In a speech at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s
Regulatory Information Conference Tuesday, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko laid out
his agency’s response to renewed interest in nuclear plant construction, as
well as regulatory issues concerning the existing reactor fleet.
Final action on certification rules for the Westinghouse
AP1000 and GE-Hitachi’s ABWR and ESBWR designs may come as early as this
summer, Jaczko indicated in the text of the speech issued to the news media.
This year also might see the first mandatory hearing on a new reactor since the
The agency also is readying itself for license applications
for small modular reactors, and Jaczko said he expects the first SMR design
certification application to materialize as early as next year.
“Work is already underway to resolve important technical,
licensing and policy issues related to SMRs. The agency already has plans to
publish a future proposed rulemaking establishing a variable annual fee
structure for small and medium-sized reactors. Additionally, the Commission
will be exploring policy options over the coming year for issues such as
offsite emergency preparedness, decommissioning funding, control room staffing,
and the license structure for multi-module facilities,” he said.
Jaczko also took the opportunity to point out NRC’s ongoing
efforts to improve safety at existing reactors, including the implementation of
Generic Safety Issue 191, the NFPA 805 enhanced fire safety measures and level
3 probabilistic risk assessments. Other safety issues mentioned in the speech
include submerged cables, updated seismic hazards, spent fuel pool criticality,
human performance and materials degradation.
- Download the full text of Jaczko's speech