel 
comprised of Tristructural-Isotopic-coated fuel particles contained in 
either fuel pebbles or prismatic fuel assemblies. However, because this 
fuel type has not completed fuel qualification testing, continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel from the NGNP program is not within the 
scope of the DGEIS and this proposed rule. Additionally, the continued 
storage of future HTGR spent nuclear fuels is not within the scope of 
the DGEIS or this proposed rule.
A8. How is spent nuclear fuel stored?
    Spent nuclear fuel is stored in either spent fuel pools or in dry 
cask storage. Spent fuel pools are designed to store and cool the spent 
nuclear fuel following removal from the reactor. Spent fuel pools are 
massive, seismically-designed structures that are constructed from 
thick, reinforced concrete walls and slabs that vary between 0.7 and 3 
meters (2 and 10 feet) thick. All spent fuel pools currently in 
operation are lined with stainless steel liners that vary in thickness 
between 6 and 13 millimeters (0.25 and 0.5 inches); spent fuel pools 
have either a leak detection system or administrative controls to 
monitor the spent fuel pool liner. Leak detection systems are usually 
made up of several channels that can be monitored individually or are 
designed in such a way that leakage empties into drains that can be 
monitored. Leaked water is directed to a sump, liquid radioactive waste 
treatment system, or

[[Page 56781]]

other cleanup or collection systems. Racks fitted in the spent fuel 
pools store the fuel assemblies in a controlled configuration (i.e., so 
that the fuel is both sub-critical and in a coolable geometry). Spent 
fuel pool systems also include redundant monitoring, cooling, and 
makeup-water systems. The spent nuclear fuel assemblies are positioned 
in racks at the bottom of the pool and are typically covered by at 
least 6 meters (20 feet) of water. The water in the pools provides 
radiation shielding, spent nuclear fuel assembly cooling, and captures 
radionuclides in case of fuel rod leaks. Spent fuel pools are located 
at reactor sites, typically within the fuel-handling building 
(pressurized-water reactor (PWR)) or the reactor building (boiling-
water reactor). A typical spent fuel pool at a light water reactor 
holds (with full core reserve maintained) the equivalent of about 6 
core loads, or about 700 metric tons uranium (MTU). There is one away-
from-reactor spent fuel pool (General Electric-Hitachi (GEH)-Morris) 
licensed under 10 CFR part 72 as an ISFSI. Information on the spent 
fuel pools and the quantity of spent nuclear fuel that can be stored in 
spent fuel pools is available in Appendix G of the DGEIS (see also 
Chapter 2 of the DGEIS).
    Spent nuclear fuel is also stored in dry casks at ISFSIs licensed 
by the NRC under either a general license or a specific license. Dry 
cask storage shields people and the environment from radiation and 
keeps the spent nuclear fuel inside dry and nonreactive. Dry cask 
storage allows spent fuel that has already been cooled in the spent 
fuel pool to be surrounded by inert gas inside a container called a 
cask. The casks are typically steel cylinders that are either welded or 
bolted closed. The steel cylinder provides a leak-tight confinement of 
the spent fuel. Each cylinder is surrounded by additional steel, 
concrete, or other material to provide radiation shielding to workers 
and members of the public. Dry cask storage systems are essentially 
passive systems that rely on natural air circulation for cooling during 
storage of the spent nuclear fuel, and are robust massive structures 
that are highly damage resistant. There are many different dry cask 
storage systems, but most fall into two main categories based on how 
they are loaded. The first is the bare fuel, or direct-load, casks in 
which spent nuclear fuel is loaded directly into a basket that is 
integrated into the cask. Bare fuel casks, which tend to be all metal 
construction, are generally bolted closed. The second is the canister-
based system in which spent nuclear fuel is loaded into a basket inside 
a relatively thin-walled cylinder called a canister. The canister is 
usually loaded while inside a transfer cask and then welded and 
transferred vertically into either a concrete or metal storage overpack 
or horizontally into a concrete storage module. As of the end of 2012, 
ISFSIs were storing spent nuclear fuel in over 1,700 loaded dry casks. 
Information on the types of casks used to store spent nuclear fuel at 
each ISFSI is available in Appendix G of the DGEIS (see also Chapter 2 
of the DGEIS).
A9. How can the NRC conduct a generic review when spent nuclear fuel is 
stored at specific sites? Why has a site-specific review not been 
conducted?
    Historically, the Commission has chosen to generically address 
continued storage, and this approach was validated for appropriate 
circumstances by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the same decision 
that vacated and remanded the 2010 Waste Confidence Decision and rule. 
Although the environmental impacts of spent nuclear fuel storage during 
the licensed life for operation may be site specific, the impacts of 
continued storage may be assessed generically because:
    (1) Continued storage will involve spent nuclear fuel storage 
facilities for which the environmental impacts of operation are 
sufficiently understood as a result of lessons learned and knowledge 
gained from operating experience.
    (2) Activities associated with continued storage are expected to be 
within this well-understood range of operating experience; thus, 
environmental impacts can be reasonably predicted.
    (3) Changes in the environment around spent nuclear fuel storage 
facilities are sufficiently gradual and predictable to be addressed 
generically.
    In evaluating the environmental impacts of continued storage of 
spent nuclear fuel, the NRC used existing environmental evaluations to 
help inform the impact determinations in the DGEIS, such as NUREG-0586, 
``Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Decommissioning of Nuclear 
Facilities Supplement 1 Regarding the Decommissioning of Nuclear Power 
Reactors Main Report,'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML023500395) and NUREG-
1437, ``Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of 
Nuclear Plants'' Revision 1 (ADAMS Accession No. ML13106A241 for main 
volume 1, ML13106A242 for volume 2, and ML13106A244 for volume 3). The 
NRC also reviewed site-specific EISs and EAs for new and operating 
reactors, ISFSIs, and subsequent renewals. The NRC staff also looked to 
other sources of information, such as technical reports.
A10. Would the Waste Confidence rulemaking authorize the storage of 
spent nuclear fuel at the operating reactor site near me?
    No, the Waste Confidence rule does not authorize the storage of 
spent nuclear fuel at any site. The Waste Confidence rule is a generic 
determination regarding the potential environmental impacts from the 
continued storage of spent nuclear fuel after the end of a reactor's 
licensed life for operation and before the spent nuclear fuel is placed 
in a repository. The rule reflects only the generic environmental 
analysis of the period of spent nuclear fuel storage beyond a reactor's 
licensed life for operation and before disposal in a repository. This 
proceeding is not a substitute for licensing actions that typically 
include site-specific NEPA analysis and site-specific safety analyses 
(see also question A11).
    In addition, the NRC's DGEIS and proposed rule do not pre-approve 
any particular waste storage or disposal site technology, nor do they 
require that a specific cask design be used for storage. Individual 
licensees and applicants, including any applicant for a high-level 
radioactive waste repository, will have to apply for and receive a 
site-specific license from the NRC before storing or disposing of any 
spent nuclear fuel. Separately, every 10 CFR part 50 or part 52 nuclear 
power reactor licensee already holds a general license that authorizes 
storage of spent nuclear fuel in cask designs that are approved by the 
NRC.
A11. What environmental reviews would be precluded from a site-specific 
licensing action after the Waste Confidence rulemaking is complete?
    The Waste Confidence rule will satisfy the NRC's NEPA obligations 
with respect to continued storage for initial, renewed, and amended 
licenses for reactors and ISFSIs. The environmental analysis that would 
accompany the initial license or license renewal of individual nuclear 
power reactors or the initial license or license renewal of an ISFSI 
would consider the potential environmental impacts of storage of spent 
nuclear fuel during the term of the license. What would not be 
considered in those proceedings--due to the generic determination in 10 
CFR 51.23(a)--is the potential environmental impact of continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for

[[Page 56782]]

operation of the reactor. The NRC's regulations allow participants in 
the NRC's licensing proceedings to obtain a waiver of a rule if they 
show special circumstances why the rule should not apply to the 
specific proceeding (see 10 CFR 2.335(b)).
A12. Why is there not a separate Waste Confidence decision document?
    Historically, the Waste Confidence Decision contained five 
``Findings'' that addressed the technical feasibility of a mined 
geologic repository, the degree of assurance that disposal would be 
available by a certain time, and the degree of assurance that spent 
fuel and high-level waste could be managed safely without significant 
environmental impacts for a certain period beyond the expiration of 
plants' operating licenses. Preparation of and reliance upon a GEIS is 
a fundamental departure from the approach used in past Waste Confidence 
proceedings. The DGEIS acknowledges the uncertainties inherent in a 
prediction of repository availability and provides an environmental 
analysis of reasonably foreseeable timeframes. To this end, the DGEIS 
considers a number of possible timeframes for repository availability, 
including the impacts from never having a repository. Because a GEIS is 
being issued, findings are no longer necessary.
    Section C, ``Decision,'' provides a discussion of the issues and 
conclusions addressed in the DGEIS that had previously appeared in the 
findings discussions of prior Waste Confidence decisions. To support 
the analysis in the DGEIS and the proposed rule, the underlying 
assumptions in the DGEIS address the issues assessed in the previous 
``Five Findings'' as conclusions regarding the technical feasibility 
and availability of a repository and conclusions regarding the 
technical feasibility of safely storing spent fuel in an at-reactor or 
away-from-reactor storage facility. The GEIS will fulfill NRC's NEPA 
obligations for analyzing the environmental impacts of continued 
storage and the related uncertainties in repository availability.
A13. How can the NRC complete the environmental impact statement and 
rulemaking in 24 months?
    The Waste Confidence proceeding is a high priority for the 
Commission. Following the remand by the Court of Appeals, the NRC 
formed a new organization, the Waste Confidence Directorate in the 
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, to develop the 
generic EIS and rule. In staffing the new Directorate, the NRC brought 
together a team consisting of many of the agency's most experienced and 
knowledgeable NEPA and rulemaking practitioners. The Directorate is 
focused on Waste Confidence. These focused NRC staff resources have 
enabled the NRC to conduct the hard look required by NEPA and optimize 
public participation in the process. The resources and expertise being 
devoted to the waste confidence proceeding and the schedule for public 
comment support completion within 24 months.
A14. What is the status of the extended storage effort?
    The extended storage effort focuses on technical and regulatory 
considerations for continued effective regulation of spent nuclear fuel 
storage and subsequent transportation over extended periods (up to 300 
years). Presently, the NRC believes that the current regulatory 
framework used to renew current licenses can be extended to regulate 
the management of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste 
for multiple renewal periods. The staff is examining technical areas 
associated with multiple renewals of fixed-term, dry storage licenses 
and certificates to address age-related degradation of dry cask storage 
systems, structures, and components. The NRC acknowledges that current 
licensing practices may evolve over time in response to improved 
understanding, operational experience, and Commission policy direction. 
As technical, regulatory, and policy issues are resolved, the NRC will 
revise guidance and staff qualification and training accordingly. In 
the DGEIS, the NRC has concluded that sufficient information exists to 
perform an analysis of continued storage impacts well into the future. 
Nonetheless, the NRC continues to identify and resolve potential issues 
associated with the storage and transportation of spent nuclear fuel 
storage for periods beyond an ISFSI's initial licensing and first 
renewal. Completion of the current effort is planned for the end of the 
decade. As with any rule, the NRC will evaluate any new information 
that is developed during this project to determine whether it's 
necessary to update the Waste Confidence rule.
A15. How can the NRC proceed with this rulemaking while research on the 
extended storage of spent nuclear fuel is ongoing?
    The DGEIS and the NRC's ongoing research are two separate efforts 
that are not directly related to each other. If completed, this 
rulemaking would result in an update to the NRC's environmental rules 
in 10 CFR part 51. The Waste Confidence GEIS, NUREG-2157, which was 
prepared under NEPA, would provide the regulatory basis for the rule. 
Under NEPA, an environmental impact statement, such as the one prepared 
to support this rulemaking, needs only to consider currently available 
information. As the Commission recently stated, ``NEPA requires that we 
conduct our environmental review with the best information available 
today. It does not require that we wait until inchoate information 
matures into something that later might affect our review.'' (Luminant 
Generation Co. LLC (Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4), 
et al., CLI-12-7, 75 NRC 379, 391-92 (March 16, 2012)). Further, the 
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 
explained that ``creating [the agency's] models with the best 
information available when it began its analysis and then checking the 
assumptions of those models as new information became available, was a 
reasonable means of balancing . . . competing considerations, 
particularly given the many months required to conduct full modeling 
with new data.'' (Village of Bensenville v. Federal Aviation 
Administration, 457 F.3d 52, 71-72 (D.C. Cir. 2006)). The United States 
Supreme Court held that ``an agency need not supplement an EIS every 
time new information comes to light after the EIS is finalized. To 
require otherwise would render agency decision making intractable, 
always awaiting updated information only to find the new information 
outdated by the time a decision is made.'' (Marsh v. Oregon Natural 
Resources Council, 490 U.S. 360, 374 (1989)).
    The ongoing research into the extended storage of spent nuclear 
fuel is part of the NRC's effort to continuously evaluate and update 
its safety regulations. The NRC is not aware of any deficiencies in its 
current regulations that would challenge the continued safe storage of 
spent nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools or dry cask systems.
    If, at some time in the future, the NRC were to identify a concern 
with the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel, the NRC would evaluate the 
issue and take whatever action or make whatever change in its 
regulatory program necessary to protect public health and safety. The 
NRC will continue to monitor the ongoing research into spent fuel 
storage. If warranted, the NRC will consider updating its Waste 
Confidence rule, which would be supported by a

[[Page 56783]]

new environmental analysis that would fully consider any new 
developments.
A16. Did the NRC factor in information from the Spent Fuel Pool Study 
in the DGEIS?
    The DGEIS does not specifically reference the draft ``Consequence 
Study of a Beyond-Design-Basis Earthquake Affecting the Spent Fuel Pool 
for a U.S. Mark I Boiling Water Reactor'' (hereafter referred to as the 
Spent Fuel Pool Study or Study). If the NRC publishes a final Study 
before the final GEIS is published, then a reference to the Spent Fuel 
Pool Study will be added to the final GEIS. Although it did not 
specifically reference the draft Study in the DGEIS, the staff is aware 
of the conclusions in the draft Study and worked closely with the 
authors who developed the draft Study to prepare the relevant sections 
of the draft GEIS. The conclusions of the draft Study do not contradict 
the conclusions in the DGEIS and are consistent with the consequences 
reported in previous studies on spent fuel pool accidents. The draft 
Spent Fuel Pool Study was made public for review and comment on June 24 
in advance of a July public Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards 
meeting on the draft Study. The draft Spent Fuel Pool Study is 
available to the public under ADAMS Accession No. ML13133A132.
A17. Did the NRC address accidents in the DGEIS?
    Yes, the DGEIS considered the risk and potential consequences of 
accidents and acts of sabotage during continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel. This analysis assessed the environmental effects of man-
made hazards and natural phenomena hazards, including flooding and 
earthquakes. As with all NEPA analyses, the DGEIS analyzed reasonably-
foreseeable events and did not consider worst-case scenarios. Section 
4.18 of the DGEIS discusses the environmental impacts of postulated 
accidents, both design-basis and severe accidents, during continued at-
reactor storage and Section 5.18 discusses away-from-reactor postulated 
accidents. Appendix F of the DGEIS contains a more detailed analysis of 
spent fuel pool fires. Sections 4.19 and 5.19 of the DGEIS address 
impacts resulting from acts of terrorism.
A18. Does the NRC Plan to hold public meetings on the Waste Confidence 
DGEIS and proposed rule?
    Yes, the NRC plans to hold eight regional public meetings and two 
nationally Webcast meetings at NRC headquarters on the DGEIS and 
proposed rule. The regional meetings are planned to be held in or near: 
Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Toledo, Ohio; Boston 
(metro area), Massachusetts; New York City (metro area), New York; 
Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Clemente, California; San Luis Obispo, 
California; and Orlando, Florida. These meetings will be held during 
the public comment period on the DGEIS and proposed rule. All meetings 
will be noticed on the NRC's Public Meeting Schedule Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm. Information on 
the public meetings will also be made available through the Federal 
Register, press releases, blog posts, and emails. The NRC will also 
post meeting notices to the Federal rulemaking Web site at https://www.regulations.gov, under Docket ID NRC-2012-0246.
A19. How can I stay informed of Waste Confidence activities?
    There are several ways in which interested members of the public 
can stay informed and follow the NRC's Waste Confidence activities. The 
NRC staff periodically sends out email announcements of new material 
and upcoming events. Anyone may sign up to receive emails about the 
Waste Confidence activities by emailing WCOutreach@nrc.gov with a 
request to be added to the email list.
    The NRC staff will also periodically post updates to the Waste 
Confidence Web site. You can sign up for automatic email alerts 
whenever the Waste Confidence Web site is updated using GovDelivery. 
Under Subscriber Preferences you can choose the Waste Confidence pages 
on which you would like to receive updates.
    You can monitor the docket for the Waste Confidence rulemaking on 
the Federal rulemaking Web site, http://www.regulations.gov, by 
searching on Docket ID NRC-2012-0246. In addition, the Federal 
rulemaking Web site allows you to receive alerts when changes or 
additions occur in a docket folder. To subscribe: (1) Navigate to the 
docket folder NRC-2012-0246; (2) click the ``Email Alert'' link; and 
(3) enter your email address and select how frequently you would like 
to receive emails (daily, weekly, or monthly).
A20. How frequently does the NRC plan to revisit the Waste Confidence 
GEIS and rule?
    The Commission has reviewed its Waste Confidence rule and 
supporting analysis three times since 1984; in 1990, 1999, and 2010. 
The NRC does not have a schedule for revisiting the Waste Confidence 
GEIS and rule after this current update. The Commission will review the 
Waste Confidence GEIS and rule for possible revision when warranted by 
significant events that may call into question the appropriateness of 
the rule.
A21. What should I consider as I prepare to submit my comments to the 
NRC?
    Tips for preparing your comments. When submitting your comments, 
remember to:
    I. Identify the rulemaking (RIN 3150-AJ20; NRC-2012-0246).
    II. Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and 
substitute language for your requested changes.
    III. Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information 
and/or data that you used.
    IV. If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you 
arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be 
reproduced.
    V. Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns and 
suggest alternatives.
    VI. Explain your views as clearly as possible.
    VII. Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period 
deadline identified.
    VIII. The NRC is particularly interested in your comments 
concerning the following issues discussed in Section IV: (1) Issue 1 
contains a request for comment on whether the Commission should remove 
the timeline for repository availability from the rule; (2) Issue 2 
contains a request for comment on whether any statement related to the 
safety of continued spent fuel storage should be included in the rule; 
(3) Issue 3 contains a request for comment on whether the Discussion 
portion (Section III of this document) of the Statement of 
Considerations should be streamlined by removing content that is 
repeated from the DGEIS in order to improve clarity of the discussion; 
and (4) Issue 4 contains a request for comment on the title of the 
rule. In addition, Section VIII, Plain Writing, of this document 
contains a request for comments on the use of plain language, and 
Section X, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Availability, of this 
document contains a request for comments on the draft environmental 
impact statement.

