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5.4 Hanford Site

Under the Pit Storage Relocation Alternative (see section 3.1.3), the pit storage function currently carried out at Pantex Plant would be transferred to another site. The Hanford Site is one of the candidate sites for the storage of pits (Figure 5.4–1). The Fuels and Materials Examination Facility (FMEF) is the candidate pit storage facility at the Hanford Site. FMEF is currently capable of storing approximately 8,000 pits with relatively minor modification. With more extensive modifications it may be possible to store up to 20,000 pits in the facility. However, due to the time constraints within which the facility would need to be available, this study only considers the alternative of storing 8,000 pits in FMEF.

This section discusses FMEF, the affected environment at and near the Hanford Site, and the potential impacts that would be associated with pit storage. The Plutonium Finishing Plant is not considered a viable option for interim pit storage of the minimum 8,000 pits. Readily available storage space is limited, and the cost of facility modification to accommodate the pits would be excessive. Additionally, the potential for pit storage operations to interfere with important stabilization activities makes the storage option at Plutonium Finishing Plant impractical.

Each aspect of the affected environment at the Hanford Site has been assessed and the potential environmental impacts to each have been evaluated. Each environmental resource is discussed commensurate with the degree the resource could be impacted by or have an effect on interim pit storage at the candidate facility.

Hanford Site. The Hanford Site is a government-owned and contractor-operated facility, managed by Fluor Daniel Hanford, Inc.; Lockheed Martin Hanford Corporation; Rust Federal Services of Hanford, Inc.; Duke Engineering & Services Hanford, Inc.; Babcock & Wilcox Hanford Company; Numatec Hanford Corporation; and Bechtel Hanford Inc. The approximately 145,000-hectare (358,000-acre) Site is located just north of Richland, Washington (DOE 1994s:O-1; DOE 1994r:4.3). The general Site location map, Figure 5.4–1, shows that most of the land is vacant. Due to its large size, the perimeter of the Hanford Site is not fenced; however, the Site is patrolled by car and boat. The primary missions at the Hanford Site are the management of stored defense wastes and wastes from current operations, environmental restoration (ER) of approximately 1,100 inactive waste sites and 100 surplus facilities, and research and development in a broad range of disciplines including ER and waste management technologies (DOE 1994p:3).

Fuels and Materials Examination Facility. FMEF is located in a controlled area (400 Area) in the southeastern part of the Hanford Site, approximately 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the City of Richland (Figure 5.4–2). Completed in 1984, FMEF was intended to support the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Program. However, the building was never used for that purpose. About 8,000 pits could be stored in the main process cell of FMEF if appropriate modifications are made. Facility modifications would include plugging cell penetrations, moving doors, and installing vault doors and electronic equipment.

Figure 5.4-1.--Location of the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility at the Hanford Site.

Figure 5.4-2.--Layout of the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility.

The FMEF building is divided into numerous compartments and areas, including shipping/receiving, maintenance and decontamination, entry tunnel, equipment rooms, and process cells. There are two areas within FMEF proposed for pit storage. These are the maintenance and decontamination cell (decon cell) and the main process cell (originally called the nondestructive evaluation cell and upper nondestructive evaluation cell). The main process cell is one large room with a 15-meter (50-foot) high ceiling and approximately 465 square meters (5,000 square feet) of floor space. A Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Alarm System already exists around the building. No construction involving new land disturbance would be required at this Site. If DOE chooses to store pits at FMEF, a pit placement, retrieval, and inventory system would be implemented. It is expected that an automated or shielded pit movement and inventory system would be developed.

5.4.1 Environmental Resources Not Discussed in Detail

The following environmental resources at the Hanford Site have been assessed. The analyses have shown that the impacts to these resources from the potential storage of pits at the FMEF facility are small enough to warrant only limited discussion. Therefore, these resources are discussed briefly below and will not be addressed further in this section. Facilities and Infrastructure

The infrastructure operations at the Hanford Site that could be impacted by or be expected to directly support pit storage operations include security, vehicle and building maintenance, utilities, administration, safety and health protection, and general support (e.g., road maintenance, general stores). Waste management and transportation support are discussed below in sections and, respectively.

