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Appendix E - Impact Assessment Methods

E.1 Introduction

Appendix E contains the description of the methods used in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement for the Nevada Test Site and Off-Site Locations in the State of Nevada (NTS EIS). These methods were designed and implemented to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the four alternatives addressed in this document. The various analysis methods used to develop this EIS are summarized by resource. Further detail is included in the Technical Resource Document section of the Administrative Record.

E.2 Methods and Assumptions of Analysis

The following sections describe the methods and assumptions used in preparing this EIS. The methods were designed and implemented to evaluate the potential impacts resulting from the four alternatives. The various analysis methods used to develop this EIS are summarized here by resource.

E.2.1 Land Use

The region of influence includes the NTS and land immediately adjacent to the NTS, portions of the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR) Complex, the Tonopah Test Range, the Project Shoal Area, the Central Nevada Test Area, Eldorado Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Coyote Spring Valley.

An analysis was conducted to determine the effects of each of the four alternatives on land resources at the NTS and affected portions of the NAFR Complex. Changes in land resource areas resulting from each alternative were compared to existing conditions of the affected environment, and potential impacts were determined. Direct impacts resulting from project-related activities during implementation and operation phases, and indirect impacts resulting from project-related population growth or decline were considered. Impacts were considered negative, and possibly significant, if there was insufficient land available under theU.S. Department of Energy (DOE) control for a proposed activity. Additionally, conflicts with established safety standards; adjacent public or private recreation, religious, or institutional facilities or sites; or local, regional, state, or federal land-use plans, policies, or controls would be considered negative impacts that could be determined as significant. Impacts could be considered beneficial if a proposed project resulted in providing additional land available for use, or if a proposed change resulted in a higher and better use of land resources. Potential mitigation measures have been identified for adverse land-use impacts. Appendix A of the Final NTS EIS provides related land-use information.

E.2.1.1 NTS Site-Support Activities.

This section summarizes the methods of analysis used to assess the potential impacts to site-support activities resulting from the four alternatives presented in this EIS.

E. Alternative 1

—The methods used for Alternative 1 were based on the assumption that activities and facilities, including the consumption of resources, would continue at the current level. The analysis of environmental conditions was based on the following information and assumptions:

  • The availability of usable water at the NTS is adequate and has not exhibited any notable decline

  • The current use (pumping from wells) is approximately 20 percent of the maximum capacity

  • Existing land capacities for the disposal of solid sanitary waste are available and suitable

  • Existing land capacities for the disposal of low-level waste and mixed waste are available and suitable.

Operational assumptions include the following:

  • The NTS site-support activities will remain at approximately the existing level for personnel and resources

  • Routine maintenance will be provided to keep the existing equipment and utilities functional

  • Major construction activities will not occur under Alternative 1.

Operational activities will continue indefinitely under Alternative 1. The total estimated cost for the NTS site-support activities includes the annual cost for operations and maintenance, including labor, utilities, materials, maintenance, and contingency. Ground disturbance for the site-support activities includes equipment, facility and administration buildings, and the parking lots and adjacent roads leading up to the facilities.

It is assumed that 25 percent of the entire NTS will continue to be unused and will provide a buffer zone, as noted in the Fiscal Year 1994 NTS Technical Site Information (RSN, 1994).

The total number of personnel required to operate and manage the NTS site-support activities is based on the number of contractors represented in organizational charts of the U.S. Department of Energy/Nevada Operations Office (DOE/NV) and the August 1994 Report of NTS-Related and Other Nevada-Related Employment.

Building activities are not applicable to this alternative for site-support activities. The water consumption estimate is based on, and related to, the number of personnel needed to operate and manage the site-support activities. The power consumption estimate is also based on, and related to, the number of personnel needed to operate and manage the site-support activities.

The fuel consumption estimate is based on, and related to, the number of personnel needed to operate and manage the site-support activities. The fuel consumption estimate is also based on the estimated number of vehicles to transport communication workers and supervisory personnel to individual site locations (one per day) and backto the originating location (one per day). The originating location for most personnel is Mercury, Nevada. The estimate and impact do not specifically include impacts as a result of personnel travel in Las Vegas.

No industrial wastewater is generated as a result of the site-support operations. No known radiological waste was known to be generated by activities associated with site support. The hazardous materials estimate is based on, and related to, the number of personnel needed to operate and manage the site-support activities.

E. Alternative 2

NTS site-support activities would be almost entirely abandoned under this alternative. Only minimal resources would be provided for the monitoring and security functions which would continue at the NTS under this alternative. It was assumed that for this alternative, the remaining monitoring and security functions would be reduced from the Alternative 1 levels by approximately 95 percent. Off-site support would not exist under this alternative.

E. Alternative 3

Under Alternative 3, the NTS site-support activities would be modernized and expanded to the extent necessary to provide support for existing activities and the new projects and activities not previously performed at the NTS. In the past, the facilities at the NTS have been capable of supporting a workforce much larger than currently exists, and it is assumed that this capability is mostly intact. Therefore, increases in site-support resource use for Alternative 3 were based on project-specific additions and not on a percentage increase.

E. Alternative 4

—The NTS site-support activities would be reduced under this alternative. The primary areas of site-support activity reduction would occur in on-site and off-site support. With Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program activities as the primary focus, a workforce reduction would be anticipated. In reality, this estimate would fluctuate depending on the addition of potential turn-back programs that could be pursued; however, it was assumed that these functions would be run by commercial organizations.

E.2.1.2 Airspace

Airspace is a finite resource that can be defined vertically, horizontally, and temporally for aviation purposes. As such, airspace must be managed and used in a manner that best serves the competing needs of commercial, general, military, and other agency aviation interests. As the primary agency responsible for the management of airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration reviews all airspace user requirements and establishes designated areas based on the degree of protection needed to support these requirements. Rules of flight and air traffic control procedures have been established to govern if and how different segments of the aviation community may operate within each type of designated airspace.

When changes to designated airspaceuse are planned and/or proposed by the controlling agency, such as increased or reduced operations, mission or flight profile changes, etc., further study is needed to determine if such changes will (1) require modifications to the airspace structure or air traffic control systems/services, or (2) restrict, limit, or impinge in any manner on other aircraft within or adjacent to the airspace under review.

The airspace analysis for this study assesses potential impacts that actions occurring under each of the four alternatives may have on current use of the different airspaces within the region of influence. The region of influence includes the Nevada Test Site, the NAFR Complex (including the Tonopah Test Range), the Las Vegas Class B airspace overlying the Dry Lake and Eldorado Valleys, the Fallon Naval Air Station restricted airspace over the Project Shoal Area in northwestern Nevada, and the uncontrolled airspace over the Central Nevada Test Area. To the extent that data was available, this analysis considered the type and level of activities projected for each alternative and their potential effect on each airspace area. Current and projected use of this airspace by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as part of the NAFR Complex training mission, was also considered. Based on review of cumulative uses under each alternative, a determination was made on the potential impact of these projected uses on each affected airspace area within the region of influence. Any added potentially significant impacts of U.S. Department of Energy/U.S. Department of Defense (DOE/DoD)operations on civil aviation under any one of the alternatives would ultimately require review and action by the Federal Aviation Administration.

E.2.2 Transportation

The methods and assumptions used to analyze transportation risk impacts resulting from the four alternatives are presented in Appendix I , Transportation Study. Analysis results and Nevada route risk comparisons are also presented in the Transportation Study. The following discusses methodologies for on-site and off-site traffic, and transportation of materials and waste.

E.2.2.1 On-Site Traffic

The use-related effects on traffic for the on-site roadway networkwere assessed by estimating the average number of daily trips generated by each land use, project, or activity for each of DOE's primary programs: Defense, Waste Management, Environmental Restoration, Nondefense Research and Development, and Work for Others. These trip generation rates were estimated by considering employee distribution, visitors, residents, service vehicles associated with construction, and all other on-site activities for each of the proposed alternatives. An on-site "trip" has both its origin and destination on the NTS, and can be counted as traffic on more than one roadway segment depending on the route traveled. For the purpose of this report, it was assumed that all on-site trips would be uniformly distributed throughout the day, and have an endpoint in Mercury, Nevada. This assumption provides a worst-case situation by focusing the traffic volume on the roadways around Mercury, Nevada. It should be noted that traffic levels on the site would also be subject to many event-related projects and activities which are unique to the NTS.

