NRC seeks prompt action on Japan Task Force recommendations

Source: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its staff to complete several actions within the next 45 days in response to recommendations from the agency’s Near-Term Task Force examination of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan.

“I am pleased to see the Commission moving the agency forward on these important issues, and I look forward to receiving additional input from our technical experts, the industry and the public as we proceed,” said NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko. “The plan we’ve established will require a dedicated effort by our staff and stakeholders, and will require a continued commitment by the Commission to see that these recommendations are promptly addressed.”

The Commission established the Task Force to examine the agency’s regulatory requirements, programs, processes, and implementation in light of information from the accident following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Task Force presented its report to the Commission on July 12, proposing 12 recommendations on improving several safety-related areas. The recommendations covered areas including loss of electrical power, earthquakes, flooding, spent fuel pools, venting and preparedness.

The Commission has asked the staff for a series of papers in the next two months covering various aspects of the Task Force’s work. These include: 

•The staff has until Sept. 9 to produce a paper outlining which of the Task Force’s recommendations 2 - 12, either in part or in whole, the staff believes should be implemented without unnecessary delay. The 21-day effort will include a public dialogue on the staff’s proposal, and the staff expects to announce a public meeting in the next few days. 

•The staff has until Oct. 3 to produce a paper which prioritizes Task Force recommendations 2 - 12. This paper is expected to lay out all agency actions to be taken in responding to lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident. The paper will also lay out a schedule for interacting with the public, other stakeholders and the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS). 

•The staff has 18 months to consider the Task Force’s first and broadest recommendation, a call for revising the NRC’s regulatory approach. The Task Force felt the NRC should find a better balance between the use of risk analysis to inform regulation and the “defense in depth” concept that underlies many of the agency’s original requirements. The Task Force felt doing so would create a regulatory framework that is logical, systematic, coherent and more easily understood. The paper is expected to provide options, including a recommended course of action, in dealing with the Task Force’s first recommendation. 

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