Record of Decision for Final Environmental Impact Statement for Remediation of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California, 51149-51156 [2019-21013]

Download as PDF 51149 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices relevant comments on the 60-Day Notice. Burden Statement: The respondent burden for this collection is estimated to be as follows: ESTIMATED ANNUAL REPORTING BURDEN Annual number of respondents 17 CFR section 21.02 .................................................................................... There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection. Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. Dated: September 23, 2019. Robert Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2019–20956 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No. ED–2019–ICCD–0084] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Application for Approval To Participate in Federal Student Aid Programs Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED) ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 28, 2019. ADDRESSES: To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED– 2019–ICCD–0084. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. If the regulations.gov site is not available to the public for any reason, ED will temporarily accept comments at ICDocketMgr@ed.gov. Please include the docket ID number and the title of the information collection request when requesting documents or submitting comments. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 100 Frequency of response Annually ......... information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 550 12th Street SW, PCP, Room 9086, Washington, DC 20202–0023. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Beth Grebeldinger, 202–377–4018. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department’s information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records. Title of Collection: Application for Approval to Participate in Federal Student Aid Programs. OMB Control Number: 1845–0012. Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection. Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, and Tribal Governments; Private Sector. PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Total annual responses Sfmt 4703 Hours per response 100 Total burden hours 1.75 175 Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 7,286. Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 24,352. Abstract: Section 487(c) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) requires that the Secretary of Education prescribe regulations to ensure that any funds postsecondary institutions receive under the HEA are used solely for the purposes specified in, and in accordance with, the provision of the applicable programs. The Institutional Eligibility regulations govern the initial and continuing eligibility of postsecondary educational institutions participating in the student financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the HEA. An institution must use this Application to apply for approval to be determined to be eligible and if the institution wishes, to participate; to expand its eligibility; or to continue to participate in the Title IV programs. An institution must also use the application to report certain required data as part of its recordkeeping requirements contained in the regulations under 34 CFR part 600 (Institutional Eligibility under the HEA). The Department uses the information reported on the Application in its determination of whether an institution meets the statutory and regulatory requirements. Dated: September 24, 2019. Kate Mullan, PRA Coordinator, Information Collection Clearance Program, Information Management Branch, Office of the Chief Information Officer. [FR Doc. 2019–21020 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Record of Decision for Final Environmental Impact Statement for Remediation of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California Office of Environmental Management, U.S. Department of Energy. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 51150 ACTION: Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices Record of decision. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to demolish the 18 buildings it owns in Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) and dispose of or recycle the materials off site. This action will be taken in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local requirements. (The demolition of five of the eighteen buildings and the disposal of the resulting debris will be accomplished pursuant to closure plans approved by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.) This action will also be taken consistent with agreements and decisions resulting from interagency consultations conducted in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local requirements, including the Programmatic Agreement executed with the California State Historic Preservation Officer pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act and the Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. ADDRESSES: This Record of Decision (ROD), the SSFL Area IV Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and related NEPA documents are available at the DOE SSFL Area IV website (http://etec.energy.gov) and the DOE NEPA website (http://energy.gov/ nepa). SUMMARY: For further information on the SSFL FEIS, the ROD, and DOE cleanup actions within Area IV of SSFL and the Northern Buffer Zone, please contact Ms. Stephanie Jennings, ETEC National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy at stephanie.jennings@ emcbc.doe.gov. For general information on DOE’s NEPA process, please contact Mr. Bill Ostrum, Acting NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585– 0103: Telephone: (202) 586–2513; or Email: william.ostrum@hq.doe.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Background DOE prepared the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (DOE/EIS–0402) in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C 4321 et seq.), CEQ NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500– 1508), and DOE’s NEPA Implementing Procedures (10 CFR part 1021). DOE announced its intent to prepare an EIS on May 16, 2008 (73 FR 28437) and conducted public scoping. DOE prepared a Draft EIS and distributed it to interested parties. Following the U.S. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Notice of Availability of the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (82 FR 4336; January 13, 2017), DOE conducted public hearings and invited comment on the Draft EIS. After considering comments received on the Draft EIS, DOE addressed the comments and prepared a Final EIS that was issued with EPA’s Notice of Availability (83 FR 67282; December 28, 2018). SSFL, located on approximately 2,850 acres in the hills between Chatsworth and Simi Valley, California, was developed as a remote site to test rocket engines and conduct nuclear research. Rocket engine testing by North American Aviation (later Rockwell International (Rocketdyne)) began in 1947. In the mid-1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), a predecessor agency to DOE, funded nuclear research on a 90-acre parcel within Area IV of SSFL. The Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) was established on this parcel as a ‘‘center of excellence’’ for liquid metals research. A total of 10 small reactors were built and operated as part of nuclear research that ended in 1982. DOE-directed liquid metals research continued until 1998. During the years of research activities within Area IV, there were more than 270 numbered structures supporting the research (structures included occupied buildings, storage sheds, tanks, transformers, loading docks, etc.). As the mission associated with each structure was completed, the structure was decontaminated, demolished, and the debris transported offsite for disposal. There was no DOE-sponsored development within the Northern Buffer Zone (NBZ). By 2006, only 18 DOE-owned numbered structures (buildings and sheds) remained in Area IV. Operations within five of the structures were conducted under two Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permits issued by the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The remaining 13 buildings were operated pursuant to DOE requirements and other applicable laws and regulations. The RCRA permitted structures at the Radioactive Materials Handling Facility (RMHF) include: • Building 4021—Decontamination and Packaging Facility (for radioactive material) • Building 4022—Radioactive Storage Building (for reactor fuel) • Building 4621—Interim storage facility for contaminated equipment and source materials PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The RCRA permitted structures at the Hazardous Waste Management Facility (HWMF) include: • Building 4029—storage of nonradioactive chemical wastes • Building 4133—treatment of reactive (potassium and sodium) metals The non-RCRA-permitted structures include: • Building 4019—Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) criticality tests • Building 4024—SNAP reactor testing • Building 4038—ETEC office building • Building 4057—sodium test rig housing/currently a warehouse • Building 4034—RMHF office building • Building 4044—RMHF clean shop • Structure 4075—RMHF radioactive waste storage area • Structure 4563—RMHF radioactive waste storage area • Structure 4658—RMHF guard shack • Building 4665—RMHF oxidation facility • Structure 4688—RMHF storage shed • Building 4462—Sodium Pump Test Facility (SPTF) • Building 4463—SPTF support building Purpose and Need for Agency Action DOE’s purpose and need for action remains as stated in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. DOE needs to complete remediation of Area IV and the NBZ to comply with applicable requirements for cleanup of radiological and nonradiological hazardous substances. Pursuant to this ROD, DOE has decided to remove the remaining 18 DOE-owned structures in Area IV of SSFL in a manner that is protective of the environment and the health and safety of the public and its workers. (The demolition of five of these buildings requires closure plans approved by DTSC.) Proposed Action DOE’s proposed action that is the subject of this ROD is to demolish the 18 DOE-owned buildings in Area IV and transport the resulting waste off site for disposal. Demolition of 13 facilities and disposition of the resulting debris will be in accordance with DOE requirements and applicable laws and regulations. Three facilities at the RMHF and the two facilities comprising the HWMF will be closed in accordance with California DTSC-approved RCRA facility closure plans. By doing so, DOE will no longer have a long-term safety and environmental liability at SSFL related to buildings, and removal is consistent with the future land use as open space/recreational. This action E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices allows DOE to sample soil beneath the buildings, completing soil characterization for chemicals and radionuclides. In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, DOE identified the potential environmental impacts associated with soil remediation, groundwater remediation, and building demolition. However, this ROD only addresses DOE’s decision for building demolition. Subsequent ROD(s) will be developed when DOE makes a decision for soil and groundwater remediation. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Alternatives In the SSFL Area IV Draft and Final EIS, DOE evaluated the No Action, Alternative Use of Area IV Buildings, and Building Removal alternatives. The Alternative Use of Area IV Buildings was dismissed in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS as a viable alternative because DOE does not own the land, and Boeing, the land owner, has established conservation easements and agreements designating the future use of its land as open space/recreational. There is no viable purpose for reuse of the buildings and their removal is consistent with Boeing’s land-use plans. Under the No Action Alternative, none of the 18 structures would be removed, but as required by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, DOE would still be responsible for long-term surveillance, maintenance, and security. The Building Removal Alternative would involve complete removal of the buildings and foundations (except for the concrete slabs of Buildings 4462 and 4463 which are owned by Boeing) with offsite disposal of debris at permitted or authorized facilities in accordance with its waste classification. Potential Environmental Impacts In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS DOE analyzed environmental issues and the potential impacts, including land resources, geology and soils, surface water, groundwater, biology, air quality and climate change, noise, transportation and traffic, human health, waste management, cultural resources, socioeconomics, environmental justice, and sensitiveaged populations. DOE also evaluated the potential impacts of the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources, the short-term uses of the environment, and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity. These analyses and results are described in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, including the Summary and in Section 2.8 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. In identifying the preferred alternative for building demolition and disposal, and in making the decision announced VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 