Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC; Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3, 22758-22760 [2020-08596]

Download as PDF 22758 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Notices and the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove identifying or contact information. If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to include identifying or contact information that they do not want to be publicly disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should state that the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove such information before making the comment submissions available to the public or entering the comment into ADAMS. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES I. Background We are required to publish this notice in the Federal Register under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). In compliance with the requirement of section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, we have submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the following requirements for emergency review. We are requesting an emergency review because the collection of this information is needed before the expiration of the normal time limits under OMB’s regulations under section 1320.13 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). We cannot reasonably comply with the normal clearance procedures because an unanticipated event has occurred, as stated in 5 CFR 1320.13(a)(2)(ii). This information collection only addresses the incremental burden change to an existing clearance and not the total burden for the clearance. 1. The title of the information collection: COVID–19 Work Hour Controls Exemption Request Form. 2. OMB approval number: 3150–0146. 3. Type of submission: Revision. 4. The form number, if applicable: There is no form number for the online submission form. 5. How often the collection is required or requested: On Occasion. 6. Who will be required or asked to respond: All holders of, and certain applicants for, nuclear power plant construction permits and operating licenses under the provisions of 10 CFR part 50, ‘‘Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities’’ who seek exemptions from the work hour controls specified in 10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)–(7) as allowed by 10 CFR 26.9, ‘‘Specific exemptions.’’ 7. The estimated number of annual responses: 40. 8. The estimated number of annual respondents: 40. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:28 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 9. The estimated number of hours needed annually to comply with the information collection requirement or request: 80. 10. Abstract: The NRC requested an emergency review of this information collection in order to add this form to the previously approved information collection OMB Control Number 3150– 0146 for a period of 6 months. The purpose of this information collection is to introduce the online COVID–19 Work Hour Controls Exemption Request Form that simplifies the filing the exemption requests because the existing system may be too burdensome for licensees under current conditions. Under the existing collection under OMB Control No. 3150–0146, licensees are already able to seek exemptions from the requirements of 10 CFR part 26, FitnessFor-Duty Programs. This information collection only addresses the incremental burden change to this existing clearance due to the form and not the total burden for the clearance. 10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)–(7) identifies specific work hour control requirements for individuals subject to the requirements of 10 CFR part 26. Due to the impacts of the COVID–19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), the NRC is prepared to grant, upon request from individual licensees, exemptions from the work hour controls specified in 10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)–(7) as allowed by 10 CFR 26.9, ‘‘Specific exemptions.’’ The objective of using the online form to submit exemptions from 10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)–(7) is to ensure that the control of work hours and management of worker fatigue do not unduly limit licensee flexibility in using personnel resources to most effectively manage the impacts of the COVID–19 PHE on maintaining the safe operation of these facilities. Specifically, the licensee can submit an exemption request if (1) a licensee’s staffing levels are affected by the COVID–19 PHE, (2) a licensee determines that it can no longer meet the work-hour controls of 10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)–(d)(7), and (3) the licensee can effect site-specific administrative controls for COVID–19 PHE fatiguemanagement for personnel specified in 10 CFR 26.4(a). II. Specific Requests for Comments The NRC is seeking comments that address the following questions: 1. Is the proposed collection of information necessary for the NRC to properly perform its functions? Does the information have practical utility? 2. Is the estimate of the burden of the information collection accurate? PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3. Is there a way to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected? 4. How can the burden of the information collection on respondents be minimized, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology? Dated: April 17, 2020. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. David C. Cullison, NRC Clearance Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–08563 Filed 4–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590–01–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION [Docket Nos. 50–269, 50–270, and 50–287; NRC–2020–0097] Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC; Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Exemption; issuance. AGENCY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued an exemption for the Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in response to a request from Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC dated April 14, 2020, as supplemented by letter dated April 16, 2020, for an exemption from specific requirements in the NRC’s regulations regarding security officer participation in force-on-force training exercises. DATES: The exemption was issued on April 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC–2020–0097. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this document using any of the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Website: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC–2020–0097. Address questions about NRC dockets IDs in Regulations.gov to Jennifer Borges; telephone: 301–287–9127; email: Jennifer.Borges@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. • NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may obtain publiclyavailable documents online in the ADAMS Public Documents collection at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ adams.html. To begin the search, select ‘‘Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.’’ For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, 301– SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\23APN1.SGM 23APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Notices 415–4737, or by email to pdr.resource@ nrc.gov. The exemption request dated April 14, 2020, as supplemented by letter dated April 16, 2020, contains securityrelated information and is accordingly withheld from public disclosure under section 2.390 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The NRC staff’s approval is available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML20104C070. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Mahoney, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001; telephone: 301–415– 3867, email: Michael.Mahoney@nrc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The text of the exemption is attached. Dated: April 17, 2020. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Michael Mahoney, Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch II– 1, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. Attachment—Exemption 10 CFR 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection C.3.(I)(1) NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION Docket Nos. 50–269, 50–270, and 50– 287 Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC. Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Exemption lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES I. Background Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC. (Duke Energy, the licensee) is the holder of the Renewed Facility Operating Licenses (FOLs) DPR–38, DPR–47, and DPR–55, for Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 (Oconee), which consists of three pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) located in Oconee County, South Carolina. The licenses provide, among other things, that the facilities are subject to all the rules, regulations, and orders of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, Commission) now or hereafter in effect. II. Request/Action By letter dated April 14, 2020, as supplemented by letter dated April 16, 2020 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession Nos. ML20105A105 and ML20107H265, respectively (withheld from public disclosure)), the licensee requested an exemption from Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Part 73, Appendix B, Section VI, ‘‘Nuclear Power Reactor Training and Qualification Plan for Personnel Performing Security Program Duties,’’ VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:28 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 Subsection C.3.(I)(1), in part, pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, ‘‘Specific exemptions.’’ Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) pandemic currently affecting the United States and the state of emergency declared by the State of South Carolina on March 13, 2020, the licensee is requesting an exemption to temporarily suspend the requirement of this subsection that each member of each shift who is assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy participate in at least one (1) force-on-force exercise on an annual basis. III. Discussion Pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, the Commission may, upon application by any interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from the requirements of 10 CFR part 73 when the exemptions are authorized by law, will not endanger life or property or the common defense and security, and are otherwise in the public interest. The licensee requests to temporarily suspend portions of requirements in Appendix B to Part 73, Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1) related to requalification requirement of security personnel who are assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy. Specifically, 10 CFR part 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1) requires that each member of each shift who is assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy participates in at least one (1) tactical response drill on a quarterly basis and one (1) forceon-force exercise on an annual basis. The licensee is requesting an exemption from the requirement in 10 CFR part 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1) that security personnel participate in at least one (1) force-onforce exercise on an annual basis. The underlying purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the individuals can perform their duties in accordance with the licensee’s approved security plans. A. The Exemption is Authorized by Law The licensee is proposing that security personnel who are assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy be exempt from the requirement of meeting the requalification requirements to participate in at least one (1) force-onforce exercise on an annual basis. The NRC staff examined the licensee’s PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 22759 rationale that supports the exemption request. The licensee states that the exemption is related to training requalification and does not change physical security plans or the defensive strategy. The licensee states that security personnel impacted by the exemption are currently satisfactorily qualified on all required tasks. The licensee states that security personnel are regularly monitored by supervisory personnel. Additionally, to ensure the impacted security personnel maintain the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively perform assigned duties and responsibilities, the licensee states, ‘‘Oconee will continue to conduct quarterly tactical response drills to ensure the security force maintains response readiness. Annual exercises that are suspended as a result of this temporary exemption will be rescheduled in accordance with the parameters outlined in this exemption request.’’ Further, the licensee states, ‘‘Oconee will track and document when requalification periodicities have been exceeded.’’ In accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, the Commission may grant exemptions from the regulations in 10 CFR part 73, as authorized by law. The NRC staff finds that granting the licensee’s proposed exemption will not result in a violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or other laws, and is, thus, authorized by law. B. The Exemption Will Not Endanger Life or Property or the Common Defense and Security The licensee asserts the requested exemption will not endanger life or property or the common defense and security. The licensee states the requested exemption is a temporary exemption to allow deferring of the security training requalification requirement for certain members of the security organization to participate in one force-on-force exercise annually. The licensee states ‘‘Oconee had scheduled these requalification activities to comply with the regulation. However, these activities must be rescheduled to allow implementation of the Duke Energy pandemic response plan mitigation strategies.’’ The licensee argues these strategies serve the public interest by ensuring adequate staff isolation and maintaining staff health to perform their job function actions during the COVID–19 pandemic. The licensee further asserts the proposed exemption is related to training requalification and does not change physical security plans or the defensive strategy. The licensee further states security personnel impacted by this E:\FR\FM\23APN1.SGM 23APN1 22760 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 79 / Thursday, April 23, 2020 / Notices lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES exemption are currently satisfactorily qualified on all required tasks. In addition, security personnel are monitored regularly by supervisory personnel and the licensee will continue to conduct quarterly tactical response drills to ensure the security force maintains response readiness. Therefore, the licensee states that granting the requested temporary exemption will not endanger or compromise the common defense or security, or safeguarding Oconee. The licensee requested that this exemption expire 90 days following the lifting of the state of emergency declared by the State of South Carolina on March 13, 2020. The NRC staff finds that the requested exemption will continue to allow the licensee to maintain the required security posture as the licensee will continue to conduct the required quarterly tactical response drills to ensure the response force maintains its proficiency and readiness. In addition, granting this exemption for no longer than 90 days following the lifting of the state of emergency declared on March 13, 2020, by the state of South Carolina, the jurisdiction in which this facility is located, or December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first, would allow for the licensee to restore normal security staffing in a systematic manner. For example, it may take time after the state of emergency is lifted for COVID–19affected security personnel to fully recover and return to work. Based on the above, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed exemption would not endanger life or property or the common defense and security. C. Otherwise in the Public Interest On March 28, 2020, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published Version 2.0 of its ‘‘Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID–19 Response’’ (https://www.cisa.gov/ publication/guidance-essential-criticalinfrastructure-workforce). Although that guidance is advisory in nature, it is designed to ensure ‘‘continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.’’ DHS and CISA recommend the Energy Sector, including nuclear power reactor facilities, workers and functions, continue to operate during the COVID–19 public health emergency. The licensee states, in part, that, ‘‘[k]eeping Oconee in operation during the pandemic will help to support the public need for reliable electricity VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:28 Apr 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 supply to cope with the pandemic. As the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Energy have stated in their guidance, the electric grid and nuclear plant operation make up the nation’s critical infrastructure similar to the medical, food, communications, and other critical industries. If the Security force is impacted because it cannot comply with the security training requalification requirements while isolation restrictions are in effect for essential crew members, the physical protection of the plant may be affected. This does not serve the public interest in maintaining a safe and reliable supply of electricity.’’ Additionally, the licensee states, ‘‘The Duke Energy pandemic response plan is based on NEI 06–03, Pandemic Threat Planning, Preparation, and Response Reference Guide (i.e., Reference 4) which recommends isolation strategies such as sequestering, use of super crews or minimum staffing as applicable, as well as social distancing, group size limitations and self-quarantining, in an event of a pandemic, to prevent the spread of the virus to the plant. NEI 06– 03 provides other mitigation strategies that serve the public interest during a pandemic by ensuring adequate staff is isolated from the pandemic and remains healthy to perform their job function.’’ According to the licensee, holding forceon-force exercises would locate drill participants and drill controllers in close quarters making it impractical to meet the recommendation for social distancing. The licensee explains that maintaining a fully staffed and healthy workforce is in the best interest of public health and safety when considering the health risk of conducting activities which would put people in close contact during the pandemic. Based on the above and the NRC staff’s aforementioned findings, the NRC staff concludes that the exemption is in the public interest because it allows the licensee to maintain the required security posture at Oconee while the facility continues to provide electrical power. The exemption also enables the licensee to minimize the risk of exposing essential security personnel to the coronavirus during the COVID–19 public health emergency. D. Environmental Considerations The NRC staff’s approval of this exemption request is categorically excluded under 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25)(vi)(E), and there are no special circumstances present that would preclude reliance on this exclusion. The NRC staff determined that this action applies to granting of an PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 exemption from requirements relating to education, training, experience, qualification, requalification, or other employment suitability requirements. The NRC staff has determined that approval of this exemption request involves no significant hazards consideration; no significant change in the types or significant increase in the amounts of any effluents that may be released offsite; no significant increase in individual or cumulative public or occupational radiation exposure; no significant construction impact; and no significant increase in the potential for or consequences from radiological accidents. In addition, the NRC staff has determined that there would be no significant impacts to biota, water resources, historic properties, cultural resources, or socioeconomic conditions in the region. As such, there are no extraordinary circumstances present that would preclude reliance on this categorical exclusion. Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact statement or environmental assessment need be prepared in connection with the approval of this exemption request. IV. Conclusions Accordingly, the NRC has determined that pursuant to 10 CFR part 73.5, the exemption is authorized by law, will not endanger life or property or the common defense and security, and are otherwise in the public interest. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants the licensee an exemption for Oconee from the requirement of 10 CFR 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1), that security personnel who are assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy participate in at least one (1) force-onforce exercise on an annual basis. This exemption expires no later than 90 days following the lifting of the state of emergency declared on March 13, 2020, by the State of South Carolina, or December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. Dated: April 17, 2020. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Craig Erlanger, Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. [FR Doc. 2020–08596 Filed 4–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590–01–P E:\FR\FM\23APN1.SGM 23APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 79 (Thursday, April 23, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22758-22760]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-08596]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket Nos. 50-269, 50-270, and 50-287; NRC-2020-0097]


Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC; Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 
2, and 3

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Exemption; issuance.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued an 
exemption for the Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in 
response to a request from Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC dated April 14, 
2020, as supplemented by letter dated April 16, 2020, for an exemption 
from specific requirements in the NRC's regulations regarding security 
officer participation in force-on-force training exercises.

DATES: The exemption was issued on April 17, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2020-0097. You may obtain 
publicly-available information related to this document using any of 
the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Website: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2020-0097. Address 
questions about NRC dockets IDs in Regulations.gov to Jennifer Borges; 
telephone: 301-287-9127; email: [email protected]. For technical 
questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section of this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ``Begin Web-based ADAMS 
Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public 
Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-

[[Page 22759]]

415-4737, or by email to [email protected].
    The exemption request dated April 14, 2020, as supplemented by 
letter dated April 16, 2020, contains security-related information and 
is accordingly withheld from public disclosure under section 2.390 of 
title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The NRC staff's 
approval is available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML20104C070.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Mahoney, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-3867, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The text of the exemption is attached.

    Dated: April 17, 2020.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Michael Mahoney,
Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch II-1, Division of Operating 
Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

Attachment--Exemption 10 CFR 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection 
C.3.(I)(1)

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

Docket Nos. 50-269, 50-270, and 50-287

Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC.

Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Exemption

I. Background

    Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC. (Duke Energy, the licensee) is the 
holder of the Renewed Facility Operating Licenses (FOLs) DPR-38, DPR-
47, and DPR-55, for Oconee Nuclear Station, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3 
(Oconee), which consists of three pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) 
located in Oconee County, South Carolina. The licenses provide, among 
other things, that the facilities are subject to all the rules, 
regulations, and orders of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, 
Commission) now or hereafter in effect.

II. Request/Action

    By letter dated April 14, 2020, as supplemented by letter dated 
April 16, 2020 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS) Accession Nos. ML20105A105 and ML20107H265, respectively 
(withheld from public disclosure)), the licensee requested an exemption 
from Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Part 73, 
Appendix B, Section VI, ``Nuclear Power Reactor Training and 
Qualification Plan for Personnel Performing Security Program Duties,'' 
Subsection C.3.(I)(1), in part, pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, ``Specific 
exemptions.'' Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic 
currently affecting the United States and the state of emergency 
declared by the State of South Carolina on March 13, 2020, the licensee 
is requesting an exemption to temporarily suspend the requirement of 
this subsection that each member of each shift who is assigned duties 
and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards contingency 
plan and licensee protective strategy participate in at least one (1) 
force-on-force exercise on an annual basis.

