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10 June 2011

Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facilities

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 112 (Friday, June 10, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34007-34009]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2011-14540]



10 CFR Part 50


Draft Regulatory Basis for a Potential Rulemaking on Spent 
Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facilities

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule; public meeting and request for comments.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) 
plans to conduct a two-day public meeting in Augusta, Georgia, to 
solicit input on issues associated with the development of a draft 
regulatory basis document for a potential rulemaking on spent nuclear 
fuel reprocessing facilities.

DATES: The public meeting will be held on June 21 and 22, 2011, from 9 
a.m. to 5 p.m. See ADDRESSES section for public meeting location. 
Submit comments on the issues and questions presented in this document 
and discussed at the meeting by July 7, 2011. Comments received after 
this date will be considered if it is practical to do so.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn 
Augusta, 1065 Stevens Creek Road, Augusta, GA 30907; telephone: 706-
739-9990. Please include Docket ID NRC-2010-0267 in the subject line of 
your comments. Comments submitted in writing or in electronic form will 
be posted on the NRC Web site and on the Federal rulemaking Web site, Because your comments will not be edited to 
remove any identifying or contact information, the NRC cautions you 
against including any information in your submission that you do not 
want to be publicly disclosed.
    The NRC requests that any party soliciting or aggregating comments 
received from other persons for submission to the NRC inform those 
persons that the NRC will not edit their

[[Page 34008]]

comments to remove any identifying or contact information, and 
therefore, they should not include any information in their comments 
that they do not want publicly disclosed. You may submit comments by 
any one of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Go to and 
search for documents filed under Docket ID NRC-2010-0267. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-3668; 
     Mail comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attn: Rulemakings and 
Adjudications Staff.
     E-mail comments to: If you do 
not receive a reply e-mail confirming that we have received your 
comments, contact us directly at 301-415-1677.
     Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 
Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Federal workdays. 
(telephone: 301-415-1677).
     Fax comments to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission at 301-415-1101.
    You can access publicly available documents related to this 
document using the following methods:
     NRC's Public Document Room (PDR): The public may examine 
and have copied, for a fee, publicly available documents at the NRC's 
PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, 
Rockville, Maryland 20852.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): Publicly available documents created or received at the NRC 
are available online in the NRC Library at 
From this page, the public can gain entry into ADAMS, which provides 
text and image files of the NRC's public documents. If you do not have 
access to ADAMS or if there are problems in accessing the documents 
located in ADAMS, contact the NRC's PDR reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 
301-415-4737, or by e-mail to
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Public comments and 
supporting materials related to this proposed rule can be found at by searching on Docket ID NRC-2010-0267.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Raj Iyengar, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-492-3174; e-mail: or John Sulima, Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-492-3180; e-mail:


