NEI: NRC should adjust regulations for decommissioning plants

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is encouraging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to revise its regulations on decommissioning nuclear power reactors to include updated risk profiles throughout the process and reduce the need for exemptions and license amendments.

“As we go through these transitions, the exemption process typically takes 12 to 18 months to complete, with more than $1.5 million a month in expenditures, two-thirds of which is on the industry side, while plants spend over $1 million per month complying with requirements that should no longer apply to them,” NEI Senior Director of Used Fuel and Decommissioning Programs Rodney McCullum said in a recent briefing for NRC commissioners.

The NEI is encouraging the NRC to take on a more limited rulemaking role that would recognize the reduced risk associated with plants that have ceased operations and create new requirements for those plants as they undergo the transition. McCullum said the NRC can use the exemptions and license amendments currently used in these situations as a basis for the regulations.

“By targeting the rulemaking in this manner, the goal of reducing the burden of unnecessary licensing actions can be accomplished in a more timely manner,” McCullum said.

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