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 To Review Its Administrative Regulations

On August 11, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced plans to initiate a retrospective review of its administrative regulations to identify those that are outdated or duplicative.  The review is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2017.

Overview  Any regulations that are identified during the review will be evaluated to determine if they can be eliminated without impacting the agency’s safety and security mission.  NRC anticipates that the review will result in improvements with regard to how applicants and licensees submit information, keep records, and report to the agency.

Process  NRC plans to develop a strategy to accomplish its retrospective review and will seek input from stakeholders through public meetings and a Federal Register notice.  In particular, the NRC plans to encourage its staff, its applicants, licensees and the public to provide input.

Background  Efficiency is one of five NRC principles of good regulation.  The retrospective review is an effort to improve the management and administration of regulatory activities and to ensure that the agency’s regulations remain current, appropriate, and effective.

For additional information, please contact the NRC’s Office of Public Affairs at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Finalizes Guidance for Subsequent License Renewals

On July 11, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published guidance documents for both submitting and reviewing applications to renew operating licenses of plants that have already renewed their licenses, a process referred to as subsequent license renewal.

Overview  The newly released guidance documents include the Generic Aging Lessons Learned for Subsequent License Renewal Report and the Standard Review Plan for Review of Subsequent License Renewal Applications for Nuclear Power Plants.  The aging lessons learned report outlines an acceptable approach for applicants to demonstrate adequate management of plant aging effects.  The standard review plan guides the NRC staff on performing safety reviews of these applications.

Next Steps  The NRC staff plans to publish two more documents before the end of 2017.  These additional documents lay out the technical bases for changes to the guidance documents and the staff’s response to public comments received during the public comment period.

Background  The NRC developed these guidance documents over several years in preparation for reviewing subsequent license renewal applications.  NRC staff held more than 25 public meetings to gather stakeholders’ perspectives.  The guidance documents also include significant input from the License Renewal Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), as well as from the full committee.

Guidance documents are available at the Guidance for License Renewal and Subsequent License Renewal page on the NRC website.

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

Further Actions Approved re Yucca Mountain Licensing Process

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved further actions related to its review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) application for authorization to construct a high-level radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

In particular, the next steps involve information-gathering activities related to the suspended adjudication on the application.  The activities are intended to enable efficient, informed decisions in support of executing any further appropriations of funds for the High-Level Waste Program.

Overview  The Commission has directed agency staff to hold a virtual meeting of the Licensing Support Network Advisory Review Panel to provide information to, and gather input from, advisory panel members and the public regarding reconstitution of the Licensing Support Network (LSN) or a suitable replacement system.  Agency staff will also gather preliminary information regarding potential hearing venues.

The Commission limited expenditures for the information-gathering activities to $110,000 from the Nuclear Waste Fund.  As of June 30, 2017, NRC had approximately $634,000 in remaining unobligated Nuclear Waste Fund appropriations.

Background  The LSN was an online database of nearly 4 million documents created to allow various parties and the public access to information needed for the hearing on DOE’s request for a construction authorization for the Yucca Mountain repository.  The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards (ASLB) had admitted nearly 300 contentions from various parties challenging aspects of DOE’s application.

In September 2011, the Yucca Mountain hearing was suspended and the LSN was decommissioned after Congress reduced funding.  At the time, the Commission directed agency staff to preserve the documents from the LSN within ADAMS.

Subsequently, in August 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC to resume its review of the application using the remaining previously appropriated funds.  In response, NRC staff completed the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) in January 2015 and a supplement to DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in May 2016.

The Commission’s Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM), Commission voting records and the staff’s proposal (COMSECY-17-0019) are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

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.

Final EIS Issued for Proposed Northwest Medical Isotopes Facility

On May 16, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published its final environmental impact statement on a medical radioisotope production facility proposed for Columbia, Missouri.  The study recommends that, barring the identification of any safety issues during the agency’s ongoing safety review, a construction permit be issued to Northwest Medical Isotopes, LLC.

Northwest submitted the application in February 2015 proposing to construct a facility to produce molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium.  Molybdenum-99 decays to technetium-99m, the most commonly used radioisotope in medicine.  Technetium-99m is used in 20 to 25 million diagnostic procedures around the world each year, such as bone and organ scans to detect cancer and cardiovascular imaging.  There are currently no molybdenum-99 production facilities in the United States, though the NRC has issued a construction permit to SHINE Medical Technologies to build one in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The environmental impact statement (NUREG-2209) documents the NRC staff’s environmental review of Northwest’s construction permit application.  The review examined the environmental impacts of constructing, operating and decommissioning the proposed facility, as well as the transportation of uranium targets to research reactors and their irradiation in those reactors.  It concludes that the environmental impacts would be small, with cumulative impacts on air quality and noise being small to moderate, and cumulative impacts on ecological resources being moderate.  None of the projected impacts would be significant enough to deny the construction permit.

The NRC published a draft environmental impact statement for public comment in November 2015.  Comments received were addressed in the final version.

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

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.

Southwestern Commission Hosts Workshops re Use of Rad Materials

On May 10 and 12, 2017, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted two separate workshops in Northern and Southern California on the use and disposition of radioactive materials, including radioactive sealed sources and devices.

 

The following is the agenda for the workshops:

  •   Welcome and Introductions (9:00 – 9:20 a.m.)
  •   Southwestern Compact Vice Chair Donna Earley of Cedars Sinai (9:30 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.)
    • Earley will discuss medical uses of radioactive materials, including new therapeutic uses as well as experience with the disposal of Cs-137 irradiators and Co-60 gamma knife.
    • Earley has extensive knowledge and experience overseeing the Radiation Safety Programs and personnel of Cedars Sinai and the coordinating with local law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles for the safety and security of the Cedars Sinai Facility.
  •   Jeff Cromwell, Radioactive Waste Manager and Radioactive Shipment Manager, University of Berkeley
    • Cromwell will discuss waste management at the University of Berkeley along with some waste management challenges from some recent facility decommissioning projects.
    • What challenges have you had at your facility that you can share on decommissioning, shipments or closing out research projects-what are you doing with the waste?
  •   Morning Break (10:30 – 10:50 a.m.)
  •   Mike Albanese, Radiation Safety Officer for Qal-Tek (10:55 – 11:20 a.m.)
    • Albanese will discuss Qal-Tek’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Service License and its new Reutilization Program in a joint effort with the Southwestern Compact.
    • Outline of maximum time limits and requirements.
    • A petition will be required for disposal to Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) in Andrews, Texas.
    • How will this affect me?
    • Can I qualify for this program?
  •   Lunch Break (11:25 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
  •   Sherry Frenette, Technical Services Project Manager, WCS (12:20 – 12:45 p.m.)
    • Frenette will discuss WCS’s capabilities for treatment, storage and disposal of waste and answer any questions you may have concerning those capabilities, or the process for getting waste to WCS.
    • Frenette will also provide an update on the status of the application for spent fuel storage at the WS facility.
    • Frenette works in the Technical Services Department at WCS.  She helps commercial customers navigate the process for sending waste to all of the facilities at WCS.
  •   Leigh Ing, Executive Director, Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact (12:50 – 1:15 p.m.)
    • Ing will share the need for Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact (Texas Compact) import agreements and WCS contracts—they are different!
    • Ing will discuss information on requirements, brokers, small generator’s limits, and the processing time frames for the Texas Compact.
    • What are the annual limits set by the Texas legislators for non-compact waste?
    • Does Texas want our waste?
    • Will this change?
    • Is there enough space for the future?
    • How long can you afford to store?
  •   Afternoon Break (1:20 – 1:55 p.m.)
  •   Vern Rogers, EnergySolutions of Utah (1:40 – 2:05 p.m.)
    • Video of Zion Decommissioning, SONGS schedule for decommissioning, new services to be offered—Class A sealed sources, depleted uranium (DU) options, mixed waste and various processing programs offered.
    • What can we expect for the future of EnergySolutions?
  •   [Northern California] John Fassell, Chief for Inspection, Compliance & Enforcement, California Radiological Health Branch and [Southern California] Robert Greger, Senior Health Physicist, California Radiological Health Branch (2:10 – 2:35 p.m.)
    • When the inspector is at your door.
    • A presentation on state audits, reporting requirements, renewing a state license—does location matter, and safety requirements at your site.   Come with your questions!  This is an important resource for you.
  •   Adjourn (3:15 p.m.)

For additional information, please contact Kathy Davis, Executive Director of the Southwestern Compact Commission, at (916) 448-2390 or at swllrwcc@swllrwcc.org.

