[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 210 (Wednesday, October 30, 2002)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-27589]
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
[Docket No. 70-143]
Environmental Statements; Availability, etc.: Nuclear Fuel
AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
ACTION: Notice of docketing, notice of proposed action, revision of
notice of Opportunity for Hearing on the amendment of Nuclear Fuel
Services, Inc., Materials License SNM-124 to authorize construction and
operation of the Uranyl Nitrate Storage Building, and notice of Finding
of No Significant Impact.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering an
amendment dated February 28, 2002, of Materials License SNM-124 to
authorize construction and operation of a Uranyl Nitrate Storage
Building. The staff hereby provides notice of the license amendment
request and issues a notice of Opportunity for Hearing. The staff has
prepared an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant
Impact (FONSI) in support of this action. The Agencywide Documents
Access and Management System (ADAMS) accession number for the
Environmental Assessment is ML021790068.
By letter dated February 28, 2002, Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc.
(NFS) requested an amendment to Materials License SNM-124 to authorize
construction and operation of the Uranyl Nitrate Storage Building
(ADAMS accession numbers ML02730343 containing the cover letter and
affidavit, and ML021720458 containing attachment III, proposed page
changes to SNM-124). NFS submitted two revisions to the license
amendment application, dated May 9, 2002 (ADAMS accession number
ML021350445 containing the nonproprietary version of the Integrated
Safety Analysis Summary) and August 23, 2002 (ADAMS accession numbers
ML022610016 containing the revised Integrated Safety Analysis cover
letter, and ML022610048 containing attachment II, the nonproprietary
version of the revised Integrated Safety Analysis Summary, mistakenly
dated August 31, 2002, in ADAMS).
This application was docketed under 10 CFR part 70. The docket no.
On July 9, 2002, the NRC issued a notice of Opportunity for Hearing
on the amendment of Materials License SNM-124, a notice of Finding of
Significant Impact and a summary of an Environmental Assessment for the
amendment of Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., Materials License SNM-124 to
authorize construction and operation of the Uranyl Nitrate Storage
Building. (67 FR 45555). The Federal Register notice published on July
9, 2002, provided inadequate identification of the license amendment
application. The notice neither set forth the date upon which the
application had been filed nor supplied any information as to how the
content of the application might be located. This revision is intended
to correct those deficiencies.
Notice of Availability of Amendment Request
NFS and Framatome ANP, Inc. are designing and are planning to
construct a Blended Low Enriched Uranium (BLEU) Complex at the NFS site
in Erwin, TN. As part of the BLEU complex, a Uranyl Nitrate Building
(UNB) will be constructed to store and process uranyl nitrate. The
February 28, 2002, amendment application seeks the authorization to
construct and operate the UNB. The amendment application, in accordance
with 10 CFR 70.61, contains an Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) Summary
which describes the UNB and its process systems. The ISA Summary
encompasses all of the processes which involve handling of Special
Nuclear Material (SNM) and any associated equipment and/or off-stream
processes that could be impacted or intermingled with SNM. The ISA
summary provides general information on the NFS site, and it evaluates
the accident sequences which could arise from the operations in the
This application will be reviewed by the staff using NRC guidance,
NUREG-1520 ``Standard Review Plan for the Review of a License
Application for a Fuel Cycle Facility.''
The amendment application, and the two revisions, are available for
public inspection and copying at the NRC Public Document Room, U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Headquarters, Room 0-1F21, 11555
Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, or through the ADAMS system using
the accession numbers mentioned above.
Notice of Opportunity for Hearing
The NRC hereby provides notice of an Opportunity for Hearing on the
February 28, 2002, license amendment request to construct and operate
the Uranyl Nitrate Building (UNB) under the provisions of 10 CFR part
2, subpart L, ``Informal Hearing Procedures for Adjudications in
Materials and Operator Licensing Proceedings.'' 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(d), a
request for hearing must be filed within 30 days of the publication of
this notice in the Federal Register. 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 Office
of the Secretary at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike,
Rockville, MD 20852; or
(2) By mail or telegram addressed to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, Attention: Docketing and
In accordance with 10 CFR 2.1205(f), each request for a hearing
must also be served, by delivering it personally or by mail, to:
(1) The applicant, Nuclear Fuel Services, 1205 Banner Hill Road,
Erwin, Tennessee 37650-9718. A copy of the request for hearing should
also be sent to the attorney for the licensee; and
(2) The NRC staff, by delivery to the Office of the General
Counsel, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001,
and because of continuing disruptions in delivery of mail to United
States Government offices, it is requested that copies be transmitted
either by means of facsimile transmission to 301-415-3725 or by e-mail
to [email protected].