B. Waste Confidence Rulemaking

B1. What is the purpose of this Waste Confidence rulemaking?
    The NRC's use of a rule to generically satisfy its NEPA obligations 
with respect

[[Page 56784]]

to continued storage will enhance efficiency in individual licensing 
reviews by analyzing the environmental impacts of continued storage, 
which are the same or largely similar at each nuclear power reactor or 
storage site, and codifying the results of that analysis. Part of the 
environmental analysis for a nuclear power reactor or storage facility 
license includes a review of the impacts caused by the spent nuclear 
fuel generated in the reactor. That analysis must assess the impacts of 
the spent nuclear fuel from generation through disposal. If the 
Commission lacks reasonable assurance that a disposal solution will be 
available at the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation, NEPA 
requires that the Commission assess the impacts of continued storage of 
the spent nuclear fuel pending disposal at a repository. The proposed 
rule would incorporate the results of the generic assessment of the 
environmental impacts of continued spent nuclear fuel storage beyond 
the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation so that it is not 
necessary to repeat the identical or substantially similar analysis in 
individual licensing actions. Although the environmental impacts of 
spent nuclear fuel storage during the licensed life for operation may 
be site specific, the impacts of continued storage can be generically 
assessed because the impacts during the reactor's licensed life for 
operation have been analyzed, are well understood, and the continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel does not involve any significant changes 
in how the fuel is stored. Therefore, the environmental impacts that 
result from continued storage will remain essentially the same. A 
generic environmental analysis, such as the one conducted in the DGEIS, 
would apply to the issuance of a license, amendment, or license renewal 
of any power reactor or of any ISFSI. The analysis in the GEIS 
constitutes a regulatory basis for the proposed rule at 10 CFR 51.23, 
which codifies the NRC's conclusions in the GEIS on the environmental 
impacts of continued storage, including the Commission's expectations 
on the availability of a geologic repository.
B2. What is meant by the phrase ``licensed life for operation of a 
reactor''?
    The phrase ``licensed life for operation of a reactor'' describes 
the period during which the NRC licensing requirements for reactor 
facility design, construction, and operation provide reasonable 
assurance that a reactor can be operated and spent fuel can be stored 
safely. It refers to the term of the license to operate a reactor, 
which in no case exceeds a 40-year initial license term. For those 
reactors for which license renewal has been granted, the DGEIS assumes 
up to two 20-year license extensions \5\ could occur, for a total of up 
to 80 years. The phrase, ``beyond licensed life for operation of a 
reactor,'' refers to the period beyond the initial term to operate a 
reactor or, if the license is extended, beyond the renewed license 
term. The date of permanent cessation of operations does not mark the 
transition to ``beyond licensed life for operation.'' Even if a reactor 
is shut down years before the end of its initial or extended operating 
or combined license term, ``licensed life for operation'' continues to 
refer to the initial or renewed license term, and not the actual 
operational period of a reactor. Thus, continued storage begins at the 
end of the licensed life for operation of a reactor. The starting point 
for continued storage does not depend on whether the spent nuclear fuel 
is stored in a spent fuel pool, dry casks under a general license, or 
dry casks under a specific license.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ The Commission's regulations provide that renewed operating 
licenses may be subsequently renewed, although no licensee has yet 
submitted an application for such a subsequent renewal. The DGEIS 
included two renewals as a conservative assumption in evaluating 
potential environmental impacts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The following examples help illustrate the concept of beyond the 
licensed life for operation of a reactor. Reactor A received a 40-year 
license to operate in 1965, which means the license would have expired 
in 2005. Reactor A renewed its license for a 20-year term, which means 
the license now will expire in 2025. Reactor A shuts down in 2025. The 
licensed life for operation for Reactor A ends in 2025 and continued 
storage begins in 2025.
    Reactor B also received its initial license to operate in 1965, 
which means the license would have expired in 2005. Reactor B shut down 
early in 2000. The licensed life for operation of Reactor B ended in 
2005, the original expiration date of the license. Continued storage of 
the spent nuclear fuel started in 2005.
    Reactor C received its initial license in 1965, which means the 
license would have expired in 2005. Reactor C received two 20-year 
renewals with expiration dates of 2025 and 2045. Reactor C shut down in 
2030. The licensed life for operation of Reactor C ends in 2045. 
Continued storage of the spent nuclear fuel begins in 2045 for all of 
the spent nuclear fuel from Reactor C.
    In these examples, it is important to note that the environmental 
analysis supporting spent nuclear fuel storage during the licensed life 
for operation of each reactor covered the full period for which the 
license or license renewal was issued, even if operation of the reactor 
ended before the license expired.
B3. What timeframes are being considered in the DGEIS?
    The NRC has analyzed three timeframes in the DGEIS that represent 
various scenarios for the length of continued storage that may be 
needed before spent fuel is sent to a repository. The first timeframe 
is the short-term timeframe, which analyzes 60 years of continued 
storage after the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation. The 
DGEIS also analyzed two additional timeframes: long-term and indefinite 
timeframes. The long-term timeframe considers the environmental impacts 
of continued storage for a total of 160 years after the end of a 
reactor's licensed life for operation. Finally, the DGEIS includes an 
analysis of an indefinite timeframe, which assumes that a repository 
never becomes available.
    By the end of the short-term timeframe, some spent nuclear fuel 
could be up to 140 years old. Short-term storage of spent nuclear fuel 
includes:
     Continued storage of spent fuel in spent fuel pools (at-
reactor only) and ISFSIs,
     Routine maintenance of spent fuel pools and ISFSIs (e.g., 
maintenance of concrete pads), and
     Handling and transfer of spent fuel from spent fuel pools 
to ISFSIs (all spent nuclear fuel is assumed to be removed from the 
spent fuel pool by the end of the short-term period).
    Long-term storage is continued storage of spent nuclear fuel for an 
additional 100 years after the short-term period for a total of 160 
years beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor. The DGEIS 
assumes that all spent fuel has been transferred from the spent fuel 
pool to an ISFSI by the end of the short-term period. The DGEIS also 
assumes that a repository would become available by the end of this 
160-year period. By the end of the long-term period, some spent nuclear 
fuel could be up to 240 years old. Long-term storage activities 
include:
     Continued storage of spent fuel in ISFSIs, including 
routine maintenance;
     One time replacement of ISFSIs and spent fuel canisters 
and casks; and
     Construction, operation, and one replacement of a dry 
transfer system facility (DTS).
    The third timeframe analyzed by the DGEIS is indefinite storage, 
which assumes that a repository does not become available. The 
Commission does not believe that this scenario is likely to occur, but 
its inclusion in the analysis

[[Page 56785]]

helps the DGEIS to fully cover any likely environmental impacts 
associated with continued storage. The activities during the indefinite 
storage timeframe are the same as those that would occur for long-term 
storage; however, without a repository these activities would occur 
every 100 years.
B4. What is the significance of the levels of impact in the DGEIS 
(SMALL, MODERATE, LARGE)?
    The NRC describes the affected environment in terms of resource 
areas: Land use, socioeconomics, environmental justice, air quality, 
climate change, geology and soils, surface water, groundwater, 
terrestrial resources, aquatic ecology, special status species and 
habitats, historic and cultural resources, noise, aesthetics, waste 
management, transportation, and public and occupational health. The 
DGEIS contains analysis of the environmental impacts associated with 
each resource area. Additionally, the DGEIS considers the impacts on 
resource areas caused by postulated acts of terrorism and accidents. 
The significance of the magnitude of the impact for most of the 
resource areas evaluated is expressed as SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. The 
general definitions of significance levels are:
    SMALL: The 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 radiological impacts that do 
not exceed permissible levels in the Commission's regulations are 
considered small.
    MODERATE: The environmental effects are sufficient to alter 
noticeably, but not to destabilize, important attributes of the 
resource.
    LARGE: The environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are 
sufficient to destabilize important attributes of the resource.
    The DGEIS discussion of each resource area includes an explanation 
of how the significance category was determined. For issues in which 
the significance determination is based on risk (i.e., the probability 
of occurrence as well as the potential consequences), the probability 
of occurrence as well as the potential consequences have been factored 
into the determination of significance. For some resource areas the 
impact determination language is specific to the authorizing regulation 
or statute.
B5. What are the environmental impacts of at-reactor continued storage?
    The environmental impacts of continued storage are analyzed in the 
DGEIS. The DGEIS contains a detailed analysis of the impacts for short-
term storage, long-term storage, and indefinite storage. The analysis 
considers both at-reactor storage and away-from-reactor storage.\6\ 
Impacts attributable to at-reactor storage are addressed here and the 
impacts from away-from-reactor storage are addressed in question B6.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ For the purposes of the DGEIS impact analysis, the GEH-
Morris facility and the DOE TMI-2 ISFSI at Idaho Falls, Idaho were 
considered under the at-reactor storage evaluation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For at-reactor storage, the unavoidable adverse environmental 
impacts for each resource area are SMALL for all timeframes with the 
exception of waste management impacts, which are SMALL to MODERATE for 
the indefinite storage timeframe, and historic and cultural impacts, 
which are SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE for the long-term and indefinite 
storage timeframes. These elevated impact conclusions are influenced, 
in part, by the uncertainties regarding the specific circumstances of 
continued storage over long timeframes, including site-specific 
characteristics that could affect the intensity of potential 
environmental impacts and the resulting analysis assumptions that have 
been made by the NRC as documented in detail in Chapter 4 of the DGEIS. 
The moderate waste-management impacts are associated with the volume of 
nonhazardous solid waste generated by assumed facility replacement 
activities for only the indefinite timeframe. The SMALL, MODERATE, or 
LARGE historic and cultural impacts are based on a combination of the 
additional surface-disturbing activities from DTS construction and 
facility replacement activities during long-term and indefinite 
timeframes and a range of site-specific characteristics that are 
assumed for the purpose of evaluating a reasonable range of potential 
impacts. More specifically, these potential historic and cultural 
impacts vary depending on whether resources are present, the extent of 
proposed land disturbance, if the area has been previously surveyed to 
identify historic and cultural resources, and if the licensee has 
management plans and procedures that are protective of historic and 
cultural resources. For special status species, at-reactor ISFSI 
storage would not be likely to adversely affect special status species 
and habitats, whereas spent fuel pool continued storage impacts would 
be based on site-specific conditions and determined as part of an 
Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation. The NRC environmental 
justice impact analysis concluded there would be no disproportionately 
high and adverse human health and environmental impacts on minority and 
low-income populations.
    The following table provides a summary of the environmental impacts 
of continued at-reactor storage. Detailed discussion for each resource 
area can be found in Chapter 4 of the DGEIS. Cumulative impacts are 
addressed in Chapter 6 of the DGEIS. Chapter 8 of the DGEIS provides a 
summary of the impacts.

              Table 1--Environmental Impacts of At-Reactor Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Resource area                 Short-term storage       Long-term storage        Indefinite storage
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Land Use.............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Socioeconomics.......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Environmental Justice................               No disproportionately high and adverse impacts.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air Quality..........................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Climate Change.......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Geology and Soils....................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Surface Water:
    Quality..........................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Use..............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Groundwater:

[[Page 56786]]

 
    Quality..........................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Use..............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Terrestrial Resources................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Aquatic Ecology......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Special Status Species and Habitats..  Impacts from the spent   Not likely to adversely  Not likely to adversely
                                        fuel pool would be       affect.                  affect.
                                        determined as part of
                                        Endangered Species Act
                                        Section 7
                                        consultation; ISFSI
                                        operations are not
                                        likely to adversely
                                        affect special status
                                        species and habitats.
Historic and Cultural Resources......  SMALL..................  SMALL, MODERATE, or      SMALL, MODERATE, or
                                                                 LARGE.                   LARGE.
Noise................................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Aesthetics...........................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Waste Management:
    LLW..............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Mixed Waste......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL to MODERATE.
    Nonradioactive Waste.............  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL to MODERATE.
Transportation
    Traffic..........................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Health impacts...................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Public and Occupational Health.......  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Accidents............................                                    SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Terrorism Considerations.............                                    SMALL.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

B6. What are the environmental impacts of away-from-reactor continued 
storage?
    The away-from-reactor environmental impacts analyzed in the DGEIS 
include the impacts from constructing the ISFSI. Although an away-from-
reactor ISFSI would be subject to a site-specific licensing review that 
includes an environmental impact statement that would assess the 
environmental impacts due to construction, the impacts due to 
construction are included in the DGEIS due to the potential for that 
construction to occur during the timeframes analyzed in the DGEIS. For 
away-from-reactor storage, the unavoidable adverse environmental 
impacts for each resource area would be SMALL except for air quality, 
terrestrial ecology, aesthetics, waste management, and transportation 
where the impacts would be SMALL to MODERATE. Socioeconomic impacts 
would range from SMALL to beneficial and LARGE and historic and 
cultural impacts could be SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. The potential 
MODERATE impacts on air, terrestrial wildlife, and transportation are 
based on construction-related potential fugitive dust emissions, 
terrestrial wildlife direct and indirect mortalities, and temporary 
construction traffic impacts. The potential MODERATE impacts on 
aesthetics and waste management are based on noticeable changes to the 
viewshed from constructing a new away-from-reactor ISFSI, and the 
volume of nonhazardous solid waste generated by assumed ISFSI and DTS 
replacement activities for only the indefinite timeframe. The potential 
beneficial and LARGE impacts on socioeconomics would be due to local 
economic tax revenue increases from an away-from-reactor ISFSI. The 
potential LARGE impacts on historic and cultural and special status 
species apply to assumed site-specific circumstances at an away-from-
reactor ISFSI involving the presence of these resources during 
construction activities and absence of effective protection measures. 
Specifically, these potential historic and cultural impacts vary 
depending on whether resources are present, the extent of proposed land 
disturbance, and whether the licensee has management plans and 
procedures that are protective of historic and cultural resources. For 
special status species, away-from-reactor ISFSI storage would not be 
likely to adversely affect special status species and habitats based on 
the assumption an ISFSI can be sited to avoid special status species 
and habitats. Impacts on special status species and habitats would be 
based on site-specific conditions and determined as part of an 
Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation. The NRC environmental 
justice impact analysis for an away-from-reactor ISFSI concluded there 
would be no disproportionately high and adverse human health and 
environmental impacts on minority and low-income populations.
    The following table provides a summary of the environmental impacts 
from away-from-reactor continued storage: Detailed discussion for each 
resource area can be found in Chapter 5 of the DGEIS. Cumulative 
impacts are addressed in Chapter 6 of the DGEIS. Chapter 8 of the DGEIS 
provides a summary of the impacts.

