Hope Creek Uprate

 

[Federal Register: March 11, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 48)]

[Notices]              

[Page 13032-13044]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access. gpo.gov]

[DOCID:fr11mr08- 106]                        

 

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

 

[Docket No. 50-354]

 

 

PSEG Nuclear, LLC; Hope Creek Generating Station Final

Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact; Related

to the Proposed License Amendment To Increase the Maximum Reactor Power

Level

 

AGENCY: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

SUMMARY: As required by Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10

CFR) Part 51, the NRC has prepared a final Environmental Assessment

(EA) as its evaluation of a request by the PSEG Nuclear, LLC (PSEG) for

a license amendment to increase the maximum thermal power at Hope Creek

Generating Station (HCGS) from 3,339 megawatts-thermal (MWt) to 3,840

MWt. The EA assesses environmental impacts up to a maximum thermal

power level of 3,952 MWt, as the applicant's environmental report was

based on that power level. The NRC staff did not identify any

significant impact from the information provided in the licensee's EPU

application for HCGS or from the NRC staff's independent review. The

final EA and Finding of No Significant Impact are being published in

the Federal Register.

    The NRC published a draft EA and finding of no significant impact

on the proposed action for public comment in the Federal Register on

October 22, 2007 (72 FR 59563). Two sets of comments were received on

the draft EA: (1) From PSEG Nuclear, LLC by letter dated November 21,

2007 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS)

Accession No. ML073600851) ; and (2) from the State of New Jersey

Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) by letter dated November

21, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML073600859) . These comments are

addressed below.

 

Disposition of Public Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment E

 

    PSEG Comment Number 1: Modify the Cooling Tower Impacts section to

more clearly reflect that NJDEP has issued the Title V Air Operating

Permit authorizing emissions at 42 lbs/hr upon approval of the [United

States Environmental Protection Agency] USEPA.

     NRC Response Number 1: This comment is a clarification and

editorial correction to the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on

this comment, the NRC staff revised the appropriate section of the

final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 2: Modify the Discharge Impacts section to

reflect that the [total dissolved solids] TDS limits are indirectly in

the Title V Air Operating Permit and not in the [New Jersey Pollutant

Discharge Elimination System] NJPDES Permit.

     NRC Response Number 2: This comment is a clarification and

editorial correction to the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on

this comment, the NRC staff revised the appropriate section of the

final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 3: Modify the Discharge Impacts section to

reflect that total suspended solids and [total organic carbon] TOC are

not routinely monitored and acute and chronic biological toxicity tests

are performed during each NJPDES Permit renewal.

     NRC Response Number 3: This comment is a clarification and

editorial correction to the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on

this comment, the NRC staff revised the appropriate section of the

final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 4: Modify the Impacts on Aquatic Biota

section, Table 1, to reflect that Atlantic Croaker are considered to be

a single Atlantic coast stock.

     NRC Response Number 4: Upon further review, the NRC agrees with

the comment. Based on this comment, the NRC staff revised the

appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 5: Modify the Impacts on Aquatic Biota section

to identify inland silversides instead of tidewater silversides.

     NRC Response Number 5: Upon further review, the NRC agrees with

the comment. Based on this comment, the NRC staff revised the

appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 6: Modify the Impacts on Aquatic Biota section

to reflect the extensive biological monitoring program at the adjacent

Salem Generating Station, reflect the

 

[[Page 13033]]

 

potential escape mechanism at the intake based on the low intake

velocity, and change ``no environmental monitoring'' to ``no intake

aquatic monitoring.' ' There are extensive environmental monitoring

programs in place at HCGS.

     NRC Response Number 6: Based on this comment, the NRC staff

revised the appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 7: Modify the Radioactive Waste Stream Impacts

section to remove the redundant use of the word ``waste.''

     NRC Response Number 7: This comment is an editorial correction to

the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on this comment, the NRC

staff revised the appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 8: Modify the Gaseous Radioactive Waste and

Offsite Doses section to reflect values in Table 5-3 of PSEG's

Environmental Report for EPU.

     NRC Response Number 8: This comment is a clarification correction

to the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on this comment, the NRC

staff revised the appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 9: Modify the Offsite Radiation Doses section

to reflect the information contained in Section 5.2.1 of PSEG's

Environmental Report for EPU.

     NRC Response Number 9: This comment is a clarification correction

to the draft EA. Based on this comment, the NRC staff revised the

appropriate section of the final EA.

     PSEG Comment Number 10: Modify the Summary section, Table 3, to

reflect only those values that were discussed in the main text.

     NRC Response Number 10: This comment is an editorial correction to

the draft EA. Based on this comment, the NRC staff revised the

appropriate section of the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 1: The proposed modification is subject to

the Federal Consistency provisions of the Federal Coastal Zone

Management Act (CZMA), and as such, a Federal Consistency determination

is required. On July 3, 2007, the NJDEP's Division of Land Use

Regulation issued the Federal Consistency certification for the

proposed power project.

     NRC Response Number 1: This comment is a clarification correction

to the draft Environmental Assessment. Based on this comment, the NRC

staff revised the appropriate section of the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 2: The proposed increase in power output

would result in a small increase to the temperature of the water being

discharged into the Delaware River. Although the discharge is within

the limits allowed by the current permit, the [NJDEP's Division of Fish

and Wildlife] DFW has concerns over potential impacts to resident and

migratory fish species within the area.

     NRC Response Number 2: Blowdown temperature and composition, and

Delaware Estuary water temperatures would remain in compliance with the

station's NJPDES permit, and the proposed EPU would not result in

changes in any other effluents to the estuary. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that the proposed EPU would result in negligible impacts on

the Delaware Estuary from HCGS discharge. Based on this comment, the

NRC staff did not revise the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 3: Potential impacts identified by the Draft

EA acknowledged that increased evaporation would leave behind more

solids in the blowdown, so the concentration of total dissolved solids

(TDS) in the effluent would be an average of about 9 percent higher

than under current operations. While this is in compliance with the

station's NJPDES permit, the Division has concerns over potential

impacts to resident and migratory fish species and shellfish within the

area.

     NRC Response Number 3: Blowdown temperature and composition, and

Delaware Estuary water temperatures would remain in compliance with the

station's NJPDES permit, and the proposed EPU would not result in

changes in any other effluents to the estuary. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that the proposed EPU would result in negligible impacts on

the Delaware Estuary from HCGS discharge. Based on this comment, the

NRC staff did not revise the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 4: The potential impacts to aquatic biota

from the proposed action are primarily due to operation of the cooling

water system withdraws. Although no volume and/or velocity changes to

the circulating water or service water systems are expected due to the

proposed EPU, the DFW continues to be concerned for the destruction of

fish and/or shellfish species via intake and discharge of water at this

plant. While the identity of species potentially affected by

entrainment, impingement, and heat shock may be inferred from

ecological information about the Delaware Estuary, the species affected

cannot be verified, and the numbers cannot be quantified because no

environmental monitoring programs are conducted at the facility. It is

expected that a percentage of impinged organisms may likely die,

partially due to the fish-return system not functioning continuously to

minimize mortality at present. It is expected all organisms entrained

at HCGS are probably killed from exposure to heat, mechanical,

pressure-related stresses, and/or biocidal treatment before being

discharged to the estuary. Although the proposed action would not

change the volume or rate of cooling water withdrawn, the DFW has

concerns regarding the number of individual fish and shellfish, larvae

and eggs destroyed by the plant and any associated temperature rise in

the Delaware Estuary. The entrainment kill should be verified to

species and quantified in the future to address these concerns. It is

anticipated that any new processes that are developed for the other

Salem units to increase impingement survivability and decrease

entrainment will be employed by this plant as well automatically.

     NRC Response Number 4: Under the proposed EPU, water withdrawal

rates would not change from present conditions. Entrainment and

impingement impacts may change over time due to changes in the aquatic

populations even though HCGS's water withdrawal rate would not change

from present conditions. Impacts due to impingement and entrainment

losses are minimized because the closed-cycle cooling system at the

plant minimizes the amount of cooling water withdrawn from and heated

effluent returned to the estuary. The water quality of the effluent

(e.g., temperature, toxicity, TDS concentrations) would continue to

meet present NJPDES permit conditions for protection of aquatic life.

The staff concludes that the proposed EPU would have no significant

impact to aquatic biota. Impingment and entrainment effects are

regulated by NJDEP under Clean Water Act 316(b), and heat shock is

regulated by NJDEP under 316(a) as part of NJPDES permitting. NJPDES

permit levels are not part of NRC jurisdiction. Based on this comment,

the NRC staff did not revise the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 5: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

issued a letter dated January 26, 2007, that provided information on

the endangered shortnose sturgeon; Atlantic sturgeon, a candidate

species for listing; and five species of endangered or threatened sea

turtles: Loggerhead, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, green, and hawksbill

turtles. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff investigated the

effects of the HCGS operation on these species and found that the

primary concern for these endangered and threatened species is the risk

of

 

[[Page 13034]]

 

impingement or entrainment due to cooling water intake by the plant.

The HCGS has reported no takes of any of the endangered or threatened

species listed above. Although the proposed EPU would not change the

intake flow, and, therefore, would not increase impingement and

entrainment of these species, the DFW remains concerned regarding

potential takes of endangered species.

     NRC Response Number 5: Under the proposed EPU, water withdrawal

rates would not change from present conditions. Entrainment and

impingement impacts may change over time due to changes in the aquatic

populations even though HCGS's water withdrawal rate would not change

from present conditions. Impacts due to impingement and entrainment

losses are minimized because the closed-cycle cooling system at the

plant minimizes the amount of cooling water withdrawn from and heated

effluent returned to the estuary. The water quality of the effluent

(e.g., temperature, toxicity, TDS concentrations) would continue to

meet present NJPDES permit conditions for protection of aquatic life.

