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The NRC recently published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comments on possible amendments to its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations on categorical exclusions. Comments are due by July 21, 2021.
The NRC recently issued its Allegation Program Annual Trends Report. The report analyzes regional, national, and site-specific allegation trends for calendar year 2020. The report’s top-line numbers show that the number of allegations fell approximately 10% from 2019. This reduction continues the decline in allegations seen since 2016; and the number of allegations has fallen by more than 50% over the past five years. But while the overall number of allegations continued to decline in 2020, the rate of decline slowed.
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 NRC published a notice of a petition for rulemaking from the Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee (TRMTC) in the Federal Register on April 9 asking the NRC to revise 10 CFR Part 37 to require that licensees provide advanced notification to participating tribal governments of certain radioactive material shipments that will cross a tribe’s reservation.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hosted a public meeting on April 13 to discuss and solicit stakeholder feedback on the cumulative effects of regulation regarding final changes made to the fitness-for-duty (FFD) drug testing requirements in 10 CFR Part 26 (Part 26). The NRC published the proposed rule in the Federal Register on September 16, 2019, to align Part 26 with certain drug testing provisions in the 2008 Health and Human Services Guidelines.
The NRC recently approved a revision to its Policy Statement, “Enhancing Participation in NRC Public Meetings.” If you have attended an NRC public meeting in the past few decades, you may be familiar with the NRC’s triage of different meeting types, designated as “Category 1,” “Category 2,” or “Category 3.” The latest revisions redefine the categories of public meetings and the level of public participation permitted at each.
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’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.