           Table 2--Environmental Impacts of Away-From Reactor Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Resource area                 Short-term storage       Long-term storage        Indefinite storage
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Land Use.............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Socioeconomics.......................  SMALL (adverse) to       SMALL (adverse) to       SMALL (adverse) to
                                        LARGE (beneficial).      LARGE (beneficial).      LARGE (beneficial).
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 56787]]

 
Environmental Justice................               No disproportionately high and adverse impacts.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air Quality..........................  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Climate Change.......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Geology and Soils....................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Surface Water:                                                  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Quality..........................  SMALL..................
    Use..............................  SMALL..................
Groundwater..........................                           SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Quality..........................  SMALL..................
    Use..............................  SMALL..................
Terrestrial Resources................  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Aquatic Ecology......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Special Status Species and Habitats..  Impacts from the construction of the ISFSI would be determined as part of
                                        Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation. Assuming the ISFSI can be
                                            sited to avoid special status species and habitats, operation and
                                           replacement of the ISFSI is not likely to adversely affect special
                                           status species and habitats. Impacts would be determined as part of
                                        Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation if continued storage would
                                                       affect listed species or critical habitat.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Historic and Cultural Resources......  SMALL, MODERATE, or      SMALL, MODERATE, or      SMALL, MODERATE, or
                                        LARGE.                   LARGE.                   LARGE.
Noise................................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
Aesthetics...........................  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL to MODERATE.
Waste Management:
    LLW..............................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Mixed Waste......................  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
    Nonradioactive Waste.............  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL to MODERATE.
Transportation:
    Traffic..........................  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL to MODERATE......  SMALL to MODERATE.
    Health...........................  SMALL..................
Public and Occupational Health.......  SMALL..................  SMALL..................  SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Accidents............................                                    SMALL.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Terrorism Considerations.............                                    SMALL.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

B7. Does a potentially LARGE impact on historic and cultural resources 
affect the generic determination in the Waste Confidence DGEIS?
    The generic determination found in the DGEIS is not affected by the 
potentially LARGE impact on historic and cultural resources. As noted 
in Question A.2, the DGEIS describes a range of potential impacts 
associated with continued storage. The impact resulting from a specific 
licensing action associated with continued storage (e.g., construction 
of a DTS) would be determined by site-specific factors in a subsequent 
NEPA and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 review. 
If LARGE impacts were determined, under the site-specific environmental 
review and NHPA process, consultation would continue as the NRC 
develops and evaluates alternatives or modifications to avoid, 
minimize, or mitigate adverse effects to historic properties and 
impacts to other historic and cultural resources. An agency official 
must complete the Section 106 process before making a decision on an 
undertaking.
B8. How will the proposed rule address the impacts from continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel?
    The NRC is proposing revisions to 10 CFR 51.23(a) that reflect the 
analysis and conclusions of the DGEIS (NUREG-2157). Proposed 10 CFR 
51.23(a) provides that: (1) The analysis generically addresses the 
environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond 
the licensed life for operation of a reactor; and (2) the analysis 
supports the determinations that it is feasible to safely store spent 
nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor and to 
have a mined geologic repository within 60 years following the licensed 
life for operation of a reactor.
    Paragraph (b) of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to clarify that 
ISFSI renewals are included in the scope of the generic determination. 
Additionally, conforming changes would be made to 10 CFR 51.61, 
51.80(a), and 51.97(a) to clarify that ISFSI license renewals are 
included in the scope of waste confidence.
B9. What are the key assumptions used in the DGEIS?
    To guide its analysis, the NRC relied upon certain reasonably 
foreseeable assumptions regarding storage of spent nuclear fuel. A 
detailed discussion of these assumptions is contained in Section 1.8.3 
of the DGEIS. Key assumptions used in the DGEIS include:
     Institutional controls, the continued regulation of spent 
nuclear fuel, will continue.
     Spent fuel canisters and casks would be replaced 
approximately once every 100 years.
     A DTS would be built at each ISFSI location for fuel 
repackaging and the ISFSIs and DTS facilities would be replaced 
approximately once every 100 years.
     All spent nuclear fuel would be removed from spent fuel 
pools to dry storage by the end of the short-term storage timeframe (60 
years after licensed life).
     An ISFSI of sufficient size to hold all spent nuclear fuel 
generated during licensed life for operation will be constructed before 
the end of the licensed life.

[[Page 56788]]

     The analyses in the DGEIS are based on current technology 
and regulations.
B10. What did the NRC assume regarding the continuation of 
institutional controls and why?
    The DGEIS assumes that regulatory controls of spent nuclear fuel or 
``institutional controls'' would continue during the time when spent 
nuclear fuel is stored at an ISFSI at either on-site or at away from 
reactor site locations. Consistent with the ongoing regulation of 
operating nuclear facilities, the DGEIS assumes operating facilities 
would continue to maintain safety significant structures, systems, and 
components. For example, spent fuel storage casks are assumed to be 
maintained and replaced prior to any significant degradation and 
release of spent nuclear fuel (i.e., the DGEIS assumes spent fuel 
storage casks are replaced every 100 years).
    Therefore, the storage of spent nuclear fuel in any combination of 
storage (spent fuel pool or dry cask) is assumed to continue as a 
licensed activity under regulatory controls and oversight. Nonetheless, 
the conclusions reached by the NRC in the DGEIS regarding the technical 
feasibility of continued storage do not rely solely on the NRC's 
regulatory framework governing these activities. Rather, these 
conclusions are also based on the NRC's experience with the actual 
storage of spent nuclear fuel under this regulatory framework and the 
continued application of proven spent nuclear fuel-storage 
methodologies. Decades of operating experience and ongoing NRC 
inspections demonstrate that reactor and ISFSI licensees continue to 
meet their obligation to safely store spent nuclear fuel in accordance 
with the requirements of 10 CFR parts 50, 52, and 72. If the NRC were 
to find noncompliance with these requirements or otherwise identify a 
concern with the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel, the NRC would 
evaluate the issue and take whatever action or change in its regulatory 
program necessary to protect the public health and safety and the 
environment.
    Storage of spent nuclear fuel poses a sufficient hazard to the 
environment and to humans that the Commission considers it very 
unlikely that regulatory controls and oversight would cease to exist. 
Although disposal facilities generally consider the loss of 
institutional controls, such analysis is for time periods after the 
facility is permanently closed (i.e., no longer operating) and the 
hazard is significantly reduced due to disposal deep underground (e.g., 
on the order of 1,000 feet underground). Further, at some period beyond 
the closure of the disposal facility, there is a potential that the 
knowledge of the intended purpose of the facility could be lost, 
thereby increasing the likelihood that an inadvertent intrusion could 
occur. In contrast, a dry storage facility is typically a visible 
surface structure requiring active maintenance and security, making 
loss of institutional control so unlikely that it is a remote and 
speculative occurrence. Given that NEPA does not require consideration 
of remote and speculative issues, this analysis has not been included 
in the DGEIS.
    While the DOE assumed loss of institutional control in the ``Final 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository 
for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste 
at Yucca Mountain, Nye County Nevada'' (Yucca Mountain FEIS) (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML081750212), the NRC assumed the continuation of 
institutional controls in this DGEIS because the purpose of the 
analysis here is fundamentally different from the analysis conducted by 
the DOE for Yucca Mountain. The Waste Confidence DGEIS analyzes the 
environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel 
pending ultimate disposal in a deep geologic repository. In the Yucca 
Mountain documents, the DOE needed to compare the no-action alternative 
of not disposing of the fuel with the proposed action of disposal at 
Yucca Mountain. Because the proposed action assumed that active 
institutional controls would continue for only 100 years after the 
closure of the Yucca Mountain site, DOE concluded it was reasonable to 
analyze a no action alternative that assumed a similar level of 
institutional controls. The DOE noted, however, that in the event Yucca 
Mountain did not become a disposal site for spent nuclear fuel, the no-
action alternative analyzed in the Yucca Mountain FEIS was unlikely 
because the Federal government would develop a different disposal plan 
for the spent nuclear fuel that would provide better protection of the 
public and the environment than continued on-site storage. (Yucca 
Mountain FEIS 2-56-65).
B11. How would significant changes in these assumptions be addressed 
under the NRC's regulatory framework?
    The NRC has historically reviewed the Waste Confidence rule as the 
policy and technological foundations for spent nuclear fuel storage and 
disposal have evolved. Technological changes that might require 
revisiting the assumptions, such as revisions to the NRC's safety 
regulations that allow or require a shorter or longer period of time 
before repackaging, are likely to not affect the overall conclusions in 
the DGEIS that provides a regulatory basis for the Waste Confidence 
rule and, accordingly, would not justify an update to the rule. These 
technological changes could require licensees to amend their licenses, 
which would be accompanied by site specific safety and environmental 
reviews. The NRC will continue to monitor changes in National policy 
and developments in spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal technology. 
When warranted by a change in assumptions that would significantly 
affect the predicted impacts of continued storage, the NRC will 
consider updating its Waste Confidence rule, which would be supported 
by a new environmental analysis that would fully consider any new 
developments.
B12. What is the technical basis for concluding that continued storage 
can occur safely?
    Technical understanding and experience continues to support the 
technical feasibility of safe storage of spent nuclear fuel in spent 
fuel pools and in dry casks, based on their physical integrity over 
long periods of time (e.g., slow degradation of spent fuel during 
storage in spent fuel pools and dry casks and engineered features of 
storage pools and dry casks to safely withstand accidents caused by 
either natural or human-made phenomena). Additionally, regulatory 
oversight has been shown to enhance safety designs and operations as 
concerns and information evolve over time (e.g., security and safety 
enhancements made after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and 
the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster; and corrective actions to 
address spent fuel pool leaks) (see Section B.3 of Appendix B of the 
DGEIS and Section III.C.3, Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel at a Storage 
Facility, of this document for additional information).
    If necessary, there is no technical reason that storage of spent 
fuel in either spent fuel pools or dry casks cannot continue beyond 60 
years after the end of the reactor's licensed life for operation. 
Storage of spent fuel beyond this time would continue under an approved 
aging management program to ensure that monitoring and maintenance are 
adequately performed. The DGEIS assumes that, at an appropriate time, 
structures, systems, and components of the ISFSIs would be replaced as 
part of an approved aging management

[[Page 56789]]

program. The DGEIS assumes that these replacement activities begin 
during the long-term timeframe; however, based on current information, 
there is no expectation or requirement for replacement to occur at any 
specific time in the future. Continued experience with storing spent 
fuel will guide and inform aging management plans. At present, 
replacement activities (i.e., large-scale replacement of dry cask 
storage systems) are expected to occur no earlier than 60 years after 
the end of the reactor's licensed life for operation.
B13. If the NRC is considering extending the timeframe of safe storage, 
how is that not de facto on site disposal?
    Nothing in this rulemaking or the DGEIS authorizes the continued 
storage of spent nuclear fuel. Storage of spent nuclear fuel is 
authorized in site-specific licensing actions under 10 CFR parts 50, 
52, or 72. The general license provisions of 10 CFR part 72 also 
authorize storage of spent nuclear fuel in dry cask storage systems. 
The DGEIS and this rulemaking are intended to generically resolve the 
NRC's NEPA obligations with respect to the continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel.
    Although the timeframe for storage of spent nuclear fuel is longer 
than originally planned, the national policy embodied in the Nuclear 
Waste Policy Act Amendments of 1987 remains unchanged: Disposal of 
spent nuclear fuel in a deep geologic repository. Given the 
uncertainties in achieving a national consensus for the site of a 
repository that could affect the time it becomes available, the NRC has 
analyzed different timeframes for continued storage. Conducting this 
analysis enables NRC to comply with its NEPA obligations to analyze all 
reasonably foreseeable impacts of its licensing actions, even if the 
short-term storage scenario is more likely than long-term or indefinite 
storage. This analysis does not constitute an endorsement of an 
extended timeframe for storage of spent nuclear fuel. Additionally, the 
NRC does not create national policy for disposal of spent nuclear fuel. 
That responsibility lies exclusively with Congress and the President 
and, as noted, is presently expressed by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act 
Amendments of 1987. Rather, the NRC must implement national policy set 
by Congress and the President by evaluating, in the context of its 
licensing and regulatory actions, how that policy will affect continued 
storage of spent fuel after the licensed life of a reactor's operation.
B14. Does the U.S. Department of Energy's motion to withdraw its Yucca 
Mountain application affect the NRC's conclusion that geologic disposal 
is technically feasible?
    No. The Waste Confidence proceeding has historically addressed the 
technical feasibility of a repository without regard to a specific 
site, such as Yucca Mountain. As stated by Congress in the Nuclear 
Waste Policy Amendments of 1987, the national program for permanent 
spent nuclear fuel disposal remains premised on a deep geologic 
repository. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future in 
its January 2012 report (the ``BRC Report'') (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML120970375) reaffirmed the need and feasibility for deep geologic 
disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Further, deep geologic disposal is 
internationally recognized as the best solution. (Nuclear Energy Agency 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ``Moving 
Forward With Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste,'' 2008, http://www.oecd-nea.org/rwm/reports/2008/nea6433-statement.pdf.) Other 
countries are also pursuing geologic repositories for disposal of spent 
nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The Commission's 
exhaustive reviews supporting its earlier Waste Confidence decision 
have not identified any challenge to the technical feasibility of deep 
geologic disposal, and the Commission has therefore repeatedly affirmed 
its previous Waste Confidence Decision updates that a repository is 
technically feasible.
B15. What changes are being proposed for the timing of a geologic 
repository?
    The NRC is proposing a change to 10 CFR 51.23(a) that would reflect 
the most likely timeframe for repository availability. Proposed 
paragraph (a)(2) of 10 CFR 51.23 states that it is feasible to have a 
mined geologic repository within 60 years following the licensed life 
of operation for a reactor.
B16. Why does the NRC think it is feasible that a repository can be 
available in 60 years?
    As discussed in the DGEIS, the NRC has analyzed three timeframes 
that represent various scenarios for the length of continued storage 
that will be needed before spent fuel is sent to a repository. The 
first, most likely, timeframe is the short-term timeframe, which 
analyzes 60 years of continued storage after the end of a reactor's 
licensed life for operation. As discussed in the DGEIS, the NRC has 
concluded this is a likely timeframe, in part, because the DOE has 
expressed its intention to provide repository capacity by 2048, which 
is well before the 60 years after licensed life for operation for all 
currently operating plants, and about 10 years before the end of this 
timeframe for the oldest spent fuel within the scope of this analysis. 
Further, international and domestic experience with deep geologic 
repository programs supports a timeline of 25-35 years to provide 
repository capacity for the disposal of spent fuel. The DOE's 
prediction of 2048 is in line with this expectation. The NRC 
acknowledges, however, that the short-term timeframe, although the most 
likely, is not certain. The availability of a repository can be 
substantially affected by whatever process is employed to achieve a 
national consensus on repository site selection. The outcome of a 
search for a new repository location is uncertain. Accordingly, the 
DGEIS also analyzed two additional timeframes. The long-term timeframe 
considers the environmental impacts of continued storage for a total of 
160 years after the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation. 
Finally, although the NRC considers it highly unlikely, the DGEIS 
includes an analysis of an indefinite timeframe, which assumes that a 
repository does not become available.
    In picking a timeframe by which the Commission believes that a 
geologic repository is likely to become available, the Commission in no 
way means to imply that it believes that spent fuel will need to be 
stored indefinitely. Nor does it imply that a repository is only 
feasible at the end of the 60-year timeframe or that any particular 
repository site is precluded under the analysis. United States law 
supports the objective of timely disposal of spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level radioactive waste in a geologic repository, and the DOE is 
currently the agency responsible for carrying out the national policy 
to site and build a repository. However, spent nuclear fuel may need to 
be stored for several decades at either reactor sites or away-from-
reactor sites before ultimate disposal is available in a geologic 
repository. Having considered all available information, the Commission 
believes that the most likely timeframe for repository availability is 
60 years beyond a reactor's licensed life for operation (see also the 
discussion in Appendix B of the DGEIS and Section III.C.2, Geologic 
Repository--Technical Feasibility and Availability of this document).

