United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC: Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (NUREG-1437 Supplement 2, Part 6)

1.0 Introduction



[ View in Frames | Document Outline ]

Section Contents

Duke Energy Corporation (Duke)(1) operates Oconee Nuclear Station (ONS) Units 1, 2, and 3 in northwestern South Carolina under operating licenses (OLs) DPR-38, DPR-47, and DPR-55 issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). These OLs will expire in 2013 for Units 1 and 2 and in 2014 for Unit 3. By letter dated July 7, 1998, Duke submitted an application to the NRC to renew the ONS OLs for an additional 20 years under Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 54. Duke is a licensee for the purposes of its current OLs and an applicant for the renewal of the OLs.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires an environmental impact statement (EIS) for major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. As provided in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS), NUREG-1437 (NRC 1996; 1999a),(2) under NRC's environmental protection regulations in 10 CFR Part 51 implementing NEPA, renewal of a nuclear power plant operating license is identified as a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Therefore, an EIS is required for a plant license renewal review. The EIS requirements for a plant-specific license renewal review are specified in 10 CFR Part 51. Pursuant to 10 CFR 54.23 and 51.53(c), Duke submitted an environmental report (ER) (Duke 1998) in which Duke analyzed the environmental impacts associated with the proposed action, considered alternatives to the proposed action, and evaluated any alternatives for reducing adverse environmental effects.

As part of NRC's evaluation of the application for license renewal, the NRC staff is required under 10 CFR Part 51 to prepare an EIS for the proposed action, issue the statement in draft form for public comment, and issue a final statement after considering public comments on the draft. This report is the final plant-specific supplement to the GEIS (supplemental environmental impact statement [SEIS]) for the Duke license renewal application. The staff will also prepare a separate safety evaluation report in accordance with 10 CFR Part 54.

The following sections in this introduction describe the background and the process used by the staff to assess the environmental impacts associated with license renewal, describe the proposed Federal action, discuss the purpose and need for the proposed action, and present the status of compliance with environmental quality standards and requirements that have been imposed by Federal, State, regional, and local agencies having responsibility for environmental protection. Chapter 2 describes the site, power plant, and interactions of the plant with the environment. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the potential environmental impacts of plant refurbishment and plant operation during the renewal term, respectively. Chapter 5 contains an evaluation of potential environmental impacts of plant accidents and includes consideration of severe accident mitigation alternatives (SAMAs). Chapter 6 discusses the uranium fuel cycle and solid waste management, and Chapter 7 discusses decommissioning. The alternatives to license renewal are considered in Chapter 8. Finally, Chapter 9 summarizes the findings of the prior chapters, draws conclusions related to the adverse impacts that cannot be avoided (the relationship between short-term uses of man's environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and the irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources), and presents the recommendation of the staff with respect to the proposed action. Additional information is included in Appendices. Appendix A contains a discussion of comments on the draft SEIS issued on May 20, 1999. Appendix B lists preparers of this supplement, and Appendix C lists the chronology of correspondence between NRC and Duke with regard to this supplement. The remaining appendices are identified in subsequent sections.

Generic Environmental Impact Statement

[ Next | Top of file ]

The NRC initiated a generic assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the license renewal term to improve the efficiency of the license renewal process by documenting the assessment results and codifying the results in the Commission's regulations. This assessment is provided in the GEIS. The GEIS serves as the principal reference for all nuclear power plant license renewal EISs.

The GEIS documents the results of the systematic approach that was taken to evaluate the environ-mental consequences of renewing the licenses of individual nuclear power plants and operating them for an additional 20 years. For each potential environmental issue, the GEIS (1) described the activity that affects the environment, (2) identified the population or resource that is affected, (3) assessed the nature and magnitude of the impact on the affected population or resource, (4) characterized the significance of the effect for both beneficial and adverse effects, (5) determined whether the results of the analysis applied to all plants, and (6) considered whether additional mitigation measures would be warranted for impacts that would have the same significance level for all plants.

