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The NRC held a public meeting on November 17 to review regulatory relief currently available to medical and other materials licensees, and to identify potential additional relief that the Staff is currently considering.

In a recently issued NRC adjudicatory decision, the Commission reaffirmed its regulatory interpretation allowing power reactor licensees applying for subsequent license renewal (SLR), and the NRC Staff reviewing these applications, to rely on the NRC’s Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS). Two of the five Commissioners dissented, however, arguing this interpretation violates the NRC’s obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

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.

The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Administrative Review Board (ARB) recently announced it is updating its electronic filing system (EFS) at 8:30 am EST on December 7, 2020. Beginning December 7, all parties who wish to file electronically must use EFS to file documents electronically with the ARB. The current electronic filing system (EFSR) will shut down permanently at 5:00 PM EST on December 3, 2020. This means that parties will not be able to file documents electronically with the ARB after 5:00 pm EST on December 3 until 8:30 am EST on December 7.

It is important to note that EFS is strictly a “filing” system. Thus, parties using EFS will remain responsible for serving notices of appeal and all other filings on other parties to the case. Additionally, parties will still have the option of filing documents with the ARB in paper form by regular mail. Use of EFS is not mandatory at this time.

Our colleagues in the employee benefits and executive compensation practice published a blog post to remind plan sponsors that delayed payments, plus interest, are due on or before January 1, 2021.

Read the full post >>

Under the assumption that the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE) will continue into 2021, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff hosted a public meeting via teleconference on October 15 to discuss future requests for relief from regulatory requirements. The meeting focused generally on exemption requests the NRC received in 2020 and, more specifically, the information licensees should provide when submitting future requests for relief.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently held a public stakeholder meeting to discuss its Whistleblower Protection Program and how it can improve its administration of the 20-plus whistleblower protection provisions it is responsible for enforcing, including Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (ERA). As we reported, OSHA is holding these stakeholder meetings in lieu of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee due to the administration’s reduction in advisory committees. This call followed a similar call OSHA hosted in May, on which we also reported.

The suspense is over. The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday that it had awarded $80 million each to TerraPower and X-energy under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) for them to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years. “The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations.” The $80 million is initial funding for what could be a total of $3.2 billion over seven years.

The ARDP also included two to five “Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations” (Risk Reduction) projects and at least two “Advanced Reactor Concepts-20” (ARC-20) projects. DOE expects to announce these awards in December 2020.

The commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved almost all of the staff’s proposed approach for adding a new part to its regulations, 10 CFR Part 53, to govern licensing of advanced nuclear reactors. The commissioners directed the staff to expedite finalizing the rule by October 2024—three years earlier than the staff had proposed—and to report back with any “key uncertainties” that would affect finalizing the rule by that date. The commissioners also asked the staff to report back with options regulating fusion (vs. fission) reactor designs.

Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders along with Representative Peter Welch recently introduced the Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2020. The bill, if enacted, would provide grants to local communities affected by the closure and decommissioning of a nuclear plant. One grant would provide funds to support local decommissioning advisory boards, which would eventually be paid for by a filing fee for Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Reports (PSDARs). The other grant would provide economic development funds to local communities affected by plant closures. Along with these two grant programs, the bill would also establish direct payments to communities where spent nuclear fuel is stored during and after decommissioning at a rate of $15 per kilogram of spent fuel.