Regulators expand cooperation on reviews of advanced reactors and SMRs

March 15, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation have signed a memorandum of cooperation to collaborate on technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.

The why: The memorandum, announced by the NRC on March 13, furthers the countries’ mutual interest in effectively and efficiently considering next-generation technologies, in keeping with their agencies’ safety and security missions. The NRC, CNSC, and ONR are building on the information-sharing aspects of several previous agreements, as well as recent bilateral memoranda of cooperation on SMR/advanced reactor technology.

The memorandum underscores the agencies’ commitment to share best practices and regulatory experience as new technologies move toward standardization that facilitates international deployment. The agreement is expected to aid development of shared approaches for reviewing common technical safety issues to meet each country’s regulatory requirements. The agencies will also collaborate on preapplication activities, research, training, and emerging novel technical issues.

Notable: “This agreement shows the great progress we’ve made with our international counterparts to ensure advanced reactor technology can be safely and efficiently deployed,” said NRC chair Christopher Hanson. “We’ve seen our work with CNSC on joint reports support significant licensing activities on several advanced designs over the past couple of years. We look forward to ONR’s contributions as we all consider applications to build SMRs and advanced reactors.”

Ramzi Jammal, acting chief executive officer of the CNSC, said, “This provides a framework for the three organizations to work together to optimize our collective skills, experiences, and knowledge.”

ONR chief executive and chief nuclear inspector Mark Foy added, “This agreement’s partnering approach will improve both regulatory effectiveness and efficiency, essential given the rapid growth in reactor technologies seeking regulatory consideration and approval. Our willingness to share technical knowledge and judgments will streamline regulation while maintaining safety, acting as an exemplar of how regulators should work together in today’s modern world.”

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