The direct impacts from the implementation of pit storage would include an increase in the Site's security force. Electrical usage due to interim pit storage (estimated to be 4,110 megawatthours per year) represents a 1.2 percent increase over the Site's 1994 usage of 345,500 megawatthours (DOE 1995s:Table B). Maintenance support and the indirect impacts resulting from pit storage worker requirements (e.g., water, wastewater treatment, and fuel) would increase minimally in comparison to current and historical onsite infrastructure support levels and system capacities. FMEF is not currently being utilized at design levels; therefore, the utility systems generally have excess capacity available to support pit storage activity. Land Resources

No land disturbance is projected under the Pit Storage Relocation Alternative for FMEF. The Pit Storage Relocation Alternative does not include any new land uses near the FMEF. Impacts to land use would not be expected. Geology and Soils

FMEF is not anticipated to require modifications that would involve land disturbance; therefore, impacts to soils are not anticipated. The risks due to earthquakes were assessed and found to be bounded by other accidents, as discussed in section Water Resources

Because of the nature of the pit storage activities, operations at FMEF would not impact surface water or groundwater. The pit storage activities would not use surface waters at the Hanford Site. The sanitary sewer waste from FMEF would be discharged first to an existing septic tank, then to the 400 Area sanitary leaching pond; therefore, no impacts to water quality are expected (DOE 1987:3-111). The wastewater generated by pit storage activity would not have a measurable effect on groundwater quality because of the combined effects of a deep water table (approximately 43 meters [140 feet]), low discharge volumes (less than 50 liters [14 gallons] per minute), and composition and concentrations consistent with existing treated and sanitary wastewater (DOE 1977:2.2-113, 3.2-4).

The water demands of pit storage operations are solely due to use by storage personnel. In comparison with the designed usage at FMEF of 142 million liters (37.5 million gallons) of groundwater from two vicinity wells, and the total quantity of surface water and groundwater used at the Hanford Site annually, the water demands for pit storage are negligible (DOE 1995p:4-65). Flooding at FMEF is not expected because it is located outside of the Probable Maximum Flood and dam failure floodplains. Air Quality

The Hanford Site is well within all applicable local, State, and Federal ambient air quality standards (DOE 1994p). The impacts to air quality from normal pit storage operations would be due entirely to vehicle emissions (approximately 150 vehicles per day). The air impacts caused by vehicles involved in pit storage would be negligible relative to the overall vehicular emissions at the Hanford Site. Acoustics

At the Hanford Site boundary, away from most facilities, noise from most sources is barely distinguishable above background sources. The only sources of noise that would be associated with pit storage operations would be from transportation vehicles and air conditioning and heating equipment for the occupied areas of the facility. These impacts would be minimal. Biotic Resources

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is the only Federally listed threatened or endangered species that resides on the Hanford Site, although the Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia) and the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) may occur on an incidental basis (DOE 1994r). The use of FMEF for interim storage of pits, would not disturb bald eagle roosting sites on the Hanford Site (DOE 1994p:28). Further, no wetlands at the Hanford Site would be disturbed by the Pit Storage Relocation Alternative (WHC 1986:3.4-8). As a result, impacts to biotic resources are not expected. Cultural Resources

No historic, prehistoric, or paleontological sites have been found at or in the immediate vicinity of FMEF at the Hanford Site. Further, no National Register of Historic Places-eligible buildings are located at FMEF (DOE 1994q:4-89). The Pit Storage Relocation Alternative does not involve new land disturbance and would not adversely affect cultural or paleontological resources at the Hanford Site. Therefore, impacts to cultural and paleontological resources would not be expected.