in this ROD, DOE considered the potential impacts that would result from the building removal. Table S–8 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS Summary also provides a summary and comparison of potential environmental consequences associated with each alternative. The impacts to the physical, social, and natural environments will be minimal and manageable. Environmentally Preferable Alternative The environmentally preferable alternative is the complete removal of all 18 buildings and structures. The deteriorating buildings have the potential to release contamination (e.g., heavy metals) and could be a safety risk to wildlife attempting to enter or occupy them. Complete removal also is consistent with Boeing’s commitment to return its portion of SSFL to open space/recreational use. Permits, Consultations, and Notifications DOE will demolish and dispose of the RMHF and HWMF buildings in accordance with the closure plans approved by California DTSC. DOE has coordinated the processes associated with NEPA and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, codified at 54 U.S.C. 306108, and complied with Section 106 requirement through completion of the Programmatic Agreement with the California State Historic Preservation Officer (September 13, 2019). DOE also consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, codified at 16 U.S.C. 1536. Area IV of SSFL includes federally-designated critical habitat for the endangered Braunton’s milk-vetch. USFWS issued its Biological Opinion related to DOE’s proposed actions on August 28, 2018 (http:// www.ssflareaiveis.com/documents/feis/ Biological%20Opinion.pdf). Public and Agency Involvement Following the 2007 Federal court decision resulting from a legal challenge to the 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), DOE published in the Federal Register its Advanced Notice of Intent (ANOI) to prepare an EIS on October 17, 2007 (72 FR 58834). The ANOI was issued to request early comments and to obtain input on the scope of the EIS. The NOI to prepare an EIS and to announce scoping meetings was published in the Federal Register on May 16, 2008 (73 FR 28437). The public scoping period started on May 16, 2008 and continued through August 14, 2008. Scoping meetings were held in Simi PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51151 Valley, California (July 22, 2008), Northridge, California (July 23, 2008), and Sacramento, California (July 24, 2008). Preparation of the Draft EIS was delayed due to the need to collect soil and groundwater characterization data for Area IV and the NBZ. The lack of characterization data was one of EPA’s and the State of California’s comments on the 2003 EA. EPA collected characterization data for radionuclides from October 2010 to December 2012. DOE (under DTSC oversight) collected characterization data for chemicals from October 2010 to June 2014. While the characterization data were being collected, DOE ETEC continued public involvement through release of newsletters and conducting Community Alternatives Development Workshops in 2012. Due to the length of time between the 2008 NOI and completion of characterization, DOE published in the Federal Register on February 7, 2014, an Amended NOI for the SSFL Area IV EIS (79 FR 7439). Additional scoping meetings were held in Simi Valley, California on February 27, 2014, and in Agoura Hills/Calabasas, California on March 1, 2014. The scoping period ended on March 10, 2014. The Notice of Availability of the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017 (82 FR 4336). An Amended Notice Extending the Comment Period to April 13, 2017 was published in the Federal Register on March 17, 2017 (82 FR 14218). Comments Received on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Remediation of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory The Notice of Availability of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2018 (83 FR 67282). DOE distributed the SSFL Area IV Final EIS to Members of Congress, State and local governments; other Federal agencies; culturallyaffiliated American Indian tribal governments; non-governmental organizations; and other stakeholders including members of the public who requested the document. Also, the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was made available via the internet (http://www.SSFLArea IVEIS.com). In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, DOE announced the preferred alternative for building demolition as the Building Removal Alternative. DOE received 885 letters or emails regarding the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. DOE considered all comments contained in the letters and emails received subsequent to publication of the FEIS. Some of the comments E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 51152 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices reiterated issues raised during the comment period on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS, which DOE previously evaluated and provided responses to those comments in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, Volume 3, Comment/ Response Document. Comments previously considered and responded to on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS are not being addressed anew in this response to comments on the Final EIS. Relevant to this ROD on Building Demolition, DOE has no additional responses specifically to the following items that were raised in comments on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS which were addressed in the response to comments received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS: • Comments that DOE needs to take responsibility and perform a full cleanup; that less would not be protective of human health and safety. • Comments that DOE’s proposed cleanup alternatives would leave contamination that could migrate from the site. • Comments that the health of the local population would be threatened by the continued onsite presence of contaminants. • Comments that DOE must comply with all laws and commitments, including the 2010 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC). • Comments that DOE needs to comply with RCRA standards, enforced by DTSC, and that DOE does not intend to comply; the alternatives presented are attempts by DOE to usurp DTSC authority. • Comments regarding DOE’s failure to address only alternatives that comply with the AOC. • Comments incorporated by reference by the City of Los Angeles. This section of the ROD addresses comments that are generally applicable to the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, including any that are relevant to the building demolition and disposal decision. Comments generally applicable to the SSFL Area IV Final EIS address compliance with laws and regulations (e.g., NEPA) and include those related to how the Woolsey fire affected the site and the NEPA analysis. DOE received comment letters from the EPA, Region IX; DTSC; The Boeing Company; City of Los Angeles; Natural Resources Defense Council/Committee to Bridge the Gap; Physicians for Social Responsibility—Los Angeles; Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition; Southern California Federation of Scientists; and the SSFL Community Advisory Group. DOE also received 876 comment emails from individuals. The primary topics of the comments are NEPA compliance, soil remediation, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 groundwater remediation, the Biological Opinion, and the Woolsey Fire. No new comments specific to the building demolition alternative, its impacts, or status of the building removal preferred alternative were received on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. The topics below summarize the comments received related to building demolition, the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, and the proposed action in general. DOE has responded to each topic. Comments and comment topics related to soil or groundwater remediation are not addressed below because they are not relevant to the decision being made in this ROD. Comments related to soil and groundwater remediation will be addressed in the future ROD(s). DOE reviewed and responded to all comments received through March 28, 2019. There were no comments received after that date. Topic A—National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance: Commenters stated that DOE violated NEPA by issuing a SSFL Area IV Final EIS that was substantially changed from the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS published for public comment. Commenters asserted that 50 to 60 percent of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was new material that the public had not been provided an opportunity to review and comment on and DOE had therefore, not provided its responses to any such comments. Commenters asserted that DOE failed to comply with its duties under the law or its failure to include certain information in the Draft EIS for public review is a violation of NEPA. A commenter repeated an assertion made in the comments on the Draft EIS that the EIS violates NEPA because it evaluates actions that DOE does not have the discretion to take. Various requests were made regarding review of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Some commenters requested that the review period for the SSFL Area IV Final EIS be extended. Some commenters requested recirculating the SSFL Area IV Final EIS for public comment and others requested withdrawing the current document and issuing a new SSFL Area IV Final EIS that the commenters asserted would be compliant with NEPA. Response: Commenters are incorrect in their assertion that DOE has violated NEPA. NEPA regulations require agencies to analyze the potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed action, to issue a Draft EIS for public comment (40 CFR 1503.1), and to respond to comments (40 CFR 1503.4). NEPA regulations also state that the agency may not make a decision on a proposed action until 30 days after the PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Federal Register announcement of a final EIS (40 CFR 1506.10). In accordance with NEPA regulations, in preparing the Final EIS, DOE made revisions to reflect more recent information and to respond to comments received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Much of the additional material in the Final EIS was in response to comments on the Draft EIS. In Section 1.11 of the Final EIS, DOE summarized the major factors that resulted in changes. Comments that resulted in changes are also summarized and described in greater detail in Volume 3, the Comment Response Document. The Federal Register notification of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was published on December 28, 2018, and indicated that a 30-day review period would end on January 28, 2019. During the period from December 28, 2018, until the issuance of this ROD, DOE received 885 submittals regarding the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. DOE received comments through March 28, 2019 and considered those comments in the development of this ROD. There were no comments received after March 28, 2019. By submitting comments on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, organizations and individuals demonstrated that they did have an opportunity to review and comment on the Area IV Final EIS. Having reviewed and considered comments received, DOE has determined that there is no need to reissue the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (or issue a new or supplemental EIS). DOE has met its obligations under NEPA for public input and review. Public involvement and review opportunities included two scoping periods, alternatives development workshops, and a comment period on the Draft EIS. Additionally, DOE considered comments received on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Topic B—Responses to Comments on the Draft EIS: Commenters stated that DOE failed to substantively and adequately respond to comments received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Commenters noted that there are many pages purporting to respond to comments, but claimed that the responses do not meet DOE’s requirements under NEPA. Some commenters also claimed that DOE changed the EIS without a meaningful explanation of the changes in responding to the comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. One commenter specifically noted that ‘‘DOE has not fairly addressed opposing scientific and legal viewpoints.’’ Response: DOE carefully reviewed, considered and responded to all E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. The commenters failed to provide examples to support their allegations that DOE did not substantively and adequately respond to comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. One commenter cited a federal court decision, but failed to provide a specific instance of its relevance to the SSFL Area IV Final EIS content. DOE performed a careful review and analysis of the comment documents (letters, emails, hearing transcripts) received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS to identify individual comments. DOE performed a commentby-comment review and prepared an individual response to each comment. The resulting Comment Response Document (Volume 3 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS) represents 1,363 comment documents. The comments and responses to those comments can be found in the 1,675 pages in the Comment Response Document. Topic C—Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Compliance: Commenters stated that the SSFL Area IV Final EIS violated RCRA. Commenters repeated a comment made on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS, which DTSC, as the regulator, rather than DOE, decides how much contamination must be cleaned up. Response: The preparation and issuance of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, which is not a decision document, is not a violation of RCRA. DOE recognizes that DTSC has regulatory authority for RCRA decisions and introduced DTSC’s authorities on page 1–4 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. As discussed in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (Section 1.9), DOE has prepared and submitted to DTSC RCRA closure plans addressing DOE’s five RCRA-regulated buildings in Area IV. Topic D—Misrepresentation of Related Documents: Commenters were concerned that DOE mischaracterizes the AOC and the 2007 Federal court order in Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Committee to Bridge the Gap, and City of Los Angeles v. Department of Energy, et al. (NRDC v. DOE), (Case No. 3:04–CV–04448–SC, May 7, 2007). The commenter stated that DOE implies that its obligations under the AOC are ‘‘suspended’’ because of a section of the AOC stating that if there are inconsistencies between the AOC and the court’s decision, DOE would work with the parties to request any relief needed. The commenter asserts that this ruling applied only to the need to remove DOE buildings in order to take soil measurements beneath them for the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Response: In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, DOE characterized the relationship VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 of the EIS, AOC, and 2007 Federal court order in Sections 1.3, 1.9, 1.11, 2.2, 2.7, and Comment Response Document, Section 2.2. Claims that DOE breached the AOC or failed to comply with the AOC were addressed in the response to comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (e.g., response to comment 72–2). Section 6.2 of the AOC states: ‘‘In the event that DOE and DTSC are not successful in obtaining relief from that order, DOE’s obligations under this Order shall be stayed. The Parties shall thereupon undertake to agree upon a procedure for environmental review that would meet the requirements of the injunction in NRDC v. DOE and make any necessary modifications to this Order.’’ Since the parties did not get relief from the Order, the SSFL Area IV Draft and Final EIS provide the required environmental review and, pursuant to the AOC, DOE will work with DTSC to make any appropriate modifications to the AOC. Topic E—Biological Opinion Development Process: Commenters submitted a number of comments raising concerns about the development and use of the Biological Opinion developed by the USFWS. Some commenters took issue with the manner in which DOE consulted with USFWS, asserting that DOE requested consultation for an action that would violate the AOC. Commenters note that the Biological Opinion does not make a jeopardy determination. Commenters therefore asserted that no exception to the AOC criterion is allowed, because the Biological Opinion issued makes no finding that the cleanup action would violate specific sections of the Endangered Species Act as identified in the AOC. A commenter also implied that there were misrepresentations in the Biological Assessment prepared by DOE that USFWS relied on to prepare the Biological Opinion. Response: DOE consulted appropriately with the USFWS in the development of the Biological Opinion for remediation of Area IV and the NBZ. A Biological Opinion is prepared by the USFWS in compliance with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. DOE initiated informal consultation with USFWS in June 2013 relative to the AOC soil cleanup in Area IV. There were seven meetings with USFWS during the informal consultation period, six attended by DTSC staff. Formal consultation started in January 2018, after DOE answered the USFWS’ questions regarding the project and the AOC exemption process. There were two formal consultation meetings with USFWS in 2018. Pursuant to the USFWS Biological Opinion, the formal PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51153 consultation was based on the following USFWS statement, which was provided on page 1 of its Biological Opinion: ‘‘For purposes of section 7 consultation, the AOC provides that impacts to species or habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act may be considered as possible exemptions from the cleanup standard specified herein only to the extent that the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, in response to a request by DOE for consultation, issues a Biological Opinion with a determination that implementation of the cleanup action would violate Section 7(a)2 or Section 9 of the ESA, and no reasonable and prudent measures or reasonable or prudent alternatives exist that would allow for the use of the specific cleanup standard in that portion of the site.’’ The USFWS prefers to work with project proponents (i.e., engage in consultation) such that the need for a jeopardy opinion can be avoided. The USFWS consults with project proponents to attempt to develop alternatives to the action, if possible, so that a jeopardy opinion would not be necessary. In a letter dated February 2, 2017, the USFWS responded to a request by DOE for technical assistance, and outlined the direct and substantial effects to the federally endangered Braunton’s milkvetch and its critical habitat that would result from a cleanup to background and recommended that DOE exercise an exemption to the AOC for the protection of the species. The exemption process that was described in the Draft EIS (page 2–18) and repeated in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was the foundation of the consultation between DOE and USFWS, which resulted in the protection of endangered species at SSFL. Commenters provided no examples of claims of misrepresentation in the Biological Assessment, other than those addressed above regarding the AOC. Topic F—Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion Were Not Available for the Draft EIS: Commenters stated concerns that the Biological Assessment and the Biological Opinion were not included in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS nor made available during the Draft EIS process, nor made available during the Draft EIS process, and therefore were unavailable for review. As a consequence, commenters were concerned that the Biological Opinion has not been subjected to public scrutiny or comment. Another commenter stated that not having the Biological Opinion in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS did not allow an opportunity for public comment, and was thus a violation of NEPA. Response: The lack of public review of the Biological Assessment or E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 51154 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices Biological Opinion is not an issue under NEPA. DOE did not violate NEPA because of the lack of public review of the Biological Assessment or Biological Opinion. The Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion are required by the Endangered Species Act and USFWS regulations. The Biological Assessment is prepared by the project proponent for use by the USFWS in preparing the Biological Opinion. Nevertheless, the content of the Biological Assessment formed the basis of Section 3.5, Biological Resources (Affected Environment—baseline conditions) and Section 4.5, Biological Resources (Environmental Consequences—impact assessment) that were included in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. The exemption process for protection of endangered species that USFWS used in formulating its Biological Opinion was described in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (page 2–18) and therefore, was available for comment. It remained the same process as is analyzed in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Because the Biological Opinion is a USFWS document, its content and references are within the purview of the USFWS. The County of Los Angeles had requested that the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS be recirculated after completion of the Biological Opinion for additional public review. DOE did not recirculate the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Data from the USFWS Biological Opinion was integrated into this SSFL Area IV Final EIS, (for example, used to refine the extent of the areas in which the exemption process would be applied). Topic G—Woolsey Fire Impact on the Braunton’s Milk-vetch: Commenters made a number of observations regarding the Braunton’s milk-vetch with respect to the Woolsey Fire. They noted that the fire burned a portion of Area IV that is identified as primary habitat for Braunton’s milk-vetch. A commenter also noted that Braunton’s milk-vetch is the ‘‘one endangered plant in Area IV and the NBZ. . . .’’ Commenters expressed the belief that because the fire had burned the Braunton’s milk-vetch habitat, that there was no longer a need for an exception to cleaning up contamination in that area. Response: These comments reflect a misunderstanding of the southern California fire ecology and this species. The milk-vetch requires soil disturbance, either by fire or mechanical means, to germinate. It exists as a plant for about 5 to 7 years producing seeds that remain in the soil until the next disturbance. The last disturbance was EPA’s 2010 survey of Area IV. Species germination following that disturbance VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 is documented, but most of those plants had completed their life cycle by the time of the recent fire. Further, not all of the remaining plants were burned by the Woolsey fire. The plant also germinated following the 2005 Topanga fire as discussed on pages 3–79 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. DOE is engaged in monitoring of germination and the recovery of the burned area following the 2018 fire. In compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the AOC, it remains necessary and appropriate for DOE to protect the Braunton’s milkvetch habitat. Topic H—Woolsey Fire: Commenters expressed concern that the Woolsey fire was not included in and accounted for in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Commenters noted that the fire occurred before the issuance of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS and stated that the effects of the fire could therefore, have been evaluated. Using maps from the SSFL Area IV Final EIS and the DTSC Interim Summary Report of Woolsey Fire (https://bit.ly/2m2QZLc) commenters included maps in their comments reflecting their understanding of the extent of the burned area within Area IV. Citing information from DOE provided in informational emails or news articles, commenters noted that DOE initially indicated that Area IV had not been affected by the fire and later stated that 80 percent of SSFL had been burned. Commenters also noted that significant portions of SSFL were burned and hypothesized that contamination was mobilized and winds likely moved contamination to new areas. Commenters also claimed as a result of this fire that the EIS is flawed in asserting that there is no public health risk from leaving contamination in place, because there is a potential for future fires to cause offsite releases. Commenters stated that regardless of the damage to the Braunton’s milk-vetch habitat, the Final EIS should have discussed the effects of the fire on baseline conditions. Further, commenters indicated that DOE has not considered the impacts of the fire on its preferred alternatives and therefore no ROD can lawfully be based on the Final EIS. Response: Because the fire burned a portion of SSFL, DOE understands that there is concern in communities near the site about the effects of the fire on the contamination on site and the analysis in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. The fire did not burn any Area IV buildings or any locations, either in Area IV or the NBZ with elevated soil contamination, and none of the Area IV groundwater cleanup locations were affected. Subsequent to the fire, DOE PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 prepared a separate technical report http://www.ssflareaiveis.com that evaluates the impacts of the fire on Area IV and the NBZ and whether the fire had any effect on the analyses and conclusions in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. In that report, DOE corrects the location of the line showing the extent of the burned portion of Area IV. The report’s conclusion is that the fire had no substantive effect on the analyses in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS or on the selection of the Preferred Alternative for buildings. Because the fire did not result in substantial changes and significant new information related to the buildings (DOE NEPA regulation 40 CFR part 1502, Section 1502.9), it was determined that there was no need to prepare a Supplemental EIS or Supplement Analysis. See Topic G for the effect of the fire on the Braunton’s milk-vetch. Regarding comments that the fire resulted in the release of contamination, DOE, Boeing, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration performed air sampling during and following the fire and DTSC, EPA, and others conducted sampling immediately post-fire. As reported in the DTSC Interim Summary Report of Woolsey Fire, measurements and analyses indicate that no radioactive or hazardous