[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 3 (Thursday, January 4, 2001)]
[Pages 812-815]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-228]



[Docket No.: 030-14784]

U.S. Army Chemical School, Fort McClellan, Alabama; Notice of 
Intent To Amend Byproduct Materials License for the Former U.S. Army 
Chemical School Facilities in Fort McClellan, Alabama, Environmental 
Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact, and Opportunity for 

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (hereafter referred to 
as NRC staff) is considering issuance of a license amendment to Nuclear 
Materials License No. 01-02861-05, issued to the Department of the 
Army's Chemical School, to authorize decommissioning of a radioactive 
waste burial mound located at the Pelham Range at Fort McClellan, 
    This amendment would involve the approval of the Remediation 
(Decommissioning) Plan for the Department of the Army's Fort McClellan 
Pelham Range Burial Mound, Fort McClellan, Alabama, dated September 9, 
1999. The Army is obligated to remediate the Fort McClellan site to 
meet the release criteria in 10 CFR 20, Subpart E (NRC, 1997).
    Based on our evaluation of the Army's Fort McClellan Remediation 
(Decommissioning) Plan, NRC staff has determined that the proposed plan 
complies with NRC's public and occupational dose and effluent limits, 
and that authorizing the proposed activities would not be a major 
Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment. NRC staff concludes that a Finding of No Significant 
Impact is justified and appropriate, and that an environmental impact 
statement is not required.


    On July 23, 1998, the Army's Material License No. 01-02861-05 was 
amended to include cesium 137 (Cs-137) and cobalt 60 (Co-60) waste 
contained in a burial mound located at Rideout Field, Pelham Range, 
Area 24C at Fort McClellan, Alabama. The Army requested this amendment 
based on a characterization study completed in January 1996. The study 
consisted of walkover surface scans, hole logging and sample analysis. 
The Army obtained 571 systematic random and biased samples and analyzed 
them for radiological parameters by gamma spectroscopy. The analysis 
supported the conclusion that the mound was contaminated with Cs-137 
and Co-60 waste from previously licensed activities at the base.
    The Co-60 concentration varied between 1.6 and 187 pCi/g for the 
surface samples and from 0 to 330
pCi/g for sub-surface samples. The Cs-137 samples varied from 0.2 to 
179 pCi/g for the surface samples and from 0 to 12 pCi/g for the sub-
surface samples. One sample contained an individual Co-60 spec with a 
mass of 0.0043 grams and an activity of 243,000 pCi.
    Pelham Range consists of approximately 22,000 acres of land west of 
the main post, which is located adjacent to Anniston, Alabama. One of 
the uses of the Pelham Range was as a radiological training area for 
simulated large area radioactive contamination (fallout) from the 
surface detonation of a small yield nuclear weapon. The training 
concept involved the raising and lowering of sealed radioactive 
sources. Students would then perform ground and aerial surveys to map 
the fallout pattern. This training occurred from the mid 1950s through 
May of 1973. The Army used locally fabricated Co-60 sources and higher 
activity commercially produced Cs-137 sources. A number of leaking 
locally fabricated Co-60 sources contributed to the formation of the 
burial mound.
    The Army Base Closure and Realignment Committee has identified Fort 
McClellan as an installation for closure. The remediation of the burial 
mound is one of several radiological issues that must be resolved prior 
to the termination of the materials license and final base closure.

Proposed Action

    The Army is proposing to collect the radiologically contaminated 
materials from the Pelham Range burial mound. The Army intends to 
remediate the site to the NRC criteria for unrestricted use delineated 
in 10 CFR 20, Subpart E, that

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being 25 mrem/year TEDE to the critical group. For the Pelham Range 
site, this was modeled for a residential family (i.e., the critical 
group) which occupies the land and operates it as a self-sustaining 
    The Army modeled the future residential farm scenario using site 
specific environmental parameters to determine acceptable clean up 
levels using the Residual Radioactivity (RESRAD) computer code. The 
model calculated acceptable cleanup levels of 2.3 pCi/g of Co-60 and 
9.2 pCi/g of Cs-137. These represent the maximum average acceptable 
contaminant levels that will meet the NRC's release criteria. In 
addition, the Army will operate under the concept of As Low As 
Reasonable Achievable (ALARA). After reviewing the site 
characterization data and considering the sensitivity of available 
field instrumentation, by applying ALARA, the predicted average 
concentrations after decommissioning will be approximately 0.1 pCi/g of 
Co-60 and approximately 0.1 pCi/g of Cs-137.
    The general decommissioning outline is as follows:

1. Clear all brush from the burial mound area.
2. Reestablish the survey grid system.
3. Identify the contaminated areas within the remediation parameters.
4. Remove the soil/sand which contains the radioactivity.
5. Survey the area to ensure remediation was successful.
6. Remove any residual activity discovered after excavation.
7. Package and prepare radioactive material for shipment.
8. Complete the final survey of the remediated mound for release.
9. Ship radioactive material for disposal.

    During the remediation process, the Army will obtain sufficient 
water samples to characterize the groundwater in the area to ensure 
that no contamination is present in the groundwater.
    The Army plans to package and ship the radiologically contaminated 
material offsite to the Envirocare facility in Clive, UT. Envirocare is 
a licensed low-level waste disposal site. The Army will perform a 100-
percent surface survey of the remaining soil in and around the Pelham 
Range burial mound.
    The Army expects to generate approximately 392 cubic meters (498 
cubic yards) of low-level radioactive waste that they will ship offsite 
for disposal. Roll-on, roll-off containers with hard covers and six mil 
plastic liners will be used for shipment to the disposal site. As each 
container is filled it will be readied for shipment. Each container 
will be covered and sealed before it leaves the site after the exterior 
surfaces are surveyed and found to be free of loose contamination.
    The Army plans to transport the sealed containers by truck to the 
nearby rail spur. At the rail spur, the Army plans to load the 
containers onto railcars for transport to the Envirocare disposal 
facility, in Clive, Utah. The Army is committed to shipments complying 
with NRC and DOT package and shipping requirements.
    The Army estimates that the maximum expected exposure rate on the 
exterior surface of the waste shipping containers will be 0.5 
milliroentgen/hour (mR/hr); the maximum dose to the onsite worker from 
this proposed activity will be 0.03 millisieverts (mSv) [3 millirem 
(mrem)] and the maximum dose to a member of the public from the 
transportation of this material will be less than 0.01 mSv (1 mrem).

The Need for the Proposed Action

    Fort McClellan is being closed under Base Relocation and Closure 
(BRAC) and will be turned over to the State of Alabama for unrestricted 
use. The proposed action is necessary to reduce residual contamination 
at the site to meet NRC's unrestricted release criteria.

Alternative to Proposed Action

    The alternatives to the proposed action are releasing the area 
under a restricted release condition or taking no action.
    The restricted release option under NRC guidelines would require 
the Army to implement institutional controls to limit the future land 
use for the decommissioned grounds. The intended future land use (and 
current use) is for training of Army National Guard troops. This 
training does and will include the use of tanks, which can disturb the 
contaminated area and lead to the spread of the contamination. The Army 
has decided that decommissioning the grounds to unrestricted release 
conditions would be a better and more cost effective approach.
    Taking no action conflicts with NRC's requirement, in 10 CFR 40.42, 
of timely remediation at sites that have ceased NRC licensed 
operations. Although there is no immediate threat to the public health 
and safety from this site, not undertaking remediation, at this time, 
does not resolve the regulatory and potential long-term health and 
safety problems involved in storing this waste. No action now would 
delay remediation until some time in the future, when costs could be 
much higher than they are today. It is even possible that no disposal 
option will be available in the future if the current low-level 
radioactive waste disposal facilities are closed and no new ones are 