The staff concludes that the proposed EPU would have no significant

impact to aquatic biota. Impingment and entrainment effects are

regulated by NJDEP under Clean Water Act 316(b), and heat shock is

regulated by NJDEP under 316(a) as part of NJPDES permitting. NJPDES

permit levels are not part of NRC jurisdiction. Based on this comment,

the NRC staff did not revise the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 6: The EA notes that an Essential Fish

Habitat (EFH) for the proposed EPU was sent to the National Marine

Fisheries Service (NMFS) under separate cover to initiate an EFH

consultation. We recommend that the NRC should issue no final decision

on this proposal until NMFS consultations are concluded.

     NRC Response Number 6: The staff agrees with this comment. By

letter dated July 13, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML072000450) , NMFS

found the EFH assessment satisfactory. Based on this comment, the NRC

staff revised the appropriate section of the final EA.

     NJDEP Comment Number 7: No impacts are expected to avian species.

     NRC Response Number 7: The staff agrees with this comment;

however, no changes to the final EA are warranted.

     NJDEP Comment Number 8: According to the EA, no changes to the

Hope Creek Generating Station circulating water or service water

systems are expected due to the proposed EPU; therefore, the proposed

EPU would not increase the amount of water withdrawn from or discharged

to the Delaware Estuary. As a result, the intake issue appears to be

unaffected by the power re-rating.

     NRC Response Number 8: The staff agrees with this comment;

however, no changes to the final EA are warranted.

     NJDEP Comment Number 9: This Bureau has determined that because

the permittee is willing to comply with its current discharge limits,

the regulation of the discharge via NJPDES appears to be unaffected by

the power re-rating. In the current NJPDES permit, there is no effluent

flow limit and there is no total dissolved solids (TDS) requirement

since the facility discharges to saline waters. This is due to the fact

that there are currently no New Jersey Surface Water Quality Standards

for TDS. Through the administering of the NJPDES program, this Bureau

will continue to require effluent characterization of the cooling tower

blowdown to monitor any changes to the toxic pollutants that may or may

not occur due to the proposed EPU.

     NRC Response Number 9: The staff agrees with this comment;

however, no changes to the final EA are warranted.

     NJDEP Comment Number 10: The information contained in the EA

indicates that the power output of the reactor will increase

approximately 15-percent. It can be concluded that this power increase

will raise magnetic field emissions from the lines and therefore,

elevate magnetic fields along the right-of-way. These changes will

increase the magnetic field exposure of the population living closer

than 400 feet from the center of the transmission line configuration.

At this point in time, the consensus among the scientific community is

that there is inconclusive evidence to suggest that long-term exposure

to magnetic fields from power lines would result in adverse health

outcomes. However, for new or modified lines, many health-based

organizations are still recommending reducing magnetic fields if low or

no-cost options exist. In a June 2007 fact sheet put forth from the

World Health Organization (WHO Fact sheet No. 322), the following

guidance is issued: ``When constructing new facilities and designing

new equipment low-cost ways of reducing exposures may be explored.''

Therefore, in light of such uncertainty, if there are any changes that

will be made to the power delivery system that would lower the magnetic

fields from the power lines, it may be prudent to explore such options.

     NRC Response Number 10: The proposed EPU does not require the

modification or building of new transmission lines. Therefore, the

guidance in WHO Fact Sheet No. 322 is not applicable. There is no

scientific consensus regarding the health effects of electromagnetic

fields (EMFs) produced by operating transmission lines. Therefore, the

licensee did not quantify the chronic effects of EMF on human and

biota. The potential for chronic effects for these fields continues to

be studied and is not known at this time. The National Institute of

Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) directs related research through

the U.S Department of Energy (DOE). A 2003 NIEHS study published in

Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 111, Number 3, March 2003,

titled ``Power-Line Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Do Not Induce

Changes in Phosphorylation, Localization, or Expression of the 27-

Kilodalton Heat Shock Protein in Human Keratinocytes' ' by Biao Shi,

Behnom Farboud, Richard Nuccitelli, and R. Rivkah Isseroff of the

University of California-- Davis contains the following conclusion:

 

    ''The linkage of the exposure to the power-line frequency (50-60

Hz) electromagnetic fields (EMF) with human cancers remains

controversial after more than 10 years of study. The in vitro

studies on the adverse effects of EMF on human cells have not

yielded a clear conclusion. In this study, we investigated whether

power-line frequency EMF could act as an environmental insult to

invoke stress responses in human keratinocytes using the 27-kDa heat

shock protein (HSP27) as a stress marker. After exposure to 1 gauss

(100 [mu]T) EMF from 20 min to 24 hr, the isoform pattern of HSP27

in keratinocytes remained unchanged, suggesting that EMF did not

induce the phosphorylation of this stress protein. EMF exposure also

failed to induce the translocation of HSP27 from the cytoplasm to

the nucleus. Moreover, EMF exposure did not increase the abundance

of HSP27 in keratinocytes. In addition, we found no evidence that

EMF exposure enhanced the level of the 70-kDa heat shock protein

(HSP70) in breast or leukemia cells as reported previously.

Therefore, in this study we did not detect any of a number of stress

responses in human keratinocytes exposed to power-line frequency

EMF.''

 

    To date, there is not sufficient data to cause the NRC staff to

change its position with respect to the chronic effects of

electromagnetic fields. If in the future, the NRC staff finds that,

contrary to current indications, a consensus has been reached by

appropriate Federal health agencies that there are adverse health

effects from electromagnetic fields, the NRC staff will recommend to

the Commission to change its current position regarding EMF. The NRC

staff did not revise the final EA based on this comment.

     NJDEP Comment Number 11: The NJDEP's Air Quality Permitting Office

approved the Title V air permit

 

[[Page 13035]]

 

modification for this project on August 7, 2007. This approval along

with a request for a single source state implementation plan (SIP) for

a variance to Subchapter 6 was sent to the Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA) on November 2, 2007. The Air Quality Permitting Office has

not yet received a response from the EPA.

     NRC Response Number 11: The staff agrees with this comment;

however, no changes to the final EA are warranted.

 

Environmental Assessment

 

Plant Site and Environs

 

    HCGS is located on the southern part of Artificial Island, on the

east bank of the Delaware River, in Lower Alloways Creek Township,

Salem County, New Jersey. While called Artificial Island, the site is

actually connected to the mainland of New Jersey by a strip of

tideland, formed by hydraulic fill from dredging operations on the

Delaware River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The site is 15

miles south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, 18 miles south of

Wilmington, Delaware, 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,

and 7.5 miles southwest of Salem, New Jersey. The station is located on

a 300-acre site.

    The site is located in the southern region of the Delaware River

Valley, which is defined as the area immediately adjacent to the

Delaware River and extending from Trenton to Cape May Point, New

Jersey, on the eastern side, and from Morrisville, Pennsylvania, to

Lewes, Delaware, on the western side. This region is characterized by

extensive tidal marshlands and low-lying meadowlands. Most land in this

area is undeveloped. A great deal of land adjacent to the Delaware

River, near the site, is public land, owned by the Federal and State

governments. The main access to the plant is from a road constructed by

PSEG. This road connects with Alloways Creek Neck Road, about 2.5

miles, east of the site. Access to the plant site and all activities

thereon are under the control of PSEG.

 

Identification of the Proposed Action

 

    HCGS is a single unit plant that employs a General Electric BWR

that was designed to operate at a rated core thermal power of 3,339

MWt, at 100-percent steam flow, with a turbine-generated rating of

approximately 1,139 megawatts-electric (MWe).

    In 1984, NRC issued operating license NPF-57 to HCGS, authorizing

operation up to a maximum power level of 3,293 MWt. In 2001, NRC

authorized a license amendment for a 1.4 percent power uprate from

3,293 MWt to 3,339 MWt and issued an Environmental Assessment and

Finding of No Significant Impact for Increase in Allowable Thermal

Power Level (NRC 2001).

    By letter dated September 18, 2006, PSEG proposed an amendment to

the operating license for HCGS, to increase the maximum thermal power

level by approximately 15 percent, from 3,339 MWt to 3,840 MWt. The

change is considered an EPU because it would raise the reactor core

power levels more than 7 percent above the originally licensed maximum

power level.

 

The Need for the Proposed Action

 

    PSEG (2005) evaluated the need for additional electrical generation

capacity in its service area for the planning period of 2002-2011.

Information provided by the North American Electric Reliability Council

showed that, in order to meet projected demands, generating capacity

must be increased by at least 2 percent per year for the Mid-Atlantic

Area Council and the PJM Interconnection, LLC (PSEG 2005). Such demand

increase would exceed PSEG's capacity to generate electricity for its

customers.

    PSEG determined that a combination of increased power generation

and purchase of power from the electrical grid would be needed to meet

the projected demands. Increasing the generating capacity at HCGS was

estimated to provide lower-cost power than can be purchased on the

current and projected energy market. In addition, increasing nuclear

generating capacity would lessen the need to depend on fossil fuel

alternatives that are subject to unpredictable cost fluctuations and

increasing environmental costs.

 

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

 

    This EA summarizes the non-radiological and radiological impacts

that may result from the proposed action.

