Utah Issues Licensing and Rulemaking Actions for Public Comment

Byproduct License Renewal and Source Material Distribution

During the last week of August 2017, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC), announced that it is currently accepting public comment on the following licensing and rulemaking actions:

  • renewal of the EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) byproduct radioactive materials license (UT2300478) for the licensee’s site near Clive (Tooele County), Utah; and,
  •   changes to the state’s radiation control rules to incorporate the federal regulatory changes promulgated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) related to 10 CFR Parts 30, 40 and 70

In addition, on August 18, 2017, the DWMRC notified stakeholders that it had approved the final adoption of rule changes to incorporate the following into Title R315 of the Utah Administrative Code (UAC):

  •   the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR) as published on November 28, 2016 at 81 Federal Register 85,732;
  •   addition of a used oil generator as defined under Mixed Mode Transit System (NAICS code of 485111) to the list of used oil transporters considered to have a permit by rule to transport their own used oil to a permitted used oil recycler; and,
  •   selected corrections and clarifications.

Renewal of EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) Byproduct Radioactive Materials License  On May 3, 2012, EnergySolutions submitted an application to the DWMRC Director to renew the Clive facility’s 11e.(2) byproduct radioactive materials license.  On August 16, 2017, the DWMRC commenced a forty-five day public comment period for the proposed licensing action.  The public comment period will end on October 2, 2017.

A public hearing will be scheduled if requested, by any citizen, by September 5, 2017.  If requested, the hearing will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on September 26, 2017.  The purpose of the public hearing, if held, will be to take comments from the public and to provide an opportunity for questions and answers relating to the renewal of the 11e.(2) license.

Written comments will be accepted if received by 5:00 p.m. on October 2, 2017.  Comments can sent by electronic mail to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov.  Comments sent in electronic format should be identified by putting the following in the subject line: Public Comment on EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) license UT2300478 Renewal.  All documents included in comments should be submitted as ASCII (text) files or in pdf format.

The draft license and Technical Review and Environmental Assessment Report are available on the Division website at https://deq.utah.gov/NewsNotices/notices/waste/index.htm#phacp or by using EZ Records Search http://eqedocs.utah.gov/. 

For further information, please contact David Esser of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at (801) 536-0079.

Changes to the State’s Radiation Control Rules to Incorporate Federal Regulatory Changes re 10 CFR Parts 30, 40 and 70  On May 29, 2013, the NRC adopted changes to 10 CFR Parts 30, 40, and 70.  These rule changes require the initial distribution of source material to exempt persons or to general licensees be explicitly authorized by a specific license, including new reporting requirements.  Changes to corresponding Utah radiation control rules are required to maintain regulatory compatibility with NRC rules and Utah’s status as an Agreement State with the NRC.

The rule is intended to provide timely information on the types and quantities of source material distributed for use either under exemption or by general licensees.  In addition, the rule modifies the existing possession and use requirements of the general license for small quantities of source material to better align the requirements with current health and safety standards.

The rule also revises, clarifies, or deletes certain source material exemptions from licensing to make the exemptions more risk informed.  This rule affects manufacturers and distributors of certain products and materials containing source material and certain persons using source material under a general license and under exemptions from licensing.

Comments may be submitted by email to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov.  The public comment period will end on September 15, 2017.

For additional information and the specific proposed rule changes, please see the August 15, 2017 issue (Volume 2017, Number 16) of the Utah State Bulletin at https://rules.utah.gov/publications/utah-state-bull/.

Final Adoption of Rule Changes to Incorporate Hazard Waste Generators Improvements Rule  The effective date for the final adoption of rule changes to, amongst other things, incorporate HWGIR became effective on August 31, 2017.

For additional information and the specific proposed rule changes, please see the June 1, 2017 issue (Volume 2017, Number 11) of the Utah State Bulletin at https://rules.utah.gov/publications/utah-state-bull/ or the DWMRC Board meeting packet for August 10, 2017 at https://utah.gov/pmn/files/319799.pdf. 

For additional information, please contact Rusty Lundberg, Deputy Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, at (801) 536-4257 or at rlundberg@utah.gov.

NRC to Amend Rules on Medical Uses of Radioactive Materials

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved amendments to its requirements for medical uses of radioactive materials. A final rule—approved on August 17, 2017—modifies 10 CFR Part 35 and makes conforming changes to Parts 30 and 32.  The rule will be published in the coming months in the Federal Register after NRC staff makes certain revisions directed by the Commission.

Overview  According to an NRC press release issued in mid-August 2017, the changes will:

  •   amend the definition of medical events associated with permanent implant brachytherapy;
  •   update training and experience requirements for authorized users, medical physicists, radiation safety officers and nuclear pharmacists;
  •   address a petition the NRC received seeking to recognize the qualifications of board certified physicists and radiation safety officers not specifically named on a license;
  •   change requirements for measuring molybdenum contamination and reporting generator tests that exceed allowed concentration levels;
  •   allow associate radiation safety officers to be named on a medical license; and,
  •   make several minor clarifications.

Background  While implementing the current regulations, the need for the revisions was identified by NRC staff, stakeholders, and the NRC’s Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes (ACMUI).  On July 21, 2014, a proposed rule appeared in the Federal Register for 120 days of public comment.  The final rule takes those comments into consideration and provides responses to them.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Amends Licensing, Inspection and Annual Fees for FY 2017

On June 30, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that the agency has amended its existing regulations to reflect the licensing, inspection, special project and annual fees it will charge applicants and licensees for fiscal year 2017.  The amended regulations reduce annual fees for most licensees, primarily due to a decrease in the agency’s budget.

Overview  Annual fees for FY 2017 decrease by 7.5 percent over last year for operating reactors; 2 to 11 percent for most fuel facilities; less than 1 percent for research and test reactors; and, 4.6 percent for spent fuel storage and reactor decommissioning licensees.  Fees increase by 13 percent for
 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uranium recovery activities, while other uranium recovery licensees remain flat.  For the final rule, the NRC has lowered the hourly rate of staff review time from $265 to $263 for FY 2017.  Fees charged under 10 CFR Part 170 have been updated accordingly.

The NRC estimates the FY 2017 annual fees will be paid by licensees of 99 operating commercial power reactors, four research and test reactors, 122 spent nuclear fuel storage and decommissioning reactor facilities, nine fuel cycle facilities, 10 uranium recovery facilities and approximately 2,700 nuclear materials licensees.  The final rule implements several process improvements approved by the Commission in
FY 2016 aimed at making the NRC’s fees process more efficient and transparent.  Of 14 process improvements, 10 have been fully implemented, with the remainder due to be completed by September 30, 2017. 

Background  A proposed fee rule was published for public comment on January 30, 2017.  The final rule was published in the Federal Register on June 30, 2017.  (See 82 Federal Register 30,682.)  The rule includes fees required by law to recover approximately 90 percent of the NRC’s budget.  For FY 2017, the NRC received total budget authority of $940.1 million, including $23 million in prior year carryover funds.  The carryover funds are not included in the calculation of fees for
FY 2017.