[[Page 56790]]

B17. How does this rulemaking relate to the licensing of future away-
from-reactor ISFSIs?
    Future away-from-reactor ISFSI applicants must conduct a site-
specific environmental analysis to support their licensing. An away-
from-reactor ISFSI applicant or licensee cannot use the Waste 
Confidence rule and GEIS or the 10 CFR part 72 subpart K general 
license as the basis for constructing an away-from-reactor ISFSI. If 
necessary, the site-specific NEPA analysis for an away-from-reactor 
ISFSI could only rely on the analysis in the DGEIS and rule to a 
limited extent to satisfy its NEPA obligations with respect to the 
storage of spent nuclear fuel after the expiration of the away-from-
reactor ISFSI license.
B18. How does this rulemaking relate to the certification of spent fuel 
storage casks and use of the 10 CFR part 72 general storage license to 
store spent nuclear fuel at operating or decommissioned reactor 
facilities that are licensed under 10 CFR parts 50 or 52 by the NRC?
    The Waste Confidence rulemaking does not directly relate to cask 
certification because certifications are design reviews that do not 
consider or approve the loading of any specific fuel at any specific 
location. With respect to the use of general spent fuel storage 
licenses, these were issued under 10 CFR 72.210 to all licensees in 
possession of a 10 CFR parts 50 or 52 license. Licensing actions that 
have already occurred are not altered or affected by this rulemaking.
B19. How can a future site-specific reactor EIS or supplement that 
references the GEIS be used to understand the environmental impacts of 
the no-action alternative of not approving nuclear power operations at 
a proposed site?
    Both site-specific reactor EISs for initial licensing and site-
specific supplements to the license renewal GEIS (NUREG-1437) include 
descriptions of the no-action alternative of not granting the initial 
license or not renewing the existing license, respectively. The 
description of the no-action alternative in site-specific reactor EISs 
that support initial reactor licensing discusses impacts that would be 
avoided if the NRC did not grant the license. Similarly, the site-
specific supplements to the license renewal GEIS describe environmental 
impacts that would be avoided should the NRC not renew an operating 
license for an existing reactor, and the reactor shut down at, or 
before, the end of its license term and began decommissioning.
    For both proposed new reactors and proposed reactor license 
renewals, the Waste Confidence GEIS would be of limited use in 
understanding the environmental impacts of the no-action alternative of 
not approving the requested licenses. If no new license were issued, 
there would be no spent nuclear fuel generated (or no additional spent 
nuclear fuel generated in the case of a renewal) or stored at the site 
as a result of the proposed actions and therefore no environmental 
impacts triggered by those actions. The Waste Confidence GEIS would 
describe the impacts of continued storage that could be avoided or 
reduced if the no-action alternative were selected. The Waste 
Confidence GEIS would also describe the impacts of continued storage of 
already existing spent fuel in the case of evaluating the no action 
alternative related to the renewal of a license for an already existing 
facility.
B20. What changes are being proposed to address continued storage for 
license renewal?
    Table B-1, ``Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal 
of Nuclear Power Plants'' addresses the environmental impacts of 
license renewal activities by resource area. Table B-1 is located in 
appendix B to subpart A of 10 CFR part 51, ``Environmental Effect of 
Renewing the Operating License of a Nuclear Power Plant.'' When the 
Commission issued the final rule on the environmental effects of 
license renewal, it was not able to rely on the Waste Confidence rule 
for two of the issues (78 FR 37282; June 20, 2013) (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13101A059). The Commission noted that upon issuance of the GEIS and 
revised Waste Confidence rule, the NRC would make any necessary 
conforming changes to the license renewal rule. The proposed rule would 
revise two finding column entries to address continued storage. The 
``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
waste disposal'' issue would be reclassified as a Category 1 impact and 
the finding column entry revised to address continued storage. For the 
``Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel'' issue, the finding column 
entry would be revised to include the period of continued storage.

C. Decision

C1. Introduction
    Historically, the Waste Confidence Decision contained five 
``Findings'' that addressed the technical feasibility of a mined 
geologic repository, the degree of assurance that disposal would be 
available by a certain time, and the degree of assurance that spent 
fuel and high-level waste could be managed safely without significant 
environmental impacts for a certain period beyond the expiration of 
plants' operating licenses. Preparation of and reliance upon a GEIS is 
a fundamental departure from the approach used in past Waste Confidence 
proceedings. What had been ``Findings'' in past Decisions are now 
conclusions based on the information that is provided in the DGEIS on 
environmental impacts from continued storage and the associated 
assessment of spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal practices 
nationally and internationally. The DGEIS acknowledges the 
uncertainties inherent in any prediction of repository availability and 
provides an environmental analysis of any reasonably foreseeable 
timeframes. To this end, the DGEIS considers a number of possible 
timeframes for repository availability, including the impacts from 
never having a repository.
    This section provides a discussion of the issues and conclusions 
addressed in the DGEIS that had previously appeared in the findings 
discussions of prior Waste Confidence decisions. Based on the NRC's 
analysis in the DGEIS, the discussion in this section addresses the 
issues assessed in the ``Five Findings'' as conclusions, regarding the 
agency's prediction as to the availability of a repository (see Section 
III.C2., Geologic Repository--Technical Feasibility and Availability, 
of this document) and conclusions regarding the technical feasibility 
of safely storing spent fuel in an at-reactor or away-from-reactor 
storage facility (see Section III.C3., Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel at 
a Storage Facility, of this document). The DGEIS now fulfills NRC's 
NEPA obligations for analyzing the environmental impacts of continued 
storage and the related uncertainties in repository availability. 
Specific sections of the DGEIS are referenced, as appropriate, 
throughout Section III.C., Decision, of this document. The following 
paragraphs frame the issues considered in developing these conclusions 
in terms of the technical feasibility and availability of a repository 
and the safe management of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel.
C2. Geologic Repository--Technical Feasibility and Availability
    The issue of the technical feasibility of a geologic repository was 
historically addressed in Finding 1 of the Waste Confidence Decision 
and the availability of a repository was addressed in Finding

[[Page 56791]]

2. ``Technical feasibility'' simply means whether construction and 
operation of a geologic repository is technically possible using 
existing technology without any fundamental breakthroughs in science 
and technology. If technically feasible, then the question becomes what 
is a reasonable timeframe for the siting, licensing, construction, and 
opening of a geologic repository.
    In past Waste Confidence proceedings in 1984, 1990, and 2010, the 
NRC reviewed the technical feasibility of deep geologic disposal and 
each time concluded that this method of disposal is technically 
feasible. As discussed in more detail in this section, the NRC has not 
found any new information that would challenge this determination. In 
fact, new information that has been developed since 2010 provides 
further support for the Commission's conclusion that deep geologic 
disposal is technically feasible.
    The DOE's selection of a suitable site is governed by the Nuclear 
Waste Policy Act (NWPA) (96 Stat. 2201 (1983) (current version at 42 
U.S.C. 10132 (2006)). The DOE explored potential repository sites 
before the NWPA was enacted, but the NWPA set in place a formal process 
and schedule for the development of two geologic repositories. The 
following brief summary of key provisions of the NWPA may assist 
readers in understanding the DOE's process for locating a suitable 
site.
    As initially enacted, Section 112 of the NWPA directed DOE to issue 
guidelines for the recommendation of sites; then to nominate at least 
five sites as suitable for site characterization for selection as the 
first repository site; and, not later than January 1, 1985, to 
recommend three of those sites to the President for characterization as 
candidate sites. Not later than July 1, 1989, DOE was to again nominate 
five sites and recommend three of them to the President for 
characterization as candidate sites for the second repository. Section 
113 of the NWPA directed DOE to carry out site characterization 
activities for the approved sites. Following site characterization, 
Section 114 directed DOE to recommend sites to the President as 
suitable for development as repositories and the President was to 
recommend one site to the Congress by March 31, 1987, and another site 
by March 31, 1989, for development as the first two repositories. 
States and affected Indian tribes were given the opportunity to object, 
but if the recommendations were approved by Congress, DOE was to submit 
applications for a construction authorization to the NRC. The NRC was 
given until January 1, 1989, to reach a decision on the first 
application and until January 1, 1992, on the second. The Commission 
was directed to prohibit the emplacement of more than 70,000 metric 
tons heavy metal (MTHM) in the first repository until a second 
repository was in operation. In 1987, Congress amended the NWPA to 
restrict site characterization solely to a site at Yucca Mountain, 
Nevada and terminated the program for a second repository. The amended 
NWPA provided that if at any time the DOE determines Yucca Mountain to 
be unsuitable for development as a repository, the DOE must report to 
Congress its recommendations for further action to ensure the safe, 
permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive 
waste, including the need for new legislation.
    Support for the feasibility of geologic disposal can be drawn from 
experience gained from the review of the DOE's Yucca Mountain license 
application. The DOE made its suitability determination for the Yucca 
Mountain site in 2002. On June 3, 2008, the DOE submitted an 
application for a construction authorization to the NRC, and on 
September 8, 2008, the NRC staff notified the DOE that it found the 
application acceptable for docketing (73 FR 53284; September 15, 2008) 
and began its review. Although the DOE subsequently filed a motion with 
the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board seeking permission to 
withdraw the license application for a high-level nuclear waste 
repository at Yucca Mountain (ADAMS Accession No. ML100621397), the 
NRC's review continued until September 2011. The NRC's review did not 
identify any issues that would challenge the feasibility of geological 
disposal. This conclusion is reflected in two technical review 
documents: NUREG-2108, ``Technical Evaluation Report on the Content of 
the U.S. Department of Energy Yucca Mountain Repository License 
Application--Preclosure Volume: Repository Safety Before Permanent 
Closure'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML11250A093), and NUREG-2107, 
``Technical Evaluation Report on the Content of the U.S. Department of 
Energy's Yucca Mountain Repository License Application--Postclosure 
Volume: Repository Safety After Permanent Closure'' (ADAMS Accession 
No. ML11223A273). These documents contain the NRC staff's technical 
reviews of the DOE's license application for Yucca Mountain in the 
areas of safety before permanent closure and after permanent closure.
    Additionally, the DOE has sited and constructed, and is operating, 
a deep geologic repository for defense-related transuranic radioactive 
waste near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 
(WIPP), in operation since 1999, is located in the Chihuahuan Desert of 
southeastern New Mexico, approximately 26 miles east of Carlsbad. At 
this site, the DOE has successfully disposed of transuranic waste from 
nuclear weapons research and testing operations. The WIPP project 
provides additional evidence that a geologic repository is technically 
feasible. During its 14 years of operation, no issues have been 
identified that would challenge the feasibility of geologic disposal.
    Today, the consensus within the scientific and technical community 
engaged in spent nuclear fuel management activities at both a national 
and international level continues to be that safe geologic disposal is 
achievable with currently available technology (see, e.g., BRC Report 
(Section 4.3)). Ongoing research in the United States and other 
countries supports the conclusion that geologic disposal remains viable 
and that acceptable sites can be identified. Despite decades of 
research into various geologic media, no insurmountable technical or 
scientific problem has emerged to disturb the confidence that safe 
disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste can be 
achieved in a mined geologic repository. There has been significant 
progress in the scientific understanding and technological development 
needed for geologic disposal over the past two decades. There is now a 
much better understanding of the processes that affect the ability of 
repositories to isolate waste over long periods (International Atomic 
Energy Agency (IAEA), ``Scientific and Technical Basis for the Geologic 
Disposal of Radioactive Wastes, Technical Reports Series No. 413'' 
2003). The ability to characterize and quantitatively assess the 
capabilities of geologic and engineered barriers has been repeatedly 
demonstrated (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 
Nuclear Energy Agency, ``Lessons Learnt From Ten Performance Assessment 
Studies,'' 1997). Specific sites have been investigated and extensive 
experience has been gained in underground engineering (IAEA, 
``Radioactive Waste Management Studies and Trends, IAEA/WMDB/ST/4,'' 
2005; IAEA, ``The Use of Scientific and Technical Results From 
Underground Research Laboratory Investigations for the Geologic 
Disposal

[[Page 56792]]

of Radioactive Waste, IAEA-TECDOC-1243,'' 2001). These advances and 
others throughout the world continue to confirm the soundness of the 
basic concept of deep geologic disposal (IAEA, ``Joint Convention on 
Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on Safety of Radioactive Waste 
Management, INFCIRC/546,'' 1997). (Note that copies of all IAEA 
documents are available on the IAEA Web site at http://www.IAEA.org.)
    In the United States, the technical approach for safe high-level 
radioactive waste disposal has remained unchanged for several decades, 
i.e., a deep geologic repository containing natural barriers to hold 
canisters of high-level radioactive waste with additional engineered 
barriers to further retard radionuclide release. Although some elements 
of this technical approach have changed in response to new knowledge, 
safe disposal is still feasible with current technology.
    The BRC Report recommended ``prompt efforts to develop one or more 
geologic disposal facilities'' (p vii). The BRC Report did not identify 
any obstacles to the technical feasibility of siting, constructing, and 
operating a repository. In the DOE ``Strategy for the Management and 
Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste'' 
(hereafter referred to as the DOE Strategy Report) (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML13011A138), the DOE responded to the BRC Report by presenting a 
framework for ``moving toward a sustainable program to deploy an 
integrated system capable of transporting, storing, and disposing of 
used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from civilian 
nuclear power generation . . . .'' The new DOE strategy includes a 
nuclear waste management system consisting of a pilot interim storage 
facility, a larger full-scale interim storage facility, and a geologic 
repository. No new information has emerged that would cause the 
Commission to revisit its conclusions from previous Waste Confidence 
rulemakings that deep geologic disposal is technically feasible. The 
Commission therefore concludes that deep geologic disposal continues to 
be technically feasible.
    Given that geologic repositories continue to be technically 
feasible, the question then becomes how long it is likely to take to 
successfully site, license, construct, and open a repository. In 
answering this question, the Commission has, among other things, 
historically drawn upon international experience to inform its 
conclusion of how long it will likely take to successfully site, 
license, construct, and open a repository. Of the 24 countries (other 
than the United States) considering disposal of spent or reprocessed 
nuclear fuel in deep geologic repositories, 10 have established target 
dates for the availability of a repository. Most of the 14 countries 
that have not established target dates rely on centralized interim 
storage, which may include a protracted period of onsite storage before 
shipment to a centralized facility.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ The three countries with target dates that plan direct 
disposal of spent fuel are: Czech Republic (2050), Finland (2020), 
and Sweden (2025). The seven countries with target dates for 
disposal of reprocessed spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste 
are: Belgium (2035), China (2050), France (2025), Germany (2025), 
Japan (2030s), Netherlands (2103), and Switzerland (2042).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 1997, the United Kingdom (UK) rejected an application for the 
construction of a rock characterization facility at Sellafield, leaving 
the country without a path forward for long-term management or disposal 
of either intermediate-level waste or spent nuclear fuel. In 1998, an 
inquiry by the UK House of Lords endorsed geologic disposal but 
specified that public acceptance was required. As a result, the UK 
Government embraced a repository plan based on the principles of 
voluntarism and partnership between communities and implementers. This 
led to the initiation of a national public consultation and major 
structural reorganization within the UK program. The UK Nuclear 
Decommissioning Authority envisions availability of a geologic disposal 
facility for intermediate-level waste in 2040 and a geologic facility 
for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in 2075; 
however, there have been changes in societal acceptance in the UK for 
the siting of a geological disposal facility. In 2007, the Scottish 
Government officially rejected any further consultation with the UK 
Government on deep geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste 
and spent nuclear fuel. This action by the Scottish Government 
effectively ended more than 7 years of consultations with stakeholders 
near Scottish nuclear installations. In 2013, the Cumbria County 
Council voted to withdraw from the UK process to find a host community 
for an underground radioactive waste disposal facility and to end the 
site selection process in west Cumbria.
    In Germany, a large salt dome at Gorleben had been under study 
since 1977 as a potential spent nuclear fuel repository. After decades 
of intense discussions and protests, the utilities and the government 
reached an agreement in 2000 to suspend exploration of Gorleben for at 
least 3, and at most 10 years. In 2003, the Federal Ministry for the 
Environment set up an interdisciplinary expert group to identify, with 
public participation, criteria for selecting new candidate sites. In 
October 2010, Germany resumed exploration of Gorleben as a potential 
spent nuclear fuel repository. In March 2013, Germany announced plans 
to form a 24-member commission to develop siting criteria. The 
Commission will hold public meetings through 2015 on the issue of a 
permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste.
    Initial efforts in France, during the 1980s, also failed to 
identify potential repository sites, using solely technical criteria. 
Failure of these attempts led to the passage of nuclear waste 
legislation that prescribed a period of 15 years of research. Reports 
on generic disposal options in clay and granite media were prepared and 
reviewed by the safety authorities in 2005. In 2006, conclusions from 
the public debate on disposal options, held in 2005, were published. 
Later that year, the French Parliament passed new legislation 
designating a single site for deep geologic disposal of intermediate- 
and high-level radioactive waste. This facility, to be located in the 
Bure region of northeastern France, is scheduled to open in 2025, about 
34 years after passage of the original Nuclear Waste Law of 1991.
    In Switzerland, after detailed site investigations in several 
locations, the Swiss National Cooperative for Radioactive Waste 
Disposal proposed, in 1993, a deep geologic repository for low- and 
intermediate-level waste at Wellenberg. Despite a 1998 finding by Swiss 
authorities that technical feasibility of the disposal concept was 
successfully demonstrated, a public cantonal referendum rejected the 
proposed repository in 2002. Even after more than 25 years of high 
quality field and laboratory research, Swiss authorities do not expect 
that a deep geologic repository will be available before 2040.
    In 1998, an independent panel reported to the Governments of Canada 
and Ontario on its review of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s concept of 
geologic disposal (Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Disposal Concept 
Environmental Assessment Panel, Report of the Nuclear Fuel Waste 
Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel, 
February 1998). (Note that reports related to the Canadian program are 
available at www.nrcan.gc.ca.) The panel found that from a technical

