29 July 2011
Nuclear Megadeath Site Operation Continuation
[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 146 (Friday, July 29, 2011)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-18847]
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
National Nuclear Security Administration
Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued
Operation of the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security
Administration Nevada National Security Site and Off-Site Locations in
the State of Nevada
AGENCY: National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of
ACTION: Notice of availability and public hearings.
SUMMARY: The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a
separately organized semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE), announces the availability of the Draft Site-Wide
Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of the
Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada
National Security Site and Off-Site Locations in the State of Nevada
(Draft SWEIS, DOE/EIS-0426D) for public review, as well as the
locations, dates and times for public hearings. The Draft SWEIS for the
continued management and operation of the Nevada National Security Site
(NNSS) (formerly known as the Nevada Test Site) and other NNSA-managed
sites in Nevada, including the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) on
Nellis Air Force Base, the North Las Vegas Facility (NLVF), and the
Tonopah Test Range (TTR) on the U.S. Air Force Nevada Test and Training
Range, analyzes the potential environmental impacts for three
alternatives: No Action Alternative, Expanded Operations Alternative
and Reduced Operations Alternative. Each alternative comprises current
and reasonably foreseeable activities at the NNSS and the three offsite
The Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations allow an agency to identify
its preferred alternative or alternatives, if one or more exists, in a
draft EIS (40 CFR 1502.14[e]). NNSA has not currently identified a
preferred alternative; however, a preferred alternative will be
identified in the Final SWEIS.
The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and Nye County,
Nevada, are cooperating agencies in the preparation of this Draft
SWEIS. In addition, the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organizations,
which include representatives from 17 Tribes and organizations,
participated in its preparation.
DATES: NNSA invites comments on the Draft SWEIS during the public
comment period which ends October 27, 2011. NNSA will consider comments
received after this date to the extent practicable as it prepares the
NNSA will hold five public hearings on the Draft SWEIS. Locations,
dates and times are provided in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION portion
of this notice under ``Public Hearings and Invitation To Comment''.
ADDRESSES: The Draft SWEIS and its reference material are available for
review on the NNSA/NSO Web site at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/nepa.
Written comments on the Draft SWEIS should be submitted to Ms. Linda
Cohn, SWEIS Document Manager, NNSS Nevada Site Office, U.S. Department
of Energy, P.O. Box 98518, Las Vegas, Nevada 89193-8518. Comments may
also be submitted by facsimile to 702-295-5300, by telephone at 1-877-
781-6105 or on the Internet at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/nepa. Please
title correspondence ``Draft SWEIS Comments.''
The Draft SWEIS and references are also available for review at the
reading rooms listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION portion of this
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information on
the Draft SWEIS, including requests for copies of the document, should
be directed to Ms. Linda Cohn by contact
methods shown above under ADDRESSES. Copies of the Draft SWEIS are also
available for review at the locations listed under:
For general information regarding 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 Ave., SW., Washington,
DC 20585; by telephone at 202-586-4600 or leave a message at 1-800-472-
2756; by electronic mail at askNEPA@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile at 202-
586-7031. Additional information regarding DOE NEPA activities is
available on the Internet through the DOE NEPA Web site at http://nepa.energy.gov.
The NNSS has a long history of supporting national security
objectives by conducting underground nuclear tests and other nuclear
and nonnuclear activities. Since October 1992, there has been a
moratorium on underground nuclear testing. Thus, the NNSA's primary
missions at the NNSS are supporting nuclear stockpile reliability,
maintaining readiness and the capability to conduct underground nuclear
weapons tests, if so directed by the President; DOE waste management
activities, including disposal of low-level and mixed low-level waste;
environmental restoration activities; and providing a safe and secure
environment for conducting research, development, and testing
activities related to national security. Accordingly, the NNSA mission-
associated programs in Nevada are (1) the National Security/Defense
Mission, which includes the Stockpile Stewardship and Management,
Nuclear Emergency Response, Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism, and
Work for Others Programs; (2) the Environmental Management Mission,
which includes the Waste Management and Environmental Restoration
Programs; and (3) the Nondefense Mission, which includes the General
Site Support and Infrastructure, Energy Conservation and Renewable
Energy, and Other Research and Development Programs.