The NRC’s required fee recovery amount for FY 2017, after billing and collection adjustments, is $805.9 million.  Approximately 37 percent, or $297.3 million, of the fees will recover the cost of specific services to applicants and licensees under 10 CFR Part 170.  The remaining 63 percent,
$508.6 million, will be billed as annual fees to licensees under 10 CFR Part 171.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre at (301) 415-8200.

District Court Prohibits Proposed Acquisition of Waste Control Specialists by EnergySolutions

On June 21, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware issued a Judgment and Order in a civil antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the proposed $367 million acquisition of Waste Control Specialists LLC by EnergySolutions.  The United States of America is the plaintiff in the case.  The listed defendants include EnergySolutions, Inc.; Rockwell Holdco, Inc.; Andrews County Holdings, Inc.; and, Waste Control Specialists LLC.

In its order, the district court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, specifically enjoining and restraining the defendants “from carrying out the acquisition of Waste Control Specialists LLC by EnergySolutions, Inc. as memorialized in the merger agreement between Rockwell Holdco, Inc. and Andrews County Holding, Inc. dated November 18, 2015 and any amendments thereto.”

The case—which is listed as United States of America v. EnergySolutions, Inc.; Rockwell Holdco, Inc.; Andrews Country Holdings, Inc.; and, Waste Control Specialists—can be found under civil docket number 16-1056-SLR in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

Proposed Acquisition  On November 19, 2015, in separate press releases, it was announced that Rockwell Holdco had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waste Control Specialists—a wholly owned subsidiary of Valhi, Inc. and operator of a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility located in Andrews County, Texas.  Rockwell Holdco is the parent company of EnergySolutions—which operates low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities in Tooele County, Utah and Barnwell, South Carolina.  Rockwell Holdco is owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing in North America’s energy infrastructure.  According to the companies’ press releases, upon closing, Rockwell Holdco would pay $270 million in cash and $20 million face amount in Series A Preferred Stock.  In addition, Rockwell Holdco would assume approximately $77 million of Waste Control Specialists’ debt, as well as all financial assurance obligations related to the Waste Control Specialists’ business.

Antitrust Lawsuit  On November 16, 2016, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware seeking to block the proposed $367 million acquisition of Waste Control Specialists by EnergySolutions.  DOJ argued that the proposed transaction “would combine the two most significant competitors for the disposal of low level radioactive waste … available to commercial customers in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”  DOJ asserted that the proposed transaction “would deny commercial generators of … [low-level radioactive waste] —from universities and hospitals working on life-saving treatments to nuclear facilities producing 20 percent of the electricity in the United States—the benefits of vigorous competition that has led to significantly lower prices, better service and innovation in recent years.”

Low-Level Radioactive Waste  Low-level radioactive waste is the radioactive byproduct of nuclear power generation, scientific research and certain medical treatments.  Low-level radioactive waste includes such items as personal protective clothing, tools, water purification filters and resins, hardware from nuclear power plants, and equipment from medical and research institutions.  Low-level radioactive waste may only be disposed of in a facility licensed by, or pursuant to an exemption provided by, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or a state acting under an agreement with the NRC.  Low-level radioactive waste disposal is an essential service for operating nuclear reactors, research laboratories and medical facilities.  Additionally, low-level radioactive waste disposal is a requirement for the safe decommissioning of such facilities when they reach the end of their useful lives.

For additional information about EnergySolutions, please contact Dan Shrum at (801) 649-2000 or at dshrum@energysolutions.com or go to the company’s web site at www.energysolutions.com.  For additional information about Waste Control Specialists, please contact Rodney Baltzer at (972) 450-4235 or at rbaltzer@valhi.net or visit the company’s web site at www.valhi.net.

New Potential Regulations for Power Reactor Decommissioning

From May 8-10, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting to discuss the draft regulatory basis and preliminary draft regulatory analysis for a future regulation on decommissioning commercial nuclear power plants.  The meeting was held at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

Overview  On March 15, 2017, NRC published the draft regulatory basis for the rulemaking for public comment.  It describes several decommissioning issues to be addressed in the new regulation, as well as possible resolutions.  The rule would establish clear requirements for commercial power reactors transitioning to decommissioning.  The draft regulatory basis draws upon comments submitted in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that was published in November 2015.  A notice regarding the draft regulatory basis was published in the Federal Register later in March 2017, initiating a 90-day public comment period.  The preliminary draft regulatory analysis, which describes the costs and benefits of all approaches to resolving the issues, was published prior to the public meeting.

Public Meeting  During the public meeting, NRC staff members presented both the draft regulatory basis and the preliminary draft regulatory analysis with extended discussions of various subjects to be addressed in the rulemaking.  Members of the public were encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback, although the staff did not take formal public comment on either document at the meeting.  The following is a brief overview of the agenda topics for each day of the meeting: the current regulatory approach to decommissioning, the back-fit analysis of the proposed rulemaking, drug and alcohol testing and fatigue management; emergency preparedness, aging management, cyber security and physical security; decommissioning trust funds, onsite and offsite insurance indemnity agreements, and certified fuel handler training and minimum staffing; and, the preliminary draft regulatory analysis.

Staff Analysis  In the draft regulatory basis, the NRC staff concludes there is sufficient justification to proceed with rulemaking in the following areas: emergency preparedness; physical security; decommissioning trust funds; offsite and onsite financial protection requirements and indemnity agreements; and, application of the back-fit rule.  The staff suggests guidance, rather than rulemaking, should be used to address the following items: the role of state and local governments in the decommissioning process; the level of NRC review and approval of a licensee’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report; and, whether to revise the 60-year limit for power reactor decommissioning.  The NRC staff is seeking additional public input before making recommendations on the following topics: cyber security; drug and alcohol testing; minimum staffing and training requirements for certified fuel handlers; aging management; and, fatigue management. That additional input, as well as comments received on the draft document, will be considered as the staff develops the final regulatory basis, which the NRC plans to publish in late 2017.  That document will be used in developing a proposed rule to be provided to the Commission in the spring of 2018.  The NRC staff expects to provide a draft final rule to the Commission in fall 2019.

Background  The NRC published an ANPR on the draft regulatory basis for a future power reactor decommission rule in November 2015, seeking public comment on a number of areas to be considered during the rulemaking process.  The NRC began a similar rulemaking process in 2000-2001, but stopped after a stronger focus on security was prompted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  However, five reactors have permanently shut down since the beginning of 2013, and three more are expected to cease operations by 2019.  The five reactors now undergoing decommissioning required several exemptions from NRC’s regulations for operating reactors to reflect their decommissioning status.  By incorporating changes into regulation, the NRC believes the transition from operation to decommissioning can become more efficient and effective for the agency and the licensee, as well as more open and transparent for the public.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Releases Draft Regulatory Basis for Decommissioning Rule

On March 10, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency was making publicly available a pre-publication draft regulatory basis for a future power reactor decommissioning rule.  The intent is to provide an efficient decommissioning process; reduce the need for exemptions from existing regulations; and, support the principles of good regulation—including openness, clarity, and reliability.

