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14 th Nuclear Utility Meteorological Data Users Group Meeting. An Overview of The NEPA Requirements For Permitting a New Nuclear Power Plant in the United States Ping K Wan Bechtel Power Corporation June 2011. NEPA Basics. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA-1969, amended 1982)

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14 th nuclear utility meteorological data users group meeting
14th Nuclear Utility Meteorological Data Users Group Meeting

An Overviewof

The NEPA Requirements

For Permitting a New Nuclear Power Plant in the United States

Ping K Wan

Bechtel Power Corporation

June 2011

nepa basics
NEPA Basics
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA-1969, amended 1982)
  • It established this country’s national environmental policy.
    • Encourage productive and harmony between man and his environment.
    • Promote efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man.
    • Enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the nation.
  • NEPA applies to many agencies and different types of federal actions.
implementing the nepa process
Implementing the NEPA Process

There are 3 levels of analysis:

  • Categorical Exclusions (CEs)

A category of actions determined individually or cumulatively to nothave a significant effect on the quality of the human environment.

  • Environmental Assessment/Finding Of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI)

An analysis determines whether or not a federal undertaking would significantly affect the environment

  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

An EIS is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed action and its alternatives.

nepa requirements
NEPA Requirements
  • NEPA requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of their proposed actions:
    • Better informed decisions
    • Citizen involvement
  • The proposing agency must develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for public and agency review, if an action is expected to have significant impact on the environment.
  • This EIS is an analysis of the potential impacts to the environment from the proposed major action as well as from a range of reasonable alternatives.
  • The Council on Environmental Quality regulations require Federal agencies to make environmental review documents, comments, and responses as part of their administrative record.
nrc regulations and guidance implementing nepa for new reactors
NRC Regulations and Guidance Implementing NEPA for New Reactors
  • Regulations
    • 10CFR51 for applicant’s ER and NRC’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
    • 10CFR52 for Early Site Permit (ESP), Design Certification (DC), Combined Operating License (COL)
  • Regulatory Guidance
    • Regulatory Guides
      • RG 4.2
      • RG 1.206
      • Many “topical” RGs
    • Environmental Standard Review Plan (NUREG-1555)
    • Interim Staff Guidance
regulatory initiative
Regulatory Initiative
  • Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed that the NEPA process should incorporate consideration of climate change through the mechanism of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
    • Both the impact of an agency action on the environment and the impact of changing climate on that agency action.
    • If a proposed action would be reasonably anticipated to cause direct emissions of 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2-equivalent GHG emission on an annual basis, agency should consider this an indicator that a quantitative and qualitative assessment may be meaningful to decision makers and the public.
general topics addressed in nepa documents
General Topics Addressed in NEPA Documents
  • Impacts from Plant Construction and Operation on:
    • Land
    • Water
    • Air Quality/Meteorology
    • Ecology
    • Socioeconomics
  • Mitigation measures (to reduce impacts) and monitoring
  • Transportation of radioactive material and nuclear fuel cycle
  • Alternatives (energy, sites and plant systems)
  • Evaluation and mitigation of potential cumulative impacts of plant construction and operation
  • Environmental consequences
major parts of an environmental report
Major Parts of An Environmental Report
  • Description of the Environment

Current project site environmental baseline conditions and the methodology or source of information used

  • ImpactsEvaluation

The potential impacts associated with the project

  • Mitigation and Monitoring

The mitigation measures used to reduce adverse impacts and monitoring conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the implemented measures.

description of the environment
Description of the Environment

Site Characterization (baseline conditions)

  • Often collection of baseline data is found to be inadequate in its spatial and temporal extents which affects accuracy of impact assessments.
  • A systematic process for gathering baseline data under auditable QA programs is essential:
    • Literature investigation

Desktop survey for data/information collection

    • Field Survey and Monitoring

These type of programs could result in significant cost and schedule implications if they are not well planned during early project development phase.

impacts evaluation
Impacts Evaluation
  • Compares the Proposed Action and Alternatives from a Number of Different Perspectives
    • Nuclear versus other power sources
    • Site location
    • Plant systems and transmission system
  • Bases Conclusion on the Alternate Being Environmentally Preferable, Equivalent, or Inferior to the Proposed Project
how is the determination of impact made
How is the determination of impact made?

NRC 3-Level Standard of Significance

  • SMALL

Environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource.

  • MODERATE

Environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but not to destabilize, an important attribute of the resource.