[[Page 56793]]

perspective, safety of the concept had been adequately demonstrated but 
from a social perspective, it had not. The panel concluded that broad 
public support is necessary in Canada to ensure the acceptability of a 
concept for managing nuclear fuel wastes. The panel also found that 
technical safety is a key part, but only one part, of acceptability. To 
be considered acceptable in Canada, the panel found that a concept for 
managing nuclear fuel wastes must: (1) Have broad public support; (2) 
be safe from both a technical and social perspective; (3) have been 
developed within a sound ethical and social assessment framework; (4) 
have the support of Aboriginal people; (5) be selected after comparison 
with the risks, costs, and benefits of other options; and (6) be 
advanced by a stable and trustworthy proponent and overseen by a 
trustworthy regulator. Resulting legislation mandated a nationwide 
consultation process and widespread organizational reform.
    In 2007, the Government of Canada announced its selection of the 
Adaptive Phased Management approach and directed the Nuclear Waste 
Management Organization (NWMO) to take at least 2 years to develop a 
``collaborative community-driven site-selection process.'' The NWMO 
will use this process to open consultations with citizens, communities, 
Aboriginals, and other interested parties to find a suitable site in a 
willing host community. For financial planning and cost estimation 
purposes only, the NWMO assumes the availability of a deep geological 
repository in 2035, 27 years after initiating development of new site 
selection criteria, 30 years after embarking on a national public 
consultation, and 37 years after rejection of the original geologic 
disposal concept (NWMO, Annual Report 2007: Moving Forward Together, 
March 2008). NWMO developed a site selection process with public input 
and launched the process in 2010. At the end of 2012, 21 communities 
had expressed interest in learning more about the project (NWMO, Annual 
Report 2012: Learning More Together, March 2013).
    Repository development programs in Finland and Sweden are further 
along than in other countries but have taken time to build support from 
potential host communities. In Finland, preliminary site investigations 
started in 1986, and detailed characterizations of four locations were 
performed between 1993 and 2000. In 2001, the Finnish Parliament 
ratified the Government's decision to proceed with a repository project 
at a chosen site only after the 1999 approval by the municipal council 
of the host community. In December 2012, Posiva (the nuclear waste 
management company in Finland) submitted a construction license 
application for a final repository that will hold spent nuclear fuel 
from Finland's nuclear reactors. Finland expects this facility to begin 
receipt of spent nuclear fuel for disposal in 2020, 34 years after the 
start of preliminary site investigations.
    Between 1993 and 2000, Sweden conducted feasibility studies in 
eight municipalities. One site was found technically unsuitable, and 
two sites were eliminated by municipal referenda. Three of the 
remaining five sites were selected for detailed site investigations. 
Municipalities adjacent to two of these sites agreed to be potential 
hosts and one refused. Since 2007, detailed site investigations were 
conducted at both [Ouml]sthammar and Oskarshamn, both of which already 
host nuclear power stations. On June 3, 2009, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel 
and Waste Management Company, SKB, selected the Forsmark Site located 
in the [Ouml]sthammar municipality for the Swedish spent nuclear fuel 
repository. The SKB submitted a license application in spring 2011. A 
government decision is expected in 2015. If Swedish authorities 
authorize construction, the repository could be available for disposal 
around 2025, about 30 years after feasibility studies began.
    Based on international experience, 25-35 years is a reasonable 
estimate for the amount of time necessary to site, license, and open a 
geologic repository. The time DOE will need to develop a repository 
site will depend upon a variety of factors, including the passage of 
any required enabling legislation and budgeted funding. Broader 
institutional issues also bear on the time it takes to implement 
geologic disposal. Given this uncertainty, the DGEIS evaluates a range 
of scenarios for the timeframe of the development of a repository, 
including indefinite storage.
    The DOE is currently the agency responsible for carrying out the 
national policy to site and build a repository, which includes 
designing, constructing, operating, and decommissioning the repository. 
The NRC, on the other hand, is the agency responsible for reviewing, 
licensing, and overseeing the construction and operation of the 
repository. The DOE Strategy Report states that it is the 
Administration's goal to have a repository sited by 2026, licensing to 
be complete by 2042, and the repository constructed and open for 
operations by 2048. The total of 35 years is consistent with 
international efforts and estimates of between 25 and 35 years to site, 
license, construct, and open a repository.
    Before DOE can start the development of a new site, Congress will 
need to provide additional direction, beyond the current NWPA, for the 
long-term management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level 
radioactive waste. Whatever approach Congress mandates, international 
and domestic experience since 1990 suggests that greater attention 
needs to be paid to developing societal and political acceptance in 
concert with essential technical, safety, and security assurances. 
While there is no technical basis for making precise estimates of the 
minimum time needed to accomplish these objectives, examination of the 
international examples cited previously would support a range of 
between 25 and 35 years. The Commission believes that societal and 
political acceptance must occur before a successful repository program 
can be completed, and that this is unlikely to occur until a Federal 
decision is made, whether for technical, environmental, political, 
legal, or societal reasons, that will allow the licensing and 
construction of a repository to proceed. The BRC Report recommended 
using a siting process that is consent-based. In response to the BRC 
report, the DOE Strategy Report includes a strategy that includes the 
establishment of a consent-based siting process.
    As discussed in this section, geologic disposal continues to be the 
favored disposition path both nationally and internationally. Moreover, 
geologic disposal has moved significantly beyond a theoretical concept 
as demonstrated by: (1) Submission of a license application for a 
potential repository at Yucca Mountain and the NRC conducting a 
technical review of that application; (2) submission on December 28, 
2012, of a construction license application by Posiva for a final 
repository that will hold spent nuclear fuel from Finland's nuclear 
reactors; and (3) submission in spring 2011, of an application by SKB 
for permission to build a repository for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden. 
Additionally, a deep geologic repository for defense-related 
transuranic radioactive wastes in Carlsbad, New Mexico (WIPP) began 
disposal operations in March 1999. Based on all the information in this 
section and Appendix B of the DGEIS, the Commission concludes that a 
geologic repository is technically feasible.
    In picking a timeframe by which the Commission has confidence that 
a

[[Page 56794]]

geologic repository can be available, the Commission is not concluding 
that it supports storage of spent nuclear fuel for an indefinitely long 
period. United States law supports the objective of timely disposal of 
spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in a geologic 
repository. However, spent nuclear fuel will need to be stored for 
several decades at either reactor sites or at away-from-reactor sites 
beyond the licensed life for operations before ultimate disposal in a 
geologic repository. Having considered all the available information, 
the Commission believes that a reasonable timeframe for repository 
availability is within 60 years beyond the licensed life for operation 
of a reactor. Based on international experience, this timeframe is 
still a reasonable time for the United States to site, license, 
construct, and open a geologic repository and is longer than the 
predicted reasonable period of 25 to 35 years to site and develop a 
repository. Dresden 1 will be the first reactor to reach 60 years 
beyond licensed life for operations in 2059, which means that a 
repository would be needed by 2059 to support the short-term continued 
storage scenario in the GEIS that sufficient repository capacity 
becomes available by 60 years after the end of a reactor's licensed 
life for operation. The 2059 date is several years beyond the DOE's 
estimate of 2048 to site, license, construct, and open a repository. 
For new reactors, 60 years beyond the licensed life of the reactor 
would mean that repository capacity would be available in 120 to 140 
years. Therefore, the Commission concludes that it is reasonable to 
assume the availability of a mined geologic repository is feasible 
within 60 years beyond the licensed life for operating and planned new 
reactors.
C3. Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
    Continued storage of spent nuclear fuel at-reactor or away-from-
reactor sites will be necessary until a repository is available for 
permanent disposal. During the continued storage period, the storage of 
spent nuclear fuel at a storage facility is focused on safe spent 
nuclear fuel management. Safe spent nuclear fuel management involves a 
regulatory framework and the technical feasibility of safe storage. The 
regulatory framework applicable to both wet (spent fuel pool) and dry 
storage of spent nuclear fuel is discussed in Section C3.a., Regulatory 
Framework, of this document. The technical feasibility of safe storage 
of spent nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools is discussed in Section 
C3.b.i., Technical Feasibility of Wet Storage, and in dry cask storage 
in Section C3.b.ii., Technical Feasibility of Dry Storage, of this 
document (see also Section B.3 of Appendix B of the DGEIS).
C3.a. Regulatory Framework
    A strong regulatory framework that involves regulatory oversight, 
continuous improvement based on research and operating experience, and 
licensee compliance with regulatory requirements is important to the 
continued safe storage of spent nuclear fuel until repository capacity 
is available. The regulatory framework was previously addressed in 
Findings 3 and 5. Finding 3 analyzed whether high-level radioactive 
waste and spent nuclear fuel would be safely managed until repository 
capacity is available. Finding 5 dealt with whether safe storage 
capacity would be made available if necessary. The key question of 
these Findings is whether a regulatory framework exists to ensure the 
continued safe management of spent nuclear fuel and whether licensees 
will do what is necessary to safely store their spent nuclear fuel 
until repository capacity for their spent nuclear fuel is available.
    After the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation, the spent 
nuclear fuel is stored in either spent fuel pools or in dry cask 
storage. At-reactor storage of spent nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools 
is covered by a licensee's 10 CFR parts 50 or 52 license. Monitoring of 
the structural integrity of the spent fuel pool is addressed through 
aging management programs. In particular, the aging management program 
focuses on the pool's water chemistry as it relates to the integrity of 
the stainless steel liner, spent fuel storage racks, and spent-fuel-
storage-racks-neutron-absorbing sheets. Currently only one away-from-
reactor ISFSI stores spent nuclear fuel in a spent fuel pool--the GEH-
Morris facility. The DGEIS assumes that no new away-from-reactor spent 
fuel pool storage facilities are constructed.
    Spent nuclear fuel can also be stored in dry casks in at-reactor 
ISFSIs licensed by the NRC under either a specific license or a general 
license or in an away-from-reactor ISFSI under a specific license. 
Currently there are 69 ISFSIs licensed to operate in 34 States under 
either specific (15) or general (54) 10 CFR part 72 licenses.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ The Private Fuel Storage (PFS) facility was licensed, 
however, as a result of legal challenges not related to the NRC 
licensing proceeding, the proposed PFS ISFSI has not been 
constructed. On December 20, 2012, PFS submitted a request to the 
NRC to terminate its license (ADAMS Accession No. ML12356A063). As 
of publication, that request is pending before the agency.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A specific license for an ISFSI under 10 CFR part 72 can be granted 
by the NRC after a review of the safety, environmental, and physical 
security aspects of the proposed ISFSI and the financial aspects of the 
licensee. If the NRC concludes that the ISFSI can operate safely and 
prepares either an EA and FONSI or EIS, then a license can be issued. 
This license contains requirements on topics such as leak testing and 
monitoring and specifies the quantity and type of material the licensee 
is authorized to store at the site. Neither the initial nor renewal 
license terms for an ISFSI are to exceed 40 years from the date of 
issuance. Part 72 of 10 CFR also contains the regulatory framework for 
licensing a monitored retrievable storage facility should the need 
arise.
    A general license under subpart K of 10 CFR part 72, ``General 
License for Storage of Spent Fuel at Power Reactor Sites,'' authorizes 
storage of spent fuel in casks previously approved by the NRC at a site 
already licensed to possess fuel to operate a nuclear power reactor. 
Under 10 CFR 72.210, ``General license issued,'' a general license for 
the storage of spent nuclear fuel in an ISFSI at power reactor sites is 
issued to those persons authorized to possess or operate nuclear power 
reactors under 10 CFR parts 50 or 52. The general license is limited to 
spent nuclear fuel that the general licensee is authorized to possess 
at the site under the 10 CFR parts 50 or 52 license for the site. The 
general license is further limited to storage of spent nuclear fuel in 
casks approved and fabricated under the provisions of subpart L of 10 
CFR part 72, ``Approval of Spent Fuel Storage Casks''; the approved 
cask designs are listed in 10 CFR 72.214, ``List of approved spent fuel 
storage casks.'' The NRC has approved 34 designs. The NRC conducts a 
technical review of each cask design before approving the design and 
listing it in 10 CFR 72.214. After the NRC staff documents its review 
of the proposed cask design in a safety evaluation report, the NRC 
conducts a rulemaking, which includes an environmental review, to add 
the design to the list of approved cask designs. Licensees that use 
casks with the approved designs must follow the terms of the 
Certificate of Compliance and the technical specifications for the 
design. Licensees must demonstrate that it is safe to store spent fuel 
in dry casks at their site, including analysis of earthquake intensity 
and tornado missiles. Licensees also review their programs (such as 
security and emergency planning) and make any changes to

[[Page 56795]]

those programs needed to accommodate an ISFSI at their site.
    Parts 50, 52, and 72 of 10 CFR all have provisions for site-
specific license renewal. The current regulatory framework for storage 
of spent nuclear fuel allows for multiple license renewals subject to 
aging management analysis and planning. An applicant for storage 
license renewal must provide appropriate technical bases for 
identifying and addressing aging-related effects and develop specific 
aging management plans to justify extended operations of ISFSIs under 
the renewed license term. The regulatory framework for storage is 
supported by well-developed regulatory guidance; voluntary domestic and 
international consensus standards; research and analytical studies; and 
processes for implementing licensing reviews, inspection programs, and 
enforcement oversight.
    With respect to decommissioning, as required under 10 CFR 72.30(b), 
all ISFSI licensees must provide a decommissioning funding plan to 
demonstrate reasonable assurance that funds will be available to 
decommission the ISFSI. Further, the NRC's regulations require that 
every nuclear power reactor operating license issued under 10 CFR part 
50 and every combined license issued under 10 CFR part 52 must contain 
a condition requiring each licensee to submit written notification to 
the Commission of the licensee's plan for managing irradiated fuel 
after reactor shutdown. The submittal, required by 10 CFR 50.54(bb), 
must include information on how the licensee intends to provide funding 
for the management of its spent nuclear fuel.
    In accordance with the license termination requirements for power 
reactors in 10 CFR 50.82(a)(3) and 52.110(c), decommissioning is to be 
completed within 60 years of permanent cessation of operations. 
Completion of decommissioning beyond 60 years will be approved by the 
NRC only when necessary to protect public health and safety. Factors 
that will be considered by the Commission include unavailability of 
waste disposal capacity and other site-specific factors, including the 
presence of other nuclear facilities at the site. Given this regulatory 
framework, it may be reasonably assumed that each nuclear power plant, 
including its onsite spent fuel pool, will be decommissioned within 60 
years of permanent cessation of operations. This is the basis for 
assuming in the DGEIS that all of the spent nuclear fuel from the spent 
fuel pool is removed from the pool by the end of the short-term 
timeframe (see Section 2.2.1.1 of the DGEIS for more information on 
decommissioning during the short-term period).
    As part of its oversight, the NRC can issue orders and new or 
amended regulations to address emerging issues that could affect the 
storage of spent nuclear fuel. For example, following the terrorist 
attacks of September 11, 2001, the NRC undertook an extensive 
reexamination of spent nuclear fuel safety and security issues. In 
2002, the NRC issued orders to licensees that required power reactors 
in decommissioning, wet ISFSIs, and dry storage ISFSIs to enhance 
security and improve their capabilities to respond to, and mitigate the 
consequences of, a terrorist attack. These orders required additional 
security measures, including increased patrols, augmented security 
forces and capabilities, and more restrictive site access controls to 
reduce the likelihood of a successful terrorist attack. In 2007, the 
NRC issued a final rule revising the Design Basis Threat, which also 
increased the security requirements for power reactors and their spent 
fuel pools (72 FR 12705; March 19, 2007). More recently in March 2009, 
the NRC issued a final rule to improve security measures at nuclear 
power reactors, including spent fuel pools (74 FR 13926; March 27, 
2009). The NRC also plans to codify enhanced security measures at 
ISFSIs in a future rulemaking (74 FR 66589; December 16, 2009).
    Section 4.19 of the DGEIS describes the environmental impacts of 
potential acts of sabotage or terrorism involving the continued storage 
of spent nuclear fuel. The section acknowledges that as the immediate 
hazard posed by the high radiation levels of spent nuclear fuel 
diminishes over time, so does the deterrent to handling by unauthorized 
persons. The NRC will consider this type of information in evaluating 
whether additional security requirements are warranted in the future.
    Other examples of the NRC's oversight are the additional 
requirements that the NRC has imposed in response to the March 11, 
2011, severe earthquake and subsequent tsunami that resulted in 
extensive damage to the six-unit Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant 
in Japan. On March 12, 2012, the NRC issued multiple orders and a 
request for information to all of its nuclear power plant licensees. 
The orders addressed mitigating strategies for beyond-design basis 
external events and reliable spent fuel pool instrumentation. The 
request for information was designed to gather information to allow the 
NRC to reevaluate seismic and flooding hazards at operating reactor 
sites and to determine whether appropriate staffing and communication 
can be relied upon to coordinate event response during a prolonged 
station blackout event, as was experienced at Fukushima Dai-ichi.
    Another aspect of the NRC's regulatory program for continued 
storage, as for reactors and other licensed facilities generally, 
involves generic communications. Generic communications include, but 
are not limited to, generic letters, bulletins, information notices, 
safeguards advisories, and regulatory issue summaries. Generic letters 
request licensee actions and information to address issues regarding 
emergent or routine matters of safety, security, safeguards, or 
environmental significance. Bulletins request licensee actions and 
information to address significant issues regarding matters of safety, 
security, safeguards, or environmental significance that have great 
urgency. Both generic letters and bulletins require a written response 
from the licensee. Information notices are used to communicate 
operating or analytical experience to the nuclear industry. The 
industry is expected to review the information for applicability and 
consider appropriate actions to avoid similar problems. Regulatory 
issue summaries are used to communicate and clarify the NRC's technical 
and policy positions on regulatory matters. Neither an information 
notice nor a regulatory issue summary requires written responses from 
licensees.
    For example, Information Notice 2012-20, ``Potential Chloride-
Induced Stress Corrosion Cracking of Austenitic Stainless Steel and 
Maintenance of Dry Cask Storage System Canisters'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML12319A440), informed licensees about the potential for chloride-
induced stress corrosion cracking of austenitic stainless steel and 
maintenance of dry cask storage system canisters. Although an immediate 
safety concern did not exist, the NRC alerted licensees and certificate 
holders that their monitoring programs need to address this concern as 
part of an aging management program so that appropriate actions (e.g., 
maintenance) would be taken to avoid the potential problem.
    As demonstrated by these examples, the NRC's regulatory framework 
allows the Agency to respond to emerging events and take appropriate 
action to continue to protect the public health and safety and the 
environment.