 

Non-Radiological Impacts

 

Land Use Impacts

 

    The potential impacts associated with land use (including

aesthetics and historic and archaeological resources) include impacts

from construction and plant modifications at HCGS. While some plant

components would be modified, most plant changes related to the

proposed EPU would occur within existing structures, buildings, and

fenced equipment yards housing major components within the developed

part of the site. No new construction would occur, and no expansion of

buildings, roads, parking lots, equipment storage areas, or

transmission facilities would be required to support the proposed EPU

(PSEG 2005).

    Existing parking lots, road access, offices, workshops, warehouses,

and restrooms would be used during construction and plant

modifications. Therefore, land use would not change at HCGS. In

addition, there would be no land use changes along transmission lines

(no new lines would be required for the proposed EPU), transmission

corridors, switchyards, or substations. Because land use conditions

would not change at HCGS and because any disturbance would occur within

previously disturbed areas, there would be no impact to aesthetic

resources and historic and archeological resources in the vicinity of

HCGS (PSEG 2005).

    The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) was promulgated to encourage

and assist States and territories in developing management programs

that preserve, protect, develop, and, where possible, restore the

resources of the coastal zone. A ``coastal zone'' is generally

described as the coastal waters and the adjacent shore lands strongly

influenced by each other. This includes islands, transitional and

intertidal areas, salt marshes, wetlands, beaches, and Great Lakes

waters. Activities of Federal agencies that are reasonably likely to

affect coastal zones shall be consistent with the approved coastal

management program (CMP) of the State or territory to the maximum

extent practical. The CZMA provisions apply to all actions requiring

Federal approval (new plant licenses, license renewals, materials

licenses, and major amendments to existing licenses) that affect the

coastal zone in a State or territory with a Federally approved CMP. The

proposed EPU is subject to the Federal Consistency provisions of the

Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), and as such, a Federal

Consistency determination is required. On April 23, 2007, PSEG

submitted an application requesting the State of New Jersey to perform

the Federal Consistency determination in accordance with CZMA. On July

3, 2007, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)

Land Use Regulation Program, acting under Section 307 of the Federal

Coastal Management Act, issued the Federal Consistency certification

for the proposed EPU.

    The impacts of continued operation of HCGS under EPU conditions are

bounded by the evaluation in the FES for operation (NRC 1984).

Therefore, the potential impacts to land use, aesthetics,

 

[[Page 13036]]

 

and historic and archaeological resources from the proposed EPU would

not be significant.

 

Cooling Tower Impacts

 

    HCGS has one natural draft cooling tower that is currently used to

reduce the heat output to the environment. The potential impacts

associated with cooling tower operation under the proposed EPU could

affect aesthetics, salt drift deposition, noise, fogging or icing,

wildlife, and particulate emissions.

    The proposed EPU would not result in significant changes to

aesthetics such as cooling tower plume dimension at HCGS. Atmospheric

emissions from the natural draft cooling tower consist primarily of

waste heat and water vapor resulting in persistent cloudlike plumes.

The size of the cooling tower plume depends on the meteorological

conditions such as temperature, dew point, and relative humidity. For

the proposed EPU, NRC does not anticipate any change in the dimension

of the plume under equivalent meteorological conditions as evaluated in

the FES. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that there would be no

significant aesthetic impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower

operation for the proposed action.

    Native, exotic, and agricultural plant productivity may be

adversely affected by the increased salt concentration in the drift

deposited directly on soils or directly on foliage. FES has indicated

that the salt drift deposition must be above 90 lbs/acre/year before

agriculture plant productivity would be reduced. PSEG has estimated

that the proposed EPU would not significantly increase the rate of salt

drift deposition from the increase in cooling tower operation. PSEG has

estimated that the increase in salt drift deposition rate would be 9

percent to a maximum of 0.109 lbs/acre/year. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that there would be no significant salt drift deposition

impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed

action.

    Because the HCGS cooling tower is natural draft, no increase in

noise is expected. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that there would

be no significant noise impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower

operation for the proposed action.

    PSEG has indicated that there would be no significant increase in

fogging or icing expected for the proposed EPU. Increased ground-level

fogging and icing resulting from water droplets in the cooling tower

drift may interfere with highway traffic. The 1984 FES evaluated the

impacts of fogging and icing associated with the operation of the

natural draft cooling tower at HCGS and found these impacts to be

insignificant and inconsequential. The fact that the nearest

agricultural or residential land is located several miles from the site

further minimizes the potential for impact. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that there would be no significant fogging or icing impacts

associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed action.

    The 1984 FES has stated that although some birds may collide with

cooling tower, unpublished surveys at existing cooling towers indicated

that the number would be relatively small. The proposed EPU would not

increase the risk of wildlife colliding with cooling tower. Therefore,

the NRC staff concludes that there would be no significant wildlife

impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed

action.

    The proposed EPU would increase the particulates emission rate from

the HCGS cooling tower, from the current permitted rate of 29.4 pounds

per hour (lbs/hr) to a rate of 35.6 lbs/hr (maximum 42.0 lbs/hr).

Particulates (primarily salts) from the cooling tower have an

aerodynamic particle size of less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10).

The NJDEP has imposed a maximum hourly emission rate for particulates

at 30 lbs/hr. Therefore, the projected particulate emission rate from

the HCGS cooling tower, due to the proposed EPU, could exceed the NJDEP

emission regulatory limit. On March 30, 2007, NJDEP issued a Public

Notice and Draft Title V Air Operating Permit for the HCGS cooling

tower, proposing to authorize a variance to the HCGS air operating

permit with an hourly emission rate of 42 lbs/hr (NJDEP 2007a). On June

13, 2007, NJDEP issued the final Title V Air Operating Permit for HCGS

allowing a 42 lbs/hr particulate emission rate for the proposed EPU

upon approval of the State Implementation Plan by USEPA.

    Since particulates from HCGS cooling tower consist primarily of

salts with particle size of less than 10 microns, the FES evaluated the

environmental impacts on air quality and found the impacts to be minor.

Furthermore, a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) non-

applicability analysis was submitted to the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, by PSEG on March 4, 2004. Based on

the information provided by PSEG, EPA concluded that the EPU project

would not result in a significant increase in emissions and would not

be subject to PSD review (ML071240216) . In addition, NJDEP has stated

that the Bureau of Technical Services reviewed the Air Quality Modeling

for the proposed Hope Creek uprate project and determined that the

project would meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the

New Jersey Ambient Air Quality Standards. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that there would be no significant particulate emission

impacts associated with HCGS cooling tower operation for the proposed

action.

 

Transmission Facility Impacts

 

    The potential impacts associated with transmission facilities

include changes in transmission line right-of-way (ROW) maintenance and

electric shock hazards due to increased current. The proposed EPU would

not require any physical modifications to the transmission lines.

    PSEG's transmission line ROW maintenance practices, including the

management of vegetation growth, would not change. PSEG did not provide

an estimate of the increase in the operating voltage due to the EPU.

Based on experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes

that the increase in the operating voltage would be negligible. Because

the voltage would not change significantly, there would be no

significant change in the potential for electric shock. Modifications

to onsite transmission equipment are necessary to support the EPU; such

changes include replacement of the high- and low-pressure turbines, and

the replacement of the main transformer (PSEG 2005). No long-term

environmental impacts from these replacements are anticipated.

    The proposed EPU would increase the current, which would affect the

electromagnetic field. The National Electric Safety Code (NESC)

provides design criteria that limit hazards from steady-state currents.

The NESC limits the short-circuit current to the ground to less than 5

milliamperes. The transmission lines meet the applicable shock

prevention provision of the NESC. Therefore, even with the slight

increase in current attributable to the EPU, adequate protection is

provided against hazards from electrical shock.

    There would be an increase in current passing through the

transmission lines associated with the increased power level of the

proposed EPU. The increased electrical current passing through the

transmission lines would cause an increase in electromagnetic field

strength. However, there is no scientific consensus regarding the

health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produced by operating

transmission lines. Therefore, the licensee did not quantify the

chronic effects of EMF on human and biota. The potential for chronic

effects for these fields continues to be studied and is not

 

[[Page 13037]]

 

known at this time. The National Institute of Environmental Health

Sciences (NIEHS) directs related research through the U.S. Department

of Energy (DOE). A 2003 NIEHS study published in Environmental Health

Perspectives, Volume 111, Number 3, March 2003, titled ``Power-Line

Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Do Not Induce Changes in

Phosphorylation, Localization, or Expression of the 27-Kilodalton Heat

Shock Protein in Human Keratinocytes' ' by Biao Shi, Behnom Farboud,

Richard Nuccitelli, and R. Rivkah Isseroff of the University of

California-- Davis contains the following conclusion:

 

    ``The linkage of the exposure to the power-line frequency (50-60

Hz) electromagnetic fields (EMF) with human cancers remains

controversial after more than 10 years of study. The in vitro

studies on the adverse effects of EMF on human cells have not

yielded a clear conclusion. In this study, we investigated whether

power-line frequency EMF could act as an environmental insult to

invoke stress responses in human keratinocytes using the 27-kDa heat

shock protein (HSP27) as a stress marker. After exposure to 1 gauss

(100 [mu]T) EMF from 20 min to 24 hr, the isoform pattern of HSP27

in keratinocytes remained unchanged, suggesting that EMF did not

induce the phosphorylation of this stress protein. EMF exposure also

failed to induce the translocation of HSP27 from the cytoplasm to

the nucleus. Moreover, EMF exposure did not increase the abundance

of HSP27 in keratinocytes. In addition, we found no evidence that

EMF exposure enhanced the level of the 70-kDa heat shock protein

(HSP70) in breast or leukemia cells as reported previously.

