United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Staff Approval for Changes to 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix H, Reactor Vessel Surveillance Specimen Withdrawal Schedules

                                 UNITED STATES
                         NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                         WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555-0001

                              September 30, 1997

                                  PART 50, APPENDIX H, REACTOR VESSEL


All holders of operating licenses for nuclear power reactors except those who
have permanently ceased operations and have certified that fuel has been
permanently removed from the reactor vessel.


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this administrative
letter to inform licensees that changes to their facilities' reactor vessel
surveillance specimen capsule withdrawal schedules as specified in Appendix H
to Part 50 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) that do not
conform to the required ASTM standard referenced in Appendix H will be treated
as license amendments requiring public notice and opportunity for a hearing.


In a Memorandum and Order (CLI-96-13) issued in the Perry operating license
amendment proceeding on December 6, 1996, the Commission reversed and vacated
the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Order, LBP-95-17, which required that
all future proposed withdrawal schedule changes be treated as license
amendments.  The Commission found that while  10 CFR Part 50, Appendix H,
II.B.3  requires prior NRC approval for all withdrawal schedule changes, only
certain changes require license amendments as the process to be followed for
such approval.  Specifically, those changes that do not conform to the ASTM
standard referenced in Appendix H (ASTM E-185, Standard Practice for
Conducting Surveillance Tests for Light-Water Cooled Nuclear Power Reactor
Vessels) will require approval by the license amendment process, whereas
changes that conform to the ASTM standard require only staff verification of
such conformance.


Plant technical specifications often direct licensees to conduct testing and
surveillance of material specimens according to Appendix H.  Appendix H, in
turn, requires withdrawal schedules to meet an applicable ASTM standard.  In
this instance, as long as the plant's withdrawal schedule change meets the
applicable ASTM standard, the plant will not be 

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                                                            September 30, 1997
                                                            Page 2 of 2

exceeding the operating authority already granted in its license.  Therefore,
a license amendment would not be required, although prior NRC approval to
verify conformance with the ASTM standard is required by Appendix H.

However, if the plant's withdrawal schedule change does not meet the
applicable ASTM standard, then the change will be treated as a license
amendment requiring public notice and opportunity for a hearing in accordance
with Section 189a of the Atomic Energy Act.  Therefore, the information
required by 10 CFR 50.91 and 50.92 should be included in such submittals.

Backfit Discussion

The NRC has determined that the backfit rule, 10 CFR 50.109, does not apply to
this administrative letter.  This information is being provided in light of
the Memorandum and Order and does not constitute a backfit in that the
substance of the regulations is not being changed in any respect by this
action, and no substantive regulatory requirements that are different from or
greater than those that existed heretofore are being imposed on NRC licensees. 
This administrative letter does not involve any provisions that would impose
backfits as defined in 10 CFR 50.109(a)(1), and a backfit analysis is,
therefore, not required.

This administrative letter requires no specific action or written response. 
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the lead project
manager listed below or your appropriate Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
(NRR) project manager.

                                          signed by

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

Contact:  Jon Hopkins, NRR
          E-mail:  jbh1@nrc.gov

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued Administrative Letters

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