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Energy Northwest; Notice of Consideration of Issuance of Amendment to Facility Operating License, Proposed No Significant Hazards Consideration Determination, and Opportunity for a Hearing

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the Commission) is considering issuance of an amendment to Facility Operating License No. NPF-21 issued to Energy Northwest (the licensee) for operation of the Columbia Generating Station located in Benton County, Washington.

The proposed amendment was originally submitted on February 20, 2001, and published in the Federal Start Printed Page 19802Register on March 21, 2001 (66 FR 15919). The revised amendment request dated April 6, 2001, completely replaces the original application submitted on February 20, 2001, and removes the restriction associated with the following Columbia Generating Station Surveillance Requirements (SRs) that prohibits performing the required testing during Modes 1 and 2.

1. SR 3.8.1.9: This SR requires demonstrating that the diesel (DG) can reject its single largest load without the DG output frequency exceeding a specific limit.

2. SR 3.8.1.10: This SR requires demonstrating that the DG can reject its full load without the DG output voltage exceeding a specific limit.

3. SR 3.8.1.14: This SR requires starting and then running the DG continuously at or near full-load capability for greater than or equal to 24 hours.

The proposed change also removes the restriction associated with the following SRs that prohibits performing the required testing during Modes 1, 2, and 3.

1. SR 3.8.1.13: This SR requires demonstrating that the DG non-emergency (non-critical) automatic trips are bypassed on an actual or simulated emergency core cooling system (ECCS) initiation signal.

2. SR 3.8.1.17: This SR requires demonstrating that the DG automatic switchover from the test mode to ready-to-load operation is attained upon receipt of an ECCS initiation signal (while maintaining availability of the offsite source).

The proposed change also allows the performance of SR 3.8.1.14 to satisfy SR 3.8.1.3 by adding Note 5 to SR 3.8.1.3. Note 5 allows SR 3.8.1.14 to be performed in lieu of SR 3.8.1.3 provided the requirements, except the upper loading limits, of SR 3.8.1.3 are met.

Before issuance of the proposed license amendment, the Commission will have made findings required by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (the Act) and the Commission's regulations.

The Commission has made a proposed determination that the amendment request involves no significant hazards consideration. Under the Commission's regulations in 10 CFR 50.92, this means that operation of the facility in accordance with the proposed amendment would not (1) involve a significant increase in the probability or consequences of an accident previously evaluated; or (2) create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated; or (3) involve a significant reduction in a margin of safety. As required by 10 CFR 50.91(a), the licensee has provided its analysis of the issue of no significant hazards consideration, which is presented below:

1. The proposed change does not involve a significant increase in the probability or consequences of an accident previously evaluated.

The DGs and their associated emergency loads are accident mitigating features, not accident initiating equipment. Therefore, there will be no significant impact on any accident probabilities by the approval of the requested amendment.

The design of plant equipment is not being modified by these proposed changes. As such, the ability of the DGs to respond to a design basis accident will not be adversely impacted by these proposed changes. The proposed changes do not result in a plant configuration change for performance of the additional testing different from that currently allowed by the Technical Specifications. In addition, experience and further evaluation of the probability of a DG being rendered inoperable concurrent with or due to a significant grid disturbance support the conclusion that the proposed changes do not involve any significant increase in the likelihood of a loss of safety bus. Therefore, there would be no significant impact on any accident consequences.

Based on the above, the proposed change to permit certain DG surveillance tests to be performed during plant operation will not involve a significant increase of accident probabilities or consequences.

2. The proposed change does not create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated.

No new accidents would be created since no changes are being made to the plant that would introduce any new accident causal mechanisms. Equipment will be operated in the same configuration currently allowed by other DG SRs that allow testing in plant Modes 1, 2, and 3. An interaction between the DG under test and the offsite power system that could lead to a consequential loss of safety bus during a grid disturbance is not deemed to be credible. This amendment request does not impact any plant systems that are accident initiators; neither does it adversely impact any accident mitigating systems.

Based on the above, implementation of the proposed changes will not create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated.

3. The proposed change does not involve a significant reduction in a margin of safety.

Margin of safety is related to the confidence in the ability of the fission product barriers to perform their design functions during and following an accident. These barriers include the fuel cladding, the reactor coolant system, and the containment system. The proposed changes to the testing requirements for the plant DGs do not affect the operability requirements for the DGs, as verification of such operability will continue to be performed as required (except during different allowed Modes). Continued verification of operability supports the capability of the DGs to perform their required function of providing emergency power to plant equipment that supports or constitutes the fission product barriers. Consequently, the performance of these fission product barriers will not be impacted by implementation of this proposed amendment.

In addition, the proposed changes involve no changes to setpoints or limits established or assumed by the accident analysis. On this and the above basis, no safety margins will be impacted. Therefore, implementation of the proposed changes would not involve a significant reduction in a margin of safety.

The NRC staff has reviewed the licensee's analysis and, based on this review, it appears that the three standards of 10 CFR 50.92(c) are satisfied. Therefore, the NRC staff proposes to determine that the amendment request involves no significant hazards consideration.

The Commission is seeking public comments on this proposed determination. Any comments received within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice will be considered in making any final determination.

