The US Department of Labor’s chief administrative law judge (ALJ) issued an administrative order and notice on June 1, indefinitely suspending all in-person hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). The indefinite suspension is due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which continues to cause travel and social proximity risks. Thus, for now, hearings will continue to be held by telephone or videoconference.

The NRC’s Office of Enforcement (OE) recently issued Attachment 3 to Enforcement Guidance Memorandum (EGM) 20-002, providing guidance to NRC Staff to disposition violations of emergency preparedness (EP) regulations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The guidance applies to entities licensed under 10 CFR Parts 30, 40, 50, 52, 70, and 72.

For background, when the NRC issued EGM 20-002 on April 15, it stated that it would provide guidance on a topic-by-topic basis in the form of attachments to the EGM. The NRC issued Attachment 1 with the EGM on April 15. As we reported, Attachment 1 addressed the training and recertification of security personnel covered by 10 CFR Part 73, Appendix B. The NRC then issued Attachment 2 on May 19 and, as we reported, addressed issues applicable to byproduct material licensees.

The NRC issued a letter to holders of licenses other than operating power reactor licenses (separate information regarding requests for temporary exemptions from certain security requirements at operating reactors has been issued) to possess Category 1 or 2 quantities of radioactive material (RAM) as defined in Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 37. The letter contains guidance on the NRC’s expedited review process for requests for temporary exemptions from certain requirements contained in 10 CFR Part 37, Physical Protection of Category 1 and Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE), and finalizes its April 30 draft guidance on which we reported to reflect input from stakeholders received during a recent public meeting.

The duration of approved temporary exemptions will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Temporary exemptions for materials licensees that the NRC has approved to date for COVID-19-related requests under this expedited process are in effect for periods of 30, 90, or 120 days.

The NRC’s Office of Enforcement (OE) recently issued Attachment 2 to Enforcement Guidance Memorandum (EGM) 20-002, providing guidance to NRC inspection staff for exercising enforcement discretion for certain byproduct material licensees that suspended their use of licensed material and are maintaining the licensed material in safe storage because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). Table 1 of Attachment 2 lists the specific regulatory requirements of 10 CFR Parts 30-36 and 39 that qualify for enforcement discretion if licensees meet all five conditions discussed below.

The NRC Staff released specific guidance to operating and decommissioning reactor licensees on requesting exemptions from fire protection requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE) on May 14. The guidance supplements the NRC’s April 29 teleconference, during which it contemplated such regulatory relief pathways. Morgan Lewis reported on the teleconference earlier this month.

The NRC Staff released specific guidance to all licensees on how to request exemptions from emergency preparedness (EP) biennial exercise requirements on May 14. The guidance supplements the NRC’s April 30 teleconference, during which it acknowledged that there may be instances in which licensees are unable to comply with certain EP requirements, including required training and drills, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). As a result, the Staff determined that regulatory relief might be appropriate to ensure health and safety among licensees’ employees, as well as public health and safety in the event of a radiological emergency.

The NRC issued a draft letter to holders of licensees (other than operating power reactor licensees) to possess Category 1 or 2 quantities of radioactive material (RAM) as defined in Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 37. The letter contains guidance on the NRC’s expedited review process for requests for temporary exemptions from certain requirements contained in 10 CFR Part 37, Physical Protection of Category 1 and Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE), and will be discussed at a public meeting on May 5.

The NRC issued a letter to the National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors on April 30 regarding the NRC’s expedited review of requests for regulatory relief from certain material control and accounting (MC&A) requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). Specifically, the letter covers (1) extensions of time to submit material status reports required by 10 CFR 74.13(a); and (2) exemptions from the recordkeeping requirements of 10 CFR 74.19(c).

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff hosted a public meeting via teleconference on April 29 to discuss available regulatory relief pathways from fire protection requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The meeting focused on relief from three specific requirements of concern to the commercial nuclear reactor industry: (1) annual physicals for fire brigade members, (2) quarterly fire brigade drills, and (3) annual live firefighting training.

The NRC Staff hosted a public meeting via teleconference on April 30 to discuss regulatory relief from emergency preparedness (EP) requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The Staff noted that because of the PHE, there may be instances in which licensees are unable to comply with certain EP requirements found in 10 CFR § 50.47 and Appendix E to 10 CFR 50, including required training and drills, as well as public information campaigns. As a result, the Staff has determined that regulatory relief might be appropriate to ensure health and safety among licensees’ employees, as well as public health and safety in the event of a radiological emergency.