New guidelines will address advances in reactor design The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking comments on a proposed rule and guidelines for emergency preparedness for small modular reactors and other new nuclear technologies.

The technologies include non-light-water reactors and “certain non-power facilities”, the NRC said, without giving further details. The non-power facilities are likely to be research reactors.

The new guidelines would acknowledge technological advancements and other differences from large light-water reactors that are inherent in SMRs and other new technologies, the NRC said in a notice published in the Federal Register.

The NRC’s existing emergency preparedness programme for nuclear power plants is focused on large, light-water cooled reactors.

The new guidelines will address advances in facility designs and safety research and their application to future operation of SMRs and other new technologies.

They will promote regulatory clarity, reduce requests for exemptions from emergency preparedness requirements, recognise design advances and make allowances for safety enhancements in evolutionary and passive systems, the NRC said.

New guidelines would also credit smaller sized reactors’ and non-LWRs’ potential benefits associated with postulated accidents, including the relatively small and slow release of fission products.

The NRC said it wants to address specific emergency preparedness policy issues such as planning, hazard analysis and the specific factors or technical considerations needed when applying the scalable emergency planning zone approach.

This proposed guidelines could affect any existing SMR and non-light-water reactor licensees, as well as relevant facilities licensed after the final rule becomes effective. The proposed rule does not cover large light-water reactors, fuel cycle facilities, or currently operating non-power reactors.

Date: Friday, 15 May 2020
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