Therefore, in this study we did not detect any of a number of stress

responses in human keratinocytes exposed to power-line frequency

EMF.''

 

    To date, there is not sufficient data to cause the NRC staff to

change its position with respect to the chronic effects of

electromagnetic fields. If in the future, the NRC staff finds that,

contrary to current indications, a consensus has been reached by

appropriate Federal health agencies that there are adverse health

effects from electromagnetic fields, the NRC staff will recommend to

the Commission to change its current position regard EMF.

    The 1984 FES evaluated bird mortality resulting from collision with

towers and conductors. The FES has estimated that only 0.07 percent of

the mortality of waterfowls from causes other than hunting resulted

from collision with towers and conductors at HCGS. Because the proposed

EPU does not require physical modifications to the transmission line

system, the additional impacts of bird mortality would be minimal.

    The impacts associated with transmission facilities for the

proposed action would not change significantly relative to the impacts

from current plant operation. There would be no physical modifications

to the transmission lines, transmission line ROW maintenance practices

would not change, there would be no changes to transmission line ROW or

vertical ground clearances, and electric current passing through the

transmission lines would increase only slightly. Therefore, the NRC

staff concludes there would be no significant impacts associated with

transmission facilities for the proposed action.

 

Water Use Impacts

 

    Potential water use impacts from the proposed EPU include localized

effects on the Delaware Estuary and changes to plant water supply. HCGS

is located on the eastern shore of the Delaware Estuary. The estuary is

approximately 2.5 miles wide, and the tidal flow past HCGS is

approximately 259,000 million gallons per day (MGD) (NRC 2001). The

Delaware Estuary is the source of cooling water for the HCGS

circulating water system, a closed-cycle system that utilizes a natural

draft cooling tower. During normal plant operations, water usage at

HCGS accounts for less than 0.03 percent of the average tidal flow of

the Delaware Estuary (PSEG 2005).

    HCGS's service water system withdraws approximately 67 MGD from the

Delaware Estuary for cooling and makeup water. When estuary water

temperature is less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F), two pumps

operate to supply an average service water flow rate of approximately

37,000 gallons per minute (gpm). When estuary water temperature is

greater than 70 [deg]F, three pumps operate to supply an average

service water flow rate of approximately 52,000 gpm (Najarian

Associates 2004). Estuary water is delivered to the cooling tower basin

and acts primarily as makeup water to the circulating water system--

replacing 47 MGD that are returned to the estuary as cooling tower

blowdown, and depending upon meteorological conditions and the

circulating water flow rate, replacing approximately 10-13 MGD of

cooling water that are lost through evaporation from the cooling tower.

Approximately 7 MGD of the 67 MGD are used for intake screen wash water

and strainer backwash. The circulating water system has an operating

capacity of 11 million gallons; however, approximately 9 million

gallons of water actually reside in the circulating water system at any

given time. Water is re-circulated through the condensers at a rate of

approximately 550,000 gpm (PSEG 2005). No changes to the HCGS

circulating water or service water systems are expected due to the

proposed EPU; therefore, the proposed EPU would not increase the amount

of water withdrawn from or discharged to the Delaware Estuary.

    Consumptive use of surface water by HCGS is not expected to change

substantively as a result of the proposed EPU and is regulated by the

Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) through a water use contract.

The proposed EPU would likely result in a small increase in cooling

tower blowdown temperature. To mitigate this temperature increase, PSEG

has modified its cooling tower to improve its thermal performance, and

as discussed in the following section, thermal discharge to the

Delaware Estuary would remain within the regulatory limits set by the

New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit

granted to HCGS by NJDEP (PSEG2005; NJDEP 2002).

    Two groundwater wells access the Raritan aquifer to provide

domestic and process water to HCGS. The wells are permitted by NJDEP

and are also regulated by DRBC. The proposed EPU would not increase the

use of groundwater by HCGS or change the limits of groundwater use

currently set by DRBC (PSEG 2005). As such, the conclusions in the 1984

FES regarding groundwater use at HCGS would remain valid for the

proposed EPU.

    The proposed EPU would not increase the amount of surface water

withdrawn from the Delaware Estuary and groundwater use at HCGS would

not increase. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes the proposed EPU would

have negligible water use impacts on the estuary.

 

Discharge Impacts

 

    Potential impacts to a water body from power plant discharge

include increased turbidity, scouring, erosion, sedimentation,

contamination, and water temperature. The proposed EPU would not

increase the amount of cooling tower blowdown discharged to the

Delaware Estuary; therefore, the turbidity, scouring, erosion, and

sedimentation would not be expected to significantly change.

Additionally, the proposed EPU would not introduce any new contaminants

to the Delaware Estuary and would not significantly increase any

potential contaminants that are presently regulated by the station's

NJPDES permit. The concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the

cooling tower blowdown would increase due to the increased rate of

 

[[Page 13038]]

 

evaporation; however, the amount of blowdown discharged to the estuary

would decrease, and the concentration of TDS would remain within the

station's air permit limits.

    Although the amount of water withdrawn from the Delaware Estuary

would remain unchanged, the proposed EPU would result in a slight

increase in the temperature of the cooling tower blowdown discharged to

the estuary. The station's NJPDES permit imposes limits on the

temperature of the blowdown and the amount of heat rejected to the

estuary by the HCGS circulating water system. The NJDES permit

specifies that the 24-hour average maximum blowdown temperature is

limited to 97.1 [deg]F, and heat rejection is limited to 662 million

British thermal units per hour (MBTU/hr) from September 1 through May

31 and 534 MBTU/hr from June 1 through August 31. DRBC also imposes

thermal regulations on HCGS through the NJPDES permit, specifying that

the net temperature increase of the Delaware Estuary may not exceed 4

[deg]F from September through May, and 1.5 [deg]F from June through

August or estuary water temperature may not exceed a maximum of 86

[deg]F, whichever is less. These limitations apply to waters outside of

the heat dissipation area, which extends 2,500 feet upstream and

downstream of the discharge point and 1,500 feet offshore from the

discharge point. The licensee has performed hydrothermal modeling

analysis for the HCGS EPU and concluded that the plant would continue

to meet the requirements of the NJPDES permit.

    The 1984 FES concluded that the station's shoreline discharge would

not adversely affect the estuary because of its large tidal influence,

which would dilute, mix, and rapidly dissipate the heated effluent

(PSEG 2005). Hydrothermal modeling conducted for the proposed EPU

determined that, even during extreme meteorological conditions, the

post-EPU increase in cooling tower blowdown temperature would not

exceed 91.7 [deg]F, and the station would continue to comply with all

applicable Delaware Estuary water quality standards set by the

station's NJPDES permit and DRBC (Najarian Associates 2004).

    In addition to setting thermal discharge limits, the NJPDES permit

also regulates all surface and wastewater discharges from the station.

The NJPDES permit, effective March 1, 2003, regulates discharge from

six outfalls at HCGS, including the cooling tower blowdown, low volume

oily wastewater, stormwater, and sewage treatment; these discharges

ultimately flow to the Delaware Estuary. As required by the NJPDES

permit, in addition to temperature, cooling tower blowdown is monitored

for flow, pH, chlorine produced oxidants (CPOs), and total organic

carbon. HCGS operates a dechlorination system that utilizes ammonium

bisulfate to reduce CPOs in the blowdown. Furthermore, acute and

chronic biological toxicity tests were routinely performed on cooling

tower blowdown from 1998 through 2001 and are performed at each NJDES

Permit renewal to comply with NJDEP non-toxicity regulations (PSEG

2005).

    The NJPDES permit sets monitoring, sampling, and reporting

requirements for all HCGS discharges. The NRC staff performed a search

of the NJDEP Open Public Records Act Datamine online database which

revealed no water quality violations for HCGS (NJDEP 2007).

    With the exception of increased blowdown temperature and TDS

concentration, as discussed above, the proposed EPU would not be

expected to alter the composition or volume of any other effluents,

including stormwater drainage, oily water, and sewage treatment (PSEG

2005). Blowdown temperature and composition, and Delaware Estuary water

temperatures would remain in compliance with the station's NJPDES

permit, and the proposed EPU would not result in changes in any other

effluents to the estuary. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the

proposed EPU would result in negligible impacts on the Delaware Estuary

from HCGS discharge.

 

Impacts on Aquatic Biota

 

    The potential impacts to aquatic biota from the proposed action are

primarily due to operation of the cooling water system and to maintain

the transmission line ROWs. Cooling water withdrawal affects aquatic

populations through impingement of larger individuals (e.g., fish, some

crustaceans, turtles) on the intake trash bars and debris screens and

entrainment of smaller organisms that pass through the screens into the

cooling water system. The proposed action would not change the volume

or rate of cooling water withdrawn. Most of the additional heat

generated under the proposed EPU would be dissipated by the cooling

tower, and PSEG proposes no changes to the cooling water system.

    Discharge of heated effluent alters natural thermal and current

regimes and can induce thermal shock in aquatic organisms. The HCGS

effluent would change under the proposed EPU. Because the volume of

makeup water withdrawn from the estuary would remain unchanged and the

volume of evaporative loss from the cooling tower would increase, the

volume of the blowdown released as effluent, which is the difference

between the water withdrawn and the water lost to evaporation, would

decrease. The increased evaporation would leave behind more solids in

the blowdown, so the concentration of TDS in the effluent would be an

average of about 9 percent higher than under current operations

(Najarian Associates 2004). The effluent would also be somewhat warmer,

but modeling predicts that all present NJPDES permit conditions for the

effluent would still be met (Najarian Associates 2004).