Native American groups have retained traditional secular and religious ties to the region. Members of the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce still adhere to the Washane religion, which has its origins on the Hanford Site. The secular and non-secular ties to this portion of the Columbia River Basin could make the entire area potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places based on its traditional cultural significance to Native Americans (DOE 1994q:4-80). However, the area containing FMEF has been completely disturbed by previous facility construction, and no impact to Traditional Cultural Properties is anticipated from the Pit Storage Relocation Alternative. Socioeconomic Resources

Approximately 150 additional personnel (including 120 security personnel) would be required for the interim storage of pits at the Hanford Site. This number represents less than 1.0 percent increase in the total Hanford Site workforce. Most of the workers can be hired locally; therefore no significant Site or regional population and workforce increases are anticipated. According to the 1990 Census, 150 workers represent 0.1 percent of the employed workforce within the Hanford Site Region of Influence (WA Cen 1993:Table 145). No socioeconomic impacts would be anticipated. Waste Management

Currently, the Hanford Site manages high-level waste, spent nuclear fuel, plutonium materials, mixed transuranic waste, transuranic waste, mixed waste, low-level waste, hazardous waste, and nonhazardous waste in accordance with the requirements of a number of Federal and State regulations, permits obtained under these regulations, and DOE orders. These requirements are primarily under the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, DOE, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The Hanford Site generated approximately 2,300 cubic meters (3,000 cubic yards) of low-level waste, approximately 2,000 cubic meters (2,600 cubic yards) of mixed waste, and approximately 700 cubic meters (900 cubic yards) of hazardous waste in 1992 (DOE 1994d:248). The pit storage operations would generate less than 1 cubic meter (1.3 cubic yards) of mixed, low-level, and hazardous waste. This amount of waste would not impact the current waste management at the Hanford Site. Intrasite Transportation

The Hanford Site onsite road system consists of a number of rural highway routes (see Figure 5.4–1). The majority of onsite travel, however, occurs on Route 4 and Route 11A, which are barricaded at the Yakima and Wye barricades, respectively, to control public access. Public Highways 240 and 24 provide access to the Site from the north and west up to the security control points at the Yakima and Rattlesnake Barricades. Although some roads within the Hanford Site are public access roads, the DOE would control access during passage of Safe Secure Tractor-Trailer (SST) convoys. Because a release of plutonium from an intersite pit shipment would require a severe accident (e.g., an accident with a fuel tanker or a train [see section]), the controlled transportation environment within the Hanford Site does not pose a significant threat to pit shipments. Consequently, the contribution to overall intersite transportation accident risk from onsite transport is negligible.

Table Airport Operations for 1994 (.pdf) Aircraft Accidents

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains a Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio (VOR) navigation aid at the Tri-Cities Airport. This VOR is used for en route navigation along airways as well as for instrument approaches to the airport. Several Federal airways pass in the proximity of FMEF. However, the FAA reports that these routes have low usage (WHC 1991). There are no military installations or training routes that would place military aircraft in the vicinity of FMEF.

There are five airports and one landing strip in the vicinity of FMEF. The Tri-Cities Airport, the major commercial airfield in the area is approximately 27 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of FMEF. The airport's two runways are used by commercial (air carrier and air taxi), military, and general aviation aircraft. In 1994, the Tri-Cites Airport had 81,867 aircraft operations (take-offs and landings). Table–1 summarizes the total number of airfield operations at the Tri-Cities Airport (PC 1996j).

The closest airport, Richland Airport, approximately 13 kilometers (8 miles) southeast of FMEF, has three runways used only by general aviation aircraft. Similarly, Vista Field in Kennewick, approximately 26 kilometers (16 miles) south-southeast, has two runways, also used by general aviation aircraft. Beardsley Field, near Prosser, approximately 42 kilometers (26 miles) southwest, has one runway used only by general aviation aircraft. Sunnyside Airport is located 48 kilometers (30 miles) west-southwest and has one runway used by general aviation aircraft only. There is an unnamed landing strip near Horse Heaven Hills, approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) south-southwest, which has one runway used only by general aviation aircraft.

All four general aviation airports and the landing strip are outside the probability density function boundary for general aviation aircraft and were therefore not included in the aircraft crash analysis. Only small military aircraft in the landing mode at the Tri-Cities Airport and non-airport (in-flight) aircraft were included in the analysis as required by the Draft DOE Standard (DOE 1996g). Further details on these six facilities are contained in volume II, appendix E.

