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Up & Atom

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting on August 8 to provide information and receive comments on the regulatory basis supporting the NRC’s rulemaking on physical security requirements for advanced reactors. The public meeting was the latest step in the NRC’s rulemaking process, which began on August 1, 2018, with the NRC Staff’s report to the Commission evaluating options for revising physical security regulations for advanced reactors. The Commission approved the NRC Staff’s proposed rulemaking plan on November 19, 2018. We previously reported on the NRC Staff’s report, the Commission’s Approval, and the publication of the regulatory basis for comment.

During the public meeting, NRC Staff summarized the regulatory basis and their recommendation for a limited-scope rulemaking. NRC Staff explained that the purpose of the rulemaking is to provide requirements and guidance for advanced reactor physical security and reduce the need for physical security exemptions—specifically from regulations requiring each site to have at least 10 armed responders for emergency security response (10 CFR § 73.55(k)(5)(ii)), and an on-site secondary alarm station to monitor potential issues (10 CFR § 73.55(i)(4)(iii)).

NRC Staff also discussed its proposed development of performance-based criteria for alternative physical security requirements for advanced reactors. NRC Staff explained that these performance criteria would consider reactor design, facility design, and mitigation strategies and their ability to maintain off-site doses below reference values in 10 CFR §§ 50.34 and 52.79. The alternative security regulations would apply only if an advanced reactor met all three performance criteria.

NRC Staff also provided a timeline for this rulemaking:

  • The comment period on the regulatory basis ends on August 15
  • NRC Staff will hold a public meeting on the proposed rulemaking and draft guidance documents in November/December 2019
  • NRC Staff will provide the proposed rule and related guidance documents to the Commission for approval in January 2021
  • NRC Staff anticipates publishing the proposed rule for public comment later in 2021 and providing the draft final rule and guidance to the Commission for approval in May 2022

Following the NRC Staff’s presentation, meeting attendees provided comments that were supportive of the rulemaking. One commenter specifically supported the performance-based approach and opined that the rule will help achieve the NRC Staff’s goal of reducing the need for security exemption requests. The commenter also suggested that the NRC Staff consider allowing security personnel at advanced reactors to have dual roles or be located outside the secure area, given the reduced security needs and requirements. The NRC Staff stated that all comments on the regulatory basis would be addressed in the proposed rule.

We will continue to track this rulemaking. You can contact us for assistance if you wish to submit comments.