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Vogtle Electric Generating Station, Units 3 and 4; Southern Nuclear Operating Company; Containment Structural Wall Module Design Details

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


Exemption and combined license amendment issuance.


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is granting an exemption to allow a departure from the certification information of Tier 1 of the generic design control document (DCD) and is issuing License Amendment No. 29 to Combined Licenses (COLs), NPF-91 and NPF-92. The COLs were issued to Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., and Georgia Power Company, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and the City of Dalton, Georgia (the licensee); for construction and operation of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant (VEGP) Units 3 and 4, located in Burke County, Georgia.

The granting of the exemption allows the changes to Tier 1 information asked for in the amendment. Because the acceptability of the exemption was determined in part by the acceptability of the amendment, the exemption and amendment are being issued concurrently.


Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2008-0252 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You may access information related to this document, which the NRC possesses and is publicly available, using any of the following methods:

  • Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to and search for Docket ID NRC-2008-0252. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-3463; email: For technical questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document.
  • NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC Library at​reading-rm/​adams.html. To begin the search, select “ADAMS Public Documents” and then select “Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.” For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to The ADAMS accession number for each document referenced in this document (if that document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is referenced. The request for the amendment and exemption was submitted by letter dated July 3, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14187A533), and supplemented by letters dated August 28, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14241A287), September 19, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14262A475), November 6, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14310A846), and December 23, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14357A650).
  • NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.
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Chandu Patel, Office of New Reactors, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-3025; email:

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I. Introduction

The NRC is granting an exemption from paragraph B of section III, “Scope and Contents,” of Appendix D, “Design Certification Rule for the AP1000,” to part 52 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) and issuing License Amendment No. 29 to COLs, NPF-91 and NPF-92, to the licensee. The exemption is required by paragraph A.4 of section VIII, “Processes for Changes and Departures,” Appendix D, to 10 CFR part 52 to allow the licensee to depart from Tier 1 information. With the requested amendment, the licensee sought proposed changes related to the design details of the containment internal structural wall modules (CA01, CA02, and CA05). The proposed changes to Tier 2 information in the VEGP Units 3 and 4 UFSAR, and the involved plant-specific Tier 1 and corresponding combined license Appendix C information would allow the use of thicker than normal faceplates to accommodate local demand or connection loads in certain areas without the use of overlay plates or additional backup structures. Additional proposed changes to Tier 2 information and involved Tier 2* information would allow:

(1) a means of connecting the structural wall modules to the base concrete through use of structural shapes, reinforcement bars, and shear studs extending horizontally from the structural module faceplates and embedded during concrete placement as an alternative to the use of embedment plates and vertically oriented reinforcement bars;

(2) a variance in structural module wall thicknesses from the thicknesses identified in the VEGP Units 3 and 4 UFSAR Figure 3.8.3-8, “Structural Modules—Typical Design Details,” for some walls that separate equipment spaces from personnel access areas;

(3) the use of steel plates, structural shapes, reinforcement bars, or tie bars between the module faceplates, as needed to support localized loads and ensure compliance with applicable codes;

(4) revision to containment internal structure (CIS) evaluations; and

(5) clarification to the definition of in-containment “structural wall modules,” clarifying that the west wall of the In-containment Refueling Water Storage Tank (IRWST) is not considered a “structural wall module,” that the CIS critical sections identified in VEGP Units 3 and 4 UFSAR Subsection present design summaries for areas of “large” demand in lieu of areas of “largest” demand, and revising the VEGP Units 3 and 4 UFSAR in several places to provide consistency in terminology used to identify the structural wall modules.Start Printed Page 19697

Part of the justification for granting the exemption was provided by the review of the amendment. Because the exemption is necessary in order to issue the requested license amendment, the NRC granted the exemption and issued the amendment concurrently, rather than in sequence. This included issuing a combined safety evaluation containing the NRC staff's review of both the exemption request and the license amendment. The exemption met all applicable regulatory criteria set forth in 10 CFR 50.12, 10 CFR 52.7, and Section VIII.A.4 of Appendix D to 10 CFR part 52. The license amendment was found to be acceptable as well. The combined safety evaluation is available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML15005A265.