The standard of significance was established using the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) terminology for "significantly" (40 CFR 1508.27) for assessing environmental issues as SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE. Using the CEQ terminology, the NRC established three significance levels as follows:

    SMALL: Environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource.
MODERATE: Environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but not to destabilize, important attributes of the resource.
LARGE: Environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize important attributes of the resource.

The GEIS assigned a significance level to each environmental issue. In assigning these levels, it was assumed that ongoing mitigation measures would continue.

The GEIS included a determination of whether the analysis of the environmental issue could be applied to all plants, and whether additional mitigation measures would be warranted. Issues were then assigned a Category 1 or a Category 2 designation. As set forth in the GEIS, Category 1 issues are those that meet all of the following criteria:

(1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been determined to apply either to all plants or, for some issues, to plants having a specific type of cooling system or other specified plant or site characteristic
(2) A single-significance level (i.e., SMALL, MODERATE, or LARGE) has been assigned to the impacts (except for collective offsite radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and from high-level waste (HLW) and spent fuel disposal)
(3) Mitigation of adverse impacts associated with the issue has been considered in the analysis, and it has been determined that additional plant-specific mitigation measures are not likely to be sufficiently beneficial to warrant implementation.

For issues that meet the three Category 1 criteria, no additional plant-specific analysis is required unless new and significant information is identified.

Category 2 issues are those that do not meet one or more of the criteria of Category 1, and therefore, additional plant-specific review for these issues is required.

In the GEIS, the staff assessed 92 environmental issues and determined that 69 qualified as Category 1 issues, 21 qualified as Category 2 issues, and two issues were not categorized. The latter two issues, environmental justice and chronic effects of electromagnetic fields, are to be addressed in a plant-specific analysis. Of the 92 issues, 10 are related to refurbishment, 74 are related to operations during the renewal term, and 8 apply to both refurbishment and operation during the renewal term. A summary of the findings for all 92 issues of the GEIS is codified in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1.

License Renewal Evaluation Process

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

An applicant seeking to renew its operating license is required to submit an ER as part of its application. This ER must provide an analysis of the issues listed as Category 2 in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1 in accordance with 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii). The ER must include a discussion of actions to mitigate adverse impacts associated with the proposed action and environmental impacts of alternatives to the proposed action. In accordance with 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2), the ER need not consider the economic benefits and costs of the proposed action and alternatives to the proposed action except insofar as such benefits and costs are either essential for determination regarding the inclusion of an alternative in the range of alternatives considered or relevant to mitigation. Section 51.53(c)(2) also provides that certain other issues, including the need for power and other issues not related to the environmental effects of the proposed action need not be considered in the ER. In addition, the ER need not discuss any aspect of the storage of spent fuel within the scope of the generic determination in 10 CFR 51.23(a) in accordance with 10 CFR 51.23(b). Pursuant to 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(I)(iii) and (iv), the ER is not required to contain an analysis of any Category 1 issues unless there is significant new information on a specific issue. New and significant information is (1) information that identifies a significant environmental issue not covered in the GEIS and codified in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1, or (2) information that was not considered in the analyses summarized in the GEIS and which leads to an impact finding different from that codified in 10 CFR Part 51.

In preparing to submit its application to renew the ONS operating licenses, Duke developed a process to ensure that new and significant information regarding the environmental impacts of license renewal for ONS would be properly reviewed before submitting the ER and to ensure that new and significant information related to renewal of the ONS licenses would be identified, reviewed, and addressed during the period of NRC review. Duke reviewed the Category 1 issues appearing in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1, to verify that the conclusions of the GEIS remained valid with respect to ONS. This review was performed by personnel from Duke's Group Environmental Health and Safety and the Oconee station personnel. Duke has committed to repeating this review process at 1-year intervals until a determination on the Oconee license renewal application is made. Duke also committed to include the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as part of the review process and making revisions to the ER if new issues were identified that had not been included in the GEIS or if changes to conclusions made in the ER were required.

