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Question. $700,000 is requested for contractual work on the uranium fuel cycle. This is required because the Commission has decided to prepare full environmental impact statements rather than environmental appraisals for license renewals for uranium mills. What are the differences between these two types of environmental reports?
Answer. An environmental appraisal is an assessment of a proposed licensing action covering modification of a nuclear installation or its operations where anticipated net environmental impacts are not known to be significant. The appraisal is done to determine whether preparation of an environmental impact statement is required. For new construction or major modification of a facility where impacts may be significant, a full, in-depth assessment of environmental impacts is developed consistent with requirements of NEPA, including evaluation of alternatives and a cost benefit analyses.
STATE REQUESTS FOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE Question. What states have made the requests for technical assistance which have necessitated this request?
Answer. The State of Colorado has requested assistance in their licensing of uranium mills. Specifically, they have asked for preparation of environmental reports equivalent to our own environmental statements for each of their current and upcoming mill licensing actions.
In a meeting with states regulating uranium mills in November 1977 concerning environmental assessments, all states indicated an interest in obtaining technical assistance from NRC in this area. While this assistance may not take the same form as that to be provided to Colorado, it will involve a significant staff effort.
Question. What specific nuclear facilities account for the increased concern expressed by these states?
Answer. Concern results from the fact that the states do not prepare independent environmental impact statements for their mill licensing actions while NRC prepares such documents for mills under its jurisdiction. Milling operations result in the generation of large amounts of tailings containing long-lived radioactivity and residual process chemicals. Congress is currently faced with appropriating funds to clean up 22 inactive tailings sites where the problem of disposal and management of tailings was not adequately dealt with before beginning the associated milling operations. NRC has found that preparation and publication of environmental impact statements is a vital tool in thoroughly addressing the tailings issue prior to beginning mill operations.
REVIEW OF FORMER LICENSEE SITES
Question. In your justification you state that in response to a GAO report, you intend to review all former licensee sites for possible excessive radioactive contamination. What steps have you already taken in this regard?
Answer. A contract has been let with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to review the records of approximately 8000 former licenses to identify those that may have radioactive contamination above currently acceptable levels. This work was started in November 1977 and will be completed within 12 months.
Question. How long do you estimate it will take to complete this effort and at what total cost?
Answer. The effort to review all former licensee sites for possible excessive contamination is forecast for completion in 1983. This includes the records search of of thousands of files, identification of sites which may have contamination above currently accepted levels, exploratory on-site surveys, detailed radiation surveys of any site found to be contaminated, and evaluation of proposed remedial actions and associated environmental impact assessments. Total cost for the overall effort is estimated to be $1,700,000.
REGULATIONS TO DEFINE DECOMMISSIONING REQUIREMENTS Question. With regard to currently operating sites, what licensing or other actions have you or will you take to insure that all environmental problems are solved before operators are allowed to leave processing or other radioactive facilities and sites?
Answer. The NRC staff is developing regulations and guides to define decommissioning requirements and criteria for all nuclear facilities. While such ongoing studies are being performed, the staff in its licensing reviews for proposed new fuel cycle facilities and for license renewal of existing facilities is requiring development and submittal of decommissioning plans in sufficient depth to provide cost estimates for eventual decommissioning. In addition, the staff is requiring licensees to demonstrate adequate financial arrangements to assure the ability to implement the plan. In the case of uranium mills licensed by the NRC, the decommissioning plans include plans for stabilization of mill tailings in accordance with present criteria and bonding arrangements to assure that funds are available for carrying out the plan.
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT AND TRAVEL BREAKDOWN
Question. On page 2 would you provide a further breakdown of the $1,040,000 requested for administrative support and the $600,000 for travel?
Answer. The breakdown of the $1,040,000 for administrative support is provided for the record: Regional office space movement and alteration..
$100,000 Establish 22 onsite offices September 30, 1978: One time costs.
191, 000 Fiscal year 1978 operating costs.
29, 000 Add 27 onsite offices (by September 30, 1979): One time costs (prepurchase of equipment)
235, 000 Incident response equipment.
88, 000 Regional office support of additional positions.
107, 000 Household goods transportation (22 onsite inspectors).
240, 000 Reserve..
1, 040, 000
The breakdown of the travel funds is:
$280, 000 135, 000 80, 000 25, 000 80,000
Question. What portion of the request for travel is for the 61 new positions and what portion is for increased travel for
existing personnel? Answer. The request for travel contains $170,000 for the 61 new positions and $430,000 for existing personnel. This request reflects the amount of travel funding that will be required to conduct all activities in the revised inspection program in FY 1978.
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS FOR ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL
Question. You are requesting $500,000 in personnel compensation and benefits for the 61 additional personnel. Would you provide for the record a calculation showing how these estimates were computed?
