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The NRC released a draft white paper discussing options to streamline its regulatory licensing process for microreactors. Specifically, the NRC Staff is “considering strategies to streamline the license review process by maximizing standardization and finality through the use of design certification, standard design approval, and topical report approvals” under 10 CFR Part 52, and is focusing on the following areas.
An NRC working group released a report on July 23 after conducting a “fundamental” review of 10 CFR Part 110 (Part 110) and the NRC’s readiness to license exports of advanced reactors and their associated nuclear material. The NRC concluded that it “is generally ready to license the export of advanced reactors and their associated materials and components,” but Part 110 could “benefit” from some clarifications because it generally is focused on light-water reactor (LWR) technology. The NRC’s proactive review is welcome news, demonstrating the agency’s commitment to becoming ready to license the next generation of nuclear reactor designs.
As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools become more widely adopted in various products and industries, the NRC has begun studying what roles these technologies can play in commercial nuclear power operations. On April 21, as part of its study, the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research requested public comments on the role of these technologies “in the various phases of nuclear power generation operational experience and plant management.”
The US Supreme Court rang eight bells on March 29, rejecting the petition by US Navy sailors to review last year’s Ninth Circuit decision upholding dismissal of their lawsuit in Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. The Supreme Court’s rejection ends the long-running litigation stemming from claims of injury by US Navy sailors deployed to Japan to provide humanitarian assistance after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan. The sailors claimed injury from radiation emitted from the damaged Fukushima-Daichi power plant and sued plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) and reactor designer General Electric Company (GE) for negligence, strict product liability, and wrongful death.
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 NRC held a public meeting on January 26 to discuss potential options for licensing fusion energy systems. This meeting is part of the NRC’s work to develop regulations to license and regulate advanced nuclear reactors as directed by the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA).
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, includes the Energy Act of 2020 (Energy Act) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Taxpayer Act), which contains tax provisions important to the energy sector.
Is it science fiction to consider living on the moon or traveling to Mars in only a few months? Maybe not. The US government is promoting technologies to place nuclear reactors in space to power human existence on the moon and to propel spacecraft to Mars.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to send S. 4897, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, to the Senate floor on December 2. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) sponsored the bill, with Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) as bipartisan cosponsors.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) wants your input on its advanced reactor rulemaking activities on a rolling basis, so it announced that it will periodically place “preliminary proposed rule language” on the federal rulemaking website under Docket ID NRC-2019-0062.