FMEF was modeled conservatively as a facility with a length of 98 meters (320 feet), a width of 47 meters (155 feet), and a height of 21 meters (70 feet). (DOE 1994bb). Using the Draft DOE Standard for determining the probability of aircraft crashes and 1994 data from the FAA, the frequency of hitting FMEF was calculated as 1.2 x 10-6 for all types of aircraft (DOE 1996g). It should be noted that the frequency calculation represents a conservative upper bound. Since this frequency is greater than 10-7, in accordance with the Draft DOE Standard, further analysis was required. A local response structural analysis was performed according to the Draft DOE Standard for the facility with a wall thickness of 122 centimeters (48 inches).

The analysis was performed for the maximum penetrator missile for each of the aircraft categories mentioned in section 4.15.2, except for helicopters. None of the eight aircraft missiles was capable of penetrating the facility. Therefore, since this frequency is 0, in accordance with the Draft DOE Standard, no further analysis was required. Further details of the frequency of hitting FMEF and the frequency of releasing material are contained in volume II, appendix E.

5.4.2 Resources Discussed in Detail Human Health

The basic approach used in assessing human health impacts is first to identify the affected environment and establish a baseline representing the risk from current operations. Changes in this baseline risk resulting from potential pit storage activities are then examined. Impacts from both normal operations and potential accidents are estimated.

Assessing the human health risk impact from potential accidents resulting from the storage of pits in FMEF at the Hanford Site involves a risk screening process. The first step in this process is to identify a broad spectrum of potential accident scenarios. The second step in the process uses screening techniques to identify the specific scenarios that dominate risk (i.e., scenarios that contribute an appreciable fraction of the total risk), where risk is calculated as the product of frequency and consequence. Rigorous consequence evaluations are only performed for the identified risk-dominant scenarios.

Two types of accident consequences are examined:

  • Worker and public exposure.
  • The probability of an accident causing fatal cancer in a worker or the public.

If DOE chooses to relocate pits to the Hanford Site, two aspects of relocation would contribute to potential environmental impacts. These impacts are associated with:

  • Transferring pits within FMEF from the transporter to their storage location inside the facility.
  • Storage itself (i.e., potential impacts resulting from having the pits reside inside the facility).

Each time pits are transferred within the facility from the transporter to their storage location, there is a small probability that an accidental release could occur due to a handling accident. In addition, the transfer of pits from the transporter to their storage location would result in radiological exposures to involved workers.

Affected Environment

The release of radioactivity and toxic chemicals to the environment from a DOE facility is an important issue for onsite workers and the public. Since the human environment contains many sources of radioactivity and toxic chemicals, it is essential to understand the sources of these substances and how effectively they are controlled.

Table–1 summarizes the major sources of radiation exposure in the vicinity of the Hanford Site. A person in the State of Washington has an average annual cancer probability of 1.4 x 10-3 (DOE 1994i:4-110). Using nominal fatal cancer risk factors and the data in Table–1, it is calculated that fatal cancers attributable to environmental radioactivity released from the Hanford Site constitute less than one ten-thousandth of one percent of the average yearly fatal cancer probability in the State of Washington (DOE 1994l:4-20).

Figure–1 depicts the offsite population within an 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius of FMEF at the Hanford Site. Wind speeds and directions in the Hanford Site vicinity are presented in Figure–2. The prevailing wind direction is from the south and southwest in the summer months and from the northwest in the winter months.

Impacts of Facility Upgrades

Numerous facility modifications are necessary before FMEF is suitable for pit storage. They include plugging cell penetrations, moving doors, and installing vault doors and electronic equipment. An additional upgrade required is to modify FMEF to accept Stage Right transfer and storage equipment. However, these are standard industrial operations that do not expose workers to any special hazards (e.g., radionuclides, toxic chemicals, or high explosives). No significant impacts from facility upgrades are anticipated.

Impacts of Storing 20,000 Pits

Hanford Site is not being considered for the storage of 20,000 pits; hence, there are no impacts for this option.

Impacts of Storing 8,000 Pits

Unloading operations would result in radiological exposure to cargo handlers. Based on conservative calculations made for handling of pits at Pantex Plant, the worker doses from unloading of 2,000 pits per year are estimated to be less than 11 person-rem per year or 108 person-rem for the unloading of 8,000 pits (the maximum number of pits which may be stored at FMEF). Once removed from the SSTs, pits would be transferred within FMEF for storage. Pit transfers within FMEF would result in radiological exposures to onsite workers handling the pits. The transfer of pits would result in worker doses of less than 2 person-rem per year for handling 2,000 pits and about 5 person-rem for the placement of 8,000 pits.