The NRC staff also has a process for identifying new and significant information. That process is described in detail in a draft of the Standard Review Plans for Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants, Supplement 1: Operating License Renewal (ESRP), NUREG-1555, Supplement 1 (February 1999 pre-publication copy) (NRC 1999b). The search for new information includes a review of an applicant's ER and the process for discovering and evaluating the significance of new information; review of records of public meetings and correspondence; review of environmental quality standards and regulation coordination with Federal, State, and local environmental protection and resource agencies; and review of the technical literature. Any new information discovered by the staff is evaluated for significance using the criteria set forth in the GEIS. For Category 1 issues where new and significant information is identified, reconsideration of the conclusions for those issues is limited in scope to the assessment of the relevant new and significant information; the scope of the assessment does not include other facets of the issue that are not affected by the new information. Neither Duke nor the staff has identified any new issue applicable to ONS that has a significant environmental impact.

The discussion of the environmental issues considered in the GEIS that are applicable to ONS is found in Chapters 3 through 7. At the beginning of the discussion of each set of issues, there is a table that identifies the issues to be addressed and lists the sections in the GEIS where the issue is discussed. Category 1 and Category 2 issues are listed in separate tables. For Category 1 issues for which there is no new and significant information, the table is followed by a set of short paragraphs that state the GEIS conclusion codified in 10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1, followed by the staff's analysis and conclusion. For Category 2 issues, in addition to the list of GEIS sections where the issue is discussed, the tables list the subparagraph of 10 CFR 51.53(c)(3)(ii) that describes the analysis required and the SEIS sections where the analysis is presented. The SEIS sections discussing the Category 2 issues are listed immediately following the table.

The NRC prepares an independent analysis of the environmental impacts of license renewal as well as a comparison of these impacts to the environmental impacts of alternatives. The evaluation of Duke's license renewal application began with publication of a notice of acceptance for docketing (63 FR 42885, August 11, 1998). The staff published a notice of intent to prepare an EIS and conduct scoping (63 FR 50257, September 21, 1998). Two public scoping meetings were held on October 19, 1998, in Clemson, South Carolina. Comments received during the scoping meeting were summarized in the Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Process, Oconee Nuclear Station, Summary Report, January 1999 (NRC 1999c).

The staff visited the ONS Site on October 19 through 22, 1998, reviewed the comments received during scoping, and consulted with Federal, State, regional, and local agencies. A list of the organizations consulted is provided in Appendix D of this document. Other documents related to ONS were also reviewed and are referenced.

The staff followed the review guidance contained in the February 1999 prepublication version of the ESRP (which was under development at the time of the Duke application). It issued requests for additional information (RAIs) to Duke by letters dated December 29, 1998 (NRC 1998a and 1998b). Duke provided its responses in a letter dated March 4, 1999 (Duke 1999). The staff reviewed this information, incorporated it into its analysis, and, on May 20, 1999, issued a draft of the SEIS, which contained the preliminary results of its evaluation and recommendation.

With the publication of the EPA Notice of Filing of the draft SEIS (64 FR 28843, May 28, 1999), a 75-day comment period began to allow members of the public to comment on the preliminary results of the NRC staff's review. During this comment period, two public meetings were held in Clemson, South Carolina, on July 8, 1999, during which the staff described the preliminary results of the NRC environmental review and answered questions related to it in order to provide members of the public with information to assist them in formulating their comments. The comment period for the ONS draft SEIS ended on August 16, 1999.

This report presents the staff's final analysis that considers and weighs the environmental effects of the proposed renewal of the ONS licenses, the environmental impacts of alternatives to license renewal, and alternatives available for avoiding adverse environmental effects. The staff considered the comments that were received during the comment period. The disposition of these comments is addressed in Appendix A of this SEIS. The staff modified the analysis set forth in the draft SEIS to address certain comments, where appropriate. A vertical bar in the margin indicates where the staff made changes to the draft SEIS. In addition, Chapter 9, "Summary and Conclusions," provides the NRC staff's final recommendation to the Commission on whether the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are so great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning decisionmakers would be unreasonable.

