[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ More Radwaste in Monroe

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>


Federal Register: January 25, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 17)]
[Page 7815-7818]
 >From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



[DOCKET NO. 50-341]

Detroit Edison Company; Fermi 2 Environmental Assessment and
Finding of no Significant Impact

     The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering
issuance of an amendment to Facility Operating License No. NPF-43
issued to Detroit Edison Company (the licensee), for operation of Fermi
2, located in Monroe County, Michigan.

Environmental Assessment

Identification of the Proposed Action

     The proposed action would revise the Fermi 2 Technical
Specifications (TSs) by changing (1) the design features description of
the fuel storage equipment and configuration to allow an increase in
the spent fuel pool (SFP) storage capacity and (2) the description of
the high-density spent fuel racks program to clarify that the
surveillance program is applicable only to racks containing Boraflex as
a neutron absorber.
     Currently, the SFP for Fermi 2 has 14 freestanding high-density
(Boraflex) fuel racks, four General Electric (GE) low-density racks,
and a rack for defective fuel, for a total storage capacity of 2414
fuel assemblies. As part of a proposed modification, the licensee plans
to increase Fermi 2's spent fuel storage capacity by 2194 spaces in a
three-phase operation. In phase one, four additional high-density racks
will be added to open spaces in the SFP. In phase two, the GE racks,
the rack for defective fuel, and one high-density rack would be
replaced with five new high-density racks. In phase three, the
remaining 13 existing racks would be replaced with 14 new high-density
racks. At the completion of phase three, the entire available floor
space of the pool would be occupied with fuel storage racks providing
for a total storage capacity of 4608 assemblies. Two platforms will be
installed above the new high-density fuel storage racks to accommodate
storage of miscellaneous activated components.
     The proposed action is in accordance with the licensee's
application for

[[Page 7816]]

amendment dated November 19, 1999, as supplemented on May 31, August 2,
October 19, and November 21, 2000.

The Need for the Proposed Action

     The proposed action is needed to maintain full core offload
capability by expanding the spent fuel storage capacity. The licensee
estimates that it will lose the ability to fully offload the reactor
fuel by June 2001. The expanded storage capacity would extend full core
offload capability to the year 2015. The current Fermi 2 operating
license authorizes plant operations through March 20, 2025.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

Radioactive Wastes
     The existing contaminated fuel storage racks will be the main
source of radioactive waste for the proposed modification. The racks
will be washed prior to being removed from the pool to remove as much
contamination as possible. The racks will then be shipped, using a
special Department of Transportation approved container, to a volume
reduction facility for processing and subsequent disposal at an
authorized burial site.
     In order to maintain the SFP water as clean as possible, underwater
vacuuming of the SFP will be used to remove radioactive crud, sediment,
and other debris generated in the rack replacement. Filters from use of
this underwater vacuum system will also be a source of solid radwaste.
     The impact of the expanded fuel storage capacity on the production
and release of radioactive waste during normal operations is not
expected to be significant. The level of radioactive contamination in
the pool water impacts the amount of solid waste produced by pool
purification system resins, as well as the liquid effluents originating
from SFP water. Radioactive gases that evolve from the surface of the
pool also contribute to the plant's gaseous effluents. However, the
levels of gaseous and particulate radioactivity in the pool water are
dominated by the most recent reactor core offload to the SFP, not the
older cooled fuel stored in the pool. Therefore, the storage of
additional aged spent fuel assemblies resulting from this proposed
design change will have a minimal contribution to the levels of
radioactivity in the pool water.
     On the basis of its review of the Fermi 2 license amendment
request, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed increase in spent
fuel storage capacity (1) is not expected to result in an increase in
the amount of gaseous tritium released from the SFP; (2) will result in
a negligible increase in the amount of radioactive liquid released to
the environment; and, (3) will not result in a significant increase in
the volume of solid radioactive waste. Finally, small amounts of
additional waste resin may be generated by the SFP's clean-up systems
on a one-time basis. Shipping containers for these resins, the old
racks, and debris generated by reracking will conform to 10 CFR part
71, ``Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Material,'' and the
requirements of States through which shipments may pass. Therefore, the
NRC staff finds that, with regard to radioactive waste, the proposed
increase in spent fuel storage capacity at Fermi 2 is acceptable.
Radiological Impact Assessment
     The NRC staff has reviewed the licensee's plan for the replacement
of the existing SFP storage racks at Fermi 2 with respect to
occupational radiation exposure. As stated above, the licensee plans to
replace the existing fuel storage racks in the SFP with 23 new high-
density racks. A number of facilities have performed similar operations
in the past. On the basis of the lessons learned from these operations,
the licensee estimates that the proposed fuel rack installation can be
performed within a radiological dose estimate of approximately 12
person-rem. This estimate includes the rad-waste processing of the
existing contaminated racks, as well as the projected dose to divers,
in the event they are used, consistent with the licensee's contingency
     All of the operations involved in the fuel rack installations will
utilize detailed procedures prepared with full consideration of as low
as reasonably achievable (ALARA) principles. Workers performing the SFP
re-racking operation will be given pre-job briefings to ensure that
they are aware of their job responsibilities and precautions associated
with the job. The licensee will monitor and control work, personnel
traffic, and equipment movement in the SFP area to minimize
contamination and to assure that exposures are maintained ALARA.
Personnel will wear protective clothing and respiratory protective
equipment, if necessary. Alarming dosimeters will be used as needed to
confirm exposure and dose rates, while thermal luminescent dosimeters
(TLDs) will be used to officially document the dose received.
Additional personnel monitoring equipment (such as extremity TLDs or
multiple TLDs) will be issued for appropriate tasks.
     As indicated previously, the licensee intends to complete the
three-phase fuel rack replacement without the use of divers in the
pool. Removal of existing racks and installation of the new racks are
expected to be completed remotely from the surface of the pool.
However, if diving is necessary, the licensee has developed a
contingency plan that includes diving procedures that are consistent
with Regulatory Guide 8.38, Appendix A, in terms of diver restraint,
radiological monitoring, physical monitoring, and standard SFP diving
     Prior to any diving operations, the radioactive sources in the pool
will be configured to maximize the distance and shielding of the
divers. Three dimensional radiation surveys will be performed with
appropriate equipment. In addition, the divers will be equipped with
monitors to survey the work area during each dive. The licensee will
utilize underwater TV cameras to maintain visual contact with the
divers during all diving operations. The divers will also be physically
restrained by a dive tender with a tether contained in the dive
umbilical. The SFP water will be continuously filtered through the SFP
purification system in order to maintain water clarity. In addition,
the licensee will vacuum the SFP floor prior to initiation of the
diving operation and will vacuum the pool additional times during the
diving operation, if it should become necessary, to maintain diver
doses ALARA. Each diver will be equipped with whole body and extremity
dosimetry (including alarming dosimetry) with remote, above surface,
readouts that will be continuously monitored by radiation protection
     All items removed from the pool, as well as divers, if used, will
be monitored for radiation and contamination. This monitoring will be
performed in isolated ``bull pens'' that separate the potentially
contaminated areas from the rest of the refueling floor. The bull pens
will minimize the possible spread of contamination, including ``hot
particles'' (or discrete radioactive particles (DRPs)). Based on the
Fermi 2 operating history and fuel integrity experience, the licensee
does not anticipate any significant radiological challenges from DRPs.
     The licensee assessed the radiological exposure impact of the
proposed SFP design change on areas of the plant during normal
operations. Revised shielding calculations indicate that the dose rates
through the east and west walls of the pool would have only a modest
increase (to 0.6 mrem/hr compared to the previous maximum of