Environmental Impacts of Proposed Action

    There are limited potential short-term environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed decommissioning activities. These include 
the potential release to the environment of airborne and liquid 
effluents, which may contain low levels of radioactive contamination 
during certain activities such as excavation, packaging, and waste 
transportation. NRC regulation 10 CFR Part 20 specifies the maximum 
allowable amounts of radioactive materials that a licensee can release 
from a site in the form of either airborne or liquid effluents.
    The NRC will require the Army to comply with these regulations. The 
Army has established action levels that will ensure that effluent 
releases during decommissioning activities are below the levels allowed 
by Part 20.
    The Army has committed to implementing a contamination monitoring 
and control program to detect and minimize the spread of contamination. 
Contamination monitoring will be accomplished by: (1) Performing all 
site remediation work under a Radiation Work Permit system, (2) 
conducting routine radioactivity surveys, (3) use of access controls to 
prevent inadvertent personnel access to contaminated areas, (4) use of 
personal protection, (5) surveying and decontaminating all personnel, 
equipment and vehicles before they leave the work site, and (6) 
employee training.
    The Army will minimize the potential for airborne effluent releases 
by having a water truck available to suppress dust during activities 
that could generate significant quantities of dust. Activities that 
could generate significant quantities of dust include the excavation of 
the waste, processing and packaging of the waste, as well as during 
conveyor system screening and sampling operations. The Army will 
implement an environmental air monitoring program. Specifically, they 
will collect air samples in the breathing zone of workers during work 
that may produce airborne contamination, and they will position low 
volume air samplers downwind of the work area.
    If airborne activities exceed 50-percent of the Derived Airborne 
Concentration (DAC) from Appendix B of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR) Title 10, Part 20, the Army will:

[[Page 814]]

(a) Implement dust-control measures;
(b) Cease all work activities;
(c) Investigate the cause for the airborne activity;
(d) Document all findings and measurements;
(e) Implement corrective actions before proceeding with decommissioning 

    There are no expected adverse impacts to air quality as a result of 
planned decommissioning activities. There will a slight increase in 
dust emissions during the removal of the contaminated sand/soil; 
however, the burial mound is in a remote area of the installation and 
will not have an adverse impact on the ambient air quality. There is 
little likelihood that airborne radioactive material will be a problem 
on the range during any operation conducted for the remediation. The 
maximum general area dose rate for the Pelham Range Burial Mound is 
11.7 uR/hour at 1-meter above ground. All Army site workers will wear 
personnel dosimetry devices. Based on the Army's calculations, the 
highest expected dose to an onsite worker is 30 mSv (3 mrem) (i.e., 
11.7 uR/hour x 250 worker-hours). The Army has determined that no 
immediate threat to public health and safety exists. The Army will 
monitor all potential exposure pathways, and exposure from each pathway 
will be kept as low as is reasonably achievable, during decommissioning 
    Pelham Range workers not expected to receive an occupational dose 
as defined by 10 CFR 20.1502 and members of the public are expected to 
receive less than 10 mSv (1 mrem) from all exposure pathways as a 
result of decommissioning activities.
    The proposed decommissioning action will have a positive 
environmental impact on the water quality in the area since low-level 
radioactive contamination will be removed from the soil above the 
aquifer. The Pelham Range Burial Mound is not located in the flood 
plain of any stream or river. There are no wetlands located in the 
project area. There will be no water bodies diverted in order to 
decontaminate the burial mound.
    This action will not have an adverse impact on future land use. Ft. 
McClellan has used the Pelham Range Burial Mound to store the 
radioactive contamination for several years. The removal of the 
radioactive contaminated soil will be a beneficial environmental 
    The radioactive material will be packaged, handled and stored 
according to the appropriate health and safety procedures. Packaging 
contaminated soil shall conform to Department of Transportation (DOT) 
regulations and the disposal site requirements. The Army will ship the 
waste in accordance with all DOT, State and Low Level Radioactive Waste 
Compact Commission regulations.
    There will be no significant/prolonged periods of increased noise 
levels. The decommissioning activities will generate some elevated 
sound levels for a 6-8 week period. The elevated noise will come from 
the operation of heavy machinery and electrical generators. The noise 
from these activities is not expected to significantly impact the 
wildlife or the general public.
    There is no adverse impact expected on cultural resources. The 
project will consist of the sampling and removal of radiologically 
contaminated materials that the Army placed in the mound within the 
past few decades. The likelihood of encountering any artifacts in the 
area is remote.
    NRC staff conducted an evaluation of the potential for 
environmental justice issues due to low income populations. Based on 
the staff's evaluation, it is concluded that the Pelham Range site does 
not have an environmental justice potential because of its isolated 
location, there are no disproportionately high minority or low-income 

Agencies and Individuals Consulted

    This environmental assessment was prepared by NRC staff and 
coordinated with the following agencies: the State of Alabama 
Department of Public Health, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and 
the Alabama Historical Commission. These agencies had no objection with 
the proposed action. No other sources were used beyond those referenced 
in this environmental assessment.


