Report Calls for Changes in NRC Regulation of Advanced Reactors

Nuclear Innovation Alliance makes recommendations and says now is the time for updating the regulatory process

report cover nia adv reactorsCambridge, Mass. – The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) on April 12, 2016, released recommendations calling for updating the regulatory process for advanced nuclear reactors.

Representing a diverse group of technical experts, nuclear technology companies, investors, environmental organizations and academics, the organization developed recommendations that address opportunities within the regulatory, policy and industry arenas to facilitate the efficient, predictable and safe licensing of a new generation of reactors. Download the report (PDF file) here

Motivated by the urgent need for sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity that can help reduce carbon emissions, the NIA’s recommendations lay out a path forward for a staged evaluation and licensing process suitable to advanced, non-light water reactors.

While current regulation is structured to oversee light water reactor technology, advanced reactors have different features and performance characteristics, and use substantially different fuels, cooling systems, and safety and operating strategies. These new technologies offer potentially enhanced safety, cost and waste performance.

nialogo“Nearly every analysis of global energy development and climate change indicates that we need to expand use of nuclear energy to address these challenges, but this expansion requires a new generation of technology,” said Ashley Finan, NIA policy director and lead author of the paper.

“To make that possible, the current regulatory process can be updated in order to provide clear and early feedback to developers and investors. Our proposed process includes discrete stages for improved project risk management and, where appropriate, is based on real risks and potential outcomes, rather than prescriptive regulations that may not apply.”

In developing these recommendations, the organization consulted nuclear innovators, safety experts, former staff and commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), members of the financial community, and other nuclear industry stakeholders. The NIA’s regulatory recommendations are designed to:

  • Create a staged review process of advanced reactors to facilitate the commercialization of innovative reactor designs, and to provide clear and early feedback to investors and developers.
  • Develop and employ licensing project plans through NRC and industry cooperation to improve communication, efficiency and project execution.
  • Develop a statement of licensing feasibility process to standardize a review phase that would provide early feedback to applicants.
  • Adapt the existing light water reactor-centric requirements to address the unique features of advanced, non-light water reactor technologies.
  • Develop a plan to implement a technology-inclusive licensing and regulatory framework based on risk-informed and performance-based principles.
  • Encourage the continuation of the Department of Energy (DOE)/NRC Advanced Reactor Licensing Initiative.

The organization’s policy recommendations are to:

  • Revise the NRC’s budget structure so that licensees and applicants reimburse it for activities related to their regulation, with Congress funding other agency-related activities.
  • Appropriate funds for the NRC to prepare for advanced reactor licensing.
  • Continue funding to DOE for competitively awarded grants for early efforts to license advanced reactors.

The industry recommendations encourage stakeholders to:

  • Coordinate and deliver a consistent message about technology-inclusive advanced reactor priorities.
  • Inform the NRC as early as possible of prospective applicants’ intent to request review.
  • Take a more active role in communicating with the NRC, DOE and other stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities associated with various advanced reactor designs.
  • Pursue the development of codes, standards and conventions for advanced nuclear power, working with the appropriate research and standards organizations.

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About the Nuclear Innovation Alliance  The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) leads advanced nuclear energy innovation. We assemble companies, investors, experts and stakeholders to advance nuclear energy innovation and enable innovative reactor commercialization through favorable energy policy and funding. We research, develop and advocate policies that enable the efficient licensing and timely early-stage demonstration of advanced reactor technologies. Media Contact: Karen Heinold, kheinold@pcgpr.com  202-379-6358  ~ Learn more about NIA at http://www.nuclearinnovationalliance.org/ and on Twitter at @theNIAorg and Facebook at www.facebook.com/theNIAorg.

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3 Responses to Report Calls for Changes in NRC Regulation of Advanced Reactors

  1. Ikemeister says:

    Hopefully the NIA recommendations are submitted to the NRC who just announced they are asking for comments regarding non-LWR design criteria: Solicitation of Public Comments for the Advanced Non-Light Water Reactor Design Criteria

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  2. Stephen Duval says:

    What a joke! This is just more of the same from the anti nuclear Greens and their allies in the NRC.

    Only two steps are required to unleash nuclear innovation in the US. First abandon the Linear No Threshold theory of radiation damage that is undermined by biological processes that repair radiation damage. Raising the safe radiation levels by a factor of 1000 would eliminate the need for the current regulatory process.

    Second, adopt a regulatory model similar to that imposed upon the aircraft manufacturing industry. Innovators would be allowed to build prototype reactors on the Idaho National Laboratory grounds. After being built, the NRC would be given six months to test the operation of the reactor. If the reactor was not “walk away safe” it would be required to use the current regulatory process, otherwise it would be given a design certificate.

    Any company could then use the ordinary construction approval process to build a reactor according to the approved design.

    Remember Fukushima. 1600 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami. No one was killed by radiation; no one is expected to be killed by radiation. 1600 people were killed in the evacuation to save them from the dangers of radiation.

    Remember Chernobyl. About 50 people who were involved in bringing the reactor site under control were killed by radiation. About 4000 children came down with leukemia which is preventable by the distribution of iodine tablets to children. 200,000 people were removed from their homes making Chernobyl one of the largest wildlife refuges in the world. 28 years later, the animals are radioactive according to Geiger counters, but otherwise they are thriving. So much for the Linear No Threshold theory of radiation damage.

    Remember Three Mile Island. No one was killed. No one was injured.

    These are the three great nuclear disasters that justify pushing the nuclear industry to the brink of extinction in the US. If the Greens, allied with the coal industry, had not destroyed the nuclear industry in the 70’s and 80’s, than almost all the coal plants in the US would have been replaced by now and the great CO2 hoax would not have a leg to stand upon.

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  3. Pingback: NRC asks for input on how it will review advanced reactors | Neutron Bytes

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