Issuance of Loan Guarantees to Various Applicants for the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant-Units 3 and 4 in
Issuance of Loan Guarantees to Various Applicants for the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant-Units 3 and 4 in
A Notice by the
Record Of Decision (Rod).
Copies of this ROD and DOE/EIS-0476 may be obtained by contacting
DOE reviewed the NRC EISs and determined that the project analyzed in the EISs was substantially the same as the project that would be covered by the DOE loan guarantees. DOE did not participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation of the NRC EISs; therefore, in accordance with DOE's NEPA regulations (10 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Part 1021), DOE conducted an independent review of the NRC EISs and related documents for the purpose of determining whether DOE could adopt them pursuant to
In addition to its adoption of the NRC EISs, DOE considered various sources of information to satisfy its obligations under NEPA, including the following: The Safety Analysis Report prepared by SNC (see NRC Agency Document Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession Number ML11180A100); the Standard Design Certification for the AP1000 nuclear reactor design developed by the design contractor,
As part of its NEPA review, DOE considered the potential impacts of the transmission line in consultation with the USACE during the Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting process. DOE was party to consultation between the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office and the USACE, conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and consulted with the USACE regarding its review of impacts to federally-listed threatened and endangered species in compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. USACE completed the Section 106 process, determined that there would be no effect on federally-listed species, and authorized the proposed activity under Nationwide Permit No. 12 on
The Proposed Action in the NRC EISs was for NRC to issue licenses that would authorize the applicants to construct, operate, and decommission the proposed project. Several alternatives were considered by the NRC, including: (1) The No Action Alternative, under which the proposed project would not be constructed, operated, and decommissioned at the VEGP site; (2) energy source alternatives; and (3) system design alternatives. These alternatives were eliminated from further consideration because they did not offer any environmental advantage over the proposed action, did not provide a sufficient amount of power generation to meet expected demand, or did not meet the need for a reliable and economical source of power generation.
The DOE decision is whether or not to issue loan guarantees to one or more of the applicants named above to support construction and startup of the Project as identified in DOE/EIS-0476 and authorized under the NRC COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92 for the VEGP Units 3 and 4, respectively. Accordingly, the DOE alternatives are (1) the Proposed Action, to issue loan guarantees to the applicants for the Project, and (2) the No Action Alternative, i.e., no loan guarantees.
Environmentally Preferable Alternative
DOE has decided that its Proposed Action, to issue loan guarantees for construction and startup of the Project, is environmentally preferable. This alternative offers environmental benefits consistent with the statutory objectives of Title XVII of EPAct 2005, which include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to coal-fired and natural-gas-fired sources producing the same amount of base-load power, annual carbon dioxide (CO 2) emission rates from nuclear power plants (including the fuel cycle processes) are considerably less (Table 7-1 of the NRC SEIS). In addition, DOE has determined that all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm, as described in Sections 4.10 (Measures and Controls to Limit Adverse Impacts During Site-Preparation Activities and Construction) and 5.11 (Measures and Controls to Limit Adverse Impacts During Operation) of DOE/EIS-0476, have been incorporated into the NRC COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92 for the VEGP Units 3 and 4 and will be required as conditions of the DOE loan agreements for the Project.
Response to Comments on the Adopted NRC EISs
DOE received two letters concerning its adoption of the NRC EISs as DOE/EIS-0476. The comment letters included a letter from the
NRC--The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule (WCR) represents the generic determination by NRC that spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely and without significant environmental impacts for a period of time after the end of the licensed life of a nuclear power plant. This generic analysis was incorporated into NRC's NEPA review for the Project. In 2010, NRC issued an updated WCR (10 CFR 51.23(a)). On
NRC has the regulatory authority to determine if spent fuel can be stored safely at its licensed facilities. DOE will continue to monitor the NRC WCR environmental review and rulemaking, and DOE's loan guarantee agreements will require that the Project comply with any new regulatory or license conditions.
