United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
Home > Nuclear Reactors > Operating Reactors > Licensing > Renewal > Introduction > Environmental > Additional Information on Environmental

Additional Information on Environmental

On this page:

License Renewal Process

  • To start the process, NRC will receive a license renewal application from the licensee and that will be month 0.
  • On month 2, a Federal Register Notice of Intent will be issued to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and conduct scoping process.
  • This started a 60-day clock defined as the scoping period. A public meeting will be held during the scoping process so that NRC can get comments from the public to help scope out the bounds of the environmental review
  • At the end of the scoping period, which will be month 4, a scoping summary report will be issued that will address all the comments received from all sources during the scoping process. Also, members of the NRC staff and a team of environmental experts such as Pacific Northwest National Lab will conduct an environmental site audit to help gather information for the scoping process.
  • If, in the conduct of the review, additional information is required beyond what was already provided in the initial application, then request for addtional information will be issued which happens around month 5. And approximately 8 weeks later, the licensee will reply and then, based on all the information received, a draft environmental impact statement will be published for public comment.
  • The draft EIS should be published around month 11 and when that draft is published, it will go out for public comment with a 75-day public comment period.
  • Another meeting will be held to allow public to make comments on the draft EIS on month 12. Once completed, the final EIS will be published, which is expected to be published in month 19.
  • Afterwards, individuals or groups can petition for a hearing to address specific issues related to either plant safety or environmental impacts. If granted, a hearing is held and the Licensing Board's decision is presented to the Commission, along with the inspection results, the safety evaluation, and the environmental impact statement. Finally, a decision is made whether to issue the license to renew.

(To top of page)

Detail Analysis Approach

  • In the mid-1990's, the NRC was faced with the prospect of having to prepare environmental impact statements for relicensing the majority of the operating nuclear plants in the United States. The NRC decided to tackle this problem in two ways.
  • First, NRC decided to evaluate impacts of all plants across the entire country to determine if there were impacts that were common to all operating plants. NRC looked at 92 separate impacts areas and found that for 69 issues, the impacts were the same for plants with similar features. NRC called these Category 1 issues and made the same, or "generic" determinations about their impacts in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal. The Generic EIS was issued by the NRC in 1996.
  • Second, NRC found that they were not able to make generic conclusions about the remaining issues. For these issues, which the NRC called Category 2 issues, the NRC decided to prepare site-specific supplements to the Generic EIS.
  • Now, the NRC did not rule out the possibility that their generic conclusions may not apply to any specific plant. As part of the approach, an environmental team looked at Category 1 issues applicable to the Licensee plant to determine if there was any new information related to the issue that might change the conclusion that the NRC reached in 1996. If found no new information, then our approach was to adopt the conclusions of the Generic EIS. If new information was identified, and determined to be significant, either about a Category 1 issue or a new issue that hadn't been looked at before, then the environmental team would also perform a site-specific analysis for that issue.
  • This little bit of history is important because it lays out the approach used in preparing the Plant Supplement. For Category 1 issues, the impacts are the same at all sites. If there is no new and significant informations then generic conclusion is used. If there is, a site-specific analysis is performed. For Category 2 issues, a site-specific analysis will always be performed. For potential new issues, site-specific analysis is performed only if the issue can be validated.

(To top of page)

SAMA Evaluation Process

  • Characterize overall plant risk
  • Identify potential improvements (SAMAs)
  • Evaluate potential reduction in plant risk and implementation cost for SAMAs
  • Determine if SAMAs are cost-beneficital (compare dollar values of risk reduction and implementation costs)
  • Determine whether implementation of any of the cost-beneficial SAMAs is required to support license renewal (related to adequately managing the effects of aging during the period of extended operation)

(To top of page)

Review Milestone

A few key milestones will be mentioned.

  • The scoping comment period, lasts for 60 days.
  • All comments from the transcribed public meeting scoping will be considered.
  • Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for License Renewal is an environmental impact statement that assesses the full gamut of environmental issues for license renewal for license renewal for all U.S. nuclear power plants.
  • A site-specific supplement to the GEIS, or a SEIS will be issued in draft form 7 months later with a 75 day public comment period.
  • All comments from the transcribed public meeting will be considered.
  • After considering comments on the draft, it will be published in final form in another 7 months.

(To top of page)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, August 11, 2015