NRC to discuss proposed fusion regulations

October 6, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on October 4 made available preliminary proposed rule language for the licensing and regulation fusion energy systems. The proposed rulemaking, which would amend parts 20, 30, and 51 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, would provide a limited-scope, technology-inclusive regulatory framework for a broad array of fusion systems currently under development.

The agency is also holding three virtual public meetings in October and November to seek public input on the rule language, draft guidance, and certain specific topics for the regulation of fusion systems.

Background: The NRC is currently developing a limited-scope rulemaking covering fusion systems in response to the 2019 Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which directed the NRC to develop and establish a regulatory framework for fusion reactors by the end of 2027.

Earlier this year, the NRC commissioners directed agency staff to develop regulations for licensing fusion energy systems by amending the existing byproduct material requirements in 10 CFR Part 30. The regulations will consider fusion energy systems that have already been licensed and are being regulated by the states, as well as developments in fusion technology. NRC staff also was directed to develop new fusion licensing guidance (NUREG-1556).

The proposed rule language includes fusion-related definitions, requirements for the content of a licensing application, and other requirements the NRC deems appropriate. The agency said it may release additional preliminary proposed rule language throughout the development of the proposed rule.

The meetings: The meetings will be held online on October 11, 1–3 p.m. (EDT); November 1, 1–4 p.m. (EDT); and November 9, 1–4 p.m. (EST). Specific details about the meetings, including how to join by webinar or phone, can be found in the NRC’s public meeting notices.

According to the NRC, the meetings are a continuation of public outreach that will extend throughout the rulemaking process. NRC staff are to have a proposed rule ready for consideration by NRC commissioners in early 2025.

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