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 an applicant must describe in detail:
(1) The interest of the requestor 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.
(3) The requestor'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(d).
The request must also set forth the specific aspect or aspects of
the subject matter of the proceeding as to which petitioner wishes a
In addition, members of the public may provide comments on the
subject application within 30 days of the publication of this notice in
the Federal Register. The comments may be provided to Michael Lesar,
Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative
Services, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Washington DC 20555.
Summary of Environmental Assessment
Identification of the Proposed Action
The proposed action currently before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) is to allow the licensee to construct and operate a
Low-Enriched Uranyl Nitrate Storage Building (UNB) at the Nuclear Fuel
Services, Inc. (NFS) site in Erwin, Tennessee, and to increase the
\235\U possession limit. This action is part of the Blended Low-
Enriched Uranium (BLEU) project described below. The other related
future activities which were considered to contribute to the
environmental impacts for this project are: construction and operation
of an Oxide Conversion Building (OCB), construction and operation a new
Effluent Processing Building (EPB), and relocation of downblending
operations within the NFS protected area in a BLEU Preparation Facility
On March 4, 2002, NRC issued a notice of intent to prepare an
environmental assessment (EA) for amendment of Special Nuclear Material
(SNM) License No. SNM-124 for NFS. To avoid segmentation of the
environmental review, NFS has submitted environmental documentation for
three proposed license amendments, which will impact the site over the
next few years.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) for these actions does not serve
as authorization for any proposed activities, rather it assesses the
environmental impacts of the actions. As each amendment application is
submitted, the NRC staff will perform a separate safety evaluation,
which will be the basis for the approval or denial of the application.
As part of the safety evaluation, the NRC will perform an environmental
review. If the review indicates that this EA appropriately and
adequately assesses the environmental effects of the proposed action,
then no further assessment will be performed. However, if the
environmental review indicates that this EA does not evaluate fully the
environmental effects, another EA (or environmental impact statement
(EIS)) will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA).
Need for the Proposed Action
The Blended Low Enriched Uranium (BLEU) Project is part of a
Department of Energy (DOE) program to reduce stockpiles of surplus high
enriched uranium (HEU) through re-use or disposal as radioactive waste.
low enriched uranium (LEU) is considered the favorable option by the
DOE because (1) weapons grade material is converted to a form
unsuitable for nuclear weapons (addressing a proliferation concern),
(2) the product can be used for peaceful purposes, and (3) the
commercial value of the surplus material can be recovered. An
additional benefit of re-use is avoidance of unnecessary use of limited
radioactive waste disposal space. Framatome ANP Inc. has contracted
with NFS to downblend surplus HEU material to a LEU nitrate and to
convert the LEU to an oxide form. The NFS LEU oxide product is expected
to be fabricated into commercial reactor fuel at a separate facility,
for use in a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) nuclear power reactor;
however, the NFS proposed action is limited to the production of LEU
oxide, receipt and storage of LEU nitrate, down blending of HEU to LEU,
and conversion of LEU nitrate to LEU oxide.
Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action
For the proposed license amendments, construction and processing
operations will result in the release of low levels of chemical and
radioactive constituents to the environment. Under accident conditions,
higher concentrations of materials could be released to the environment
over a short period of time.
Radiological impacts from the proposed BLEU Project operations
include release of small quantities of radioactive material to the
atmosphere and surface water. Radionuclides that may be released
include isotopes and some daughter products of the actinide elements
uranium, thorium, plutonium, americium, actinium, and lesser quantities
of fission products including technetium, cesium, and strontium. Based
on source material properties and processing information, NFS has
estimated the quantities of airborne and liquid effluents and used this
information to estimate doses to the maximally exposed individual.
While some effluents for the proposed action are increasing in relation
to current releases, the total annual dose estimate for the maximally
exposed individual from all planned effluents is 0.022 mSv (2.2 mrem).
This result is well below the annual public dose limit of 1 mSv (100
mrem) in 10 CFR part 20 and the 0.1 mSv (10 mrem) ALARA constraint. The
estimated dose for a number of radionuclides is conservative, because
the analysis assumed no pollution controls were in place.
Solid wastes generated by BLEU Project operations will be packaged
into drums or boxes. Each container will be assayed for uranium content
to verify that storage, shipment, and disposal requirements are met.