In addition to the safety and environmental review performed by NRC in the licensing process, DOE considered other sources of information regarding the safety and security of spent fuel at the proposed Project and the potential environmental effects of long-term spent nuclear fuel storage in the on-site storage facilities. NRC's review included a safety evaluation of the VEGP Units 3 and 4 and the AP1000 reactor design to assess risks, including those from spent fuel pool fires or leaks. DOE also reviewed reports developed by the independent engineering firm,
DOE also reviewed information regarding potential impacts of long-term spent fuel storage found in the No Action Alternative of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at
BREDL provided comments pertinent to the NEPA environmental review that DOE addresses below. BREDL also submitted comments questioning the eligibility of the Project design as an innovative technology, DOE's ability to secure the debt obligation, and the integrity of DOE's due diligence process, none of which has any bearing on the NEPA environmental review process. In reviewing completed loan guarantee applications and in selecting those to whom a guarantee will be offered, DOE applies the criteria set forth in Title XVII of EPAct 2005, the implementing regulations in 10 CFR Part 609, and the applicable solicitation issued by DOE. DOE's due diligence process for evaluating potential loan guarantees includes a rigorous analysis of the proposed project including, but not limited to, its legal, financial, technical, environmental, regulatory, credit and market aspects. Subject to continuing due diligence, DOE establishes a project's eligibility and the reasonable prospect of loan repayment early in this process, before DOE conditionally commits to pursuing the documentation and underwriting of a loan guarantee. As such, DOE's due diligence and internal approval process for the Project has included an evaluation that fully addressed BREDL's concerns. BREDL's summarized comments (C) relevant to DOE/EIS-0476 and DOE's responses (R) are included below:
1. C: DOE must consider the Environmental Justice requirements of Executive Order 12898 in its decision making.
R: Low income and minority populations exist within the census tracts in a 50-mile radius of the Project site. In reviewing the NRC EISs, DOE considered the environmental impacts of the action and whether these populations would suffer disproportionately high and adverse environmental impacts. The NRC EISs analyzed the potential effects of the plant during construction and operation and the mitigations to be enacted by the Project operators. NRC determined and DOE concurs that the potential adverse effects would be generally small and would not disproportionately affect the census tracts with higher low-income and minority populations.
2. C: The design chosen for the new units fails to avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants and anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, and the uranium fuel cycle uses fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.
R: The NRC SEIS included a comparison of emissions from a nuclear power plant (including the fuel cycle processes) to those from similarly sized fossil fuel plants and demonstrated that the nuclear plant has approximately 1/10th the annual CO 2 emission rate of a natural-gas-fired power plant and 1/20th the emissions of a coal-fired power plant (See Table 7-1, Comparison of Annual CO 2 Emission Rates).
3. C: The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant will not meet Clean Air Act standards. Without maximum achievable control technology, routine emissions from the plant would be excessive especially when considered in addition to the existing site-wide radioactive emission levels.
R: The Project is required to meet Clean Air Act standards and obtain a permit for operations that generate non-radioactive pollutants, such as emergency generators.
4. C: Southern Nuclear does not properly account for the higher levels of morbidity and mortality in females and infants caused by low levels of radiation.
R: While children and fetuses are more sensitive to the effects of radiation, the radiation protection standards applicable at the site for members of the general public take into account the differences in sensitivity due to age and gender, including females and infants.
DOE has decided to select the Proposed Action to issue loan guarantees to one or more of the following applicants for the construction and start-up of the proposed VEGP Units 3 and 4 in
The Project for which DOE has decided to issue loan guarantees includes all mitigation measures, terms, and conditions applied by the NRC in its COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92, as well as mitigation and avoidance measures imposed by the USACE in its Nationwide Permit No. 12 for the proposed transmission line. The mitigation measures, terms, and conditions represent practicable means by which to avoid or minimize environmental impacts from the selected alternative. NRC is responsible for ensuring compliance with all adopted mitigation measures, terms, and conditions for the Project set forth in the NRC COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92. Sections 4.10 (Measures and Controls to Limit Adverse Impacts During Site-Preparation Activities and Construction) and 5.11 (Measures and Controls to Limit Adverse Impacts During Operation) of the adopted NRC EISs (DOE/EIS-0476) contain the mitigation measures, terms, and conditions developed in accordance with NEPA.
DOE's loan guarantee agreements require the loan guarantee recipients to comply with all applicable laws, authorizations, and approvals, including the terms of the NRC COLs NPF-91 and NPF-92 and the USACE permit for the proposed transmission line, including mitigation measures contained therein. Any additional future requirements imposed by the NRC would also be required by the loan guarantee agreements for the Project. A recipient's failure to comply with applicable laws, authorizations, and approvals would constitute a default, upon which DOE would have the right under the loan guarantee agreement to exercise usual and customary remedies. To ensure a recipient complies with the requirements of the loan guarantee agreement, the Loan Programs Office proactively monitors all operative loan guarantee transactions.
Executive Director, Loan Programs Office.
[FR Doc. 2014-04023 Filed 2-24-14;
BILLING CODE 6450-10-P
1. By issuing an ESP, NRC approves one or more sites for a nuclear power facility, independent of the specific nuclear plant design. In reviewing an ESP application, the NRC evaluates site safety issues, environmental protection issues, and plans for coping with emergencies. By issuing a COL, NRC authorizes the licensee to construct and operate (under specified conditions) an approved design for a nuclear power plant at a specific site.
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