The on-site traffic analysis used the standard techniques of trip generation, trip distribution, and traffic assignment. The daily trips generated under each alternative were distributed to the areas of the NTS that were most likely to be affected by each of the programs. The traffic was then assigned to themajor roadways according to this distribution. To determine how well a section of roadway facilitates vehicular traffic, the operating capacity is generally compared to the volume of traffic carried by the section. The traffic volumes that are used in this report are defined as average daily traffic, the total two-way traffic averaged daily. Traffic effects for the on-site roadways were determined based on a comparison of average daily traffic to the capacity of each key roadway segment on the NTS. Analyses were conducted for each alternative including Alternative 1.

This report presents the estimated number of daily trips that would be generated by each program under each alternative, and provides the deviation from Alternative 1, in order to assess action-related effectson traffic. The contribution by each program to the average daily traffic of each key roadway segment is also provided as an indication of the level of congestion.

E.2.2.2 Off-Site Traffic

The transportation network in the region of influence includes principal road networks leading to the NTS and off-site project locations, with emphasis on the area surrounding each site. Existing travel characteristics for the DOE employees were determined using existing employee survey data, site visits, and existing reports. Historical data on traffic volumes and road capacities were obtained from the Nevada Department of Transportation Annual Traffic Report.

The region of influence includes the access roads and regional highways leading to the NTS, NAFR Complex, Tonopah Test Range, Project Shoal Area, Central Nevada Test Area, and the Solar Enterprise Zones.

The effects on roadway traffic for all alternatives were assessed by estimating the number of trips generated by each program-related activity, considering employees, visitors, residents, and service and delivery vehicles associated with construction and operations. These trips were then assigned to key roadway segments as established in Chapter 4 .

The general unit of measure for traffic on a highway is the average daily traffic. Traffic volumes duringpeak hours better reflect the operating conditions. In general, the thirtieth highest hourly volume of the year is used to represent the daily peak hour and is used for this analysis. On the average, the thirtieth highest hourly volume is about 15 percent of average daily traffic on rural arterials and 8 to 12 percent of average daily traffic in urban areas. On rural highways, when there is unusual or highly seasonal fluctuation in traffic flow and a high percentage of traffic in one direction during the peak hours, the directional distribution of traffic should be considered. This is known as the directional design hourly volume. For example, if the thirtieth highest hourly volume is 15 percent of the average daily traffic, and the directional distribution at that hour is 60:40, the directional design hourly volume is 0.15 x 0.60 x average daily traffic, or 9 percent of the average daily traffic. The key roadway segments analyzed exist in rural and urban areas and generally experience seasonal variations. The Nevada Department of Transportation 1993 Annual Traffic Report (NDOT, 1993) was the source for the thirtieth highest hourly volume used.

The analysis is based on the peak-hour trips, data on roadway capacities, traffic volumes, and standards established by federal, state, and local transportation agencies, and uses the standard analysis techniques of trip generation, trip distribution, and traffic assignment. The vehicle trip generation rate per employee was determined from the number of vehicles observed at the access highway leading to the main entrance to the NTS and correlated to the number of on-site employees. In 1993, the average daily traffic recorded at the main entrance to the NTS was 1,375 vehicles in both directions, or 1,375 vehicle trip ends. During the same period, 2,948 employees worked on site. Therefore, the daily vehicle trip rate was approximately 0.50 vehicle trip ends per on-site employee. This rate accounts for commuters, visitors, trucks, and service vehicles, and it is assumed to remain constant throughout the period of analysis. Typically, the vehicle trip generation rate for office and light industrial land uses is in the range of 3 to 6 vehicle trip ends per employee (ITE, 1991). However, because bus ridership among NTS employees is relatively high (approximately 70 percent of on-site employees use the bus and 30 percent drive their cars or carpool), this rate isonly 0.50 vehicle trip ends per on-site employee. This analysis assumes the continuation of the current travel mode choice.

The distribution of trips to and from the site is based on the number and location of access points to the site, the existing travel patterns (mainly for commuters), and the locations of employee residences. It was assumed that the residential choices of project-related employees would correspond to those of the current on-site personnel. The resulting vehicle trips generated by the project during the peak hour analyzed were then added to the peak hour of nonproject-generated traffic (background traffic) projected under Alternative 1. Future traffic volumes on key roadways were projected using previous trends for each segment obtained from available average daily traffic from 1983 to 1993. Currently, NTS employees enter the site from guard station 100 by way of the site access road (State Route 433), which connects U.S. Highway 95 at the Mercury, Nevada interchange. On a daily basis, U.S. Highway 95 east (to the Las Vegas area) carries 98 percent of employee vehicle trips; U.S. Highway 95 west handles the remaining 2 percent (Tetra Tech, Inc., 1995).

Traffic impacts were determined based on level of service changes for each of the key roads analyzed. A summary of average daily vehicle trips generated by each program activity for the years 1996, 2000, and 2005 was generated, and the level of service change was determined. Based on American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards, level of service B is appropriate for freeways and arterials and rural highways (level or rolling terrain). Level of service C is appropriate for rural (mountainous), urban, and suburban highways. For local roads, level of service D is appropriate in all terrain (AASHTO, 1990).

E.2.2.3 Transportation of Materials and Waste

The methods and assumptions used to analyze impacts for transportation of materials and waste resulting from the four alternatives are presented in Appendix I , Transportation Study. Analysis results and Nevada route risk comparisons are also presented in the Transportation Study.

E.2.3 Socioeconomics

A region of influence is defined as the area in which the principal, direct, and secondary socioeconomic effects of site actions are likely to occur and are expected to be of the most consequence for local jurisdictions. The economic activity information presented contains current conditions in a region of influence comprised of Nye and Clark counties, Nevada. This region of influence includes 97 percent of the residential distribution of the employees of the DOE, its contractor personnel, and supporting government agencies. In addition, the region of influence encompasses the probable location of future off-site contractor operations and indirect economic activities.

The regions of influence addressed in this section may vary, as appropriate, from one socioeconomic issue to another. The public finance region of influence includes the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, the towns of Tonopah and Pahrump, the counties of Clark and Nye, the Clark County School District and the Nye County School District. The pertinent region of influence for different public services also differ. For example, with public education, the region of influence is the Clark County School District and the Nye County School District.

The socioeconomic analysis discusses the potential socioeconomic effects associated with each alternative examined in the NTS EIS. The purpose of the study is to identify and analyze the major socioeconomic issues related to each possible future activity at the sites and to compare the effects of these alternatives with each other. All changes associated with proposed alternatives were considered effects. Alternative 1 was considered equivalent to future baseline conditions without new activities.

Socioeconomic analysis involves two major steps: (1) the characterization and projection of existing social and economic conditions surrounding each of the candidate sites (i.e., the affected environment); and (2) the evaluation of potential changes in socioeconomic conditions that could result from the construction of and operation associated with each alternative.

The description of socioeconomic conditions includes economic indicators (population, civilian labor force, employment, unemployment rate, and income) that provide a basis for comparing regional socioeconomic conditions of the sites with all alternatives. In addition, public finance and public services (public education, police and fire protection, and health) are also described.

The socioeconomic analysis addresses the timing of effects associated with each alternative for future reuses. The analysis covers a period extending 10 fiscal years beyond 1996. Results are usually presented for each alternative for the benchmark years of 1996, 2000, and 2005.

Of particular importance in this analysis are alternative effects, which are the differences of each alternative from Alternative 1. These effects include both direct on-site and indirect secondary effects for each alternative. Direct on-site effects are the changes immediately associated with an alternative, such as employment at a facility. Secondary effects include the indirect and induced changes that may occur either on site or off site. The actual location of secondary effects depends primarily on personal and organizational purchasing choices (i.e., locational decisions). Fiscal effects to local jurisdictions were evaluated based on changes in employment, population, and income and their effects on revenues and expenditures. Effects to key local public services were determined by the change in demand for personnel and facilities arising from project implementation.

The affected environment includes recent socioeconomic trends in Clark and Nye counties. Trends were analyzed for economic activity, population, housing, public finance, and public services. Data were examined for the 1970, 1980, and 1990 census years, as well as the most recent 5-year period for which data were available.