    PSEG proposes no new transmission line ROWs and no change in

current maintenance procedures for transmission line ROWs under the

proposed EPU, so this potential source of impact will not be considered

further for aquatic resources.

    The potential receptors of the environmental stressors of

impingement, entrainment, and heat shock are the aquatic communities in

the Delaware Estuary near HCGS. Ecologists typically divide such

communities into the following categories for convenience when

considering ecological impacts of power plants: microbes,

phytoplankton, submerged aquatic vegetation, invertebrate zooplankton,

benthic invertebrates, fish, and sometimes birds, reptiles (e.g., sea

turtles), and marine mammals. Of these, effects of power plant

operation have been consistently demonstrated only for fish.

    Unless otherwise noted, the following information on Delaware

Estuary fish and blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is from information

summarized in the 2006 Salem NJPDES Permit Application (NJDEP 2006).

Salem is an adjacent nuclear power plant that has conducted several

large studies in support of permitting of its once-through cooling

water system. About 200 species of fish have been reported from the

Delaware Estuary. Some are resident, some are seasonal migrants, and

some are occasional strays. In its NJPDES Permit Application, PSEG

selected 11 species, one invertebrate and ten fish, as species

representative of the aquatic community (Table 1).

 

[[Page 13039]]

 

 

 

        Table 1.--Species Representative of the Delaware Estuary Aquatic Community Near Artificial Island

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

             Common name                   Scientific name                           Comment

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Blue Crab........ ......... ......... ..  Callinectes sapidus....  Swimming crab, abundant in the estuary.

                                                                 Recreational and commercial species.

Alewife..... ......... ......... .......   Alosa pseudoharengus. .  Anadromous herring; abundant in the estuary.

American Shad........ ......... .......   Alosa sapidissima. ....  Anadromous herring; abundant in the estuary.

                                                                 Recreational and commercial species.

Atlantic Croaker..... ......... .......   Micropogonias           Drum family. Atlantic coast population is

                                        undulatus.               considered a single stock. Recreational and

                                                                 commercial species.

Atlantic Menhaden.... ......... .......   Brevoortia tyrannus...  Herring. Larvae and juveniles use the estuary as

                                                                 a nursery. Commercial species.

Atlantic Silverside.. ......... .......   Menidia menidia..... ..  Resident in intertidal marsh creeks and shore

                                                                 zones.

Bay Anchovy..... ......... ......... ...   Anchoa mitchelli... ...  Common in the bay and tidal river zones.

Blueback Herring..... ......... .......   Alosa aestivalis.. ....  Anadromous herring; abundant in the estuary.

Spot........ ......... ......... .......   Leiostomus xanthurus..  Drum family. Juveniles use the estuary as a

                                                                 nursery. Recreational and commercial species.

Striped Bass........ ......... ........   Morone saxatilis... ...  Anadromous temperate bass. Recreational and

                                                                 commercial species.

Weakfish.... ......... ......... .......   Cynoscion regalis.....  Drum family. Larvae and juveniles use the

                                                                 estuary as nursery. Recreational and commercial

                                                                 species.

White Perch....... ......... ......... .   Morone americana... ...  Temperate bass. Year-round residents anadromous

                                                                 within estuary. Recreational species.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Source: NJDEP 2006.

 

    HCGS is located in the Delaware Estuary between the Delaware River

upstream and the wide Delaware Bay downstream. Estuaries are drowned

river valleys where fresh water from rivers mixes with the higher

salinity water of the ocean and bays. In estuaries, salinity and water

temperature may change with season, tides, and meteorological

conditions. Typically, few species are resident in an estuary all of

their lives, perhaps because surviving the wide variations in salinity

and temperature poses physiological challenges to fish and

invertebrates. The predominant resident fish species in the Delaware

Estuary are hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus), white perch (Morone

americana), bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchelli), Atlantic and inland

silversides (Menidia menidia and M. beryllina, respectively) , naked

goby (Gobiosoma bosc), and mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) .

    Resident fish species are represented by Atlantic silversides, bay

anchovy, and white perch (Table 1). Atlantic silversides are relatively

small common fish that inhabit intertidal creeks and shore zones. They

mature in less than a year and seldom live beyond 2 years. Although

there may be no discernable long-term trend in abundance in the

Delaware Estuary, the short-term trend appears to be decreasing

abundance. Bay anchovy may be the most abundant species in the estuary.

This small fish overwinters in deep areas of the lower estuary and

near-shore coastal zone. Though bay anchovies tend to stay in the lower

part of the estuary, they stray as far north as Trenton. They tend to

mature in the summer following their birth. Typically two spawning

peaks occur, one in late May and one in mid-July, although some

spawning occurs all summer. Most spawning occurs where salinity exceeds

20 parts per thousand (ppt), but some spawning may occur throughout the

estuary. Although no long-term trend in abundance is evident, abundance

since the mid-1990s appears to be declining. White perch are found

throughout the brackish portions of the estuary. They are anadromous

within the estuary (``semi-anadromous' '), meaning that they undergo a

seasonal migration from the deeper, more saline areas where they

overwinter in fresh, shallow waters in the spring to spawn and then

return to more brackish waters. They typically mature in 2 to 3 years.

The abundance of white perch in the Delaware Estuary appears to be

stable or increasing, possibly in response to long-term improvements in

water quality.

    Adult blue crabs are resident macro-invertebrates in the Delaware

Estuary, although their larvae are not. After mating in shallow

brackish areas of the upper estuary in spring, adult females migrate to

the mouth of the bay. The eggs, which are extruded and carried on the

undersides of females, hatch typically in the warm (77-86 [deg]F), high

salinity (18-26 ppt) waters of the lower bay in summer. After hatching,

the larvae pass through seven planktonic stages, called zoeae, and move

offshore with near-shore surface currents. The first post-larval stage,

called a megalops, uses wind-driven currents and tides to move inshore.

They then metamorphose to the first crab stage and move up the estuary.

Adult male crabs do not migrate from the upper estuary. Crabs typically

mature when 1 or 2 years old. Between 1980 and 2004, blue crab

abundance in the Delaware Estuary appears to have increased.

    Anadromous species live their adult lives at sea and migrate into

fresh water to spawn. The most common anadromous fish species in the

Delaware Estuary are alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) , American shad (A.

sapidissima) , blueback herring (A. aestivalis), and striped bass

(Morone saxatilis), of which the first three are members of the herring

family. The endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is

also anadromous. The ecology of the three herrings is similar, as is

their appearance. All use the estuary as spawning and nursery habitat.

All migrate to fresh water in the spring and are believed to return to

their natal streams to spawn. The newly hatched larvae are planktonic

and move downstream with the current. Juveniles remain in freshwater

nursery areas throughout the summer and migrate to sea in the fall.

They then remain at sea until maturity and migrate along the coast.

Alewife have become more abundant since 1980, although the trend since

1990 is unclear. Abundance of American shad in the Delaware Estuary

drastically declined in the early 1900s due to poor water quality, dam

construction, over-fishing, and habitat destruction. American shad

began to recover in the 1960s and 1980s and appears to be recovering

still. No trends are evident in blueback herring abundance.

    Striped bass is a fairly large member of the temperate bass family,

which also includes white perch. Adult striped bass, which may reach

weights of over 100 pounds, migrate up the estuary to fresh and

brackish waters in the spring to spawn and are believed to return to

their natal rivers and streams for spawning. The newly hatched larvae

are planktonic and move downstream with the current. Small juveniles

use fresh and brackish areas as nurseries, and larger juveniles use the

higher salinity

 

[[Page 13040]]

 

waters of the lower estuary as feeding grounds. Adult striped bass live

at sea and the lower estuary and migrate along the coast. Like American

shad, the striped bass population in the Delaware Estuary declined

prior to the 1980s but is now recovering.

    The most common marine species that use the estuary include

weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), Atlantic

croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix),

summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatas), and Atlantic menhaden

(Brevoortia tyrannus). Four of these, weakfish, spot, Atlantic croaker,

and Atlantic menhaden, are shown as representative in Table 1. Atlantic

croaker, spot, and weakfish are members of the drum family. Adult

Atlantic croaker inhabit the deep, open areas of the lower bay from

late spring through mid-fall. They spawn from July through April along

the continental shelf. Larval Atlantic croaker first move with the

currents and later move to the shallow areas of the bay. Juveniles use

the shallow areas and tidal creeks in fresh and brackish water as

nurseries, but move into deeper water during colder periods. They

mature at about 2 to 4 years of age. Abundance of Atlantic croaker in

the Delaware Estuary has been increasing since the early 1990s. Spot

spawn over the continental shelf from late September through April.

Larvae live in the ocean then move to the Bay. The young juveniles move

upstream into tidal creeks and tributaries with low salinity. Like

Atlantic croaker, spot move into deeper water during colder periods.

Spot mature at 1 to 3 years old. Abundance of spot appears to be

negatively related to the abundance of Atlantic croaker and has been

decreasing. Weakfish spawn in the mouth of Delaware Bay in mid-May

through mid-September, and after hatching, the larvae move up into the

estuary to nursery areas of lower salinity (3 to 15 ppt). In mid-to-

late summer they move south to mesohaline nursery grounds, and as

temperatures decline in fall, the juveniles move south from the nursery

areas to the continental shelf and south. They mature at an age of one

or two years. Abundance of weakfish in the Delaware Estuary appear to

have increased from the 1970s to 1990s and then declined.

