NRC Staff Tentatively Finds Oconee License Renewal Environmentally Acceptable; Open for Comment

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No. 99-107
May 24, 1999


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has tentatively concluded that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude renewal of the operating licenses for Oconee Nuclear Station Units 1, 2, and 3 in Oconee County, South Carolina.

These conclusions are spelled out in a newly published draft environmental impact statement on the proposed license renewal. The statement is now open for public comment until August 16 and also will be the subject of a public meeting July 8 in Clemson, South Carolina.

NRC has had extension of the Oconee licenses under consideration since Duke Energy, which operates the plants, filed an application last July. Under NRC regulations, the original operating license for a nuclear power plant is issued for up to 40 years. The license may be renewed for up to an additional 20 years if NRC requirements are met. The current operating licenses for Oconee will expire on February 6 and October 6, 2013, and July 19, 2014, for Units 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The environmental impact is a key element in the NRC staff's review of the application, which is also undergoing scrutiny in a number of technical areas.

The statement just issued is a draft, Oconee-specific supplement to an existing document, "Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants," (NUREG-1437), which assesses the environmental effects associated with license renewal at any nuclear power plant site. In preparing it, the NRC staff considered comments received last year when the scope of the environmental impact review was being planned. Public meetings were held last October in Seneca, South Carolina, as part of that process.

After the end of the comment period, the staff will analyze all comments received and then issue a final supplement containing a firm recommendation regarding the environmental acceptability for the license renewal action.

The July 8 public meeting will be held at the Clemson Ramada Inn. Two similar sessions will be held, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. The first will begin at 1:30 and continue until 4:30 p.m. The second will begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m. or until all interested members of the public have been given an opportunity to be heard.

Both sessions will begin with identical overviews. The NRC staff and its contractors will discuss the contents of the draft statement, after which the meeting will then be open for public comment. Persons may register to attend or to present oral comments by contacting James H. Wilson by telephone at 800/368-5642, extension 415-1108, or by Internet at no later than July 2. Members of the public who wish to speak may also register at the Ramada Inn meeting site within 15 minutes of the start of each session. Individual comments may be limited to accommodate all speakers within the available time.

The draft supplement and other related documents are available for public inspection and reproduction at the NRC Public Document Room at the Gelman Building, 2120 L Street NW., Washington, D.C., and the Local Public Document Room for Oconee located in the Oconee County Library, 501 West South Broad Street, Walhalla, South Carolina, 29691. The draft supplement has been posted on the NRC Internet web page.

Written comments should be submitted either by mail to the Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Mail stop T-6D59, U.S., Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by Internet to

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