The 61 additional personnel are for the Office of Inspection and Enforcement Resident Inspector Program. These inspectors will be hired and trained at the journeyman level which we have determined to average a GS-12 with an average pay rate of $22,500. We estimated that the supplemental would be approved in the April-May timeframe, therefore, these people would be on board approximately one third of a year. The calculation was as follows: $22,500+3=$7,500 X 61 positions..
Mrs. Boggs. Concerning authorization, do you have authorization from the Interior Committee for these extra slots in the program?
Mr. HENDRIE. The 61, the question of the 61.
Mr. HENDRIE. We have asked them to please include it in their deliberations and have talked to them about it two weeks ago.
Mr. BARRY. Yes, ma'am, we have sufficient authorization in 1978 for these inspectors.
Mr. VOLGENAU. Mr. Myers, before you leave, since this question is relevant, you asked if we had authorization for the resident inspection program. Last year I recall they tried to give us $6 million.
Mr. MYERS. Who tried to do that?
Mr. VOLGENAU. No, sir. We asked for $2.65 million. Also I predict you are wrong.
Mr. MYERS. Did you get that down? We are going to hold him to it.
Mrs. Boggs. In your regular FY budget submission, I notice $2,645,000 was unobligated from prior year appropriations. $7,620,000 was unobligated at the end of FY "76. Since we are well into this current fiscal year, have you identified any FY 1978 funds which could be reprogrammed for pay or for your program supplemental?
Mr. HENDRIE. We have looked at it, and I would like to ask Mr. Barry as the Controller to please step up and give some of those details.
Mr. BARRY. I would like to go back to the two figures. At the end of fiscal 1976 we did have 7 million unobligated. One of the major reasons for that was that, we had a very late appropriation. We had the extra fiscal quarter that year, and you could not obligate any money until the beginning of the last quarter. That was the fifth quarter. At the end of the fiscal year '76. In fiscal year '77, our unobligated balance was $2.4 million.
Mrs. Boggs. $2,465,000.
Mr. BARRY. Yes, and of that amount we did have $1.4 million of that under contract, but not obligated because it was a three-party contract. We had signed it. One of the two contractors had signed it and the third contractor unfortunately did not sign it so we did not obligate the money.
But of the remaining million dollars, when you have a $256 million program, which we had in 1977, and you get down to a million dollars, the Controller gets mighty nervous about obligating. That is less than one-half of one percent.
Even though we have a very fine accounting system, sometimes people tend to send a program letter out authorizing work and the proper copy does not get to me, and the one thing we do not want to do is over-obligate Government funds. When you get down to a million dollars in a $256 million program, you do not try to cut it any closer than that.
Mrs. Boggs. The answer is that as of now, you do not have additional monies available for this request?
Mr. BARRY. Yes, ma’am, and another reason for that is to begin our fiscal 1978 program, our budget was reduced 3 million below our original request. So we started out the year with 3 million less than we had asked for. In addition, we have identified in excess of 2 million worth of programmatic requirements which must of necessity be deferred unless funding sources are identified sometime later in FY 1978.
FISCAL YEAR 1978 REPROGRAMMING REQUEST Mrs. Boggs. The Committee recently received your request to reprogram $300,000 in 1978 funds to establish a fellowship program in connection with your Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. Would you elaborate on why you believe the fellowship program is desirable?
FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM Mr. HENDRIE. The ACRS Fellowship Program was established in the 1978 NRC Authorization Act (P.L. 95–209) to assist the ACRS in carrying out its function. A section included in P.L. 95–209 requires that the ACRS prepare and submit to Congress annually an all source study on Reactor Safety Research. The participants in the Fellowship Program will assist in the preparation of this study as well as assist the ACŘS in carrying out its responsibilities for review of nuclear facility license applications and safety studies required by Section 29 and Subsection 182.b of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
The ACRS Fellows will perform analysis and reviews of specific technological matters related to nuclear safety including the review and resolution of generic items associated with nuclear power plant safety; the review of construction permit and operating license applications and operating experience for nuclear power plants; and reviews and studies related to nuclear reactor safety research.
Mrs. Boggs. As you indicate in your letter, the FY 1979 budget includes $600,000 for the program. Why do you believe it is necessary to start the program now?
Mr. HENDRIE. The ACRS Fellowship Program is needed now to assist the Committee in the resolution of generic safety questions applicable to light water reactors. The resolution of these items is particularly important at this time due to the present emphasis on standardization of nuclear plants. Increased manpower is also needed to begin work on the 1978 Reactor Safety Research Report to Congress.
FISCAL YEAR 1978 PROGRAM REDUCTIONS Mrs. Boggs. From what program areas do you propose to withdraw 1978 funds in order to accomplish this reprogramming?
Mr. BARRY. We have approximately $600,000 remaining from our FY 1977 unobligated balances carried over into FY 1978 which is available to fund identified unfunded requirements currently totaling about $2.6 million. We plan to use $300,000 of these funds for the fellowship program.
Mrs. Boggs. Thank you very much. The committee is adjourned.