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Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Inc. (Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Unit Nos. 1 and 2); Exemption

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I

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Inc. (CCNPPI or the licensee) is the holder of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-53 and DPR-69, which authorizes operation of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (CCNPP), Unit Nos. 1 and 2 at power levels not to exceed 2700 megawatts thermal. The facility consists of two pressurized-water reactors located at the licensee's site in Calvert County, Maryland. The license provides, among other things, that the licensee is subject to all rules, regulations, and orders of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, the Commission) now or hereafter in effect.

II

Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), part 50, Appendix E, section IV.F.2.b requires each licensee at each site to conduct an exercise of its onsite emergency plan every 2 years and indicates the exercise may be included in the full participation biennial exercise required by paragraph 2.c of the same section. In addition, licensees are to take actions necessary to ensure that adequate emergency response capabilities are maintained during the interval between biennial exercises by conducting drills. Paragraph 2.c requires offsite plans for each site to be exercised biennially with full participation by each offsite authority having a role under the plan. Normally during such biennial full participation exercises, the NRC evaluates onsite, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluates offsite, emergency preparedness activities.

By letter dated September 28, 2001, the licensee requested an exemption from section IV.F.2.c of Appendix E regarding the conduct of a full-participation exercise originally scheduled for September 25, 2001. Specifically, the licensee proposed rescheduling the exercise originally scheduled for September 25, 2001, to sometime prior to December 31, 2002. However, the next full-participation exercise will continue to be scheduled biennially from 2001.

CCNPPI is among several licensees requesting schedular exemptions for emergency exercises in the wake of the national emergency of September 11, 2001. It is recognized that it was not appropriate to conduct an exercise during the period of disruption and heightened security after the national emergency. Considering the extraordinary circumstances, a schedular exemption is appropriate. However, in this period of heightened security concerns regarding nuclear plant vulnerability, it is prudent to conduct the full-participation exercise as soon as practical to demonstrate and maintain readiness.

The licensee is faced with a difficult task to coordinate and schedule an exercise that involves multiple governmental agencies at the Federal, State, and local level. Many local response organizations depend on volunteers. In order to accommodate this difficult task, the NRC has allowed licensees to schedule full participation exercises at any time during the calendar biennium. This gives the Start Printed Page 67329licensee the flexibility to schedule the exercise within a 12- to 36-month window and still meet the biennial requirement specified in the regulations.

It should be noted that the licensee requested relief from 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, section IV.F.2.c. While the intent of the request is clear, the NRC staff determined that a schedular exemption from the onsite exercise requirements of 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, section IV.F.2.b, was also necessary. The following evaluation addresses the technical issues necessary to grant a schedular exemption from requirements in 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, sections IV.F.2.b and c, to conduct an evaluated biennial exercise.

Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the NRC may grant exemptions from the requirements of its regulations which, pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12(a), are (1) authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to the public health and safety, and are consistent with the common defense and security and (2) present special circumstances. Under 10 CFR 50.12(a)(2)(v), special circumstances are present whenever the exemption would provide only temporary relief from the applicable regulation and the licensee has made good faith efforts to comply with the regulation.

III

The licensee was scheduled to conduct a biennial full participation exercise on September 25, 2001. The requested exemption is to postpone that exercise and conduct it during 2002. The interval between biennial exercises could be as long as 38 months, if the exercise were conducted in December of 2002. However, given the circumstances and the fact that other 2001 exercises in NRC Region I will be rescheduled for 2002, this time frame is acceptable. To reschedule this exercise, the licensee will have to coordinate with local and State supporting agencies as well as NRC Region I and FEMA Region III. This effort will be complicated by the fact that NRC and FEMA will have to support the normally scheduled exercises in addition to the rescheduled exercises during 2002. The increased flexibility requested by the licensee may be necessary for scheduling of Federal resources more so than local or utility resources.

CCNPPI successfully conducted a full-participation exercise in October 1999, which was evaluated by the NRC (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-317/99-10 and 50-318/99-10) and FEMA (Final Exercise Report CCNPP, March 14, 2000.) The results of this exercise determined that the overall performance of the emergency response organization demonstrated that onsite emergency plans are adequate and that the organization is capable of implementing these plans.