    Atlantic menhaden is a pelagic species that overwinters on the

shelf, and large numbers overwinter off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The population moves north along the coast in the spring and south in

the fall. The populations spawns all year, and peak spawning occurs off

the Delaware Bay in spring and fall. The larvae move by wind-driven

currents into estuarine nursery grounds, where they transform to

juveniles and move upstream to oligohaline waters and then move out the

estuary with falling temperatures. In the fall, they congregate into

dense schools and move out of the estuary and south along the coast.

Atlantic menhaden mature at about age two. No trend in abundance in the

Delaware Estuary is apparent.

    While the identity of species potentially affected by entrainment,

impingement, and heat shock may be inferred from ecological information

about the Delaware Estuary and the adjacent Salem Generating Station,

the species affected cannot be verified, and the numbers cannot be

quantified because no intake aquatic monitoring programs are conducted

at the HCGS. Impinged organisms may die, and the fish-return system

does not function continuously to minimize mortality, but the intake

velocity should allow most to escape the plant. All organisms entrained

at HCGS, which operates a cooling tower, are probably killed from

exposure to heat, mechanical, pressure-related stresses, and possibly

biocidal chemicals before being discharged to the estuary.

    Under the proposed EPU, water withdrawal rates would not change

from present conditions. Entrainment and impingement impacts may change

over time due to changes in the aquatic populations even though HCGS(s

water withdrawal rate would not change from present conditions. Impacts

due to impingement and entrainment losses are minimized because the

closed-cycle cooling system at the plant minimizes the amount of

cooling water withdrawn from and heated effluent returned to the

estuary. The water quality of the effluent (e.g., temperature,

toxicity, TDS concentrations) would continue to meet present NJPDES

permit conditions for protection of aquatic life. The staff concludes

that the proposed EPU would have no significant impact to aquatic

biota.

 

Essential Fish Habitat Consultation

 

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA)

identifies the importance of habitat protection to healthy fisheries.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is defined as those waters and substrata

necessary for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity

(Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Designating EFH is an

essential component in the development of Fishery Management Plans to

minimize habitat loss or degradation of fishery stocks and to take

actions to mitigate such damage. The consultation requirements of

section 305(b) of the MSA provide that Federal agencies consult with

the Secretary of Commerce on all actions or proposed actions

authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely

affect EFH. An EFH assessment for the proposed EPU was sent to the

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under separate cover to

initiate an EFH consultation. By letter dated July 13, 2007 (ADAMS

Accession No. ML072000450) , NMFS found the EFH assessment satisfactory.

 

Impacts on Terrestrial Biota

 

    The potential impacts to terrestrial biota from the proposed action

would be those from transmission line ROW maintenance. Under EPU

conditions, PSEG does not plan to change transmission line maintenance

or add new transmission lines. In addition, PSEG does not plan to

conduct major refurbishment of significant land-disturbing activities

in order to implement the proposed EPU. Because no changes are planned

that have the potential to impact terrestrial biota, the NRC staff

concludes that the proposed EPU would have no impacts to terrestrial

biota associated with transmission line ROW maintenance.

 

Threatened and Endangered Species and Critical Habitat

 

    In a letter dated December 8, 2006, pursuant to section 7 of the

Endangered Species Act of 1969, as amended, the NRC requested from the

NMFS a list of species and information on protected, proposed, and

candidate species and critical habitat that are under their

jurisdiction and may be in the vicinity of HCGS and its associated

transmission lines. In response, NMFS issued a letter dated January 26,

2007, that provided information on the endangered shortnose sturgeon;

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), a candidate

species for listing; and five species of endangered or threatened sea

turtles: loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys

kempii), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas),

and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles. The NRC staff

investigated the effects of HCGS operation on these species and found

that the primary concern for these endangered and threatened species is

the risk of impingement or entrainment due to cooling water intake by

the plant. The proposed EPU would not change the intake flow, and,

therefore, would not increase in the risk of impingement and

entrainment. To dissipate the additional heat created by the EPU, the

temperature of the plant's cooling water

 

[[Page 13041]]

 

discharge would be slightly elevated, but still within the NJPDES 24-

hour average temperature limit of 97.1 [deg]F. In addition, HCGS has

had no takes of any of the endangered or threatened species listed

above. Therefore, the NRC staff anticipates no effects related to the

intake or discharge on threatened or endangered species under NMFS(s

jurisdiction, and on May 3, 2007, sent a letter to NMFS concluding the

informal section 7 consultation.

    Although an informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Service regarding bald eagles was initiated for the HCGS, the U.S. Fish

and Wildlife Service delisted bald eagles pursuant to the Endangered

Species Act on July 9, 2007, and concluded the informal consultation.

 

Socioeconomic Impacts

 

    The potential socioeconomic impacts due to the proposed EPU include

changes in the payments in lieu of taxes for Lower Alloways Creek

Township and Salem County and changes in the size of the workforce at

HCGS. Nearly 70 percent of HCGS employees currently reside in Salem,

Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey.

    The proposed EPU would not increase the size of the HCGS workforce,

since proposed plant modifications and other planned activities would

be handled by the current workforce or would be phased in during

planned outages. Also, the proposed EPU would not increase the size of

the HCGS workforce during future refueling outages. Therefore, the

proposed EPU would not have any measurable effect on annual earnings

and income in Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties nor would

there be any increased demand for community services.

    According to the 2000 Census, Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester

County populations were about 20.4, 41.6, and 14.3 percent minority,

respectively (USCB 2000). The percentages of minority populations

residing in Salem and Gloucester Counties were well below the State

minority population of 34.0 percent. In addition, the poverty rates for

individuals living in Salem and Cumberland Counties were 9.5 and 15.0

percent, respectively, which were higher than the State's average of

8.5 percent (the Gloucester County poverty rate was 6.2 percent) (USCB

2000a). Even though these percentages are relatively high, the proposed

EPU would not have any disproportionately high and adverse impacts to

minority and low-income populations, because no significant

environmental impacts were identified during the analysis.

    The proposed EPU could affect the value of HCGS and the amount of

monies paid to local jurisdictions, in-lieu-of-property tax payments,

because the total amount of tax money to be distributed would increase

as power generation increases and because the proposed EPU would

increase HCGS's value, thus resulting in potentially larger payments to

Lower Alloways Creek Township and Salem County. Also, because the

proposed EPU would increase the economic viability of HCGS, the

probability of early plant retirement would be reduced. Early plant

retirement would have a negative impact on the local economy by

reducing or eliminating payments to Lower Alloways Creek Township and

Salem County and limiting employment opportunities in the region.

    Since the proposed EPU would not affect annual earnings and income

in Salem County, nor demand for community services and due to the lack

of significant environmental impacts on minority or low-income

populations, there would be no significant socioeconomic or

environmental justice impacts associated with the proposed EPU.

Conversely, the proposed EPU could have a positive effect on the

regional economy because of the potential increase in the payments in-

lieu-of-taxes received by the Lower Alloways Creek Township and Salem

County, due to the potential increase in the book value of HCGS and

long-term viability of HCGS.

 

Summary

 

    The proposed EPU would not result in a significant change in non-

radiological impacts in the areas of land use, water use, waste

discharges, cooling tower operation, terrestrial and aquatic biota,

transmission facility operation, or socioeconomic factors. No other

non-radiological impacts were identified or would be expected. Table 2

summarizes the non-radiological environmental impacts of the proposed

EPU at HCGS.

 

                           Table 2.--Summary of Non-Radiological Environmental Impacts

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Land Use......... ......... ......... ....  No significant land use modifications; installed temporary office space

                                          to support EPU.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Cooling Tower....... ......... ......... .  No significant aesthetic impact; no significant fogging or icing.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Transmission Facilities.. ......... .....  No physical modifications to transmission lines or ROWs; lines meet

                                          shock safety requirements; small increase in electrical current would

                                          cause small increase in electromagnetic field around transmission

                                          lines.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Water Use......... ......... ......... ...  No configuration change to intake structure; no increase rate of

                                          withdrawal; slightly increase in water consumption due to increased

                                          evaporation; no water use conflicts.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Discharge... ......... ......... .........  Increase in water temperature and containment concentration discharged

                                          to Delaware River; would meet discharge limits in current NJPDES

                                          permit following EPU implementation.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Aquatic Biota....... ......... ......... .  Entrainment and impingement losses may change over time due to changes

                                          in the aquatic population but are minimized because of the closed-

                                          cycle cooling system utilized at the plant. The water quality of the

                                          effluent would continue to meet NJPDES permit conditions for

                                          protection of aquatic life. EFH consultation ongoing.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Terrestrial Biota....... ......... ......  No land disturbance or changes to transmission line ROW maintenance are

                                          expected; therefore, there would be no significant effects on

                                          terrestrial species or their habitat.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Threatened and Endangered Species..... .  No significant impacts are expected on threatened or endangered species

                                          or their habitat. Informal consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife

                                          Service ongoing.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

[[Page 13042]]

 

 

Socioeconomic. ......... ......... .......  No change in the size of HCGS labor force required for plant operation

                                          and planned outages; proposed EPU could increase payments in-lieu-of-

                                          taxes to Lower Alloways Creek Township and Salem County as well as the

                                          book value of HCGS; there would be no disproportionately high and

                                          adverse impact on minority and low-income populations.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

Radiological Impacts

 

    The NRC staff evaluated radiological environmental impacts on waste

streams, dose, accident analysis, and fuel cycle and transportation

factors. Following is a general discussion of these issues and an

evaluation of their environmental impacts.

