The NRC issued a draft letter to holders of licensees (other than operating power reactor licensees) to possess Category 1 or 2 quantities of radioactive material (RAM) as defined in Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 37. The letter contains guidance on the NRC’s expedited review process for requests for temporary exemptions from certain requirements contained in 10 CFR Part 37, Physical Protection of Category 1 and Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE), and will be discussed at a public meeting on May 5.

The NRC issued a letter to the National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors on April 30 regarding the NRC’s expedited review of requests for regulatory relief from certain material control and accounting (MC&A) requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). Specifically, the letter covers (1) extensions of time to submit material status reports required by 10 CFR 74.13(a); and (2) exemptions from the recordkeeping requirements of 10 CFR 74.19(c).

The NRC on April 30 published a notice of its intent to conduct scoping and gather information necessary to develop a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for small-scale advanced nuclear reactors (ANRs). The proposed GEIS will “streamline the environmental review process for future small-scale advanced nuclear reactor environmental reviews.” The NRC foresees small-scale ANR applicants incorporating the GEIS by reference and including additional site-specific information in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to streamline the NRC review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff hosted a public meeting via teleconference on April 29 to discuss available regulatory relief pathways from fire protection requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The meeting focused on relief from three specific requirements of concern to the commercial nuclear reactor industry: (1) annual physicals for fire brigade members, (2) quarterly fire brigade drills, and (3) annual live firefighting training.

The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) submitted its annual report on Transfers of Civil Nuclear Technology to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2019. 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 to transfer US civil nuclear technology to foreign persons.

The NRC Staff hosted a public meeting via teleconference on April 30 to discuss regulatory relief from emergency preparedness (EP) requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The Staff noted that because of the PHE, there may be instances in which licensees are unable to comply with certain EP requirements found in 10 CFR § 50.47 and Appendix E to 10 CFR 50, including required training and drills, as well as public information campaigns. As a result, the Staff has determined that regulatory relief might be appropriate to ensure health and safety among licensees’ employees, as well as public health and safety in the event of a radiological emergency.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Executive Director for Operations recently issued SECY-20-0032, requesting the Commission’s approval of a seven-year rulemaking plan for a “Risk-Informed, Technology-Inclusive Regulatory Framework for Advanced Reactors.” Congress required the rulemaking as part of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), which became law earlier this year.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a letter on April 27 to the Nuclear Energy Institute and the National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors, and others, clarifying and expanding the guidance on respiratory protection requirements that it previously provided to stakeholders during an April 15 teleconference (on which we reported). Specifically, the NRC discussed ways in which licensees can request regulatory relief from requirements associated with medical evaluations and “fit testing” during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE).

The NRC issued temporary Staff guidance intended to help Staff review and process requests for regulatory relief from fuel facilities on April 21. Although intended for NRC Staff, the guidance provides insights into the process licensees should follow when submitting requests for relief and the information they should anticipate including.

Importantly, the guidance states that licensees should notify the NRC as soon as they “anticipate that they will be unable to comply with a regulatory requirement or license condition.” The Staff will consider requests for relief on a case-by-case basis, and if the licensee meets the requirements for an exemption, the Staff will issue a written determination for a specific period.

A final rule issued by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on April 28 broadens license requirements in Part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to include military end users in China. A license was previously only necessary to export items for military end use in China—not to military end users. The rule also broadens the definition of “military end use” and expands Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing requirements, among other things.