Identical exemption documents (except for referenced unit numbers and license numbers) were issued to the licensee for VEGP Units 3 and 4 (COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92). The exemption documents for VEGP Units 3 and 4 can be found in ADAMS under Accession Nos. ML15005A222 and ML15005A224, respectively. The exemption is reproduced (with the exception of abbreviated titles and additional citations) in Section II of this document. The amendment documents for COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92 are available in ADAMS under Accession Nos. ML15005A246 and ML15005A256, respectively. A summary of the amendment documents is provided in Section III of this document.

II. Exemption

Reproduced below is the exemption document issued to Vogtle Units 3 and Unit 4. It makes reference to the combined safety evaluation that provides the reasoning for the findings made by the NRC (and listed under Item 1) in order to grant the exemption:

1. In a letter dated July 3, 2014, and supplemented by letters dated August 28, September 19, November 6, and December 23, 2014, the licensee requested from the Commission an exemption from the provisions of 10 CFR part 52, Appendix D, Section III.B, as part of license amendment request 14-001, “Containment Internal Structural Module Design Details (LAR-14-001).”

For the reasons set forth in Section 3.1, “Evaluation of Exemption,” of the NRC staff's Safety Evaluation, which can be found in ADAMS under Accession No. ML15005A265, the Commission finds that:

A. the exemption is authorized by law;

B. the exemption presents no undue risk to public health and safety;

C. the exemption is consistent with the common defense and security;

D. special circumstances are present in that the application of the rule in this circumstance is not necessary to serve the underlying purpose of the rule;

E. the special circumstances outweigh any decrease in safety that may result from the reduction in standardization caused by the exemption; and

F. the exemption will not result in a significant decrease in the level of safety otherwise provided by the design.

2. Accordingly, the licensee is granted an exemption to the provisions of 10 CFR part 52, Appendix D, Table 3.3-1, “Definition of Wall Thicknesses for Nuclear Island Buildings, Turbine Building, and Annex Building” and Table 3.3-7, “Nuclear Island Critical Structural Sections” as described in the licensee's request dated July 3, 2014 and supplemented by the letters dated August 28, September 19, November 6, and December 23, 2014. This exemption is related to, and necessary for the granting of License Amendment No. 29, which is being issued concurrently with this exemption.

3. As explained in Section 5.0, “Environmental Consideration,” of the NRC staff's Safety Evaluation (ADAMS Accession No. ML15005A265), this exemption meets the eligibility criteria for categorical exclusion set forth in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(9). Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact statement or environmental assessment needs to be prepared in connection with the issuance of the exemption.

4. This exemption is effective as of January 13, 2015.

III. License Amendment Request

By letter dated July 3, 2014, and supplemented by letters dated August 28, September 19, November 6, and December 23, 2014, the licensee requested that the NRC amend the COLs for VEGP, Units 3 and 4, COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92. The proposed amendment is described in Section I of this Federal Register Notice.

The Commission has determined for these amendments that the application complies with the standards and requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (the Act), and the Commission's rules and regulations. The Commission has made appropriate findings as required by the Act and the Commission's rules and regulations in 10 CFR Chapter I, which are set forth in the license amendment.

A notice of consideration of issuance of amendment to facility operating license or combined license, as applicable, proposed no significant hazards consideration determination, and opportunity for a hearing in connection with these actions, was published in the Federal Register on August 5, 2014 (79 FR 45480). The August 28, September 19, November 6 and December 23, 2014 licensee supplements had no effect on the no significant hazards consideration determination, and no comments were received during the 60-day comment period.

The Commission has determined that these amendments satisfy the criteria for categorical exclusion in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22. Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact statement or environmental assessment need be prepared for these amendments.

IV. Conclusion

Using the reasons set forth in the combined safety evaluation, the staff granted the exemption and issued the amendment that the licensee requested on July 3, 2014, as supplemented by letters dated August 28, September 19, November 6 and December 23, 2014. The exemption and amendment were issued on January 13, 2015 as part of a combined package to the licensee (ADAMS Accession No. ML15005A210).

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Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 2nd day of April 2015.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Chandu Patel,

Acting Chief, Licensing Branch 4, Division of New Reactor Licensing, Office of New Reactors.

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[FR Doc. 2015-08411 Filed 4-10-15; 8:45 am]