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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

 
Supplement to the Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Department of Energy.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE) announces its intent to prepare 
a supplement to the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (SPD EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA). The SPD Draft EIS (DOE/EIS-0283D) was issued for 
public comment in July 1998. The Supplement will update the SPD Draft 
EIS by examining the potential environmental impacts of using mixed 
oxide (MOX) fuel in six specific commercial nuclear reactors at three 
sites for the disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium. DOE 
identified these reactors through a competitive procurement process. 
The Department is planning to issue the Supplement to the SPD Draft EIS 
in April 1999. DOE will publish a separate Notice of Availability in 
the Federal Register at that time. This Notice of Intent describes the 
content of the Supplement to the SPD Draft EIS, solicits public comment 
on the Supplement, and announces DOE's intention to conduct a public 
hearing. Consistent with 40 CFR 1502.9(c)(4) and 10 CFR 1021.314(d), 
DOE has determined not to conduct scoping for the Supplement.

ADDRESSES: Requests for information concerning the plutonium 
disposition program can be submitted by calling (answering machine) or 
faxing them to the toll free number 1-800-820-5156, or by mailing them 
to: Bert Stevenson, NEPA Compliance Officer, Office of Fissile 
Materials Disposition, U.S. Department of Energy, Post Office Box 
23786, Washington, DC 20026-3786.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information on the DOE 
NEPA process, please contact: Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA 
Policy and Assistance, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence 
Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20585, 202-586-4600 or leave a message at 
1-800-472-2756.
    Additional information regarding the DOE NEPA process and 
activities is available on the Internet through the NEPA Home Page at 
http://www.eh.doe.gov/nepa.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In October 1994, the Secretary of Energy and the Congress created 
the Office of Fissile Materials Disposition (MD) within the Department 
of Energy (DOE) to focus on the elimination of surplus highly enriched 
uranium (HEU) and plutonium surplus to national defense needs. As one 
of its major responsibilities, MD is tasked with determining how to 
disposition surplus weapons--usable plutonium. In January 1997, DOE 
issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Storage and Disposition of 
Weapons--Usable Fissile Materials Final Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (S&D PEIS) (DOE/EIS-

[[Page 16721]]

0229; December 1996). In that ROD, DOE decided to pursue a strategy 
that would allow for the possibility of both the immobilization of 
surplus plutonium and the use of surplus plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) 
fuel in existing domestic, commercial reactors. DOE is in the process 
of completing the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Environmental Impact 
Statement (SPD Draft EIS) (DOE/EIS-0283D; July 1998) to choose a 
site(s) for plutonium disposition activities and to determine the 
technology(ies) that will be used to support this effort.

Related Procurement Action

    To support the timely undertaking of the surplus plutonium 
disposition program, DOE initiated a procurement action to contract for 
MOX fuel fabrication and reactor irradiation services. The services 
requested in this procurement process include design, licensing, 
construction, operation, and eventual deactivation of a MOX facility, 
as well as irradiation of the MOX fuel in three to eight existing 
domestic, commercial reactors, should the decision be made by DOE to go 
forward with the MOX program.
    On May 19, 1998, DOE issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) 
(Solicitation Number DE-RP02-98CH10888) that defined limited activities 
that may be performed prior to issuance of the SPD EIS ROD. These 
activities include non-site-specific work primarily associated with the 
development of the initial conceptual design for the fuel fabrication 
facility, and plans (paper studies) for outreach, long lead-time 
procurements, regulatory management, facility quality assurance, 
safeguards, security, fuel qualifications, and deactivation. No 
construction would be started on a MOX fuel fabrication facility until 
the SPD EIS ROD is issued. The MOX facility, if built, would be DOE-
owned, licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and located at 
one of four candidate DOE sites. DOE has designated the Savannah River 
Site as the preferred alternative for the MOX fuel fabrication 
facility.
    Based on a review of proposals received in response to the RFP, DOE 
determined in January 1999 that one proposal was in the competitive 
range. Under this proposal, MOX fuel would be fabricated at a DOE site 
and then irradiated in one of six domestic commercial nuclear reactors.