Draft Agenda Released for the Spring 2017 LLW Forum Meeting

Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel
Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) has released the draft agenda for its spring 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel in Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017.

As a reminder, the discount rate hotel room block for the meeting closes in just three weeks on April 5, 2017.  There is limited space remaining in the discount room block.   Accordingly, interested stakeholders are encouraged to register and make hotel reservations for the meeting at your earliest convenience.

The Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board and Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission are co-sponsoring the meeting.

The meeting documents—including the meeting bulletin, registration form and draft agenda—have been posted to the LLW Forum’s web site at www.llwforum.org.  

 

Agenda Topics

The following is a list of agenda topics for the meeting:

  •  overview and analysis re Executive agency and Congressional transition and impacts on the nuclear industry;
  •  the National Academies’ low-level radioactive waste management and disposition workshop;
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulatory activities and updates including Part 61 rulemaking initiative;low-activity waste scoping study; rulemaking SECY re financial assurance for byproduct material; and, assessment for the low-level waste branch;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities and updates including final revisions to National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings; publication of final Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents; and, public comments and next steps re the 40 CFR Part 190 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR);
  •  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities and updates;
  • updates and activities re the Waste Control Specialists commercial and federal low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas;
  • updates and activities re the Clive low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Tooele County, Utah;
  • consideration of alternative options for the management of low activity waste;
  •     requirements for plans regarding waste minimization;
  •     tools to assist decision makers regarding low-level waste management;
  •     perspectives from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) on the state of the commercial nuclear power industry;
  •     industry insights and perspectives regarding waste management and disposition;
  •     addressing abandoned cyclotrons and decommissioning in Colorado;
  • survey results re alternative technologies for irradiators and other radioactive sources and devices;
  • implementation of new Part 37 requirements and review of cyber-security for nuclear-related issues;
  • proposals to license Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) and transuranic waste cells and spent nuclear fuel storage in Texas;
  • past, present and future use of uranium in Colorado;
  •  development of a radiation response volunteer medical reserves corp unit;
  •   lack of oversight for management of exempt sealed radioactive sources;
  • the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) Part S Working Group re suggested state regulations on financial assurance for sealed sources;
  • potential revisions to regulations or processes re Category 3 source protection and accountability; and,
  •  removal and packaging of Category 1 and 2 self-shielded devices.

Attendance

Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry, and other interested parties are invited and encouraged to attend.

The meeting is an excellent opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most recent and significant developments in the area of low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.  It also offers an important opportunity to network with other government and industry officials and to participate in decision-making on future actions and endeavors affecting low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.

Location and Dates

The spring 2017 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Monday, April 24 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Tuesday, April 25 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at: 

Embassy Suites by Downtown Convention Center Hotel
1420 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

 

The hotel offers a gateway to Denver’s lively downtown scene.  Boasting a contemporary convention venue, the hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions in the downtown area.

Registration

All persons must pre-register for the meeting and pay any associated registration fees in order to be allowed entry.  Registration forms are needed in order to ensure that you receive a meeting packet and name badge.  Accordingly, interested attendees are asked to please take a moment to complete the registration form at your earliest convenience  You can submit the registration form electronically via the online link or print a hard copy and return it to the Administrator of the Rocky Mountain Board at the mailing address, e-mail or fax number listed at the bottom of the form.

The meeting is free for up to two individuals representing members of the LLW Forum.  Additional and non-member registration is $500, payable by check only to the “LLW Forum, Inc.”  (Credit card payments are not accepted.)

Reservations

Persons who plan to attend the meeting are strongly encouraged to make their hotel reservations and send in their registration forms as soon as possible, as we have exceeded our block at the last few meetings.

A limited block of hotel rooms has been reserved for Sunday, April 23rd and Monday, April 24th at the rate of $178.00 plus tax per night (for single/double occupancy).

To make a reservation, please call (800) 445-8667.  Please ask for the LLW Forum block in order to get the discounted meeting rate.

The deadline for reserving a room at the discounted rate is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Transportation and Directions

From Denver International Airport (DIA), one way taxi fare is available for approximately $70.00.  Another option is the train from DIA to Union Station downtown.  From Union Station, you can walk or take the 16th street mall shuttle the additional 1.2 miles to the hotel off of Stout Street.

For additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, the LLW Forum’s Executive Director, at (754) 779-7551 or go to www.llwforum.org

NRC Issues Notice of Violation to Minnesota Company

On February 14, 2017, NRC announced that the agency has issued an Order barring a radiographer from participating in NRC-licensed activities for one year.  The enforcement action against Curtis Thompson is based on his deliberate actions in performing radiographic operations without another qualified individual present while at a temporary jobsite in Gary, Indiana.  The NRC issued the enforcement action after finding that Thompson alone willfully used a camera with radioactive material on numerous metal welds while working for a client.  During the NRC investigation, Thompson admitted to violating NRC requirements in order to complete the work.

The NRC also issued a Severity Level III Notice of Violation to American Engineering Testing Inc., Thompson’s former employer.  The company is located in St. Paul, Minnesota and is licensed by the NRC to use radioactive materials.  Implementation of agency regulations ensures the safety of its workers and the public.  Thompson’s actions resulted in the company violating NRC requirements.  “This enforcement action against Thompson and the violation to the company underscore that willful violations of safety requirements will not be tolerated,” said NRC Region III Administrator Cynthia Pederson.  The company independently identified this issue, informed the NRC of the situation and took corrective actions.  As a result, the NRC will not issue a civil penalty to American Engineering Testing Inc.

The NRC’s Order directs Thompson to cease all activities involving NRC-licensed activities for one year and he must notify the NRC for the following one-year probation period if he becomes involved in NRC-licensed activities.  A second qualified accompanying individual is required to prevent unauthorized entry into a restricted area where radiographic operations are being performed and to provide assistance when needed.  The NRC’s order and notice of violation are available on the agency’s website at www.nrc.gov.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Disused Sources Working Group Holds Winter Meeting

On February 6-7, 2017, the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) held a meeting in San Diego, California with organizational representatives of the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD), the Organization of Agreement States (OAS) and the Health Physics Society (HPS).

Agenda Items

The following items, among other things, were on the winter 2017 DSWG meeting agenda:

  • review and response to the recent Federal Register notice in which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking input from licensees, Agreement States and the public to inform the staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability;
  • development and distribution of working group documents including educational materials for current and prospective licensees, source disposal costs and import/export authorities and requirements for the ten operating low-level radioactive waste compacts; and,
  • source calculation and methodology re number of sealed sources in the United States;
  • development of regional workshops for stakeholders interested in management and disposition of sealed sources and radioactive devices;
  • outreach by designated organizational liaisons and feedback received on the outstanding recommendations from the March 2014 DSWG report; and,
  • charting the next steps and a path forward.

For additional information and ongoing updates, interested stakeholders are encouraged to go to the DSWG web site at www.disusedsources.org.

Background

The LLW Forum is a non-profit organization of representatives appointed by Governors and compact commissions that seeks to facilitate state and compact implementation of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 and its 1985 amendments, as well as to promote the objectives of regional low-level radioactive waste disposal compacts.

In September 2011, the LLW Forum formed the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) to develop recommendations from the states and compacts for improving the management and disposition of disused sources.

For additional information about the DSWG, please contact Project Director Todd D. Lovinger, Esq at (754) 779-7551 or at LLWForumInc@aol.com.

Comment Opportunity re Category 3 Source Protection and Accountability

On January 9, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking input from licensees, Agreement States, and the public to inform the agency staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability.   Comments on the notice, which contains specific questions that NRC has developed to assist the agency in its analysis that are separated into sections based on the topics and applicability to relevant stakeholders, are due by the close of business on March 10, 2017.

“The NRC is committed to keeping the public informed and values public involvement in its assessment effort,” states the Federal Register notice.  “Responses to this solicitation will be considered by NRC in preparing a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, pursuant to Public Law 113– 235, Section 403 and will inform staff consideration of the regulatory impacts for any recommendations related to Category 3 source security and accountability, which will be documented in a paper to be provided to the Commission in August 2017.”

The notice further states that the NRC plans to hold three public meetings and two webinars during the public comment period for this action.  The first public meeting was held at the NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on January 31, 2017.  The two other public meetings will be held outside of the Washington, DC area.  The webinars are scheduled for February 21, 2017 and March 2, 2017.  The public meetings and webinars will provide forums for the NRC staff to discuss the issues and questions with members of the public.  NRC plans to use the information received to develop a report to the Commission.