1.1 The Proposed Federal Action

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

The proposed Federal action is renewal of the operating licenses for ONS Units 1, 2, and 3. ONS is located in Oconee County, South Carolina, approximately 13 km (8 mi) northeast of Seneca, South Carolina. The plant has three pressurized light-water reactors, each with a design rating for net electrical power output of 887 megawatts (MW(e)). Plant cooling is provided by a once-through heat dissipation system into Lake Keowee. Keowee Hydroelectric Station, was constructed at approximately the same time as ONS. ONS produces electricity to supply the needs of more than 730,000 homes. The current operating license for Unit 1 expires on February 6, 2013, for Unit 2 on October 6, 2013, and for Unit 3 on July 19, 2014. By letter dated July 7, 1998, Duke submitted an application to renew these operating licenses for an additional 20 years of operation (i.e., until February 6, 2033, for Unit 1, October 6, 2033, for Unit 2, and July 19, 2034, for Unit 3).

1.2 Purpose and Need for the Action

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

Although a licensee must have a renewed license to operate a plant beyond the term of the existing operating license, the possession of that license is just one of a number of conditions that must be met for the licensee to continue plant operation during the term of the renewed license. Once an OL is renewed, State regulatory agencies and the owners of the plant will ultimately decide whether the plant will continue to operate based on factors such as the need for power or other matters within the State's jurisdiction or the purview of the owners.

Thus, for license renewal reviews, the Commission has adopted the following definition of purpose and need (GEIS, Section 1.3):

The purpose and need for the proposed action (renewal of an operating license) is to provide an option that allows for power generation capability beyond the term of a current nuclear power plant operating license to meet future system generating needs, as such needs may be determined by State, utility, and where authorized, Federal (other than NRC) decision makers.

This definition of purpose and need reflects the Commission's recognition that, unless there are findings in the safety review required by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954, as amended, or findings in the NEPA environmental analysis that would lead the NRC to reject a license renewal application, the NRC does not have a role in the energy planning decisions of State regulators and utility officials as to whether a particular nuclear power plant should continue to operate. From the perspective of the licensee and the State regulatory authority, the purpose of renewing an operating license is to maintain the availability of the nuclear plant to meet system energy requirements beyond the current term of the plant's license.

1.3 Compliance and Consultations

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

Duke is required to hold certain Federal, State, and local environmental permits, as well as meet relevant Federal and State statutory requirements. Duke provided a list in its ER of the status of authorizations from Federal, State, and local authorities for current operations as well as environmental approvals and consultations associated with ONS license renewal. Authorizations most relevant to the proposed license renewal action are summarized in Table 1-1. The full list of authorizations provided by Duke is included as Appendix E.

The staff reviewed the list and has consulted with the appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies to identify any compliance or permit issues or significant environmental issues of concern to the reviewing agencies. Agency interactions identified no new and significant environmental issues. The staff has also not identified any new and significant environmental issues.

Table 1-1. Federal, State, and Local Authorizations

Agency Authority Requirement License Permit Number Permit Expiration or Consultation Date Activity Covered
NRC Atomic Energy Act, 10 CFR Part 50 Operating license DPR-38, DPR-47, DPR-55 Expires February 6, 2013, October 6, 2013, and

July 19, 2014

Operation of ONS Units 1, 2,

and 3

FERC Federal Power Act, Section 4(e) Associated hydro project FERC Project No. 2503 Expires 2016 License for Keowee Dam and Hydro Station
FWS Endangered Species Act, Section 7 Consultation

Informal Consultation

NA Consultation initiated

June 23, 1998

June 30, 1999

Operation during the renewal term
SCDHEC Clean Air Act, Section 112 Air quality permit 1820-0041 April 22, 2002 Air quality permit
SCDHEC Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 1412 Water quality 202098AI In compliance ONS has a permit for a drinking water well in protected area
SCDHEC RCRA-subtitle 1 Permit 06673,11174, 11843 Issued January 1, 1982, November 3, 1988, and November 3, 1989 Underground storage tanks
SCDHEC FWPCA Section 402 State discharge permit SCR000000 Issued October 1, 1992, in compliance General storm water permit
SCDHEC FWPCA Section 402 Water quality SCR0000515 Issued September 29, 1999

