United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Response to Inquiry Regarding Deletion of NRC Water Quality Requirements from Maine Yankee

HPPOS-111 PDR-9111210255

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

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012