Site-related effects, defined as program-related economic activity, population, housing, public finance, and public services were also discussed. The most recent data were used to determine the trend of site-related effects.

E.2.3.1 Economic Activity, Population, and Housing

A 1994 survey of the NTS workerresidential distribution reveals that 90 percent of the workforce lives in Clark County, 7 percent live in Nye County, and the remaining 3 percent reside in other counties or states. Within Clark County, most employees of the DOE/NV reside in the Las Vegas area (DOE, 1994). The Clark and Nye counties' regions of influence were identified based on the distribution of residents for current DOE and contractor personnel working at the sites described in this EIS (DOE, 1994). The region of influence was determined to be the area in which approximately 97 percent of current DOE and contractor employees reside. It was estimated that future distribution of direct workers associated with the proposed alternatives would follow the same trend. For the purpose of this analysis, the county data projections are accomplished separately. Because of the differences in size, economies, and contributions to the NTS, a misleading analysis would be produced if Clark and Nye counties were analyzed as one aggregate area of impact.

Labor force and employment by place of residence were obtained from the Nevada Employment Security Department. Income data and employment by place of work were obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Economic Information Systems (DOC, 1992). Historical personal income and per capita income values were converted to constant 1994 dollars using the current U.S. Department of Commerce national income deflator index. Constant dollars are used as a gauge in adjusting the dollars of other years to ascertain actual purchasing power. Historical and current populations for Clark County were obtained from the Center of Business and Economic Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Schwer, 1995). Population figures for Nye County were obtained from the Baseline Economic and Demographic Projections: 1990-2010 Nye County and Nye County Communities (Nye County Board of Commissioners, 1993). Baseline housing needs are based on housing unit and population data obtained from the 1990 Census of Population and Housing.

Effects to key local public services are determined by the change in demand for personnel. The ability to accommodate increased demand, or to respond to decreases in demand while maintaining accustomed levels of local public service, is examined based onpotential changes in demand for services. Direct effects on public services would arise from changes in levels of employment and corresponding population changes.

Current levels of service discussed in the Public Services section in Chapter 4 were used as standards of service. Potential effects were determined by either the necessary addition or reduction of public service employees needed to serve the alternative-related population increases or decreases.

The public service impacts of all other alternatives can be determined by subtracting total personnel required from the Alternative 1 future baseline. The addition or reduction in personnel required would be the specific impact associated with that alternative.

The future baseline (Alternative 1) was established from the total employment projected for each of the sites at the end of Fiscal Year 1995. These proposed Fiscal Year 1995 employment estimates are believed to best reflect the staffing levels needed as a result of recent stockpile requirement reductions.

For the Environmental Restoration Program, it was assumed that regulatory requirements would be at the same levels as any Federal National Priority List site, and the most stringent level of analysis and cleanup would be employed. The Remedial Action Cost Engineering and Requirements System, which is used with projects of a similar magnitude and with the same regulatory requirements, shows that salaries for activities to support the remedial investigation/feasibility study phase and remedial design/remedial action range from $120 to $150 per hour. These salaries include other direct costs and more specialized labor categories such as registered chemists. It was assumed that with the size of the sites and their different locations, rental and mobilization costs would be high or the program would require teams to work simultaneously throughout the sites.

Historical trends were determined. Growth projections for Clark County population, labor force, employment, and income were based on projections from the Center of Business andEconomic Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The growth projections for Nye County were based on those found in Baseline Economic and Demographic Projection: 1990-2010 Nye County and Nye County Communities (1993).

The socioeconomic impact analysis applied total output multipliers for the region of influence, obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Interindustry Multiplier System. These interindustry multipliers were estimated using the United States input/output table in combination with the most recent region-specific information describing the relationship of the regional economy to the national economy. The Regional Interindustry Multiplier System model is based on research by Cartwright et al. (1981). The model includes the following four major components for the analysis:

  • A regional interindustry component that produces a regional input/output table and output multipliers for each specified sector of the economy for each economic study area

  • A direct-effects component that produces a matrix of final demands (estimated changes in industry and household spending due to project activities) on the basis of direct employment and procurement associated with the alternative

  • An employment impact component that calculates regional indirect output, earnings, and employment estimates

  • A macroeconomics impact component that calculates regional population impacts on changes in unemployment, the share of the labor force with the necessary skills to take direct project jobs, and the portion of the direct employment that would flow to the region of influence.

Future housing units needed for cities and counties in each region of influence were developed by estimating the household size from the current population and housing unit ratios. The household size-to-population ratios were then applied to the estimated future population trends to obtain the number of housing units needed to accommodatethe projected population for the Alternative 1 future baseline.

E.2.3.2 Public Finance

The financial characteristics of potentially affected local jurisdictions were examined. The local jurisdictions include Clark County, the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, Clark County School District, Nye County, the towns of Tonopah and Pahrump, and the Nye County School District.

Governmental funds discussed in this EIS are those which fund most governmental functions of the jurisdiction. Governmental fund types include general, special revenues, debt service, and capital projects funds. The general fund accounts are for financial transactions related to revenues and expenditures of services not accounted for in other funds. Special revenues are those funds accounted for in the proceeds of specific revenue sources that are legally restricted for specified purposes. Debt service funds account for the accumulation of resources for, and the payment of, interest and principal on general long-term debt. Capital projects funds are used to account for financial resources for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities. The fiscal year for all Nevada jurisdictions is the 12-month period from July 1 to June 30.

For many jurisdictions discussed, ad valorem taxes are a major source of revenue. These are taxes which are levied on the assessed valuation of real property. Assessed valuation is a basis for levying real estate taxes. Thirty-five percent of the taxable value of real property is used as the basis for levying property taxes in most Nevada jurisdictions.

The fund balance, as a percentage of current expense, depicts how much reserves would be used if current (due within a year) expenses had to be paid without considering revenues. The lower the percentage, the less is available to pay off current expenses.

Fiscal effects include incremental property tax revenue and associated increases in services. Particular emphasis is placed on changes in revenues and expenditures based on increases and decreases in population, employment, and income. All revenues and expenditures are a combined total of general, special, debt service, and capital project funds.

Generally, the growth or decline of revenues and expenditures experienced in the past five years is expected to continue in the future based on expected population, employment, and income projections. To predict different items in the income statement of each jurisdiction, appropriate methodologies were used depending on the item.

Population levels were used to forecast an item that is generally population-dependent, such as ad valorem taxes. A per capita figure was used based on Fiscal Year 1994. As population levels increased or decreased, the ad valorem taxes reflected this increase or decrease proportionately. Licenses and permits were figured in the same way, using personal income as a benchmark. Employment was used to predict items such as fines and forfeitures.

For some items such as miscellaneous transfers to and from other funds, proceeds from bonds and loans, and transfers to refunding bond escrow agents, a moving average was used. Moving averages are used to compute an average of the most recent data values in a time series. This average is then used as the forecast for each successive period.

For most expenditures, a fixed cost percentage was determined. Regardless of the population increase or decrease, certain fixed costs must be maintained. Variable costs above that percentage are tied to population. The more or less population there is, the greater or fewer corresponding services are required.

With school districts, most revenues and expenditures were correlated with levels of enrollment, which, in turn, corresponded to the population in the particular school district. For the Clark County School District, enrollment was assumed to be 14.74 percent of the population; for the Nye County School District, enrollment was assumed to be 36.91 percent of the population. Both percentages represent the Fiscal Year 1994 enrollment.

Finally, the income statements were tallied, resulting in total revenues and expenditures for Fiscal Year 1995 to Fiscal Year 2005. Projected debt service, current expense, and the fund balance as a percentage of current expense were tallied.

E.2.3.3 Public Services

The key public services examined in this analysis are public education, police and fire protection, and health care. Providers of these services in the region of influence are public school districts, police and fire departments, and hospitals and clinics. Existing conditions for each major public service focus on the providers that are geographically close to the sites and/or maintain the closest relations to the sites. The level of general public service is determined by student-to-teacher ratios at primary and secondary public schools and by the ratio of employees (sworn officers, professional firefighters, and health care personnel) to service population.

