NRC seeks public comment to revise onsite emergency response regulations

Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking public comment as the agency begins considering changes to U.S. reactors’ onsite emergency response requirements. The NRC intends to strengthen and integrate accident response procedures and their associated training and exercises. This proposed rulemaking comes in response to a recommendation for enhancing safety at U.S. reactors based on lessons learned from the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Over time, U.S. nuclear power plants have put in place three onsite emergency response categories: Emergency Operating Procedures (EOPs), Severe Accident Management Guidelines (SAMGs) and Extensive Damage Mitigation Guidelines (EDMGs). The NRC’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published today in the Federal Register asks for comment on strengthening and integrating these procedures. The notice’s questions include:

• Should the NRC develop a new rule, or could the requirements for a stronger, more integrated response be accomplished by a different method?

• If a new rule is developed, what would be most effective way of providing guidance on the new requirements?
• Should SAMGs be standardized throughout the industry?

• What is the most effective strategy for linking EOPs with SAMGs and EDMGs?

• What additional accident scenarios should be considered for expanding SAMG technical guidelines as a result of the lessons learned in Japan?

• Should separate procedures be developed that clearly establish the command and control structures for large-scale events?

Public comments should be submitted by June 18; comments received after the deadline will be considered if possible, but the NRC is only able to ensure consideration of comments received by the deadline. All comments should reference Docket ID NRC-2012-0031. Comments can be submitted through the website by searching for files under the Docket ID. Comments can also be e-mailed to; mailed to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, Washington, DC 20555-0001; or faxed to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 301-415-1101. 

This rulemaking process addresses one of the recommendations from the NRC’s Japan Near-Term Task Force, which issued its report in July 2011. The NRC staff continues to examine how to best address the remaining Task Force recommendations, as well as additional topics raised during the early implementation effort. The agency has also established the Japan Lessons-Learned Project Directorate, a group of more than 20 full-time employees focused exclusively on implementing Task Force recommendations and related activities.

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