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8 July 2011

Megadeath Materials Transport and Storage

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 131 (Friday, July 8, 2011)]
[Pages 40352-40354]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2011-17161]



National Nuclear Security Administration; Amended Record of 
Decision: Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued 
Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

AGENCY: National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of 

ACTION: Amended Record of Decision.


SUMMARY: The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-
autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is 
amending its September 26, 2008 Record of Decision (ROD) issued 
pursuant to the Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the 
Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New 
Mexico (LANL SWEIS; DOE/EIS-0380). That ROD announced NNSA's decision, 
among other things, to continue and expand support for the Global 
Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) Off-Site Source Recovery Project 
(OSRP). These activities include the recovery, storage, and disposal of 
certain high-activity sealed sources to minimize risks to national 
security and public health and safety. The LANL SWEIS and subsequent 
ROD did not address shipment of sealed sources through the global 
commons and the use of a commercial facility in managing these sealed 
sources as part of the GTRI program's recovery of sealed sources. In 
April, 2011, NNSA prepared a Supplement Analysis for the Transport and 
Storage of High-Activity Sealed Sources from Uruguay and Other 
Locations (DOE/EIS-0380-SA-02) to analyze the potential impacts of 

[[Page 40353]]

actions. Based on the LANL SWEIS and the Supplement Analysis, NNSA is 
amending the ROD for the LANL SWEIS to announce its decision that these 
actions can be expected to take place as part of the ongoing GTRI 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information about the GTRI 
OSRP, contact: Ms. Abigail Cuthbertson; phone: 202-586-2391; email:
    For general information concerning the DOE NEPA process, contact: 
Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance 
(GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., 
Washington, DC 20585; (202) 586-4600; leave a message at (800) 472-
2756; or send an e-mail to ask Additional 
information regarding DOE NEPA activities and access to many DOE NEPA 
documents, including those referenced in this ROD, are available on the 
Internet through the DOE NEPA Web site at



    The GTRI mission includes the effort to reduce and protect 
vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites 
worldwide. Part of the GTRI mission is implemented through OSRP, an 
ongoing effort (since 1979) that involves the recovery, storage, and, 
when appropriate, disposition of disused (excess, unwanted) 
radiological sources that present national security or public health 
and safety concerns. GTRI OSRP recovers sealed sources domestically 
and, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the 
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), from foreign countries.
    Some of the sources recovered through OSRP are high-activity beta/
gamma sealed sources used in medical devices (e.g., teletherapy units) 
and for research. These contain cobalt-60, cesium-137, radium-226, or 
strontium-90. OSRP may recover sources from approximately 20 locations 
annually. Most would be recovered from locations within the United 
States; others would come from locations in foreign countries, such as 
    The specific actions analyzed in DOE/EIS-0380-SA-02 include 
packaging the sealed sources (sometimes with a part of the larger 
device within which they are contained), transporting the packages to a 
secure storage facility with the capability to safely handle the 
sources, then transporting the sealed sources to their country of 
origin or disposing of the sealed sources as low-level radioactive 
waste at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in southern Nevada if 
the sources meet the NNSS waste acceptance criteria. DOE accepts 
ownership of the sealed sources prior to transport or, for sources 
recovered from foreign countries, upon arrival in the United States.

Basis for Decision

    In addition, DOE/EIS-0380-SA-02 activities associated with the 
recovery of high-activity sealed sources are analyzed in the Site-Wide 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of Los 
Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico (DOE/EIS-0380). NNSA 
published a ROD based on the LANL SWEIS announcing its decision, among 
other things, to continue and expand support for GTRI OSRP activities 
(73 FR 55833; September 26, 2008). The disposal of low-level 
radioactive waste, including sealed sources, is analyzed in the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Nevada Test Site and Off-Site 
Locations in the State of Nevada (DOE/EIS-0243). This EIS resulted in a 
ROD stating that NNSS is available to DOE sites for disposal of low-
level radioactive waste that meets the NNSS waste acceptance criteria 
(61 FR 65551, December 13, 1996). Certain sealed sources meeting NNSS 
low-level waste acceptance criteria have been disposed of at the NNSS.

Environmental Impacts Associated With the Decision

    In the Supplement Analysis, NNSA analyzes potential impacts 
associated with actions involving high activity sealed sources 
including transporting sealed sources by commercial cargo aircraft and 
by truck; handling such as loading and offloading associated with 
transportation; storage; opening and repackaging containers to inspect 
sealed sources; and intentional destructive acts. Estimates of 
potential impacts are comparable to those for similar activities 
analyzed in the LANL SWEIS and other DOE NEPA documents. The dose 
estimates and associated risks are small. For example, the highest dose 
estimate in the Supplement Analysis associated with incident-free 
commercial truck transport of sealed sources is approximately 78 
millirem to an individual crewmember, which equates to a fatal cancer 
risk of approximately 1 chance in 25,000.
    For air transport of sealed sources, which was not analyzed in the 
LANL SWEIS, the Supplement Analysis estimates potential impacts 
associated with incident-free operations and accidents. For a 12-hour 
flight transporting three containers with sealed sources, the estimated 
dose to a crew of four is 0.0065 person-rem, which equates to a chance 
of one in approximately 250,000 of a latent cancer fatality among the 
crew. For other transportation scenarios, this estimate would vary 
according to factors such as flight time and the number of containers 
of sealed sources. However, the variability would not change the 
overall conclusion that potential impacts are small and similar to 
those estimated for transportation of radioactive material in other DOE 
NEPA documents.
    The air transport accident analysis assumed a low probability crash 
from a landing stall and subsequent fire. For purposes of analysis, 
NNSA assumed failure of all transport packages, though this is a very 
unlikely scenario. If such an accident were to occur, the Supplement 
Analysis estimates a chance of a latent cancer fatality of about one in 
100,000 among the population surrounding the accident location 
(approximately five million people within 50 miles). When the 
probability of the accident (4.5 x 10-6) is considered, the 
risk of a latent cancer fatality is about one chance in 20 billion.

Amended Decision

    Consistent with the decisions announced in the ROD issued pursuant 
to the LANL SWEIS (73 FR 55833; September 26, 2008), NNSA will continue 
implementing the GTRI OSRP program, including the recovery, storage and 
disposition of high-activity beta/gamma sealed sources. This program 
includes the recovery of sealed sources from foreign countries, and 
NNSA has decided that transport of high-activity sealed sources through 
the global commons via commercial cargo aircraft may be utilized as 
part of the ongoing GTRI OSRP program.

Mitigation Measures

    NNSA will use all practicable means to avoid or minimize 
environmental harm when implementing the actions described in this ROD. 
NNSA operates pursuant to a number of Federal laws including 
environmental laws, DOE Orders, and Federal, State, and local controls, 
and agreements. Also, the commercial storage and transportation 
activities associated with the recovery of high-activity sealed sources 
are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and states granted 
certain authorities by the Commission) and the Department of 
Transportation. Many of these requirements mandate actions that may 
serve to mitigate potential adverse environmental impacts.

[[Page 40354]]

    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 27, 2011.
Thomas P. D'Agostino,
Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration.
[FR Doc. 2011-17161 Filed 7-7-11; 8:45 am]