I. Background

    The Commission directed the NRC staff, in a staff requirements 
memorandum, SRM-SECY-07-0081 (ML071800084 [*at Cryptome]), to perform a 
gap analysis to identify what changes in regulatory requirements 
would be necessary to license a reprocessing facility. The staff was 
also directed to provide a technical basis document with recommended 
options on a path forward and an associated rulemaking plan, if appropriate, 
for licensing facilities associated with reprocessing of spent nuclear 
fuel. The staff provided the Commission with information on the 
regulatory structure for spent fuel reprocessing (SECY-08-0134, 
ML082110363[*]) and an update on the reprocessing regulatory framework 
(SECY-09-0082, ML091520280[*] and ML091520365[*]). In May 2010, the staff 
provided, in a memorandum to the Commission, an annual update on 
reprocessing activities and stated that it anticipated that it could 
complete the draft regulatory basis (formerly referred to as 
``technical basis'') by September 2011.
    The NRC has the authority under the Atomic Energy Act to license 
commercial spent fuel reprocessing facilities. Currently, Title 10 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 50, ``Domestic Licensing 
of Production and Utilization Facilities,'' provides the licensing 
framework for production and utilization facilities. Although a 
reprocessing facility is one type of production facility, its 
industrial processes are more akin to fuel cycle processes. This 
framework was established in the 1970's to license the first U.S. 
reprocessing facilities. The policy decision by the Carter 
Administration to cease reprocessing initiatives was based, in part, on 
the proliferation risks posed by the early reprocessing technology. 
While that policy was reversed during the Reagan Administration, until 
recently there was no commercial interest in reprocessing and, hence, 
no need to update the existing reprocessing regulatory framework in 10 
CFR part 50.
    Although commercial reprocessing interest waned, the Department of 
Energy (DOE) continued to pursue reprocessing technology development 
through the National Laboratories. The DOE has sought to decrease 
proliferation risk and spent fuel high-level waste through developing 
more sophisticated reprocessing technologies.
    During the Bush Administration, the Global Nuclear Energy 
Partnership (GNEP) renewed interest in commercial reprocessing. The 
GNEP sought to expand the use of civilian nuclear power globally and 
close the nuclear fuel cycle through reprocessing spent fuel and 
deploying fast reactors to burn long-lived actinides. In response to 
these initiatives, the Commission directed the staff to complete an 
analysis of 10 CFR part 50 to identify regulatory gaps for licensing an 
advanced reprocessing facility.
    In mid-2008, two nuclear industry companies informed the NRC of 
their intent to seek a license for a reprocessing facility in the U.S. 
An additional company expressed its support for updating the regulatory 
framework for reprocessing, but stopped short of stating its intent to 
seek a license for such a facility. At the time, the NRC staff also 
noted that progress on some GNEP initiatives had waned and it appeared 
appropriate to shift the focus of the NRC staff's efforts from specific 
GNEP-facility regulations to a more broadly applicable framework for 
commercial reprocessing facilities.
    In SECY-08-0134, the staff discussed the shift in its approach to 
developing the regulatory framework for commercial reprocessing 
facilities. The staff noted that it would defer additional work on 
regulatory framework development efforts for advanced recycling 
reactors and focus on the framework revisions necessary to license a 
commercial reprocessing facility. As a result of this shift, an 
additional review of the initial gap analysis was warranted.
    The NRC staff further refined the regulatory gap analysis by 
focusing on commercial reprocessing and recycling using existing 
reactor technology. The staff summarized this analysis in SECY-09-0082. 
The staff's gap analysis identified 14 ``high'' priority gaps that must 
be resolved to establish an effective and efficient regulatory 
framework. The NRC staff's regulatory gap analysis considered several 
documents in its analysis, including: NUREG-1909, a white paper 
authored by the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste and Materials, 
titled ``Background, Status and Issues Related to the Regulation of 
Advanced Spent Nuclear Fuel Recycle Facilities,'' issued June 2008; 
correspondence from the Union of Concerned Scientists titled, 
``Revising the Rules for Materials Protection, Control and 
Accounting;'' and a Nuclear Energy Institute white

[[Page 34009]]

