The NRC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released a report (OIG-21-A-13) discussing the results of its audit of the NRC’s pandemic oversight of nuclear power plants. The purpose of the audit was to “assess the NRC’s policies and procedures for conducting reactor inspections during the COVID-19 public health emergency and to identify best practices that could be applied during future pandemics or other public health emergencies.” In short, the OIG found that:
The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has submitted its annual report on Transfers of Civil Nuclear Technology to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The report fulfills the agency’s obligation under Section 3136(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 to submit an annual report covering its review of applications under 10 CFR Part 810 to transfer US civil nuclear technology to foreign persons. Morgan Lewis tracks these annual reports; see link to our full analysis of the prior report (for FY 2019).
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed a Trump administration decision involving use of nuclear materials. On June 30, the EPA announced that it was “withdrawing, revoking and rescinding” its conditional approval of The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) request to approve the use of phosphogypsum (PG) in road construction. PG is a radioactive byproduct of fertilizer production and is regulated by the EPA. This action follows the EPA’s earlier announcement that it is reviewing a Trump administration decision on cleanup standards for radionuclide-contaminated effluent at a Tennessee Superfund site, which we reported on. Together, the two decisions confirm that the EPA continues to scrutinize prior agency decisions and to more strictly regulate radioactive materials.
As we have previously discussed, in August 2020, the NRC issued a notice in the Federal Register (85 FR 47252) announcing its intent to review and potentially update the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (LR GEIS) (NUREG-1437). (The most recent revision was in 2013.) The notice indicated the results of the NRC's preliminary review of the existing GEIS and identified several environmental issues for possible revision and update, and invited public comments and proposals for areas that should be updated. The scoping process consisted of a 90-day public comment period and four public webinar meetings held in August 2020. Approximately 60 members of the public, industry, and federal and state agencies participated in the four webinars. The government recently published a Scoping Summary Report that summarizes the comments received during the public scoping period and the NRC’s response.