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Notice of Environmental Assessment Related to the Issuance of a License Amendment to Master Materials License 03-23853-01va, for Unrestricted Release of Two Buildings at Veterans Affairs Facility in Iowa City, IA

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION:

Issuance of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Katie Streit, Health Physicist, Materials Control, ISFSI, and Decommissioning Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, Region III, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 2443 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois 60532; Telephone: (630) 829-9621; fax number: (630) 515-1259; or by e-mail at Katherine.Streit@nrc.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to amend a materials permit held under Master Byproduct Materials License No. 03-23853-01VA. The permit is held by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the Licensee), for its Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Center located in Iowa City, Iowa. Issuance of the amendment would authorize release of Buildings 3 and 28 (the Facilities) for unrestricted use. The Licensee will continue its operation of other facilities under this permit and its master materials license. The Licensee requested this action in a letter dated March 19, 2009 (ML090910183). The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of this proposed action in accordance with the requirements of Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 51 (10 CFR Part 51). Based on the EA, the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate with respect to the proposed action. The amendment will be issued to the Licensee following the publication of this FONSI and EA in the Federal Register.

II. Environmental Assessment

Identification of Proposed Action

The proposed action would approve the Licensee's March 19, 2009, materials permit amendment request, resulting in release of the Facilities for unrestricted use. License No. 03-23853-01VA was issued on March 17, 2003, pursuant to 10 CFR Parts 30 and 35, and has been amended periodically since that time. This master license authorizes the Licensee to use byproduct materials at several Licensee facilities around the country, as authorized on a site-specific basis by permits issued by the Licensee's National Radiation Safety Committee. Under the license, the permits authorize the use of by-product materials for various medical and veterinary purposes, and for portable gauges.

Under the master materials license permit, buildings 3 and 28 were used as two research labs located at the VA Medical Center in Iowa City, IA. Building 3 is a two-story building containing 28301 gross square feet of space. Building 28 is a one-story building containing 6099 gross square feet of space. Radioactive materials were used for non-medical research starting in 1980 for Building 3 and in 1987 for Building 28. Both buildings contained research laboratories, office space, and other mechanical support areas. Building 3 additionally contained laboratory ventilation exhaust fans, chemical diffusers, and storage space. The licensee ceased licensed activities at the Facilities in the spring of 2007 and conducted a final status survey and decontamination of the facilities in August 2007.

Based on the licensee's historical knowledge of the site and the conditions of Buildings 3 and 28, the licensee determined that only routine decontamination activities, in accordance with their NRC approved, operating radiation safety procedures, were required. The licensee was not required to submit a decommissioning plan the NRC because worker cleanup activities and procedures are consistent with those approved for routine operations. The licensee conducted surveys of Buildings 3 and 28 and provided information to the NRC to demonstrate that Buildings 3 and 28 meet the criteria in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20 for unrestricted release.

Need for the Proposed Action

The licensee has ceased conducting licensed activities at the facilities, and Start Printed Page 46625seeks the unrestricted use of Buildings 3 and 28.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Actions

The historical review of the licensed research activities conducted in Buildings 3 and 28 shows that the following radionuclides with half-lives greater than 120 days were used: Hydrogen-3, Carbon-14, Sodium-22, Calcium-45, Cobalt-57, Cadmium-109, Gadolinium-151 and Gadolinium-153. Prior to performing the final status survey, the Licensee conducted decontamination activities, as necessary, in the areas of Buildings 3 and 28 affected by these radionuclides.

The licensee conducted a final status survey during August 2007 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML090910316, ML090910669, ML090910721, ML090910727). The final status survey report was attached to the Licensee's amendment request dated March 19, 2009. The licensee elected to demonstrate compliance with the radiological criteria for unrestricted use as specified in 10 CFR 20.1402 by setting the Derived Concentration Guideline Limits (DCGLs) to the surface contamination levels in unrestricted areas as described in NUREG-1556, “Consolidated Guidance About Material Licenses” Volume 9, Appendix R, Table R.3. The licensee used the surface contamination levels in unrestricted areas to satisfy the NRC requirement in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20 for unrestricted use. The licensee's final status survey results were below the DCGLs and are in compliance with the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) requirement of 10 CFR 20.1402. The NRC thus finds that the licensee's final status survey results are acceptable.