The potential for increase in dose to workers at NFS due to the
BLEU project was evaluated. Operation of the BPF, OCB and UNB is not
expected to increase the dose to workers at the NFS facility, because
the types and quantity of material, and the processing, will be similar
to what is already licensed at the site. NFS is committed to keeping
doses as low as reasonable achievable (ALARA) by maintaining a
radiation protection program that minimizes radiation exposures and
releases of radioactive material to the environment. In order to
accomplish this, NFS has procedures for working with radioactive
materials and monitoring programs to determine the doses received by
Impacts from non-radiological contaminants to air, surface water,
and groundwater were also assessed. Air quality is protected by
enforcing emission limits and maintenance requirements for pollution
control equipment, as required by several operating permits issued by
the Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board, Department of Environment
and Conservation. The primary non-radiological emissions are expected
to include nitrogen oxides, hydrogen and ammonia. Normal emissions of
gaseous effluents from the new processes are not expected to have a
significant impact on offsite non-radiological air quality, because the
estimated concentrations at the nearest site boundary are below the
State of Tennessee primary air quality standards, with the exception of
nitrogen oxides. For nitrogen oxides, NFS will exceed the current
allowable limit; however, NFS is requesting modification to the
existing air pollution control permit for the main stack. Modification
of the permit is required because of changes in material input from the
BPF and installation of additional process and ventilation equipment.
This modified permit for the main stack has not been issued as of this
EA; however, NRC expects that the State, under its authority to
regulate air quality, will continue to set permit levels to limit
environmental impacts from NFS effluents.
The proposed BPF and BLEU Complex are expected to produce liquid
effluents. BPF waste streams will be sent to the NFS wastewater
treatment facility and discharged into the Nolichucky River in
accordance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) permit and NRC radiological effluent limits in 10 CFR part 20.
This liquid effluent will consist of raffinate, condensate, scrubber
waste solution, and sodium hydroxide. The basic and acidic waste
streams will be treated using precipitation and ion exchange processes.
Surface water quality is expected to be protected from future site
activities by enforcing release limits and monitoring programs, as
required under the NPDES permit. No impact on NPDES permit limits is
anticipated with respect to operations at the proposed BLEU Complex or
downblending at the BPF. Surface water runoff from the proposed action
will generally flow to the northwest across the proposed BLEU Complex.
This runoff will drain to culverts at the northwest boundary of the NFS
site, and then empty into Martin Creek. A storm water construction
permit will be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Environment
and Conservation prior to any construction activities that would
disturb the land. Erosion and sediment control measures (e.g., straw
bales and silt fences) will be employed to mitigate surface runoff into
the drainage ditches and Martin Creek, thus reducing the impacts to
surface water during the construction of the proposed BLEU Complex.
Sluice gates will be installed at collection points within the proposed
BLEU Complex for containment of any hazardous spills during the
lifetime of BLEU operations.
Previous operation of the plant has resulted in localized chemical
and radiological contamination of groundwater, including beneath the
BPF. Groundwater monitoring conducted by NFS indicates that plumes of
uranium, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, 1,2-dichloroethylene,
and vinyl chloride, from past operations, could migrate offsite in the
direction of the Nolichucky River. To address potential environmental
impacts from this contamination, NFS has removed much of the source
contamination through extensive remediation projects including
excavation of contaminated areas in the North Site. In addition, NFS is
decommissioning the Radiological Burial Ground and the North Site to
remove more of the source of this contamination. NFS also is working
with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to design remedial strategies and
investigate the off-site extent of existing plumes.
The addition of the BLEU Complex will expand the physical site of
the Erwin plant. Current environmental monitoring stations do not
provide adequate coverage of the expanded site area. In addition, the
current monitoring program lacks adequate coverage for groundwater in
the vicinity of the proposed BLEU Complex. NFS plans to expand the
existing environmental monitoring program to cover the BLEU Complex.
Additional monitoring locations (e.g., air, vegetation, soil,
groundwater) will be proposed in a forthcoming license amendment
request for the BLEU Project. For groundwater monitoring, NFS has
indicated a minimum of one upgradient and three downgradient wells will
be installed in the vicinity of the proposed BLEU Complex. NRC review
of the proposed environmental monitoring program to determine
compliance with 10 CFR part 20 requirements provides assurance that an
adequate program will be in place prior to making a decision on the
For normal operations, the proposed action will not discharge any
effluents to the groundwater; therefore, no adverse impacts to
groundwater are expected. Accidental releases of contaminants to
groundwater appear unlikely due to design and control measures
implemented by NFS.