III. Discussion

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 73.5, the Commission may, upon application by 
any interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from 
the requirements of 10 CFR part 73 when the exemptions are authorized 
by law, will not endanger life or property or the common defense and 
security, and are otherwise in the public interest.
    The licensee requests to temporarily suspend portions of 
requirements in Appendix B to Part 73, Section VI, Subsection 
C.3.(l)(1) related to requalification requirement of security personnel 
who are assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the 
safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy. 
Specifically, 10 CFR part 73, Appendix B, Section VI, Subsection 
C.3.(l)(1) requires that each member of each shift who is assigned 
duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards 
contingency plan and licensee protective strategy participates in at 
least one (1) tactical response drill on a quarterly basis and one (1) 
force-on-force exercise on an annual basis. The licensee is requesting 
an exemption from the requirement in 10 CFR part 73, Appendix B, 
Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1) that security personnel participate 
in at least one (1) force-on-force exercise on an annual basis. The 
underlying purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the 
individuals can perform their duties in accordance with the licensee's 
approved security plans.

A. The Exemption is Authorized by Law

    The licensee is proposing that security personnel who are assigned 
duties and responsibilities required to implement the safeguards 
contingency plan and licensee protective strategy be exempt from the 
requirement of meeting the requalification requirements to participate 
in at least one (1) force-on-force exercise on an annual basis. The NRC 
staff examined the licensee's rationale that supports the exemption 
request.
    The licensee states that the exemption is related to training 
requalification and does not change physical security plans or the 
defensive strategy. The licensee states that security personnel 
impacted by the exemption are currently satisfactorily qualified on all 
required tasks. The licensee states that security personnel are 
regularly monitored by supervisory personnel. Additionally, to ensure 
the impacted security personnel maintain the knowledge, skills, and 
abilities required to effectively perform assigned duties and 
responsibilities, the licensee states, ``Oconee will continue to 
conduct quarterly tactical response drills to ensure the security force 
maintains response readiness. Annual exercises that are suspended as a 
result of this temporary exemption will be rescheduled in accordance 
with the parameters outlined in this exemption request.'' Further, the 
licensee states, ``Oconee will track and document when requalification 
periodicities have been exceeded.''
    In accordance with 10 CFR 73.5, the Commission may grant exemptions 
from the regulations in 10 CFR part 73, as authorized by law. The NRC 
staff finds that granting the licensee's proposed exemption will not 
result in a violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or 
other laws, and is, thus, authorized by law.

B. The Exemption Will Not Endanger Life or Property or the Common 
Defense and Security

    The licensee asserts the requested exemption will not endanger life 
or property or the common defense and security. The licensee states the 
requested exemption is a temporary exemption to allow deferring of the 
security training requalification requirement for certain members of 
the security organization to participate in one force-on-force exercise 
annually. The licensee states ``Oconee had scheduled these 
requalification activities to comply with the regulation. However, 
these activities must be rescheduled to allow implementation of the 
Duke Energy pandemic response plan mitigation strategies.'' The 
licensee argues these strategies serve the public interest by ensuring 
adequate staff isolation and maintaining staff health to perform their 
job function actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The licensee further 
asserts the proposed exemption is related to training requalification 
and does not change physical security plans or the defensive strategy. 
The licensee further states security personnel impacted by this

[[Page 22760]]

exemption are currently satisfactorily qualified on all required tasks. 
In addition, security personnel are monitored regularly by supervisory 
personnel and the licensee will continue to conduct quarterly tactical 
response drills to ensure the security force maintains response 
readiness. Therefore, the licensee states that granting the requested 
temporary exemption will not endanger or compromise the common defense 
or security, or safeguarding Oconee. The licensee requested that this 
exemption expire 90 days following the lifting of the state of 
emergency declared by the State of South Carolina on March 13, 2020.
    The NRC staff finds that the requested exemption will continue to 
allow the licensee to maintain the required security posture as the 
licensee will continue to conduct the required quarterly tactical 
response drills to ensure the response force maintains its proficiency 
and readiness. In addition, granting this exemption for no longer than 
90 days following the lifting of the state of emergency declared on 
March 13, 2020, by the state of South Carolina, the jurisdiction in 
which this facility is located, or December 31, 2020, whichever occurs 
first, would allow for the licensee to restore normal security staffing 
in a systematic manner. For example, it may take time after the state 
of emergency is lifted for COVID-19-affected security personnel to 
fully recover and return to work. Based on the above, the NRC staff 
concludes that the proposed exemption would not endanger life or 
property or the common defense and security.