Based on its review, the staff has determined that the affected environment and any environmental impacts associated with the proposed action are bounded by the impacts evaluated by the “Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for License Termination of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities” (NUREG-1496) Volumes 1-3 (ML042310492, ML042320379, and ML042330385). The staff finds there were no significant environmental impacts from the use of radioactive material within Buildings 3 and 28. The NRC staff reviewed the docket file records and the final status survey report to identify any non-radiological hazards that may have impacted the environment surrounding the buildings. No such hazards or impacts to the environment were identified. The NRC has identified no other radiological or non-radiological activities in the area that could result in cumulative environmental impacts.

The NRC staff finds that the proposed release of Buildings 3 and 28 for unrestricted use is in compliance with 10 CFR 20.1402. Based on its review, the staff considered the impact of the residual radioactivity from Buildings 3 and 28 and concluded that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the quality of the environment.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

Due to the largely administrative nature of the proposed action, its environmental impacts are small. Therefore, the only alternative the staff considered is the no-action alternative, under which the staff would leave things as they are by simply denying the amendment request. This no-action alternative is not feasible because it conflicts with 10 CFR 30.36(d) requiring that decommissioning of byproduct material facilities be completed and approved by the NRC after licensed activities cease. The NRC's analysis of the licensee's final status survey data confirmed that Buildings 3 and 28 meet the requirements of 10 CFR 20.1402 for unrestricted use. Additionally, denying the amendment request would result in no change in current environmental impacts. The environmental impacts of the proposed action and the no-action alternative are therefore similar, and the no-action alternative is accordingly not further considered.

Conclusion

The NRC staff has concluded that the proposed action is consistent with the NRC's unrestricted use criteria specified in 10 CFR 20.1402. Because the proposed action will not significantly impact the quality of the human environment, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed action is the preferred alternative.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

On July 27, 2009, the NRC provided a draft of this EA to the State of Iowa, Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Radiological Health. The State responded during phone conversation on August 10, 2009, and had no comment or questions regarding the EA.

The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action is of a procedural nature and will not affect listed species or critical habitat. Therefore, no further consultation is required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The NRC staff also determined that the proposed action is not the type of activity that has the potential to cause effects on historic properties. Therefore, no further consultation is required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

The NRC staff has prepared this EA in support of the proposed action. On the basis of this EA, the NRC finds that there are no significant environmental impacts from the proposed action, and that preparation of an environmental impact statement is not warranted. Accordingly, the NRC has determined that a Finding of No Significant Impact is appropriate.

IV. Further Information

Documents related to this action, including the application for license amendment and supporting documentation, are available electronically at the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/​reading-rm/​adams.html. From this site, you can access the NRC's image files of NRC's public documents. If you do not have access to ADAMS, or if there are problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov. The documents related to this action are listed below, along with their ADAMS accession numbers.

1. National Health Physics Program Request for Decommissioning for Unrestricted Release of Buildings 3 & 28 for Demolition, dated March 19, 2009 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090910183).

2. Radiological Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Deconstruct Buildings 3 and 28, Iowa City, IA, Volume 1, dated August 26, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090910316).

3. Radiological Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Deconstruct Buildings 3 and 28, Iowa City, IA, Volume 2, dated August 26, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090910669).

4. Radiological Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Deconstruct Buildings 3 and 28, Iowa City, IA, Volume 3, dated August 26, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090910721).

5. Radiological Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Deconstruct Buildings 3 and 28, Iowa City, IA, Volume 4, dated August 26, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090910727).Start Printed Page 46626

6. Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20, Subpart E, “Radiological Criteria for License Termination.”

7. Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 51, “Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Function.”

8. NUREG-1556, “Consolidated Guidance about Material Licenses,” Volume 9.

9. NUREG-1757, “Consolidated Decommissioning Guidance.”

If you do not have access to ADAMS, or if there are problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. These documents may also be viewed electronically on the public computers located at the NRC's PDR, O 1 F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. The PDR reproduction contractor will copy documents for a fee.

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Dated at Lisle, Illinois, this 24th day of August 2009.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Christine A. Lipa,

Branch Chief, Materials Control, ISFSI, and Decommissioning Branch, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, Region III.

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[FR Doc. E9-21854 Filed 9-9-09; 8:45 am]

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