Overview

On October 18, 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) for COMJMB–16–0001 and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability.

Specifically, the Commission asked the staff to conduct an evaluation of, among other things, the pros and cons of different methods of requiring transferors of Category 3 quantities of radioactive material to verify the validity of a transferee’s license prior to transfer; the pros and cons of including Category 3 sources in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS); and, the risks posed by aggregation of Category 3 sources into Category 2 quantities.

As part of this evaluation, the NRC is seeking input from licensees, Agreement States, and the public to inform the staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability.

Comments

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Federal Rulemaking Website:  Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC–2016–0276.
  •   Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN–12–H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001.

Interested stakeholders are requested to please include Docket ID NRC–2016– 0276 in any comment submission.  Comments are due by the close of business on March 10, 2017.

For additional information, please contact Irene Wu of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415– 1951 or at Irene.Wu@nrc.gov.

NRC to Review WCS Application re Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

On January 26, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that the agency has docketed and accepted for formal review an application from Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to build and operate a spent nuclear fuel Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in Andrews, Texas.  The NRC’s decision follows an acceptance review to determine whether the application contains sufficient information for the agency to begin its formal review.

WCS is seeking to store 5,000 metric tons uranium of spent fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States.

Overview

NRC’s review will proceed on two parallel tracks—one on safety issues and the other on environmental issues.  Both the safety and environmental reviews must be completed before the NRC makes a final licensing decision on the application.

In a letter to WCS dated January 26, 2017, the NRC set a schedule for its safety and environmental reviews.  The schedule sets a target of making a licensing decision by the third quarter of fiscal year 2019—assuming that WCS provides high-quality responses, on schedule, to any NRC requests for additional information.

Interested stakeholders will have 60 days from publication of a notice of docketing in the Federal Register, which will appear shortly, to submit requests for a hearing and petition to intervene in the licensing proceeding for the proposed facility.  Details on how to submit those requests and petitions will be in the Federal Register notice.

The NRC’s letter to WCS is available on the agency’s website at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1701/ML17018A168.pdf.

Public Meetings

The NRC will hold the following two public meetings near the site of the proposed CISF to take public comments on the scope of the environmental review:

  • Hobbs, New Mexico:  Lea County Event Center (5101 N. Lovington Highway) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT on February 13, 2017
  • Andrews, Texas:  James Roberts Center (855 TX-176) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT on February 15, 2017

Stakeholders that are interested in attending or speaking are encouraged to pre-register by calling (301) 415- 6957 no later than three days prior to the scheduled meetings.  The public may also register in person at each meeting.  The time allowed for each speaker may be limited, depending on the number of registered speakers.

The NRC is also planning to hold additional scoping meetings at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland during the week following the local meetings.  Details for these meetings are still being finalized.

Information about the public meetings will be posted to the NRC public meetings schedule on the agency’s website at www.nrc.gov.

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders can submit comments on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the CISF as follows:

  • Federal Rulemaking Website: Electronic provide comments at regulations.gov
  • Mail:  Send comments to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001

Written comments should refer to Docket ID NRC-2016-0231.  The NRC will accept public comments through March 13, 2017.

Background

On April 28, 2016, WCS filed an application seeking a 40-year license for a CISF to receive spent fuel from nuclear reactors for storage, pending final disposal.  (See LLW Notes, May/June 2016, pp. 16-17.)  Specifically, WCS is requesting authorization to construct and operate a CISF at the company’s 60.3 square kilometer (14,900 acre) site in western Andrews County, Texas.  On this site, WCS currently operates facilities that process and store certain types of radioactive material—mainly low-level radioactive waste and mixed waste.  The facility also disposes of hazardous and toxic waste.

According to the application, WCS plans to construct the CISF in eight phases.  Phase one of the CISF would be designed to provide storage for up to 5,000 metric tons uranium (MTU) of spent nuclear fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States.  WCS proposes that small amounts of mixed oxide spent fuels and Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive wastes also be stored at the CISF.  WCS stated that it would design each subsequent phase of the CISF to store up to an additional 5,000 MTU.  A total of up to 40,000 MTU would be stored at the site by the completion of the final phase.  Each phase would require NRC review and approval.

WCS would receive canisters containing spent nuclear fuel from the reactor sites.  Once accepted at the site, WCS would transfer them into onsite dry cask storage systems.  WCS plans to employ dry cask storage system technology that has been licensed by the NRC pursuant to 10 CFR Part 72 at various commercial nuclear reactors across the country.  According to WCS, the dry cask storage systems proposed for use at the CISF would be passive systems (i.e., not relying on any moving parts) and would provide physical protection, containment, nuclear criticality controls and radiation shielding required for the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel.  WCS also states that the dry cask storage systems would be located on top of the concrete pads constructed at the CISF.

For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415-8200.

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.

Registration Opens for NRC’s 2017 Regulatory Information Conference

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has opened registration for its 29th annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), which is scheduled for March 14-16, 2017.  The conference will be held at the Bethesda North Marriott, which is located at 5701 Marinelli Road in Bethesda, Maryland.

Overview

Approximately 3,000 people are expected to attend the RIC including industry executives, representatives from state governments, non-governmental organizations, individual community members, and representatives from dozens of foreign countries.  The conference is an opportunity for attendees to discuss issues related to the safety and security of commercial nuclear facilities and current regulatory activities.

The RIC program will feature NRC Chair Stephen Burns as the keynote speaker.  Additional program highlights will include plenary sessions with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki and Commissioner Jeff Baran.

NRC’s Executive Director for Operations Victor McCree will deliver remarks.  Bill Dean, Director of NRR, will give welcome and introductory remarks.  This year’s special guest speaker is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations Robert Willard. Located in Atlanta, INPO is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability—to promote excellence—in the operation of nuclear electric generating plants.

Other technical sessions will address significant domestic and international issues such as cybersecurity, subsequent license renewal, advanced and small modular reactors, spent fuel research activities, recent reactor material issues and the reactor oversight process.

Background

The NRC’s offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and Nuclear Regulatory Research jointly host the RIC.  The conference is open to the public.  Registration is required, but there is no registration fee.

The deadline for online registration is February 28, 2017.  Early registration is encouraged; however, onsite registration will also be available during the conference.

Additional RIC information, including a copy of the agenda and online registration links, is available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.  

Comments Sought re Proposed Medical Radioisotope Production Facility

On November 15, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on its Draft Environmental Impact Study of a medical radioisotope production facility proposed for Columbia, Missouri.

The study recommends a construction permit be issued to Northwest Medical Isotopes LLC, barring any safety issues identified in the agency’s ongoing technical review of the application.

Overview

The DEIS (NUREG-2209) documents the NRC staff’s environmental review of Northwest’s construction authorization application.  It examines the environmental impacts of construction, operation and decommissioning of the proposed facility, as well as the transportation and irradiation of uranium targets at research reactors.  It concludes the environmental impacts would be small and therefore not be significant enough to deny the construction permit.

On December 6, 2016, NRC staff held a public meeting in Columbia to present the draft study’s findings and receive public comment.  Agency staff members were on hand one hour before the meeting for informal discussions with members of the public.

Comments

NRC accepted comments on the DEIS at the public meeting on December 6, 2016.  Comments may also be submitted in writing online at www.regulations.gov using Docket ID NRC-2013-0235.  Comments will be accepted through December 29, 2016.  Additional information on the public meeting and how to submit comments was published in the Federal Register on November 9, 2016.

Background

In February 2015, Northwest submitted an application proposing to construct a facility to produce molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium.  Molybdenum-99 decays to technetium-99m, the most commonly used radioisotope in medicine.  Technetium-99m is used in 20 million to 25 million diagnostic procedures around the world each year, such as bone and organ scans to detect cancer, and cardiovascular imaging.  There are currently no molybdenum-99 production facilities in the United States, though the NRC has issued a construction authorization to SHINE Medical Technologies to build one in Janesville, Wisconsin.

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

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/.

Special Inspection Conducted at Columbia Nuclear Generating Station

On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has begun a special inspection at the Columbia Generating Station to review circumstances surrounding the shipment of some low-level waste to a disposal facility.  The plant, operated by Energy Northwest, is located near Richland, Washington.

Background

On November 9, 2016, workers at the plant shipped a single package of low-level nuclear waste to the
 U.S. Ecology disposal facility about 10 miles away.  When the package containing contaminated filters arrived, workers at the disposal facility noted a discrepancy between the radiation levels specified in the shipping manifest and dose rates they measured on the shipping container.  US Ecology personnel measured radiation levels more than seven times higher than documented in the shipping manifest.  The package was rejected and taken back to the plant where it is currently being stored.