The NNSS occupies approximately 1,360 square miles of desert and
mountain terrain in southern Nevada. About 6,500 square miles of the
U.S. Air Force's Nevada Test and Training Range and the Fish and
Wildlife's Desert National Wildlife Refuge surround the NNSS on the
northern, western, and eastern sides. The NNSS is bordered on the south
by federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. NNSS is a
multi-disciplinary, multi-purpose facility primarily engaged in work
that supports national security, homeland security initiatives, waste
management, environmental restoration, and defense and nondefense
research and development programs for DOE, NNSA, and other government
entities. At the NNSS, activities are undertaken in one or more land
use zones. The land use zones are used to manage activities at the NNSS
and prevent interference among the various projects and activities.
RSL is located on 35 acres at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
Radiological emergency response, the Aerial Measuring System,
radiological sensor development and testing, Secure Systems
Technologies, nuclear nonproliferation capabilities, and information
and communication technologies are supported at RSL.
NLVF, located on 78 acres in North Las Vegas, comprises 29
buildings that support ongoing NNSS missions. The Facility includes
office buildings, a high bay, machine shop, laboratories, experimental
facilities, and various other mission-support facilities.
The TTR consists of a 280-square-mile area on the Nevada Test and
Training Range. NNSA operations at the TTR include flight-testing of
gravity weapons (bombs), and research, development, and evaluation of
nuclear weapons components and delivery systems.
DOE issued its previous site-wide NEPA analyses for the
Department's activities in Nevada in 1996 (the Final Environmental
Impact Statement for the Nevada Test Site and Off-Site Locations in the
State of Nevada) (1996 NTS EIS, DOE/EIS-0243), and an associated Record
of Decision (ROD) (61 FR 65551). In the ROD, DOE selected the Expanded
Use Alternative for most activities, but decided to manage low-level
radioactive waste and mixed low-level radioactive waste at levels
described under the No Action Alternative, pending decisions resulting
from DOE'S Final Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement for Managing Treatment, Storage, and Disposal of Radioactive
and Hazardous Waste (WM PEIS, DOE/EIS-0200). In the February 2000 WM
PEIS ROD (65 FR 10061), DOE announced that the NNSS would be one of two
regional sites to be used for disposal of low-level radioactive waste
and mixed low-level radioactive waste. At the same time, DOE amended
the 1996 NTS EIS ROD to select the Expanded Use Alternative for waste
management activities at the NNSS.
In 2007, NNSA initiated a review of the 1996 NTS EIS and, in April
2008, issued the Draft Supplement Analysis for the Final Environmental
Impact Statement for the Nevada Test Site and Off-Site Locations in the
State of Nevada (DOE/EIS-0243-SA-03). Based on consideration of
comments received on this draft supplement analysis, potential changes
to the NNSS program work scope, and changes to the environmental
baseline, NNSA decided to prepare this Draft SWEIS.
NNSA has prepared the Draft SWEIS in accordance with the NEPA, the
CEQ regulations that implement the procedural provisions of NEPA (40
Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500-1508), and DOE's NEPA
implementing procedures (10 CFR part 1021). In this Draft SWEIS, NNSA
analyzes the potential environmental impacts of three alternatives: (1)
No Action, (2) Expanded Operations, and (3) Reduced Operations.
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative is analyzed as a baseline for evaluating
the two action alternatives. This alternative would continue
implementation of the 1996 NTS EIS ROD (DOE/EIS-0243) and subsequent
amendments (61 CFR 6551 and 65 FR 10061), as well as other decisions
supported by separate NEPA analyses completed since issuance of the
final 1996 NTS EIS, and reflects activity levels consistent with those
seen since 1996.
Under the No Action Alternative, Stockpile Stewardship and
Management Program activities would continue at NNSA facilities in
Nevada under the conditions of the ongoing nuclear testing moratorium.