materials associated with contamination of SSFL were released by the fire. These results are reasonably consistent with those reported following the 2005 Topanga fire as presented in Section 3.9 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Topic I—Risk Assessment Process: Commenters stated that the risk assessment presented in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was new. A commenter also claimed that the process did not follow EPA guidance. Response: The SSFL Area IV Final EIS includes risk assessments of onsite and offsite impacts. The risk assessment presented in Appendix G of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS evaluates potential impacts on the offsite public from implementation of the building demolition and soil remediation alternatives. This analysis was new in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. It was added in response to comments on the Draft EIS requesting a quantitative analysis of offsite impacts. Risk assessments of onsite impacts were not new in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (Section 4.9.1 Draft EIS). Comments related to risk assessments as they concern onsite risks associated with soil remediation, including the comment regarding EPA guidance, are not addressed in this ROD; DOE will E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES address those comments in a future ROD for soil remediation. Additional Topics: A number of additional topics related to the soil and groundwater remediation alternatives were identified in comments on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Commenters were concerned that the Preferred Alternative for soil remediation (an open space scenario based on a recreational user) was not one of the alternatives identified in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (January 2017) and had not been subject to public review and comment. Commenters took issue with how DOE incorporated Boeing’s two Grant Deeds of Conservation Easement and Agreements (April and November 2017) and also were concerned that the alternative left large amounts of contaminated soil on site, and was inconsistent with the AOC. Commenters repeated claims that SSFL is extensively contaminated and were concerned that failing to clean soil to background would place the surrounding community at risk. Other commenters expressed support for a risk-based alternative for cleanup of Area IV and the NBZ. A commenter was concerned that the discussion of soil remediation actions does not include sufficient data or discussion to determine the elements of the Soil Remedial Action Implementation Plan (SRAIP) as required by the AOC. The commenter noted that the SSFL Area IV Final EIS fails to include sufficient information to address how DOE would conduct the remediation, the areas where soil remediation would occur, areas identified for biological and cultural exemptions, mitigation measures, and a schedule for implementation. Regarding DOE’s Preferred Alternative for groundwater remediation, commenters were concerned that it would not adequately clean up groundwater and relied too much on natural attenuation. Response: The focus of the additional topics summarized above is on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS discussion and analysis of soil and groundwater remediation. DOE is not making a decision regarding soil or groundwater remediation in this ROD. Consequently, DOE is deferring responses to these comments to a future ROD(s) announcing a decision on cleanup of soil and groundwater. DOE Comment Review Conclusion DOE has considered these comments and concludes that they do not present substantial changes to a proposal or significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts within the meaning VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 of 40 CFR 1502.9(c) and 10 CFR 1021.314(a) and therefore do not require preparation of a supplement analysis or a supplemental EIS. Decision DOE–EM has decided to implement the Building Removal Alternative, its Preferred Alternative for building demolition, as described in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Under this alternative, DOE–EM will prepare demolition/disposal plans for each building describing: (1) Processes for characterizing building materials for the presence of hazardous materials and radionuclides; (2) processes for collecting, handling, transporting, and disposing of debris containing hazardous materials and radionuclides; and (3) the identification of the facilities receiving the materials. The demolition/ disposal plans will also describe the handling, transporting, and disposing of building debris in accordance with disposal facility waste acceptance criteria. Building demolition will be performed using standard mechanized equipment and transported using standard highway trucks. Demolition materials will be sampled for comparison with the waste acceptance criteria of the receiving facilities prior to or during building demolition. Some material will be containerized for transport. Following building removal DOE will prepare and implement plans for soil sampling beneath the building footprints. This will allow DOE to complete soil characterization and decision plans for soil and groundwater remediation. DOE has prepared RCRA Closure Plans for the RMHF (3 buildings) and HWMF (2 buildings). DOE submitted the plans to DTSC for approval in October 2016. On August 13, 2018, DTSC announced the plans to be complete and initiated a public comment period. The public comment period ran from August 13, 2018, to October 12, 2018. The RCRA closure plans are also subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act. In October 2017, DTSC released a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Report describing cleanup actions for the entirety of SSFL. DOE will demolish and remove the RCRApermitted buildings/structures at the RMHF and HWMF and clean up the sites to meet the requirements in the DTSC-approved closure plans. In reaching this decision, DOE balanced the environmental information in the Final EIS, potential environmental impacts of building demolition and debris transportation, current and future mission needs, PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51155 technical and security considerations, availability of resources, and public comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft and Final EIS. DOE no longer has a need for any of the buildings and by removing them DOE will facilitate accomplishment of its environmental management program initiatives. Some buildings still contain radionuclides imbedded in building material, and removal of the buildings with disposal of the radiological materials at a regulated facility provides long-term protection from the materials. The future land use of the Area IV property is open space/recreational, and removal of the buildings is consistent with that future land use. Removal of the buildings also allows for access to soil for final soil sampling. Building demolition and debris transportation can be conducted in a manner that is protective of the local Area IV environment and populations along the transport route. Implementing the Preferred Alternative will allow DOE to continue its progress of cleaning up legacy nuclear research properties. Mitigation Measures Building demolition and debris transportation could result in airborne emissions of various pollutants in diesel exhaust, and potential pollutants including radionuclides, metals, and organic constituents during demolition activities. This decision adopts the mitigation and monitoring measures relevant to building demolition that are identified in Chapter 6 of the Final EIS, the Programmatic Agreement, and the Biological Opinion. Practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the selected alternative for building demolition have been, or will be, adopted. Prior to building demolition, DOE will prepare a mitigation and monitoring plan that will address how air emissions be will minimized. Diesel emissions will be controlled through using demolition equipment and highway trucks fitted with pollution control equipment maintained to manufacturer specifications. Particulate emissions during building demolition will be controlled using best available control measures including water sprays. Toxic chemicals and radionuclides found in debris will be packaged to prevent releases during transportation. Occupational safety risks to workers will be minimized by adherence to Federal and state occupational safety laws, and DOE requirements, regulations, and orders. Workers will also be protected by use of engineering and administrative controls. Emergency preparedness will also include an E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 51156 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices Accident Preparedness Program to address protection of the public during the transportation of building materials. Storm water control best management practices will be implemented to prevent surface water runoff from demolition sites. EIS No. 20190235, Final, USFWS, WA, Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet, Review Period Ends: 10/28/2019, Contact: Tim Romanski 360–753–5823 EIS No. 20190236, Final, USACE, TX, Lake Ralph Hall Regional Water Supply Reservoir Project, Review Period Ends: 10/28/2019, Contact: Chandler J. Peter 817–886–1736 Signed at Washington, DC, on September 23, 2019. William I. White, Senior Advisor for Environmental Management to the Under Secretary for Science. Dated: September 23, 2019. Robert Tomiak, Director, Office of Federal Activities. [FR Doc. 2019–21013 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] [FR Doc. 2019–20990 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [ER–FRL–9047–1] [OMB 3060–0474] Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES Responsible Agency: Office of Federal Activities, General Information 202– 564–5632 or https://www.epa.gov/ nepa/. Weekly receipt of Environmental Impact Statements Filed 09/16/2019 10 a.m. ET Through 09/23/2019 10 a.m. ET Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9. Notice Section 309(a) of the Clean Air Act requires that EPA make public its comments on EISs issued by other Federal agencies. EPA’s comment letters on EISs are available at: https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. EIS No. 20190231, Draft, HCIDLA, CA, Rose Hill Courts Redevelopment Project, Comment Period Ends: 11/12/ 2019, Contact: Shelly Lo 213–808– 8879 EIS No. 20190232, Final, NMFS, FL, Coral Habitat Areas Considered for Habitat Areas of Particular Concern Designation in the Gulf of Mexico, Review Period Ends: 10/28/2019, Contact: Lauren M. Waters 727–524– 5305 EIS No. 20190233, Final, BLM, CA, Desert Quartzite Solar Project Final Plan Amendment/Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report, Review Period Ends: 10/28/2019, Contact: Brandon G. Anderson 951–697–5200 EIS No. 20190234, Final, USFS, WY, Invasive Plant Management Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Review Period Ends: 11/12/2019, Contact: Chad Hayward 307–276– 3375 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 Information Collections Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated Authority Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission’s burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 Written comments shall be submitted on or before November 26, 2019. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contacts below as soon as possible. DATES: Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email: PRA@ fcc.gov and to Cathy.Williams@fcc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information about the information collection, contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418–2918. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OMB Control Number: 3060–0474. Title: Section 74.1263, Time of Operation. Form Number: N/A. Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection. Respondents: Business and other for profit entities; not-for-profit institutions. Number of Respondents and Responses: 110 respondents; 110 responses. Estimated Time per Response: 0.5 hours. Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement. Total Annual Burden: 55 hours. Total Annual Costs: None. Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in Sections 154(i), 303 and 308 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information. Privacy Impact Assessment(s): No impact(s). Needs and Uses: The information collection requirements contained in 47 CFR 74.1263(c) require licensees of FM translator or booster stations to notify the Commission of its intent to discontinue operations for 30 or more consecutive days. In addition, licensees must notify the Commission within 48 hours of the station’s return to operation. The information collection requirements contained in 47 CFR Section 74.1263(d) require FM translator or booster station licensees to notify the Commission of its intent to discontinue operations permanently and to forward the station license to the FCC for cancellation. ADDRESSES: Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary. [FR Doc. 2019–21019 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 188 (Friday, September 27, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51149-51156]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21013]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Record of Decision for Final Environmental Impact Statement for 
Remediation of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the Santa Susana 
Field Laboratory, California