[[Page 7817]]

0.5 mrem/hr). The maximum dose rates in the equipment storage room,
adjacent to the north wall of the pool, increased to 400 mrem/hr. These
calculations are based on the conservative assumption that all
assemblies in the storage array have cooled for only 60 hours. The
actual operational dose rates in this area will depend upon the age of
the fuel stored in the north end of the pool. In addition, this area is
not a normally occupied room and can be controlled as a high radiation
area consistent with the requirement in 10 CFR part 20. The licensee
has provided marked up radiation zoning maps from the Fermi 2 Updated
Safety Analysis Report to reflect these design changes.
     On the basis of the NRC staff review of the Fermi 2 license
amendment, the NRC staff concludes that the proposed increase in spent
fuel storage capacity at Fermi 2 can be performed in a manner that will
ensure that doses to the workers will be maintained ALARA. The NRC
staff finds that the projected dose for the project of 12 person-rem is
in the range of doses for similar modifications at other plants and is,
therefore, acceptable.
Accident Considerations
     The proposed modification increases the spent fuel storage
capacity, but it does not change the method for handling spent fuel
     The proposed expansion of the SFP will not affect any of the
assumptions or inputs used in evaluating the dose consequences of a
fuel handling accident and, therefore, will not result in an increase
in the doses from a postulated fuel handling accident.
Environmental Impact Conclusions
     The proposed action will not significantly increase the probability
or consequences of accidents, no changes are being made in the types of
any effluents that may be released off-site, and there is no
significant increase in occupational or public exposure. Therefore,
there are no significant radiological environmental impacts associated
with the proposed action.
     With regard to potential nonradiological impacts, the proposed
action does not involve any historic sites. It does not affect
nonradiological plant effluents and has no other environmental impacts.
Therefore, there are no significant nonradiological environmental
impacts associated with the proposed action.
     Accordingly, the NRC concludes that there are no significant
environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.

