NRC proposes new preparedness rules for small reactors

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the approval of new emergency preparedness regulations for small reactors and those with enhanced safety features, a representative announced Thursday.

Efforts and regulation in the area of emergency preparedness are focused on the actions a facility, its staff and the surrounding community would take in the case of a nuclear incident. Those proposing the new rules state that smaller reactors are not releasing fission products as quickly as a large reactor, and they are expected to have less severe off-site dosage consequences. Due to these thoughts, they proposed that these reactors would not have the same distance requirements for emergency planning zones (EPZ).

Instead the distance — currently EPZs are required to be 10 miles away from a plant's boundary — would be determined by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) review of the design and functionality of the reactor.

“We appreciate the staff’s openness to an appropriate emergency preparedness framework for small reactors and support the recommendation to initiate a rulemaking and develop the necessary technical basis and guidance documents,” Nuclear Energy Institute Director for New Plant Licensing Russell Ball said.

The report states that depending on the reactor specified EZ distance could be as small as the boundary of the plant.

“We agree with the NRC staff that now is the time to resolve small reactor emergency preparedness issues,” Bell said.

Organizations in this story

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 11545 Rockville Pike Rockville, MD 20852

Nuclear Energy Institute 1201 F St NW D.C., DC 20004

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