[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 116 (Wednesday, June 17, 1998)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33100-33102]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-16018]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket 72-16]


Virginia Electric and Power Company, Issuance of Environmental 
Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Regarding the Proposed 
Exemptions From Requirements of 10 CFR Part 72

    By letter dated April 29, 1998, Virginia Electric and Power 
Company, (Virginia Power or applicant) requested exemptions, pursuant 
to 10 CFR 72.7, from the requirements of 10 CFR 72.44(d)(3) and 
72.72(d). Virginia Power is seeking a Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
(NRC) license to construct and operate an independent spent fuel 
storage installation (ISFSI) at the site of its North Anna Power 
Station (NAPS) located in Louisa County, Virginia.

[[Page 33101]]

Environmental Assessment (EA)

Identification of Proposed Action

    By letter dated May 9, 1995, as supplemented, and pursuant to 10 
CFR Part 72, Virginia Power submitted an application for an NRC license 
for a North Anna ISFSI. This application is currently under 
consideration by the NRC staff. By letter dated April 29, 1998, the 
applicant requested an exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 
72.44(d)(3) and 77.72(d) for the North Anna ISFSI.
    The requirements of 10 CFR 72.44(d)(3) states in part that ``An 
annual report be submitted to the appropriate regional office specified 
in Appendix A of Part 73 of this chapter, with a copy to the Director, 
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington DC, 20555, within 60 days after 
January 1 of each year, specifying the quantity of each of the 
principal radionuclides released to the environment in liquid and 
gaseous effluents during the previous 12 months of operation * * *'' 
Specifically, the applicant proposes to submit a single NAPS Effluent 
Release Report encompassing the North Anna power reactors licensed 
under 10 CFR Part 50 and the proposed ISFSI which would be licensed 
pursuant to 10 CFR Part 72. The applicant also proposes to submit that 
report by May 1 of each year rather than within 60 days of January 1 as 
prescribed in 10 CFR 72.44(d)(3).
    The applicant also requested an exemption from the requirements of 
10 CFR 72.72(d), which states in part that ``Records of spent fuel and 
high level radioactive waste in storage must be kept in duplicate. The 
duplicate set of records must be kept at a separate location 
sufficiently remote from the original records that a single event would 
not destroy both sets of records.'' The applicant proposes to maintain 
a single set of records of spent fuel in storage at a records storage 
facility that satisfies the standards set forth in ANSI N45.2.9-1974.
    Separately, the staff is considering issuance of an exemption from 
the requirements of 10 CFR 72.124(b) which state that ``When 
practicable the design of an ISFSI or MRS [monitored retrievable 
storage installation] must be based on favorable geometry, permanently 
fixed neutron absorbing materials (poisons), or both. Where solid 
neutron absorbing materials are used, the design shall provide for 
positive means to verify their continued efficacy.'' Specifically, the 
staff is considering granting an exemption from the requirement to 
verify continued efficacy of neutron absorbing materials.
    The proposed action before the Commission is whether to grant these 
exemptions pursuant to 10 CFR 72.7.