A notice regarding the draft regulatory basis was published in the Federal Register later in March 2017, initiating a 90-day public comment period.

Overview

NRC released the preliminary draft document in order to facilitate discussion during the agency’s annual Regulatory Information Conference, which was held from March 14-16, 2017.  (See LLW Notes, January/February 2017, pp. 40-41.)  The conference included a March 15 technical session on power reactor decommissioning.

The rule would establish clear requirements for commercial power reactors transitioning to decommissioning.  The draft regulatory basis draws upon comments submitted in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that was published in November 2015.

Staff Analysis

In the draft regulatory basis, the NRC staff concludes there is sufficient justification to proceed with rulemaking in the following areas:  emergency preparedness; physical security; decommissioning trust funds; offsite and onsite financial protection requirements and indemnity agreements; and, application of the back-fit rule.

The staff suggests guidance, rather than rulemaking, should be used to address the following items:  the role of state and local governments in the decommissioning process; the level of NRC review and approval of a licensee’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report; and, whether to revise the 60-year limit for power reactor decommissioning.

The NRC staff is seeking additional public input before making recommendations on the following topics:  cyber security; drug and alcohol testing; minimum staffing and training requirements for certified fuel handlers; aging management; and, fatigue management.

That additional input, as well as comments received on the draft document, will be considered as the staff develops the final regulatory basis, which the NRC plans to publish in late 2017.  That document will be used in developing a proposed rule to be provided to the Commission in the spring of 2018.  The NRC staff expects to provide a draft final rule to the Commission in fall 2019.

Background

The NRC published an ANPR on the draft regulatory basis for a future power reactor decommission rule in November 2015, seeking public comment on a number of areas to be considered during the rulemaking process.

The NRC began a similar rulemaking process in 2000-2001, but stopped after a stronger focus on security was prompted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  However, five reactors have permanently shut down since the beginning of 2013, and three more are expected to cease operations by 2019.

The five reactors now undergoing decommissioning required several exemptions from NRC’s regulations for operating reactors to reflect their decommissioning status.  By incorporating changes into regulation, the NRC believes the transition from operation to decommissioning can become more efficient and effective for the agency and the licensee, as well as more open and transparent for the public.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

The pre-publication draft regulatory basis for a future power reactor decommissioning rule is available on the NRC website at http://ric.nrc-gateway.gov/docs/abstracts/sessionabstract-20.htm.

Final Rule Signed re Revisions to NESHAP Subpart W of 40 Part 61

On December 20, 2016, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy signed a final rule that revised “National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings,” Subpart W of 40 CFR Part 61, which was last issued in 1989.

Subpart W is a radon emission standard for operating uranium mill tailings.  (Tailings are the remaining portion of a metal-bearing ore after some or all of a metal, such as uranium, has been extracted.)  In accordance with the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, EPA formed a work group to review the standard.

Interested stakeholders can view a pre-publication copy of the final rule and a fact sheet at

https://www.epa.gov/radiation/subpart-w-rulemaking-activity.

Overview

EPA’s mission is to protect human health and natural resources from pollution.  The Agency sets limits on the amount of radioactivity that can be released into the environment.

Based on a review and assessment of available, effective and affordable pollution control approaches, EPA determined that the revised Subpart W standards protect human health and the environment by limiting the amount of radon emitted by uranium byproduct material or tailings being managed at uranium recovery facilities.

Background

EPA limits emissions of hazardous air pollutants under the authority of the Clean Air Act.  As found in 40 CFR Part 61, EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) set limits on hazardous air pollutants from different activities and facilities.  Subpart W of 40 CFR Part 61, National Emission Standards for Operating Mill Tailings, limits radon emissions from uranium byproduct material or tailings at operating uranium recovery facilities.  EPA originally issued Subpart W in December 1989, as found at 54 Federal Register 51,703, and then updated Subpart W in 2016.

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 required EPA to review and, if appropriate, revise the standards in Subpart W.  After completing the review and soliciting public comment, EPA concluded that revisions were needed to clarify definitions and to be more specific about what kind of uranium byproduct material or tailings management is subject to the standard.  EPA also concluded that requirements for generally available control technology (GACT) management practices are an appropriate means to control radon emissions from uranium byproduct material or tailings.  GACT consists of commercially available methods, practices and techniques for operation and maintenance of emissions control systems.

Although EPA enforces the Clean Air Act at Subpart W, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has regulatory responsibility for licensing and operation of uranium extraction facilities and other commercial facilities that use radioactive materials.  The revised Subpart W does not relieve the owner or operator of the uranium recovery facility of the monitoring and maintenance requirements specified in the operating license issued by the NRC or its Agreement State.

For additional information, please contact Dan Schultheisz, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, Radiation Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at (202) 443- 9290 or at schultheisz.daniel@epa.gov.  Interested stakeholders may also access the EPA website to find information related to this rulemaking at https://www.epa.gov/radiation/.

MOU re Cooperation on Radioactive Materials Transportation Security

By letter dated December 22, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) informed state counterparts of the existence of a federal memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the secure transportation of radioactive materials and
 the voluntary opportunity for state participation in implementation of the MOU.

The MOU can be accessed in the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System Accession (ADAMS) under Accession Number ML16074A004 or by going to https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/view?AccessionNumber=ML16074A004.

Overview

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the creation of an interagency task force on radiation source protection and security under the lead of the NRC.  The Radiation Source Protection and Security Task Force (RSPSTF) was convened and provided its first report of recommendations and actions to Congress and the President in August 2006.  One recommendation was the development of a transport security MOU to serve as the foundation for cooperation in the establishment of a comprehensive and consistent transport security program for risk-significant radioactive materials.

The MOU for the secure transport of radioactive material was developed to satisfy this recommendation by enhancing cooperation and coordination among federal agencies that have responsibilities related to secure transport of risk-significant radioactive materials including Category 1 and 2 materials (10 CFR Part 20, Appendix E); Categories I, II, and III special nuclear material (10 CFR 73.2); and, irradiated reactor fuel.  The NRC is the lead agency for implementation of the MOU.

For additional information, please contact Albert Tardiff of the NRC at (301) 415-3613 or at Al.Tardiff@nrc.gov.

Information Notices and Regulatory Issues Summaries

The following is a list Regulatory Issue Summaries (RIS) and Information Notices (IN) that were recently issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for nuclear power plants and other licensees around the country.

For additional information, please go to the NRC’s web site at www.nrc.gov.  