Under Nevada law, a single public school district serves each county and is responsible for educating students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The NTS EIS analysis highlights the Clark County and Nye County School Districts in terms of numbers of students and teachers and the student-to-teacher ratio.

Police protection in the region of influence is provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department, and Nye County Sheriff's Office with stations at Tonopah, Pahrump, Beatty, Mercury, and Amargosa Valley. Each provides law enforcement services in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, including the Nevada Highway Patrol.

No universal standards can be employed to determine proper patrol size considering the duties the patrol force is expected to perform, such as responding to calls for service, conducting preventive patrol, and performing miscellaneous administrative tasks. The amount of time devoted to each of these three broad areas is largely a policy decision that is made locally, based on past experience. Once an acceptable patrol-staffing level has been determined, it is necessary to devise a plan that will provide for the most efficient use of officers' time and the most productive geographic distribution (ICMA, 1982). The NTS EIS describessworn officer or deputy levels of service per 1,000 population, the number of vehicles, and the number and capacity of holding facilities.

Fire protection for the region of influence is provided by the Clark County Fire Department, Las Vegas Fire Department, North Las Vegas Fire Department, and several volunteer fire departments in Nye County (including Tonopah, Pahrump, Beatty, and Amargosa Valley).

In evaluating the adequacy of fire protection levels in any given area, major consideration must be given to a fire department's ability to handle efficiently any reasonably anticipated workload. This requires an evaluation of the possibility of several simultaneous working fires, weather factors that may contribute to the spread of fire, the delay in response or the possibility of slow operation at the scene, and other demographic or geographic conditions that might affect the frequency of fire occurrence and the response time of initial firefighting units (NFPA, 1986). The NTS EIS discusses the current number of fire stations, level of service per 1,000 population, number of firefighters, and types of equipment.

Health care was analyzed for Clark and Nye counties. Health care levels of service were determined by the number of medical doctors and registered nurses per 1,000 population who are registered to practice in each county.

E.2.4 Geology and Soils

For each alternative being considered, adverse impacts to the geology will be assessed using the systematic approach of (1) identification of credible adverse impacts, (2) identification of factors responsible for these impacts, (3) analysis of the risk (the probability of these factors causing an impact and the consequence of such an impact), and (4) analysis of measures to mitigate determined risk. Potential credible adverse impacts related to the geology of the areas being considered are:

  • Contamination of surface deposits

  • Contamination of subsurface deposits

  • Accelerated erosion

  • Accelerated deposition

  • Induced seismicity and faulting

  • Ground fracturing

  • Ground subsidence

  • Ground folding

  • Ground instability

  • Isolation of natural resources

  • Exploration for natural resources

  • Exploitation of natural resources.

Because the alternatives being considered involve continued use of the areas in a manner more, less, or the same as the present, identification of factors responsible for these impacts was largely through analysis of affected changes associated with past- to-present activities. Impacts under the more-or less-use alternatives were extrapolated. Analyses included review of literature, review of data currently being collected in the many ongoing studies related to geology, and discussions with experts in the field. Risk was analyzed through standard published methodologies. Mitigating measures will be based on the effect of measures taken in the past, in addition to new concepts.

E.2.5 Hydrology

The main source of water is groundwater. Therefore, the methods used to evaluate water resources are presented in the groundwater section. Because the alternatives being considered involve continued use of the areas in a matter more, less, or the same as the present, the factors responsible for impacts were identified largely through analysis of affected changes associated with past-to-present activities. Impacts under Alternatives 2 and 3 were extrapolated. Analyses included review of literature, review of data currently being collected in the many ongoing studies related to hydrology, and discussions with experts in the field. Risk was analyzed through standard published methodologies. Mitigating measures were based on the effect of measures taken in the past, in addition to new concepts.

E.2.5.1 Surface Hydrology

For each alternative being considered, adverse impacts to the surface hydrology were assessed using the systematic approach of (1) identification of credible adverse impacts, (2) identification of factors responsible for these impacts, (3) analysis of the risk (the probability of these factors causing an impact and the consequence of such an impact), and (4) analysis of measures to mitigate determined risk. The potential credible adverse impacts related to the surface hydrology of the areas being considered are:

  • Stoppage of surface water flow

  • Diversion of surface water flow

  • Concentration of surface water flow

  • Impoundment of surface water

  • Flooding

  • Contamination of surface water

  • Stoppage or reduction of spring discharge.

E.2.5.2 Water Resources

The potential credible adverse impacts related to the groundwater of the areas being considered are:

  • Change in infiltration

  • Change in recharge

  • Change in the water table

  • Change in groundwater flow

  • Change in groundwater yield

  • Exploration for groundwater

  • Exploitation of groundwater

  • Contamination of groundwater.

Information needed for impact evaluation was obtained from existing agency files and published data sources. Data were compiled on static and pumping water levels, well and aquifer mechanics, potentially impacted water right owners,environmentally sensitive areas, and documented boundary conditions.

The legal water availability was established through the review of records on file with the Nevada Division of Water Resources. Basin water right abstracts were requested from the Nevada Division of Water Resources and were used to determine the perennial yield, committed water resources, and estimated water use for each hydrographic basin under construction.

Phased water-demand estimates for the Solar Enterprise Zone have already been prepared. For other alternative actions, water demand was either based on conceptual designs or historic water use. For activities for which no water-use estimates are available, independent estimates were through development of a unit resource requirements table. Resource requirement tables were submitted to the DOE for review and concurrence before they were used in impact estimates.

The groundwater resources for a given hydrographic basin were assessed through the use of analytical solutions-solving for the drawdown of hypothetical well fields. Strack's (1989) two-dimensional analytical solutions for steady-state flow were used to calculate discharge potential.

Discharge potentials were computed using Strack's (1989) analytical solutions as they are incorporated into the groundwater flow model, Quickflow (Geraghty and Miller, Inc., 1991). Quickflow uses several of Strack's (1989) solutions to calculate the discharge potential at any given point. Two of these solutions were used in this modeling effort. The first equation modeled discharge potential created as a function of the regional gradient. The second equation modeled discharge potential as a function of stress created by one or more pumped wells. The solutions of the two equations were summed at any given point and then converted to head.

E.2.5.3 Assumptions and Limitations

Several assumptions are inherent in Strack's solutions: aquifers have infinite extent; are homogeneous; isotropic; have a constant thickness with the underlying, completely horizontal, impermeable basement; uniform regional hydraulic gradient; horizontal laminar flow; and are fully penetrated by wells. All of the results for this modeling effortmust be qualified by these assumptions. During modeling, these assumptions were translated into the following boundary conditions: regional flow is uniform and unhampered by boundary conditions between and within each basin; recharge from precipitation does not occur; vertical flow does not occur; and leakage between aquifers and aquitards does not occur. The intent of this model is to determine if an idealized version of the most productive formation in each hydrographic basin is capable of sustaining groundwater production under steady-state conditions at rates specified by Nevada's Division of Water Resources State Engineer's Office. It is not to determine the overall groundwater budget for any given basin. Any such attempt would require additional data collection and a much more intensive modeling effort using finite-difference or finite-element models.

The impacts of groundwater withdrawals were estimated through the use of standard hydrologic techniques, specifically the Theis nonequilibrium equation, distance drawdown graphs, and image well analyses. A simple two-dimensional analytical model (King, 1984) was used to perform the calculations, and a standard spreadsheet was used to generate the distance drawdown graphs. Where input data were lacking, reasonable values were selected that led to a reasonable worst-case evaluation and sensitivity analyses were performed to determine a range of impacts rather than a single value.

E.2.6 Biological Resources

Impacts of the DOE activities on biological resources were assessed qualitatively. Because of the large number of projects and sites being evaluated, a systematic method was used to conduct and document this assessment. This process was adapted from Wright and Greene (1987), and was performed by a team of biologists familiar with the biota (local plants and animals) of the affected areas.

Step 1. Identify the Geographic and Temporal Scope of the Evaluation. Biologists first established boundaries to the scope of the evaluation so analyses from all programs and alternatives would be consistent.

