17 October 2008
[Federal Register: October 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 202)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Notice of Availability of Draft Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
AGENCY: Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.
ACTION: Notice of Availability and Public Hearings.
SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of
the Draft Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Programmatic Environmental
Impact Statement (Draft GNEP PEIS, DOE/EIS-0396). The Draft GNEP PEIS
provides an analysis of the potential environmental consequences of the
reasonable alternatives to support expansion of domestic and
international nuclear energy production while reducing the risks
associated with nuclear proliferation and reducing the impacts
associated with spent nuclear fuel disposal (e.g., by reducing the
volume, thermal output, and/or radiotoxicity of waste requiring
geologic disposal). Based on the GNEP PEIS and other information, DOE
could decide to support the demonstration and deployment of changes to
the existing commercial nuclear fuel cycle in the United States.
Alternatives analyzed include the existing open fuel cycle and various
alternative closed and open fuel cycles. In an open (or once-through)
fuel cycle, nuclear fuel is used in a power plant one time and the
resulting spent nuclear fuel is stored for eventual disposal in a
geologic repository. In a closed fuel cycle, spent nuclear fuel would
be recycled to recover energy-bearing components for use in new nuclear
Six programmatic domestic alternatives are assessed: No Action
Alternative--Existing Once-Through Uranium Fuel Cycle (open fuel
cycle); Fast Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative (closed fuel
cycle); Thermal/Fast Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative (closed
fuel cycle); Thermal Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative (closed
fuel cycle); Once-Through Fuel Cycle Alternative using Thorium (open
fuel cycle); and Once-Through Fuel Cycle Alternative using Heavy Water
Reactors (HWRs) or High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTGRs) (open
fuel cycle). DOE's preference is to close the nuclear fuel cycle,
although it has not yet identified a specific preferred alternative.
DATES: DOE invites comments on the Draft GNEP PEIS during the 60-day
public comment period, which ends on December 16, 2008. DOE will
consider comments received after this date to the extent practicable as
it prepares the Final GNEP PEIS. DOE will hold 13 public hearings on
the Draft GNEP PEIS. The locations, dates, and times are listed in the
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
ADDRESSES: Requests for additional information on the Draft GNEP PEIS,
including requests for copies of the document, should be directed to:
Mr. Francis G. Schwartz, GNEP PEIS Document Manager, Office of Nuclear
Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW.,
Washington, DC 20585, or by telephone: 866-645-7803. Written comments
on the Draft GNEP PEIS should be submitted to the above address, by
facsimile to 866-489-1891, or electronically through http://
www.regulations.gov. Instructions for commenting at http://
www.regulations.gov are included in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION
section. Please mark correspondence ``Draft GNEP PEIS Comments.''
Additional information on GNEP may be found at http://
For general information regarding the DOE NEPA process contact: Ms.
Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC-
20, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW.,
Washington, DC 20585, telephone 202-586-4600, or leave a message at 1-
800-472-2756. Additional information regarding DOE NEPA activities and
access to many of DOE's NEPA documents are available on the Internet
through the DOE NEPA Web site at http://www.gc.energy.gov/NEPA.
Public Hearings and Invitation to Comment. DOE will hold 13 public
hearings on the Draft GNEP PEIS. The hearings will be held at the
following locations, dates, and times:
Monday, November 17, 7 p.m., Lea County Event Center, 5101 North
Lovington-Hobbs Highway, Hobbs, New Mexico 88240.
Monday, November 17, 7 p.m., Red Lion Hotel, 2525 North 20th Avenue,
Pasco, Washington 99301.
Tuesday, November 18, 9 a.m., Pecos River Village Conference Center,
Carousel House, 711 Muscatel Avenue, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220.
Tuesday, November 18, 7 p.m., Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell,
Occupational Technology Center, Seminar Room 124, 20 West Mathis,
Roswell, New Mexico 88130.
Tuesday, November 18, 7 p.m., Hood River Inn--Gorge Room, 1108 East
Marina Way, Hood River, Oregon 97031.
Thursday, November 20, 7 p.m., Hilltop House Best Western, 400 Trinity
Drive (at Central), Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544.
Thursday, November 20, 7 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 700 Lindsay
Boulevard, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402.