The following day, the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) notified Columbia Generating Station officials that their disposal permit privileges to US Ecology were being suspended until a written plan containing corrective actions was approved and an on-site inspection conducted by state officials is completed.

Special Inspection

“The purpose of the NRC’s special inspection is to better understand the circumstances surrounding this event, which revealed weaknesses in the licensee’s process for packaging and preparing radioactive waste shipments,” NRC Region IV Administrator Kriss Kennedy said.  “While there was no undue risk to the public, had a transportation accident occurred, there was a potential that members of the public could have been exposed to radiation levels in excess of NRC regulatory limits.”

The three-member NRC team spent about a week on site evaluating the licensee’s cause analysis and the adequacy of corrective actions.  An inspection report documenting the team’s findings will be publicly available within 45 days of the end of the inspection.

For additional information, please contact Victor Dricks at (817) 200-1128.

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.

Scoping Effort Initiated re Environmental Review of Proposed WCS Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility

On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking comments from the public on the issues to be covered in the environmental review of an application from Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) to construct and operate a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.  The NRC will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document its evaluation of those impacts and is now taking public comments on the scope.

By letter dated July 21, 2016, WCS requested that NRC begin its EIS process as soon as possible.  In a response dated October 7, 2016, NRC agreed to WCS’ request because doing so will allow the agency to engage interested members of the public early in the process.  It will also provide additional time to consult with federal, tribal, state and local government agencies, facilitating compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  In addition, the environmental review will fulfill requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to do an analysis of environmental impacts for major federal actions.  However, NRC’s decision to begin the EIS process early does not presuppose the outcome of its ongoing acceptance review of the WCS application.

The EIS prepared by the NRC staff will examine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action.  The NRC staff will evaluate the potential impacts to various environmental resources, such as air quality, surface and ground water, transportation, geology and soils, and socioeconomics.  The EIS will analyze potential impacts of WCS’s proposed facility on historic and cultural resources and on threatened and endangered species.  Additionally, the economic, technical, and other benefits and costs of the proposed action and alternatives will be considered in the EIS.

If the application is accepted for a detailed technical review, the NRC staff will also conduct a safety review to determine WCS’s compliance with NRC’s regulations, including 10 CFR Part 20 and 10 CFR Part 72.  The NRC staff’s findings will be published in a Safety Evaluation Report.

The scoping period began on November 14, 2016.  If the WCS application is docketed, the scoping period will end 45 days after publication of a notice of docketing the application.

Written comments on the scope of the environmental review may be submitted via:

  •   the federal government’s rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov;
  •   email to WCS_CISF_EIS@nrc.gov; or,
  •   mail to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN- 12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Comments must be submitted by the closing date of the scoping period to ensure consideration.  Stakeholders should include Docket ID NRC-2016-0231 when submitting comments.

The ER submitted by WCS can be found on the NRC’s project-specific web page at http:// www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/ cis/wcs/wcs-app-docs.html.  For additional information, please contact James Park, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 6954 or at James.Park@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.

Seventh U.S. National Report Issued for Convention on Nuclear Safety

On October 27, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has published its Seventh National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety.  The report describes the U.S. government’s actions under the convention to achieve and maintain a high level of safety for its nuclear power plants.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety entered into force in 1996 and was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1999.  It establishes legally binding obligations for signatory states regarding national regulation and safety at commercial nuclear power facilities.

The Seventh National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety addresses issues identified through the peer review conducted during the sixth review meeting in 2014, as well as challenges and issues that have arisen since that time.  The sixth review meeting identified the following six U.S. challenges:

  • Fukushima-related activities;
  • transition to risk-informed fire protection regulations;
  • ensuring continuity during the oversight transition from plant construction to operation;
  • nuclear industry strategy;
  • report on status of periodic safety reviews pilot program; and,
  • status of NRC’s work on subsequent license renewal for plant operation beyond 60 years.

Countries that are parties to the convention meet every three years to discuss their reports.  The NRC has submitted the Seventh National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety for peer review by other countries.

NRC officials will discuss the report and respond to peer review questions at the seventh review meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, in March 2017.

The Seventh National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety demonstrates how the United States implements a high level of nuclear safety by enhancing national measures and international cooperation, and by meeting the obligations of all the articles established by the convention.

Some of the additional challenges discussed in the new report include:

  • digital instrumentation and control systems;
  • open-phase conditions in electric power systems;
  • spent fuel pool neutron-absorbing materials; and,
  • plant transition from operation to decommissioning status.

The report includes a section developed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) describing the U.S. industry’s work to ensure safety.  INPO officials will also be part of the U.S. delegation to the convention review meeting.

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

NRC to Consider Reevaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability

On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) regarding a proposed agency staff re-evaluation of Category 3 source accountability.

The SRM was issued in response to a July 29, 2016 memo from NRC Commissioner Baran proposing that NRC staff revisit the question of whether and how to track Category 3 sources.  Commissioner Baran’s memo was written in response to GAO-16-330 titled, “Nuclear Security:  NRC Has Enhanced the Controls of Dangerous Radioactive Materials, but Vulnerabilities Remain.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which was issued on July 15, 2016, concludes that NRC and Agreement States have taken several steps to help ensure that radioactive materials licenses are granted only to legitimate organizations and that licensees can only obtain such materials in quantities allowed by their licenses.  However, GAO also determined that NRC and Agreement States have not taken some measures for better controlling Category 3 quantities of radioactive material—such as tracking and agency license verification—that leave vulnerabilities.

The SRM directs NRC staff to submit a notation vote paper to the Commission that includes the following:

  • 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 transfer;
  • an evaluation of the pros and cons of including Category 3 sources in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS);
  • an assessment, based on these evaluations, of these and any additional options that the staff identifies for addressing the source accountability recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO);
  • a vulnerability assessment which identifies changes in the threat environment between 2009 and today that argue in favor of or against expansion of the NSTS to include Category 3 sources;
  • a regulatory impact analysis of the accrued benefit and costs of the change, to include impacts to the NRC, Agreement States, non-Agreement States, and regulated entities;
  • a discussion of potential regulatory actions that would not require changes to NRC regulations that arose from or were considered by the staff working groups—including changes to guidance, training, and other program improvements such as more closely monitoring the implementation of the staff recommendations using the Integrated Materials Performance Evaluation Program (IMPEP) process; and,
  • any other factors arising from the staff’s currently ongoing assessment that the staff concludes would bear on the Commission’s deliberation on the proposed change.

The SRM states that the NRC staff’s evaluations for the notation vote paper “should begin after completion of the ongoing broader evaluation of the overall source protection and accountability strategy for sources due to the Congress at the end of this year.”

It further states that the results of the assessment of the security requirements in 10 CFR Part 37 should be used to inform the NRC staff’s evaluation and that, 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 staff’s evaluation and notation vote paper are due to the Commission within 10 months of the issuance of the SRM.

For additional information and direct links to NRC’s October 2016 SRM, Commissioner Baran’s July 2016 memorandum and GAO-16-330, please visit the Resources Page of the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) web site at www.disusedsources.org.

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.

Senators Express Concern in Response to GAO Audit on Source Security

By letter dated August 22, 2016, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed concern to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Stephen Burns regarding the findings in a July 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled, “Nuclear Security:  NRC Has Enhanced the Controls of Dangerous Radioactive Materials, but Vulnerabilities Remain.”  NRC Chair Burns responded by letter dated October 7, 2016.  In his letter, Chair Burns provides assurances that NRC takes its obligations related to the licensing of radioactive materials seriously and outlines actions that the agency has taken in response to the GAO audit report.

Senator Charles Schumer expressed similar concerns to NRC Chair Burns in a letter dated October 2, 2016.  Senator Schumer also issued a press release titled, “Explosion that Shook NYC Highlights Real Risk of a ‘Dirty Bomb’ in NYC; Shocking Fed Report Shows How Almost Anyone Can Use Loophole to Purchase Radioactive Material Required to Carry Out Attack in Major City; Senator Urges Nuke Agency to Overhaul Check System Putting NY’ers at Risk.”

The GAO report, which was issued on July 15, 2016, concludes that NRC and Agreement States have taken several steps to help ensure that radioactive materials licenses are granted only to legitimate organizations and that licensees can only obtain such materials in quantities allowed by their licenses.  However, GAO also determined that NRC and Agreement States have not taken some measures for better controlling Category 3 quantities of radioactive material—such as tracking and agency license verification—that leave vulnerabilities.