Step 2. Identify Potential Impacts of the DOE Activities. The second step taken was to examine project descriptions to determine and categorize the ways that DOE actions might impact biological resources. All phases (e.g., construction, operation, transportation, decommissioning) of each project that would occur over the 10-year timeframe covered by this EIS (1996 to 2005) were evaluated. To ensure that all species were considered and that economically important or rare species and habitats were given special consideration, potential impacts were evaluated on three receptors: habitat, plant, and animal populations (with emphasis given to economics); recreationally important species and candidate species, and individual threatened or endangered species, golden eagles, or migratory birds, and natural springs and their associated biotic communities (the only rare habitat or community in the region). All potential impacts were considered unless they were obviously trivial (e.g., redisturbance of disturbed ground along road shoulders).

Step 3. Classify Significance of Impacts. The third step was to classify the significance of the potential impacts identified in the second step. The following were considered when classifying impacts: direct and indirect effects; cumulative effects; impacts to individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems; magnitude of the effects (e.g., proportion of the population affected); spatial pattern of effects; duration of effects; probability that effects would occur; human perception of effects; and mitigation possibilities. Impacts were regarded as significant only if they were likely to have substantial, permanent effects on the resource.

To evaluate effects on habitat, the total amount of habitat lost or gained through reclamation of disturbed areas was quantified for each project. To evaluate effects on the other three receptors, the following criteria were established to identify impacts of sufficient significance to warrant discussion in the NTS EIS and the development of mitigation actions. These criteria were defined and used as standards to facilitate comparisons of potential impacts among the many different activities, programs, and alternatives.

Effects on plant and animal populations. An activity was considered to have a significant impact if it was (1) likely to either reduce or increase the viability of any plant or animal population (i.e., the ability of the population to persist through time) or (2) cause a change in the abundance of a plant or animal population that would lead to an increase or decrease in economic or recreational opportunities. The first criterion was chosen to ensure that impacts would be identified and considered if they might increase the risk of extinction of any species, including the most vulnerable of species, such as candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Quantitative population viability analyses were not conducted. The following factors were qualitatively evaluated to determine changes in viability: change in generic diversity, population size and population demographics; changes in size and population demographics; changes in the ecosystem processes required by a species; and barriers to dispersal or other important movements, such as travel to breeding or wintering areas. The second criteria was chosen to ensure that all losses and gains in economic or recreational opportunities would be considered.

Effects on protected species. Individuals of species protected under the Endangered Species Act, Bald Eagle Protection Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act received consideration over and above that given to other species. An activity was considered to have a significant negative impact if it was likely to kill or injure protected species. This level was chosen to identify those activities that might result in "take" of the species. Positive effects to these species were considered at the habitat and population scale as defined previously.

Effects on springs. An activity was considered to have a significant impact if it would influence the persistence of springs or their associated biotic communities by causing a change in water quantity or quality or by modifying the ecosystem on which these communities depend. All projects were classified as having one of the following levels of impacts: potential to cause a (1) significant negative impact, (2) nonsignificant negative impact (i.e., having an action identified in Step 2 as potentially impacting biological resources but not meeting the significance criteria identified in Step 3), (3) significant positive impact,(4) nonsignificant positive impact, or (5) no impact (i.e., having no actions identified in Step 2 that may impact biological resources).

E.2.6.1 List of species names

The common and scientific names of plants and animals mentioned in text and tables of the NTS EIS are provided in Table E-1.

Step 4. Determine if Significant Negative Impacts Could be Mitigated and Propose Mitigation. Biologists attempted to identify mitigation recommendations for each significant negative impact. If mitigation was identified that would reduce the impact to less than significant, the impact was reclassified as a significant negative, but mitigable, impact.

Step 5. Combine Impacts at the Project Level to Facilitate Comparisons Across Alternatives. Following an examination of impacts on a project-by-project basis, the biologists, working as a group, summarized effects of DOE activities across all projects, within each alternative, to facilitate comparisons among alternatives.

E.2.7 Air Quality and Climate

Climatologic and meteorologic information for the region surrounding the NTS was derived from secondary sources. Ambient air quality information for the Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region 147, which contains the NTS, the NAFR Complex, the Project Shoal Area, and the Central Nevada Test Area, were obtained from the State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection. This information was compared to applicable National Ambient Air Quality Standards and Nevada Ambient Air Quality Standards. With the exception of radionuclides, ambient air quality at the NTS is not currently monitored for criteria pollutants. However, temporary monitoring stations were in operation in August and September of 1990, and results of this monitoring were used to determine an estimated ambient concentration contribution of criteria pollutants from existing sources at the NTS.

Each of the four alternatives was analyzed to discover the potential effects that the five programs and the site-support activities of the NTS may haveon regional air quality. In particular, the results of assessments on the impacts of construction and operation of facilities associated with each program in terms of expected pollutant emissions and concentration levels were analyzed. The types of emissions assessed are the criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and respirable particulate matter when the particulate diameter is equal to or less than 10 micrometers [PM10]). Volatile organic compounds, which can lead to the formation of ozone, are also assessed. The categories of sources assessed include stationary sources (such as stacks and vents), fugitive sources (such as construction and demolition activities), and mobile sources (such as vehicles) associated with NTS activities. The assessments focus on conditions or impacts, that might result at off-site locations from the release of contaminants from various categories of sources.

The impacts of existing and proposed sources of fugitive dust from construction activities were estimated using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission factor of 1.2 tons per acre per month. The particulate matter, PM10 was assumed to be 50 percent of the total dust loading. It was also assumed that the application of water reduces PM10 emissions by 50 percent. Pollutant emissions resulting from NTS bus fleet operations, NTS fleet light- and heavy-duty vehicles, privately owned vehicles, and heavy-duty commercial vehicles servicing the NTS site facilities were quantitatively predicted using emission factors obtained from the EPA Mobile Source Emission Factor Model, MOBILE 5a. The ambient air quality assessment did not include methods for quantifying impacts related to ozone formation because (1) emissions of volatile organic compounds (which are precursors of ozone formation) are below the significance level designated by the state of Nevada, (2) no simple defined method exists to assess ozone formation potentials, and (3) ozone is not recognized as a problem in the region. The region of influence for this air quality analysis includes Nye and Clark counties, Nevada, where the impacts of the project would likely occur.

Table E-1. Common and scientific names of plants and animals mentioned in text and tables

Common Name

Scientific Name


acacia, catclaw

Acacia greggii

baccharis, Emory

Baccharis emoryi


bear poppy, golden

Arctomecon Californica



Coleogyne ramosissima

brome, red

Bromus rubens

bursage, white

Ambrosia dumosa


Artemisia spinescens

cactus, beavertail, pricklypear

Opuntia basilaris


Typha spp.


Bromus tectorum


Hymenoclea salsola


cholla Blue Diamond

Opuatia Whipplei var. Multigeniculata

creosote bush

Larrea tridentata

egg-vetch, Clokey's

Astragalus oopherus var clokeyanus

ephedra, green

Ephedra viridis

ephedra, Nevada

Ephedra nevadensis


filaree, red-stemmed

Erodium cicutarium

galleta grass

Hilaria jamesii

globemallow, desert

Sphaeralcea ambigua



Chenopodium spp.


Sarcobatus vermiculatus


green molly

Kochia americana


Halogeton glomeratus


Grayia spinosa


Tetradymia glabrata

indigo bush, Fremont

Psorothamnus fremontii

indigo bush, glandular

Psorothamnus polyadenius

juniper, Utah

Juniperus osteosperma

menodora, spiny

Menodora spinescens

milkvetch, Beatley

Astagalus beatleyae

milkvetch, Geyer

Astragalus geyeri var. triquetrus

milkvetch, Needle Mountains

Astragalus eurylobus


pine, pinyon

Pinus monophylla

prince's plume, desert

Stanleya pinnata

rabbitbrush, punctate

Chrysothamnus paniculatus

ratany, range

Krameria parvifolia

ricegrass, Indian

Oryzophsis hymenoides


Juncus spp.


Artemisia spp.

sagebrush, big

A. tridentata

sagebrush, black

A. nova

saltbush, four-winged

Atriplex canescens


Tamarix ramosissima


Distichlis spicata


Carex spp.

seep weed

Suaeda torreyana


Atriplex confertifolia


Symphoricarpos spp.

tansy mustard

Descurainia spp.

thistle, Russian

Salsola tragus

willow, desert

Chilopsis linearis


Ceratoides lanata


Lycium andersonii, L. pallidum, and L.


