[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 68 (Wednesday, April 9, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19659-19662]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07972]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 50-335; NRC-2014-0076]


Exemption for Florida Power & Light Company; St. Lucie Plant, 
Unit 1

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Exemption; issuance.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is granting an

[[Page 19660]]

exemption in response to a May 10, 2013, request from Florida Power & 
Light Company for an exemption for the use of a different fuel rod 
cladding material (AREVA M5[supreg]).

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2014-0076 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You 
may access publicly-available information related to this action by the 
following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2014-0076. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3422; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection 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 document 
(if that document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time 
that a document is referenced.
     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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa M. Regner, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-1906; email: Lisa.Regner@nrc.gov.

I. Background

    Florida Power & Light Company (the licensee) is the holder of 
Renewed Facility Operating License No. DPR-67, which authorizes 
operation of the St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1. The license provides, among 
other things, that the facility is subject to all rules, regulations, 
and orders of the NRC now or hereafter in effect. The facility consists 
of a pressurized-water reactor (PWR) located in St. Lucie County, 
Florida.

II. Request/Action

    In accordance with Sec.  50.12, of Title 10 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (10 CFR), ``Specific exemptions,'' the licensee, by letter 
dated May 10, 2013 (ADAMS Accession No. ML13135A008), requested an 
exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 50.46, ``Acceptance criteria 
for emergency core cooling systems [ECCS] for light-water nuclear power 
reactors,'' and 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix K, ``ECCS Evaluation Models,'' 
to allow the use of fuel rods clad with AREVA M5[supreg] alloy for 
future reload applications. The regulations in 10 CFR 50.46 contain 
acceptance criteria for the ECCS for reactors fueled with zircaloy or 
ZIRLO\TM\ fuel rod cladding material. In addition, Appendix K to 10 CFR 
Part 50 requires that the Baker-Just equation be used to predict the 
rates of energy release, hydrogen concentration, and cladding oxidation 
from the metal/water reaction. The Baker-Just equation assumes the use 
of a zirconium alloy, which is a material different from the AREVA 
M5[supreg] material. The licensee requested the exemption because these 
regulations do not have criteria for the use of fuel rods clad in a 
material other than zircaloy or ZIRLO\TM\. Because the material 
specifications of M5[supreg] differ from the specification for zircaloy 
or ZIRLO\TM\, a plant-specific exemption is required to support the 
reload applications for St. Lucie Plant Unit 1.
    The exemption request relates solely to the cladding material 
specified in these regulations (i.e., fuel rods with zircaloy or 
ZIRLO\TM\ cladding material). This exemption would provide for the 
application of the acceptance criteria of 10 CFR 50.46 and Appendix K 
to 10 CFR Part 50 to fuel assembly designs using AREVA M5[supreg] fuel 
rod cladding material.

III. Discussion

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the Commission may, upon application by 
any interested person, grant exemptions from the requirements of 10 CFR 
Part 50, which are authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to 
the public health and safety, and are consistent with the common 
defense and security. Paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of 10 CFR 50.12 states that 
the Commission will not consider granting an exemption unless special 
circumstances are present, such as when application of the regulation 
in the particular circumstance is not necessary to achieve the 
underlying purpose of the rule.

A. Special Circumstances

    Special circumstances, in accordance with 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2)(ii), 
are present whenever application of the regulation in the particular 
circumstances is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the 
rule. The underlying purpose of 10 CFR 50.46 and Appendix K to 10 CFR 
Part 50 is to establish acceptance criteria for ECCS performance. The 
regulations in 10 CFR 50.46 and Appendix K are not expressly applicable 
to M5[supreg] cladding material, because the M5[supreg] cladding 
material is not specified in 10 CFR 50.46 or presumed in the Baker-Just 
equation required by paragraph I.A.5 of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix K. The 
evaluations described in the following sections of this exemption, 
however, show that the intent of the regulation is met, in that, 
subject to certain conditions, the acceptance criteria are valid for 
M5[supreg] zircaloy-based alloy cladding, the material is less 
susceptible to embrittlement, and the Baker-Just equation 
conservatively bounds scenarios following a loss of coolant accident 
(LOCA) for rods with M5[supreg] cladding material. Thus, a strict 
application of the rule (which would preclude the applicability of ECCS 
performance acceptance criteria to, and the use of, M5[supreg] clad 
fuel rods) is not necessary to achieve the underlying purposes of 10 
CFR 50.46 and Appendix K of 10 CFR Part 50. The purpose of these 
regulations is achieved through the application of the requirements to 
the use of M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material. Therefore, the 
special circumstances required by 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2)(ii) for the 
granting of an exemption exist.