AGENCY: Office of Environmental Management, U.S. Department of Energy.

[[Page 51150]]


ACTION: Record of decision.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to 
demolish the 18 buildings it owns in Area IV of the Santa Susana Field 
Laboratory (SSFL) and dispose of or recycle the materials off site. 
This action will be taken in accordance with applicable federal, state, 
and local requirements. (The demolition of five of the eighteen 
buildings and the disposal of the resulting debris will be accomplished 
pursuant to closure plans approved by the California Department of 
Toxic Substances Control.) This action will also be taken consistent 
with agreements and decisions resulting from interagency consultations 
conducted in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local 
requirements, including the Programmatic Agreement executed with the 
California State Historic Preservation Officer pursuant to the National 
Historic Preservation Act and the Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

ADDRESSES: This Record of Decision (ROD), the SSFL Area IV Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and related NEPA documents are 
available at the DOE SSFL Area IV website (http://etec.energy.gov) and 
the DOE NEPA website (http://energy.gov/nepa).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the SSFL 
FEIS, the ROD, and DOE cleanup actions within Area IV of SSFL and the 
Northern Buffer Zone, please contact Ms. Stephanie Jennings, ETEC 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance Officer, U.S. 
Department of Energy at [email protected]. For general 
information on DOE's NEPA process, please contact Mr. Bill Ostrum, 
Acting NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of 
Environmental Management, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 
20585-0103: Telephone: (202) 586-2513; or Email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    DOE prepared the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (DOE/EIS-0402) in 
accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C 4321 et seq.), CEQ NEPA regulations (40 
CFR parts 1500-1508), and DOE's NEPA Implementing Procedures (10 CFR 
part 1021). DOE announced its intent to prepare an EIS on May 16, 2008 
(73 FR 28437) and conducted public scoping. DOE prepared a Draft EIS 
and distributed it to interested parties. Following the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Notice of Availability of the 
SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (82 FR 4336; January 13, 2017), DOE conducted 
public hearings and invited comment on the Draft EIS. After considering 
comments received on the Draft EIS, DOE addressed the comments and 
prepared a Final EIS that was issued with EPA's Notice of Availability 
(83 FR 67282; December 28, 2018).
    SSFL, located on approximately 2,850 acres in the hills between 
Chatsworth and Simi Valley, California, was developed as a remote site 
to test rocket engines and conduct nuclear research. Rocket engine 
testing by North American Aviation (later Rockwell International 
(Rocketdyne)) began in 1947. In the mid-1950s, the Atomic Energy 
Commission (AEC), a predecessor agency to DOE, funded nuclear research 
on a 90-acre parcel within Area IV of SSFL. The Energy Technology 
Engineering Center (ETEC) was established on this parcel as a ``center 
of excellence'' for liquid metals research. A total of 10 small 
reactors were built and operated as part of nuclear research that ended 
in 1982. DOE-directed liquid metals research continued until 1998.
    During the years of research activities within Area IV, there were 
more than 270 numbered structures supporting the research (structures 
included occupied buildings, storage sheds, tanks, transformers, 
loading docks, etc.). As the mission associated with each structure was 
completed, the structure was decontaminated, demolished, and the debris 
transported offsite for disposal. There was no DOE-sponsored 
development within the Northern Buffer Zone (NBZ).
    By 2006, only 18 DOE-owned numbered structures (buildings and 
sheds) remained in Area IV. Operations within five of the structures 
were conducted under two Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 
permits issued by the State of California Department of Toxic 
Substances Control (DTSC). The remaining 13 buildings were operated 
pursuant to DOE requirements and other applicable laws and regulations.

    The RCRA permitted structures at the Radioactive Materials Handling 
Facility (RMHF) include:

 Building 4021--Decontamination and Packaging Facility (for 
radioactive material)
 Building 4022--Radioactive Storage Building (for reactor fuel)
 Building 4621--Interim storage facility for contaminated 
equipment and source materials

    The RCRA permitted structures at the Hazardous Waste Management 
Facility (HWMF) include:

 Building 4029--storage of non-radioactive chemical wastes
 Building 4133--treatment of reactive (potassium and sodium) 
metals

    The non-RCRA-permitted structures include:

 Building 4019--Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) 
criticality tests
 Building 4024--SNAP reactor testing
 Building 4038--ETEC office building
 Building 4057--sodium test rig housing/currently a warehouse
 Building 4034--RMHF office building
 Building 4044--RMHF clean shop
 Structure 4075--RMHF radioactive waste storage area
 Structure 4563--RMHF radioactive waste storage area
 Structure 4658--RMHF guard shack
 Building 4665--RMHF oxidation facility
 Structure 4688--RMHF storage shed
 Building 4462--Sodium Pump Test Facility (SPTF)
 Building 4463--SPTF support building

Purpose and Need for Agency Action

    DOE's purpose and need for action remains as stated in the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS. DOE needs to complete remediation of Area IV and the 
NBZ to comply with applicable requirements for cleanup of radiological 
and non-radiological hazardous substances. Pursuant to this ROD, DOE 
has decided to remove the remaining 18 DOE-owned structures in Area IV 
of SSFL in a manner that is protective of the environment and the 
health and safety of the public and its workers. (The demolition of 
five of these buildings requires closure plans approved by DTSC.)

Proposed Action

    DOE's proposed action that is the subject of this ROD is to 
demolish the 18 DOE-owned buildings in Area IV and transport the 
resulting waste off site for disposal. Demolition of 13 facilities and 
disposition of the resulting debris will be in accordance with DOE 
requirements and applicable laws and regulations. Three facilities at 
the RMHF and the two facilities comprising the HWMF will be closed in 
accordance with California DTSC-approved RCRA facility closure plans. 
By doing so, DOE will no longer have a long-term safety and 
environmental liability at SSFL related to buildings, and removal is 
consistent with the future land use as open space/recreational. This 
action

[[Page 51151]]

allows DOE to sample soil beneath the buildings, completing soil 
characterization for chemicals and radionuclides. In the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS, DOE identified the potential environmental impacts 
associated with soil remediation, groundwater remediation, and building 
demolition. However, this ROD only addresses DOE's decision for 
building demolition. Subsequent ROD(s) will be developed when DOE makes 
a decision for soil and groundwater remediation.

Alternatives

    In the SSFL Area IV Draft and Final EIS, DOE evaluated the No 
Action, Alternative Use of Area IV Buildings, and Building Removal 
alternatives. The Alternative Use of Area IV Buildings was dismissed in 
the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS as a viable alternative because DOE does not 
own the land, and Boeing, the land owner, has established conservation 
easements and agreements designating the future use of its land as open 
space/recreational. There is no viable purpose for reuse of the 
buildings and their removal is consistent with Boeing's land-use plans. 
Under the No Action Alternative, none of the 18 structures would be 
removed, but as required by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, 
DOE would still be responsible for long-term surveillance, maintenance, 
and security. The Building Removal Alternative would involve complete 
removal of the buildings and foundations (except for the concrete slabs 
of Buildings 4462 and 4463 which are owned by Boeing) with offsite 
disposal of debris at permitted or authorized facilities in accordance 
with its waste classification.

Potential Environmental Impacts

    In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS DOE analyzed environmental issues and 
the potential impacts, including land resources, geology and soils, 
surface water, groundwater, biology, air quality and climate change, 
noise, transportation and traffic, human health, waste management, 
cultural resources, socioeconomics, environmental justice, and 
sensitive-aged populations. DOE also evaluated the potential impacts of 
the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources, the short-
term uses of the environment, and the maintenance and enhancement of 
long-term productivity. These analyses and results are described in the 
SSFL Area IV Final EIS, including the Summary and in Section 2.8 of the 
SSFL Area IV Final EIS.
    In identifying the preferred alternative for building demolition 
and disposal, and in making the decision announced in this ROD, DOE 
considered the potential impacts that would result from the building 
removal. Table S-8 of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS Summary also provides 
a summary and comparison of potential environmental consequences 
associated with each alternative. The impacts to the physical, social, 
and natural environments will be minimal and manageable.

Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    The environmentally preferable alternative is the complete removal 
of all 18 buildings and structures. The deteriorating buildings have 
the potential to release contamination (e.g., heavy metals) and could 
be a safety risk to wildlife attempting to enter or occupy them. 
Complete removal also is consistent with Boeing's commitment to return 
its portion of SSFL to open space/recreational use.