Table Sources of Radiation Exposure in the Vicinity of the Hanford Site (.pdf)

The combined worker dose from unloading and storage of 8,000 pits at FMEF would be 113 person-rem distributed over the 30 people directly involved in material handling. Assuming that the same 30 people continue to handle 8,000 pits over a period of 4 years and using a dose-to-risk conversion factor of 4 x 10-4 latent cancer fatality (LCF) per person-rem, there would be an additional 0.04 LCF in this group due to radiological exposure from pit handling.

The probability of LCFs from all causes in the general population is estimated at 20 percent, which implies that 6 of 30 workers would develop a fatal cancer from all other causes. With an additional 0.04 LCF from pit handling, the total risk of latent fatal cancers among workers at the FMEF site would increase by 0.7 percent.

Figure Population in the Vicinity of the Hanford Site (Distances Measured from the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility).

Figure Direction and Speed at the Hanford Site, Washington, 1994.

Storage of 8,000 pits could be accomplished at FMEF. Pit container inventories at the Hanford Site are expected to be performed using either shielded or automated techniques and equipment. Consequently, these normal operations are not expected to result in any significant radiological exposure to workers.

Other storage activities that may occur within the time frame evaluated in this EIS include:

  • Restacking a limited number of pits to comply with design laboratory temperature requirements.
  • A limited number of pit movements and/or instrumentation placements to facilitate third-party inspections.

Impacts of these routine activities are also considered to be negligible.

The risk screening methodology (appendix D) indicates that the radiological health risk from accidents associated with the storage of 8,000 pits in FMEF is dominated by handling accidents that could occur when the pits are being transferred from the transporter. A standard tine forklift is assumed to be used to remove pit containers from an SST. The probability of a standard tine forklift causing a puncture during a single handling operation is in the extremely unlikely range (i.e., 10-4 to 10-6).

It is estimated that a forklift puncture of a pit container would release 9.2 x 10-5 curies of plutonium. This is a conservative estimate of the respirable, airborne release caused by a puncture of one shipping container (DOE 1992f:7-34).

Given such a release, an involved worker (the forklift driver) would receive a dose of 6.6 rem, corresponding to an incremental increase in lifetime fatal cancer probability of 2.6 x 10-3. In addition, a non-involved worker 100 meters (328 feet) downwind along the center line of the plutonium dispersion plume would receive a 6.3 x 10-5 rem exposure, corresponding to an incremental increase in lifetime fatal cancer probability of 2.5 x 10-8. The maximally exposed member of the public would be expected to receive an exposure of 5.5 x 10-8 rem, corresponding to an incremental increase in lifetime fatal cancer probability of 2.8 x 10-11. The lifetime fatal cancer probability for an average individual from all other causes is approximately 0.2 (20 percent).

This event would result in an exposure to the public of 2.9 x 10-5 person-rem. Considering the likelihood and consequence of this event, on the average, a member of the public will have an increased annual risk of developing a fatal cancer from this potential accident of 5.3 x 10-17 fatal cancers per year. The annual fatal cancer risk to a person in the State of Washington from all other causes is 1.4 x 10-3 fatal cancers per year.

Seismic events are not important risk contributors at FMEF. The design basis for FMEF is a 0.25 g earthquake, which was considered to be the largest credible earthquake that could occur given the regional geology (WHC 1986:3.6-2, 4.2-6, 9.2-34). It is also larger than the 0.17 g standard for Performance Category 3 facilities per DOE–STD–1020–94 (DOE 1994u:C-25). As described in appendix D, there is no risk from external events or natural phenomena (including earthquakes) that are within the design basis. Even for earthquakes beyond the design basis (which have a very low probability), the onset of facility damage is typically insufficient to cause the AT–400A shipping containers to fail. Consequently, the relative risk from earthquakes is negligible because of the low frequency that the release can occur. Environmental Justice

Affected Environment

FMEF is located at the Hanford Site, which is adjacent to the Tri-Cities (Richland-Kennewick-Pasco) urban area in the south-central part of Washington State. In order to identify the target populations covered by Executive Order 12898, an 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius circle centered on FMEF was overlaid on 1990 Census tract maps. The communities that lie within the 80-kilometer (50-mile) circle, hereafter called the FMEF Region of Influence (ROI) are shown in Figure–1.

