NRC publishes EP final rule for SMRs

November 21, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final rule and associated regulatory guide applying risk-informed, performance-based emergency preparedness (EP) requirements to small modular reactors and other new technologies (ONT).

Approved by the commissioners this August and published in the November 16 Federal Register, the rule goes into effect December 18.

The alternative EP requirements added to 10 CFR 50, according to the FR notice, will continue to provide reasonable assurance that adequate protective measures can and will be implemented by an SMR or ONT licensee; promote regulatory stability, predictability, and clarity; reduce the need for requests for exemptions from EP requirements; recognize advances in design and technological advancements embedded in design features; credit safety enhancements in evolutionary and passive systems; and credit the potential benefits of smaller-sized reactors and non–light water reactors associated with postulated accidents, including slower transient response times, and relatively small and slow release of fission products.

Major provisions: The final rule and guidance (Regulatory Guide 1.242) includes the following key additions:

  • An EP framework that includes requirements for demonstrating effective response in drills and exercises for emergency and accident conditions.
  • A requirement for a hazard analysis of any facility contiguous to or near an SMR or ONT that considers any hazard that would adversely impact the implementation of emergency plans developed under this framework.
  • A scalable approach for determining the size of the plume exposure pathway emergency planning zone.
  • A requirement to describe ingestion response planning in the emergency plan, including the offsite capabilities and resources available to prevent contaminated food and water from entering the ingestion pathway.

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