Need for the Proposed Action

    The applicant is preparing to operate the North Anna ISFSI 
described in the May 9, 1995, application subject to issuance of an NRC 
license pursuant to 10 CFR Part 72. The applicant is implementing the 
necessary processes and procedures to operate the ISFSI and seeks to 
have those processes make efficient use of resources. With regard to 
annual effluent release reporting, the applicant already prepares and 
submits effluent release reports for the NAPS by May 1 of each year 
pursuant to the NAPS Technical Specifications. The NAPS effluent 
release report provides the same type of data and is generated by the 
same licensee program as would the annual effluent release report for 
the ISFSI. The applicant states that submittal of separate reports for 
the NAPS and the ISFSI would entail duplication of report preparation 
and verification data.
    With regard to duplicate record storage for spent fuel records, the 
applicant stated that, pursuant to 10 CFR 72.140(d), the Virginia Power 
Operational Quality Assurance (QA) Program Topical Report will be used 
to satisfy the QA requirements for the ISFSI. The QA Program Topical 
Report states that QA records are maintained in accordance with 
commitments to ANSI N45.2.9-1974. ANSI N45.2.9-1974 allows for the 
storage of QA records in a duplicate storage location sufficiently 
remote from the original records or in a records storage facility 
subject to certain provisions designed to protect the records from fire 
and other adverse conditions. The applicant seeks to streamline and 
standardize recordkeeping procedures and processes for the NAPS and the 
North Anna ISFSI spent fuel records. The applicant states that 
requiring a separate method of record storage for ISFSI records diverts 
resources unnecessarily.
    ANSI N45.2.9-1974 provides standards for the protection of nuclear 
power plant quality assurance records against degradation. It specifies 
design standards for use in the construction of record storage 
facilities when use of a single storage facility is desired. It 
includes specific standards for protection against degradation 
mechanisms such as fire, humidity and condensation. The standards in 
ANSI N45.2.9-1974 have been endorsed by the NRC in Regulatory Guide 
1.88, ``Collection, Storage and Maintenance of Nuclear Power Plant 
Quality Assurance Records,'' as adequate for satisfying the record 
keeping requirements of 10 CFR 50, Appendix B. The standards of ANSI 
N45.2.9-1974 also satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR 72.72 by providing 
for adequate maintenance of records regarding the identity and history 
of the spent fuel in storage. Such records would be subject to, and 
need to be protected from the same types of degradation mechanisms, as 
nuclear power plant quality assurance records.
    With regard to verification of neutron poison efficacy, the 
exemption is necessary to ensure that the licensing process for the 
North Anna ISFSI takes into account previous staff conclusions that 
fixed neutron poisons in the TN-32 storage cask will remain effective 
over the 20-year period of the license. Periodic verification of 
neutron poison effectiveness is not possible for the TN-32 cask and, 
consistent with the staff's conclusion described above, is not 
necessary.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The Environmental Assessment (EA) for the license application for 
the North Anna ISFSI (62 FR 16202, April 4, 1997) considered the 
potential environmental impacts of construction and operation of an 
ISFSI at the North Anna site. The proposed actions now under 
consideration would not change the potential environmental effects 
assessed in the April 4, 1997, EA. Specifically, there are no 
environmental impacts associated with the submittal date for the annual 
effluent release report. Notwithstanding the fact that the ISFSI is not 
expected to generate any effluents under normal or accident conditions, 
the submittal date for the required effluent release report does not 
change the amount of effluent to be reported and, thus, has no impact 
on the environment.
    With regard to record storage, elimination of the requirement to 
store ISFSI records at a duplicate facility has no impact on the 
environment. Storage of records does not change the methods by which 
spent fuel will be handled and stored at the NAPS and ISFSI and does 
not change the amount of any effluents, radiological or non-
radiological, associated with the ISFSI.
    With regard to verification of neutron absorber efficacy, the 
applicant has proposed to use the TN-32 cask at the North Anna ISFSI. 
The TN-32 cask design includes fixed neutron absorbers but does not 
provide for periodic verification of neutron absorber efficacy. The 
staff previously evaluated the efficacy of the TN-32 cask fixed neutron

[[Page 33102]]

absorbers. In NRC's November 7, 1996, safety evaluation of the TN-32 
cask Safety Analysis Report, the staff concluded that fixed neutron 
poisons in the TN-32 cask will remain effective for the 20-year storage 
period. The applicant evaluated the criticality and radiological 
aspects of the North Anna ISFSI based on use of the TN-32 cask, as 
described in the North Anna ISFSI Safety Analysis Report. Consistent 
with the staff conclusions in the November 7, 1996, safety evaluation, 
the applicant did not propose any verification of TN-32 cask neutron 
absorber efficacy. The staff evaluated the environmental effects of the 
North Anna ISFSI and issued its findings in the April 4, 1997, EA. 
Granting an exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 72.124(b) will 
have no environmental impact because the staff has determined, through 
its safety evaluation of the TN-32 cask, that periodic verification of 
the neutron absorber efficacy is not needed to assure that the fixed 
neutron poisons in the TN-32 cask will remain effective during the 
storage period.

Alternative to the Proposed Action

    Since there are no environmental impacts associated with the 
proposed actions, alternatives are not evaluated other than the no 
action alternative. The alternative to the proposed action would be to 
deny approval of the exemption and, therefore, not allow (1) submittal 
of an annual effluent release report by May 1 rather than within 60 
days of January 1, or (2) storage of ISFSI spent fuel records at a 
single qualified record storage facility, or (3) elimination of the 
requirement to verify the efficacy of neutron absorbing materials. 
These alternatives would have the same, or greater, environmental 
impacts.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    An official from the State of Virginia Bureau of Radiological 
Health was contacted about the EA for the proposed action and had no 
concerns.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    The environmental impacts of the proposed action have been reviewed 
in accordance with the requirements set forth in 10 CFR Part 51. Based 
upon the foregoing EA, the Commission finds that the proposed action of 
(1) granting an exemption from 10 CFR 72.44(d)(3) so that Virginia 
Power may submit an annual effluent release report by May 1 of each 
year, (2) granting an exemption from 10 CFR 72.72(d) so that Virginia 
Power may store records of spent fuel stored at the ISFSI in a single 
record storage facility which meets the standards of ANSI N45.2.9-1974, 
and (3) granting an exemption from 10 CFR 72.124(b) so that Virginia 
Power need not verify the efficacy of the neutron absorbing material in 
ISFSI storage casks will not significantly impact the quality of the 
human environment. Accordingly, the Commission has determined not to 
prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed exemption.
    This application was docketed under 10 CFR Part 72, Docket 72-16. 
For further details with respect to this action, see the application 
for an ISFSI license dated May 9,1995, and the request for exemption 
dated April 29, 1998, which is available for public inspection at the 
Commission's Public Document Room, 2120 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 
20555, and the Local Public Document Room at the University of 
Virginia, Alderman Library, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 10th day of June 1998.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
William F. Kane,
Director, Spent Fuel Project Office, Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 98-16018 Filed 6-16-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P