C. Otherwise in the Public Interest

    On March 28, 2020, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security 
Agency (CISA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
published Version 2.0 of its ``Guidance on the Essential Critical 
Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in 
COVID-19 Response'' (https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce). Although that guidance is 
advisory in nature, it is designed to ensure ``continuity of functions 
critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national 
security.'' DHS and CISA recommend the Energy Sector, including nuclear 
power reactor facilities, workers and functions, continue to operate 
during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    The licensee states, in part, that, ``[k]eeping Oconee in operation 
during the pandemic will help to support the public need for reliable 
electricity supply to cope with the pandemic. As the U.S. Departments 
of Homeland Security and Energy have stated in their guidance, the 
electric grid and nuclear plant operation make up the nation's critical 
infrastructure similar to the medical, food, communications, and other 
critical industries. If the Security force is impacted because it 
cannot comply with the security training requalification requirements 
while isolation restrictions are in effect for essential crew members, 
the physical protection of the plant may be affected. This does not 
serve the public interest in maintaining a safe and reliable supply of 
electricity.''
    Additionally, the licensee states, ``The Duke Energy pandemic 
response plan is based on NEI 06-03, Pandemic Threat Planning, 
Preparation, and Response Reference Guide (i.e., Reference 4) which 
recommends isolation strategies such as sequestering, use of super 
crews or minimum staffing as applicable, as well as social distancing, 
group size limitations and self-quarantining, in an event of a 
pandemic, to prevent the spread of the virus to the plant. NEI 06-03 
provides other mitigation strategies that serve the public interest 
during a pandemic by ensuring adequate staff is isolated from the 
pandemic and remains healthy to perform their job function.'' According 
to the licensee, holding force-on-force exercises would locate drill 
participants and drill controllers in close quarters making it 
impractical to meet the recommendation for social distancing. The 
licensee explains that maintaining a fully staffed and healthy 
workforce is in the best interest of public health and safety when 
considering the health risk of conducting activities which would put 
people in close contact during the pandemic.
    Based on the above and the NRC staff's aforementioned findings, the 
NRC staff concludes that the exemption is in the public interest 
because it allows the licensee to maintain the required security 
posture at Oconee while the facility continues to provide electrical 
power. The exemption also enables the licensee to minimize the risk of 
exposing essential security personnel to the coronavirus during the 
COVID-19 public health emergency.

D. Environmental Considerations

    The NRC staff's approval of this exemption request is categorically 
excluded under 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25)(vi)(E), and there are no special 
circumstances present that would preclude reliance on this exclusion. 
The NRC staff determined that this action applies to granting of an 
exemption from requirements relating to education, training, 
experience, qualification, requalification, or other employment 
suitability requirements. The NRC staff has determined that approval of 
this exemption request involves no significant hazards consideration; 
no significant change in the types or significant increase in the 
amounts of any effluents that may be released offsite; no significant 
increase in individual or cumulative public or occupational radiation 
exposure; no significant construction impact; and no significant 
increase in the potential for or consequences from radiological 
accidents. In addition, the NRC staff has determined that there would 
be no significant impacts to biota, water resources, historic 
properties, cultural resources, or socioeconomic conditions in the 
region. As such, there are no extraordinary circumstances present that 
would preclude reliance on this categorical exclusion. Therefore, 
pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b), no environmental impact statement or 
environmental assessment need be prepared in connection with the 
approval of this exemption request.

IV. Conclusions

    Accordingly, the NRC has determined that pursuant to 10 CFR part 
73.5, the exemption is authorized by law, will not endanger life or 
property or the common defense and security, and are otherwise in the 
public interest. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants the licensee 
an exemption for Oconee from the requirement of 10 CFR 73, Appendix B, 
Section VI, Subsection C.3.(l)(1), that security personnel who are 
assigned duties and responsibilities required to implement the 
safeguards contingency plan and licensee protective strategy 
participate in at least one (1) force-on-force exercise on an annual 
basis. This exemption expires no later than 90 days following the 
lifting of the state of emergency declared on March 13, 2020, by the 
State of South Carolina, or December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first.

    Dated: April 17, 2020.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Craig Erlanger,

Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation.

[FR Doc. 2020-08596 Filed 4-22-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 7590-01-P