Figure Fuels and Materials Examination Facility Region of Influence.

Population. According to the 1990 Census, there were 274,391 persons within the FMEF ROI. White persons comprised 75 percent of the population; Hispanics were the second largest group with 22 percent; and Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Blacks accounted for the remaining 3 percent (UN 1995).

The largest concentration of the population in the FMEF ROI is in the Tri-Cities, which accounts for 94,807 or 34.6 percent of the total ROI population in 1990. Outside this urban concentration, two communities had populations of 10,000 or more. These were: Sunnyside (11,238 persons), located approximately 50 kilometers (32 miles) west of FMEF; and Moses Lake (11,235 persons), located approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of FMEF. About 20 communities account for an additional 58,800 persons and the remaining 43,484 persons live in rural areas of the FMEF ROI. A portion of the Yakama Indian Reservation is located in the southwestern part of the ROI. Of the 26,961 persons counted on this Reservation in 1990, 6,110 were American Indians (WA Cen 1992:Tables 6 and 17; OR Cen 1992 Table 6).

Minority Population. Figure–2 shows 1990 Census tracts within the FMEF ROI. The tracts are shaded if minority populations comprised 25 percent or more of the total population in 1990 or if 25 percent or more of the persons in a tract were below the poverty level based on their incomes in 1989. The 25 percent threshold levels for minority or low-income persons are based on the working definitions contained in the notice of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of environmental justiceenvironmental justiceenvironmental justiceEnvironmental Justice (59 FR 192).

The census tracts with 25 percent or more minority population are located north and southwest of the Site at a minimum distance of 16 kilometers (10 miles) from FMEF. Four tracts in Pasco and one in Kennewick also have minority populations greater than 25 percent. A number of tracts with primarily white populations are located closer to FMEF than the tracts with minority populations (UN 1995).

Low-Income Population. Low-income population tracts in the FMEF ROI are not as widely distributed as the tracts with minority populations. Concentration of low-income population is to the northwest and southwest of FMEF at a distance of more than 32 kilometers (20 miles). All four tracts in Pasco and one in Kennewick also have greater than 25 percent population below poverty level. Forty-six percent of American Indians in the Yakama Reservation had incomes below the poverty level (UN 1995; WA Cen 1992).

Impacts of Storing 20,000 Pits

Fuels and Materials Examination Facility (FMEF)Fuels and Materials Examination Facility (FMEF)Fuels and Materials Examination Facility (FMEF)FMEF is not being considered for storing 20,000 pits; therefore, there would be no impacts for this option.

Impacts of Storing 8,000 Pits

Because the interim storage of pits at FMEF would not require any construction activities and because all facility modifications would take place inside existing facilities, impacts to the natural environment would be minimal. Under normal operating conditions, there would be minor increases in air pollutants associated with vehicles used during pit storage activities. Also, a very minor increase in particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter less than 10 micrometers concentrations would be expected. These increases are associated with the operation of forklifts within FMEF that are used to move the pits from the unloading area to the storage area.

Figure and Minority Populations in the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility Region of Influence.

These impacts are not likely to effect the surrounding population. Radiological releases from normal pit storage operations would have no measurable effect on an individual occupying a position near the Hanford SiteHanford SiteHanford SiteHanford Site boundary for an entire year. Levels at the Site boundary would be indistinguishable from natural background radiation. No adverse health effects would be expected among the general public, including minority and low-income populationlow-income populationlow-income populationlow-income populations, as a result of normal storage operations.

An abnormal event, such as accidental puncture of a pit storage container by a forklift or seismic event, has the potential of exposing the general public to radiation. The analysis in section, Human Health indicates that the risk to the public from such accidents would be negligible. With no measurable impacts on the general population, the minority and low-income populations would not be disproportionately impacted.

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