Saturday, September 30, 2023

OIG Releases Special Inquiry Report on the NRC’s Oversight of the Research and Test Reactor Program

Today, the U.S. NRC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report on the NRC’s oversight of its Research and Test Reactor (RTR) Program.  The OIG’s Special Inquiry saw its origins in an investigation into the events and circumstances surrounding a February 2021 radiation release at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and later broadened to include consideration of the NRC’s oversight of other RTR facilities nationwide, to assess potential systemic issues.

“As our report shows, addressing opportunity areas in the NRC’s RTR program is vital to ensuring successful regulatory oversight of new projects, such as medical isotope facilities and prospective RTRs based on advanced reactor technology, since these programs are currently planned to be reviewed under RTR policy guidance.  This report demonstrates that the same or similar causes that led to the NIST event have ramifications for other RTRs nationally,” said Inspector General Robert J. Feitel.

The Inspector General added, “The OIG’s investigative and technical staff must be commended for such a thorough and far-reaching report that demonstrates superb, independent oversight.”

RTR SI press release 09.29.23_RJF (002).pdf

NRC Approves License Transfers for Energy Harbor Nuclear Plants

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 23-062 September 29, 2023
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC Approves License Transfers for Energy Harbor Nuclear Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the licenses for four operating reactors and their associated spent fuel storage facilities from Energy Harbor Nuclear Corp. to Vistra Operations Company LLC. The transfer is part of VistraOps’ acquisition of Energy Harbor’s nuclear assets.

The transfer covers the following operating reactors:
  • Beaver Valley Power Station, Units 1 and 2 (Shippingport, Pennsylvania)
  • Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (Oak Harbor, Ohio)
  • Perry Nuclear Power Plant (Perry, Ohio)
VistraOps currently operates the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant and its spent fuel storage facilities, which are located in Glen Rose, Texas.

The NRC staff’s review of the license transfer application concluded that VistraOps is financially and technically qualified to conduct the activities authorized by the licenses. The NRC staff also concluded that VistraOps satisfies the NRC’s decommissioning funding assurance requirements, and that the facilities are not owned, controlled, or dominated by a foreign entity.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Unit 2 - Authorization and Safety Evaluation for Alternative Request for Valve 251130 (EPID L-2023-LLR-0045)

Subject: Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Unit 2 - Authorization and Safety Evaluation for Alternative Request for Valve 251130 (EPID L-2023-LLR-0045)

ADAMS Accession No.: ML23257A122

Using Web-based ADAMS, select “Advanced Search”
Under “Property,” select “Accession Number”
Under “Value,” enter the Accession Number
Click Search

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

NRC Approves Further Uranium Enrichment at American Centrifuge Plant

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-23-028 September 23, 2023
Contact: Dave Gasperson, 404-997-4417

NRC Approves Further Uranium Enrichment at American Centrifuge Plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized American Centrifuge Operating LLC to proceed with its planned demonstration project to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium, known as HALEU, under its contract with the Department of Energy. This is a major step in developing advanced fuels for the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The authorization signed Sept. 21 allows the company to possess and use enough uranium to perform Phase 1 of the company’s contract with DOE, the production of 20 kilograms of HALEU. The company plans to enrich the uranium in its HALEU Demonstration Cascade module at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. HALEU is enriched up to 20 percent in the isotope U-235, higher than the typical 3-5 percent found in current nuclear reactor fuel.

“This authorization follows a rigorous review of the American Centrifuge Plant’s safety features and operating procedures,” said NRC Region II Administrator Laura A. Dudes. “The NRC is committed to ensuring that all nuclear facilities operate safely and securely, and we will continue to closely monitor the HALEU Demonstration Cascade to ensure that it continues to meet our high safety standards.”

The NRC in June authorized the company to possess a smaller amount of material as part of its project preparations. The company plans to initiate HALEU production in October and complete Phase 1 in December.

The amount of material and higher enrichment level authorized make the American Centrifuge Plant the first Category II fuel facility licensed by the NRC.
Details of the inspections and the latest authorization letter are available on the NRC website.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Price-Anderson / Accident Tolerant Fuel

Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
Items of Interest
Week Ending September 8, 2023

Inflation Adjustments to the Price-Anderson Act Financial Protection Regulations: Final
Rule; 10 CFR Part 140 [NRC-2023-0110; RIN 3150-AL01]

On September 5, 2023, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a notice in
the Federal Register (88 FR 60565) amending its regulations to adjust for inflation the maximum
total and annual standard deferred premiums specified in the Price-Anderson Act. The NRC
must perform this adjustment at least once during each 5-year period following August 20, 2003,
as mandated by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. This final rule is effective on
October 5, 2023.

Increased Enrichment of Conventional and Accident Tolerant Fuel Designs for LightWater Reactors: Regulatory Basis; Request for Comment; 10 CFR Parts 50, 51, and 71
[NRC-2020-0034; RIN 3150-AK79]

On September 8, 2023, the NRC published a notice in the Federal Register (88 FR 61986)
requesting comments on a regulatory basis to support a rulemaking to amend the NRC's
regulations related to the use of conventional and accident tolerant light-water reactor fuel
designs. The NRC's goal is to establish effective and efficient licensing of applications using
fuels enriched to greater than 5.0 and less than 20.0 weight percent uranium-235. The NRC will
hold a public meeting to promote a full understanding of the planned rulemaking and facilitate
public comment on the regulatory basis. Comments are requested by November 22, 2023.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Updated Inspection Plan for Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 (Report 05000387/2023005 and 05000388/2023005)


Updated Inspection Plan for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 (Report 05000277/2023005 and 05000278/2023005)