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Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. Joseph M. Farley 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, pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Section 73.5, “Specific exemptions,” from 10 CFR Part 73, “Physical protection of plants and materials,” for Facility Operating License Nos. NPF-2 and NPF-8, issued to Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. (SNC, the licensee), for operation of the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2 (FNP), located in Houston County, Alabama. In accordance with 10 CFR 51.21, the NRC prepared an environmental assessment documenting its finding. The NRC concluded that the proposed actions will have no significant environmental impact.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

The proposed action would exempt the FNP from the required implementation date of March 31, 2010, for several new requirements of 10 CFR Part 73. Specifically, FNP would be granted an exemption from being in full compliance with certain new requirements contained in 10 CFR 73.55 by the March 31, 2010, deadline. Instead, the licensee has proposed an alternate full compliance implementation date of July 15, 2011. The proposed action, an extension of the schedule for completion of certain actions required by the revised 10 CFR Part 73, does not involve any physical changes to the reactor, fuel, plant structures, support structures, water, or land at the FNP site.

The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's application dated September 10, 2010, as supplemented by letter dated October 5, 2010.

The Need for the Proposed Action

The proposed action is needed to provide the licensee with additional time to perform the required upgrades to the FNP security system due to resource and logistical constraints. Previously, by letters dated June 9 and July 31, 2009, SNC submitted a request for an exemption from the compliance date identified in 10 CFR 73.55 for three specific requirements of 10 CFR 73.55. The NRC staff reviewed the request and by letter dated August 27, 2009, granted an exemption to the March 31, 2010, compliance date for the 3 specific requirements identified within the SNC exemption request until December 15, 2010. Subsequently, by letters dated September 10 and October 5, 2010, SNC submitted an additional request for an exemption to the compliance date identified in 10 CFR 73.55. The licensee has requested a further exemption from the March 31, 2010, compliance date stating that a number of issues, including unforeseen growth in the amount of design work required, design product loss due to computer hardware failures, and weather-related construction delays, will present a significant challenge to timely completion of the project related to certain requirements in 10 CFR 73.55. Specifically, the request is to extend the compliance date for three specific requirements from the current March Start Printed Page 7313631, 2010 deadline, as extended for this specific licensee to December 15, 2010, by the exemption granted on August 27, 2009, until July 15, 2011. Being granted this exemption for these items will allow the licensee to complete the modifications designed to update equipment and incorporate state-of-the-art technology to meet the noted regulatory requirement.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

The NRC staff has completed its environmental assessment of the proposed exemption and has concluded that the proposed action to extend the implementation deadline would not significantly affect plant safety and would not have a significant adverse effect on the probability of an accident occurring. The proposed action would not result in an increased radiological hazard beyond those previously analyzed. There will be no change to radioactive effluents that effect radiation exposures to plant workers and members of the public. The proposed action does not involve a change to plant buildings or land areas on the FNP site. Therefore, no changes or different types of radiological impacts are expected as a result of the proposed exemption.

The proposed action does not result in changes to land use or water use, or result in changes to the quality or quantity of non-radiological effluents. No changes to the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit are needed. No effects on the aquatic or terrestrial habitat in the vicinity of the plant, or to threatened, endangered, or protected species under the Endangered Species Act, or impacts to essential fish habitat covered by the Magnuson-Steven's Act are expected. There are no impacts to the air or ambient air quality.

There are no impacts to historical and cultural resources. There would be no impact to socioeconomic resources. Therefore, no changes to or different types of non-radiological environmental impacts are expected as a result of the proposed exemption. Accordingly, the NRC staff concludes that there are no significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

The licensee currently maintains a security system acceptable to the NRC and the NRC expects that the licensee will continue to maintain the effectiveness of the overall physical protection program and protective strategy for the duration of this exemption. Therefore, the extension of the implementation date of the new requirements of 10 CFR Part 73 to July 15, 2011, would not have any significant environmental impacts.

The NRC staff's safety evaluation will be provided in the exemption that will be issued as part of the letter to the licensee approving the exemption to the regulation.

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

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

Alternative Use of Resources

The action does not involve the use of any different resources than those considered in the Final Environmental Statement for the FNP, as supplemented through the “Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2—Final Report (NUREG—1437, Supplement 18).”

Agencies and Persons Consulted

In accordance with its stated policy, on November 15, 2010, the NRC staff consulted with the Alabama State official, Mr. David Walters of the Alabama Department of Public 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 staff concludes that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC staff 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 letters dated September 10, 2010 and October 5, 2009. The licensee has provided a redacted version of the September 10, 2010 letter that is publically available and the October 5, 2010 transmittal letter is publically available. The edition of the September 10, 2010 letter and its enclosure and the enclosure to the October 5, 2010 letter that contains proprietary security-related information is not available to the public. Other parts of these 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, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Publicly available records will be accessible electronically from the Agencywide Document Access and Management System (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 or 301-415-4737, or send an e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov.

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 19th day of November, 2010.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Robert E. Martin,

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

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[FR Doc. 2010-29940 Filed 11-26-10; 8:45 am]

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