Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants: Main Report — Draft Report for Comment (NUREG-1437, Revision 1, Volume 1)
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Manuscript Completed: June 2009
Date Published: July 2009
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations allow for the renewal of commercial nuclear power plant operating licenses, depending on the outcome of an assessment to determine whether the nuclear plant can continue to operate safely and protect the environment during the 20-year period of extended operation. Renewal of a nuclear power plant operating license requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). To support the preparation of these EISs, the NRC published the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS) in 1996. The proposed action considered in the GEIS is the renewal of nuclear power plant operating licenses.
The NRC committed to review and revise the GEIS on a 10-year cycle, if necessary. Since publication of the GEIS, approximately 30 plant sites (50 reactor units) have applied for license renewal and undergone environmental reviews, the results of which were published as supplements to the 1996 GEIS. This GEIS revision reviews and reevaluates the issues and findings of the 1996 GEIS. Lessons learned and knowledge gained during previous license renewal reviews provides a significant source of new information for this assessment. In addition, new research, findings, and other information were considered in evaluating the significance of impacts associated with license renewal.
The intent of the GEIS is to determine which issues would result in the same impact at all nuclear power plants, and which issues could result in different levels of impact at different plants and thus require a plant-specific analysis for impact determinations. The GEIS is intended to improve the efficiency of the license renewal process by (1) providing an evaluation of the types of environmental impacts that may occur as a result of renewing the license of a nuclear power plant, (2) identifying and assessing the impacts that are expected to be generic (the same or similar), and (3) defining the number and scope of impacts that need to be addressed in plant-specific EISs. The GEIS revision identifies 78 environmental impact issues for consideration in plant-specific supplements to the GEIS.
In addition to the impacts of continued operations and refurbishment, the GEIS evaluates other consequences of license renewal, including the environmental effects of postulated accidents and the effects of an additional 20 years of operation on the impacts of shutdown and decommissioning and on the uranium fuel cycle. The GEIS evaluates a full range of alternatives to the proposed action, including a no-action alternative (denial of license renewal), fossil energy alternatives, nuclear energy alternatives, renewable energy alternatives, conservation (demand-side management), and the purchase of power. For most impact areas, the proposed action would have impacts that would be similar to or less than impacts of the alternatives, in large part because most alternatives would require new power plant
construction, whereas the proposed action would not.
Public Comments: In preparation of this Draft GEIS, NRC considered comments received from the public during the scoping period. Comments received after the close of the scoping comment period have been considered to the extent practicable. Locations and times of public meetings on this document will be announced in the Federal Register. Comments on this Draft GEIS will be accepted for a period of 75 days following publication of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Availability in the Federal Register and will be considered in the preparation of the Final GEIS. Any comments received after the 75-day period will be considered to the extent practicable for the preparation of the Final GEIS.