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The NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) recently published its Annual Report FY 2020, summarizing its activities during the last fiscal year. The annual report shows that OI opened 13% more cases in 2020 than in 2019, reversing the downward trend seen over the last several years. The increase in the number of opened investigations is notable given the quarantine and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many licensees reduced their onsite staffing to minimize the risk of infection.
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).
President Joe Biden has elevated Democratic Commissioner Christopher T. Hanson to serve as Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Mr. Hanson succeeds former Republican Chairman Christine Svinicki—the longest-serving Commissioner in the history of the agency—who stepped-down on January 20, 2021. Although timing is uncertain, President Biden also is expected to nominate a fifth Commissioner to fill the former Chair’s vacant seat. If that pick shares Chairman Hanson’s views, the agency’s longstanding threshold for intervenor challenges to license applications could be overturned.
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 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.
Under the substantial weight of industry, state, and public pressure, the NRC today published a notice in the Federal Register (85 FR 81960) announcing its withdrawal of its proposed highly controversial reinterpretation of its low-level radioactive waste disposal regulations. The NRC concluded, after consideration of comments, that the proposed changes would not benefit the overall LLW regulatory framework.
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 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently issued a change notice to summarize revisions to its Enforcement Manual, which was finalized on December 1, 2020. The Enforcement Manual provides the guidelines for how NRC Staff should implement the NRC’s Enforcement Policy.
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 NRC Staff recently issued SECY-20-0098, which provides the Staff’s recommendation to consolidate two low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal rulemakings. Specifically, the Staff supports combining the draft final rule revising 10 CFR Part 61, “Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal” (Part 61 Rule), with a proposed rulemaking to promulgate requirements for near-surface disposal of greater-than-Class C waste (GTCC Rule). The combined rule would be “based on expected cost savings, consideration of stakeholder input, and efficiencies.”