Regulatory Issue Summaries

Over the course of the past few months, NRC has issued the following Regulatory Issue Summaries:

  • NRC Employee Access to Switchyards at Licensee Facilities: RIS 2016-12, dated November 22, 2016 (ML16154A034), was issued in order to inform addressees about the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) position on unescorted physical access by NRC employee(s) to portions of a nuclear power plant that contain NERC-jurisdictional components.  RIS 2016-12 requires no action or written response on the part of an addressee.  For additional information, please contact Tania Martinez-Navedo of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) at (301) 415-6561 or at tania.martinez-navedo@nrc.gov or Alexander Schwab of NRR at (301) 415-8539 or at alexander.schwab@nrc.gov.
  • Requests to Dispose of Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.2002: RIS 2016-11, dated November 13, 2016 (ML16007A488), was issued to correct the information provided in IN 1986-90, “Requests to Dispose of Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302.”  RIS 2016-11 clarifies the application process for obtaining approvals to dispose of low-level waste in accordance with Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 20.2002 regulations, or equivalent Agreement State regulations.  The NRC expects recipients to review the information for applicability to their facilities and to consider actions, as appropriate.  However, RIS 2016-11 requires no specific action or written response on the part of an addressee.  RIS 2016-11 supersedes IN 1986-90.  For additional information, please see related story in this issue.

For additional information and copies of the above-referenced Regulatory Issue Summaries, please go to http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/reg-issues/2016/.

Information Notice

Over the course of the past few months, NRC issued the following Information Notice:

  • Potential Absence of Required Lock Washers in BSI Instruments, Inc. LB 7400 Series Fixed Gauges: IN 2016-12, dated October 20, 2016 (ML16217A237), was issued to alert addressees of the potential absence of a required lock washer between the source assembly and source holder in BSI Instruments, Inc. LB 7400 Series density fixed gauges.  The absence of the required lock washer may cause the source to become dislodged during use.  According to IN 2016-12, recipients should review the information contained in the document for applicability to their facilities and consider taking appropriate action, if necessary.  However, the information conveyed in IN 2016-12 is not a new NRC requirement; therefore, no specific action or written response is required.  For additional information, please contact Celimar Valentin-Rodriguez of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415-7124 or at Celimar.Valentin-Rodriguez@nrc.gov.

For additional information and a copies of the above-referenced Information Notice, please go to http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/2016/.

NRC Releases RIS 2016-11 re Requests to Dispose of Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.2002

On November 13, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2016-11 to correct the information provided in Information Notice (IN) 1986-90, “Requests to Dispose of Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302.”  RIS 2016-11 clarifies the application process for obtaining approvals to dispose of low-level radioactive waste in accordance with Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 20.2002 regulations, or equivalent Agreement State regulations.

The NRC expects recipients to review the information for applicability to their facilities and to consider actions, as appropriate.  However, RIS 2016-11 requires no specific action or written response on the part of an addressee.  The NRC is providing RIS 2016-11 to the Agreement States for their information and distribution to their licensees as appropriate.  RIS 2016-11 supersedes Information Notice (IN) 1986-90.

NRC regulations in 10 CFR 20.2002 provide that a licensee or applicant for a license may apply to the Commission for approval of procedures to dispose of licensed material not otherwise authorized in 10 CFR Part 20 for disposal.  Licensees have used 10 CFR 20.2002 to dispose of very low-level radioactive waste on a site-specific basis.  RIS 2016-11 makes the clarification that any licensee’s request for approval to dispose of licensed material under 10 CFR 20.2002, or the equivalent Agreement State regulations, must be submitted to the regulatory authority that issued the license for use of the radioactive material.  For licensees under 10 CFR Part 50, “Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities,” or Part 52, “Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants,” this request should be made to the NRC in accordance with 10 CFR 50.4, “Written Communications” or 10 CFR 52.3, ”Written Communications.”  For NRC-issued licenses under 10 CFR Parts 30 (“Rules of General Applicability to Domestic Licensing of Byproduct Material”), 40 (“Domestic Licensing of Source Material”), and 70 (“Domestic Licensing of Special Nuclear Material”), the request should be made in accordance with 10 CFR 30.6, 10 CFR 40.5, or 10 CFR 70.5, “Communications.”  For Agreement State licensees, this request should be made directly to the Agreement State regulatory authority.  If the Agreement State has not adopted regulations equivalent to 10 CFR 20.2002, then the state may accomplish the same regulatory authorization through application of its specific exemption authority, which could approve the request to dispose of licensed material using procedures not otherwise authorized.  Also, radioactive material licensees receiving a 10 CFR 20.2002 approval must follow other permitting requirements.

For additional information on RIS 2016-11, please contact Donald Lowman of NMSS at (301) 415-5452 or at Donald.Lowman@nrc.gov; Micheal Smith of NRR at (301) 415-3763 or at Micheal.Smith@nrc.gov; or, Stephen Poy of NMSS at (301) 415-7135 or at Stephen.Poy@nrc.gov.

NRC Staff Seeks Commission Approval to Initiate Rulemaking to Require Financial Assurance for Category 1 and 2 Sealed Sources

In SECY-16-0115 dated October 7, 2016, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff seeks Commission approval to initiate a rulemaking to require financial assurance for the disposition of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources.  The rulemaking would revise § 30.35 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), “Financial Assurance and Recordkeeping for Decommissioning.”

NRC staff ranks the proposed rulemaking in SECY-16-0115 as a high priority using the Common Prioritization of Rulemaking (CPR) methodology and offers the following estimated schedule:

  •   initiate regulatory basis phase – October 2017;
  •   complete regulatory basis – October 2018;
  •   publish proposed rule – October 2019; and,
  •   publish final rule – October 2020.

The NRC’s regulations in 10 CFR 30.35 require a fixed dollar amount of financial assurance or a Decommissioning Funding Plan (DFP) for licensees possessing byproduct material with a half-life greater than 120 days and at activity levels above certain thresholds.  However, the thresholds for sealed byproduct material are such that many licensees possessing Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources are not required to provide financial assurance for decommissioning.  Where financial assurance is required, it is to support decommissioning of the site, not necessarily to disposition an individual radioactive sealed source that has become disused or unwanted.

The NRC staff conducted a scoping study to determine whether additional financial planning requirements for end-of-life management for some radioactive byproduct material (particularly radioactive sealed sources) were needed.  Based on the scoping study, which is documented in SECY-16-0046, “Radioactive Byproduct Material Financial Scoping Study,” the NRC staff recommends that the financial assurance requirements in 10 CFR 30.35 be expanded to include all Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources tracked in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS).

NRC staff identified three main reasons for proceeding with the rulemaking.  Specifically, requiring financial assurance for disposition of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources would:

  •   ensure that licensees possessing these risk-significant radioactive sealed sources are financially prepared for the costs of end-of-life dispositioning;
  •   complement the existing regulatory framework to ensure safe and secure management of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources by facilitating timely disposition when these radioactive sealed sources become disused or unwanted; and,
  •   help ensure that dispositioning costs are borne by those who receive the associated economic benefits from the use of these sources.

In SECY-16-0115, NRC staff state that the proposed rulemaking would result in increased regulatory costs and that its implementation would require additional NRC and Agreement State resources.  Accordingly, NRC staff asserts that engagement with Agreement States and other stakeholders early in the rulemaking process would be prudent to ensure that the benefits of the rule and resource impacts are well understood and that the new requirements can be implemented effectively and efficiently.