Yucca spp.

yucca, Mohave

Yucca schidigera




Alectoris chukar

dove, mourning

Zenaida macrura

eagle, bald

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

falcon, peregrine

Falco peregruinus

flicker, northern

Colaptes auratus


hawk, red-tailed

Buteo jamaicensis

ibis, white-faced

Plegadis chihi

jay, scrub

Aphelocoma coerulescens

kingbird, western

Tyrannus verticalis

lark, horned

Eremophila alpestris

owl, western burrowing

Athene cunicularia Lypugea

phoebe, Say's

Sayornis saya

plover, mountain

Charadrius montanus

quail, Gambel's

Callipepla gambelii

raven, common

Corvus corax

shrike, loggerhead

Lanius ludovicianus

sparrow, black-throated

Amphispiza bilineata

sparrow, Brewer's

Spizella breweri


dace, Oasis Valley speckled

Rhinichthys asculus ssp.

pupfish, Devils Hole

Cyprinodon diabolis



Felis rufus

chipmunk, cliff

Eutamias dorsalis

cottontail, desert

Sylvilagus audubonii

cottontail, Nuttall's

S. Nuttallii


Canis latrans

deer, mule

Odocoileus hemionus

fox, kit

Vulpes velox

horse, wild

Equus caballus

jackrabbit, black-tailed

Lepus californicus

kangaroo mouse, dark

Microdipodops megacephalus

kangaroo rat, chisel-toothed

Dipodomys microps

kangaroo rat, desert

Dipodomys deserti

kangaroo rat, Merriam's

Dipodomys merriami

lion, mountain

Felis concolor

pocket mouse, Great Basin

Perognathus parvus

pocket mouse, long tailed

Perognathus formosus


Antilocapra americana


sheep, bighorn

Ovis canadensis

squirrel, white-tailed antelope

Ammospermophilus leucurus

woodrat, desert

Neotoma lepida



Sauromalus obesus

gila monster, banded

Heloderma suspectum cinctum

lizard, desert horned

Phrynosoma platyrhinos

lizard, desert night

Xantusia vigilis

lizard, side-blotched

Uta stansburiana

lizard, western fence

Sceloporus occidentalis

rattlesnake, speckled

Crotalus mitchellii


Crotalus cerastes

snake, gopher

Pituophis melanoleucus

snake, western shovelnose

Chionactis occipitalis

toad, Amargosa

Bufo nelsoni

tortoise, desert

Gopherus agassizii

whipsnake, striped

Masticophis taeniatus

E.2.8 Noise

Noise is defined as sound that is undesirable because it interferes with speech communication and hearing, is intense enough to damage hearing, or is otherwise annoying. The characteristics of sound include parameters such as amplitude, frequency, and duration. Noise levels often change with time; therefore, to compare levels over different time periods, several descriptors were developed that account for time variance. These descriptors are used to assess and correlate the various effects of noise on man, including land-use compatibility, sleep and speech interference, annoyance, hearing loss, and startle effects.

The decibel (DB), a logarithmic unit that accounts for the large variations in amplitude, is the accepted standard unit measurement of sound.

When measuring sound to determine its effects on the human population, A-weighted sound levels (dBA) are typically used to account for the response of the human ear (ANSI/ASME, 1983). Human response to sounds are lowest at low and high frequency levels and greatest in the middle frequency level. A-weighted sound levels represent adjustments to sound levels that are made according to the frequency content of the sound.

The day-night average sound level was developed to evaluate the total community noise environment. The day-night average sound level is the average A-weighted sound level during a 24-hour period with 10 DB added to nighttime levels (between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.). This adjustment is added to account for the increased sensitivity of nighttime noise events. The day-night average sound level was endorsed by the EPA and is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the DoD for land-use assessments. The day-night average sound level is sometimes supplemented with the equivalent sound level. The equivalent sound level is the dBA level of a steady-state sound, which has the same dBA sound energy as that contained in the time-varying sound being measured over a specific time period.

The region of influence includes the NTS, portions of the NAFR Complex, the Tonopah Test Range, the Project Shoal Area, the Central Nevada Test Area, Eldorado Valley, Dry Lake Valley, Coyote Spring Valley, and the regions surroundingthese sites. Special attention was paid to sensitive receptors that are near the boundaries of these sites.

The impact analysis section discusses the potential effects of the five programs and site-support activities on noise at all sites and in the surrounding area. Impacts of noise on workers are discussed in the occupational and public health and safety sections.

Because of its large size, 3,496 square kilometers (km2) (1,350 square miles [mi2]), noise generated on the NTS site does not propagate offsite at audible levels. The closest sensitive receptors to the site boundary are residences located 1.3 miles to the south in the unincorporated town of Amargosa Valley. Noise generation was estimated for construction and operational activities through the year 2005.

The calculation of noise levels at various distances from construction equipment sources assumed noise levels decreased with distance according to the inverse square law of noise propagation. Noise levels produced by various types of construction equipment at a reference distance of 15 meters (m) (50 feet [ft]) were obtained from the EPA document entitled Noise Construction Equipment and Operation Building Equipment and Home Appliance (EPA, 1971).

Railroad and aircraft noise were considered. Infrequent helicopter and small fixed-wing aircraft operations occur on the site. Supersonic aircraft operating from Nellis Air Force Base may overfly the site, producing sonic booms. Subsonic low-level flights may also create significant noise patterns over the site during training exercises.

The Central Nevada Test Area is located in Hot Creek Valley, north of U.S. Highway 6, approximately 129 km (80 mi) east of Tonopah. There are no sensitive receptors close to the site.

E.2.9 Visual Resources

A description of the existing visual resource conditions was prepared based on existing information, field visits, and photographs.

The affected environment visual resources evaluation was based on the U.S. Bureau of LandManagement Visual Resource Management Program. Visual resources include the natural and manmade physical features that give a particular landscape its character and value as an environmental factor. The physical feature categories which form the overall impression a viewer receives of an area include landform, vegetation, water, color, adjacent scenery, scarcity, and manmade (cultural) modification (BLM, 1980). Criteria used in the analysis of visual resources include scenic quality, visual sensitivity, and distance/visibility zones from key public viewpoints.

There are three scenic quality classes. Class A includes areas that combine the most outstanding characteristics of each physical feature category. Class B includes areas in which there is a combination of some outstanding characteristics and some that are fairly common to the region. Class C includes areas in which the characteristics are fairly common to the region.

Visual sensitivity for this analysis was based solely on the volume of travel on public highways, since this provides the only key public viewpoint of the study areas. Volume of travel was obtained from the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT, 1993). Study areas that are visible from highways with 3,000 or more average annual daily traffic were assigned a high sensitivity level. Study areas that are visible from highways with 1,000 to 2,999 average annual daily traffic were assigned a medium sensitivity level. Study areas that are visible from highways with average annual daily traffic below 1,000 were assigned a low visual sensitivity level.

Visual quality and sensitivity may be magnified or diminished by the distance or visibility of the landscape from key viewpoints (BLM, 1980). The landscape scene can be divided into three basic distance zones: foreground, from 0 to 0.8 km (0.5 mi); middleground, from 0.8 km (0.5 mi) to 8 km (5 mi); and background or seldom-seen views, from 8 km (5 mi) to infinity. Seldom-seen views also include those portions of the landscape that cannot be seen from a key viewpoint because the viewer's line of sight is blocked by terrain, vegetation, or some other physical feature.

The region of influence chosen for the visual resources analysis includes the NTS, portions of the NAFR Complex, the Tonopah Test Range, the Project Shoal Area, the Central Nevada Test Area, Eldorado Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Coyote Spring Valley. Of particular consideration are the portions of these sites that can be viewed from key public viewpoints, usually public highways.

An analysis of impacts was conducted to determine the effects of each of the four alternatives on visual resources. Visual impacts were assessed on the potential of each alternative to alter or conflict with the existing landscape character. The significance of visual impacts was determined by assessing scenic quality (Class A = outstanding features, Class B = a mix of outstanding and common features, and Class C = common features); the degree of visual contrast that the proposed project-related activities would create during implementation and operation phases; and whether the activities would be seen from low, medium, or high visually sensitive viewpoints that would be accessible to the public. These viewpoints would include areas such as public roadways, recreation areas, and residential areas. An impact to visual resources would be considered adverse and potentially significant if the combination of scenic quality, contrasts, and sensitivity levels of the viewpoints was unacceptably high. Potential mitigation measures have been identified for significant adverse visual impacts. Land-use sections and Appendix A provide related information regarding proposed facilities and activities that would impact visual resources.

