November 9, 2021
November 9, 2021
The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) has released the joint USNIC and Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) November 5, 2021 submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which provides Comprehensive Industry Comments on NRC’s Rulemaking on “Risk-Informed, Technology-Inclusive Regulatory Framework for Advanced Reactors (RIN-3150-AK31; NRC-2019-0062)” (better known as Part 53).
The Part 53 rulemaking is the NRC effort to develop a technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance-based regulatory framework for advanced reactors. Carbon-free nuclear power is a critical part of our worldwide decarbonization efforts. We believe that an efficient, effective Part 53 can provide a gateway for safe, reliable nuclear power to play a significant role in the global fight to reduce carbon emissions.
USNIC President and CEO Bud Albright recognizes, “This very comprehensive industry assessment of the current preliminary language for Part 53 demonstrates that substantive change in the preliminary rule language is vital. If America is to safely and realistically address the advanced nuclear deployment needs of the future, we cannot inextricably tie ourselves to the past. Much thought and diligent effort have gone into comments submitted to the NRC by nuclear industry experts who have been engaged for decades in the design, licensing, regulation, management, and operation of nuclear facilities. These experts have outlined the need for real-world measures that will ensure the safe deployment and operation of advanced nuclear facilities. We cannot be wedded to prior regulatory formulations that do not recognize the safety advancements of these innovative technologies.
“This new generation of advanced nuclear technologies surpasses its predecessors – already among the safest form of energy – in terms of safety, efficiency, and diversity of application for nuclear facilities. The NRC should enable the deployment of these safe and innovative designs, by crafting a streamlined, risk-informed and less burdensome regulatory approach that appropriately addresses both current and future needs for advanced nuclear deployment.”
The industry letter provides timely and detailed input on the NRC’s Part 53 preliminary rule language released through October 18, 2021, which constitutes the NRC staff’s comprehensive plans for the Part 53 regulatory framework. USNIC’s comments highlight the appropriate features the staff has incorporated into Part 53 that should be retained, as well as suggested changes to achieve a Part 53 rule that meets the statutory requirements in the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), and conforms to the NRC Commission direction in a 2020 staff requirements memorandum.
These changes will achieve the goal that the final rule is used and useful, as described in the “Unified Industry Position” letter dated July 14, 2021, by being available for use by all technologies and risk-informed licensing approaches, being less burdensome over the lifecycle of activities (e.g., licensing, construction, operations, oversight) than regulating under the existing Parts 50 and 52, and being built upon performance-based requirements that define clear and objective acceptance criteria.
“We believe the NRC’s current preliminary Part 53 rule language requires substantive change,” said Jeff Merrifield, USNIC Advanced Nuclear Working Group chair. He added, “For over a year, we have actively participated in NRC public meetings, promptly identified our concerns, and provided robust recommendations to the staff to try to make Part 53 workable. However, to date, those interactions have not been as productive as we’d have hoped. Additionally, we believe the changes we’ve proposed would address many of the recommendations made by the independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.”
USNIC believes that the relatively modest and straightforward set of changes outlined in the detailed comments can be incorporated without impact on the Commission’s schedule for Part 53. These comments have been previously discussed with the NRC staff, and are accompanied by proposed language changes that address the comment.
Attachment A provides comments by specific topical areas, addressing appropriate features and significant issues. Attachment B provides detailed comments on the preliminary Part 53 rule language. Attachment C lists more than twenty USNIC submissions to the NRC regarding Part 53 from October 2019 to October 2021, and the approximately twenty NEI submissions to NRC regarding Part 53.
USNIC Senior Fellow for Advanced Nuclear Cyril Draffin noted, “Industry has actively participated in the NRC stakeholder comment process; has invested significant resources in participating in the numerous NRC public meetings; and has provided extensive detailed comments, suggestions, and reasons why changes in Part 53 preliminary language are needed. We seek a useful Part 53 that will be used to enable the efficient and effective licensing of advanced nuclear reactors.”
For background, the 2021 USNIC Advanced Nuclear Survey indicated 90% of Advanced Nuclear developers think a usable Part 53 is important, but the majority of developers were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the usefulness of the June 2021 preliminary Part 53 language. Results of the survey are available HERE.
The November 5, 2021 industry letter to the NRC with three attachments providing detailed comprehensive comments (112 pages) can be found HERE.
Caleb Ward, COO, USNIC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cyril Draffin, Senior Fellow, Advanced Nuclear, USNIC, (email@example.com)
Jeff Merrifield, Chair, USNIC Advanced Nuclear Working Group, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About the USNIC
The United States Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) is the leading U.S. business advocate for advanced nuclear energy and promotion of the American supply chain globally. USNIC represents approximately 80 companies engaged in nuclear innovation and supply chain development, including technology developers, manufacturers, construction engineers, key utility movers, and service providers. USNIC’s educational programs, industry insights, and market intelligence brings together bi-partisan Federal and State legislators to create a successful clean energy paradigm that includes nuclear. For more information visit www.usnic.org.