GAO-16-330 recommends that NRC take the following three actions: (1) take the steps needed to include Category 3 sources in the NSTS and add Agreement State Category 3 licenses to the WBL as quickly as reasonably possible;
(2) at least until such time that Category 3 licenses can be verified using the LVS, require that transferors of Category 3 quantities of radioactive materials confirm the validity of a would-be purchaser’s radioactive materials license with the appropriate regulatory authority before transferring any Category 3 quantities of licensed materials; and, (3) as part of the ongoing efforts of NRC working groups meeting to develop enhancements to the pre-licensing requirements for Category 3 licenses, consider requiring that an on-site security review be conducted for all unknown applicants of Category 3 licenses to verify that each applicant is prepared to implement the required security measures before taking possession of licensed radioactive materials.

In a memo dated July 29, 2016, in response to the GAO audit report, NRC Commissioner Jeff Baran proposed that NRC staff revisit the question of whether and how to track Category 3 sources.  On October 18, 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) that directs agency staff to submit a notation vote paper to the Commission that includes the following seven items: (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 transfer; 
(2) an evaluation of the pros and cons of including Category 3 sources in the NSTS; 
(3) an assessment, based on these evaluations, of these and any additional options that the staff identifies for addressing the source accountability recommendations made by the GAO; (4) a vulnerability assessment which identifies changes in the threat environment between 2009 and today that argue in favor of or against expansion of the NSTS to include Category 3 sources; (5) a regulatory impact analysis of the accrued benefit and costs of the change, to include impacts to the NRC, Agreement States, non-Agreement States, and regulated entities; (6) a discussion of potential regulatory actions that would not require changes to NRC regulations that arose from or were considered by the staff working groups—including changes to guidance, training, and other program improvements such as more closely monitoring the implementation of the staff recommendations using the Integrated Materials Performance Evaluation Program (IMPEP) process; and, (7) any other factors arising from the staff’s currently ongoing assessment that the staff concludes would bear on the Commission’s deliberation on the proposed change.

Links to GAO-16-330, Commissioner Baran’s memo and the SRM in response thereto can be found on the Resources Page of the DSWG web site at www.disusedsources.org.

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.

Missing Portable Nuclear Gauge Recovered in Connecticut

On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has been notified by a Connecticut company that a portable moisture-density gauge containing sealed sources of radioactive material that was reported stolen a day earlier has been recovered.  The gauge—which was located by police on the afternoon of July 26, 2016 at a pawnshop in Bridgeport, Connecticut—was not damaged.

On July 26, 2016, HAKS Material Testing Group—which is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut—reported that the device was stolen from a technician’s vehicle while it was parked in Bridgeport.  According to the NRC press release, the vehicle’s trunk was broken into, chains securing the gauge in place were cut and the gauge was removed.

The device contains small amounts of Cesium-137 and Americium-241.  The gauge is used to make measurements by projecting the radiation from the two radioactive sources into the ground and then displaying the reflected radiation on a dial on its top.

Upon notification of the theft, an NRC inspector was sent to the company’s offices to gather more information on the loss of the gauge.  In addition, law-enforcement authorities opened an investigation into the theft.

On July 27, 2016, an inspector from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) traveled to the shop to inspect the recovered gauge.  Once the inspector confirmed the device was undamaged, it was returned to its owner.

According to NRC’s press release announcing recovery of the gauge, the NRC is following up on the event.  This includes an NRC inspection being conducted at the offices of HAKS Material Testing Group in Bridgeport.

For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.

Annual Report to Congress Published re Nuclear Security Inspections

On June 30, 2016, an unclassified version of the annual report to Congress from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was made available to the public.  The report, which is required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, details the previous year’s security inspection program.

The report covers the NRC’s security inspection program, including force-on-force exercises, for commercial nuclear power reactors and Category I fuel cycle facilities for calendar year 2015.

In 2015, the NRC conducted 242 security inspections at commercial nuclear power plants and Category I fuel cycle facilities.  Those included 22 force-on-force inspections, involving simulated attacks on the facilities to test the effectiveness of a licensee’s security.  The NRC’s security program and publicly available results of the inspections are discussed in the report.

A copy of the report can be found at www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1608/ML16081A367.pdf.  For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Four New Members Named to Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards

In late June 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has appointed four new members to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) for four-year terms effective June 12, 2016.

  • The ACRS—which is comprised of 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 issues of health physics and radiation protection.

The new ACRS members include:

  •   Margaret Sze-Tai Chu: 
 Chu is a consultant to international and domestic clients on nuclear waste management, nuclear fuel cycle analysis, nonproliferation technologies and nuclear materials management.  She has more than 30 years of experience working on issues related to the nuclear fuel cycle, with an emphasis on risk assessment and performance assessment as applied to nuclear waste management.  Chu was Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management from 2002 to 2005.  Before that, she had a long career with Sandia National Laboratory that included directing the lab’s Nuclear Waste Management Center and acting as Senior Manager of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) program at Sandia. 
Chu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Purdue University and a Doctorate in Physical Chemistry from the University of Minnesota.  She serves on the DOE Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and the National Academies’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board.  Chu is the second woman to serve on the ACRS, and this marks the first time two women have served on the committee simultaneously.

 

  •   Walter Kirchner:  Kirchner retired in June 2015 from the Argonne National Laboratory.  While at Argonne, he served as an Institutional Liaison Manager following, analyzing, and advising Argonne’s leaders on science and technology policy and programmatic developments in the DOE, other federal agencies and Congress.  He began his career as a Reactor Operator/Engineering Officer on the N.S. Savannah before joining the staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  During his 29 years at LANL, he held division and group leader line management positions in construction project management, defense programs, nuclear reactor design and safety projects, and applied energy research and development activities.  Kirchner’s technical expertise is in nuclear reactor design, thermal-hydraulics and nuclear reactor safety.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

  •   Jose March-Leuba:  March-Leuba is the Principal of MRU, which specializes on measurements, regulatory and uncertainty analysis, and an Associate Professor in the Nuclear Engineering Department of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  He began his career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he did research into noise analysis and dynamic modeling, as well as running tests to determine the stability of commercial boiling water reactors.  He also developed and installed instrumentation in Russian facilities to monitor the down-blending of highly enriched uranium.  During his 37-year career as a Nuclear Engineer, March-Leuba developed expertise in reactor thermal hydraulics and dynamics, reactor instrumentation and control and protection systems, software development and testing, and instrumentation development for international safeguards.  March-Leuba has a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

 

  •   Matthew Sunseri:  Sunseri is an Independent Nuclear Industry Consultant with more than 35 years of experience in the safe operation of large commercial reactors.  Prior to starting his own executive consulting practice, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation.  Sunseri has a wide range of experience in the operation, maintenance, engineering, oversight and security of the nation’s commercial nuclear power fleet.  He started his career as a Nuclear Engineer assigned to the construction, licensing, startup and operation of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.  Sunseri earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University and is a graduate of the Advanced General Management Program at Northwestern University and the Directors Institute at Emory University.

All member biographies are available on the NRC web site at www.nrc.gov.

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

License Transfer Approved for La Crosse Nuclear Plant

On May 24, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has approved the transfer of the license for the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor from the Dairyland Power Cooperative to LaCrosseSolutions.

The La Crosse plant—which is located in Genoa, Wisconsin—has been shut down since 1987.  At that time, the NRC modified the original operating license to a possession-only license for the purpose of storage of nuclear materials and waste and decommissioning activities.

On October 8, 2015, Dairyland submitted an application to the NRC requesting transfer of the license to LaCrosseSolutions, which is a subsidiary of EnergySolutions.  The license transfer would allow LaCrosseSolutions to expedite decommissioning activities on the site.

Under the terms of the transfer, Dairyland will remain the owner of the site and retain title to and responsibility for the spent nuclear fuel, which is currently stored in dry casks on the site. LaCrosseSolutions will lease the above-ground structures (other than the spent fuel storage site) and assume responsibility for decommissioning under NRC requirements.

EnergySolutions entered into a similar arrangement as that being done for the La Crosse nuclear power plant when it began to decommission the shuttered Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois in 2010.

The NRC’s order approving the transfer and its safety evaluation of the transfer are available in the NRC’s ADAMS document database at ML16123A049.

