GOP senators commend NRC on environmental impact statement for advanced reactors

Published on July 28, 2020 by Dave Kovaleski

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A trio of Republican U.S. senators applauded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for developing a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for advanced reactors.

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) said an advanced reactor GEIS will be a valuable tool for innovators to accelerate the deployment of clean and reliable advanced nuclear reactors.

The senators also asked for the NRC to align the proposal with the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), which requires the NRC to establish a regulatory framework to license advanced nuclear technologies that reflects safer and smaller reactor designs. This bill is designed to help nuclear innovators have a predictable and efficient regulatory process.

“As stated in our previous letter, an advanced reactor GEIS will expedite the environmental review process and enable market deployment of innovative nuclear technologies. Use of a GEIS for advanced nuclear reactors will improve efficiency by avoiding redundant review of common issues and impacts. It will increase predictability in the licensing process, which is extremely important for the sustainable development of this next-generation technology,” the senators wrote in a letter to NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki.

The senators also called on the commission to broaden the scope of the proposed generic environmental impact statement to make the document easier to use.

“While we support the NRC staff’s plan to develop a technology-neutral GEIS, we request the Commission develop a broader GEIS to increase predictability and opportunity to develop advanced nuclear technologies,” they wrote. “The proposed GEIS would only cover advanced nuclear reactors which generate small amounts of electricity. It would exclude light-water small modular reactors or larger non-water advanced reactors. This approach limits the usefulness of the GEIS. We encourage the development of a more inclusive GEIS. A GEIS based on risk would align with the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act’s (NEIMA) requirements to establish a technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance-based regulatory framework for advanced reactors.”

Further, they asked the commission to consider actions to improve the environmental permitting of advanced reactors.