United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants: Regarding Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 1 and 2 (NUREG-1437, Supplement 34)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2008
Date Published:
December 2008

Division of License Renewal
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) considered the environmental impacts of renewing nuclear power plant operating licenses 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 Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. (SNC) to the NRC to renew the operating licenses for Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 1 and 2 (VEGP) 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 SNC nor the Staff has identified information that is both new and significant for any issue that applies to VEGP. 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 operating licenses for VEGP 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).

Regarding the remaining 23 issues, those that apply to VEGP are addressed in this SEIS. The Staff concludes that the significance of potential environmental impacts related to operating license renewal is SMALL for each applicable issue, with one exception. Research is continuing in the area of chronic effects on electromagnetic fields, and a scientific consensus has not been reached. Therefore, no further evaluation of this issue is required.

The NRC staff's recommendation is that the Commission determines that the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal for VEGP 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 SNC; (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 and on the draft SEIS.


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

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