Categorical Exclusions From Environmental Review
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to amend its regulations describing the categories of actions which do not require an environmental review under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) because they have no significant effect on the human environment. The proposed revisions would eliminate the preparation of environmental assessments for NRC actions that are minor, administrative, or procedural in nature. The proposed rule would not change any requirements for licensees but would provide for more timely NRC action.
Consideration of Environmental Impacts of Temporary Storage of Spent Fuel After Cessation of Reactor Operation
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to revise its generic determination on the environmental impacts of storage of spent fuel at, or away from, reactor sites after the expiration of reactor operating licenses. The proposed revision reflects findings that the Commission has reached in the ``Waste Confidence'' decision update published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. The Commission now proposes to find that, if necessary, spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely and without significant environmental impacts beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of that reactor at its spent fuel storage basin or at either onsite or offsite independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) until a disposal facility can reasonably be expected to be available.
Waste Confidence Decision Update
On September 18, 1990, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) issued a decision reaffirming and revising, in part, the five Waste Confidence findings reached in its 1984 Waste Confidence Decision. The 1984 decision and the 1990 review were products of rulemaking proceedings designed to assess the degree of assurance that radioactive wastes generated by nuclear power plants can be safely disposed of, to determine when such disposal or offsite storage would be available, and to determine whether radioactive wastes can be safely stored onsite past the expiration of existing facility licenses until offsite disposal or storage is available. The Commission has decided to again undertake a review of its Waste Confidence findings as part of an effort to enhance the efficiency of combined operating license proceedings for applications for nuclear power plants anticipated in the near future. To assure that its Waste Confidence findings are up- to-date, the Commission has prepared an update of the findings and proposes to revise two of the findings. The purpose of this notice is to seek public comment on the update and the proposed revisions. The Commission proposes that the second and fourth findings in the Waste Confidence Decision be revised as follows: Finding 2: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that sufficient mined geologic repository capacity can reasonably be expected to be available within 50-60 years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of any reactor to dispose of the commercial high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel originating in such reactor and generated up to that time. Finding 4: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if necessary, spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely without significant environmental impacts for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of that reactor in a combination of storage in its spent fuel storage basin and either onsite or offsite independent spent fuel storage installations. The Commission proposes to reaffirm the remaining findings. Each finding, any proposed revisions, and the reasons for revising or reaffirming them are discussed below. In keeping with the proposed revised Findings 2 and 4, the Commission is publishing concurrently in this issue of the Federal Register proposed conforming amendments to its 10 CFR part 51 rule providing its generic determination on the environmental impacts of storage of spent fuel at, or away from, reactor sites after the expiration of reactor operating licenses.