These activities would include science-based stockpile stewardship
tests, experiments, and projects to maintain the safety and reliability
of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear
In support of the Nuclear Emergency Response and Nonproliferation
and Counterterrorism Programs, under the No Action Alternative, NNSA
would continue to (1) provide support to the Nuclear Emergency Support
Team, the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center, the
Accident Response Group, and the Radiological Assistance Program; (2)
undertake Aerial Measuring System activities; (3) provide emergency
responder training for emergencies involving weapons of mass
destruction; (4) disposition improvised nuclear devices; (5) support
NNSA's Emergency Communications
Network; and (6) integrate existing activities and facilities to
support national efforts to control the spread of weapons of mass
Under the No Action Alternative, the Work for Others Program hosted
by NNSA would entail the shared use of certain facilities and areas,
such as the Big Explosives Experimental Facility, Nonproliferation Test
and Evaluation Complex, and the T-1 Training Area, by other agencies
such as the Department of Defense, as well as the shared use of
resources at the NNSS, RSL, NLVF, and the TTR. NNSA also would continue
to host projects of other Federal agencies, such as the U.S.
Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as state and
local government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
As part of the Environmental Management Mission, Waste Management
Program, the NNSS would continue accepting and disposing of wastes,
such as low-level radioactive waste and mixed low-level radioactive
waste. The Environmental Restoration Program would continue to ensure
compliance with the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order to
characterize, monitor, and, if necessary, remediate contaminated areas,
facilities, soils, and groundwater that have sustained adverse
The Nondefense Mission would continue to include those activities
that are necessary to support mission-related programs, such as
construction and maintenance of facilities, provision of supplies and
services, and warehousing. Activities related to energy conservation
and supply, including renewable energy and other research and
development projects, also would continue to be conducted. For example,
NNSA would continue to identify and implement energy conservation
measures and projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy,
water, and transportation/fleet management. NNSA also would support
development of a 240 megawatt commercial solar power facility and an
associated transmission line in the southwest corner of the NNSS, if
proposed by commercial entities.
Expanded Operations Alternative
The Expanded Operations Alternative includes the level of
operations, capabilities and projects described under the No Action
Alternative, plus additional proposed activities. These additional
projects include modification and/or expansion of existing facilities
and construction of new facilities. In addition, some ongoing
activities would be conducted more frequently than under the No Action
Under the Expanded Operations Alternative the annual number of
stockpile stewardship tests and experiments and the yearly number of
nuclear weapons that would be dispositioned would increase relative to
the No Action Alternative. NNSA would construct new facilities to
support enhanced training for the Office of Secure Transportation,
enhance efforts to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction,
advance counterterrorism training, and research and development.
Although the pace of environmental restoration activities would remain
unchanged from that of the No Action Alternative, NNSA would accelerate
the pace and amount of low-level and mixed low-level radioactive waste
that would be disposed of on the NNSS.
Under this alternative, there would be two changes to land use
zones at the NNSS:
(1) The designated use of one operational area in the northeast
portion of the NNSS would be changed from ``Reserved'' to ``Research,
Test, and Experiment,'' and
(2) Approximately 36,900 acres within another operational area in
the southwest portion of the NNSS would be designated as a Renewable
Energy Zone (an expansion of the 4,100-acre area under the No Action
Alternative). In the Renewable Energy Zone, NNSA would support
development of several commercial solar power facilities with a maximum
combined generating capacity of 1,000 megawatts. NNSA would construct a
5-megawatt photovoltaic solar power facility at the main NNSS support
area and a geothermal energy demonstration project and research center.
Reduced Operations Alternative
The Reduced Operations Alternative includes all of the types of
activities conducted at the NNSS and offsite locations since 1996. The
activity level under the Reduced Operations Alternative would vary
across programs, but for many programs the level of operations would be
reduced. Furthermore, under the Reduced Operations Alternative,
activities would cease in the northwestern portion of the NNSS with the
exception of environmental restoration and monitoring, site security
operations, military training and exercises, maintenance of Well 8, and
critical communications and electrical transmission systems.
Maintenance of roads on Pahute Mesa, Stockade Wash, and Buckboard Mesa
would also be terminated, and operations at the Pahute Mesa Airstrip
would be limited to those necessary to provide access for activities
that would continue in these areas. A portion of the electrical
transmission and distribution system would be de-energized.
The pace of environmental restoration activities and most waste
generation and disposal rates would remain unchanged from those of the
No Action Alternative. However, the amount of transuranic waste
generated, and the amount of sanitary solid waste generated and
disposed of onsite would be reduced.
