Nuclear Energy Institute urges NRC to make decommissioning process more efficient, transparent

Published on June 20, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

In recent comments on a proposed Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rulemaking, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) urged the NRC to continue its efforts to make the decommissioning process for nuclear plants more efficient and transparent.

“NEI strongly urges the agency to continue on a path of completing a rulemaking to improve the efficiency of the transition from operations to decommissioning as expeditiously as possible,” the NRC said in a letter sent in response to a notice in the Federal Register asking for comment.

When a nuclear reactor is shut down, instead of gaining a new regulatory status, it continues to be regulated under its operating license until license exemptions and amendments are approved.

Currently, plant owners must submit between eight and 12 license exemption requests, and amendments take 12 to 18 months to complete. This process can be expensive and adds to the administrative responsibilities of plant owners and regulators.

A decommissioning rulemaking, NEI said, could decrease or eliminate the need for license exemptions and amendments and make the decommissioning process quicker and more efficient.

“We continue to encourage the NRC to utilize the proposal we submitted in response to the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in developing the final [decommissioning] rule language,” NEI said. “In the meantime, it continues to be important that NRC staff remain committed to the timely review of exemptions and license amendments that are necessary until this rulemaking can be completed.”