The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a final rule in the Federal Register on January 14 updating the maximum amounts of civil monetary penalties it can impose. Reflecting the price challenges in the larger US economy, the maximum civil monetary penalty amounts dramatically increased over the prior year as a result of the rise of inflation.

The NRC staff recently issued findings from their review of the 2021 decommissioning funding status (DFS) reports submitted by power reactor licensees and licensees of power reactors in decommissioning. These reports are required by NRC regulations to ensure that adequate funds are available for the complete decommissioning of licensed facilities. The NRC staff’s review found that all currently operating power reactors and reactors in decommissioning demonstrated that they have adequate funds for decommissioning.
On December 10, the NRC staff issued SECY-21-0105 seeking approval from the NRC commissioners to publish a notice of final rule that would officially replace the NRC's sensitive unclassified non-safeguards information (SUNSI) program with a Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program. The new rules would appear in 10 CFR Part 2, "Agency Rules of Practice and Procedure," and be consistent with the government-wide rules on CUI in 32 CFR Part 2002.
On December 17, the NRC published a report to Congress on the continuing need for and any potential modifications to the Price-Anderson Act (PAA). The NRC was required to submit the report, “Public Liability Insurance and Indemnity Requirements for an Evolving Commercial Nuclear Industry,” by the end of 2021.
Several years ago, the US government embarked on a project to standardize federal agency programs—including the NRC’s—for managing unclassified-but-sensitive information. At the NRC, this government-wide Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program is intended to replace the agency’s Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information (SUNSI) program.

In a recent Memorandum and Order (Order), an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (Board) unanimously granted summary disposition to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), dismissing three alleged violations and partially dismissing a fourth issued by the NRC. The violations arose from an investigation conducted by the NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) into allegations of retaliation against a former TVA employee and former contractor. In its Order, the Board clarified the scope of Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) (42 USC 5851) and the NRC’s implementing regulation in 10 CFR 50.7 (Section 50.7). The Order is favorable to employers covered by Sections 211 and 50.7. 

NRC Commissioners Christopher Hanson, David Wright, and Jeff Baran recently voted 2-1 (Commissioner Baran dissenting) to implement SECY-21-0029, “Rulemaking Plan on Revision of Inservice Testing and Inservice Inspection Program Update Frequencies Required in 10 CFR 50.55a.” SECY-21-0029 will initiate a rulemaking to extend the required Inservice Inspection (ISI) Program and Inservice Testing (IST) Program Code of Record update frequency from 120 months to 240 months.
The NRC held a public meeting on October 21 to discuss the status of its evaluation of environmental justice (EJ) in its programs, policies, and activities.
Our energy lawyers discussed the recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) report on Winter Storm Uri power outages, which outlined a series of recommendations, in the LawFlash FERC/NERC Report on Winter Storm URI Recommends Enhanced Cold Weather Preparation.
The NRC released a draft white paper discussing options to streamline its regulatory licensing process for microreactors. Specifically, the NRC Staff is “considering strategies to streamline the license review process by maximizing standardization and finality through the use of design certification, standard design approval, and topical report approvals” under 10 CFR Part 52, and is focusing on the following areas.