Monday, December 1, 7 p.m., Carson Four Rivers Center, Myre River Room,
100 Kentucky Avenue, Paducah, Kentucky 42003.
Tuesday, December 2, 7 p.m., Vern Riffe Career Technology Center, 175
Beaver Creek Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661.
Tuesday, December 2, 7 p.m., New Hope Center, 602 Scarboro Road, Corner
of New Hope and Scarboro Roads, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830.
Thursday, December 4, 7 p.m., Holiday Inn Bolingbrook, 205 Remington
Boulevard, Bolingbrook, Illinois 60440.
Thursday, December 4, 7 p.m., Aiken Technical College, Building 700--
Amphitheater, 2276 Jefferson Davis Highway, Graniteville, South
Tuesday, December 9, 1 p.m., Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20024.
Individuals who would like to present comments orally at these
hearings must register upon arrival at the hearing. DOE will allot two
to five minutes, depending upon the number of speakers, to each
individual wishing to speak so as to ensure that as many people as
possible have the opportunity to speak. More time may be allotted by
the hearing moderator as circumstances allow. An open house will begin
one hour prior to the start of each public hearing. DOE officials will
be available to discuss the Draft GNEP PEIS and answer questions during
this open house. DOE will then hold a plenary session at each public
hearing in which officials will explain the Draft GNEP PEIS and the
analyses in it. Following the plenary session, the public will have an
opportunity to provide oral and written comments. Oral comments from
the hearings and written comments submitted during the comment period
will be considered by DOE in preparing the Final GNEP PEIS. Comments
submitted after the close of the comment period will be considered to
the extent practicable.
The Draft GNEP PEIS, references and additional information
regarding the GNEP Program are available on the Internet at http://
www.gnep.energy.gov. In addition, the Draft GNEP PEIS is available on
the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and on the DOE
NEPA Web site at http://www.gc.energy.gov/NEPA.
To Comment Electronically on the Internet. Visit http://
www.regulations.gov. From the home page of regulations.gov, under
``More Search Options'' in the right column of the Web page, select
``Go.'' This loads a new Web page titled ``More Search Options.'' In
the middle column is an option to ``Search by Agency.'' Type ``DOE''
and select ``Go.'' The left column of the new page lists options to
``Narrow Results.'' Under ``Comment Period,'' select ``Open'' and this
will display all DOE documents available for public comment. Select DOE
Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement. You can view the document in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) or HTML
To submit comments on the GNEP PEIS, select ``Send a Comment or
Submission'' under the title. On the ``Public Comment and Submission
Form,'' enter your name, address, and other requested information. This
information will be used to compile the distribution list for the Final
GNEP PEIS. You can type your comments in the ``General Comments'' box
provided on the comment form. There is no limit to the number of
characters that you can type in this box. You also can attach
electronic files with your text comments. To view the file types
accepted by regulations.gov, select ``Learn More'' below the General
Comments box. You can attach as many files as you wish. Regulations.gov
will show a message when you have successfully uploaded a file.
Individual submissions are limited to 10MB (10,000KB). To submit files
greater than 5MB, please compress the attached file(s) using file
compression software or submit each attachment separately using
multiple submissions. After completing the form and including any
attachments, you must select ``Next Step,'' under ``Action'' at the
bottom of the Web page, in order for your comments to be submitted to
The Draft GNEP PEIS and references are available for review by the
public at the DOE Reading Rooms and public libraries listed below:
U.S. Department of Energy, FOIA/Privacy Act Group, 1000 Independence
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, Phone: (202) 586-3142.
Carlsbad Field Office, U.S. Department of Energy, WIPP Information
Center, 4021 National Parks Highway, P.O. Box 2078, Carlsbad, New
Mexico 88220, Phone: 1-800-336-WIPP.
Chicago Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science
Public Reading Room, Document Department, University Library, The
University of Illinois at Chicago, 801 South Morgan Street, 3rd Floor
Center, Chicago, Illinois 60607, DOE Contact: Gary Pitchford, Phone:
Idaho Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy, Public Reading
Room, 1776 Science Center Drive, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415-2300, Reading
Room Contact: Gail Willmore, Phone: (208) 526-9162.
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Department of Energy, Environmental
Information Center and Reading Room, 115 Memorial Drive, Barkley
Centre, Paducah, Kentucky 42001, Phone: (270) 554-6979.
Los Alamos Site Office, LANL Research Library, Technical Area 3,
Building 207, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, Phone: (505) 667-5809.