    Decommissioning of the site to the cleanup levels proposed for this 
action will result in reduced residual contamination levels in the 
burial mound, enabling release of the area for unrestricted use and 
termination of the radioactive materials license. No radiologically 
contaminated effluents are expected during the decommissioning. 
Occupational doses to decommissioning workers are expected to be low 
and well within the limits of 10 CFR Part 20. No radiation exposure to 
any member of the public is expected, and public exposure will 
therefore also be less than the applicable public exposure limits of 10 
CFR Part 20. Therefore, the environmental impacts from the proposed 
action are expected to be insignificant.


NRC, ``Radiological Criteria for License Termination'', 10 CFR Part 
20, Subpart E, 62 FR 139, July 21, 1997
NRC, ``Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual, 
(MARSSIM), NUREG-1575, December 1997
NRC, Draft ``Manual for Conducting Radiological Surveys in Support 
of License Termination'', NUREG/CR-5849, June 1992
NRC, ``Guidelines for Decommissioning of Facilities and Equipment 
Prior to Release for Unrestricted Use or Termination of Licenses for 
By-product, Source or Special Nuclear Material'', May 3, 1973
NRC, ``NMSS Handbook for Decommissioning Fuel Cycle and Materials 
Licensees'' March 1997
U.S. Army, Phase II, Burial Mound Decommissioning Plan, February 
U.S. Army, Draft Environmental Assessment For The Proposed 
Decommissioning of The Ft. McClellan Pelham Range Burial Mound, 
October 8, 1999

Finding of No Significant Impact

    Pursuant to 10 CFR Part 51, NRC has prepared this EA in support of 
the proposed amendment related to the approval of the Army's Fort 
McClellan Pelham Range Burial Mound Remediation (Decommissioning) Plan. 
On the basis of the EA, the Commission has concluded that this 
licensing action will not significantly affect the quality of the human 
environment and has determined not to prepare an Environmental Impact 
    Accordingly, it has been determined that a Finding of No 
Significant Impact is appropriate.
    The documents related to this proposed action are publicly 

Opportunity for a Hearing

    The NRC hereby provides notice that this is a proceeding on an 
application for amendment of a license falling within the scope of 
Subpart L ``Informal Hearing Procedures for Adjudication in Materials 
Licensing Proceedings,'' of NRC's rules and practices for domestic 
licensing proceedings in 10 CFR Part 2. Pursuant to Sec. 2.1205(a), any 
person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding may file a 
request for a hearing in accordance with Sec. 2.1205(a). A request for 
hearing must be filed within thirty (30) days of the date of 
publication of this Federal Register notice.
    The request for a hearing must be filed with the Office of the 
Secretary either:
    1. By delivery to the Docketing and Service Branch of the Secretary 
at One

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White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738; or
    2. By mail or telegram addressed to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555. Attention: Docketing and 
Service Branch.
    In addition to meeting other applicable requirements of 10 CFR Part 
2 of the NRC's regulations, a request for a hearing filed by a person 
other than the applicant must describe in detail:
    1. The interest of the requester in the proceeding;
    2. How that interest may be affected by the results of the 
proceeding, including the reasons why the requestor should be permitted 
a hearing, with particular reference to the factors set out in 
Sec. 2.1205(g); and
    3. The requester's areas of concern about the licensing activity 
that is the subject matter of the proceeding; and
    4. The circumstances establishing that the request for a hearing is 
timely in accordance with Sec. 2.1205(c).
    In accordance with 10 CFR 2.1205(e) each request for a hearing must 
also be served, by delivering it personally or by mail, to:
    1. The applicant, U.S. Army Chemical School, Attn: ATSN-CM, 401 
Engineer Loop, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO 65473-8928, Attention: Commandant; 
    2. The NRC staff, by delivery to the Executive Director for 
Operations, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 
20852, or by mail, addressed to the Executive Director for Operations, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555.
    For further details with respect to this action, the site 
decommissioning plan will be available for review on the NRC's Public 
Electronic Reading Room.

    Dated at Atlanta, Georgia, this 18th day of December 2000.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Douglas M. Collins,
Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety.
[FR Doc. 01-228 Filed 1-3-01; 8:45 am]