[[Page 56796]]

    To date, the NRC has renewed five specific 10 CFR part 72 ISFSI 
licenses. These renewals include the 10 CFR part 72 specific licenses 
for the General Electric Morris Operation (the only wet, or pool-type, 
ISFSI), as well as the Surry, H.B. Robinson, Oconee, and Fort St. Vrain 
ISFSIs. Specific licenses for all but one of the ISFSIs will expire by 
2048. It is expected that license renewals will be requested by the 
licensees of these facilities, unless a permanent repository or some 
other interim storage option is made available. The NRC has received 
renewal applications for the Calvert Cliffs and Prairie Island ISFSIs. 
Similarly, renewals will be required for certificates of compliance for 
storage cask designs approved for use by general licensees in 
accordance with 10 CFR part 72.
    In addition, issuance of Materials License No. SNM-2513 for the 
Private Fuel Storage, LLC (PFS) facility has confirmed the feasibility 
of licensing an away-from-reactor ISFSI under 10 CFR part 72. Although 
there were several issues that prevented the PFS ISFSI from being built 
and operated, the extensive review of safety, security, and 
environmental issues associated with licensing the PFS facility 
provides additional confidence that spent nuclear fuel can be safely 
stored at an away from reactor ISFSI for long periods after storage at 
a reactor site.
    The NRC will continue its regulatory control and oversight of spent 
nuclear fuel storage at both operating and decommissioned reactor sites 
for both specific and general 10 CFR part 72 licenses and 10 CFR parts 
50 or 52 licenses. Decades of operating experience and ongoing NRC 
inspections demonstrate that these reactor and ISFSI licensees continue 
to meet their obligation to safely store spent fuel in accordance with 
the requirements of 10 CFR parts 50 and 72. If the NRC were to find 
noncompliance with these requirements or otherwise identify a concern 
with the safe storage of the spent fuel, the NRC would evaluate the 
issue and take action to protect the public health and safety and the 
environment.
    As noted in the preceding paragraphs, licensees have continued to 
develop and successfully use onsite spent nuclear fuel storage capacity 
in the form of spent fuel pool and dry cask storage. Based on the 
preceding discussion, licensees should have the necessary resources to 
meet obligations related to the storage of any spent nuclear fuel after 
reactor operations cease. The Commission concludes that the regulatory 
framework exists to support the conclusion that spent nuclear fuel can 
be managed in a safe manner until sufficient repository capacity is 
available.
C3.b. Safe Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
    Finding 4 assessed the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel pending 
ultimate disposal at a repository. Issues related to storage focus on 
the technical feasibility of safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. To 
address the feasibility of long-term safe storage, the Commission needs 
to evaluate: (1) The technical feasibility of safe wet storage; and (2) 
the technical feasibility of safe dry storage. The Commission also 
needs to evaluate the potential risks of accidents and acts of sabotage 
at spent nuclear fuel storage facilities. Although the DGEIS does not 
primarily evaluate safety, it does include evaluations of the 
environmental impacts attributable to accidents, public health, and 
safeguards for three different timeframes and contains a discussion on 
the technical feasibility of safe storage, which support the conclusion 
in the proposed rule that fuel can be safely stored. The technical 
feasibility of safe storage beyond a reactor's licensed life for 
operation is addressed in the following sections.
C3.b.i. Technical Feasibility of Wet Storage
    The technical feasibility of continued safe wet storage is 
supported by a number of technical considerations. First, the integrity 
of spent fuel and cladding under the controlled water chemistry within 
the spent fuel pool is supported by operating experience as well as a 
number of scientific studies. Further, the spent fuel pool's robust 
technical design protects against a range of natural and human-induced 
challenges. These considerations are discussed in the following 
paragraphs.
    The Commission found in 1984 that research and experience in the 
United States and other countries confirmed that long-term storage 
could be safely undertaken (49 FR 34681-34682; August 31, 1984). In 
1990, the Commission determined that experience with water storage of 
spent nuclear fuel continued to confirm that pool storage is a benign 
environment for spent nuclear fuel that does not lead to significant 
degradation of spent nuclear fuel integrity and that the pools in which 
the assemblies are stored will remain safe for extended periods. 
Further, degradation mechanisms are well understood and allow time for 
appropriate remedial action (55 FR 38509-38511; September 18, 1990). In 
sum, based on both experience and scientific studies, the Commission 
found wet storage to be a fully-developed technology with no associated 
major technical problems.
    Almost 30 years of additional experience has been gained since the 
publication of the Waste Confidence rulemaking in 1984 during which 
time the technical basis for very slow degradation rates of spent 
nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools has continued to grow. For example, 
several studies have supported the low degradation of cladding material 
(IAEA TECDOC-1012, Durability of Spent Nuclear Fuels and Facility 
Components in Wet Storage, 1988; IAEA TECDOC-1343, Spent Fuel 
Performance Assessment and Research: Final Report of a Cordinated 
Research Project on Spent Fuel Performance Assessment and Research 
(SPAR) 1997-2001, 2003; IAEA Technical Report Series No. 443, 
Understanding and Managing Ageing of Materials in Spent Fuel Storage 
Facilities, 2006). The IAEA TECDOC-1012 noted that ``[t]he zirconium 
alloys represent a class of materials that is highly resistant to 
degradation in wet storage, including some experience in aggressive 
waters. The only adverse experience involves Zircaloy clad metallic 
uranium where mechanical damage to the cladding was a prominent factor 
during reactor discharge, exposing the uranium metal fuel to aqueous 
corrosion. Otherwise, the database for the zirconium alloys supports a 
judgment of satisfactory wet storage in the time frame of 50 to 100 
years or more'' (p. 5). The IAEA TECDOC 1343, in discussing spent 
nuclear fuel storage experience, reported on a detailed review of the 
degradation mechanisms of spent nuclear fuel under wet storage and 
stated that ``wet storage of spent fuel only appears to be limited by 
adverse pool chemistry conditions or the deterioration of the fuel 
storage pool structure.''
    The IAEA Technical Report Series No. 443 stated that 
``[d]estructive and non-destructive examinations of fuel rods, visual 
evidence and coupon studies [11, 13, 54-58] all support resistance to 
aqueous corrosion. There have been no reports of fission gas evolution, 
indicative of cladding failure in wet storage. Rod consolidation 
campaigns have been conducted without any indication of storage induced 
degradation. There is a sufficient database to indicate that wet 
storage of fuel with zirconium alloy cladding can be extended for at 
least several decades.''
    Based on available information and operating experience, 
degradation of the fuel cladding occurs slowly over time in the spent 
fuel pool environment. Degradation of the spent nuclear fuel

[[Page 56797]]

should be minimal, particularly over the short-term storage period. 
Therefore, the NRC expects that only routine maintenance will be needed 
over the short-term storage period. The DGEIS assumes that the spent 
fuel pool will be decommissioned before the end of the short-term 
storage period. However, the NRC is not aware of any information that 
would call into question the technical feasibility of continued safe 
storage of spent fuel in spent fuel pools beyond the short-term storage 
period (see Section B.3.1 of Appendix B of the DGEIS).
    In its initial Waste Confidence Decision, the Commission found that 
the risks of major accidents at spent fuel pools resulting in offsite 
consequences were remote because of the secure and stable character of 
the spent nuclear fuel in the storage pool environment and the absence 
of reactive phenomena that might result in dispersal of radioactive 
material. The Commission noted that storage pools and ISFSIs are 
designed to safely withstand accidents caused by either natural or man-
made phenomena (49 FR 34658; pp. 34684-34685; August 31, 1984). By 
1990, the NRC staff had spent several years studying the potential for 
a catastrophic loss of reactor spent fuel pool water, which could lead 
to a fuel fire. The NRC concluded that, because of the large inherent 
safety margins in the design and construction of a spent fuel pool, no 
action was needed to further reduce the risk (55 FR 38472; p. 38511; 
September 18, 1990).
    The NRC has continued its examination of spent fuel pool storage to 
ensure that adequate safety is maintained and that there are no adverse 
environmental effects from the storage of spent nuclear fuel in spent 
fuel pools. In 1997, the safety and environmental effects of spent fuel 
pool storage were addressed in conjunction with regulatory assessments 
of permanently shutdown nuclear plants and decommissioning nuclear 
power plants in NUREG/CR-6451, ``A Safety and Regulatory Assessment of 
Generic BWR and PWR Permanently Shutdown Nuclear Power Plants'' (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML082260098). The study provided reasonably bounding 
estimates of fuel coolability and offsite consequences for the most 
severe accidents, which would involve draining of the spent fuel pool.
    In 2001, the NRC issued NUREG-1738, ``Technical Study of Spent Fuel 
Pool Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants'' (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML010430066), which examined spent fuel pool accident 
risk at decommissioning nuclear power plants and provides a newer and 
more robust analysis of the safety and environmental effects of spent 
fuel pool storage. This study provided the results of the NRC staff's 
latest evaluation of the accident risk in a spent fuel pool at 
decommissioning plants. The NUREG-1738 found that a postulated accident 
causing a zirconium cladding fire could result in unacceptable offsite 
doses; however, the likelihood for such an accident to occur was 
estimated to be less than three chances in one million (p. 3-29). The 
NUREG-1738 states: ``[T]he risk at decommissioning plants is low and 
well within the Commission's safety goals. The risk is low because of 
the very low likelihood of a zirconium fire even though the 
consequences from a zirconium fire could be serious.'' (p. 5-3). In 
arriving at this conclusion, NUREG-1738 considered a wide range of 
initiating events (pp. 3-2, 3-3), including, but not limited to, events 
that might lead to rapid loss of pool water, such as seismic events, 
cask drop, aircraft impact, and missiles generated by tornados. The low 
probability for these varied events to initiate a rapid loss of water 
from the pool is a direct result of the robustness of the structural 
design of the spent fuel pool. The results of NUREG-1738, as well as 
other studies, are discussed in more detail in Appendix F of the DGEIS. 
Appendix F also contains information on actions that the NRC has 
required licensees to take in response to significant events including 
the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and the March 11, 2011, 
Fukushima Dai-ichi event in Japan.
    Given the physical robustness of the pools, the physical security 
measures, and the spent fuel pool mitigation measures, and based upon 
the NRC's site evaluations of every spent fuel pool in the United 
States, the NRC has determined that the risk of a spent fuel pool 
zirconium fire, whether caused by an accident or a terrorist attack, is 
very low. In addition, the NRC has approved license amendments and 
issued safety evaluations to incorporate mitigation measures into the 
plant licensing bases of all operating nuclear power plants in the 
United States (see 73 FR 46207-46208; August 8, 2008; and Sections 
4.18, 4.19, 5.18, 5.19, and Appendix F of the DGEIS).
    Monitoring of the structural integrity of the spent fuel pool is 
addressed through aging management programs. All nuclear power plants 
and GEH-Morris have specific aging management programs to inspect, 
monitor, detect, and trend the aging of the spent fuel pool structure 
concrete, liner plate, and structural steel that support different 
commodities. The aging management program also focuses on the pool's 
water chemistry as it relates to the integrity of the stainless steel 
liner, spent fuel storage racks, and spent-fuel-storage-racks-neutron-
absorbing sheets.
    Another issue related to storage of spent nuclear fuel in a spent 
fuel pool is possible leakage of water from the pool into the 
environment. The spent fuel pool liner and the leakage collection 
system normally prevent spent fuel pool water from leaking into the 
environment. However, leaks can occur. Available data indicate that 
spent fuel pool leakage has occurred at several nuclear power plant 
sites. The DGEIS provides a detailed description and evaluation of the 
historical data on spent fuel leakage and the offsite environmental 
impacts that may occur during the period of continued storage. In 
particular, Appendix E determined the impact to public health from 
spent fuel pool leakage would be SMALL (see Appendix E of the DGEIS for 
information on spent fuel pool leaks).
    In summary, spent fuel pools are massive, seismically-designed 
structures that are constructed from thick, reinforced concrete walls 
and slabs designed to be seismically robust. Thus, the likelihood of 
major accidents at spent fuel pools resulting in offsite consequences 
is remote. The NRC is not aware of any additional studies that would 
question the low probability of spent fuel pool accidents and thereby 
also question the technical feasibility of continued safe storage of 
spent nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools for the 60 years after licensed 
life for operation considered in the DGEIS. Further, as described in 
Appendix E of the DGEIS, the public health Impacts from potential spent 
fuel pool leaks is SMALL.
C3.b.ii. Technical Feasibility of Dry Storage
    The feasibility of safe dry cask storage is supported by years of 
experience as well as technical studies and the NRC's reviews that have 
examined and confirmed the integrity of spent nuclear fuel and cladding 
under the controlled and relatively benign environment within dry cask 
storage systems and the robustness of the structural design of the dry 
cask storage system against a variety of challenges both natural and 
human-induced. Those features are addressed in the following paragraphs 
and in Section B.3.2 of Appendix B of the DGEIS.
    In 1984, the Commission based its findings regarding the safety of 
dry storage on an understanding of the material degradation processes, 
derived largely from technical studies, together with the recognition 
that dry storage

[[Page 56798]]

systems are simple and easy to maintain (49 FR 34683-34684; August 31, 
1984). By 1990, the NRC and ISFSI licensees had considerable experience 
with dry storage. The NRC staff's safety reviews of topical reports on 
storage system designs, the licensing and inspection of dry storage at 
two nuclear power plant sites under 10 CFR part 72, and the NRC's 
promulgation of an amendment to 10 CFR part 72 that incorporated a 
monitored retrievable storage installation (a dry storage facility) 
into the regulations confirmed the 1984 conclusions on the safety of 
dry storage (55 FR 38509-38513; September 18, 1990).
    Spent fuel has been safely stored in dry casks for more than 25 
years. As with wet storage, the overall experience with dry cask 
storage of similar fuel types, including the cladding, has been 
similar--slow degradation. Spent nuclear fuel is allowed to cool in a 
spent fuel pool before being transferred into dry cask storage, which 
reduces the potential for significant degradation. Recent studies have 
confirmed the reliability of dry cask storage. For example, a dry cask 
storage characterization project examined and tested a dry cask storage 
system. The 2003 Argonne National Laboratories report prepared for the 
NRC, NUREG/CR-6831, ``Examination of Spent PWR Fuel Rods after 15 Years 
in Dry Storage'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML032731021), suggested that the 
spent fuel cladding could viably remain as a barrier to fission product 
release during extended storage up to 100 years in a dry cask 
environment (p. xi). These results were for spent fuel with a burnup 
limit of 35 gigawatt days per metric ton Uranium (GWd/MTU). The IAEA 
Technical Report Series No. 443 stated that ``[p]ower reactor fuel with 
zirconium alloy cladding has been placed into dry storage in 
approximately a dozen countries. The technical basis for satisfactory 
dry storage of fuel clad with zirconium alloys includes hot cell tests 
on single rods, whole assembly tests, demonstrations using casks loaded 
with irradiated fuel assemblies and theoretical analysis.''
    Although the current record for dry cask storage supports the 
technical feasibility of continued safe storage, the NRC constantly 
works to investigate and monitor the behavior of the spent fuel storage 
systems to identify any unexpected and deleterious safety conditions 
before a problem develops. The NRC is aware of concerns regarding the 
potential detrimental effects of hydride reorientation on cladding 
behavior, such as reduced ductility. Reduced ductility, making the 
cladding more brittle, increases the difficulty of keeping spent 
nuclear fuel assemblies intact during handling operations and 
transportation. Research performed in Japan and the United States 
indicated that: (1) Hydrides could reorient at a significantly lower 
stress than previously believed and (2) high burn-up fuel could exhibit 
a higher ductile-to-brittle transition temperature due to the presence 
of radial hydrides (Billone, M.C., T.A. Burtseva, and R.E. 
Einziger.2013 ``Ductile-to-Brittle Transition Temperature for High-
Burnup Cladding Alloys Exposed to Simulated Drying-Storage 
Conditions.'' Journal of Nuclear Materials 433(1-3): 431-448 (available 
at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022311512005181)). This phenomenon could influence the approach used 
for re-packaging spent nuclear fuel, but the NRC is not aware of 
information that would require the NRC to conclude that high burn-up 
fuel would need to be repackaged during the short-term time period in 
the DGEIS. Should spent fuel cladding be more brittle, greater care 
could be required during handling operations, regardless of when 
repackaging would occur, to limit the potential for damage to spent 
nuclear fuel assemblies that could affect easy retrievability of the 
spent nuclear fuel and complicate repackaging operations.
    Based on available information and operating experience, 
degradation of the spent nuclear fuel should be minimal over the short-
term storage period, if the conditions inside the canister are 
appropriately maintained (i.e., consistent with the technical 
specifications for storage). Thus, as discussed in more detail in the 
DGEIS, it is expected that only routine maintenance will be needed over 
the short-term storage period and no re-packaging is anticipated during 
that timeframe (i.e., no large-scale repacking of dry cask storage 
systems). The DGEIS assumes that the repackaging of spent nuclear fuel 
would occur every 100 years if storage continues beyond the short-term 
storage period, which may include different approaches for repackaging 
at times significantly beyond the short-term storage period (e.g., 
placement of damaged spent nuclear fuel in smaller canisters). The NRC 
is not aware of any additional studies that would question the 
technical feasibility of continued safe storage of spent nuclear fuel 
in dry casks for the time periods considered in the DGEIS.
    In 2007, the NRC published a pilot probabilistic risk assessment 
methodology that assessed the risk to the public and identified the 
dominant contributors to risk associated with a welded canister dry 
spent fuel storage system at a specific boiling water reactor site 
(NUREG-1864, ``A Pilot Probabilistic Risk Assessment of a Dry Cask 
Storage System at a Nuclear Power Plant'' March 2007 (ADAMS Accession 
No. ML071340012)). The NRC study developed and assessed a comprehensive 
list of initiating events, including dropping the cask during handling 
and external events during onsite storage (such as earthquakes, floods, 
high winds, lightning strikes, accidental aircraft crashes, and 
pipeline explosions) and reported that the analyses indicate that the 
risk is solely from latent cancer fatalities and that the overall risk 
of dry cask storage was found to be extremely low. (The NRC determined 
that the estimated aggregate risk is an individual probability of a 
latent cancer fatality of 1.8 x 10-12 during the period 
encompassing the initial cask loading and first year of service and 3.2 
x 10-14 per year during subsequent years of storage (p. 9-
2).)
    Several characteristics of dry cask storage contribute to the low 
risk associated with dry cask storage. First, these systems are 
passive. Second, they rely on natural air circulation for cooling 
during storage of the spent nuclear fuel. Third, they are inherently 
robust, massive concrete and steel structures that are highly damage 
resistant. The robustness of these dry cask storage systems has been 
tested by significant challenges, such as the 2011 Mineral, Virginia 
earthquake that affected North Anna Nuclear Plant and the 2011 
earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear 
Power Plant. Neither event resulted in significant damage to or the 
release of radionuclides from the dry cask storage containers. The NRC 
and licensee experience to date with ISFSIs and with certification of 
casks indicates that interim storage of spent nuclear fuel at reactor 
sites can be safely and effectively conducted using passive dry storage 
technology. Although routine inspections have identified several 
performance issues for individual dry storage components (such as 
problems with cask seals and concrete cracking), prompt mitigation of 
these issues has prevented any safety problems from occurring. If 
problems were to occur, the NRC would take appropriate action to 
address the problem and verify that licensees take corrective actions 
to prevent recurrence.
    Therefore, technical studies and practical operating experience to 
date confirm the physical integrity of dry cask storage structures and 
thereby