Permits, Consultations, and Notifications

    DOE will demolish and dispose of the RMHF and HWMF buildings in 
accordance with the closure plans approved by California DTSC. DOE has 
coordinated the processes associated with NEPA and Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, codified at 54 U.S.C. 306108, and 
complied with Section 106 requirement through completion of the 
Programmatic Agreement with the California State Historic Preservation 
Officer (September 13, 2019). DOE also consulted with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS) for compliance with Section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act, codified at 16 U.S.C. 1536. Area IV of SSFL 
includes federally-designated critical habitat for the endangered 
Braunton's milk-vetch. USFWS issued its Biological Opinion related to 
DOE's proposed actions on August 28, 2018 (http://www.ssflareaiveis.com/documents/feis/Biological%20Opinion.pdf).

Public and Agency Involvement

    Following the 2007 Federal court decision resulting from a legal 
challenge to the 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI), DOE published in the Federal Register its 
Advanced Notice of Intent (ANOI) to prepare an EIS on October 17, 2007 
(72 FR 58834). The ANOI was issued to request early comments and to 
obtain input on the scope of the EIS. The NOI to prepare an EIS and to 
announce scoping meetings was published in the Federal Register on May 
16, 2008 (73 FR 28437). The public scoping period started on May 16, 
2008 and continued through August 14, 2008. Scoping meetings were held 
in Simi Valley, California (July 22, 2008), Northridge, California 
(July 23, 2008), and Sacramento, California (July 24, 2008).
    Preparation of the Draft EIS was delayed due to the need to collect 
soil and groundwater characterization data for Area IV and the NBZ. The 
lack of characterization data was one of EPA's and the State of 
California's comments on the 2003 EA. EPA collected characterization 
data for radionuclides from October 2010 to December 2012. DOE (under 
DTSC oversight) collected characterization data for chemicals from 
October 2010 to June 2014. While the characterization data were being 
collected, DOE ETEC continued public involvement through release of 
newsletters and conducting Community Alternatives Development Workshops 
in 2012. Due to the length of time between the 2008 NOI and completion 
of characterization, DOE published in the Federal Register on February 
7, 2014, an Amended NOI for the SSFL Area IV EIS (79 FR 7439). 
Additional scoping meetings were held in Simi Valley, California on 
February 27, 2014, and in Agoura Hills/Calabasas, California on March 
1, 2014. The scoping period ended on March 10, 2014. The Notice of 
Availability of the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS was published in the Federal 
Register on January 13, 2017 (82 FR 4336). An Amended Notice Extending 
the Comment Period to April 13, 2017 was published in the Federal 
Register on March 17, 2017 (82 FR 14218).

Comments Received on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for 
Remediation of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the Santa Susana 
Field Laboratory

    The Notice of Availability of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was 
published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2018 (83 FR 67282). 
DOE distributed the SSFL Area IV Final EIS to Members of Congress, 
State and local governments; other Federal agencies; culturally-
affiliated American Indian tribal governments; non-governmental 
organizations; and other stakeholders including members of the public 
who requested the document. Also, the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was made 
available via the internet (http://www.SSFLAreaIVEIS.com). In the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS, DOE announced the preferred alternative for building 
demolition as the Building Removal Alternative.
    DOE received 885 letters or emails regarding the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS. DOE considered all comments contained in the letters and emails 
received subsequent to publication of the FEIS. Some of the comments

[[Page 51152]]

reiterated issues raised during the comment period on the SSFL Area IV 
Draft EIS, which DOE previously evaluated and provided responses to 
those comments in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, Volume 3, Comment/
Response Document. Comments previously considered and responded to on 
the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS are not being addressed anew in this 
response to comments on the Final EIS. Relevant to this ROD on Building 
Demolition, DOE has no additional responses specifically to the 
following items that were raised in comments on the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS which were addressed in the response to comments received on the 
SSFL Area IV Draft EIS:
     Comments that DOE needs to take responsibility and perform 
a full cleanup; that less would not be protective of human health and 
safety.
     Comments that DOE's proposed cleanup alternatives would 
leave contamination that could migrate from the site.
     Comments that the health of the local population would be 
threatened by the continued onsite presence of contaminants.
     Comments that DOE must comply with all laws and 
commitments, including the 2010 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).
     Comments that DOE needs to comply with RCRA standards, 
enforced by DTSC, and that DOE does not intend to comply; the 
alternatives presented are attempts by DOE to usurp DTSC authority.
     Comments regarding DOE's failure to address only 
alternatives that comply with the AOC.
     Comments incorporated by reference by the City of Los 
Angeles.
    This section of the ROD addresses comments that are generally 
applicable to the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, including any that are 
relevant to the building demolition and disposal decision. Comments 
generally applicable to the SSFL Area IV Final EIS address compliance 
with laws and regulations (e.g., NEPA) and include those related to how 
the Woolsey fire affected the site and the NEPA analysis.
    DOE received comment letters from the EPA, Region IX; DTSC; The 
Boeing Company; City of Los Angeles; Natural Resources Defense Council/
Committee to Bridge the Gap; Physicians for Social Responsibility--Los 
Angeles; Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition; Southern California Federation 
of Scientists; and the SSFL Community Advisory Group. DOE also received 
876 comment emails from individuals. The primary topics of the comments 
are NEPA compliance, soil remediation, groundwater remediation, the 
Biological Opinion, and the Woolsey Fire. No new comments specific to 
the building demolition alternative, its impacts, or status of the 
building removal preferred alternative were received on the SSFL Area 
IV Final EIS. The topics below summarize the comments received related 
to building demolition, the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, and the proposed 
action in general. DOE has responded to each topic. Comments and 
comment topics related to soil or groundwater remediation are not 
addressed below because they are not relevant to the decision being 
made in this ROD. Comments related to soil and groundwater remediation 
will be addressed in the future ROD(s). DOE reviewed and responded to 
all comments received through March 28, 2019. There were no comments 
received after that date.
    Topic A--National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance: 
Commenters stated that DOE violated NEPA by issuing a SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS that was substantially changed from the SSFL Area IV Draft 
EIS published for public comment. Commenters asserted that 50 to 60 
percent of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was new material that the public 
had not been provided an opportunity to review and comment on and DOE 
had therefore, not provided its responses to any such comments. 
Commenters asserted that DOE failed to comply with its duties under the 
law or its failure to include certain information in the Draft EIS for 
public review is a violation of NEPA. A commenter repeated an assertion 
made in the comments on the Draft EIS that the EIS violates NEPA 
because it evaluates actions that DOE does not have the discretion to 
take.
    Various requests were made regarding review of the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS. Some commenters requested that the review period for the 
SSFL Area IV Final EIS be extended. Some commenters requested 
recirculating the SSFL Area IV Final EIS for public comment and others 
requested withdrawing the current document and issuing a new SSFL Area 
IV Final EIS that the commenters asserted would be compliant with NEPA.
    Response: Commenters are incorrect in their assertion that DOE has 
violated NEPA. NEPA regulations require agencies to analyze the 
potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed action, to 
issue a Draft EIS for public comment (40 CFR 1503.1), and to respond to 
comments (40 CFR 1503.4). NEPA regulations also state that the agency 
may not make a decision on a proposed action until 30 days after the 
Federal Register announcement of a final EIS (40 CFR 1506.10). In 
accordance with NEPA regulations, in preparing the Final EIS, DOE made 
revisions to reflect more recent information and to respond to comments 
received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Much of the additional material 
in the Final EIS was in response to comments on the Draft EIS. In 
Section 1.11 of the Final EIS, DOE summarized the major factors that 
resulted in changes. Comments that resulted in changes are also 
summarized and described in greater detail in Volume 3, the Comment 
Response Document. The Federal Register notification of the SSFL Area 
IV Final EIS was published on December 28, 2018, and indicated that a 
30-day review period would end on January 28, 2019. During the period 
from December 28, 2018, until the issuance of this ROD, DOE received 
885 submittals regarding the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. DOE received 
comments through March 28, 2019 and considered those comments in the 
development of this ROD. There were no comments received after March 
28, 2019.
    By submitting comments on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, organizations 
and individuals demonstrated that they did have an opportunity to 
review and comment on the Area IV Final EIS. Having reviewed and 
considered comments received, DOE has determined that there is no need 
to reissue the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (or issue a new or supplemental 
EIS). DOE has met its obligations under NEPA for public input and 
review. Public involvement and review opportunities included two 
scoping periods, alternatives development workshops, and a comment 
period on the Draft EIS. Additionally, DOE considered comments received 
on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS.
    Topic B--Responses to Comments on the Draft EIS: Commenters stated 
that DOE failed to substantively and adequately respond to comments 
received on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Commenters noted that there are 
many pages purporting to respond to comments, but claimed that the 
responses do not meet DOE's requirements under NEPA. Some commenters 
also claimed that DOE changed the EIS without a meaningful explanation 
of the changes in responding to the comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft 
EIS. One commenter specifically noted that ``DOE has not fairly 
addressed opposing scientific and legal viewpoints.''
    Response: DOE carefully reviewed, considered and responded to all