  • LARGE

Environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize an important attribute of the resource.

alternatives cooling systems
Alternatives : Cooling Systems
  • Design for Environment
  • Available Cooling Systems:
    • Once through
    • Dedicated cooling pond
    • Cooing tower
      • Mechanical draft
        • Wet
        • Dry
        • Wet-dry combination
      • Natural draft (hyperbolic)
alternative system transmission corridors
Alternative System: Transmission Corridors
  • Design Around Environment
  • Limited Tower Design Considerations
    • Heights
    • Types
    • Finishes
  • Focus on Avoidance
    • Sensitive Wildlife Resources
    • Cultural Resources
    • Water/Wetlands Resources
    • Critical Land Uses
    • Socioeconomics
    • Transportation Corridors
assessment of cumulative impacts
Assessment of Cumulative Impacts

Cumulative impacts of an action are the total effects on a resource, ecosystem, or human community of the action and all other activities affecting that resource no matter what entity (federal, non-federal, or private) is taking the action.

Guidance

  • CEQ handbook titled “Considering Cumulative Effects under NEPA” (CEQ 1997)

Key Areas of Consideration

  • Resources and Ecosystem Components
  • Geographic Boundaries and Time Period
  • Past, Present, and Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions
  • Describing the Condition of the Environment
  • Using Thresholds to Assess Resource Degradation
cumulative impacts
Cumulative Impacts
  • Provides the Bigger Environmental Picture
  • Evaluates Other Projects Potentially Impacting the Area (Including Foreseeable Future)
  • Overall Impacts to
    • Land Use
    • Water/Wetland Resources
    • Sensitive Wildlife Resources
    • Cultural Resources
    • Socioeconomics
cumulative impacts shared water resource
Cumulative Impacts: Shared Water Resource
  • Multiple Facilities Sharing a Common Water Resource May Consider Combined:
    • Consumptive Water Uses
    • Non-consumptive Water Uses
    • Thermal Impacts
    • Effluent Impacts
    • Other Ecological Impacts
      • Destruction of habitation (e.g., construction/presence of intakes and outfalls)
      • Impingement
      • Entrainment
consideration of mitigation
Consideration of Mitigation
  • Level of mitigation measures of any adverse environmental impacts must be commensurate with the significance level of the impacts.
  • Steps Taken include the following:
    • Potential mitigation measures
    • Selected mitigation measures
    • Mitigation measures to address cumulative impacts
    • Residual impacts
a world of increasing water scarcity

1989 2003

Consequences of unsustainable water management:

the Aral Sea in 1989 and in 2003

A World of Increasing Water Scarcity
mitigation measures
Mitigation Measures
  • Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action,
  • Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation,
  • Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment,
  • Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action, and
  • Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.
technical solutions reduced consumption
Power plant coolingTechnical Solutions - Reduced Consumption

Wet cooling system with evaporate recovery

(15-25% reduction)

Hybrid wet-dry cooling system

(up to 80% reduction)

Decreasing water consumption

Increasing capital & operating costs

Dry cooling system

(100% reduction)

Source: EPRI Journal, Summer 2007

Source: SPX Cooling Technologies

monitoring programs
Monitoring Programs
  • Address all phases (i.e., pre-application, construction, pre-operation, operation, and decommissioning) of the projected project, and both the project site and area of probable impact.
  • Perform site characterization.
  • Ensure the compliance of the selected mitigation measures.
  • Measure the residual impacts.
environmental consequences
Environmental Consequences
  • Environmental Consequences of the Proposed Action
    • Unavoidable adverse environmental impacts
    • Irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources
    • Relationship between short term uses and long term productivity of the human environment
    • Benefit-cost balance
summary nepa requirements
Summary – NEPA Requirements
  • Requires Federal agencies to make informed decision for their proposed actions.
  • Evaluates environmental impacts
    • Site characterization (e.g., land, water, meteorology, hydrology, ecology and radiology)
    • Direct & cumulative impacts
    • Their alternatives (other power sources, site & plant systems, & transmission)
  • Mitigates adverse impacts
    • Direct & cumulative
    • Considered a range of mitigation measures (e.g., design alternatives, Best Management Practice, restoration and compensation)
  • Monitoring
    • Baseline conditions (e.g., surface water, groundwater, radiological, air and ecosystem) of the site
    • Effectiveness of the selected mitigation measures
    • Compliance demonstration
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