United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants: Regarding Wolf Creek Generating Station (NUREG-1437, Supplement 32)

This NUREG publication has been issued for public comment. Comment period is now closed.

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: May 2008
Date Published:
May 2008

Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) considered the environmental impacts of renewing nuclear power plant operating licenses (OLs) for a 20-year period in its Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS), NUREG-1437, Volumes 1 and 2, and codified the results in 10 CFR Part 51. In the GEIS (and its Addendum 1), the Staff identified 92 environmental issues and reached generic conclusions related to environmental impacts for 69 of these issues that apply to all plants or to plants with specific design or site characteristics. Additional plant-specific review is required for the remaining 23 issues. These plant-specific reviews are to be included in a supplement to the GEIS.

This supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) has been prepared in response to an application submitted by Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation (WCNOC) to the NRC to renew the OL for Wolf Creek Generating Station, Unit 1 (WCGS) for an additional 20 years under 10 CFR Part 54. This SEIS includes the NRC staff's analysis that considers and weighs the environmental impacts of the proposed action, the environmental impacts of alternatives to the proposed action, and mitigation measures available for reducing or avoiding adverse impacts. It also includes the Staff's recommendation regarding the proposed action.

Regarding the 69 issues for which the GEIS reached generic conclusions, neither WCNOC nor the Staff has identified information that is both new and significant for any issue that applies to WCGS. In addition, the Staff determined that information provided during the scoping process was not new and significant with respect to the conclusions in the GEIS. Therefore, the Staff concludes that the impacts of renewing the OL for WCGS will not be greater than impacts identified for these issues in the GEIS. For each of these issues, the Staff's conclusion in the GEIS is that the impact is of SMALL(a) significance (except for collective off-site radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and high-level waste and spent fuel, which were not assigned a single significance level).

We address the remaining 23 issues that apply to WCGS in this SEIS. With exceptions of groundwater quality, water use conflicts (plants with cooling ponds or cooling towers using makeup water from a small river with a low flow), and impacts to associated ecological resources, potential environmental impacts of operating license renewal would be SMALL. For groundwater quality and water use conflicts, the impact would be SMALL to MODERATE.(b) If water use conflicts occur, associated impacts in the Neosho River due to impingement and habitat reduction on aquatic organisms, including threatened and endangered species, would be SMALL to MODERATE. The Staff also concluded that groundwater quality and water use conflicts, would experience SMALL to MODERATE cumulative impacts. In addition, due to the increased potential for impingement and habitat reduction during periods with water use conflicts, cumulative impacts on aquatic organisms, including threatened and endangered species, would be SMALL to MODERATE.

The NRC staff's recommendation is that the Commission determines that the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal for WCGS are not so great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy-planning decision makers would be unreasonable. This recommendation is based on (1) the analysis and findings in the GEIS; (2) the Environmental Report submitted by WCGS; (3) consultation with Federal, State, and local agencies; (4) the Staff's own independent review; and (5) the Staff's consideration of public comments received during the scoping process.

(a) Environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource.
(b) Environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably but not to destabilize important attributes of the resource.

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