B. The Exemption Is Authorized by Law

    This exemption would allow the use of M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding 
material for future reload applications at St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1. 
Section 10 CFR 50.12 allows the NRC to grant exemptions from the 
requirements of 10 CFR Part 50 provided that special circumstances are 
present. The NRC staff determined that special circumstances exist to 
grant the proposed exemption and that granting the exemption would not 
result in a violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or 
the Commission's regulations. Therefore, the exemption is authorized by 
law.

C. The Exemption Presents No Undue Risk to Public Health and Safety

    Section 10 CFR 50.46 requires that each boiling or pressurized 
light-water nuclear power reactor fueled with uranium oxide pellets 
within

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cylindrical zircaloy or ZIRLO cladding must be provided with an ECCS 
that must be designed so that its calculated cooling performance 
following postulated LOCAs conforms to the criteria set forth in 
paragraph (b) of this section. The underlying purpose of 10 CFR 50.46 
is to establish acceptance criteria for ECCS performance at nuclear 
power reactors. The NRC staff previously documented its approval of 
AREVA topical report BAW-10227P, ``Evaluation of Advanced Cladding and 
Structural Material (M5[supreg]) in PWR Reactor Fuel,'' in a safety 
evaluation dated February 4, 2000 (ADAMS Accession No. ML003681490), 
and concluded that the 10 CFR 50.46 and 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix K, 
criteria are applicable to M5[supreg] fuel, subject to compliance with 
specific conditions. The specific conditions that address the use of 
M5[supreg] with respect to ECCS performance requirements are: (1) the 
corrosion limit will remain below 100 microns for all locations of the 
fuel; (2) all conditions listed in the NRC safety evaluations for AREVA 
methodologies for M5[supreg] fuel analysis will continue to be met; (3) 
AREVA methodologies will be used only within the range for which 
M5[supreg] data was acceptable and for which the verifications 
discussed in the topical reports were performed; and (4) the burnup 
limit for implementation of M5[supreg] is 62 gigawatt-days per megaton 
uranium metal (GWd/MTU). The staff determined that the licensee has 
satisfied these conditions. The corrosion limit stated in condition (1) 
is verified by the licensee for each reload as required by TS 6.9.1.11, 
``Core Operating Limits Report [COLR].'' The conditions from NRC 
approved safety evaluations stated in condition (2) are incorporated as 
restrictions in AREVA procedures that control the core reload designs 
which are also verified by the licensee for each reload as required by 
the COLR. The restrictions on the use of AREVA methodologies stated as 
condition (3) are also incorporated as restrictions in AREVA procedures 
that control the core reload designs which are also verified for each 
reload as required by the COLR. Finally, the burnup limit stated in 
condition (4) is currently part of the St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1, COLR, 
and is also verified as part of the reload analysis required by the 
COLR.
    The AREVA topical report BAW-10227P-A, which was submitted to the 
NRC by letter dated February 11, 2000 (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML003685828), demonstrates that M5[supreg] has essentially the same 
properties as the current zircaloy cladding material and requires no 
change in fuel rod dimensions. Subsequently, the NRC staff approved 
topical report, BAW-10240P-A, ``Incorporation of M5 Properties in 
Framatome ANP Approved Methods'' (dated May 5, 2004; ADAMS Accession 
No. ML041260560), which further addressed M5[supreg] material 
properties with respect to LOCA applications and reached similar 
conclusions.
    Based on the recently completed LOCA research program at Argonne 
