§ 60.18 Review of site characterization activities.2
(a) The Director shall cause to be published in the Federal Register a notice that a site characterization plan has been received from DOE and that a staff review of such plan has begun. The notice shall identify the area to be characterized and the NRC staff members to be consulted for further information.
(b) The Director shall make a copy of the site characterization plan available at the Public Document Room. The Director shall also transmit copies of the published notice of receipt to the Governor and legislature of the State in which the area to be characterized is located and to the governing body of any affected Indian Tribe. The Director shall provide an opportunity, with respect to any area to be characterized, for the State in which such area is located and for affected Indian Tribes to present their views on the site characterization plan and their suggestions with respect to comments thereon which may be made by NRC. In addition, the Director shall make NRC staff available to consult with States and affected Indian Tribes as provided in Subpart C of this part.
(c) The Director shall review the site characterization plan and prepare a site characterization analysis with respect to such plan. In the preparation of such site characterization analysis, the Director may invite and consider the views of interested persons on DOE's site characterization plan and may review and consider comments made in connection with public hearings held by DOE.
(d) The Director shall provide to DOE the site characterization analysis together with such additional comments as may be warranted. These comments shall include either a statement that the Director has no objection to the DOE's site characterization program, if such a statement is appropriate, or specific objections with respect to DOE's program for characterization of the area concerned. In addition, the Director may make specific recommendations pertinent to DOE's site characterization program.
(e) If DOE's planned site characterization activities include onsite testing with radioactive material, including radioactive tracers, the Director's comments shall include a determination regarding whether or not the Commission concurs that the proposed use of such radioactive material is necessary to provide data for the preparation of the environmental reports required by law and for an application to be submitted under § 60.22 of this part.
(f) The Director shall publish in the Federal Register a notice of availability of the site characterization analysis and a request for public comment within a reasonable period, as specified (not less than 90 days). The notice along with copies of the site characterization analysis shall be available at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov, and copies of any comments received will also be made available there.
(g) During the conduct of site characterization activities, DOE shall report not less than once every six months to the Commission on the nature and extent of such activities and the information that has been developed, and on the progress of waste form and waste package research and development. The semiannual reports shall include the results of site characterization studies, the identification of new issues, plans for additional studies to resolve new issues, elimination of planned studies no longer necessary, identification of decision points reached and modifications to schedules where appropriate. DOE shall also report its progress in developing the design of a geologic repository operations area appropriate for the area being characterized, noting when key design parameters or features which depend upon the results of site characterization will be established. Other topics related to site characterization shall also be covered if requested by the Director.
(h) During the conduct of site characterization activities, NRC staff shall be permitted to visit and inspect the locations at which such activities are carried out and to observe excavations, borings, and in situ tests as they are done.
(i) The Director may comment at any time in writing to DOE, expressing current views on any aspect of site characterization. In particular, such comments shall be made whenever the Director, upon review of comments invited on the site characterization analysis or upon review of DOE's semiannual reports, determines that there are substantial new grounds for making recommendations or stating objections to DOE's site characterization program. The Director shall invite public comment on any comments which the Director makes to DOE upon review of the DOE semiannual reports or on any other comments which the Director makes to DOE on site characterization.
(j) The Director shall transmit copies of the site characterization analysis and all comments to DOE made by the Director under this section to the Governor and legislature of the State in which the area to be characterized is located and to the governing body of any affected Indian Tribe. When transmitting the site characterization analysis under this paragraph, the Director shall invite the addressees to review and comment thereon.
(k) All correspondence between DOE and the NRC under this section, including the reports described in paragraph (g), shall be placed in the Public Document Room.
(l) The activities described in paragraphs (a) through (k) of this section constitute informal conference between a prospective applicant and the staff, as described in § 2.101(a)(1) of this chapter, and are not part of a proceeding under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. Accordingly, neither the issuance of a site characterization analysis nor any other comments of the Director made under this section constitutes a commitment to issue any authorization or license or in any way affect the authority of the Commission, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Board, Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards, other presiding officers, or the Director, in any such proceeding.
[51 FR 27163, July 30, 1986, as amended at 64 FR 48954, Sept. 9, 1999]
2. In addition to the review of site characterization activities specified in this section, the Commission contemplates an ongoing review of other information on site investigation and site characterization, in order to allow early identification of potential licensing issues for timely resolution. This activity will include, for example, a review of the environmental assessments prepared by DOE at the time of site nomination, and review of issues related to long lead time exploratory shaft planning and procurement actions by DOE prior to issuance of site characterization plans.