The licensee provided a description of recently completed drills and training evolutions, as well as the planned training and drill schedule for the next year. CCNPPI had previously conducted one full-participation emergency preparedness exercise on August 23, 2001. Additionally, a site-wide non-state participation drill was conducted on May 24, 2001. Although these drills were not evaluated by NRC and FEMA, the May and August 2001 drill results were critiqued by the emergency response organization and the Nuclear Plant Assessment Department. Issues identified during the drill critiques are being resolved under the corrective action program.

CCNPPI stated that emergency preparedness has been maintained in accordance with the Emergency Response Plan. The requirements for semi-annual health physics drills were met by the conduct of the May 24 and August 23, 2001, drills. The requirement for a post-accident sampling drill was met on June 7, 2001. The annual requirement for an environmental sampling drill was met on September 4, 2001. Dose assessment office drills were conducted on January 17, 2001, and May 29, 2001. The annual requirement for a severe accident management drill was met in the May 24 and August 23 drills.

The State of Maryland and local governments have maintained radiological emergency preparedness by fully participating in the August 23, 2001 drill. Additionally, the State agencies participated in the federally-evaluated Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station exercise on August 15, 2000. Calvert County Public Safety, Calvert Memorial Hospital, and local rescue squads participated in a simulated contaminated injury drill at CCNPP on November 16, 2000. Dorchester County successfully demonstrated corrective action for a deficiency noted in the CALVEX 99 FEMA exercise report.

CCNPPI has stated that between September 2001 and December 2002, measures will be taken to maintain emergency preparedness at CCNPP. The existing training and drill schedule currently in place for emergency response activities will remain in place and be adjusted as necessary to ensure the readiness of both onsite and offsite emergency response personnel. For onsite emergency responders, this includes annual training and participation in drills. CCNPPI will conduct quarterly combined functional and/or activation drills and a self-evaluated annual exercise. These drills and the self-evaluated annual exercise satisfy the drill requirements of 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, IV.F.2.b. Offsite agencies in Maryland are routinely invited to, and actively participate in, these drills and exercises as a training activity for offsite response personnel. Local response groups conduct annual training and participate in emergency operations center drills. The biennial medical support (MS-1) drill conducted in conjunction with Calvert Memorial Hospital and Calvert County took place in October 2001.

These activities satisfy the drill and exercise requirements of 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, IV.F.2.b. CCNPPI stated that it meets routinely with State and local emergency management and support groups, has discussed rescheduling of the biennial exercise with these groups, and that these groups support the exercise postponement.

For this exemption request, the special circumstances described in section 50.12(a)(2)(v) of 10 CFR part 50 are present. The exemption only provides temporary relief from the applicable regulation, in that the licensee has committed to conduct the exercise during the next calendar year (2002) and has not requested any permanent changes in future exercise scheduling. The licensee made a good faith effort to conduct the exercise and comply with regulations. The circumstances dictating the request for exemption are beyond the licensee's control. The regulations of this part allow for the postponement of exercises and the regulations have been invoked for appropriate circumstances.

Based upon the consideration of the public health and safety, schedule, and resource issues resulting from the national emergency of September 11, 2001, the staff concludes that the request for exemption is acceptable. The staff has determined that conduct of the full-participation exercise as early as practical in 2002 is prudent even though the licensee is expected to conduct another full-participation exercise in 2003.

IV

Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12(a), the exemption is authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to the public health and safety, and is consistent with the common defense and security, and is otherwise in the public interest. Further, the Commission has determined, pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12(a)(v), that special circumstances Start Printed Page 67330are present, in that the exemption would only provide temporary relief from the applicable regulations, and the licensee has made a good faith effort to comply with the regulation. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants CCNPPI a one-time schedular exemption from the requirements to conduct an exercise of its onsite and offsite emergency plans every 2 years as required by 10 CFR part 50, Appendix E, section IV.F.2.b and c. This conclusion is based on the licensee's commitment to conduct the postponed exercise in 2002.

Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.32, the Commission has determined that the granting of this exemption will have no significant impact on the quality of the human environment (66 FR 64063).

This exemption is effective upon issuance.

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 21st day of December 2001.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Ledyard B. Marsh,

Acting Director, Division of Licensing Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. 01-31931 Filed 12-27-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7590-01-P