For additional information, please contact Ryan Whited, NMSS/DUWP, at (301) 415-1154, or Robert MacDougall, NMSS/MSTR, at (301) 415-5175.

ACRS Subcommittee Discusses Proposed Part 61 Final Rule

The Subcommittee on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Materials of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) met from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 18, 2016.  The meeting, which was open to the public, was held in Room T–2B3 of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

The Subcommittee discussed the proposed final rule 10 CFR Part 61, ‘‘Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal’’ and associated guidance.  The Subcommittee heard presentations by and held discussions with the NRC staff and other interested persons regarding this matter.  The Subcommittee gathered information, analyzed relevant issues and facts, and formulated proposed positions and actions, as appropriate, for deliberation by the full Committee.

During the meeting, the subcommittee requested that the NRC make publicly available the agency’s draft final Part 61 guidance document (Guidance for Conducting Technical Analyses for 10 CFR Part 61) to support a public meeting with the full ACRS that is scheduled for November 3, 2016.

Accordingly, NRC staff has made the draft document publicly available in ADAMS (Accession No. ML14357A072).  In addition, NRC staff has made a redline/strikeout version of the draft final rule language available in ADAMS (Accession No. ML16293A112).

In releasing the documents, NRC stresses that the comment period on this rulemaking is closed and that the staff is not soliciting comments on the draft final guidance and the draft final rule language. The draft final rule language is with the Commission for their review.

The proposed final Part 61 final rule and associated documents are available on the NRC website at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking/potential-rulemaking/uw-streams.html.  For additional information regarding the proposed final Part 61 rule, please see related story in this issue.

For additional information on the ACRS meeting, please see 81 Federal Register 68,474 (October 4, 2016).  Detailed meeting agendas and meeting transcripts are available on the NRC web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/acrs.

Release of SECY-16-0106 Request for Commission Approval to Publish Final Rule re Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (10 CFR Part 61)

On October 3, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published SECY-16-0106, which seeks Commission approval to publish a final rule in the Federal Register that would amend Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Parts 20, “Standards for Protection Against Radiation,” and Part 61, “Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste.”

The final 10 CFR Part 61 rule would do the following:

  • revise the existing technical analysis for protection of the general public to include either a 1,000-year compliance period or a 10,000-year compliance period depending on the quantities of long-lived radionuclides that have been or plan to be disposed at the site;
  • add a new technical analysis for the protection of inadvertent intruders that would include a compliance period and a dose limit;
  • add a new post-10,000-year performance period analysis for disposal sites that have low-level radioactive waste containing significant quantities of long-lived radionuclides;
  • add a new requirement to update the technical analyses at site closure;
  • add a new requirement to develop site-specific criteria for the future acceptance of low-level radioactive waste for disposal based on the results of the technical analyses, the existing low-level radioactive waste classification requirements, or a combination of both;
  • add a new description of safety case and a new requirement to identify defense-in- depth protections and describe their capabilities; and,
  • facilitate implementation and better align the requirements with current safety standards.

SECY-16-01016 states that “[t]hese amendments ensure that the … [low-level radioactive waste] streams that are significantly different from those considered during the development of the existing 10 CFR Part 61 regulations will be disposed of safely and meet the performance objectives for land disposal of … [low-level radioactive waste].”

Subsequently, at the request of the Subcommittee on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Materials of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), NRC published the staff’s draft final Part 61 guidance document (Guidance for Conducting Technical Analyses for 10 CFR Part 61) to support a public meeting with the full ACRS that is scheduled for November 3, 2016.  In addition, NRC published a redline/strikeout version of the draft final rule language.

In releasing the documents, NRC stresses that the comment period on this rulemaking is closed and that the staff is not soliciting comments on the draft final guidance and the draft final rule language.

The draft final rule language is with the Commission for their review.  It is not final until the Commission votes.

The proposed final Part 61 final rule and associated documents are available on the NRC website at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking/potential-rulemaking/uw-streams.html.

For additional information on the proposed final Part 61 final rule and associated documents, please contact either Gary Comfort at (301) 415-8106 or at Gary.Comfort@nrc.gov or Stephen Dembeck at (301) 415-2342 or at Stephen.Dembek@nrc.gov.

NRC Issues New Documents re Decommissioning Timeliness Rule

On September 27, 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2015-19, Revision 1, Decommissioning Timeliness Rule Implementation and Associated Regulatory Relief.

The NRC issued Revision 1 of RIS 2015-19 to correct the reference for Administrative Letter 96-05, Revision 1, and to clarify language pertaining to the time period for completing decommissioning in the subsection labeled “Requirement To Begin Decommissioning.”  In addition, the NRC is taking the opportunity to provide additional clarification to the sections “Alternate Schedules for Decommissioning” and “Requesting an Alternative to the DTR’s Timeliness Requirements.”

RIS 2015-19, Revision 1, was issued to:

  •   provide clarity on the Decommissioning Timeliness Rule’s (DTR’s) requirements to notify the NRC to begin and complete decommissioning after certain criteria are met;
  •   highlight opportunities for licensees to request alternatives to the DTR’s requirements;
  •   remind licensees that there are situations where they can request an alternative to the DTR’s timeliness requirements for both beginning and completing decommissioning if adequately justified,
  •   clarify when the DTR applies to licensees whose only location of use are temporary jobsites; and,
  •   clarify when the NRC considers that the licensee has transitioned from an “operational” to a “decommissioning” status.

RIS 2015-19, Revision 1, informs licensees of requirements regarding the DTR requirements under
10 CFR Parts 30, 40, 70, and 72.  According to NRC, the RIS is supplemental guidance for decommissioning and does not contradict information presented in Administrative Letter 96-05, Revision 1, “Compliance with the Rule, ‘Timeliness in Decommissioning of Material Facilities’” or NUREG-1757, Volume 3, Revision 1, “Consolidated Decommissioning Guidance: Financial Assurance, Recordkeeping, and Timeliness, Final Report.”  NRC also states that the RIS does not apply to power reactors that have specific regulations concerning decommissioning (e.g., 10 CFR 50.82, “Termination of License,” and 10 CFR 50.83, “Release of Part of a Power Reactor Facility or Site for Unrestricted Use”).

For additional information, please contact Greg Chapman, NMSS, at (301) 415-8718 or at Gregory.Chapman@nrc.gov.

North Dakota Ratifies TENORM Rules

On August 9, 2016, the Advisory Council to the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH) voted unanimously to ratify new rules allowing the disposal of up to 50 picocuries of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) waste from oil and gas production in specially permitted landfills.

The rules were scheduled to go into effect in January 2016.  However, after two environmental watchdog groups sued the NDDH, a district court held that proper notice was not provided for an August 2015 public meeting.  Thereafter, the NDDH scheduled the new hearing for August 9, 2016, at which the rules were unanimously ratified.

