GAO asked to evaluate NRC’s preparedness for advanced reactor reviews

February 9, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Two GOP lawmakers are calling on the Government Accountability Office to undertake an assessment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s preparedness to review and approve advanced reactor applications.

In a February 4 letter to the GAO, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote, “Recent NRC actions concerning certain licensing activities raise questions about the agency’s capability to manage effectively first-mover applications for new, advanced technologies.”

Six questions: The legislators asked the GAO to respond to the following questions:

  • What steps has the NRC completed in its preparations to review and approve applications to license advanced reactor technologies?
  • How is the NRC assessing various organizational approaches to establish the most effective structure to review those applications efficiently?
  • What innovative and flexible regulatory approaches are being implemented to review forthcoming applications?
  • How is NRC staff working with license applicants during the pre-application and initial license review phases and communicating key issues in order to establish a predictable schedule with clear, achievable milestones?
  • How is NRC staff engaging with the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards to address and resolve evolving novel issues?
  • What organizational approaches have other governmental agencies successfully used to review and approve the use of new technologies that the NRC could adopt to review and approve forthcoming applications?

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