Alternatives to the Proposed

Shipping Fuel to a Permanent Federal Fuel Storage/Disposal Facility
     Shipment of spent fuel to a high-level radioactive storage facility
is an alternative to increasing the onsite spent fuel storage capacity.
However, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) high-level radioactive
waste repository is not expected to begin receiving spent fuel until
approximately 2010, at the earliest. To date, no interim Federal
storage facility has yet to be approved in advance of a decision on a
permanent repository. Therefore, shipping the spent fuel to the DOE
repository is not considered an alternative to increasing the onsite
fuel storage capacity at this time.
Shipping Fuel to a Reprocessing Facility
     Reprocessing of spent fuel from Fermi 2 is not within the
reasonable range of alternatives since there are no operating
commercial reprocessing facilities in the United States. Therefore,
spent fuel would have to be shipped to an overseas facility for
reprocessing. However, this approach has never been used and it would
require approval by the Department of State as well as other entities.
Additionally, the cost of spent fuel reprocessing is not offset by the
salvage value of the residual uranium; reprocessing represents an added
Shipping the Fuel Offsite to Another Utility or Private Fuel Storage
     The shipment of fuel to another utility or transferring fuel to
another of the licensee's facilities would provide short-term relief at
Fermi 2. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, Subtitle B, Section
131(a)(1), however, clearly places the responsibility for the interim
storage of spent fuel with each owner or operator of a nuclear plant.
The SFPs at the other reactor sites were designed with capacity to
accommodate spent fuel from those particular sites. Therefore,
transferring spent fuel from Fermi 2 to other sites would create
storage capacity problems at those locations. The shipment of spent
fuel to another site is not an acceptable alternative because of
increased fuel handling risks and additional occupational radiation
exposure, as well as the fact that no additional storage capacity would
be created.
     The shipment of fuel to a private fuel storage facility is an
alternative to increasing the onsite spent fuel storage capacity.
However, a private fuel storage facility is not licensed at this time.
Therefore, shipping the spent fuel to a private fuel storage facility
is not considered an alternative to increased onsite fuel storage
capacity at this time.
Alternatives Creating Additional Storage Capacity
     Alternative technologies that would create additional storage
capacity include rod consolidation, dry cask storage, modular vault dry
storage, and constructing a new pool. Rod consolidation involves
disassembling the spent fuel assemblies and storing the fuel rods from
two or more assemblies into a stainless steel canister that can be
stored in the spent fuel racks. Industry experience with rod
consolidation is currently limited, primarily due to concerns for
potential gap activity release due to rod breakage, the potential for
increased fuel cladding corrosion due to some of the protective oxide
layer being scraped off, and because the prolonged consolidation
activity could interfere with ongoing plant operations. Dry cask
storage is a method of transferring spent fuel, after storage in the
pool for several years, to high capacity casks with passive heat
dissipation features. After loading, the casks are stored outdoors on a
seismically qualified concrete pad. Concerns for dry cask storage
include the need for special security provisions and high cost. Vault
storage consists of storing spent fuel in shielded stainless steel
cylinders in a horizontal configuration in a reinforced concrete vault.
The concrete vault provides missile and earthquake protection and
radiation shielding. Concerns for vault dry storage include security,
land consumption, eventual decommissioning of the new vault, the
potential for fuel or clad rupture due to high temperatures, and high
cost. The alternative of constructing and licensing new spent fuel
pools is not practical for Fermi 2 because such an effort would require
about 10 years to complete and would be an expensive alternative.
     The alternative technologies that could create additional storage
capacity involve additional fuel handling with an attendant opportunity
for a fuel handling accident, involve higher cumulative dose to workers
affecting the fuel transfers, require additional security measures that
are significantly more expensive, and would not result in a significant
improvement in environmental impacts compared to the proposed reracking
Reduction of Spent Fuel Generation
     Generally, improved usage of the fuel and/or operation at a reduced
power level would be an alternative that would decrease the amount of
fuel being stored in the SFPs and, thus, increase the

[[Page 7818]]

amount of time before the maximum storage capacities of the SFPs are
reached. With extended burnup of fuel assemblies, the fuel cycle would
be extended and fewer off-loads would be necessary. This is not an
alternative for resolving the loss of full core off-load capability
that will occur as a result of Fermi 2 receiving new fuel for Cycle 9
in June 2001. In addition, operating the plant at a reduced power level
would not make effective use of available resources and would cause
unnecessary economic hardship on the licensee and its customers.
Therefore, reducing the amount of spent fuel generated by increasing
burnup further or reducing power is not considered a practical
The No-Action Alternative
     The NRC staff, also, considered denial of the proposed action
(i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). Denying the application would
result in no significant change in current environmental impacts. The
environmental impacts of the proposed action and the alternative
actions are similar.

Alternative Use of Resources

     This action does not involve the use of any resources not
previously considered in the Final Environmental Statement for Fermi 2.

Agencies and Persons Contacted

     In accordance with its stated policy, on December 11, 2000, the NRC
staff consulted with the Michigan State official, M. Eldsman of the
Michigan Public Service Commission, regarding the environmental impact
of the proposed action. The state official had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

     On the basis of the environmental assessment, the NRC concludes
that the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the
quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined
not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed
     For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the
licensee's letter dated November 19, 1999, as supplemented by letters
dated May 31, August 2, October 19, and November 21, 2000, which are
available for public inspection at the NRC's Public Document Room,
located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor),
Rockville, Maryland. Publicly available records will be accessible
electronically from the ADAMS Public Library component on the NRC Web
site, http://www.nrc.gov (the Electronic Reading Room).

     Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 19th day of January, 2001.

     For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Claudia M. Craig,
Section Chief, Section 1, Project Directorate III, Division of
Licensing Project Management, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 01-2304 Filed 1-24-01; 8:45 am]

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permits/Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste Issues
and Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"