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Event Shareholder Activism Defense: What You Need to Know About the Securities Laws, Rules, and Practice | August 9, 2017 | Webinar presented by Keith E. Gottfried and Sean M. Donahue

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At a meeting on June 1, the NRC and industry representatives agreed to pursue a revised definition of operability of those structures, systems, and components (SSCs) addressed in the technical specifications (TS) for nuclear power plants.

Currently, the standard definition states that an SSC identified in a TS is operable if it can perform its “specified safety functions”—which, in turn, is undefined. Typically, an SSC may have a number of safety functions. The industry representatives proposed that “specified safety functions” be limited to those safety functions that satisfy one or more of the criteria in 10 CFR 50.36(c)(2)(ii), which governs the SSCs needed to be addressed in the limiting conditions for operation in a TS. The industry representatives explained that this definition would include those support systems and functions that are necessary for the performance of the specified safety functions.

On May 23, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice inviting comments on the interplay between state policy goals and organized wholesale electricity markets. The referenced state policy goals involve state support for zero-carbon-emitting power plants, including nuclear power plants, generally in the form of tax credits.

FERC’s recent actions are part of a larger policy discussion in which electricity market design issues remain controversial, a discussion that has been driven in part by increased state support for maintaining baseload generation, including nuclear, as the integration of renewables and other technologies continues. New York and Illinois, for example, have created tax incentives to support nuclear reactors in their states, but both programs are being challenged in court by other generators. Other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, are reportedly considering similar support.

Resolution of these issues will be critical for nuclear merchant generators. For more information, as well as information on deadlines for filing comments, continue reading the LawFlash.

Like any other business, nuclear utilities and their employees may be exposed to potential cyberattacks targeting important information technology systems. The recent “WannaCry” ransomware cyberattack provides the most recent high-level example of the need for companies of all kinds to engage in proactive prevention and protection.

Ransomware (malware that encrypts data pending an extortion payment) is a recurring cyber threat that is growing more pervasive and profitable for criminals. The WannaCry global cyberattack is just the latest attack of its sort to highlight the potential global impact, speed and acceleration, and scope of the ransomware problem.

As confirmed by an April 21, 2017 Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board report, the Department of Energy (DOE) initiated the first in a series of long-awaited shipments of liquid Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU or target residue material) from Ontario, Canada’s Chalk River reactor to DOE’s Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. The target residue material stems from the legacy Atoms for Peace program, where the United States provided HEU for use, in part, as target material to be irradiated for the production of medical isotopes in foreign research reactors. Irradiating this target material and extracting the medical isotopes, including molybdenum-99 as in the case of the Chalk River reactor, left a residual solution containing significant quantities of HEU. Due to proliferation concerns, the United States wants the HEU returned for safeguarding and disposal.

On May 12, 2017, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) approved criteria proposed by the NRC staff in October 2016 relating to changes to the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP).

As approved by the Commission, COMSECY-16-0022 memorializes criteria that the NRC staff should use when determining whether Commission approval should be sought for certain types of changes to the ROP.

The Commission also approved criteria that NRC staff should apply when making changes to the ROP that do not require approval prior to implementation but still require Commission notification.

Classified information is slowly creeping into the day-to-day operations of businesses that have never before needed to comply with the strict requirements that accompany this information. And the questions being asked do not have intuitive answers: Can you refuse to hire an applicant who was arrested for drunk driving if the job requires obtaining a security clearance and accessing classified information? Can your company accept a $25 million loan from a European company if you handle classified government contracts? How frequently do your cleared employees need to be given training on handling classified information? How do you handle an internal investigation involving classified information if you do not hold a clearance?

The British government has determined that its exit from the European Union also must include withdrawal from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). According to a British government white paper, the 2008 EU Amendment Act provides that: "A reference to the EU in an Act or an instrument made under an Act includes ... a reference to [Euratom]."

View the full Law360 article

Putting aside the climate change politics swirling around US President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” what does the order mean for the nation’s electric generation portfolio? Can the gradual decline in the role of coal-fired generation be reversed?

The executive order, released on March 28, 2017, calls for increased domestic energy production from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, and other domestic sources, explicitly balancing the need to “promote clean and safe development” of energy resources with “avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.” In addition to revoking various Obama-era executive orders on climate change and carbon emissions and rescinding various reports issued by federal agencies on these topics, the executive order also directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the Clean Power Plan in the context of the domestic production policy adopted in the executive order and to, “as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind” the rule.