Oak Ridge Operations Office, DOE Oak Ridge Information Center, 475 Oak
Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830, Phone: (865) 241-4780 or
(toll-free) 1(800) 382-6938, option 6.
Richland Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy, Public Reading
Room, MSIN H2-53, P.O. Box 999, Richland, Washington 99352, Contact:
Terri Traub, Phone: (509) 372-7443.
Savannah River Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy, Public
Reading Room, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, South Carolina 29801,
Contact: Paul Lewis, Phone: (803) 641-3320.
Albuquerque Operations Office, FOIA Reading Room and DOE Reading Rooms,
Government Information Department, Zimmerman Library, University of New
Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-1466, Contact: Dan Barkley,
Phone: (505) 277-7180.
Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Department of Energy, Environmental
Information Center, 1862 Shyville Road, Room 220, Piketon, Ohio 45661.
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a part of the
President's Advanced Energy Initiative, is intended to support a safe,
secure, and sustainable expansion of nuclear energy, both domestically
and internationally. Domestically, the GNEP Program would promote
technologies that support economic, sustained production of nuclear-
generated electricity, while reducing the impacts associated with spent
nuclear fuel disposal and reducing proliferation risks. DOE envisions
changing the U.S. nuclear energy fuel cycle from an open (or once-
through) fuel cycle--in which nuclear fuel is used in a power plant one
time and the resulting spent nuclear fuel is stored for eventual
disposal in a geologic repository--to a closed fuel cycle, in which
spent nuclear fuel would be recycled to recover energy-bearing
components for use in new nuclear fuel. Internationally, the U.S.,
through the GNEP Program, is considering various initiatives to work
cooperatively with other nations to expand nuclear power to help meet
growing energy demand, develop and deploy advanced nuclear recycling
and reactor technologies, establish international frameworks to provide
nuclear fuel supplies, and promote the development of nuclear
safeguards and of more proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors.
On March 22, 2006, DOE published an Advance Notice of Intent for
the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Technology Demonstration Program
Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register (71 FR 14505).
The Advance Notice of Intent explained the goals of the GNEP Program,
three major elements of the then-proposed GNEP Technology Demonstration
Program, and the purpose and need for action, and presented a list of
potential environmental issues for analysis. In the notice, DOE
solicited comments on the proposed scope, alternatives, and
environmental issues to be analyzed in the then-planned GNEP Technology
Demonstration EIS. DOE received about 800 comment documents, including
comments that DOE should prepare a PEIS addressing the entire GNEP
Program, not just the GNEP Technology Demonstration Program.
On August 3, 2006, DOE announced that it would issue financial
assistance grants to public or commercial entities interested in
hosting GNEP facilities (DOE, ``Financial Assistance Funding
Opportunity Announcement Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)
Siting Studies,'' Funding Opportunity Number: DE-PS07-06ID14760). DOE
reviewed the resulting grant applications and on January 30, 2007,
issued grants to 11 commercial and public consortia to conduct siting
studies for hosting an advanced nuclear fuel recycling center and/or an
advanced recycling reactor.
On January 4, 2007, DOE published the Notice of Intent for the GNEP
PEIS in the Federal Register (72 FR 331). That Notice of Intent
explained the scope of the revised GNEP Program, identified the
alternatives that were then proposed for evaluation, described the
purpose and need for action, identified potential sites that could host
GNEP Program facilities (including
those sites addressed by the siting study grants), and listed potential
environmental issues for analysis. Subsequent to the Notice of Intent,
DOE held public scoping meetings near the sites that were under
consideration and in Washington, DC.
DOE received approximately 14,000 comment letters/e-mails and oral
comments related to the scope of the GNEP PEIS. The major scoping
comments related to the purpose and need, the alternatives that were
being considered, the various resource areas that should be addressed
in the PEIS, and proliferation risk.
In response to public comments and as the programmatic analysis
developed, DOE determined that to make project-specific or site-
specific decisions regarding any of the three originally proposed
facilities would be premature. The programmatic decisions to be made
would influence the size and type of facilities required for
implementing an alternative fuel cycle (the originally proposed nuclear
fuel recycling center and advanced recycling reactor) as well as the
facility needed to support research, development, and deployment (an
Advanced Fuel Cycle Facility). As a result, no project-specific or
site-specific proposals are being made at this time.
