Up & Atom

The Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conducted a biennial joint meeting on January 25, 2024. The biennial meetings allow the Commissioners to hear presentations from industry experts, learn about the challenges facing the energy industry, and determine how the commissions can assist each other based on their respective regulatory authorities.
The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) recently endorsed the NRC Staff’s proposed alternative option for licensing microreactors in a letter submitted to NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson. In brief, the licensing option endorsed by ACRS would allow a factory-fabricated microreactor to be loaded with fuel having features to preclude criticality and undergo operational testing at the factory before being transported to an installation site. If approved by the Commission, such an approach would create a lower regulatory burden commensurate with the anticipated decreased potential safety hazards posed by microreactors.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a final rule and associated regulatory guide providing an alternative avenue for small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced reactors to satisfy emergency preparedness requirements. The long-anticipated rulemaking allows SMRs and advanced reactor license applicants to develop performance-based emergency preparedness programs instead of using the current prescriptive offsite radiological emergency planning requirements originally designed for large light-water reactors (LWRs).
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced that it intends to issue, by the end of 2023, the final rule and associated regulatory guide that sets emergency preparedness requirements for new reactors. The rulemaking will allow small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor license applicants to develop performance-based emergency preparedness programs as an alternative to the current offsite radiological emergency planning requirements. This rulemaking is a significant development toward providing flexibility in meeting the NRC’s emergency preparedness requirements.
The Nine Mile Point nuclear power station in Oswego, New York began producing hydrogen in March 2023 as part of a demonstration project sponsored by the US Department of Energy. Although Nine Mile Point produced hydrogen solely for internal use, the project validates that reliable and emission-free nuclear energy can be used to produce clean-burning hydrogen.
The NRC is taking an important step toward an inclusive licensing regime for a new generation of reactors. On January 3, the NRC staff submitted for commission approval a recommended final rule on “Emergency Preparedness for Small Modular Reactors and Other New Technologies.”
The NRC recently held a meeting to discuss the path forward on its plans to address inconsistencies between the two primary licensing paths for new reactors. The agency estimates that its streamlining effort will result in net averted costs to industry and the NRC of tens of millions of dollars. Comments on the first phase of this undertaking are due in April, and interested stakeholders should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to influence agency policy.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff has sought the Commission’s approval to initiate a rulemaking to update the agency’s environmental protection regulations for licensing activities.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) published proposed rule changes on May 21 addressing when parties must notify the Committee of proposed transactions.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) have been busy in recent weeks assessing issues related to the licensing of non-light water reactors (non-LWRs).