Up & Atom

KEY TRENDS IN LAW AND POLICY REGARDING
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND MATERIALS
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has published a final rule increasing civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for unintentional violations of 10 CFR Part 810 (Part 810). The rule, which took effect on January 9, 2024, increases the maximum CMP from $120,816 to $124,732 per violation per day. The increased penalty aligns with DOE’s mandate to annually adjust CMPs for inflation.
In a final rule published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2023, the NRC amended its regulations at 10 CFR 140.11 to increase the amount of third-party liability coverage required under the Price-Anderson Act, Section 170 of the Atomic Energy Act (42 USC 2210) (Price-Anderson) for large reactor licensees (i.e., reactors with a rated capacity of ≥100 MWe) from $450 million to $500 million per incident.
Over the course of 2023, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has started to develop a regulatory framework for fusion energy systems. Significantly, and as we previously reported, NRC decided to modify the existing process for licensing the use of byproduct materials contained in 10 CFR Part 30 to regulate nuclear fusion. NRC has now issued preliminary proposed rule language for the licensing and oversight of a broad array of fusion systems currently under development.
As fiscal year 2024 approaches, a partial government shutdown looms on the horizon once more. This would be the first partial government shutdown since the 36-day shutdown that began in late December 2018 and ended on January 25, 2019. While the NRC was unaffected by that shutdown because its FY 2019 budget had been enacted, at this time Congress has not passed any of the annual appropriation bills for FY 2024, including that for the NRC.
In a Federal Register Notice published September 5, 2023, the NRC amended its regulations to be effective October 5, 2023, to adjust for inflation the maximum total and annual deferred premium amounts for the “secondary layer” of offsite liability coverage, as required by the Price-Anderson Act, as amended, Section 170 of the Atomic Energy Act (42 USC 2210) (Price-Anderson).
The NRC has now followed up on that guidance with revisions to RG 5.83, “Cybersecurity Event Notifications (Revision 1),” to address new cybersecurity concerns, provide clarification, and align with new guidance in RG 5.71. This guidance is critical for the nuclear industry given the rapid pace at which cybersecurity threats and deterrent strategies evolve. All nuclear power reactor owners must review NRC’s latest guidance and confirm that their cybersecurity programs are in compliance.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has set a course to create a regulatory framework for fusion energy systems that builds on NRC’s existing nuclear materials licensing process. As we have previously reported, NRC had considered three options for regulating nuclear fusion. NRC chose to work from the existing process for licensing the use of byproduct materials contained in 10 CFR Part 30, which requires only a limited-scope rulemaking.
After 13 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued revised guidance for cybersecurity programs for nuclear power reactors. All nuclear power reactor owners must review the NRC’s latest guidance and confirm their cybersecurity programs are in compliance.
In a recent LawFlash, lawyers Alex Polonsky and Grant Eskelsen discuss the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) final rule imposing financial penalties for unintentional violations of 10 CFR Part 810. The rule represents a major change in how the DOE encourages and enforces compliance with Part 810.
Over the last few years, investors and financial markets have become more focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in making investment decisions. ESG considers how investments impact the environment, social factors, and governance issues. Investors are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors in making investment decisions.