paper titled, ``Regulatory Framework for an NRC Licensed Recycling 
    Building on the gap analysis, efforts are currently underway to 
develop a regulatory basis (formerly known as ``technical basis'') to 
pursue rulemaking that would enable the effective licensing and 
regulation of reprocessing facilities. The status of the regulatory 
basis development and estimated schedule for completing the 
reprocessing regulatory framework development are summarized in the May 
14, 2010, memorandum to the Commission (ADAMS ML101110444[* Zipped]).
    Stakeholder perspectives have provided significant input into the 
development process through the two public workshops which occurred on 
September 8, 2010, in Rockville, Maryland, and on October 19, 2010, in 
Albuquerque, New Mexico. The NRC staff considered the stakeholders' 
feedback in the development of the regulatory framework. The proposed 
workshop in Augusta, Georgia is intended to further enhance the 
development of the regulatory framework and to continue the pursuit of 
an open and transparent regulatory process.
    The NRC develops a foundation for a rulemaking before beginning the 
process to develop the rule. An adequate regulatory basis forms the 
foundation for a rule. The regulatory basis provides the justification 
for rulemaking as the appropriate path forward, describes the 
technical, legal, or policy information that supports the direction and 
content of the rulemaking, and provides a basis for informed decisions 
to be made as the rulemaking process continues. A regulatory basis may 
include background information and a listing of documents that 
supported or addressed the current regulation or policy, or that 
support staff positions in the regulatory basis.
    The NRC staff is using the gaps and their resolution as the 
framework for the regulatory basis for a potential rulemaking for 
licensing a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. The NRC staff is 
in the process of completing an initial draft of the regulatory basis. 
To facilitate stakeholder involvement and obtain comments on the NRC's 
approach and rationale for resolving the regulatory gaps, the staff is 
compiling summaries of the initial draft text for each gap. The gap 
summaries, as appropriate, will include questions where the NRC staff 
is seeking input that will assist in completing the draft regulatory 
basis. During any potential rulemaking, the NRC staff will consider the 
need for and the development of associated guidance. Thus, the NRC 
staff is compiling a list of potentially pertinent guidance documents. 
The summary documents for the gaps and a listing of potentially 
pertinent guidance documents will be made available at under Docket ID NRC-2010-0267 no later than 
15 days prior to the meeting on June 21-22, 2011.
    The agenda for the public meeting will be noticed ten (10) days 
prior to the meeting on the NRC's public meeting schedule Web site at Please 
refer to the Section II of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for 
additional information on the issues proposed for discussion at the 
public workshops. Members of the public may provide feedback at the 
transcribed public meeting or may submit comments on the issues 
discussed in this document by any method provided in the ADDRESSES 
    The NRC plans to consider these stakeholder views in the 
development of the draft regulatory basis. During the June 21-22, 2011, 
public meeting, the NRC staff will invite representatives of interested 
stakeholders, in a ``roundtable'' format, to provide input, comments, 
and perspectives on the issues being considered in the development of 
the draft regulatory basis for a potential rulemaking on spent nuclear 
fuel reprocessing facilities. In order to have a manageable discussion, 
the number of participants around the table will be limited. The NRC 
will attempt to ensure broad participation by the spectrum of interests 
affected by the potential rulemaking, including citizen and 
environmental groups, nuclear industry interests, State, and local 
governments, and experts from academia and other Federal agencies. 
Other members of the public are welcome to attend and participate. 
Those not seated at the tables, including individual members of the 
public, will have the opportunity to provide feedback on each of the 
issues slated for discussion by the roundtable participants. Questions 
about participation in the roundtable discussion may be directed to the 
points of contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 

II. Issues for Discussion

    During the public meeting, the NRC plans to solicit stakeholder 
comments and feedback during separate discussion sessions, which will 
broadly cover four main areas of the regulatory basis for licensing 
commercial reprocessing facilities: (1) Regulatory framework, (2) waste 
management and environmental considerations, (3) safety, risk, and 
licensing considerations, and (4) security considerations and materials 
control and accounting. Each area includes the gaps related to that 
    In the summary documents posted at, 
specific questions related to the gaps will be included. These 
questions will shape the public meeting discussion and the feedback 
obtained will be considered in the resolution of the gaps.
    As part of the potential rulemaking, the NRC staff will consider 
the need for and development of associated guidance. The listing of 
potentially pertinent guidance documents will be made available prior 
to the meeting on June 21-22, 2011, at under 
Docket ID NRC-2010-0267. This list will include standard review plans 
that may be applicable to the potential rulemaking.
    Furthermore, in developing options for a potential rulemaking the 
NRC staff seeks information on what timeline should be considered for 
rulemaking. Is there a point when it becomes critical for this 
rulemaking to become effective?

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 6th day of June, 2011.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jack Guttmann,
Chief, Engineering Branch, Technical Review Directorate, Division of 
High Level Waste Repository Safety, Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2011-14540 Filed 6-9-11; 8:45 am]