[[Page 56799]]

demonstrate the technical feasibility of continued safe storage of 
spent nuclear fuel in dry cask storage systems for the time periods 
considered in the DGEIS. The DGEIS conservatively assumes that the dry 
casks would need to be replaced if storage continues beyond the short-
term time period. The DGEIS considers replacement of dry casks after 
100 years of service life, even though studies and experience to date 
do not preclude a longer service life. The NRC continues to perform 
technical studies, evaluate aging management programs, and provide 
oversight of dry cask storage operations. The NRC will be able to 
update its service life conclusions as necessary and consider any 
circumstances that might require repackaging of spent fuel earlier than 
anticipated.
C3.b.iii. Summary of Technical Feasibility of Spent Nuclear Fuel 
Storage
    In summary, storage of spent nuclear fuel will be necessary until a 
repository is available for permanent disposal. The storage of spent 
nuclear fuel in any combination of storage in spent fuel pools or dry 
casks will continue as a licensed activity under regulatory controls 
and oversight. Licensees continue to develop and successfully use 
onsite spent nuclear fuel storage capacity in the form of spent fuel 
pools and dry cask storage in a safe and environmentally sound fashion. 
Technical understanding and experience continues to support the 
technical feasibility of safe storage of spent nuclear fuel in spent 
fuel pools and in dry casks, based on their physical integrity over 
long periods of time (e.g., slow degradation of spent fuel during 
storage in spent fuel pools and dry casks and engineered features of 
storage pools and dry casks to safely withstand accidents caused by 
either natural or man-made phenomena). Additionally, regulatory 
oversight has been shown to enhance safety designs and operations as 
concerns and information evolve over time (e.g., security and safety 
enhancements made after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and 
the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster and corrective actions to 
address spent fuel pool leaks are discussed in Appendix E of the 
DGEIS).
    Based on the technical information and the national and 
international experience with wet and dry storage of spent fuel, the 
NRC believes that it is technically feasible to safely and securely 
store spent fuel in either wet or dry storage for at least 60 years 
beyond a reactor's licensed life for operation with only routine 
maintenance (i.e., no large-scale replacement of spent fuel pools or 
dry cask storage systems). This time period represents a potential 
service life for the spent fuel pools and dry cask storage systems on 
the order of 100 to 140 years when considering any storage that occurs 
during reactor operations. The Commission concludes that spent fuel can 
continue to be safely managed in spent fuel pools and dry casks and 
that regulatory oversight exists to ensure the aging management 
programs continue to be updated to address the monitoring and 
maintenance of structures, systems, and components that are important 
to safety. Based on all of the information set forth in Appendix B of 
the DGEIS and Section III.C3., Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, of this 
document, the Commission concludes that spent nuclear fuel can be 
safely managed in spent fuel pools in the short-term timeframe and dry 
casks during the short-term, long-term, and indefinite timeframes 
evaluated in the DGEIS.

IV. Additional Issues for Public Comment

    The Commission is specifically seeking comment on four issues:
    Issue 1: The Commission seeks comment on whether specific policy 
statements regarding the timeline for repository availability should be 
removed from the rule text. The Commission's proposed revisions to 10 
CFR 51.23 include statements regarding the feasibility of safe 
continued spent nuclear fuel storage and the timeframe for the 
availability of a repository. These conclusions are supported by the 
analysis contained in Appendix B of the DGEIS. Although conclusions 
about repository availability have been included in Waste Confidence 
proceedings since 1984, these statements are not necessary to the 
environmental review or for fulfilling the NRC's NEPA obligations. 
There are national policy decisions, and societal and political factors 
that can significantly influence the actual timing of the availability 
of mined geologic repository, and these policy decisions are outside 
the Commission's control.
    Issue 2: The Commission seeks public comment on whether specific 
policy statements regarding the safety of continued spent fuel storage 
should be made in the rule text given the expansive and detailed 
information in the DGEIS. Historically, a policy statement related to 
the safety of continued storage has been included in the Waste 
Confidence proceedings since 1984. However, the policy statement on 
safety is not related to, or necessary for, the generic determination 
on environmental impacts of continued storage, nor does it provide the 
safety analysis for storage in a particular dry cask or storage at a 
particular site: A safety evaluation is still required to support 
approval of new cask designs, to support a site-specific license for 
dry storage, or to store spent nuclear fuel in a spent fuel pool.
    The DGEIS analyzes the impacts from continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel and makes generic determinations of the foreseeable 
environmental impacts stemming from continued storage; the proposed 
rule codifies the conclusions from the DGEIS so that those 
determinations do not need to be made in individual actions. This rule 
is not a licensing decision for nuclear power plants or ISFSIs, or for 
the renewal of those licenses. The rule does not authorize the storage 
of spent nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools or ISFSIs.
    Issue 3: The Commission seeks public comment on whether the 
Discussion portion (Section III of this document) of the Statement of 
Considerations should be streamlined by removing content that is 
repeated from the DGEIS in order to improve clarity of the discussion, 
now that the NRC has prepared an EIS to support the rule.
    Issue 4: Finally, the Commission is seeking specific comment on 
whether the title of the rule should be changed in light of a GEIS 
being issued instead of a separate Waste Confidence Decision.

V. Discussion of Proposed Amendments by Section

Section 51.23 Environmental Impacts of Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel 
Beyond the Licensed Life for Operation of a Reactor

    The title of the section would be revised to reflect that the 
section is no longer based on an EA and FONSI, but on an EIS and that 
environmental effects of continued storage are included in the section.
    Paragraph (a) of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to provide the 
Commission's generic determination on the continued storage of spent 
nuclear fuel. The proposed amendments would state that the Commission 
has developed a generic environmental impact statement (NUREG-2157). 
The proposed rule would further indicate that the Commission has 
concluded that the analysis generically addresses the environmental 
impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed 
life for operation of a reactor and supports the determinations that it 
is feasible to safely store spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life 
for

[[Page 56800]]

operation of a reactor and to have a mined geologic repository within 
60 years following the licensed life for operation of a reactor.
    Paragraph (b)(1) of 10 CFR 51.23 would be revised to clarify that 
ISFSI license renewals are included in the scope of the generic 
determination.

Section 51.61 Environmental Report--Independent Spent Fuel Storage 
Installation (ISFSI) or Monitored Retrievable Storage Installation 
(MRS) License

    Section 51.61 of 10 CFR would be revised to clarify that ISFSI 
renewals are included in the scope of the generic determination in 10 
CFR 51.23.

Section 51.80 Draft Environmental Impact Statement--Materials License

    Paragraph (b) of 10 CFR 51.80 would be revised to clarify that 
ISFSI renewals are included in the scope of the generic determination 
in 10 CFR 51.23.

Section 51.97 Final Environmental Impact Statement--Materials License

    Paragraph (a) of 10 CFR 51.97 would be revised to clarify that 
ISFSI renewals are included in the scope of the generic determination 
in 10 CFR 51.23.

Table B-1--Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of 
Nuclear Power Plants

    Table B-1 addresses the environmental impacts of license renewal 
activities by resource area. When the Commission issued the final rule 
on the environmental effects of license renewal (78 FR 37282; June 20, 
2013), it was not able to rely on the Waste Confidence rule for two of 
the issues. The Commission noted that upon issuance of the GEIS and 
rule, the NRC would make any necessary conforming changes to the 
license renewal rule. This proposed rule would revise these two Table 
B-1 finding column entries to address Waste Confidence. The ``Offsite 
radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste 
disposal'' issue would be reclassified as a Category 1 impact and the 
finding column entry would be revised to address Waste Confidence. For 
the ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel'' issue, the finding column 
entry would be revised to include the period of continued storage 
beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor. Additionally 
footnote 7 of Table B-1 would be removed. While footnotes 1, 2, and 3 
are laid out in the regulatory text, they are not being amended but are 
included to meet an Office of the Federal Register publication 
requirement.

VI. 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 Section I.A., Accessing Information, of this document, as 
indicated.
    References are also available through the Waste Confidence Decision 
Web site at www.nrc.gov. References are organized by the document in 
which the reference appears (DGEIS chapter and appendix and the 
proposed rule Federal Register notice), and in alphabetical order by 
author with links to electronically available documents.

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     Web (www.regulations.gov unless
                Document                     PDR           otherwise indicated)                  ADAMS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Waste Confidence Related Documents
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Register notice--Notice of               X                  X                 ML12305A035.
 Intent Consideration of Environmental
 Impacts of Temporary Storage of Spent
 Fuel After Cessation of Reactor
 Operation (77 FR 65137; October 25,
 2012).
Draft NUREG-2157, ``Waste Confidence             X                  X                 ML13224A106.
 Generic Environmental Impact
 Statement''.
``Waste Confidence Generic                       X                  X                 ML13060A128.
 Environmental Impact Statement Scoping
 Process Summary Report''.
``Scoping Comments on the Waste                  X                  X                 ML13060A130.
 Confidence Generic Environmental
 Impact Statement''.
Transcript of November 14, 2012, Waste           X                  X                 ML12331A347.
 Confidence Scoping Meeting--Afternoon
 Session.
Transcript of November 14, 2012, Waste           X                  X                 ML12331A353.
 Confidence Scoping Meeting--Evening
 Session 9pm-12am.
Transcript of Scoping Meeting for the            X                  X                 ML12355A174.
 Waste Confidence Environmental Impact
 Statement: Webinar December 5, 2012.
December 6, 2012 Waste Confidence                X                  X                 ML12355A187.
 Scoping Webinar Transcript.
Minnesota v. NRC, 602 F.2d 412 (D.C.     ..........  http://scholar.google.com/       ..........................
 Cir. 1979).                                          scholar--case?case=15544749217
                                                      851899941.
                                                     Note: this link directs the
                                                      reader to an unofficial copy
                                                      of this case.
(New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C.     ..........  http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/    ..........................
 Cir. 2012).                                          internet/opinions.nsf/
                                                      57ACA94A8FFAD8AF85257A1700502A
                                                      A4/$file/11-1045-1377720.pdf.
Federal Register notice announcing               X
 generic proceeding on Waste Confidence
 (44 FR 61372, 61373; October 25, 1979).
Federal Register notice--1984 Waste              X   ...............................  ML033000242.
 Confidence Final Rule (49 FR 34688;
 August 31, 1984).

[[Page 56801]]

 
Federal Register notice--1984 Final              X   ...............................  ML033000242.
 Waste Confidence Decision (49 FR
 34658; August 31, 1984).
Federal Register notice--1990 Waste              X   ...............................  ML031700063.
 Confidence Final Rule (55 FR 38472;
 September 18, 1990).
Federal Register notice--1990 Waste              X   ...............................  ML031700063.
 Confidence Decision (55 FR 38474;
 September 18, 1990).
Federal Register notice--1999 Waste              X   ...............................  ML003676331.
 Confidence Decision Review (64 FR
 68005; December 6, 1999).
Federal Register notice--2010 Waste              X   ...............................  ML103350175.
 Confidence Final Rule (75 FR 81037;
 December 23, 2010).
Federal Register notice--2010 Waste              X   ...............................  ML120970147.
 Confidence Decision Update (75 FR
 81032; December 23, 2010).
Commission Order CLI-12-16.............          X   ...............................  ML12220A094.
SRM-COMSECY-12-0016--Approach for                X   ...............................  ML12250A032.
 Addressing Policy Issues Resulting
 from Court Decision to Vacate Waste
 Confidence Decision and Rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Waste Confidence References--NRC Documents
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Register notice announcing the           X
 1977 Denial of PRM-50-18 (42 FR 34391;
 July 5, 1977).
Federal Register notice--Final Rule to           X   ...............................  ML070520692.
 Amend 10 CFR 73.1: Design Basis Threat
 (72 FR 12705; March 19, 2007).
Federal Register notice--Power Reactor           X   ...............................  ML083380546.
 Security Requirements Final Rule (74
 FR 13926; March 27, 2009).
Federal Register notice--Denial of               X   ...............................  ML081890124.
 Petitions for Rulemaking (PRM-51-10
 and PRM-51-12) (73 FR 46204: August 8,
 2008).
Federal Register notice--``Draft                 X   ...............................  ML093340103.
 Technical Basis for Rulemaking
 Revising Security Requirements for
 Facilities Storing SNF and HLW; Notice
 of Availability and Solicitation of
 Public Comments'' (74 FR 66589;
 December 16, 2009).
Federal Register notice--                        X   ...............................  ML103510117.
 Decommissioning Planning Rule (76 FR
 35512; June 17, 2011).
Federal Register notice--License                 X   ...............................  ML13101A059.
 Renewal GEIS Final Rule (78 FR 37282:
 June, 20, 2013).
Department of Energy; Notice of                  X   ...............................  ML082490757.
 Acceptance for Docketing of a License
 Application for Authority to Construct
 a Geologic Repository at a Geologic
 Repository Operations Area at Yucca
 Mountain, Nevada (73 FR 53284;
 September 15, 2008).
NUREG-0586,''Generic Environmental               X   ...............................  ML023500395.
 Impact Statement on Decommissioning of
 Nuclear Facilities, Supplement 1:
 Regarding the Decommissioning of
 Nuclear Power Reactors,'' Volume 1
 Main report. November 2002.
NUREG-1437, ``Generic Environmental      ..........  ...............................  ML13106A241 for main
 Impact Statement for License Renewal                                                  volume 1, ML13106A242 for
 of Nuclear Plants'' 2013.                                                             volume 2, and ML13106A244
                                                                                       for volume 3.
NUREG-1738, ``Technical Study of Spent           X   ...............................  ML010430066.
 Fuel Pool Accident Risk at
 Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants''.
NUREG-1864, ``A Pilot Probabilistic              X   ...............................  ML071340012.
 Risk Assessment of a Dry Cask Storage
 System at a Nuclear Power Plant''.
NUREG-2107, ``Technical Evaluation               X   ...............................  ML11223A273.
 Report on the Content of the U.S.
 Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain
 Repository License Application--
 Postclosure Volume: Repository Safety
 After Permanent Closure''.
NUREG-2108, ``Technical Evaluation               X   ...............................  ML11250A093.
 Report on the Content of the U.S.
 Department of Energy Yucca Mountain
 Repository License Application--
 Preclosure Volume: Repository Safety
 Before Permanent Closure''.
NUREG/CR-6451, ``A Safety and            ..........  http://www.osti.gov/bridge/      ..........................
 Regulatory Assessment of Generic BWR                 servlets/purl/510336-qmwPBP/
 and PWR Permanently Shutdown Nuclear                 webviewable/510336.pdf.
 Power Plants''.
NUREG/CR-6831, ``Examination of Spent    ..........  ...............................  ML032731021.
 PWR Fuel Rods after 15 Years in Dry
 Storage''.
Regulatory Guide 4.22, Decommissioning           X   ...............................  ML12158A361.
 Planning During Operations.