E.2.10 Cultural Resources

This section summarizes the methods of analysis used to provide an assessment of potential impacts to the cultural resources considered in this EIS. Cultural resources generally consist of three types: (1) archaeological sites, (2) historic sites and structures, and (3) American Indian traditional cultural properties. Archaeological and historical sites contain artifacts and/or features that resulted from past human activities on the landscape. These sites are prehistoric, historic, or multicomponent. These categories refer to time. Prehistoric sites were formed before written records and historic sites date to times when written records were kept. Multicomponent sites have both historic and prehistoric components. American Indian traditional cultural properties can include these sites as well as other areas and materials that are important to American Indians for religious, historical, or cultural reasons. Traditional resources are areas, features, habitats, plants, animals, minerals, or archaeological sites that contemporary American Indians consider valuable for the continuation of their traditional culture and religion. Cultural resources of primary concern include properties that are eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are sacred American Indian sites and areas.

Considerable legislation has been enacted over the years which delineate federal agencies' obligations for cultural resources. Those most pertinent to this EIS include, but are not limited to:

  • The Antiquities Act of 1906 (Public Law 59-209)

  • The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-665 as amended)

  • The National Environmental Protection Act of 1969 (Public Law 91-190)

  • The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 (Public Law 94-291 as amended)

  • The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-341)

  • The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (Public Law 96-95)

  • The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-601).

These laws can be divided into three categories. First are the laws which regulate who can conduct archaeological studies and the penalties for people who do not abide by these laws. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law to require that archaeological work on federal land be conducted by professional archaeologists, who are obliged to obtain permits to undertake fieldwork. The law also sanctioned people who conducted illicitundertakings. While this law established a federal policy towards archaeological remains, it was not strong enough to curtail the looting of archaeological sites. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 along with its regulations (43 CFR Part 7) instituted a stronger permitting system for archaeological work on federal land, standards for the conduct of archaeological investigations, and established the framework as well as substantial penalties for violation of the law. Therefore, it ensures that only qualified archaeologists will conduct work on federal land and that their work must meet the guidelines provided by the Secretary of the Interior.

Second are the laws which require federal agencies to understand and plan for the effects of their actions on cultural resources. These laws are the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended), the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974. The National Historic Preservation Act is a landmark legislation which requires federal agencies to identify significant resources and mitigate adverse effects to the cultural resources which are eligible to be listed or are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires federal agencies to prepare a detailed statement on the environmental effects of proposed major federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. This legislation usually results in the generation of an EIS, which defines the impacts of such planned actions.

Sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act are the main drivers. Section 106 requires agencies to establish procedures for identifying cultural resources, evaluate their significance based on National Register of Historic Places criteria, assess effects, preserve or mitigate affected National Register of Historic Places or National Register of Historic Places-eligible resources, and coordinate and consult with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Section 110, on the other hand, is intended to ensure that historic preservation is fully integrated into the ongoing programs and missions of federal agencies. The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 followed the National Historic PreservationAct with similar requirements and has a specific focus on projects related to dam construction.

Third are the laws which are directed toward ensuring the rights of American Indians. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act protects the rights of American Indians to practice traditional religions. It ensures the right to access sites, to use and possess sacred objects, and to initiate ceremonials and traditional rites. The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act responded to concerns of American Indians regarding the custody and disposition of American Indian remains and American Indian cultural objects. This Act requires federal agencies and museums to prepare inventories and summaries of various kinds of cultural materials in order to initiate a repatriation process. Items affected by the Act include human remains and associated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.

The DOE has conducted surveys for the identification of cultural resources on a sustained basis since 1978 with the recording of over 2,000 sites in the area under its jurisdiction. Since 1988, the DOE has consulted with concerned American Indians in an effort to determine cultural resources that they believe are important. These consultations involve members from 17 different groups, representing three federally recognized tribes. These include the Southern Paiute, the Western Shoshone, and the Owens Valley Paiute whose membership encompasses parts of Nevada, California, Utah, and Arizona. These groups were identified as having prehistoric or historic ties to lands within and in the vicinity of the NTS. Consultations resulted in the publication of two documents that focus on the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project area (Stoffle et al., 1990) and on Pahute and Rainier Mesas (Stoffle et al., 1994). The DOE currently is in the process of conducting consultations with American Indians regarding the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act.

The data used to compile information on these resources were obtained from the database which the Desert Research Institute maintains for the DOE. This database contains a complete set of files, maps, and computerized information whichsummarizes all of the work completed on the NTS since 1978. This is the most complete set of documentation in existence for the NTS, and was consulted for each hydrographic region within the DOE jurisdiction. These files document areas that have been surveyed and list the number and location of sites discovered during each survey. They also identify areas where no sites were located during archaeological survey and therefore may have a lower archaeological sensitivity.

For those areas outside of the DOE jurisdiction, a Class I literature review was conducted at the Harry Reid Center and Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A Class I review involves a professional study of existing data that includes a compilation, analysis, and interpretation of all available archaeological, historic, and paleoenvironmental data (BLM, 1990). The Harry Reid Center is the official state repository for site records, reports, and maps that document cultural resources found in Clark, Lincoln, Nye, and Esmeralda counties. This review involved examination of all records pertinent to identification of previously recorded cultural resources. These records provide locations of previous surveys, identify negative surveys, and characterize archaeological sites recorded for each area. Additional information was obtained from published sources.

Consultations with American Indians are an integral part of the NTS EIS process. All 17 tribal groups have been consulted, and their concerns and comments are included in this document. This information was obtained through ethnographic work, as well as meetings and discussions between the DOE and the tribal representatives.

This EIS contains the most up-to-date information on the importance of cultural resources within the areas addressed by the NTS EIS. Cultural resources site data were compiled based on existing records and summarized by site type and eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places as determined through consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Cultural resources recorded prior to 1980 have not been formally evaluated through SHPO consultation. The eligibility of these sites is based on recommendations of the project archaeologists.

According to the National Register of Historic Places criteria (36 CFR Part 60.4), the quality of significance is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that:

  • Are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history

  • Are associated with the lives of persons significant in the past

  • Embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; represent the work of a master; possess high artistic value; or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction

  • Have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

To be listed in or considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, a cultural resource must meet at least one of the above criteria and must also possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Integrity is defined as the authenticity of a property's historic identity, as evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property's historic or prehistoric occupation or use. If a resource retains the physical characteristics it possessed in the past, it has the capacity to convey information about a culture or people, historic patterns, or architectural or engineering design and technology.

These criteria result in determination of eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Applicable research domains in Nevada which establish eligibility for prehistoric sites are defined in documents published by the state of Nevada (Lyneis, 1982) and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM, 1990). Similarly, research domains for historic sites are identified (White et al., 1991).

Compliance with requirements of cultural resource laws and regulations ideally involves four basic steps: (1) identification of cultural resources that could be affected by the proposed action andalternatives, (2) assessment of the impacts or effects of these actions, (3) determination of significance of potential historic properties, and (4) development and implementation of measures to eliminate or reduce adverse impacts. The latter is usually achieved through the establishment of a site-specific data recovery program.

Adverse effects that may occur are those that have a negative impact on characteristics that make a resource eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Actions that can diminish the integrity, research potential, or other important characteristics of historic property include the following (36 CFR Part 800.9):

  • Physical destruction, damage, or alteration of all or part of the property

  • Isolating the property from its setting or altering the character of the property's setting when that character contributes to the property's qualification of the National Register of Historic Places

  • Introduction of visual or auditory elements that are out of character with the property or that alter its setting

  • Transfer or sale of a federally owned property without adequate condition or restriction regarding its preservation, maintenance, or use

  • Neglect of a property, resulting in its deterioration or destruction.