[[Page 51153]]

comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. The commenters failed to 
provide examples to support their allegations that DOE did not 
substantively and adequately respond to comments on the SSFL Area IV 
Draft EIS. One commenter cited a federal court decision, but failed to 
provide a specific instance of its relevance to the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS content. DOE performed a careful review and analysis of the comment 
documents (letters, emails, hearing transcripts) received on the SSFL 
Area IV Draft EIS to identify individual comments. DOE performed a 
comment-by-comment review and prepared an individual response to each 
comment. The resulting Comment Response Document (Volume 3 of the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS) represents 1,363 comment documents. The comments and 
responses to those comments can be found in the 1,675 pages in the 
Comment Response Document.
    Topic C--Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Compliance: 
Commenters stated that the SSFL Area IV Final EIS violated RCRA. 
Commenters repeated a comment made on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS, which 
DTSC, as the regulator, rather than DOE, decides how much contamination 
must be cleaned up.
    Response: The preparation and issuance of the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS, which is not a decision document, is not a violation of RCRA. DOE 
recognizes that DTSC has regulatory authority for RCRA decisions and 
introduced DTSC's authorities on page 1-4 of the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS. As discussed in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS (Section 1.9), DOE has 
prepared and submitted to DTSC RCRA closure plans addressing DOE's five 
RCRA-regulated buildings in Area IV.
    Topic D--Misrepresentation of Related Documents: Commenters were 
concerned that DOE mischaracterizes the AOC and the 2007 Federal court 
order in Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Committee to Bridge 
the Gap, and City of Los Angeles v. Department of Energy, et al. (NRDC 
v. DOE), (Case No. 3:04-CV-04448-SC, May 7, 2007). The commenter stated 
that DOE implies that its obligations under the AOC are ``suspended'' 
because of a section of the AOC stating that if there are 
inconsistencies between the AOC and the court's decision, DOE would 
work with the parties to request any relief needed. The commenter 
asserts that this ruling applied only to the need to remove DOE 
buildings in order to take soil measurements beneath them for the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS.
    Response: In the SSFL Area IV Final EIS, DOE characterized the 
relationship of the EIS, AOC, and 2007 Federal court order in Sections 
1.3, 1.9, 1.11, 2.2, 2.7, and Comment Response Document, Section 2.2. 
Claims that DOE breached the AOC or failed to comply with the AOC were 
addressed in the response to comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS 
(e.g., response to comment 72-2). Section 6.2 of the AOC states: ``In 
the event that DOE and DTSC are not successful in obtaining relief from 
that order, DOE's obligations under this Order shall be stayed. The 
Parties shall thereupon undertake to agree upon a procedure for 
environmental review that would meet the requirements of the injunction 
in NRDC v. DOE and make any necessary modifications to this Order.'' 
Since the parties did not get relief from the Order, the SSFL Area IV 
Draft and Final EIS provide the required environmental review and, 
pursuant to the AOC, DOE will work with DTSC to make any appropriate 
modifications to the AOC.
    Topic E--Biological Opinion Development Process: Commenters 
submitted a number of comments raising concerns about the development 
and use of the Biological Opinion developed by the USFWS. Some 
commenters took issue with the manner in which DOE consulted with 
USFWS, asserting that DOE requested consultation for an action that 
would violate the AOC. Commenters note that the Biological Opinion does 
not make a jeopardy determination. Commenters therefore asserted that 
no exception to the AOC criterion is allowed, because the Biological 
Opinion issued makes no finding that the cleanup action would violate 
specific sections of the Endangered Species Act as identified in the 
AOC. A commenter also implied that there were misrepresentations in the 
Biological Assessment prepared by DOE that USFWS relied on to prepare 
the Biological Opinion.
    Response: DOE consulted appropriately with the USFWS in the 
development of the Biological Opinion for remediation of Area IV and 
the NBZ. A Biological Opinion is prepared by the USFWS in compliance 
with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. DOE initiated 
informal consultation with USFWS in June 2013 relative to the AOC soil 
cleanup in Area IV. There were seven meetings with USFWS during the 
informal consultation period, six attended by DTSC staff. Formal 
consultation started in January 2018, after DOE answered the USFWS' 
questions regarding the project and the AOC exemption process. There 
were two formal consultation meetings with USFWS in 2018. Pursuant to 
the USFWS Biological Opinion, the formal consultation was based on the 
following USFWS statement, which was provided on page 1 of its 
Biological Opinion: ``For purposes of section 7 consultation, the AOC 
provides that impacts to species or habitat protected under the 
Endangered Species Act may be considered as possible exemptions from 
the cleanup standard specified herein only to the extent that the 
federal Fish and Wildlife Service, in response to a request by DOE for 
consultation, issues a Biological Opinion with a determination that 
implementation of the cleanup action would violate Section 7(a)2 or 
Section 9 of the ESA, and no reasonable and prudent measures or 
reasonable or prudent alternatives exist that would allow for the use 
of the specific cleanup standard in that portion of the site.'' The 
USFWS prefers to work with project proponents (i.e., engage in 
consultation) such that the need for a jeopardy opinion can be avoided. 
The USFWS consults with project proponents to attempt to develop 
alternatives to the action, if possible, so that a jeopardy opinion 
would not be necessary. In a letter dated February 2, 2017, the USFWS 
responded to a request by DOE for technical assistance, and outlined 
the direct and substantial effects to the federally endangered 
Braunton's milk-vetch and its critical habitat that would result from a 
cleanup to background and recommended that DOE exercise an exemption to 
the AOC for the protection of the species. The exemption process that 
was described in the Draft EIS (page 2-18) and repeated in the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS was the foundation of the consultation between DOE 
and USFWS, which resulted in the protection of endangered species at 
SSFL. Commenters provided no examples of claims of misrepresentation in 
the Biological Assessment, other than those addressed above regarding 
the AOC.
    Topic F--Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion Were Not 
Available for the Draft EIS: Commenters stated concerns that the 
Biological Assessment and the Biological Opinion were not included in 
the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS nor made available during the Draft EIS 
process, nor made available during the Draft EIS process, and therefore 
were unavailable for review. As a consequence, commenters were 
concerned that the Biological Opinion has not been subjected to public 
scrutiny or comment. Another commenter stated that not having the 
Biological Opinion in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS did not allow an 
opportunity for public comment, and was thus a violation of NEPA.
    Response: The lack of public review of the Biological Assessment or

[[Page 51154]]

Biological Opinion is not an issue under NEPA. DOE did not violate NEPA 
because of the lack of public review of the Biological Assessment or 
Biological Opinion. The Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion 
are required by the Endangered Species Act and USFWS regulations. The 
Biological Assessment is prepared by the project proponent for use by 
the USFWS in preparing the Biological Opinion. Nevertheless, the 
content of the Biological Assessment formed the basis of Section 3.5, 
Biological Resources (Affected Environment--baseline conditions) and 
Section 4.5, Biological Resources (Environmental Consequences--impact 
assessment) that were included in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. The 
exemption process for protection of endangered species that USFWS used 
in formulating its Biological Opinion was described in the SSFL Area IV 
Draft EIS (page 2-18) and therefore, was available for comment. It 
remained the same process as is analyzed in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. 
Because the Biological Opinion is a USFWS document, its content and 
references are within the purview of the USFWS. The County of Los 
Angeles had requested that the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS be recirculated 
after completion of the Biological Opinion for additional public 
review. DOE did not recirculate the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS. Data from 
the USFWS Biological Opinion was integrated into this SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS, (for example, used to refine the extent of the areas in 
which the exemption process would be applied).
    Topic G--Woolsey Fire Impact on the Braunton's Milk-vetch: 
Commenters made a number of observations regarding the Braunton's milk-
vetch with respect to the Woolsey Fire. They noted that the fire burned 
a portion of Area IV that is identified as primary habitat for 
Braunton's milk-vetch. A commenter also noted that Braunton's milk-
vetch is the ``one endangered plant in Area IV and the NBZ. . . .'' 
Commenters expressed the belief that because the fire had burned the 
Braunton's milk-vetch habitat, that there was no longer a need for an 
exception to cleaning up contamination in that area.
    Response: These comments reflect a misunderstanding of the southern 
California fire ecology and this species. The milk-vetch requires soil 
disturbance, either by fire or mechanical means, to germinate. It 
exists as a plant for about 5 to 7 years producing seeds that remain in 
the soil until the next disturbance. The last disturbance was EPA's 
2010 survey of Area IV. Species germination following that disturbance 
is documented, but most of those plants had completed their life cycle 
by the time of the recent fire. Further, not all of the remaining 
plants were burned by the Woolsey fire. The plant also germinated 
following the 2005 Topanga fire as discussed on pages 3-79 of the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS. DOE is engaged in monitoring of germination and the 
recovery of the burned area following the 2018 fire. In compliance with 
the Endangered Species Act and the AOC, it remains necessary and 
appropriate for DOE to protect the Braunton's milk-vetch habitat.
    Topic H--Woolsey Fire: Commenters expressed concern that the 
Woolsey fire was not included in and accounted for in the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS. Commenters noted that the fire occurred before the issuance 
of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS and stated that the effects of the fire 
could therefore, have been evaluated. Using maps from the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS and the DTSC Interim Summary Report of Woolsey Fire (https://bit.ly/2m2QZLc) commenters included maps in their comments reflecting 
their understanding of the extent of the burned area within Area IV. 
Citing information from DOE provided in informational emails or news 
articles, commenters noted that DOE initially indicated that Area IV 
had not been affected by the fire and later stated that 80 percent of 
SSFL had been burned. Commenters also noted that significant portions 
of SSFL were burned and hypothesized that contamination was mobilized 
and winds likely moved contamination to new areas. Commenters also 
claimed as a result of this fire that the EIS is flawed in asserting 
that there is no public health risk from leaving contamination in 
place, because there is a potential for future fires to cause offsite 
releases. Commenters stated that regardless of the damage to the 
Braunton's milk-vetch habitat, the Final EIS should have discussed the 
effects of the fire on baseline conditions. Further, commenters 
indicated that DOE has not considered the impacts of the fire on its 
preferred alternatives and therefore no ROD can lawfully be based on 
the Final EIS.
    Response: Because the fire burned a portion of SSFL, DOE 
understands that there is concern in communities near the site about 
the effects of the fire on the contamination on site and the analysis 
in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. The fire did not burn any Area IV 
buildings or any locations, either in Area IV or the NBZ with elevated 
soil contamination, and none of the Area IV groundwater cleanup 
locations were affected. Subsequent to the fire, DOE prepared a 
separate technical report http://www.ssflareaiveis.com that evaluates 
the impacts of the fire on Area IV and the NBZ and whether the fire had 
any effect on the analyses and conclusions in the SSFL Area IV Final 
EIS. In that report, DOE corrects the location of the line showing the 
extent of the burned portion of Area IV. The report's conclusion is 
that the fire had no substantive effect on the analyses in the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS or on the selection of the Preferred Alternative for 
buildings. Because the fire did not result in substantial changes and 
significant new information related to the buildings (DOE NEPA 
regulation 40 CFR part 1502, Section 1502.9), it was determined that 
there was no need to prepare a Supplemental EIS or Supplement Analysis. 
See Topic G for the effect of the fire on the Braunton's milk-vetch.
    Regarding comments that the fire resulted in the release of 
contamination, DOE, Boeing, and the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration performed air sampling during and following the fire and 
DTSC, EPA, and others conducted sampling immediately post-fire. As 
reported in the DTSC Interim Summary Report of Woolsey Fire, 
measurements and analyses indicate that no radioactive or hazardous 
materials associated with contamination of SSFL were released by the 
fire. These results are reasonably consistent with those reported 
following the 2005 Topanga fire as presented in Section 3.9 of the SSFL 
Area IV Final EIS.
    Topic I--Risk Assessment Process: Commenters stated that the risk 
assessment presented in the SSFL Area IV Final EIS was new. A commenter 
also claimed that the process did not follow EPA guidance.
    Response: The SSFL Area IV Final EIS includes risk assessments of 
onsite and offsite impacts. The risk assessment presented in Appendix G 
of the SSFL Area IV Final EIS evaluates potential impacts on the 
offsite public from implementation of the building demolition and soil 
remediation alternatives. This analysis was new in the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS. It was added in response to comments on the Draft EIS 
requesting a quantitative analysis of offsite impacts.
    Risk assessments of onsite impacts were not new in the SSFL Area IV 
Final EIS (Section 4.9.1 Draft EIS). Comments related to risk 
assessments as they concern onsite risks associated with soil 
remediation, including the comment regarding EPA guidance, are not 
addressed in this ROD; DOE will