Background  In late 2013, NDDH promulgated a draft rule based on suggested state regulations developed by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD).  The draft rule, among other things, allowed for the disposal of up to 50 picocuries of TENORM waste from oil and gas production in specially permitted landfills.  In addition, the draft rule established requirements for waste hauler licensing, applicant background and criminal history checks, specific record keeping requirements, and RSO training requirements for certain license types.

North Dakota rules require that at least one public hearing be held for the draft rules, including a 30-day notice before the hearing and a 30-day comment period.  NDDH held three public hearings on the draft rule and extended the comment period to 80 days.

At a public meeting on August 12 2015, the NDDH approved new rules allowing the disposal of up to 50 picocuries of TENORM waste from oil and gas production in specially permitted landfills.  The Dakota Resource Council and the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, however, sued NDDH over the new rules.  A district court ruled that proper notice was not provided for the August 2015 meeting.

The NDDH currently has two applications pending for the licensing of radioactive disposal facilities in the state, with a third application having been shelved.

TENORM Study  In November 2014, the Environmental Science Division of the Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) released a report titled, “Radiological Dose and Risk Assessment of Landfill Disposal of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) in North Dakota.”  (See LLW Notes, January/February 2015, pp. 1, 19-23.)

The report documents the results of a radiological dose and risk assessment of the disposal of TENORM wastes in permitted industrial waste and special waste landfills in North Dakota.  The NDDH requested that Argonne conduct the assessment to ensure that any possible rule changes regarding the handling and disposal of TENORM are protective of human health and the environment.

For additional information, please contact Dale Patrick of the NDDH at (701) 328-5188 or at dpatrick@nd.gov

Commissioner Proposes NRC Revisit Tracking of Category 3 Sources

In a memo dated July 29, 2016, NRC Commissioner Baran proposes that U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff revisit the question of whether and how to track Category 3 sources.  In the memo, Commissioner Baran asserts that the “case for doing so is even stronger today than it was seven years ago.”

The memo concludes with the following proposed staff direction:

In light of [the Government Accountability Office’s] GAO’s findings and the years of operating experience with the [National Source Tracking System] NSTS, I propose that the NRC staff take a fresh look at the question of whether and how to track Category 3 sources. This re-evaluation can build on the efforts of the working groups established in response to the GAO investigation. I propose that, within six months of the Staff Requirements Memorandum resulting from this paper, the staff should submit a notation vote paper to the Commission that includes the following:

1)   An evaluation of the pros and cons of different methods of requiring transferors of Category 3 sources to verify the validity of a transferee’s license prior to the transfer; 


2)   An evaluation of the pros and cons of including Category 3 sources in the NSTS; and 


3)   Based on these evaluations, options for addressing the GAO recommendations.

In conducting these evaluations, the staff should assess the risks posed by the aggregation of Category 3 sources into Category 2 quantities and consider the current views of our Agreement States partners.

The memo, which has been posted to the Resources Page of the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) web site, is also publicly available via the “Recently Released Commission Documents for 2016” area of the NRC Web site at www.nrc.gov under Accession No. ML16197A229.

For additional information, please see the Resources page of the DSWG web site at www.disusedsources.org

EPA Publishes User Fees for Electronic Hazardous Waste Management System and Amendments to Manifest Regulations

On July 26, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing user fees for its electronic hazardous waste management system and amendments to manifest regulations.

The EPA is proposing its user fee methodology applicable to electronic and paper manifests submitted to the national electronic manifest system (or e-Manifest system) that is being established by EPA under the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act.  After the implementation date for the e-Manifest system, certain users of the hazardous waste manifest would be required to pay a prescribed fee for each electronic and paper manifest they use and submit to the system in order for EPA to recover its costs of developing and operating the national e-Manifest system.  The final rule that EPA develops in response to public comments on this action’s proposed fee methodology will include the final fee methodology.  In addition, EPA will include the initial fee schedule and the implementation date for the e- Manifest system in the preamble to the final rule.

EPA is also proposing several amendments to the regulations governing the use of electronic hazardous waste manifests and the completion of manifests.  These amendments propose:

  •   to change EPA’s longstanding regulations regarding transporter changes to shipment routing information on the manifest during transportation;
  •   to specify a process by which receiving facilities may submit manifest data corrections to the e- Manifest system; and,
  •   to modify a provision of the current electronic manifest use requirements that precludes the use of mixed electronic and paper manifests by those users desiring to make use of electronic manifests in settings where not all users are able to participate electronically.

EPA’s action is expected to result in net cost savings amounting to $34 million per year when discounted at 7% and annualized over 6 years.

Comments must be received on or before September 26, 2016.  Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), comments on the information collection provisions are best assured of consideration if the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) receives a copy of stakeholder comments on or before August 25, 2016.

For this rule, EPA is requesting comments be submitted electronically on a comment platform being piloted at https://epa- notice.usa.gov.  Alternatively, stakeholders may choose to submit comments by postal mail or electronically through Regulations.gov.  For comments submitted via postal mail or Regulations.gov, EPA is further requesting comments be submitted using comment headings.

The EPA notice was published at 81 Federal Register 49,072 dated July 26, 2016.

For further information, please contact Richard LaShier of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery via phone at (703) 308– 8796 or via email at lashier.rich@epa.gov, or Bryan Groce of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery via phone at (703) 308–8750 or via email at groce.bryan@epa.gov.

MOU Signed re Unlicensed Radioactive Material Cleanup at Military Bases

In early May 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced the that they had finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) describing roles in the cleanup of radium and other unlicensed radioactive materials at military sites.  The MOU, which culminates several years of discussions between the parties, can be found on the NRC’s web site at www.nrc.gov.

Background

Until the 1960’s, Luminescent radium paint was widely used in vehicle instrumentation and other military applications.  Given that exposure to radium can increase the risk of adverse health effects, the military has a program to control or remediate legacy radium contamination and store and decontaminate equipment containing radium.  The military is also cleaning up other unlicensed radiological material.

Pursuant to legislation that was passed in 2005, Congress gave the NRC jurisdiction over radium and radium contamination.  In the addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees cleanup work at some military sites under Superfund, which is more formally known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  As documented in the MOU, the NRC also has an independent federal oversight role at the other sites where the military is cleaning up radioactive materials.

Overview

The MOU provides two ways in which the NRC will be involved in military cleanup projects.

The first way is to stay informed of remediation activities.  At sites where the EPA has oversight under Superfund, NRC staff would limit its involvement to staying informed about remedial actions, oversight activities and issues.  This approach could involve document reviews, site visits and meetings with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, EPA and state agencies.

The second way is to monitor remediation activities.  At sites without EPA oversight, the NRC will monitor the cleanup of unlicensed radiological material, which could include document review and comment, site observations, and confirmatory radiological surveys.  This monitoring will provide independent federal oversight to confirm the remediation adequately protects public health and safety and the environment.