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

Public Meeting Held re Performance of Monticello Nuclear Power Plant

On May 26, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting to discuss the agency’s annual review of safety performance of the Monticello nuclear power plant.  Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota operates the plant.  It is located in Monticello, Minnesota—approximately 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

The NRC’s performance action matrix reflects overall plant performance and agency response.  There are five columns in the matrix with Column 1 requiring a baseline level of inspection.  A move up to another column results in an increased level of NRC oversight and inspections.  Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance.

Overall, the Monticello facility operated safely last year.  All performance indicators were “green” or low safety significance.  A security finding was issued at the end of 2014.  This finding, in addition to a previously identified yellow finding, would have resulted in a move to Column 4 and a significant increase in inspection.  However, the NRC determined the plant’s performance did not warrant this move and issued a deviation memo to the plant that placed it in Column 2.

The deviation memo noted that human performance issues continued to occur and needed to be addressed.  As a result, the plant committed to perform an independent safety culture assessment with a focus on human performance.  The deviation will remain open until the NRC completes its assessment of the plant’s safety culture evaluation.

The plant moved to Column 1 by the end of 2015.  While the details on the security finding are not publically available, the plant corrected the issue and the NRC conducted a follow-up inspection to verify the plant’s actions.

Monticello will also continue to receive the detailed routine inspections conducted at all nuclear power plants.  Routine inspections are performed by two NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant and by inspection specialists from the Region III Office in Lisle and the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or at Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Open House Held re Assessment of Point Beach Nuclear Plant

On May 25, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public open house to discuss the agency’s annual review of safety performance of the Point Beach nuclear plant.  The two-unit plant is operated by NextEra Energy Point Beach LLC and is located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin—approximately 13 miles northeast of Manitowoc.

Overall, NRC found that the Point Beach facility operated safely in 2015.  All performance indicators and inspection findings for both units were “green” or low safety significance.  The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess nuclear plant performance.  The colors start with “green” and then increase to “white,” “yellow,” or “red,” commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved.  Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance.

This year, Point Beach Unit 1 and 2 will continue to receive the detailed routine inspections conducted at all nuclear power plants.  Routine inspections are performed by two NRC resident inspectors assigned to the plant and by inspection specialists from the Region III Office and the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  Among the areas of performance to be inspected this year are radiological safety, fire protection and emergency preparedness.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Open House Held re Performance of Prairie Island Nuclear Plant

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held an open house in Red Wing, Minnesota to discuss the agency’s annual assessment of safety performance for Prairie Island.  Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota operates the two-unit plant.  It is located in Welch, Minnesota—approximately 28 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

The NRC determined that the Prairie Island facility operated safely in 2015.  All performance indicators and inspection findings for Unit 1 were green or low safety significance and the unit remained in Column 1 of the action matrix throughout the year.  Unit 2, which was in Column 1 for the first three quarters of 2015, moved to Column 2 during the last quarter due to one white performance indicator of low to moderate significance in the area of unplanned scrams.  This performance indicator tracks the number of times the plant shut down unexpectedly during a specific period when the plant was operating at full power.

The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess nuclear plant performance.  The colors start with green and then increase to white, yellow, or red, reflecting the safety significance of the issues involved.  Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance.  The NRC’s action matrix reflects overall plant performance and agency response.  There are five columns in the matrix with Column 1 requiring a baseline level of inspections.  A move to the other columns results in an increased level of NRC oversight and inspections.

The NRC will conduct a supplemental inspection at Unit 2 to determine if the plant had understood the cause of the white performance indicator and taken sufficient corrective actions to prevent recurrence.  Unit 1 will continue to receive the NRC’s normal level of oversight during 2016.

Inspections are performed by two NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant, inspection specialists from the Region III Office, and specialists from the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  Among the areas of performance to be inspected this year by NRC inspectors are radiological safety, spent fuel storage, and the plant’s ability to identify and resolve problems.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Final Supplement Issued for
 Yucca Mountain EIS

In early May 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published the staff’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) supplement on a proposed permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  The supplement analyzes potential impacts on groundwater and surface groundwater discharges and determines all impacts would be “small.”

Overview

The May 2016 NRC document that supplements Environmental Impact Statements that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prepared on the proposed repository.  DOE issued the final EIS in 2002, then supplemented it in June 2008 when it submitted a construction authorization application to the NRC.

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the NRC is to adopt DOE’s EIS to the extent practicable.  In September 2008, NRC staff recommended adoption of DOE’s Environmental Impact Statements, but noted the need to supplement the study of groundwater effects in the Yucca Mountain aquifer beyond DOE’s analyzed location at the site boundary.  DOE ultimately deferred to the NRC to prepare the supplement.

Background

In August 2015, NRC published a draft of the supplement for public comment.  (See LLW Notes, July/August 2016, pp. 28-29.)  During the 91-day comment period, NRC staff conducted public meetings to present the report and receive comments in Rockville, Maryland and in Las Vegas and Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

The NRC received more than 1,200 comments on the draft supplement, including comment letters and oral comments.  The NRC staff’s responses to these comments, and descriptions of changes made to the final report in response to comments, can be found in Appendix B of the supplement.

The supplement to the Yucca Mountain EIS is available on the NRC’s website at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2184/.

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

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.

WCS Files License Application to Operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for Used Nuclear Fuel

On April 28, 2016, Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) announced that it has submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel.  “The application is being led by WCS,” states the company’s press release, “along with its partners AREVA and NAC International, both global industry leaders in the transportation and storage of used nuclear fuel.”

WCS submitted the application after a year of pre-application meetings with NRC and in accordance with a timeline that the company outlined in February 2015.  According to WCS, a CISF could be completed as early as 2021.

Overview

The WCS application proposes an initial 40-year storage license for 40,000 metric tons of heavy metal (MTHM) to be built in eight phases.  Each of the eight storage systems would be able to accommodate 5,000 MTHM for an eventual capacity of 40,000 MTHM.  The proposal includes opportunities for 20-year renewals after the initial license period.

According to WCS, Phase 1 of the CISF will require approximately 155 acres, plus an additional 12 acres for administrative and parking facilities.  The entire site through Phase 8 will require approximately 332 acres, which WCS notes is less than 2.5 percent of the company’s site-wide acreage.

As proposed, the primary operations performed at the WCS site would be transferring the sealed canisters of used fuel from a transportation cask into an engineered interim fuel storage system, where it would be monitored until its departure to an offsite permanent disposal location.

“Consolidated interim storage would provide system-wide benefits and flexibilities to strengthen the U.S. Used Nuclear Fuel Management Program and help advance a permanent geologic disposal program,” said Rod Baltzer, President and CEO of WCS.  “It creates a robust opportunity to develop and deploy the repackaging technology to prepare the used nuclear fuel currently in dry storage for final offsite disposal in a geologic repository.”

According to WCS’ press release, other benefits of consolidated interim storage include the opportunity to reduce the risk of further degradation of on-site infrastructure at permanently shut down reactor sites and to address public concerns about transportation by demonstrating successful transport of this material.

Another chief benefit of an accelerated schedule for moving fuel away from shutdown sites, states WCS, is to reduce the liability to taxpayers for the federal government’s failure to meet its contractual obligations to dispose of this material.

Background

Various lawsuits have been filed that allege that the federal government has failed to meet its statutory obligation to take title to used nuclear fuel by 1998.  The government has estimated that its liability will total $13 billion by 2020 and may increase by approximately $500 million per year if a solution is not found by 2022.

The Nuclear Waste Fund’s 2015 Audit Statement found the net value of the fund to be $37.4 billion.  Expenditures over the past five years have been approximately $4 billion.

WCS operates a privately owned facility in Andrews County, Texas that has been licensed to treat, store and dispose of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste.  WCS is a subsidiary of Valhi, Inc.—a company that is engaged in the titanium dioxide pigments, component products (security products and high performance marine components), waste management, and real estate management and development industries.

NRC Releases Results of Byproduct Material Financial Scoping Study

On April 27, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released SECY-16-0046, Results of the Byproduct Material Financial Scoping Study.  The purpose of SECY-16-0046 is to provide the Commission with the results of the staff’s byproduct material financial scoping study and recommendations for next steps.

