Security & Safety

Advanced Reactors / NRC Adopts Recommendations On Emergency Planning Zones

By Kamen Kraev
20 December 2019

NRC Adopts Recommendations On Emergency Planning Zones
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to adopt staff recommendations to apply “appropriately-sized” emergency planning zone requirements for advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, according to a statement by Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute.

The NEI said the move “demonstrates a commitment to modernising regulations so they align with the smaller size and the inherent safety features of advanced nuclear technologies.”

The NRC has revised the process for establishing the size of an emergency planning zone basing its radius on the potential consequences from the type of the advanced reactor to be deployed, the statement said.

Earlier this week, the NRC said it was seeking public comments on the proposed rule for emergency preparedness for SMRs and other new technologies. The NRC is proposing to amend its regulations and create alternative requirements adopting a “risk-informed, performance-based, and technology-inclusive” approach.

According to the NEI, the 10-mile emergency planning zone for existing nuclear stations was established 40 years ago and does not take into account all additional reactor technology development and research which happened since then.

“This innovative approach [by the NRC] allows for emergency planning requirements to reflect the simplified designs and unique characteristics of advanced reactors, while protecting public health and safety”, said NEI chief nuclear officer Doug True.

NRC regulations on emergency preparedness were established in the late 1970s and have focused on large light-water reactors. In 2016, the NRC began reviewing its rulemaking process taking into accountant emerging nuclear technologies like SMRs.

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