Normally, the Commission will not issue the amendment until the expiration of the 30-day notice period. However, should circumstances change during the notice period such that failure to act in a timely way would result, for example, in derating or shutdown of the facility, the Commission may issue the license amendment before the expiration of the 30-day notice period, provided that its final determination is that the amendment involves no significant hazards consideration. The final determination will consider all public and State comments received. Should the Commission take this action, it will publish in the Federal Register a notice of issuance and provide for opportunity for a hearing after issuance. The Commission expects that the need to take this action will occur very infrequently.

Written comments may be submitted by mail to the Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and should cite the publication date and page number of this Federal Register notice. Written comments may also be delivered to Room 6D59, Two White Flint North, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays. Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's Public Start Printed Page 19803Document Room, located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland.

The filing of requests for hearing and petitions for leave to intervene is discussed below.

By May 17, 2001, the licensee may file a request for a hearing with respect to issuance of the amendment to the subject facility operating license and any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding and who wishes to participate as a party in the proceeding must file a written request for a hearing and a petition for leave to intervene. Requests for a hearing and a petition for leave to intervene shall be filed in accordance with the Commission's “Rules of Practice for Domestic Licensing Proceedings” in 10 CFR Part 2. Interested persons should consult a current copy of 10 CFR 2.714 which is available at the Commission's Public Document Room, located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, and accessible electronically through the ADAMS Public Electronic Reading Room link at the NRC Web site (http://www.nrc.gov). If a request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene is filed by the above date, the Commission or an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, designated by the Commission or by the Chairman of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, will rule on the request and/or petition; and the Secretary or the designated Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will issue a notice of hearing or an appropriate order.

As required by 10 CFR 2.714, a petition for leave to intervene shall set forth with particularity the interest of the petitioner in the proceeding, and how that interest may be affected by the results of the proceeding. The petition should specifically explain the reasons why intervention should be permitted with particular reference to the following factors: (1) The nature of the petitioner's right under the Act to be made party to the proceeding; (2) the nature and extent of the petitioner's property, financial, or other interest in the proceeding; and (3) the possible effect of any order which may be entered in the proceeding on the petitioner's interest. The petition should also identify the specific aspect(s) of the subject matter of the proceeding as to which petitioner wishes to intervene. Any person who has filed a petition for leave to intervene or who has been admitted as a party may amend the petition without requesting leave of the Board up to 15 days prior to the first prehearing conference scheduled in the proceeding, but such an amended petition must satisfy the specificity requirements described above.

Not later than 15 days prior to the first prehearing conference scheduled in the proceeding, a petitioner shall file a supplement to the petition to intervene which must include a list of the contentions which are sought to be litigated in the matter. Each contention must consist of a specific statement of the issue of law or fact to be raised or controverted. In addition, the petitioner shall provide a brief explanation of the bases of the contention and a concise statement of the alleged facts or expert opinion which support the contention and on which the petitioner intends to rely in proving the contention at the hearing. The petitioner must also provide references to those specific sources and documents of which the petitioner is aware and on which the petitioner intends to rely to establish those facts or expert opinion. Petitioner must provide sufficient information to show that a genuine dispute exists with the applicant on a material issue of law or fact. Contentions shall be limited to matters within the scope of the amendment under consideration. The contention must be one which, if proven, would entitle the petitioner to relief. A petitioner who fails to file such a supplement which satisfies these requirements with respect to at least one contention will not be permitted to participate as a party.

Those permitted to intervene become parties to the proceeding, subject to any limitations in the order granting leave to intervene, and have the opportunity to participate fully in the conduct of the hearing, including the opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

If a hearing is requested, the Commission will make a final determination on the issue of no significant hazards consideration. The final determination will serve to decide when the hearing is held.

If the final determination is that the amendment request involves no significant hazards consideration, the Commission may issue the amendment and make it immediately effective, notwithstanding the request for a hearing. Any hearing held would take place after issuance of the amendment.

If the final determination is that the amendment request involves a significant hazards consideration, any hearing held would take place before the issuance of any amendment.

A request for a hearing or a petition for leave to intervene must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, or may be delivered to the Commission's Public Document Room, located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, by the above date. A copy of the petition should also be sent to the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and to Thomas C. Poindexter, Esq., Winston & Strawn, 1400 L Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-3502, attorney for the licensee.

Nontimely filings of petitions for leave to intervene, amended petitions, supplemental petitions and/or requests for hearing will not be entertained absent a determination by the Commission, the presiding officer or the presiding Atomic Safety and Licensing Board that the petition and/or request should be granted based upon a balancing of the factors specified in 10 CFR 2.714(a)(1)(i)-(v) and 2.714(d).

For further details with respect to this action, see the application for amendment dated April 6, 2001, which is available for public inspection at the Commission's Public Document Room, located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, and accessible electronically through the ADAMS Public Electronic Reading Room link at the NRC Web site (http://www.nrc.gov).

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 11th day of April 2001.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Jack Donohew,

Project Manager, Section 2, Project Directorate IV & Decommissioning Division of Licensing Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

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[FR Doc. 01-9475 Filed 4-16-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7590-01-P