ANS and the Breakthrough Institute yesterday submitted a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding the agency’s ongoing efforts to create a regulatory infrastructure for the development and commercialization of advanced reactors, a mandate of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, signed into law in January 2019.
As part of those efforts, the NRC in November 2020 requested public comments on “preliminary proposed rule language for a risk-informed, technology-inclusive framework for reactor licensing,” known as Part 53 rulemaking. The stakeholder engagement period was later extended, first to January 31 of this year, and then to August 31.
But according to the organizations’ June 15 letter, engagement needs to go beyond the opportunity to comment.
The request: “We write in the interest of ensuring that Part 53 provides an efficient and effective regulatory framework for licensing safe, advanced reactors,” stated then ANS President Steven Nesbit and Breakthrough Institute senior policy advisor Rani Franovich in the letter. (Nesbit’s term as ANS president ended today.) “Specifically, we urgently request the Commission to direct the NRC staff to engage stakeholders in an open and collaborative approach to developing a risk-informed, technology-inclusive framework for advanced reactors . . . by sponsoring a multi-day workshop or series of workshops, beginning as soon as practicable. This urgency of an open, collaborative development process is growing as a window of opportunity to shape Framework B into a useful pathway for new and advanced reactor licensing will close in September 2022.”
Nesbit and Franovich cited a recent Part 53 survey by the Nuclear Energy Institute and U.S. Nuclear Industry Council that they say shows “a perception of limited utility of the NRC staff’s initial proposal for 10 CFR Part 53 (now Framework A).” For Framework B, they continue, “a different, more collaborative approach is needed.”