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In a rare legal challenge related to fees the NRC charges nuclear licensees for its services, the US Court of Federal Claims recently held that the costs of certain NRC services provided in connection with Confirmatory Orders (COs) are not recoverable via hourly bills to individual licensees. The court held that COs are essentially enforcement orders, and thus cannot be viewed as conveying an “individual benefit” to licensees.

The times they are a-changin’ and we need to change with them. Colloquially speaking, this is the overarching theme of SECY-18-0060, “Achieving Modern Risk-Informed Regulation,” an NRC Staff-authored paper that seeks Commission approval of several significant proposed revisions to the NRC’s regulatory framework. The May 2018 paper, only recently released to the public, represents another milestone in the agency’s “transformation initiative,” which seeks to identify and implement potential enhancements to the NRC’s regulatory framework, culture, and infrastructure. Such changes are intended to facilitate the NRC’s “effective, efficient and agile regulation of new technologies”—particularly advanced non-light water reactors (non-LWRs)—in a manner that still advances the Commission’s core safety and security missions under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

Section 50.59 of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulations allows a nuclear power plant to make changes related to its updated final safety analysis report (UFSAR) without a license amendment, provided the changes do not trip any of the eight criteria in 10 CFR 50.59(c). The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has issued guidance (NEI 96-07) for implementing 10 CFR 50.59, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) endorsed that guidance in Regulatory Guide 1.187.