NRC to issue final rule for new technology emergency preparedness

August 15, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its staff to issue a final rule and associated regulatory guide that applies risk-informed, performance-based emergency preparedness requirements to small modular reactors and other new technologies, the agency announced on August 14. The technologies include non–light water reactors, research and test reactors, and medical radioisotope facilities.

The foundation: The rule, to be published in the Federal Register later this year, builds on the NRC’s existing emergency preparedness program for large LWRs. Once published, the rule and related guidance will address how state-of-the-art facility designs and safety research apply to the future operation of SMRs and other new technologies.

The rule’s emergency preparedness framework adopts a technology-inclusive and consequence-oriented approach, the NRC noted. Requirements include a scalable method to determine the size of the off-site emergency planning zone around a facility.

Applicants and licensees for SMRs and other new technologies can use the rule in developing a performance-based emergency preparedness program as an alternative to the current off-site radiological emergency planning requirements.

Not included: The rule excludes large LWRs (those licensed for greater than 1,000 MWt), fuel cycle facilities, and currently operating research and test reactors. These classes of facilities remain under the current requirements.

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