The GNEP PEIS assesses the following six domestic programmatic
No Action Alternative--Existing Once-Through Uranium Fuel Cycle:
The United States would continue to rely upon a once-through or
``open'' fuel cycle, in which commercial light water reactors (LWRs)
generate and store SNF until DOE could accept the SNF for disposal in a
Fast Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative: The United States
would pursue a domestic closed fuel cycle in a system that processes
LWR SNF in one or more nuclear fuel recycling centers and would recycle
some of the recovered materials in one or more fast reactors. The SNF
from the advanced recycling reactors (i.e., fast reactors) would also
be processed to recover materials for repeated recycle in advanced
recycling reactors. High-level wastes (HLW) from separations would be
disposed of in a geologic repository.
Thermal/Fast Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative: This closed
fuel cycle alternative would be similar to the Fast Reactor Recycle
Alternative, but it would recycle some of the recovered materials in
thermal reactors prior to recycling in advanced recycling reactors. HLW
from separations would be disposed of in a geologic repository.
Thermal Reactor Recycle Fuel Cycle Alternative: The United States
would pursue a domestic closed fuel cycle that processes LWR SNF and
recycles some of the recovered materials in thermal reactors. The
following three options are assessed: Option 1--Recycle LWR SNF to
produce a mixed oxide uranium plutonium (MOX-U-Pu) fuel for use in
LWRs; Option 2--Recycle LWR SNF to produce fuel for use in heavy water
reactors (HWRs); and Option 3--Recycle LWR SNF to produce a transuranic
fuel for use in high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs). Option 1
would be a closed fuel cycle, in which HLW would be disposed of in a
geologic repository. Options 2 and 3, which include recycling of LWR
SNF, would dispose of HLW and SNF in a geologic repository.
Once-Through Fuel Cycle Alternative Using Thorium: The United
States would pursue a thorium once-through or ``open'' fuel cycle, in
which commercial reactors would be fueled with thorium/uranium-based
fuels. Because thorium-based fuels would be compatible with existing
LWRs, the Thorium Alternative could also be characterized as
representing a ``new fuel design.'' The SNF would be stored until DOE
could accept it for disposal in a geologic repository.
Once-Through Fuel Cycle Alternative using Heavy Water Reactors
(HWRs) or High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTGRs): The United
States would pursue a domestic once-through or ``open'' fuel cycle that
uses either HWRs or HTGRs. For the HWR/HTGR Alternative, two options
are assessed: Option 1--Use HWRs only; and Option 2--Use HTGRs only. In
either case, the SNF would be stored until DOE could accept it for
disposal in a geologic repository.
These domestic programmatic alternatives are not mutually
exclusive. That is, DOE could decide to pursue implementation of one or
more domestic programmatic alternatives.
In general, the analyses in the GNEP PEIS indicate that the closed
fuel cycle alternatives offer a greater opportunity, relative to the
open fuel cycle alternatives, to reduce the capacity requirements for a
future geologic repository, and to reduce the hazards associated with
the disposal of spent fuel or high-level radioactive waste. However,
the closed fuel cycle alternatives require more disposal capacity for
other radioactive wastes than is required under the open fuel cycle
alternatives. Furthermore, transportation and associated health impacts
from the closed fuel cycle alternatives would be generally higher
during the operational period than those from the open fuel cycle
alternatives (except for the Once-Through Fuel Cycle using High
Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors).
Following completion of the GNEP PEIS, DOE will be in a position to
decide whether to pursue a closed fuel cycle. The GNEP PEIS is a first,
important step in deciding whether and how to recycle spent nuclear
fuel. A decision to go forward with recycling could trigger additional
proposals and research to achieve DOE's programmatic goal. Subsequent
DOE policies and actions could also affect decisions by the U.S.
commercial utility industry, which would ultimately determine whether
and how to implement any changes in the domestic fuel cycle. Any DOE
proposals would be subject to appropriate NEPA review.
The PEIS also discusses international aspects of the GNEP Program,
but does not evaluate any proposed actions or alternatives.
Consequently, DOE would not make any decisions related to international
activities based on the GNEP PEIS.
Issued in Washington, DC, on October 10, 2008.
Dennis R. Spurgeon,
Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.
[FR Doc. E8-24669 Filed 10-16-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P