In SECY-16-0046, NRC staff recommends that the financial assurance requirements in 10 CFR 30.35 should be expanded to include all byproduct material Category 1 and 2 radioactive sealed sources that are tracked in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS).  In making this recommendation, staff notes as follows:

The thresholds in 10 CFR 30.35 that require financial assurance for sealed radioactive material are seven orders of magnitude higher than for unsealed material.  As a result, many licensees that possess byproduct material Radioactive Sealed Sources (RSS), including many Category 1 and 2 RSSs, are not required to provide financial assurance for decommissioning.  If financial assurance is required, it is intended to support site decommissioning, not necessarily the disposition of an individual RSS that has become disused or unwanted.  Adequacy of financial planning for disposition of disused RSSs has been raised in a number of external reports issued over the past decade.

SECY-16-0046 further states that, per recent Commission direction, the staff plans to develop a rulemaking plan SECY paper to propose initiating rulemaking, which will also include a discussion of other regulatory options.  The staff plans to provide the SECY paper to the Commission in the fourth quarter of FY 2016.

NRC also released an accompanying document titled, Financial Planning for Radioactive Byproduct Material—Scoping Report, that provides background information; reviews key reports and recommendations; analyzes technical considerations; discusses decommissioning financial assurance requirements and funding plans; considers financial assurance methods and funding mechanisms, disposition paths other than disposal, and establishing funding requirements for disposition; reviews life-cycle issues, orphan sources, timeliness in declaring and dispositioning disused sources, and tracking; considers applicability to General Licenses, compatibility with Agreement State requirements, and security considerations; provides an overview of disposal access, DOE/NNSA source recovery and disposal programs, and transportation considerations; and, so forth.

SECY-16-0046 may be found on the NRC’s web site at www.nrc.gov under Accession Number ML16068A202.  Enclosure 1 may be found on the web site under Accession Number ML16068A205.

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.

NRC Hosts Public Meeting re Post-Fukushima Screening of “Other External Hazards” at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

On April 5, 2016, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff met with the public to discuss and solicit comments regarding the results of the staff’s preliminary screening of natural events other than earthquakes and flooding (ADAMS Accession No. ML16039A054).  This screening is part of the agency’s efforts to learn from the issues raised by the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

During the meeting, NRC staff described the process used to screen natural events other than seismic and flooding events.  The results of that screening will identify which hazards (e.g., extreme drought, heavy snow loads, tornadoes and hurricanes) should be evaluated further to determine if additional regulatory action is needed.

Comments on the assessment can be e-mailed to JLD_Public.Resource@nrc.gov by April 12, 2016.  NRC staff will consider, to the extent possible, comments received after that date.

The final results of the staff’s screening will be provided to the NRC Commission by the end of May 2016.  The staff’s final assessment (including a determination of whether additional regulatory action is needed) will be provided by the end of the year.

NRC’s White Paper titled, “NRC Staff Assessment of Fukushima Tier 2 Recommendations Related to Evaluation of Natural Hazards Other Than Seismic and Flooding,” can be found at http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ml1603/ML16039A054.pdf.

To view the agenda for the meeting, go to http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ml1608/ML16084A538.pdf.

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

NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants

On March 4, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has issued letters to the nation’s 99 commercial operating nuclear plants about their performance in 2015.  All but three plants were in the two highest performance categories.

“These assessment letters are the result of a holistic review of operating performance at each domestic power reactor facility,” said Bill Dean, Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.  “In addition to ensuring that the nation’s nuclear power plants are safe by inspecting them, the NRC continuously assesses performance.  The purpose of these assessment letters is to ensure that all of our stakeholders clearly understand the basis for our assessments of plant performance and the actions we are taking to address any identified performance deficiencies.”

Later this year, the NRC will host a public meeting or other event in the vicinity of each plant to discuss the details of the annual assessment results.  A separate announcement will be issued for each meeting.

Overview

Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 85 fully met all safety and security performance objectives.  The NRC used the normal “baseline” inspection program to inspect these reactors.

Eleven reactors need to resolve one or two items of low safety significance.  For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspections and follow-up of corrective actions.  Plants in this level include:

  •   Clinton (Illinois);
  •   Davis Besse (Ohio);
  •   Dresden 2 (Illinois);
  •   Duane Arnold (Iowa);
  •   Indian Point 3 (New York);
  •   Millstone 3 (Connecticut);
  •   Prairie Island 2 (Minnesota);
  •   River Bend (Louisiana);
  •   Sequoyah 1 (Tennessee); and,
  •   Susquehanna 1 and 2 (Pennsylvania).

NRC reports that Duane Arnold, Millstone 3, and Susquehanna 1 and 2 have resolved their issues since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.

There were no reactors in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance.

There were three reactors in the fourth performance category.  Arkansas Nuclear One 1 and 2 (Arkansas) require increased oversight because of two safety findings of substantial significance.  Pilgrim (Massachusetts) is in the fourth performance category because of long-standing issues of low- to-moderate safety significance.  NRC states that reactors in this category receive additional inspections and increased agency management attention to confirm performance issues are being addressed.

Background

The NRC routinely updates information on each plant’s current performance and posts the latest information as it becomes available to the action matrix summary. The annual assessment letters sent to each operating reactor are also available through the NRC’s webpage on the Reactor Oversight Process.

Annual construction oversight assessments for new reactors at the Vogtle and Summer sites are available on the NRC website.  The assessment letter for Watts Bar 2, which received its operating license in October 2015, is also available.

Every six months each plant receives either a mid-cycle or annual assessment letter along with an NRC inspection plan.

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 Conducts Special Inspection at Perry Nuclear Plant

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency launched a Special Inspection into two recent events at the Perry nuclear power plant. According to NRC, neither event affected public health or safety at the plant.

The Perry nuclear power plant is operated by FirstEnergy Operating Co. and is located in Perry, Ohio—approximately 35 miles northeast of Cleveland.

Background

On February 8, 2016, operators at the Perry nuclear power plant manually shut down the reactor when they observed an increase of the temperature in the suppression pool.  The suppression pool is designed to condense steam and is also a water source for emergency cooling systems.

On February 11, 2016, while the reactor was shutdown, there was a temporary loss of power to certain plant cooling equipment.  Operators were able to use a redundant system and restore power to the cooling systems.

Inspection

“Even though the two events are not related, we have questions related to the response of the equipment and operator actions,” said NRC Region III Administrator Cynthia Pederson.  “Our team of specialists in reactor operations and electrical equipment will review the technical details to better understand what happened.”

On February 29, 2016, the four-member inspection team began work and will spend time both on and off site conducting their reviews.  After the inspection, a report documenting the team’s findings will be made publicly available.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Ohio Scrap Metal Facilities Receive Shipments Containing LLRW

By press release dated February 24, 2016, the Ohio Department of Health (DOH) announced that “[s]crap metal facilities in Canton, Mansfield and Massillon received shipments containing low-levels of radiation.” The Ohio DOH release stated that the exact source of the radiation that contaminated the scrap metal is being investigated. “The contaminated scrap metal is securely contained and does not pose a health risk to the facilities’ employees or the general public,” states the Ohio DOH release.

The following day, on February 25, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) put out a press release stating that it was notified on February 23 “that recycle scrap contaminated with radioactive material was shipped from a PSC Metals, Inc. facility in Beaver Falls, PA, to two facilities in Ohio.” According to the Pennsylvania DEP release, “[a] radium-226 source of unknown origin was accidentally shredded with other materials, then shipped to processing facilities in Ohio.”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been notified of the incident. PCS Metals has hired a licensed decontamination provider to develop a plan for cleanup at the Beaver Falls scrap yard and the Ohio sites, as well as for safe disposal of the contaminated scrap metal.

Ohio DOH radiation protection staff was on-site at all three facilities to conduct radiation testing and to ensure planning for the safe disposal of the contaminated scrap metal. According to the Ohio DOH release, radiation surveys of contaminated scrap metal:

  •   delivered to PCS Metals, Inc. in Canton showed a highest reading of 70 microrem per hour, which is equivalent to less than one-tenth of the radiation dose from a chest x-ray; and,
  •   delivered to PCS Metals, Inc. in Massillon showed a highest reading of 25 millirem per hour, which is equivalent to the radiation dose from two-and-a-half chest x-rays within one hour.

The Ohio DOH release states that contaminated scrap metal delivered to Tube City, Inc. in Mansfield was not unloaded and instead redirected to PCS Metals’ Canton facility. Surveys of employee clothing, locker areas and break rooms at both PCS Metals locations did not show any radiation contamination.

A team from Pennsylvania DEP’s Radiation Protection Program took extensive readings at the Beaver Falls scrapyard. “Elevated readings were found on one large metal shredder and on gloves used by two workers,” states the Pennsylvania DEP release. “DEP is performing additional testing to ensure that there was no skin contamination. Radium-226 can be harmful if ingested.”