National Laboratory (ANL), the results showed that cladding corrosion 
and associated hydrogen pickup had a significant impact on postquench 
ductility. The research identified a new embrittlement mechanism 
referred to as hydrogen-enhanced beta layer embrittlement. Pretest 
characterization of irradiated M5[supreg] fuel cladding segments at ANL 
provides further evidence of favorable corrosion and hydrogen pickup 
characteristics of M5[supreg] as compared with standard zircaloy. Due 
to its favorable hydrogen pickup, fuel rods with M5[supreg] zirconium-
based alloy cladding are less susceptible to this new embrittlement 
mechanism.
    Furthermore, ANL postquench ductility tests on un-irradiated and 
irradiated M5[supreg] cladding segments demonstrate that the 10 CFR 
50.46(b) acceptance criteria (i.e., 2200 degrees Fahrenheit and 17-
percent equivalent cladding reacted) remain conservative up to the 
current burnup limit of 62 GWd/MTU. Information provided in the 
previously approved M5[supreg] topical reports and recent ANL LOCA 
research demonstrate that the acceptance criteria within 10 CFR 50.46 
remain valid for the M5[supreg] alloy material, and thus the underlying 
purpose of the rule--to maintain a degree of post-quench ductility in 
the fuel cladding material through ECCS performance criteria--would be 
served if an exemption were granted to allow those criteria to apply to 
M5[supreg] clad fuel.
    In addition, utilizing currently-approved LOCA models and methods 
and consistent with technical specifications, the licensee will perform 
an evaluation to ensure that the M5[supreg] fuel rods continue to 
satisfy 10 CFR 50.46 acceptance criteria. Therefore, for the reasons 
above, granting the exemption request will ensure that the underlying 
purpose of the rule is achieved for St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1. Thus, a 
strict application of the rule (which would prohibit the applicability 
of ECCS performance acceptance criteria to M5[supreg] clad fuel rods) 
is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.
    Paragraph I.A.5 of Appendix K to 10 CFR Part 50 states that the 
rates of energy, hydrogen concentration, and cladding oxidation from 
the metal-water reaction shall be calculated using the Baker-Just 
equation. Since the Baker-Just equation presumes the use of zircaloy 
clad fuel, strict application of the rule would not permit use of the 
equation for the advanced zirconium-based M5[supreg] alloy for 
determining acceptable fuel performance. The underlying intent of this 
portion of the appendix, however, is to ensure that the analysis of 
fuel response to LOCAs is conservatively calculated. The approved AREVA 
topical reports show that due to the similarities in the chemical 
composition of the advanced zirconium-based M5[supreg] alloy and 
zircaloy, the application of the Baker-Just equation in the analysis of 
the M5[supreg] clad fuel rods will continue to conservatively bound all 
post-LOCA scenarios. For the reasons above, granting the exemption 
request will ensure that the Baker-Just equation can be applied to 
M5[supreg] clad fuel and that the underlying purpose of the rule is 
achieved for St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1. Thus, a strict application of the 
rule (which would preclude the application of the Baker-Just equation) 
is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.
    Based upon results of metal-water reaction testing and mechanical 
testing which ensure the applicability of 10 CFR 50.46 acceptance 
criteria and 10 CFR 50 Appendix K methods, the staff finds it 
acceptable to grant an exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 50.46 
and Appendix K to 10 CFR Part 50 to allow these regulations to apply 
to, and enable the use of, fuel rods with M5[supreg] zirconium-based 
alloy at St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1. Therefore, the exemption presents no 
undue risk to public health and safety.

