Resolution of Generic Safety Issues: Item C-16: Assessment of Agricultural Land in Relation to Power Plant Siting and Cooling System Selection ( NUREG-0933, Main Report with Supplements 1–34 2)
Interpretations of NEPA require the environmental impact assessment include land use impacts and alternatives in nuclear power plant licensing cases. The staff has performed both economic and non-economic land resource assessments in compliance with these NEPA requirements. Recent licensing cases have questioned the adequacy of the staff's resource evaluative methods with respect to large land areas required for sites and cooling lakes. The primary issue concerning the staff's assessment is that neither economic analyses nor resource assessment, as currently performed, provide a convincing rationale for preemption of high quality land in view of continued population pressure, predicted impending lags in world-wide agricultural food production, and probable increasing international demands on the United States for exports of agricultural products.
Food and fiber production and distribution rank with energy production and utilization as vital world problems now and for the foreseeable future. These problems are inextricably linked since energy production facilities can be consumers of large land areas while energy is a prime requirement for even modest levels of agricultural production. Thus, land use is and probably will remain a key siting issue in nuclear plant licensing.
This NUREG-04713 task will involve the conduct of a confirmatory exploration of net energy techniques to determine their suitability for application to environmental licensing assessment under NEPA. A problem of immediate licensing concern is the conflict in land use which occurs when power plants with large cooling lakes are sited in regions of prime agricultural land.
This Environmental issue is addressed in environmental impact statements on a case-by-case basis.412 Thus, this item has been dropped from further consideration.