The Pennsylvania DEP release goes on to state that preliminary tests on the workers who operated the Beaver Falls machine showed no contamination, but that results are still pending. The Pennsylvania DEP release further states that the shredder has been isolated and that there is no indication that there is any contamination at the site, nor outside the scrapyard property.

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.”

Web Page Created on Increased Oversight of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant

In mid-February 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission established a web page on the agency’s website containing information about the agency’s increased oversight of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Among the items on the web page are background information, schedules, and NRC correspondence related to the increased oversight, inspection reports and other key documents. As the oversight process moves forward, newly released documents will be added to the page.

In mid-October 2015, Entergy Corporation announced plans to shut down Pilgrim by June 1, 2019. Entergy Corporation, which is one of the largest energy companies in the United States, cited economic factors in making the decision to close the plant.

In September 2015, the NRC announced that Pilgrim had moved to Column 4 of the Action Matrix used to determine the level and types of inspections to be performed at any given plant. Pilgrim—which is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts—made that transition after an inspection finding designated as “White,” or of low to moderate safety significance, was finalized for the facility.

The finding overlapped with two earlier findings that were also of low to moderate safety significance, resulting in an NRC determination that the plant should be in Column 4, also known as the Multiple/Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column, and therefore subject to additional oversight.

The web page can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactors/pilg/special-oversight.html. For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.

NRC Proposes FY 2017 Budget to Congress

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has proposed a $970.2 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget to the U.S. Congress to regulate the nation’s nuclear power plants and radioactive materials users. The proposed budget for the Office of the Inspector General is an additional $12.1 million.

As proposed, the FY 2017 budget represents a decrease of nearly $20 million from FY 2016’s spending levels. The decreased budget proposal continues a steady decline in both spending and staffing. The agency’s budget is down eight percent since 2014.

The FY 2017 budget breakout includes $757.4 million for nuclear reactor safety and
$212.8 million for nuclear materials and waste safety and will allow the agency to continue to uphold its important safety and security mission. The budget also includes resources to continue implementation of lessons-learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident, the review of applications for medical isotope productions facilities, and the oversight of four new reactors that are under construction.

Project Aim, the NRC’s transformation effort, will ensure the agency has the right resource levels and workforce staffing to conduct its future work. The goal is to improve the NRC’s effectiveness, efficiency and agility. The FY 2017 budget incorporates some Project Aim recommendations and the Commission is considering a variety of other further potential efficiencies from the effort.

The amount requested for the Inspector General totals $12.1 million. That independent office conducts audits and investigations to ensure the efficiency and integrity of NRC programs, and promote cost-effective management. The OIG’s budget also includes funding to provide auditing and investigation services for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The budget briefing slides and the Congressional Budget Justification are available on the NRC web site at www.nrc.gov. A limited number of hard copies of the report will be available from opa.resource@nrc.gov.

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

Registration Opens for NRC’s 2016 Regulatory Information Conference

Registration is now open for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) 28th annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC). The conference is being held from March 8-10, 2016 at the Bethesda North Marriott located at 5701 Marinelli Road in Bethesda, Maryland. The NRC’s offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and Nuclear Regulatory Research jointly host the RIC. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Approximately 3,000 people are expected to attend the RIC including industry executives, representatives from state governments, non-governmental organizations, individual community members, and representatives from dozens of foreign countries. The conference is an opportunity for attendees to discuss issues related to the safety and security of commercial nuclear facilities and current regulatory activities.

The program features NRC Chair Stephen Burns as the keynote speaker. Additional program highlights include plenary sessions with Commissioners Kristine Svinicki, William Ostendorff and Jeff Baran. NRC’s Executive Director for Operations, Victor McCree, will give remarks. Bill Dean, Director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, will give welcome and introductory remarks.

Highlights of this year’s RIC include two sessions titled, “25 Years of NRC’s Principles of Good Regulation” and “Project Aim: Accomplishments and Next Steps.” Other technical sessions will address significant domestic and international issues such as cyber-security, subsequent license renewal, advanced and small modular reactors, spent fuel research activities and the reactor oversight process.

The conference agenda and online registration links are now available on the NRC web site at www.nrc.gov. The deadline for online registration is February 23, 2016. Early registration is encouraged; however, onsite registration will also be available during the conference.

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

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.

LLW Forum Sponsors Panel for Waste Management 2016 Conference

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum, Inc. (LLW Forum) has organized a panel for the Waste Management 2016 Conference titled, Hot Topics and Emerging Issues in US Commercial Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management. Panel 16 will focus on emerging issues in commercial low-level radioactive waste management in the United States from the perspective of representatives of the LLW Forum. State, federal and industry officials will share their views on a variety of timely and significant topics including:

  •   the proposal to license a disposal cell for Greater-than-Class C (GTCC), GTCC-like and Transuranic waste through means other than deep geologic disposal at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Texas—Charles Maguire, Director of the Radioactive Materials Division at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ);
  •   an initiative to develop implementation guidance for the Branch Technical Position on Concentration Averaging and Encapsulation (CA BTP)— Lisa Edwards, Senior Program Manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI);
  •   status of the proposed rule to amend 10 CFR Part 61, Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste— Gregory Suber, Chief of the Low-Level Waste Branch at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC);
  •   the depleted uranium performance assessment, license and permit updates, and current waste disposal volumes and types at the Clive facility in Utah— Dan Shrum, Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Compliance at EnergySolutions; and,
  •   broker and processor perspectives on the management and disposition of disused sources— John McCormick, Vice-President at Bionomics, Inc.

The Waste Management 2016 Conference will be held at the convention center in Phoenix, Arizona from March 6-10, 2016. The LLW Forum-sponsored Panel 16 is scheduled to be held in Room 103AB from 1:30 – 3:10 p.m. on Monday afternoon—March 7, 2016.

As a reminder, registration rates for the Waste Management 2016 Conference are scheduled to increase on February 7, 2016.

Additional information on the Waste Management 2016 Conference can be found at www.wmsym.org or by contacting the Waste Management office at (480) 557-0263.

Workshop Scheduled for February 2-4, 2016 re Using Robotic Technologies at Nuclear Power Plants

From February 2-4, 2016, the International Workshop on the Use of Robotic Technologies at Nuclear Facilities will be held in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in conjunction with its U.S. and foreign counterparts is sponsoring the workshop, which will include the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency; the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE/OEM); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Office of Standards; the United Kingdom’s Atomic Energy Authority; and, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The American Nuclear Society (ANS), ASTM International and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society are also collaborating on the workshop.

The workshop is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on February 2, 2016 at the Green Auditorium on the NIST campus at
100 Bureau Drive in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Interested stakeholders must register to attend the meeting and pay the associated $71.00 registration fee.

The workshop will cover existing and potential future uses of robotic technologies in safety applications and activities at nuclear facilities. The workshop will examine topics including how robots can evaluate plant systems; how robots can locate and recover radioactive material; and, how non- nuclear applications can be adapted to nuclear situations. The workshop will include discussion of lessons learned from historic nuclear applications and experiences (e.g., Three Mile Island, Sellafield, and Fukushima Daiichi); ongoing research; and, other relevant applications (e.g., NASA’s Martian rovers).

For additional information, please contact Scott Burnell of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415-8200.

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.

NRC Update on Common Prioritization and Re-Baselining (Project AIM)

On January 14, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will hold a public meeting and teleconference to provide an update on Common Prioritization and Re-Baselining of NRC Activities (Project AIM Initiative) since the September 1, 2015 public meeting to solicit input from stakeholders on the agency’s work. This input assisted the agency in evaluating what activities can be shed (stopped), performed with fewer resources, or performed with a different priority, while still fulfilling its regulatory mission in a manner consistent with the NRC’s Principles of Good Regulation and its Organizational Values.

The meeting is scheduled from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. in Room 01C05 of NRC Three White Flint North at 11601 Landsdown Street in Rockville, Maryland. Interested stakeholders that are unable to attend the meeting in person may participate via teleconference by calling 1-888-972-9342 and entering pass code 6813340.

The agenda for the meeting will include welcome and introductory remarks; overview of comments received; activities completed and in progress; next steps; public questions and answers; summary and closing comments; and, adjournment. NRC’s Office of the Executive Director for Operations will participate in the meeting.

For additional information, please contact Rani Franovich at (301) 287-3533 or at rani.franovich@nrc.gov or Gina Davis at (301) 415-5776 or at gina.davis@nrc.gov.

For additional information, please go to http://meetings.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20151893.