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Up & Atom

The NRC on May 3 took the overdue step of withdrawing portions of certain power reactor security requirements—issued via three agency orders in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, which were subsequently captured in agency regulations:

  • EA-02-026, “Order for Interim Safeguards and Security Compensatory Measures” (February 25, 2002)
  • EA-02-261, “Order for Compensatory Measures Related to Access Authorization” (January 7, 2003)
  • EA-03-039, “Order for Compensatory Measures Related to Training Enhancements on Tactical and Firearms Proficiency and Physical Fitness Applicable to Armed Nuclear power Plant Security Force Personnel” (April 29, 2003).

This action to “clean up” duplicative requirements leaves only one remaining requirement from the affected security orders because it is not otherwise captured in NRC regulations.

The three withdrawn security orders contain requirements for licensees to implement interim compensatory security measures (i.e., measures beyond the requirements of NRC regulations and license conditions) in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Among other things, these orders established new requirements for physical security, emergency preparedness, and personnel training. The specific compensatory measures are not included in the orders themselves because they are considered Safeguards Information (SGI).

In 2009, the NRC promulgated a final rule on Power Reactor Security Requirements that codified many (but not all) of the requirements of the security orders listed above. The rule captured all of the requirements in EA-02-261 and EA-03-039, and many of those in EA-02-026. Those requirements were subsequently withdrawn. However, the 2009 rule did not capture EA-02-026 requirements related to emergency planning (requirement B.5.d), emergency action levels (requirement B.5.e), and operator training (requirement B.1.a).

In 2011, the NRC promulgated another final rule on Enhancements to Emergency Preparedness Regulations. The agency’s May 3, 2019, withdrawal letter concludes that requirements B.5.d and B.5.e “were incorporated into regulations via the November 2011 emergency preparedness final rule.” Accordingly, the NRC has withdrawn those requirements of EA-02-026. Nevertheless, “[t]he remaining requirement of Order EA-02-026 not covered by existing regulations (B.1.a) [i.e., operator training]. . . remains in effect.”

The concurrence page attached to the withdrawal letter indicates the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response and Office of Enforcement approved it for issuance in August 2014. It is unclear what caused the NRC delay in final issuance for almost five years. The letter encourages power reactor licensees to “assess the impact of the withdrawal of these two requirements from Order EA-02-026 will have on their facility licenses and emergency plans to determine if any additional actions or changes are necessary to ensure compliance with the current regulatory requirements.”

Morgan Lewis will continue to monitor further developments in the area of nuclear security.