NRC issues strategic plan for reviewing AI in nuclear applications

June 1, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

To help plan and prepare for new technologies involving artificial intelligence, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released its Artificial Intelligence Strategic Plan (NUREG-2261) for fiscal years 2023–2027.

The NRC said that it expects license applications that include the use of AI technologies to be submitted to the agency for review and approval within the next few years. The strategic plan is meant to help ensure that NRC staff are prepared to review and evaluate such applications.

In the foreword, the NRC Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research director Raymond Furstenau introduces the strategic plan, writing, “We recognize that interest in AI is growing rapidly in both the public and private sectors. As such, I think [it] is important to lay the groundwork needed to ensure the safe and secure use of AI in NRC-regulated activities.”

Strategic goals: The NRC plan sets out the following five strategic goals:

  1. Ensure NRC readiness for regulatory decision-making. This goal focuses on developing the regulatory guidance and tools to prepare NRC staff to assess the use of AI in nuclear-regulated activities.
  2. Establish an organizational framework to review AI applications. Under this goal, the NRC will establish internal committees and networks to assist staff in assessing AI technologies and applications.
  3. Strengthen and expand AI partnerships. The NRC hopes to strengthen and expand partnerships across the federal government and with the nuclear industry, academia, and international counterparts to ensure the agency remains current in the rapidly evolving AI field.
  4. Cultivate an AI-proficient workforce. The NRC said it will adopt the appropriate training programs and tools to develop the requisite skills within its workforce.
  5. Pursue use cases to build an AI foundation across the NRC. This goal focuses on developing and pursuing real-world cases to build technical expertise for reviewing the use of AI in NRC-regulated activities.

Next steps: The NRC said it has developed the strategic plan to prepare for new technologies involving AI. Any future guidance or rulemaking, if needed, will follow the agency’s routine processes.

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