For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Possession License Issued to Army for Depleted Uranium at Multiple Installations

In late March 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has added 15 installations to a license authorizing the U.S. Army to possess depleted uranium (DU).  The original license, issued in October 2013, applied to two sites in Hawaii.  The Army will use the same programs for environmental monitoring, radiation safety and physical security at all sites.

The DU comes from “spotting rounds” used with the Davy Crockett weapons system to assist with targeting accuracy.  The Army trained with this system at the sites in the 1960s.  The license allows the Army to possess and manage up to 12,567 pounds of DU and limits the amount at each site.  It requires the Army to comply with NRC regulations and standards for protecting the public and the environment from radiation, and is subject to NRC inspections and periodic reviews.  The license does not authorize the Army to use the DU or decommission the sites without additional review and approval by the NRC.

Background

In 1978, a license allowing the Army to manufacture and distribute the DU spotting rounds issued by the NRC’s predecessor (the Atomic Energy Commission) expired at the Army’s request.  Under the earlier license, the Army distributed the spotting rounds to a number of Army installations for testing, training and deployment.  Each round contained about six ounces of DU.

In November 2006, the Army told the NRC that it had discovered DU fragments at the Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu.  Following that discovery, the Army reviewed old records and determined the Davy Crockett system was tested at other installations.  The Army has enough DU at these sites that, under the Atomic Energy Act and NRC regulations, it is required to have a possession license.

Amendment License

The initial license applied to Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu and the Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii.  The amendment license now also applies to

  • Forts Benning and Gordon (Georgia);
  • Forts Campbell and Knox (Kentucky);
  • Fort Carson (Colorado);
  • Fort Hood (Texas);
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord/Yakima Training Center (Washington);
  • Fort Bragg (North Carolina);
  • Fort Polk (Louisiana);
  • Fort Sill (Oklahoma);
  • Fort Jackson (South Carolina);
  • Fort Hunter Liggett (California);
  • Fort Wainwright (Alaska);
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (New Jersey); and,
  • Fort Riley (Kansas).

For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Proposes to Amend Annual Fees Regulations

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to changes to its regulations for the licensing, inspection, special project, and annual fees it would charge applicants and licensees for fiscal year (FY) 2016.  The proposed regulations would reduce annual fees for most licensees due to a decrease in the NRC’s budget.

On March 23, 2016, NRC published the proposed rule in the Federal Register.  The proposed rule includes fees required by law to recover approximately 90 percent of the agency’s budget.

For the FY 2016 proposed fee rule, the NRC’s estimated required fee recovery amount (after billing and collection adjustments) is $883.9 million.  Approximately 37 percent of the fees, or $325.8 million, would recover the cost of specific services to identifiable applicants and licensees under 10 CFR Part 170.  The remaining 63 percent, or $558.1 million, would be billed as annual fees under 10 CFR Part 171.

Compared with the FY 2015 annual fees, the FY 2016 proposed fees would decline for operating reactors, fuel facilities, research and test reactors, spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning licensees, some materials users, and DOE transportation activities.  Fees would increase for most uranium recovery licensees.

The proposed rule includes several possible changes from the current FY 2015 fee rule.  First, the NRC would slightly lower the current hourly rate of staff review time from $268 to $266.  As a result of this change, the NRC would revise application and registration fees.  Second, the NRC would establish a fee structure to recover the agency’s costs in responding to significant requests for information, records, or NRC employee testimony related to lawsuits where the NRC is not a named party, also known as “Touhy requests.”  The proposed rule would assess fees on requests that require over 50 NRC staff hours.

For additional information, please contact Eric Stahl of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Construction Permit to be Issued for SHINE Medical Isotope Facility

On February 25, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that the agency has authorized its staff to issue a construction permit for a first-of-a-kind facility dedicated to medical isotope production.

The Commission, having completed a mandatory hearing, found the staff’s review of the SHINE Medical Technologies, Inc. application sufficient to make the necessary safety and environmental findings.  This will be the first construction permit issued for either a non-power utilization or production facility by the NRC since 1985.

Overview

Once issued, the construction permit will allow SHINE to build a facility for the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and other radioisotopes.  Mo-99 is used in medicine to create technetium- 99m—an isotope used in millions of diagnostic procedures annually in the United States.

The facility will be located in Janesville, Wisconsin—approximately 40 miles southeast of Madison.  The United States has not commercially produced Mo-99 since 1989.  The facility will support U.S. Government efforts to establish a reliable domestic supply of this isotope.

Background

SHINE submitted its construction permit application in two parts on March 26, 2013 and May 31, 2013.  The NRC staff’s construction permit review process included the examination of the preliminary design and environmental impacts of the SHINE facility.

The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) conducted an independent review of SHINE’s preliminary safety analysis report and the staff’s safety evaluation.  The ACRS, a group of experienced technical experts, advises the Commission—independently from the NRC staff—on safety issues related to the licensing and operation of nuclear power plants, as well as on issues of health physics and radiation protection.

On October 15, 2015, the ACRS recommended that the Commission issue the SHINE construction permit.

Next Steps

SHINE must submit a separate operating license application for NRC approval before it can operate the facility.

The operating license application will consist of a final safety analysis report including SHINE’s final facility design, plans for operation, emergency plan, physical security plan, and technical specifications.

For additional information, please contact Eric Stahl of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Commissioner Ostendorff Will Not Seek Another Term

On February 17, 2016, William Ostendorff announced that he would not seek another term at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after his term expires on June 30, 2016. Commissioner Ostendorff, who will have served for six years in the five-member body that oversees the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants, will instead return to the United States Naval Academy to teach, according to an agency spokesman.

The departure of Commissioner Ostendorff, a former naval officer who commanded an attack submarine and later taught and led the Math and Science Division at the Naval Academy, will leave the NRC with three members—two short of its intended staffing.

Ostendorff, a Republican, was originally appointed to the Commission by President Obama in 2010 to finish the term of retiring Commissioner Dale Klein. He was sworn in to a second term on July 7, 2011. He has served at the NRC through numerous challenges including, among other things, the agency’s response to the Fukushima D’aiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. “We made a conscious decision by a unanimous commission vote, five to zero, to not require any U.S. nuclear power plant to shut down because of safety concerns,” Ostendorff told Senators last year about the Fukushima response. “We did not have those safety concerns.”

At a recent conference on nuclear energy, Ostendoff was quoted as saying, “I feel very comfortable leaving the Commission at the end of June with where we are on Fukushima.”  In a statement, NRC Chair Stephen Burns said that Commissioner Ostendorff “brought a wealth of experience to the Commission and helped guide the agency through the challenges of Fukushima, a changing industry environment and many other challenging issues.”

New Reactor Licenses to be Issued for South Texas Project

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has cleared the way for the agency’s Office of New Reactors to issue two Combined Licenses (COL) for Nuclear Innovation North America’s (NINA) South Texas Project site in Texas. Based on the mandatory hearing on NINA’s application, the Commission found the staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings.