[[Page 56802]]

 
NRC Information Notice IN 2012-20,               X   ...............................  ML12319A440.
 ``Potential Chloride-Induced Stress
 Corrosion Cracking of Austenitic
 Stainless Steel and Maintenance of Dry
 Cask Storage System Canisters''.
NRC Order Number EA-12-049, Issuance of  ..........  ...............................  ML12054A735.
 Order to Modify Licenses With Regard
 to Requirements for Mitigation
 Strategies for Beyond-Design-Basis
 External Events.
NRC Order EA[dash]12[dash]051, Issuance  ..........  ...............................  ML12054A679.
 of Order to Modify Licenses With
 Regard to Reliable Spent Fuel Pool
 Instrumentation.
Luminant Generation Co. LLC (Comanche            X   ...............................  ML12076A190.
 Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and
 4), et al., CLI-12-7, 75 NRC 379, 391-
 92 (March 16, 2012).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Waste Confidence References--Non-NRC Documents
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NRDC v. NRC, 582 F.2d 166 (2d Cir.       ..........  http://scholar.google.com/       ..........................
 1978).                                               scholar--case?case=12922806923
                                                      94324643.
                                                     Note: This link directs the
                                                      reader to an unofficial copy
                                                      of this case.
Village of Bensenville v. Federal        ..........  http://scholar.google.com/       ..........................
 Aviation Administration, 457 F.3d 52,                scholar--case?case=65599106668
 71-72 (D.C. Cir. 2006).                              49441800.
                                                     Note: This link directs the
                                                      reader to an unofficial copy
                                                      of this case.
Marsh v. Oregon Natural Resources        ..........  http://scholar.google.com/       ..........................
 Council, 490 U.S. 360, 374 (1989).                   scholar--case?case=10887052189
                                                      863115558&q.
                                                     Note: This link directs the
                                                      reader to an unofficial copy
                                                      of this case.
Nuclear Waste Policy Act 96 Stat. 2201   ..........  http://www.epw.senate.gov/       ..........................
 (1983) (current version at 42 U.S.C.                 nwpa82.pdf.
 10132 (2006)).
Blue Ribbon Commission on America's              X   ...............................  ML120970375.
 Nuclear Future, Report to the
 Secretary of Energy.
DOE, Strategy for the Management and             X   ...............................  ML13011A138.
 Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-
 Level Radioactive Waste.
DOE Yucca Mountain FEIS, ``Final                 X   ...............................  ML081750212.
 Supplemental Environmental Impact
 Statement for a Geologic Repository
 for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel
 and High-Level Radioactive Waste at
 Yucca Mountain, Nye County Nevada''
 (Yucca Mountain FEIS)).
Letter from J M Maddox, Eddy-Lea Energy          X   ...............................  ML13067A278.
 Alliance, LLC, to C Haney, NMSS, re
 Notice of Intent to Submit a License
 Application for Consolidated Used
 Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility,
 February 26, 2013.
DOE Motion to Withdraw Application for           X   ...............................  ML100621397.
 Yucca Mountain.
Request for Termination of NRC License           X   ...............................  ML12356A063.
 No. SNM-2513 for Private Fuel Storage
 LLC.
Billone, M.C., T.A. Burtseva, and R.E.   ..........  http://www.sciencedirect.com/    ..........................
 Einziger. 2013 ``Ductile-to-Brittle                  science/article/pii/
 Transition Temperature for High-Burnup               S0022311512005181.
 Cladding Alloys Exposed to Simulated
 Drying-Storage Conditions.'' Journal
 of Nuclear Materials 433(1-3): 431-448.
IAEA, ``Scientific and Technical Basis   ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 for the Geologic Disposal of                         Publications/PDF/TRS413--
 Radioactive Wastes, Technical Reports                web.pdf.
 Series No. 413''.
IAEA Technical Report Series No. 443,    ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 ``Understanding and Managing Ageing of               publications/PDF/TRS443--
 Materials in Spent Fuel Storage                      web.pdf.
 Facilities''.
IAEA, ``Radioactive Waste Management     ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 Studies and Trends, IAEA/WMDB/ST/4''.                Publications/PDF/WMDB-ST-4.pdf.
IAEA TECDOC-1012, ``Durability of Spent  ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 Nuclear Fuels and Facility Components                publications/PDF/te--1012--
 in Wet Storage''.                                    prn.pdf.
IAEA, ``The Use of Scientific and        ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 Technical Results from Underground                   Publications/PDF/te--1243--
 Research Laboratory Investigations for               prn.pdf.
 the Geologic Disposal of Radioactive
 Waste, IAEA-TECDOC-1243''.

[[Page 56803]]

 
IAEA TECDOC1343, ``Spent Fuel            ..........  http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/    ..........................
 Performance Assessment and Research:                 publications/PDF/te--1343--
 Final Report of a Cordinated Research                web.pdf.
 Project on Spent Fuel Performance
 Assessment and Research (SPAR).
1997-2001''............................
IAEA, ``Joint Convention on Safety of    ..........  http://www.iaea.org/             ..........................
 Spent Fuel Management and on Safety of               Publications/Documents/
 Radioactive Waste Management, INFCIRC/               Infcircs/1997/infcirc546.pdf.
 546''.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation    ..........  http://www.oecd-nea.org/rwm/     ..........................
 and Development, Nuclear Energy                      reports/1997/ipag.pdf.
 Agency, ``Lessons Learnt from Ten
 Performance Assessment Studies,'' 1997.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation    ..........  http://www.oecd-nea.org/rwm/     ..........................
 and Development, Nuclear Energy                      reports/2008/nea6433-
 Agency, ``Moving Forward with                        statement.pdf.
 Geological Disposal of Radioactive
 Waste,'' 2008.
Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Disposal     ..........  http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/           ..........................
 Concept Environmental Assessment                     default.asp?lang=En&n=0B83BD43-
 Panel, Report of the Nuclear Fuel                    1&xml=0B83BD43-93AA-4652-9929-
 Waste Management and Disposal Concept                3DD8DA4DE486&toc=show.
 Environmental Assessment Panel.
NWMO, Annual Report 2007: Moving         ..........  http://www.nwmo.ca/uploads_     ..........................
 Forward Together.                                    managed/MediaFiles/327_NWMO_
                                                      2007_Annual_Report_E.pdf.
NWMO, Learning More Together--Annual     ..........  http://nwmo.ca/uploads--managed/ ..........................
 Report for 2012.                                     MediaFiles/2089--ar2012--
                                                      english--web.pdf.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

VII. Agreement State Compatibility

    Under the ``Policy Statement on Adequacy and Compatibility of 
Agreement State Programs'' approved by the Commission on June 30, 1997, 
and published in the Federal Register (62 FR 46517; September 3, 1997), 
this proposed rule would be classified as Compatibility Category 
``NRC.'' 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. These program elements are not adopted by Agreement States.

VIII. Plain Writing

    The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-274) requires Federal 
agencies to write documents in a clear, concise, and well-organized 
manner. The NRC has written this document to be consistent with the 
Plain Writing Act as well as the Presidential Memorandum, ``Plain 
Language in Government Writing,'' published June 10, 1998 (63 FR 
31883). The NRC requests comment on the proposed rule with respect to 
the clarity and effectiveness of the language used.

IX. Voluntary Consensus Standards

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Pub. 
L. 104-113) requires that Federal agencies use technical standards that 
are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies unless 
the use of such a standard is inconsistent with applicable law or 
otherwise impractical. In this proposed rule, the NRC would modify its 
generic determination on the consideration of environmental impacts of 
continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for 
reactor operations. The NRC is not aware of any voluntary consensus 
standards that address the proposed subject matter of this proposed 
rule. The NRC will consider using a voluntary consensus standard if an 
appropriate standard is identified. If a voluntary consensus standard 
is identified for consideration, the submittal should explain why the 
standard should be used.

X. Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Availability

    As required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended, and the NRC's regulations in subpart A of 10 CFR part 51, the 
NRC has prepared a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (NUREG-
2157) to support this proposed rule. Concurrently with this proposed 
rule, the NRC published a document requesting comment on NUREG-2157 
(same NRC Docket ID as this proposed rule, NRC-2012-0246) in the 
Proposed Rule section of this issue of the Federal Register. In 
addition, an interested person may access this environmental impact 
statement as indicated under Section VI of this document, 
``Availability of Documents.''
    The NRC requests public comment on the DGEIS. The NRC has sent a 
copy of the DGEIS and this proposed rule to every State Liaison Officer 
and requested their comments on the draft statement.

XI. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This proposed rule does not contain new or amended information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Existing requirements were approved by the 
Office of Management and Budget, approval number 3150-0021.

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 
Office of Management and Budget control number.

XII. Regulatory Analysis

    A draft regulatory analysis has not been prepared for this proposed 
regulation because this regulation does not establish any requirements 
that would place a burden on licensees. A cost-benefit analysis of the 
alternatives considered in the DGEIS was prepared as part of the DGEIS 
(Chapter 7). If continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the 
licensed life for operations

[[Page 56804]]

must be assessed in site-specific licensing actions, the primary costs 
accrue to the NRC and to licensees and license applicants. Licensees 
and license applicants ultimately shoulder the majority of costs 
incurred to the NRC in the course of licensing actions through the 
NRC's license-fee program. Costs also accrue through the NRC's 
adjudicatory activities, which affect the NRC, licensees, license 
applicants, and petitioners or intervenors. The DGEIS contains an 
estimate that it could cost over $24 million to address continued 
storage in site-specific proceedings.

XIII. Regulatory Flexibility Certification

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 
605(b)), the Commission certifies that this rule would not, if 
promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. The proposed rule would modify the generic 
determination on the consideration of environmental impacts of 
continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the end of the licensed 
life for reactor operations. This generic determination provides that 
no discussion of any environmental impact of spent nuclear fuel storage 
in reactor facility storage pools or ISFSIs for the period following 
the term of the reactor operating license or amendment or initial ISFSI 
license or amendment for which application is made is required in any 
environmental report, environmental impact statement, environmental 
assessment, or other analysis prepared in connection with certain 
actions. The proposed rule would affect only the licensing of nuclear 
power plants or ISFSIs. Entities seeking or holding NRC licenses for 
these facilities 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 at 10 CFR 2.810.

XIV. Backfitting and Issue Finality

    The NRC has determined that the backfit rules (Sec. Sec.  50.109, 
70.76, 72.62, or 76.76) and the issue finality provisions in 10 CFR 
part 52 do not apply to this proposed rule because this amendment does 
not involve any provisions that will either impose backfits as defined 
in 10 CFR chapter I, or represent non-compliance with the issue 
finality of provisions in 10 CFR part 52. Therefore, a backfit analysis 
is not required for this proposed rule, and the NRC did not prepare a 
backfit analysis for this proposed rule.

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. 553; the NRC is proposing to 
adopt the following amendments to 10 CFR part 51.

PART 51--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REGULATIONS FOR DOMESTIC 
LICENSING AND RELATED REGULATORY FUNCTIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 51 continues 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. In Sec.  51.23, revise the section heading and paragraphs (a) and 
(b) to read as follows:


Sec.  51.23  Environmental impacts of storage of spent nuclear fuel 
beyond the licensed life for operation of a reactor.

    (a) The Commission has developed a generic environmental impact 
statement (NUREG-2157) analyzing the environmental impacts of storage 
of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a 
reactor. The Commission has concluded the following:
    (1) The analysis in NUREG-2157 generically addresses the 
environmental impacts of storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the 
licensed life for operation of a reactor; and
    (2) The analysis in NUREG-2157 supports the Commission's 
determinations that it is feasible to:
    (i) Safely store spent nuclear fuel following the licensed life for 
operation of a reactor and
    (ii) have a mined geologic repository within 60 years following the 
licensed life for operation of a reactor.
    (b) As provided in Sec. Sec.  51.30(b), 51.53, 51.61, 51.80(b), 
51.95, and 51.97(a), and within the scope of the generic determinations 
in paragraph (a) of this section, no discussion of environmental 
impacts of spent nuclear fuel storage in reactor facility storage pool 
or an independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSI) for the 
period following the term of the reactor operating license or 
amendment, reactor combined license or amendment, or ISFSI license, 
renewal, or amendment for which application is made, is required in any 
environmental report, environmental impact statement, environmental 
assessment, or other analysis prepared in connection with the issuance 
or amendment of an operating license for a nuclear power reactor under 
parts 50 and 54 of this chapter, or issuance or amendment of a combined 
license for a nuclear power reactor under parts 52 and 54 of this 
chapter, or the issuance of a license for storage of spent nuclear fuel 
at an ISFSI, or any amendment thereto.
* * * * *
0
3. Section 51.61 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  51.61  Environmental report--independent spent fuel storage 
installation (ISFSI) or monitored retrievable storage installation 
(MRS) license.

    Each applicant for issuance of a license for storage of spent fuel 
in an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) or for the 
storage of spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste in a monitored 
retrievable storage installation (MRS) pursuant to part 72 of this 
chapter shall submit with its application to: ATTN: Document Control 
Desk, Director, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, a 
separate document entitled, ``Applicant's Environmental Report--ISFSI 
License;'' or ``Applicant's Environmental Report--MRS License,'' as 
appropriate. If the applicant is the U.S. Department of Energy, the 
environmental report may be in the form of either an environmental 
impact statement or an environmental assessment, as appropriate. The 
environmental report shall contain the information specified in Sec.  
51.45 and shall address the siting evaluation factors contained in 
subpart E of part 72 of this chapter. Unless otherwise required by the 
Commission, in accordance with the generic determination in Sec.  
51.23(a) and the provisions in Sec.  51.23(b), no discussion of the 
environmental impact of the storage of spent fuel at an ISFSI beyond 
the term of the license or amendment applied for is required in an

[[Page 56805]]

environmental report submitted by an applicant for an initial license 
for storage of spent fuel in an ISFSI, or any amendment or renewal 
thereto.
0
4. In Sec.  51.80, paragraph (b)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  51.80  Draft environmental impact statement--materials license.

* * * * *
    (b)(1) Independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). Unless 
otherwise determined by the Commission and in accordance with the 
generic determination in Sec.  51.23(a) and the provisions of Sec.  
51.23(b), a draft environmental impact statement on the issuance of an 
initial license for storage of spent fuel at an ISFSI or any amendment 
thereto, will address environmental impacts of spent fuel only for the 
term of the license, amendment, or renewal applied for.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  51.97, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  51.97  Final environmental impact statement--materials license.

    (a) Independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). Unless 
otherwise determined by the Commission, and in accordance with the 
generic determination in Sec.  51.23(a) and the provisions of Sec.  
51.23(b), a final environmental impact statement on the issuance of an 
initial license for the storage of spent fuel at an ISFSI or any 
amendment or renewal thereto, will address environmental impacts of 
spent fuel storage only for the term of the license or amendment 
applied for.
* * * * *
0
6. In appendix B to subpart A of part 51, footnote 7 is being removed 
from the table and the entries for ``Onsite storage of spent nuclear 
fuel'' and ``Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear fuel and 
high-level waste disposal'' under the ``Waste Management'' section of 
Table B-1 are revised to read as follows:

Appendix B to Subpart A of Part 51--Environmental Effect of Renewing 
the Operating License of a Nuclear Power Plant

* * * * *

          Table B-1--Summary of Findings on NEPA Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Category
                      Issue                           \2\                         Finding \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Waste Management
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
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 with
                                                                small environmental effects through dry or pool
                                                                storage at all plants, if a permanent repository
                                                                or monitored retrievable storage is not
                                                                available.
Offsite radiological impacts of spent nuclear               1  For the high-level waste and spent-fuel disposal
 fuel and high-level waste disposal.                            component of the fuel cycle, the EPA established
                                                                a dose limit of 15 millirem (0.15 mSv) per year
                                                                for the first 10,000 years and 100 millirem (1.0
                                                                mSv) per year between 10,000 years and 1 million
                                                                years for offsite releases of radionuclides at
                                                                the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain,
                                                                Nevada.
                                                  ...........  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 impacts of spent fuel and high level
                                                                waste disposal, this issue is considered
                                                                Category 1.
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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 l); 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.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 30th day of August, 2013.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Kenneth R. Hart,
Acting Secretary of the Commission.

[FR Doc. 2013-21708 Filed 9-12-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P