United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Fuel Cycle Sub-Arena

The Nation's fuel cycle facilities comprise one of two sub-arenas that the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) identified in considering which areas of the materials safety arena to target for greater use of risk information. This page summarizes the following aspects of this sub-arena:


For fuel cycle facilities, make continuous improvement in licensing and oversight, and risk inform new regulations as needed, while performing existing risk-informed functions.

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SECY-99-100 and SECY-04-0182, as well as the related staff requirements memorandum (SRM), provide the conceptual framework for risk-informing the NRC's fuel cycle activities. Guidance on how to apply this framework is provided in "Risk-Informed Decision-Making for Material and Waste Applications, Rev. 1," which is available in the NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), under Accession No.ML080720238. In particular, individual risk-informed applications must meet the established screening criteria.

The screening criteria applied to the goals (below) of implementing the NRC's revised regulatory requirements, as specified in Title 10, Part 70, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 70), would indicate that the given activity was undertaken to increase confidence in the margin of safety of fuel cycle facilities by requiring the use of a risk-informed approach to identify and manage items that are relied on for safety. Cost/benefit was not a consideration, and technical feasibility was known because two licensees had already implemented such systems. The revision of 10 CFR Part 70 is expected to reduce staff effort, while improving regulatory effectiveness, by providing more frequent updates of licensee design information and related risk information.

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The staff has established the following goals for risk-informed and performance-based activities in this sub-arena:

  • Revise the existing licensing guidance to reflect lessons learned from implementation of 10 CFR 70 Subpart H.
  • Complete revision of inspection guidance to make use of the resulting risk information to focus inspections.
  • Revise the Fuel Cycle Oversight Program to make it more risk-informed and performance-based consistent with Commission direction.

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Risk-Informed and Performance-Based Activities

The following table specifies the ongoing rulemaking initiatives, projects, and activities that the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has targeted for greater use of risk information in the Fuel Cycle Sub-Arena within the Materials Safety Arena.

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Initiative, Program or Project Project Description and Major Activities Status
Rulemaking for Reprocessing Facilities SECY-13-0093 responded to SRM-SECY-11-0163. SRM-SECY-13-0093 approved development of a reprocessing-specific rule in a new 10 CFR Part 7X. Continued work of the framework should be limited in scope to resolution of Gap 5, Risk Assessment Methodologies.
Risk Basis: Develop a risk-informed regulatory framework for reprocessing.
Create a Revised Fuel Cycle Oversight Program (RFCOP) to be more risk-informed, transparent, and predictable. Fuel Cycle Significance Determination Process. RFCOP Basis Document. Revised Inspection Manual Chapters.
Risk Basis: As directed by the Commission, staff is developing and evaluating approaches to use risk information in making risk significance determinations in oversight of fuel cycle facilities.
More Information

To request additional information, Contact Us About Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Regulation.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, April 01, 2016