Expires September 30, 2003

Discharges of process waste water (NPDES permit)
SCDHEC RCRA Section 3005 Permit SCD043979822 Issued March 9, 1998 Part A Hazardous Waste Permit, Interim Storage Facility for Mixed Wastes
SCSHPO National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 Consultation NA Letter from Duke requesting consultation dated September 30, 1997 Operation during the renewal term
EPA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
FERC - Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FWPCA - Federal Water Pollution Control Act (also known as the Clean Water Act)
FWS - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
NPDES - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
RCRA - Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
SCDHEC - South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
SCSHPO - South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
NA - Not applicable

References

[ Prev | Top of file ]

10 CFR Part 51, "Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions."

10 CFR 51.53, "Postconstruction environmental reports."

10 CFR 51.95, "Postconstruction environmental impact statements."

10 CFR Part 51, Subpart A, Appendix B, Table B-1, "Environmental effect of renewing the operating license of a nuclear power plant."

10 CFR Part 54, "Requirements for renewal of operating licenses for nuclear power plants."

10 CFR 54.23, "Contents of application - environmental information."

40 CFR 1508.27, "Terminology and Index - Significantly."

63 FR 42885, "Notice of Acceptance for Docketing of the Application and Notice of Opportunity for a Hearing Regarding Renewal of Licenses Nos. DPR-38, DPR-47 and DRP-55." August 11, 1998.

63 FR 50257, "Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Conduct Scoping Process." September 21, 1998

64 FR 28843, "Duke Energy Corporation, Oconee Nuclear Station, Units 1, 2, and 3; Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplement to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Public Meeting for the License Renewal of Oconee Nuclear Station, Units 1, 2, and 3." May 27, 1999.

Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, 42 USC 2011, et seq.

Duke Energy Corporation. 1998. Application for Renewed Operating Licenses - Oconee Nuclear Station, Units 1, 2, and 3. Volume IV, Environmental Report.

Duke Energy Corporation. 1999. Letter from M.S. Tuckman, Duke Energy Corporation to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Subject: License Renewal-Response to Requests for Additional Information, Oconee Nuclear Station. Dated March 4, 1999.

Endangered Species Act, as amended, 16 USC 1531, et seq.

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), as amended, 33 USC 1251, et seq. (also known as the Clean Water Act).

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, 42 USC 4321, et seq.

National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, 16 USC 470, et seq.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1996. Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS), NUREG-1437. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1998a. Letter from U.S. NRC to William R. McCollum, Duke Energy Corporation. Subject: Request for Additional Information for the Review of the Oconee Nuclear Station Units 1, 2, and 3. Environmental Report Associated with License Renewal-Environmental. Dated December 29, 1998.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1998b. Letter from U.S. NRC to William R. McCollum, Duke Energy Corporation. Subject: Request for Additional Information for the Review of the Oconee Nuclear Station Unit Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Environmental Report Associated with License Renewal - SAMA. Dated December 29, 1998.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1999a. Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, Main Report, Section 6.3 - Transportation, Table 9.1, Summary of findings on NEPA issues for license renewal of nuclear power plants, NUREG-1437 Vol. 1, Addendum 1. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1999b. Standard Review Plans for Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants, Supplement 1: Operating License Renewal, NUREG-1555, Supplement 1. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 1999c. Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Process: Summary Report - Oconee Nuclear Station Units 1, 2 and 3, Oconee County, South Carolina. Washington, D.C.

[ NRC Home Page | Top of file | Contents ]

1. Duke Energy Corporation has held the license for the ONS Units 1, 2, and 3 since September 16, 1997. Before that date, Duke Power Company held the license. Duke Power Company remains a division of Duke Energy Corporation.

2. The GEIS was originally issued in 1996. Addendum 1 to the GEIS was issued in 1999. Hereafter, all references to the "GEIS" include the GEIS and its Addendum 1.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012