NEI says proposed NRC rule could set bad precedent on accident management

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) expressed concern over a proposed accident management rule released by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Wednesday.
   
Specifically the proposal would regulate severe accident management guidelines (SAMGs) and based upon qualitative factors. SAMGs are plans that are voluntary safety measures that go beyond emergency operating procedures.

NEI Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Anthony Piertrangelo said the proposed rule could be a move toward troubling precedent.

Piertrangelo said the proposed rule goes against the established "backfit rule" that states new requirements that would result in significant safety improvements need to be justified based on the cost of implementation. With the proposed rule and its reasoning, the NRC could potentially justify any requirement, he said.
   
“The argument is not about whether we will have SAMGs or not. We will maintain them,” Pietrangelo said. “The industry is prepared to place commitments on the NRC’s docket saying that nuclear plants will maintain the SAMGs and provide training. The NRC can periodically inspect them, if they want to. From our perspective, SAMGs do not belong in this rulemaking,”

NEI said another concern is the proposed requirement that new reactor applicants detail design features that enhance coping durations and how it reduces the role of human action. Pietrangelo said that this is inconsistent and confuses the intent of the rule due to the rule addressing beyond-design-basis events.

A large portion of the rule is to make requirements of extreme event coping generally applicable across nuclear generation plants in the U.S. These coping strategies were introduced following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

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