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Tennessee Valley Authority, Sequoyah Nuclear Plant; Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering issuance of an exemption from Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 50, Section 68, “Criticality Accident Requirements,” Subsection (b)(1) for Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-77 and DPR-79, issued to Tennessee Valley Authority (the licensee), for operation of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (SQN), located in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Therefore, as required by 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC is issuing this environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

The proposed action would exempt the licensee from the requirements of 10 CFR 50.68, “Criticality Accident Requirements,” Subsection (b)(1) during the handling and storage of spent nuclear fuel in a 10 CFR Part 72 licensed spent fuel storage container that is in the SQN spent fuel pool.

The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's application dated February 20, 2004, as supplemented on May 3, 2004. The supplemental letter provided clarifying information that did not expand the scope of the original request.

The Need for the Proposed Action

Under 10 CFR 50.68(b)(1), the Commission sets forth the following requirement that must be met, in lieu of a monitoring system capable of detecting criticality events.

Plant procedures shall prohibit the handling and storage at any one time of more fuel assemblies than have been determined to be safely subcritical under the most adverse moderation conditions feasible by unborated water.

The licensee is on a time-critical path to load spent nuclear fuel into a 10 CFR Part 72 licensed spent fuel storage container in June 2004. Section 50.12(a) allows licensees to apply for an exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR Part 50 if the regulation is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule and other conditions are met. The licensee has stated that compliance with 10 CFR 50.68(b)(1) is not necessary for handling the 10 CFR Part 72 licensed contents of the cask system to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

The NRC has completed its evaluation of the proposed action and concludes that the exemption described above would continue to satisfy the underlying purpose of 10 CFR 50.68(b)(1). The details of the staff's safety evaluation will be provided with the letter to the licensee approving the exemption to the regulation.

The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability or consequences of accidents. No changes are being made in the types of effluents that may be released off site. There is no significant increase in occupational or public radiation exposure. Therefore, there are no significant radiological environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

With regard to potential nonradiological impacts, the proposed action does not have a potential to affect any historic sites. It does not affect nonradiological plant effluents and has no other environmental impact. Therefore, there are no significant nonradiological environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed action. Start Printed Page 31850

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

As an alternative to the proposed action, the staff considered denial of the proposed action (i.e., the “no-action” alternative). Denial of the application would result in no change in current environmental impacts. The environmental impacts of the proposed action and the alternative action are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

The action does not involve the use of any different resources than those previously considered in the Final Environmental Statement for the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2 dated February 13, 1974.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

On April 28, 2004, the staff consulted with the Tennessee State official, Elizebeth Flannagin of the Tennessee Bureau of Radiological Health, regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The State official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC concludes that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed action.

For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the licensee's letter dated February 20, 2004, as supplemented on May 3, 2004. Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available records will be accessible electronically from the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Public Electronic Reading Room on the NRC Web site,​reading-rm/​adams.html. Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who encounter problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, should contact the NRC PDR Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209 or 301-415-4737, or send an e-mail to

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 28th day of May, 2004.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

William F. Burton,

Acting Chief, Section 2, Project Directorate II, Division of Licensing Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

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[FR Doc. 04-12748 Filed 6-4-04; 8:45 am]