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Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Notice of Issuance of Director's Decision Under 10 CFR 2.206

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Notice is hereby given that the Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, has issued a Director's Decision with regard to a petition dated November 8, 2001, filed by Riverkeeper, Inc., et al., hereinafter referred to as the “Petitioners.” The petition was supplemented on December 20, 2001. The petition concerns the operation of the Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 (IP1, 2, and 3).

The petition requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): (1) Order the licensee to suspend operations, revoke the operating license, or adopt other measures resulting in a temporary shutdown of IP2 and 3; (2) order the licensee to conduct a full review of the facility's vulnerabilities, security measures, and evacuation plans; (3) require the licensee to provide information documenting the existing and readily attainable security measures which protect the IP facility against land, water, and airborne terrorist attacks; (4) immediately modify the IP2 and 3 operating licenses to mandate certain specified security measures sufficient to protect the facility; and (5) order the revision of the licensee's emergency response plan and Westchester County's radiological emergency response plan (RERP) to account for possible terrorist attacks and prepare a comprehensive response to multiple, simultaneous attacks in the region, which could impair the efficient Start Printed Page 70468evacuation of the area. In addition, the Petitioners requested that the NRC take prompt action to permanently retire the facility if, after conducting a full review of the facility's vulnerabilities, security measures, and evacuation plans, the NRC finds that the IP facility cannot be adequately protected against terrorist threats. Further, separately from the above issues, the Petitioners requested that the NRC order the licensee to undertake the immediate conversion of the current water-cooled spent fuel storage system to a dry-cask system.

As the basis for the November 8, 2001, request, the Petitioners stated that: (1) The IP facility is a plausible target of future terrorist actions, (2) actual threats against nuclear power plants have been documented, (3) IP is currently vulnerable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, (4) a terrorist attack on IP2 and 3 would have significant public health, environmental, and economic impacts, and (5) the Westchester County's RERP is inadequate because it is based on erroneous assumptions.

The NRC sent a copy of the proposed Director's Decision to the Petitioners and to the licensee for comment on May 16, 2002. The Petitioners responded with comments on August 9, 2002, and the licensee had no comments. The Petitioners' comments and the NRC staff's response to them are included with the Director's Decision.

The Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation has determined that the request to order the licensee to suspend operations, revoke the operating license, or adopt other measures resulting in a temporary shutdown of IP2 and 3, be denied. The reasons for this decision, along with the reasons for decisions regarding the remaining Petitioners' requests, are explained in the Director's Decision pursuant to 10 CFR 2.206 (DD 02-06), the complete text of which is available in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) for inspection at the Commission's Public Document Room, located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, and from the NRC Web site (​reading-rm.html).

As stated in its letter to the Petitioners on December 20, 2001, the NRC has, in effect, partially granted the Petitioners' request for an immediate security upgrade at IP2 and 3. On September 11, 2001, the NRC took action to enhance security at all nuclear facilities, including IP2 and 3. Immediately after the attacks, the NRC advised all nuclear power plants to go to the highest level of security, which they promptly did. These facilities have remained at a heightened security level since that time. The NRC continues to work with other Federal agencies and is monitoring relevant information it receives on security matters at nuclear facilities. The NRC is prepared to make immediate adjustments as necessary to ensure adequate protection of the public.

The NRC issued Orders on February 25, 2002, to all commercial nuclear power plants to implement interim compensatory security measures for the current threat environment. Some of the requirements made mandatory by the Orders formalized the security measures that NRC licensees had taken in response to advisories issued by the NRC in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Orders also imposed additional security enhancements, which have emerged based on the NRC's assessment of the current threat environment and its ongoing security review. The requirements will remain in effect until the NRC determines that the level of threat has diminished, or that other security changes are needed. The specific actions are sensitive, but include increased patrols, augmented security forces and capabilities, additional security posts, installation of additional physical barriers, vehicle checks at greater stand-off distances, enhanced coordination with law enforcement and military authorities and more restrictive site access controls for all personnel. Regarding the Petitioners' request for specific information about the security measures, the NRC's policy is to not release safeguards information to the public. Thus, this request is denied.

The NRC in its February 25, 2002, Orders also directed licensees to evaluate and address potential vulnerabilities to maintain or restore cooling to the core, containment, and spent fuel pool and to develop specific guidance and strategies to respond to an event that damages large areas of the plant due to explosions or fires. These strategies are intended to help licensees to identify and utilize any remaining onsite or offsite equipment and capabilities. If NRC's ongoing security review recommends any other security measures, the NRC will take appropriate action.

The NRC denies the Petitioners' request to mandate certain security measures, as specified by the Petitioners, for the protection of the facility, such as a system to defend a no-fly zone. The NRC considers that the collective measures taken since September 11, 2001, provide adequate protection of public health and safety.

The NRC finds that the existing emergency response plans are flexible enough to respond to a wide variety of adverse conditions, including a terrorist attack. The NRC advisories and the Orders issued since September 11, 2001, directed licensees to take specific actions deemed appropriate to ensure continued improvements to existing emergency response plans. The Petitioners' concern that the emergency plans do not contemplate multiple attacks on the infrastructure is alleviated by the fact that the emergency plans are intended to be broad and flexible enough to respond to a wide spectrum of events. Thus, the Petitioners' request that the onsite and offsite emergency plans be revised to account for possible terrorist attacks has been, in part, granted.

The NRC finds that the current spent fuel storage system and the security provisions at IP adequately protect the spent fuel. Thus, the Petitioners' request to order the installation of a dry-cask storage facility is denied. However, the licensee has stated its intention to add such a facility.

A copy of the Director's Decision will be filed with the Secretary of the Commission for the Commission's review in accordance with 10 CFR 2.206 of the Commission's regulations. As provided for by this regulation, the Director's Decision will constitute the final action of the Commission 25 days after the date of the decision, unless the Commission, on its own motion, institutes a review of the Director's Decision in that time.

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 18th day of November, 2002.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Samuel J. Collins,

Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

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[FR Doc. 02-29738 Filed 11-21-02; 8:45 am]