Following the Commissioners’ direction, the NRC staff will work to issue the COLs promptly. The licenses will authorize NINA to build and operate two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) at the site near Bay City, Texas. The South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company already operates two reactors at the site.

The staff will impose several conditions on the license, including:

  •  specific actions associated with the agency’s post-Fukushima requirements for Mitigation Strategies and Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation;
  • requiring monitoring and analysis of the reactors’ steam dryers during initial plant startup, in line with current procedures for existing boiling-water reactors approved to operate at increased power levels; and,
  • setting a pre-startup schedule for post-Fukushima aspects of the new reactor’s emergency preparedness plans and procedures. 


NINA submitted its application for the licenses on September 20, 2007. The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) independently reviewed aspects of the application that concern safety, as well as the staff’s Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER). The ACRS, a group of experienced technical experts, advises the Commission—independently from the NRC staff—on safety issues related to the licensing and operation of nuclear power plants, as well as on issues of health physics and radiation protection.

  • The ACRS provided the results of its review to the Commission on February 19, 2015. The NRC completed its environmental review and issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed South Texas Project reactors in February 2011. The NRC completed and issued the FSER on September 29, 2015. The NRC certified the 1,300-megawatt ABWR design in 1997.

Additional information on the certification process is available on the NRC web site at nrc.gov. For additional information, please contact Scott Burnell of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Issues RIS re Decommissioning Timeliness Rule Implementation and Associated Regulatory Relief

On December 21, 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2015-19 titled, “Decommissioning Timeliness Rule Implementation and Associated Regulatory Relief.”

RIS 2015-19 was distributed to all holders of and applicants for NRC licenses under Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 30, “Rules of General Applicability to Domestic Licensing of Byproduct Material;” 10 CFR Part 40, “Domestic Licensing of Source Material;” 10 CFR Part 70, “Domestic Licensing of Special Nuclear Material;” and,

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 notice was also distributed to Agreement State Radiation Control Program Directors and State Liaison Officers.

According to the document, NRC issued RIS 2015-19 in order to:

  1. provide clarity on the Decommissioning Timeliness Rule’s (DTR’s) requirements to notify the NRC to begin and complete decommissioning after certain criteria are met;
  1. highlight opportunities for licensees to request alternatives to the DTR’s requirements;
  1. remind licensees that there are situations where they can request an alternative to the DTR’s timeliness requirements for both beginning and completing decommissioning if adequately justified;
  1. clarify when the DTR applies to licensees whose only location of use are temporary jobsites; and,
  1. clarify when the NRC considers that the licensee has transitioned from an “operational” to a “decommissioning” status.

RIS 2015-19 requires no action or written response beyond that already required by regulations. The NRC provided RIS 2015-19 to the Agreement States for their information and for distribution to their licensees, as appropriate. However, a notice of opportunity for public comment on RIS 2015-19 was not published in the Federal Register because the RIS is intended to be informational and is not intended to represent a departure from current regulatory requirements.

NRC generic communications may be found on the NRC public Web site at http://www.nrc.gov by going to “NRC Library” and then to “Document Collections.” For additional information, please contact Greg Chapman of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415-8718 or at Gregory.Chapman@nrc.gov.

NRC Seeks Comments re Contaminated Material and Contaminated Trash

In a Federal Register notice issued on January 20, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is requesting comments on whether NRC staff should formally document a position on contaminated material and contaminated trash.

In February 2015, NRC issued Revision 1 of the Branch Technical Position on Concentration Averaging and Encapsulation (CA BTP). The CA BTP provides acceptable methods that can be used to perform concentration averaging of low-level radioactive waste for the purpose of determining its waste class for disposal. When the NRC issued the revised CA BTP, it noted that one issue, distinguishing contaminated materials from contaminated trash, may need further clarification. The NRC also stated that it would consider whether additional guidance, such as a Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS), would be warranted for distinguishing contaminated materials from contaminated trash.

Interested stakeholders are requested to submit comments by March 21, 2016. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but NRC is able to ensure consideration only for comments received before this date.

The Federal Register notice includes a list of questions for which the NRC is requesting specific comments, as well as information on how to submit comments.

NRC’s request for comments can be found at 81 Federal Register 3,166 (January 20, 2016) via the following link: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-01-20/pdf/2016-00972.pdf.

For additional information, please contact Don Lowman, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 5452 or at Donald.Lowman@nrc.gov.

NRC Requests Planned Licensing Action Submittals for All Power Reactor Licensees

In late calendar year 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2015-16 to ask licensees to provide information regarding the licensing actions they plan to submit to the NRC for review over the next 3 calendar years, and power uprate applications they plan to submit to the NRC for review over the next 5 calendar years. The NRC plans to continue to request this information of licensees on an annual basis. Submittal of the requested information is strictly voluntary. No specific action or written response is required.

During the budget development process, the NRC allocates resources based on an assumed number of licensing actions of certain types (e.g., license amendments, exemptions, relief requests) that will be submitted for that particular fiscal year. To the degree that these assumptions do not correlate to incoming requests, the agency’s budget estimates can be significantly incorrect in total resources, specific skill sets, or both. This ultimately impedes the NRC’s ability to process licensing actions on a timely basis and can cause a significant delay in processing licensing actions when the required resources are not available. Specifically, licensing actions include requests for license amendments, renewals, and transfers; requests for exemptions; relief requests from in-service inspection and testing requirements; program reviews; review of topical reports submitted on a plant-specific basis; and, power uprate requests.

To more accurately forecast the resources needed to complete the requested licensing actions, the NRC is asking that all power reactor licensees voluntarily provide information regarding the number of licensing actions they plan to submit for NRC review for the next 3 calendar years, and any planned power uprates they plan to submit in the next 5 calendar years. The responses to NRC’s request are not binding and can be updated, as needed. The NRC plans to continue to request this information of licensees on an annual basis. This information will enable the agency to better meet its performance and timeliness goals under the agency’s strategic plan.

To adequately capture the resource impact of the various licensing action reviews, the NRC is requesting that licensees provide information such as a brief title and description of each of their planned licensing action submittals, an indication of whether the review would be first-of-a-kind or an update, an estimate of when the request would be submitted to the NRC, and the estimated requested completion date. Licensees would also assist the NRC by indicating if the licensing action is routine or if it is outage-related. Based on the information received, the NRC will determine the complexity of the review and the technical skill set needed to perform the review, and develop preliminary review schedules. The NRC will use this information in planning for future workload and as the basis for allocating future technical resources.

The NRC encourages continued communication between licensees and site-specific NRC project managers with regard to plant licensing actions and schedules for submittal of licensing actions. According to NRC, RIS 2015-16 is not intended to replace the communications that take place between licensees and project managers regarding current and planned licensing actions. Indeed, NRC states that the continued communication will play a large role in improving project planning by the agency. However, NRC believes that the information provided in response to RIS 2015-16 will help the agency improve project planning and resource allocation throughout the entire budget cycle.

For additional information, please contact Tracy Orf of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at (301) 415-2788 or at tracy.orf@nrc.gov.