United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 97-77: Exemptions from the Requirements of Section 70.24 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations

                                              UNITED STATES
                                      NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                                   OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
                                       WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555-0001

                                            October 10, 1997

NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 97-77:  EXEMPTIONS FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF  SECTION    
                               70.24 OF TITLE 10 OF THE CODE OF FEDERAL
                               REGULATIONS


Addressees

All holders of operating licenses for nuclear power reactors.  

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information
notice to inform addressees about actions the staff plans to take regarding
enforcement actions and the granting of exemptions from the requirements of
Section 70.24 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 70.24). 
This information notice does not transmit or imply any new or changed
requirements or staff positions.  No specific action or written response is
required.   

Description of Circumstances

Regulations in 10 CFR 70.24 require that each licensee authorized to possess
more than a small amount of special nuclear material maintain in each area in
which such material is handled, used, or stored a criticality monitoring
system that will energize alarm systems if accidental criticality occurs.  The
staff has issued approximately 20 notices of violation for failures by
licensees to meet the provisions of 10 CFR 70.24.  Since the issuance of these
notices of violation, the staff has found it appropriate to exercise
enforcement discretion pursuant to Section VII B.6 of the Enforcement Policy,
NUREG-1600, � General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement
Actions.�     

Discussion

As stated in a policy issue information paper, dated July 21, 1997, from the
Executive Director for Operations, NRC, to the NRC Commissioners
(SECY-97-155), the staff has determined that it is appropriate to exercise
enforcement discretion in this case because the safety significance of the
failure to meet 10 CFR 70.24 is minimal provided controls are in place to
ensure compliance with general design criteria (GDC) 62.  Also, enforcement
discretion is appropriate because the NRC staff did not recognize the need for
an exemption during the licensing process; because the NRC previously took a
position on this matter, as reflected in its 


9710090217.                                                              IN 97-77
                                                              October 10, 1997
                                                              Page 2 of 2


letter of May 11, 1988, to the Tennessee Valley Authority (NRC Accession No. 
8902240029) concerning the lack of a need for an exemption at the Browns Ferry
Nuclear Plant; and because of the staff's intent to embark on rulemaking to
amend 10 CFR 70.24.  

The staff intends to withdraw the previously issued violations.  As specified
in SECY-97-155, the staff does not intend to take further enforcement action
for failure to meet 10 CFR 70.24 provided licensees obtain an exemption from
this regulation before the next receipt of fresh fuel or before the next
planned movement of fresh fuel.  The criteria that the staff is using to
evaluate exemptions from 10 CFR 70.24 are given in SECY-97-155 and are
presented for information in the attachment to this notice.        

This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
the person listed below or the appropriate regional office.


                                        Signed by D.B. Matthews for

                                        Jack W. Roe, Acting Director
                                        Division of Reactor Program Management
                                        Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 

Technical contact:  G. Wunder, NRR
                    301-415-1494
                    E-mail:  gfw@nrc.gov                                                                                

Attachments:
1.  Staff Criteria for Evaluating Exemptions from 10 CFR 70.24
2.  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices 

.                                                              Attachment 1
                                                              IN 97-77
                                                              October 10, 1997
                                                              Page 1 of 1


                                                                    STAFF CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING EXEMPTIONS FROM 10 CFR 70.24
                                                                                      AS STATED IN SECY-97-155

  

1.  Plant procedures do not permit more than [1 PWR or 3 BWR] new fuel         
    [assembly/assemblies] to be in transit between their associated shipping   
    cask and dry  storage rack at one time.

2.  The k-effective of the fresh fuel storage racks filled with fuel of the    
    maximum permissible U-235 enrichment and flooded with pure water does not  
    exceed 0.95, at a 95 percent probability, 95 percent confidence level. 

3.  If optimum moderation of fuel in the fresh fuel storage racks occurs when  
    the fresh fuel storage racks are not flooded, the k-effective              
    corresponding to this optimum moderation does not exceed 0.98, at a 95     
    percent probability, 95 percent confidence level.  

4.  The k-effective of spent fuel storage racks filled with fuel of the        
    maximum permissible U-235 enrichment and filled with pure water does not   
    exceed 0.95, at a 95 percent probability, 95 percent confidence level.  

5.  The quantity of forms of special nuclear material, other than nuclear      
    fuel, that are stored on site in any given area is less than the quantity  
    necessary for a critical mass.

6.  Radiation monitors, as required by GDC 63, are provided in fuel storage    
    and handling areas to detect excessive radiation levels and to initiate    
    appropriate safety actions.

7.  The maximum nominal U-235 enrichment is 5 wt percent.
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