Environmental Review During Procurement Action

    An environmental critique was prepared in accordance with DOE's 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations at 10 CFR 
1021.216. Because an EIS is in progress on this action, DOE required 
offerors to submit reasonably available environmental data and analyses 
as a part of their proposals. DOE independently evaluated and verified 
the accuracy of the data provided by the offeror in the competitive 
range, and prepared an environmental critique for consideration before 
the selection was made. The Environmental Critique was used by DOE to 
determine:
    (1) if there are any important environmental issues in the 
offeror's proposal that may affect the selection process; and
    (2) if the potential environmental impacts of the offeror's 
proposal were bounded by impacts presented in the S&D PEIS and SPD 
Draft EIS or whether additional analysis was required in the SPD Final 
EIS.
    As required by Section 216, the Environmental Critique included a 
discussion of the purpose of the procurement; the salient 
characteristics of the offeror's proposal; any licenses, permits or 
approvals needed to support the program; and an evaluation of the 
potential environmental impacts of the offer. The Environmental 
Critique is a procurement-sensitive document and subject to all 
associated restrictions. DOE then prepared a synopsis, which summarizes 
the Environmental Critique and reduces business-sensitive information 
to a level that will not compromise the procurement process. The 
Synopsis will be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency and 
made available to the public.

Contract Award

    As a result of the procurement process described above, in March 
1999, the Department of Energy contracted with Duke Engineering & 
Services, COGEMA, Inc., and Stone & Webster to provide mixed oxide fuel 
fabrication and reactor irradiation services. The team, known as DUKE 
COGEMA STONE & WEBSTER or DCS, has its corporate headquarters in 
Charlotte, NC. Subcontractors to DCS include Duke Power Company, 
Charlotte, NC and Virginia Power Company, Richmond, VA, who will 
provide the reactor facilities in which mixed oxide fuel will be used 
upon receipt of Nuclear Regulatory Commission license amendments. Other 
major subcontractors include Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., Erwin, TN; 
Belgonucleaire, Brussels, Belgium; and Framatome Cogema Fuels of 
Lynchburg, VA. Under the contract, the team will also modify six 
existing U.S. commercial light water reactors at three sites to 
irradiate mixed oxide fuel assemblies. These reactors sites are Catawba 
in York, SC; McGuire in Huntersville, NC; and North Anna in Mineral, 
VA. The team will be responsible for obtaining a license to operate the 
fuel fabrication facility and the license modifications for the 
reactors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Full execution of this 
contract is contingent on DOE's completion of the SPD EIS, as provided 
by 40 CFR 1021.216(i).

Supplement to the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement

    The purpose of the Supplement to the SPD Draft EIS is to update the 
Draft by including specific information available as a result of the 
award of the DCS contract. The Supplement to the SPD Draft EIS will 
contain background information on the SPD Draft EIS; changes made to 
the SPD Draft EIS (Section 1.7.2); a description of the reactor sites 
(Section 3.7); impacts of irradiating mixed oxide fuel in existing 
light water reactors (Section 4.28); Facility Accidents (Appendix K); 
Analysis of Environmental Justice (Appendix M); and the Environmental 
Synopsis (Appendix O).
    DOE anticipates that the Supplement to the SPD Draft EIS will be 
available in April. DOE intends to hold an interactive hearing in 
Washington, DC in May 1999 to discuss issues and receive oral and 
written comments on the Supplement to the Draft SPD EIS. The Notice of 
Availability will provide specific information concerning the date, 
time and location for the public hearing.

    Issued in Washington, DC this 31st day of March 1999, for the 
United States Department of Energy.

David Michaels,
Assistant Secretary, Environment, Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 99-8455 Filed 4-5-99; 8:45 am]
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