[[Page 51155]]

address those comments in a future ROD for soil remediation.
    Additional Topics: A number of additional topics related to the 
soil and groundwater remediation alternatives were identified in 
comments on the SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Commenters were concerned that 
the Preferred Alternative for soil remediation (an open space scenario 
based on a recreational user) was not one of the alternatives 
identified in the SSFL Area IV Draft EIS (January 2017) and had not 
been subject to public review and comment. Commenters took issue with 
how DOE incorporated Boeing's two Grant Deeds of Conservation Easement 
and Agreements (April and November 2017) and also were concerned that 
the alternative left large amounts of contaminated soil on site, and 
was inconsistent with the AOC. Commenters repeated claims that SSFL is 
extensively contaminated and were concerned that failing to clean soil 
to background would place the surrounding community at risk. Other 
commenters expressed support for a risk-based alternative for cleanup 
of Area IV and the NBZ. A commenter was concerned that the discussion 
of soil remediation actions does not include sufficient data or 
discussion to determine the elements of the Soil Remedial Action 
Implementation Plan (SRAIP) as required by the AOC. The commenter noted 
that the SSFL Area IV Final EIS fails to include sufficient information 
to address how DOE would conduct the remediation, the areas where soil 
remediation would occur, areas identified for biological and cultural 
exemptions, mitigation measures, and a schedule for implementation. 
Regarding DOE's Preferred Alternative for groundwater remediation, 
commenters were concerned that it would not adequately clean up 
groundwater and relied too much on natural attenuation.
    Response: The focus of the additional topics summarized above is on 
the SSFL Area IV Final EIS discussion and analysis of soil and 
groundwater remediation. DOE is not making a decision regarding soil or 
groundwater remediation in this ROD. Consequently, DOE is deferring 
responses to these comments to a future ROD(s) announcing a decision on 
cleanup of soil and groundwater.

DOE Comment Review Conclusion

    DOE has considered these comments and concludes that they do not 
present substantial changes to a proposal or significant new 
circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and 
bearing on the proposed action or its impacts within the meaning of 40 
CFR 1502.9(c) and 10 CFR 1021.314(a) and therefore do not require 
preparation of a supplement analysis or a supplemental EIS.

Decision

    DOE-EM has decided to implement the Building Removal Alternative, 
its Preferred Alternative for building demolition, as described in the 
SSFL Area IV Final EIS. Under this alternative, DOE-EM will prepare 
demolition/disposal plans for each building describing: (1) Processes 
for characterizing building materials for the presence of hazardous 
materials and radionuclides; (2) processes for collecting, handling, 
transporting, and disposing of debris containing hazardous materials 
and radionuclides; and (3) the identification of the facilities 
receiving the materials. The demolition/disposal plans will also 
describe the handling, transporting, and disposing of building debris 
in accordance with disposal facility waste acceptance criteria. 
Building demolition will be performed using standard mechanized 
equipment and transported using standard highway trucks. Demolition 
materials will be sampled for comparison with the waste acceptance 
criteria of the receiving facilities prior to or during building 
demolition. Some material will be containerized for transport. 
Following building removal DOE will prepare and implement plans for 
soil sampling beneath the building footprints. This will allow DOE to 
complete soil characterization and decision plans for soil and 
groundwater remediation.
    DOE has prepared RCRA Closure Plans for the RMHF (3 buildings) and 
HWMF (2 buildings). DOE submitted the plans to DTSC for approval in 
October 2016. On August 13, 2018, DTSC announced the plans to be 
complete and initiated a public comment period. The public comment 
period ran from August 13, 2018, to October 12, 2018. The RCRA closure 
plans are also subject to review under the California Environmental 
Quality Act. In October 2017, DTSC released a draft Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Report describing cleanup actions for the entirety 
of SSFL. DOE will demolish and remove the RCRA-permitted buildings/
structures at the RMHF and HWMF and clean up the sites to meet the 
requirements in the DTSC-approved closure plans.
    In reaching this decision, DOE balanced the environmental 
information in the Final EIS, potential environmental impacts of 
building demolition and debris transportation, current and future 
mission needs, technical and security considerations, availability of 
resources, and public comments on the SSFL Area IV Draft and Final EIS. 
DOE no longer has a need for any of the buildings and by removing them 
DOE will facilitate accomplishment of its environmental management 
program initiatives. Some buildings still contain radionuclides 
imbedded in building material, and removal of the buildings with 
disposal of the radiological materials at a regulated facility provides 
long-term protection from the materials. The future land use of the 
Area IV property is open space/recreational, and removal of the 
buildings is consistent with that future land use. Removal of the 
buildings also allows for access to soil for final soil sampling. 
Building demolition and debris transportation can be conducted in a 
manner that is protective of the local Area IV environment and 
populations along the transport route. Implementing the Preferred 
Alternative will allow DOE to continue its progress of cleaning up 
legacy nuclear research properties.

Mitigation Measures

    Building demolition and debris transportation could result in 
airborne emissions of various pollutants in diesel exhaust, and 
potential pollutants including radionuclides, metals, and organic 
constituents during demolition activities. This decision adopts the 
mitigation and monitoring measures relevant to building demolition that 
are identified in Chapter 6 of the Final EIS, the Programmatic 
Agreement, and the Biological Opinion. Practicable means to avoid or 
minimize environmental harm from the selected alternative for building 
demolition have been, or will be, adopted. Prior to building 
demolition, DOE will prepare a mitigation and monitoring plan that will 
address how air emissions be will minimized. Diesel emissions will be 
controlled through using demolition equipment and highway trucks fitted 
with pollution control equipment maintained to manufacturer 
specifications. Particulate emissions during building demolition will 
be controlled using best available control measures including water 
sprays. Toxic chemicals and radionuclides found in debris will be 
packaged to prevent releases during transportation. Occupational safety 
risks to workers will be minimized by adherence to Federal and state 
occupational safety laws, and DOE requirements, regulations, and 
orders. Workers will also be protected by use of engineering and 
administrative controls. Emergency preparedness will also include an

[[Page 51156]]

Accident Preparedness Program to address protection of the public 
during the transportation of building materials. Storm water control 
best management practices will be implemented to prevent surface water 
runoff from demolition sites.

    Signed at Washington, DC, on September 23, 2019.
William I. White,
Senior Advisor for Environmental Management to the Under Secretary for 
Science.
[FR Doc. 2019-21013 Filed 9-26-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P