U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Response to Inquiry Regarding Deletion of NRC Water Quality Requirements from Maine Yankee
Title: Response to Inquiry Regarding Deletion of NRC Water
Quality Requirements from Maine Yankee
See the memorandum from H. K. Shapar and H. R. Denton to
Commissioner Bradford dated March 21, 1980. This memo
concerns the NRC role in assessing water quality. Based on
Appeal Board rulings, NRC does not have the authority to
impose conditions of operation, including monitoring
requirements, in the water quality area. Regulation of
water quality lies in the NPDES system under EPA or the
States. HPPOS-115 contains a related topic.
The Appeal Board, after analysis of the legislative history
of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of
1972, concluded that by virtue of Section 511 (c) (2) of
the Act, EPA, or those states to whom permitting authority
has been delegated, had exclusive responsibility for water
quality protection and that the regulation of water quality
lies in the NPDES permit system. The NRC's role in water
quality is limited to assessing aquatic impacts as part of
its NEPA cost-benefit balance in its licensing decision.
The NRC role does not include any right for "undertaking
its own analysis and reaching its own conclusions on water
quality issues already decided by EPA" (8 NRC at 715), or
including any limiting conditions of operation or
monitoring requirements of its own in the license for the
protection of the aquatic environment (8 NRC at 713-714).
The NRC will continue to require aquatic monitoring
programs and NRC notification if the NPDES permit limits
are exceeded, or if the limits are revised. Under review
is the issue of whether NRC has jurisdiction under NEPA to
impose conditions protecting the aquatic environment where
EPA or a permitting state has not issued an NPDES or the
NPDES permit is not effective because of appeal proceedings.
The deletion of conditions relating to water quality from
technical specifications are considered license amendments.
They are noticed in the Federal Register after they have
been effected. These changes are considered ministerial
actions required as a matter of law and therefore no
environmental impact assessment need be prepared as a
condition precedent to taking the action.
Regulatory references: Technical Specifications
Subject codes: 12.9, 12.13