Regulations for implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act indicate that the transfer, conveyance, lease, or sale of a historic property are procedurally considered to be adverse effects, thereby ensuring full regulatory consideration in federal project planning and execution. However, effects of a project that would otherwise be found to be adverse may not be considered adverse if one of the following conditions exists:

  • When the historic property is of value only for its potential contribution to archaeological, historical, or architectural research, and when such value can be substantially preservedthrough the conduct of appropriate research, and such research is conducted in accordance with applicable professional standards and guidelines

  • When the undertaking is limited to the rehabilitation of buildings and structures and is conducted in a manner that preserves the historical and architectural value of the affected historic property through conformance with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings

  • When the undertaking is limited to the transfer, conveyance, lease, or sale of a historic property, and adequate restrictions of conditions are included to ensure preservation of the property's significant features.

This EIS assumes that site-specific cultural resource evaluations will be conducted for future actions. However, for the purposes of this EIS, probable mitigative actions are summarized for both archaeological and architectural manifestations and are based on standard data recovery procedures established for the NTS.

Both direct and indirect adverse impacts are likely to result from current and proposed DOE activities as defined in this EIS. Direct impacts include ground-disturbing activities as well as alterations to existing, potentially significant historic structures. Indirect impacts may result from increased visitation and vehicular traffic within sensitive areas. While most adverse impacts to cultural resources can be negated through avoidance or mitigation, unavoidable impacts will be incurred at sites where contamination levels preclude archaeological survey, testing, or data recovery. Any cultural resources in these areas would be lost to surface and subsurface disturbance during remediation activities. Unavoidable impacts may also be incurred as a result of illegal artifact collecting. Such impacts may be minimized through educational programs involving NTS workers.

Another way that mitigative projects are made includes comparing a typical year's effort with what might likely occur under the alternatives. DuringFiscal Year 1994 (October 1993 to September 1994), 42 cultural resource reconnaissance surveys were conducted and more than 67 archaeological sites were recorded as a result. Data recovery plans were generated for three previously recorded sites and one data recovery project was executed. This level of effort is estimated to be typical under Alternative 1. For alternatives involving increased use of the NTS, no matter what that use might be, the level of effort is likely to be much greater than that documented for Fiscal Year 1994. For Alternative 2, the level of effort is estimated to be much less, although some impacts are still anticipated. These estimates cannot always predict the type or number of sites which may be encountered. Therefore, cultural resource survey and site characterization should be a necessary step for planned activities.

E.2.11 Occupational and Public Health and Safety/Radiation

The methods and assumptions used to analyze human health and risk impacts resulting from the four alternatives are presented in Appendix H . Human health and safety analysis results are also presented in this Appendix.

E.2.12 Environmental Justice

Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, requires identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of federal programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.

Demographic analysis is the first step in the determination of disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects to low-income and minority populations. This analysis sets the stage for impact analysis.

All program activities described in this EIS are located in Clark, Nye, or Lincoln counties; therefore, the region of influence for Environmental Justice includes these three counties for this sitewide EIS. Census block groups, which are clusters of blocks within the same census tracts, have been delineated for Clark, Nye, and Lincoln counties. Census block groups do not cross countyor census tract boundaries and generally contain between 250 and 550 housing units (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993).

For the purpose of analysis, low-income populations are individuals living within a census block group whose income is below the poverty level. Households are classified as being below the poverty level if the total family income or unrelated individual income is less than the poverty threshold specified for the applicable family size. For example, the weighted average threshold for a 4-person family is $12,674 for the 1990 census. This reflects the different consumption requirements of families based on their size and composition (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994).

The U.S. Bureau of the Census identifies four racial classifications, including (1) white; (2) black; (3) American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut; and (4) Asian or Pacific Islander. Hispanic is not considered a race by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; it is considered an origin. To determine the number of minorities for each census block group for the purpose of analysis, the white race category, less whites of Hispanic origin, were subtracted from the total census block group population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994).

Within each census block group, percentages are calculated of low-income and minority communities. The denominator used is the tri-county (Clark, Nye, and Lincoln counties) total population of 763,015. To determine whether a census block group percentage is meaningfully larger than other census block group percentages, thresholds (the average absolute deviation from the mean) for low-income and minority communities are determined. To calculate a threshold, the percentage of low-income or minority communities (as compared to the tri-county population) in all census block groups is averaged. The deviation from this mean is determined for each census block group. The absolute value of this deviation is summed for all census block groups and averaged. This becomes the upper and lower limit of the mean. For the purpose of this analysis, the upper limit is the one of interest. If a census block group percentage is larger than the threshold, it is considered a low-income or minority communitycensus block group and is shaded in the figures in Chapter 4 .

The mean percentage of minorities in each census block group is 0.07 percent. The deviation from this 0.07 percent is figured for each census block group, the absolute value is determined, and this absolute value for all census block groups is averaged. The absolute value average of the deviation from the mean is 0.06 percent. Therefore, the upper limit for minorities in a census block group is 0.07 percent plus 0.06 percent, or 0.13 percent. Any census block group above 0.13 percent for minorities is considered a minority community.

The same methodology is used for low-income communities. The average of the percentage of low-income population in all census block groups is 0.03 percent. The absolute value average (of the deviation from the mean) is 0.01 percent. Therefore, the upper limit for low-income communities in a census block group is 0.03 percent plus 0.01 percent, or 0.04 percent. Any census block group above 0.04 percent for low-income population is considered a low-income community.

Clark County is subdivided into 318 census block groups. Ninety-one of the census block groups are made up of low-income populations, and 57 census block groups constitute minority communities census block groups. Nye County is divided into 25 census block groups. One census block group has a low-income community above the threshold level percentage, and four census block groups have minority communities above the threshold level percentage. Lincoln County contains eight census block groups. No census block groups in Lincoln County have low-income or minority communities above the threshold level percentages.

Once the locations of areas of low-income and minority communities are determined, the next step is to determine whether the programs discussed in this EIS have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental impacts on low-income and minority communities. Environmental Justice analysis involves two types of investigation. One is the determination of significant and adverse impacts. The other is an evaluation of whether a minority or low-income population isdisproportionately affected by these significant and adverse impacts. If there are no significant and adverse impacts, then it follows that there would be no significant disproportionately high and adverse impacts experienced by minority and low-income populations.

To determine whether human health effects are adverse and disproportionately high, the following factors are considered:

  • Whether the health effects, which may be measured in risks and rates, are significant, unacceptable, and above generally accepted norms. Adverse health effects may include bodily impairment, infirmity, illness, or death

  • Whether the risk or rate of exposure by a minority population or low-income population to an environmental hazard is significant and appreciably exceeds or is likely to appreciably exceed the risk or rate to the general population

  • Whether health effects occur in a minority population or low-income population affected by cumulative or multiple adverse exposures from environmental hazards.

To determine whether environmental effects are adverse and disproportionately high for low-income and minority communities, the following three factors are considered to the extent practicable:

  • Whether there is an impact on the natural or physical environment that significantly and adversely affects a minority community or low-income community

  • Whether environmental effects are significant and are having an adverse impact on minority or low-income populations that appreciably exceeds or are likely to appreciably exceed those of the general population or other appropriate comparison group

  • Whether the environmental effects occur in a minority population or low-income population affected by cumulative or multiple adverse exposure from environmental hazards.

To determine where the impacts are located with respect to areas of low-income and minority populations, areas of significant and adverse impacts are in the Chapter 4 census block group maps and placed in the Chapter 5 Environmental Justice analysis section. The resulting maps identify where low-income and minority populations and significant and adverse impacts are located. With a geographic information system, an overlay analysis is performed to determine whether the impacts disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations. Disproportionate has been determined to mean 50 percent or more. In other words, if the overlay analysis determines that a significant adverse impact affects 50 percent or more of the areas of low-income populations or 50 percent or more of the areas of minority populations, then this impact is said to disproportionately affect these groups.

E.3 References

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43 CFR Part 7 DOI, "Public Lands: Protection of Archaeological Resources," Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1995.
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16th edition, A.E. Coto, P.E. and L.J. Liscville, (eds.), Quincy, MA, 1986.
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Schwer, 1995 Schwer, R.K., U.S. Economic Outlook 1995, Center for Business and Economic Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, 1995.
Stoffle et al., 1990 Stoffle, R.W., D.B. Halmo, J.E. Olmsted, and M.J. Evans, Native American Cultural Resource Studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1990.
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