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Notice

Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.; 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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Start Preamble

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the Commission) is considering issuance of amendments to Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-68 and NPF-81 issued to Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. (SNC), for operation of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant (VEGP), Units 1 and 2, located in Burke County, Georgia.

The proposed amendment would revise, Technical Specification (TS) 5.5.9, “Steam Generator (SG) Tube Surveillance Program,” to incorporate changes in the SG inspection scope for VEGP, Unit 1 during Refueling Outage 13 and the subsequent operating cycle and for Unit 2, during Refueling Outage 12 and the subsequent operating cycle. The proposed changes modify the inspection requirements for portions of SG tubes within the tubesheet region of the SGs.

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 Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Section 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. Does the proposed license amendment involve a significant increase in the probability or consequences of an accident previously evaluated?

No. The previously analyzed accidents are initiated by the failure of plant structures, systems, or components. The proposed changes that alter the SG inspection criteria do not have a detrimental impact on the integrity of any plant structure, system, or component that initiates an analyzed event. The proposed changes will not alter the operation of, or otherwise increase the failure probability of any plant equipment that initiates an analyzed accident. Therefore, the proposed change does not involve a significant increase in the probability of an accident previously evaluated.

Of the applicable accidents previously evaluated, the limiting transients with consideration to the proposed changes to the SG tube inspection criteria, are the SG tube rupture (SGTR) event and the steam line break (SLB) accident.

During the SGTR event, the required structural integrity margins of the SG tubes will be maintained by the presence of the SG tubesheet. SG tubes are hydraulically expanded in the tubesheet area. Tube rupture in tubes with cracks in the tubesheet is precluded by the constraint provided by the tubesheet. This constraint results from the hydraulic expansion process, thermal expansion mismatch between the tube and tubesheet and from the differential pressure between the primary and secondary side. Based on this design, the structural margins against burst discussed in Regulatory Guide (RG) 1.121, “Bases for Plugging Degraded PWR SG Tubes,” are maintained for both normal and postulated accident conditions.

The proposed changes do not affect other systems, structures, components or operational features. Therefore, the proposed changes result in no significant increase in the probability of the occurrence of a SGTR accident.

At normal operating pressures, leakage from primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) below the proposed limited inspection depth is limited by both the tube-to-tubesheet crevice and the limited crack opening permitted by the tubesheet constraint. Consequently, negligible normal operating leakage is expected from cracks within the tubesheet region. The consequences of an SGTR event are affected by the primary-to-secondary leakage flow during the event. Primary-to-secondary leakage flow through a postulated broken tube is not affected by the proposed change since the tubesheet enhances the tube integrity in the region of the hydraulic expansion by precluding tube deformation beyond its initial hydraulically expanded outside diameter.

The probability of a SLB is unaffected by the potential failure of a SG tube as this failure is not an initiator for a SLB.

The consequences of a SLB are also not significantly affected by the proposed changes. During a SLB accident, the reduction in pressure above the tubesheet on the shell side of the SG creates an axially uniformly distributed load on the tubesheet due to the reactor coolant system pressure on the underside of the tubesheet. The resulting bending action constrains the tubes in the tubesheet thereby restricting primary-to-secondary leakage below the midplane.

The hydraulically expanded tube-to-tubesheet joints in Model F SGs are not leaktight without the tube end weld. Considerations were also made with regard to the potential for primary-to-secondary leakage during postulated faulted conditions. However, the leak rate during postulated accident conditions would be expected to be less than that during normal operation for indications near the bottom of the tubesheet based on an evaluation [by the Westinghouse Electric Company dated July 11, 2006] which shows that while the driving pressure increases by about a factor of almost two, the flow resistance increases because the tube-to-tubesheet contact pressure also increases. Depending on the depth within the tubesheet, the relative increase in resistance could easily be larger than that of the pressure potential. Therefore, the leak rate under normal operating conditions could exceed its allowed value before the accident condition leak rate would be expected to exceed its allowed value. This approach is termed an application of the “bellwether principle.” While such a decrease in the leak rate is expected, the postulated accident leak rate could conservatively be taken to be bounded by twice the normal operating leak rate if the increase in contact pressure is ignored.

Since normal operating leakage is limited by the TS changes proposed in SNC letter NL-06-0124 and by NEI 97-06 to less than 0.10 gpm [gallons per minute], (150 gpd [gallons per day]) throughout one SG in the VEGP Units 1 and 2 SGs, the attendant accident condition leak rate, assuming all leakage to be from lower tubesheet indications, would be bounded by 0.20 gpm in the faulted SG which is less than the accident analysis assumption of 0.35 gpm to the affected SG included in Section 15.1.5 of the VEGP Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR). Hence it is reasonable to omit any consideration of inspection of the tube, tube end weld, bulges/overexpansions or other anomalies below 17 inches from the top of the hot leg tubesheet.

Based on the above discussion, the proposed changes do not involve an increase in the consequences of an accident previously evaluated.

2. Does the proposed license amendment create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated?

No. The proposed changes do not involve the use or installation of new equipment and the currently installed equipment will not be operated in a new or different manner. No new or different system interactions are created and no new processes are introduced. The proposed changes will not introduce any new failure mechanisms, malfunctions, or accident initiators not already considered in the design and licensing bases.