D. The Exemption Is Consistent With the Common Defense and Security

    The licensee's exemption request is only to allow the application 
of the aforementioned regulations to an improved fuel rod cladding 
material that is not specified or presumed by the cited regulations. In 
its letter dated May 10, 2013, the licensee stated that 10 CFR 50.46 
and 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix K, requirements and acceptance criteria 
will be maintained. The licensee is required to handle and control 
special nuclear material in these assemblies in accordance with its 
approved plant procedures. This change to the reactor core internals is 
adequately controlled by NRC requirements and is not related to 
security issues. Therefore, the NRC staff determined that this 
exemption does not impact common defense and

[[Page 19662]]

security and thus, is consistent with the common defense and security.

E. Environmental Considerations

    The NRC staff determined that the exemption discussed herein meets 
the eligibility criteria for the categorical exclusion set forth in 10 
CFR 51.22(c)(9) because it is related to a requirement concerning the 
installation or use of a facility component located within the 
restricted area, as defined in 10 CFR Part 20, and the granting of this 
exemption involves: (i) No significant hazards consideration, (ii) no 
significant change in the types or a significant increase in the 
amounts of any effluents that may be released offsite, and (iii) no 
significant increase in individual or cumulative occupational radiation 
exposure. Therefore, in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22(b), no 
environmental impact statement or environmental assessment need to be 
prepared in connection with the NRC's consideration of this exemption 
request. The basis for the NRC staff's determination is discussed in 
the following evaluation of the requirements in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(i)-
(iii).
Requirements in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(i)
    The NRC staff evaluated the issue of no significant hazards 
consideration, using the standards described in 10 CFR 50.92(c), as 
presented as follows:
    1. Does the proposed exemption involve a significant increase in 
the probability or consequences of an accident previously evaluated?
    No. The proposed exemption would allow the use of M5[supreg] fuel 
rod cladding material in the St. Lucie Plant Unit 1 reactor core. The 
NRC-approved topical reports, BAW-10227P-A and BAW-10240(P)(A), address 
the M5[supreg] material and demonstrate that it has essentially the 
same properties as currently licensed zircaloy. The fuel cladding 
itself is not an accident initiator and does not affect accident 
probability. Use of M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material will continue 
to meet all 10 CFR 50.46 acceptance criteria and, therefore, will not 
increase the consequences of an accident. Therefore, the proposed 
exemption does not involve a significant increase in the probability or 
consequences of an accident previously evaluated.
    2. Does the proposed exemption create the possibility of a new or 
different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated?
    No. The use of M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material will not 
result in changes in the operation or configuration of the facility. 
The NRC-approved topical reports BAW-10227P-A and BAW-10240(P)(A) 
demonstrated that the material properties of M5[supreg] are similar to 
those of zircaloy. The M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material will 
perform similarly to those fabricated from zircaloy, thus precluding 
the possibility of the fuel cladding becoming an accident initiator and 
causing a new or different type of accident. Therefore, the proposed 
exemption does not create the possibility of a new or different kind of 
accident from any previously evaluated.
    3. Does the proposed exemption involve a significant reduction in a 
margin of safety?
    No. The proposed exemption does not involve a significant reduction 
in a margin of safety because it has been demonstrated that the 
material properties of the M5[supreg] material are not significantly 
different from those of zircaloy. M5[supreg] is expected to perform 
similarly to zircaloy for all normal operating and accident scenarios, 
including both LOCA and non-LOCA scenarios. For LOCA scenarios, plant-
specific LOCA analyses using M5[supreg] properties demonstrate that the 
acceptance criteria of 10 CFR 50.46 have been satisfied. Therefore, the 
proposed exemption does not involve a significant reduction in a margin 
of safety.
    Based on the above, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed 
exemption presents no significant hazards consideration under the 
standards set forth in 10 CFR 50.92(c), and, accordingly, a finding of 
no significant hazards consideration is justified.
Requirements in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(ii)
    The proposed exemption would allow the use of M5[supreg] fuel rod 
cladding material in the reactors. AREVA M5[supreg] material has 
essentially the same properties as the currently licensed zircaloy 
cladding. The use of the M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material will not 
significantly change the types of effluents that may be released 
offsite, or significantly increase the amount of effluents that may be 
released offsite. Therefore, the provisions of 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(ii) 
are met.
Requirements in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(iii)
    The proposed exemption would allow the use of the M5[supreg] fuel 
rod cladding material in the St. Lucie Plant, Unit 1 reactor core. 
M5[supreg] has essentially the same properties as the currently used 
zircaloy cladding. The use of the M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material 
will not significantly increase individual occupational radiation 
exposure, or significantly increase cumulative occupational radiation 
exposure. Therefore, the provisions of 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9)(iii) are met.

IV. Conclusions

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 
50.12(a)(1), the exemption is authorized by law, will not present an 
undue risk to the public health and safety, and is consistent with the 
common defense and security. Also, special circumstances required by 10 
CFR 50.12(a)(2)(ii) are present. Therefore, the Commission hereby 
grants the licensee an exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 50.46 
and Appendix K to 10 CFR Part 50, to allow the application of those 
criteria to, and the use of, M5[supreg] fuel rod cladding material at 
St. Lucie Plant Unit 1.
    This exemption is effective upon issuance.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 31st day of March 2014.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Michele G. Evans,
Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2014-07972 Filed 4-8-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P