A field investigation was conducted on the proposed BLEU complex
site to determine the absence or presence of rare, threatened, or
endangered plants. The survey focused primarily on the twenty federally
listed threatened and endangered plants, but the State of Tennessee
listing of rare and endangered vascular plants was also used for this
survey. The results of the survey were that none of the plants on the
federal or state lists were found to be present on this site, and the
proposed actions on this site are not likely to adversely affect state
and federally listed rare, threatened, or endangered plant species.
Unicoi County, the area in which the NFS site is located, contains
one Federally Endangered mussel species, Appalachian elktoe
(Alasmidonta raveneliana) near the confluence of the Nolichucky River
and South Indian Creek. Because this is upstream of the confluence of
the Nolichucky River and Martin Creek and the NFS site, no impact is
expected on this species. No other threatened or endangered species
listed on the Federal or State Threatened or Endangered Species List
for the Region of Interest are known to potentially reside on the NFS
No impacts are expected on land use, biotic resources,
socioeconomic resources, or cultural resources.
The conversion of HEU materials to low-enriched uranium dioxide at
the BLEU Project will require the handling, processing, and storage of
radioactive material and hazardous chemicals. An uncontrolled release
of these materials from accidents could pose a risk to the environment
as well as to workers and public health and safety.
The evaluation of potential accidents is carried out at a general
level of detail in the EA to establish that the proposed processes, as
described by NFS, will function safely with no significant adverse
impacts to safety or the environment. A more detailed evaluation of the
proposed processes will be carried out by the NFS in its integrated
safety analysis, summaries of which will be submitted in the
forthcoming BLEU Project license amendment requests.
The dissolution and downblending of HEU feed materials to low-
enriched uranyl nitrate (UN) solution will be carried out in the BLEU
Processing Facility. Remaining operations will be performed in the BLEU
Complex area. This will include the storage of low-enriched UN solution
in the UNB followed by further processing into uranium dioxide powder
in the OCB, and treatment of the liquid effluent stream from the OCB in
The primary chemicals used in the dissolution and downblending
processes taking place in the BPF are: Nitric acid (70 percent
solution); hydrogen peroxide (30 percent solution); sodium hydroxide
(30 percent solution); sodium nitrate (45 percent solution); barium
oxide (BaO); tributyl phosphate
paraffin fluid (Nopar 12 fluid); sodium carbonate
(Na2CO3). The radioactive feed materials used
include HEU/aluminum alloy, HEU metal (buttons), and natural uranium
oxide. Reaction products and intermediates include sodium diuranate and
The main chemicals to be used and stored in the BLEU Complex are:
low-enriched UN solution, anhydrous ammonia, aqueous ammonia (23
percent solution), nitric acid (50 percent solution), nitric acid (7
percent solution), liquid nitrogen, sodium hydroxide (50 percent
solution), liquified petroleum gas (propane), and diesel fuel.
Many of the proposed process operations are patterned after
existing NRC licensed processes, so operational experience and history
build confidence that operations can be executed safely. Proposed
process operations, such as the downblending of high-enriched UN to
low-enriched UN, liquid-liquid extraction to purify UN solution, and
HEU storage are very similar to corresponding processes licensed under
NRC License SNM-124. The LEU solution will be converted to uranium
dioxide powder in the OCB using the Framatome ANP Inc., process that is
authorized by NRC License SNM-1227. Potential hazards associated with
new operations were evaluated during the NRC review.
Primary hazards associated with the operation of the BLEU Project
facilities involve: spill of chemical and or radioactive material in
the building, leak in a storage tank or supply piping, release of
gaseous and particulate effluents (chemical and/or radioactive
materials) due to a malfunction of the process off gas treatment
system, and upset in the control of process parameters leading to
undesirable reactions and release of hazardous or explosive compounds
such as hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, nitric
acid vapors. The loss of control of the process may include release of
radioactive materials and nuclear criticality. These accidents can
potentially impact worker safety, public health and safety, and the
Primary controls relied upon to guard against inadvertent nuclear
criticality in processing operations include concentration limits and
use of favorable geometry process vessels. Measures to ensure chemical
safety and safe handling of radioactive materials include the
[sbull] Tanks will be bermed for spill control and isolation;
[sbull] Tanks will be equipped with level control for overfill
[sbull] Process off gases will be treated through scrubbers and
HEPA filters prior to stack discharge;
[sbull] Process parameters will be controlled, and concentrations
of hazardous or explosive chemicals will be maintained at safe levels.