 

Radioactive Waste Stream Impacts

 

    HCGS uses waste treatment systems designed to collect, process, and

dispose of gaseous, liquid, and solid wastes that might contain

radioactive material in a safe and controlled manner such that the

discharges are in accordance with the requirements of Title 10 of the

Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 20, and Appendix I to 10 CFR

Part 50.

    The licensee has indicated that operation at EPU conditions would

not result in any changes in the operation or design of equipment in

the radioactive solid waste, liquid waste, or gaseous waste management

systems (GWMS). The safety and reliability of these systems would be

unaffected by the power uprate. Neither the environmental monitoring of

any of these waste streams nor the radiological monitoring requirements

of the HCGS Technical Specifications and/or Offsite Dose Calculation

Manual (ODCM) would be affected by the EPU. Furthermore, the EPU would

not introduce any new or different radiological release pathways, nor

would it increase the probability of either an operator error or an

equipment malfunction, that would result in an uncontrolled radioactive

release (PSEG 2005). The EPU would produce a larger amount of fission

and activation products; however, the waste treatment systems are

designed to handle the additional source term. The specific effects on

each of the radioactive waste management system are evaluated below.

 

Gaseous Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

 

    During normal operation, HCGS's GWMS processes and controls the

release of gaseous radioactive effluents to the environment. The GWMS

includes the off-gas system and various building ventilation systems.

The radioactive release rate of the gaseous effluent is well monitored

and administratively controlled by the HCGS ODCM (PSEG 2005). The

single year highest annual releases of gaseous radioactive material,

for the time period 2000-2004, were 63.0 Curies (Ci) for noble gases in

2003, 0.060 Ci for particulates in 2000, and 0.014 Ci for iodines in

2003 (PSEG 2005).

    The licensee has estimated that the amount of radioactive material

released in gaseous effluents would increase in proportion to the

increase in power level (15 percent) (PSEG 2005). Based on experience

from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this is an

acceptable estimate. The dose to a member of the public, including the

additional gaseous radioactive material that would be released from the

proposed EPU, is calculated to still be well within the radiation

standards of 10 CFR Part 20 and the dose design objectives of Appendix

I to 10 CFR Part 50. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the impact

from the EPU would not be significant.

 

Liquid Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

 

    During normal operation, HCGS's Liquid Waste Management System

(LWMS) processes and controls the release of liquid radioactive

effluents to the environment, such that the doses to individuals

offsite are maintained within the limits of 10 CFR Part 20 and the

design objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50. The LWMS is designed

to process the waste and then recyclesit within the plant as

condensate, reprocesses it through the radioactive waste system for

further purification, or discharges it to the environment as liquid

radioactive waste effluent in accordance with facility procedures which

comply with New Jersey and Federal regulations. The radioactive release

rate of the liquid effluent is well monitored and administratively

controlled by the HCGS ODCM (PSEG 2005). The single year highest annual

releases of liquid radioactive material, for the time period 2000-2004,

were 54,742,400 gallons (2.072E+8 liters) and 0.068 Ci of fission and

activation products in 2003 (PSEG 2005).

    Even though the EPU would produce a larger amount of radioactive

fission and activation products and a larger volume of liquid to be

processed, the licensee expects the LWMS to remove all but a small

amount of the increased radioactive material. The licensee has

estimated that the volume of radioactive liquid effluents released to

the environment and the amount of radioactive material in the liquid

effluents would increase by 2.2 percent, due to the EPU. Based on

experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this

is an acceptable estimate. The dose to a member of the public,

including the additional liquid radioactive material that would be

released from the proposed EPU, is calculated to still be well within

the radiation standards of 10 CFR Part 20 and the dose design

objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that the impact from the EPU would not be significant.

 

Solid Radioactive Waste and Offsite Doses

 

    During normal operation, HCGS's Solid Waste Management System

(SWMS) collects, processes, packages, and temporarily stores

radioactive dry and wet solid wastes prior to shipment offsite and

permanent disposal. The SWMS is designed to package the wet and dry

types of radioactive solid waste for offsite shipment and burial, in

accordance with the requirements of applicable NRC and Department of

Transportation regulations, including 10 CFR Part 61, 10 CFR Part 71,

and 49 CFR Parts 170 through 178. This results in radiation exposures

to a member of the public to be well within the limits of 10 CFR Part

20 and the design objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50. The

volume of solid radioactive waste generated varied from about 11.7 to

almost 90.4 cubic meters per year for the time period 2000-2004; the

largest volume generated was 90.4 cubic meters in 2002. The amount of

solid radioactive material in the waste generated varied from 1 to

almost 600 Ci per year during that same period. The largest amount of

radioactive material generated in the solid waste was 591 Ci in 2001

(PSEG 2005).

    The EPU would produce a larger amount of radioactive fission and

activation products, and treatment of this increase would require more

frequent replacement or regeneration of SWMS filters and demineralizer

resins. The licensee has estimated that the volume and radioactivity of

solid

 

[[Page 13043]]

 

radioactive waste would increase by approximately 14.7 percent from the

average of the time period 2000-2004, due to the EPU (PSEG 2005). Based

on experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that

this is an acceptable estimate. Therefore, the staff concludes that the

impact from the increased volume of solid radwaste generated due to the

EPU would not be significant.

    The licensee estimates that the EPU would require replacement of 10

percent more fuel assemblies at each refueling. This increase in the

amount of spent fuel being generated would require an increase in the

number of dry fuel storage casks used to store spent fuel. However, the

current dry fuel storage facility at HCGS can accommodate the increase.

 

Occupational Radiation Doses

 

    The proposed EPU would result in the production of more radioactive

material and higher radiation dose rates in some areas at HCGS. PSEG's

radiation protection staff will monitor these increased dose rates and

make adjustments in shielding, access requirements, decontamination

methods, and procedures as necessary to minimize the dose to workers.

In addition, occupational dose to individual workers must be maintained

within the limits of 10 CFR Part 20 and as low as reasonably

achievable.

    The licensee has estimated that after the implementation of EPU,

the estimated annual average collective occupational dose would be in

the range of 146 person-rem, representing a 16-percent increase of in-

plant occupation exposure (PSEG 2005). According to the 2004 report on

``Occupational Radiation Exposure at Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors

and Other Facilities,' ' the highest HCGS occupational exposure is 240

person-rem in 2004, for the time period 2002-2004 (NUREG 2004). The

dose to a member of HCGS personnel from the radiation exposures

described above, increased by 20 percent, would still be well within

the radiation standards of 10 CFR Part 20. Based on experience from

EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that these estimates are

acceptable. Based on these estimates, the NRC staff concludes that the

increase in occupational exposure would not be significant.

 

Offsite Radiation Doses

 

    Offsite radiation dose consists of three components: gaseous,

liquid, and direct gamma radiation. As previously discussed under the

Gaseous Radiological Wastes and Liquid Radiological Wastes sections,

the estimated doses to a member of the public from gaseous and liquid

effluents after the EPU is implemented would be within the dose design

objectives of Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50.

    The final component of offsite dose is from direct gamma radiation

dose from radioactive waste stored temporarily onsite, including spent

fuel in dry cask storage, and radionuclides (mainly nitrogen-16) in the

steam from the reactor passing through the turbine system. The high

energy radiation from nitrogen-16 is scattered or reflected by the air

above the site and represents an additional public radiation dose

pathway known as ``skyshine.' ' The licensee estimated that the offsite

radiation dose from skyshine would increase approximately 16 percent

for a 20-percent increase in steam flow, which bounds the proposed EPU;

more nitrogen-16 is produced at the higher EPU power and less of the

nitrogen-16 decays before it reaches the turbine system because of the

higher rate of steam flow due to the EPU. The licensee's radiological

environmental monitoring program measures radiation dose at the site

boundary and in the area around the plant with an array of

thermoluminescent dosimeters. The licensee estimated that the offsite

radiation dose would increase to approximately 9.3 millirem (mrem), in

proportion to the EPU power increase (15 percent) (PSEG 2005). Based on

experience from EPUs at other plants, the NRC staff concludes that this

is an acceptable estimate. EPA regulation 40 CFR Part 190, and NRC

regulation 10 CFR Part 20, limit the dose to any member of the public

to 25 mrem per year to the whole body from the entire nuclear fuel

cycle. The offsite dose from all sources, including radioactive gaseous

and liquid effluents and direct radiation, would still be well within

this limit after the EPU is implemented. Therefore, the NRC staff

concludes that the increase in offsite radiation dose would not be

significant.

 

Postulated Accident Doses

 

    As a result of implementation of the proposed EPU, there would be

an increase in the inventory of radionuclides in the reactor core; the

core inventory of radionuclides would increase as power level

increases. The concentration of radionuclides in the reactor coolant

may also increase; however, this concentration is limited by the HCGS

technical specifications. Therefore, the reactor coolant concentration

of radionuclides would not be expected to increase significantly. Some

of the radioactive waste streams and storage systems may also contain

slightly higher quantities of radioactive material. The calculated

doses from design basis postulated accidents for HCGS are currently

well below the criteria of 10 CFR 50.67. The licensee has estimated

that the radiological consequences of postulated accidents would

increase approximately in proportion to the increase in power level

from the EPU (15 percent). Based on experience from EPUs at other

plants, the NRC staff concludes that this is an acceptable estimate.

The calculated doses from design basis postulated accidents would still

be well within the criteria of 10 CFR 50.67 after the increase due to

the implementation of the EPU. These calculated doses are based on

conservative assumptions for the purposes of safety analyses. Estimates

of the radiological consequences of postulated accidents for the

purposes of estimating environmental impact are made by the NRC using

best estimate assumptions, which result in substantially lower dose

estimates. Therefore, the NRC staff concludes that the increase in

radiological consequences for postulated accidents due to the EPU would

not be significant.

