NRC brainstorms ways to simplify microreactor licensing

September 24, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
The U.S. NRC headquarters.

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released a draft white paper outlining strategies for streamlining microreactor licensing. The paper is to be used to facilitate discussion at an upcoming advanced reactor stakeholder public meeting.

“This paper,” the document emphasizes, “has not been subject to NRC management and legal reviews and approvals, and its contents are subject to change and should not be interpreted as official agency positions.”

Focal points: The paper focuses on the following areas:

  • Enhanced standardization of the design (e.g., through using bounding design parameters in early site permits, bounding site parameters in design certification, and a minimal set of site-specific design features).
  • Use of a manufacturing license to gain potential efficiencies at the combined license stage, accompanied by other regulatory requirements, such as possession of special nuclear material and transportation.
  • Strategies for review of operational matters (e.g., technical specifications and operational programs) at the design stage, either as part of the design approval (to the extent allowed under commission policy), through topical reports, or through a design-centered review approach, in which the staff would review operational matters for the first microreactor application of a particular design and apply that review to similar subsequent applications.
  • Rulemaking efforts to streamline the environmental reviews of advanced reactor applications.

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