Under the Reduced Operations Alternative, activities related to
supply and conservation of energy, including renewable energy and other
research and development projects, would continue to be conducted, but
at a reduced scale compared to other alternatives. For example, NNSA
would support development of a 100-megawatt commercial solar power
facility. In the northwest portion of the NNSS land use designations
would change to a Limited Operations Zone.
Public Hearings and Invitation to Comment
NNSA will hold five public meetings/hearings at the following
locations, dates and times:
Las Vegas, Nevada, September 20, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. at
Cashman Center, 850 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, NV.
Pahrump, Nevada, September 21, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. at The
Nugget Hotel, 681 Highway 160, Pahrump, NV.
St. George, Utah, September 22, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. at
Courtyard By Marriott, 185 South 1470 East, St. George, UT.
Tonopah, Nevada, September 27, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. at
Tonopah Convention Center, 301 Brougher Ave., Tonopah, NV.
Carson City, NV, September 28, 2011, 5-8 p.m., at the
Carson Nugget, 800 North Carson Street, Carson City, NV.
The public hearings will begin with an open-house format with
subject matter experts from NNSA available to answer questions on the
NNSA programs and the Draft SWEIS. The public hearing portion of the
meeting will run from 6:30 p.m. through 8 p.m. Individuals who wish to
speak may sign up at the door. Members of the public are invited to
attend the hearings at their convenience any time during hearing hours
and submit their comments in writing, or in person to a court reporter.
Written comments on the Draft SWEIS also may be submitted to the
address shown above under
ADDRESSES, by facsimile to 702-295-5300, by telephone at 1-877-781-6105
or on the Internet at http://nnsa.energy.gov.
The Draft SWEIS and its reference material are available for review
on the NNSA/NSO Web site at: http://nnsa.energy.gov and at the
following reading rooms:
Amargosa Valley Library, 829 East Farm Road, Amargosa, Nevada
89020, Phone: (775) 372-5340.
Beatty Library District, 400 North Fourth Street, Beatty, Nevada
89003, Phone: (775) 553-2257.
Clark County Library, 1401 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, Nevada
89119, Phone: (702) 507-3400.
Green Valley Library, 2797 North Green Valley Parkway, Henderson,
Nevada 89014, Phone: (702) 507-3790.
Indian Springs Library, 715 Gretta Lane, Indian Springs, Nevada
89018, Phone: (702) 879-3845.
Kingman Public Library, 3269 North Burbank Street, Kingman,
Arizona, 86402, Phone: (928) 692-2665.
Las Vegas Library, 833 North Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada
89101, Phone: (702) 507-3500.
Lincoln County Library, 93 Main Street, Pioche, Nevada 89043,
Phone: (775) 962-5244.
Nevada State Library and Archives, 100 Stewart Street, Carson City,
Nevada 89701, Phone: (775) 684-3360.
North Las Vegas Library, Main Branch, 2300 Civic Center Drive,
North Las Vegas, Nevada 89030, Phone: (702) 633-1070.
Pahrump Community Library, 701 South East Street, Pahrump, Nevada
89048, Phone: (775) 727-5930.
Atomic Testing Museum, Public Reading Room for the Nuclear Testing
Archive, 755C East Flamingo, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, Phone: (702) 794-
Rainbow Library, 3150 North Buffalo Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89128,
Phone: (702) 507-3710.
Reno-Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno, Nevada 89501,
Phone: (775) 785-4522.
St. George Library, 88 West 100 South, St. George, Utah 84770,
Phone: (435) 634-5737.
Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada
89134, Phone: (702) 507-3860.
Tonopah Library, 167 Central Street, Tonopah, Nevada 89049, Phone:
University of Nevada Las Vegas Lied Library, 4505 Maryland Parkway,
Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, Phone: (702) 895-2100.
Following the end of the public comment period on the Draft SWEIS
described above, the NNSA will consider and respond to comments
received during the comment period in the Final Site-Wide Environmental
Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of the Department of
Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada National
Security Site and Off-Site Locations in the State of Nevada. NNSA
decision-makers will consider the environmental impact analysis
presented in the Final document as well as public comments and other
information, in making decisions related to the Final SWEIS.
Signed in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2011.
Thomas P. D'Agostino,
Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration.
[FR Doc. 2011-18847 Filed 7-28-11; 8:45 am]
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