 

Fuel Cycle and Transportation Impacts

 

    The environmental impacts of the fuel cycle and transportation of

fuel and waste are described in 10 CFR 51.51 Table S-3 and 10 CFR 51.52

Table S-4, respectively. An NRC generic EA (53 FR 6040, dated February

29, 1988) evaluated the applicability of Tables S-3 and S-4 to a higher

burn-up fuel cycle and concluded that there would be no significant

change in environmental impact from the parameters evaluated in Tables

S-3 and S-4 for fuel cycles with uranium enrichments up to 5 weight

percent uranium-235 and burn-ups less than 60,000 MW days per metric

ton of uranium-235 (MWd/MTU).

    The proposed EPU would increase the power level to 3,840 MWt, which

is approximately 1 percent above the reference power level of 3,800 MWt

for Table S-4. The increased power level of 3,840 MWt corresponds to

approximately 1,265 MWe, which is 26.5 percent above the reference

power level of 1,000 MWe for Table S-3. Part of the increase is due to

a more efficient turbine design, which does not affect the impacts of

the fuel cycle and transportation of waste. More fuel will be used in

the reactor (more fuel assemblies will be replaced at each refueling

outage), and that will potentially affect the impacts of the fuel cycle

and transportation of waste. However, the fuel enrichment and burn-up

after the EPU will continue to be no

 

[[Page 13044]]

 

greater than 5 weight percent uranium-235, and the fuel burn-up will be

maintained less than 60,000 MWd/MTU. The NRC staff concludes that the

HCGS EPU is bounded by the analysis of the environmental effects of the

transportation of fuel and waste as described in the ``Extended Burnup

Fuel Use in Commercial [Light Water Reactors] LWRs; Environmental

Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact,'' dated February 29,

1988 (53 FR 6040).

 

Summary

 

    Based on the NRC staff review of licensee submission and the FES

for operation, it is concluded that the proposed EPU would not

significantly increase the consequences of accidents, would not result

in a significant increase in occupational or public radiation exposure,

and would not result in significant additional fuel cycle environmental

impacts. Accordingly, the Commission concludes that there would be no

significant radiological environmental impacts associated with the

proposed action. Table 3 summarizes the radiological environmental

impacts of the proposed EPU at HCGS.

 

                             Table 3.--Summary of Radiological Environmental Impacts

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Gaseous Radiological Effluents... ......  Increased gaseous effluents would remain within NRC limits and dose

                                          design objectives.

Liquid Radiological Effluents... .......  Increased liquid effluents (2.2 percent) would remain within NRC limits

                                          and dose design objectives.

Solid Radioactive Waste....... .........  Increased amount of solid radioactive waste generated (14.7 percent by

                                          volume) would remain bounded by evaluation in the FES.

Occupational Radiation Doses....... ....  Occupational dose would increase by roughly 16 percent. Doses would be

                                          maintained within NRC limits and as low as is reasonably achievable.

Offsite Radiation Doses....... .........  Radiation doses to members of the public would increase to

                                          approximately 9.3 mrem and continue to be well within NRC and EPA

                                          regulations.

Postulated Accident Doses....... .......  Calculated doses for postulated design-basis accidents would remain

                                          within NRC limits.

Fuel Cycle and Transportation Impacts..  Fuel enrichment and burnup criteria would be met. Potential increases

                                          in the impact due to uranium fuel cycle and the transportation of fuel

                                          and waste would not be significant.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

Alternatives to Proposed Action

 

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the NRC staff considered

denial of the proposed EPU (i.e., the ``no-action' ' alternative) .

Denial of the application would result in no change in the current

environmental impacts. However, if the proposed EPU were not approved,

other agencies and electric power organizations may be required to

pursue alternative means of providing electric generation capacity to

offset the increased power demand forecasted for the PJM regional

transmission territory.

    A reasonable alternative to the proposed EPU would be to purchase

power from other generators in the PJM network. In 2003, generating

capacity in PJM consisted primarily of fossil fuel-fired generators:

coal generated 36.2 percent of PJM capacity; oil 14.3 percent; natural

gas 6.8 percent; dual fired (i.e., gas and oil) 18.9 percent; nuclear

17.1 percent; hydroelectric 5.5 percent; and renewables 1.3 percent

(ML062630235) . This indicates that the majority of purchased power in

the PJM territory would likely be generated by a fossil-fuel- fired

facility. Construction (if new generation is needed) and operation of a

fossil fuel plant would create impacts in air quality, land use, and

waste management significantly greater than those identified for the

proposed EPU at HCGS. HCGS does not emit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen

oxides, carbon dioxide, or other atmospheric pollutants that are

commonly associated with fossil fuel plants. Conservation programs such

as demand-sidemanageme nt could feasibly replace the proposed EPU's

additional power output. However, forecasted future energy demand in

the PJM territory may exceed conservation savings and still require

additional generating capacity. Furthermore, the proposed EPU does not

involve environmental impacts that are significantly different from

those originally identified in the 1984 HCGS FES for operation.

 

Alternative Use of Resources

 

    This action does not involve the use of any resources not

previously considered in the original FES for construction (AEC 1974).

 

Agencies and Persons Consulted

 

    In accordance with its stated policy, on July 24, 2007, the NRC

staff consulted with the New Jersey State official, Mr. Jerry

Humphreys, of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,

regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The State of

New Jersey provided comments in a letter from Kenneth C. Koschek,

Supervising Environmental Specialist, Office of Permit coordination and

Environmental Review, dated November 21, 2007 (ML073600859) . The

comments are addressed in this final EA.

 

Finding of No Significant Impact

 

    On the basis of the EA, the NRC concludes that the proposed action

would not have a significant effect on the quality of the human

environment. Accordingly, the NRC has determined not to prepare an

Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed action.

    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the

licensee's application dated September 18, 2006, as supplemented on

October 10, and October 20, 2006; February 14, February 16, February

28, March 13 (2 letters), March 22, March 30 (2 letters), April 13,

April 18, April 30, May 10, May 18 (3 letters), May 24, June 22, August

3, August 17 (2 letters), August 27, August 31, September 11, October

10, October 23, November 15, November 30, and December 31, 2007;

January 14, January 15, January 16, January 18, January 25, and January

30, 2008. Documents may be examined, and/or copied for a fee, at the

NRC's Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North,

11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland 20852. Publicly

available records will be accessible electronically from the Agencywide

Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Public Electronic

Reading Room on the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc. gov/reading- rm/

adams.html. Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who encounter

problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS should contact the

NRC PDR Reference staff at <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = SKYPE /> 1-800-3... , or 301-415-4737 , or send an

e-mail to pdr@nrc.gov.

 

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 3rd day of March 2008.

 

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

John G. Lamb,

Senior Project Manager, Plant Licensing Branch I-2, Division of

Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

[FR Doc. E8-4858 Filed 3-10-08; 8:45 am]

 

BILLING CODE 7590-01-P

 

To: Norm Cohen;
Subject: RE: Hope Creek uprate

Hello and Norm:

Attached is a brief we released nearly four years ago concerning an extended
power uprate at the Quad Cities nuclear plant in Illinois. Quad Cities has
two boiling water reactors, older than the boiling water reactor at Hope
Creek but similar to it.

More recently, the boiling water reactor at Vermont Yankee was approved for
an extended power uprate. Its cooling tower collapsed. Among the plant
modifications performed to support the power uprate was the replacement of
the fans in the cooling towers. (Vermont Yankee has mechanical draft cooling
towers instead of a natural draft cooling tower like Hope Creek. It uses
fans rather than the chimney effect to force air past the warm water to cool
it.) The replacement fans were heavier than the old fans and spun at a
higher rate. The increased weight and vibrations collapsed the cooling
tower.

The point -- neither the companies nor the NRC wanted the power-uprate
damage that occurred at Quad Cities and Vermont Yankee, yet it happened any
way. And how was the damage found? By aggressive testing that uncovered the
damage in its earlier phases? Nope. By equipment volunteering it was
damaged, like the vibration monitor at Quad Cities that shook itself loose
and fell onto the floor and the cooling tower at Vermont Yankee that fell
down.

What troubles us about this "clueless approach to power uprates" is that
power uprate related damage to safety equipment may not reveal itself as
readily as the other equipment did. Nuclear power plants have lots of safety
equipment that is in standby mode, starting only in event of an accident.
That's a really bad time to find that the equipment is damaged and won't
protect the reactor core from meltdown. A very bad time to find that out.

This pattern is eerily similar to that NASA experienced prior to the
Challenger shuttle disaster. On nine prior shuttle flights, the double
o-rings in the booster fuel tanks had experienced burn damage, in more than
one case extending past the first o-ring to degrade the second. Any damage
was unacceptable, but since it kept happening and didn't lead to loss of the
shuttle, NASA viewed it as annoying rather than critical. They kept
launching shuttles. Until Challenger blew up about 73 seconds after launch
when both o-rings burned through. Then and only then did NASA re-design the
external fuel tanks to solve the o-ring problem.

NRC is experiencing power-uprate failure after power-uprate failure. But
since no one died yet, NRC views it as annoying rather than critical. So,
NRC will keep approving power uprates without understanding what's going
wrong until some one dies. Then they will take a step back. It's called
tombstone regulation. And no one does it better than NRC.

Thanks,

Dave Lochbaum
Director, Nuclear Safety Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
NEW ADDRESS AS OF MARCH 31, 2008:
1825 K Street NW Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006-1232