Based on this evaluation, the proposed change does not create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated.

3. Does the proposed amendment involve a significant reduction in a margin of safety? Start Printed Page 43226

No. The proposed changes maintain the required structural margins of the SG tubes for both normal and accident conditions. Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) 97-06, “Steam Generator Program Guidelines,” and Regulatory Guide (RG) 1.121, “Bases for Plugging Degraded PWR Steam Generator Tubes,” are used as the bases in the development of the limited tubesheet inspection depth methodology for determining that SG tube integrity considerations are maintained within acceptable limits. RG 1.121 describes a method acceptable to the NRC for meeting General Design Criteria (GDC) 14, “Reactor coolant pressure boundary,” GDC 15, “Reactor coolant system design,” GDC 31, “Fracture prevention of reactor coolant pressure boundary,” and GDC 32, “Inspection of reactor coolant pressure boundary,” by reducing the probability and consequences of a SGTR. RG 1.121 concludes that by determining the limiting safe conditions for tube wall degradation the probability and consequences of a SGTR are reduced. This RG uses safety factors on loads for tube burst that are consistent with the requirements of Section III of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Code.

Application of the limited tubesheet inspection depth criteria will preclude unacceptable primary-to-secondary leakage during all plant conditions. The methodology for determining leakage provides for large margins between calculated and actual leakage values in the proposed limited tubesheet inspection depth criteria.

Therefore, the proposed changes do not involve a significant hazards consideration under the criteria set forth in 10 CFR 50.92(c).

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 60 days after the date of publication of this notice. The Commission may issue the license amendment before expiration of the 60-day period provided that its final determination is that the amendment involves no significant hazards consideration. In addition, the Commission may issue the amendment prior to the expiration of the 30-day comment period should circumstances change during the 30-day comment period such that failure to act in a timely way would result, for example in derating or shutdown of the facility. Should the Commission take action prior to the expiration of either the comment period or the notice period, it will publish in the Federal Register a notice of issuance. Should the Commission make a final No Significant Hazards Consideration Determination, any hearing will take place 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 Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, Public File Area O1 F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland.

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

Within 60 days after the date of publication of this notice, 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 2.309, which is available at the Commission's PDR, located at One White Flint North, Public File Area O1F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available records will be accessible from the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System's (ADAMS) Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov/​reading-rm/​doc-collections/​cfr/​. If a request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene is filed by the above date, the Commission or a presiding officer designated by the Commission or by the Chief Administrative Judge of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, will rule on the request and/or petition; and the Secretary or the Chief Administrative Judge of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will issue a notice of a hearing or an appropriate order.

As required by 10 CFR 2.309, 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 general requirements: (1) The name, address and telephone number of the requestor or petitioner; (2) the nature of the requestor's/petitioner's right under the Act to be made a party to the proceeding; (3) the nature and extent of the requestor's/petitioner's property, financial, or other interest in the proceeding; and (4) the possible effect of any decision or order which may be entered in the proceeding on the requestor's/petitioner's interest. The petition must also identify the specific contentions which the petitioner/requestor seeks to have litigated at the proceeding.

Each contention must consist of a specific statement of the issue of law or fact to be raised or controverted. In addition, the petitioner/requestor shall provide a brief explanation of the bases for 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/requestor 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. The petition must include 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/requestor who fails to satisfy 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.

If a hearing is requested, the Commission will make a final determination on the issue of no Start Printed Page 43227significant 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.

Nontimely requests and/or petitions and contentions will not be entertained absent a determination by the Commission or the presiding officer of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board that the petition, request and/or the contentions should be granted based on a balancing of the factors specified in 10 CFR 2.309(c)(1)(i)-(viii).

A request for a hearing or a petition for leave to intervene must be filed by: (1) First class mail addressed to the Office of the Secretary of the Commission, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention: Rulemaking and Adjudications Staff; (2) courier, express mail, and expedited delivery services: Office of the Secretary, Sixteenth Floor, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852, Attention: Rulemaking and Adjudications Staff; (3) E-mail addressed to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, hearingdocket@nrc.gov; or (4) facsimile transmission addressed to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff at (301) 415-1101, verification number is (301) 415-1966. A copy of the request for hearing and petition for leave to intervene should also be sent to the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and it is requested that copies be transmitted either by means of facsimile transmission to 301-415-3725 or by E-mail to OGCMailCenter@nrc.gov. A copy of the request for hearing and petition for leave to intervene should also be sent to Arthur H. Domby, Esquire, Troutman Sanders, NationsBank Plaza, 600 Peachtree Street, NE., Suite 5200, Atlanta, GA 30308-2216, the attorney for the licensee.

For further details with respect to this action, see the application for amendment dated July 20, 2006, which is available for public inspection at the Commission's PDR, located at One White Flint North, Public File Area O1 F21, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available records will be accessible from the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System's (ADAMS) Public Electronic Reading Room on the Internet at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov/​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 by telephone at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov.

Start Signature

Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 25th day of July 2006.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Christopher Gratton,

Sr. Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch II-1, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. E6-12169 Filed 7-28-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7590-01-P