For example, sodium nitrate will be used in the HEU aluminum alloy
dissolution process to minimize the formation of hydrogen, and air will
be used in the dissolver to dilute the small quantities of hydrogen
formed to safe levels.
Based on the information furnished in the NFS reports and
summarized above, the safety controls to be employed in the processes
for the BLEU Project appear to be sufficient to ensure planned
processing will be safe.
The Studsvick Facility is located adjacent to the NFS property,
just south of the proposed BLEU complex. This facility is licensed by
the state to process radioactive wastes. Due to the proximity of the
two facilities, the staff evaluated cumulative radiological impacts
from air effluents, liquid effluents, and direct radiation. The annual
average of NFS effluent data from 1996 through 2000 and the most recent
effluent data (CY2000) from the operations at Studsvick adequately
characterize the impacts from current operations. Foreseeable future
impacts of the BLEU Project (including BLEU Preparation facility,
additional Waste Water Treatment Facility effluents and BLEU Complex
effluents) were also considered.
Future impacts from air emissions from NFS operations are estimated
using environmental monitoring data from 1996 through 2000. The air
emissions estimate for Studsvick, Inc., is based on year 2000 data. To
bound the impacts, the baseline dose from NFS operations and current
estimates of doses attributable to Studsvick are added to the
foreseeable future impacts of BLEU Project operations. Though it is not
likely that the same individual is the maximally-exposed individual for
each of the facilities, the sum of these doses are considered to bound
As demonstrated in semi-annual effluent reports, current liquid
releases from the NFS site are well within the regulatory limits listed
in 10 CFR part 20. NFS has provided conservatively-derived estimates of
future discharges from the BLEU Project which were estimated using NCRP
123. The dose from these effluents, which are dominated by
contributions from the solvent extraction raffinate at the BLEU
preparation facility, when added to existing effluents, remain within
The staff evaluated cumulative impacts to the sewer system of
combined NFS, BLEU Project and Studsvick by estimating bounding
concentrations that would be present in individual streams. NFS
estimated the discharge from the BLEU Complex to be 6,300 gallons per
day. This daily discharge volume was used to convert estimated
quantities of annual discharges from the BLEU Complex (in units of
curies) in terms of liquid concentration. Concentration values for
Studsvick were also obtained from a year 2000 inspection report.
The bounding contributions from either NFS baseline operations or
future BLEU operations are used to compare against the 10 CFR 20,
appendix B sewer discharge limits. These impacts, along with the
discharge fractions from Studsvick operations, are summed for
comparison using the unity rule. The value of 0.059 is considerably
less than 1, which indicates that sewer discharges will remain a low
Direct radiation monitoring data are available for both Studsvick,
Inc. and NFS operations. Both licensees and the State of Tennessee
Department of Environment and Conservation monitor direct radiation.
Because the direct radiation monitored at the fenceline is a cumulative
value (dose from both sites), the monitoring program ensures that this
dose will not exceed regulatory limits. Both facilities have
successfully demonstrated compliance in the past. Due to the nature of
the materials in the BLEU complex, direct radiation is not expected to
increase as a result of this project.
Agencies and Persons Consulted
The following agencies were consulted during the preparation of the
[sbull] Tennessee Historical Commission, Division of Archaeology,
[sbull] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and
[sbull] State of Tennessee, Department of Environment and
Conservation, Division of Radiological Health.
The NRC has concluded that the proposed action to construct and
operate the UNB at the NFS site will not result in significant impact
to human health or the environment.
Finding of No Significant Impact
The Commission has prepared an Environmental Assessment, as
summarized above, related to the amendment of Special Nuclear Material
License SNM-124. On the basis of the assessment, the Commission has
concluded that environmental impacts associated with the proposed
action would not be significant and do not warrant the preparation of
an Environmental Impact Statement. Accordingly, it has been determined
that a Finding of No Significant Impact is appropriate.
In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's ``Rules of Practice,''
the Environmental Assessment and the documents related to this proposed
action will be available electronically for public inspection from the
Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system
(ADAMS), accession number ML021790068. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC
Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/ADAMS/index.html (the Public
Electronic Reading Room).
Dated in Rockville, Maryland, this 18th day of October, 2002.
For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Director, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of
Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 02-27589 Filed 10-29-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P