United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Background on the Proposed Security Rulemaking for Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations

Consistent with our mission, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety, the common defense and security, and the environment in the secure storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW). For additional information on the NRC’s approach to this mission objective, as it relates to the Proposed Security Rulemaking for Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSIs), see the following topics on this page:

Impact of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001

Before September 11, 2001, the NRC met this mission objective by requiring that ISFSI licensees comply with the security requirements specified in Title 10, Part 72, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 72), “Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste, and Reactor-Related Greater than Class C Waste,” and 10 CFR Part 73, “Physical Protection of Plants and Materials.” Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the NRC has continued to achieve this requisite assurance for all facilities licensed to store spent nuclear fuel through a combination of the existing security regulations and the issuance of security orders to individual ISFSI licensees. These orders ensured that a consistent overall protective strategy was put in place for all ISFSIs.

Security Assessments

Following the issuance of security orders, the NRC completed security assessments for a range of NRC-licensed facilities, including ISFSIs. These assessments evaluated attacks with large aircraft and ground assaults using a variety of methods. They also evaluated the response to these assaults on several different dry cask storage designs, which were viewed as representative of the entire population of dry cask storage. The results of these assessments indicated that no immediate changes in the security requirements for ISFSIs were necessary. However, the assessments challenged previous NRC conclusions about the ability of a malevolent act to breach shielding or confinement barriers and thus cause a release of radiation or radioactive material. The assessments also indicated that increased security requirements may be warranted over the longer term. These assessments are not publicly available because they discuss security-related information and could be used as a potential targeting tool.

Current ISFSI Security Regulations

Current ISFSI security regulations are complex, posing challenges for the NRC staff and the regulated industry. Multiple factors cause this complexity. For example, 10 CFR Part 72 includes both Site-Specific and General ISFSI Licenses. The applicability of these regulations is based upon whether an ISFSI is co-located with an operating reactor, collocated with a decommissioning reactor, or located away from an operating power reactor.

Rulemaking Activities

In response to the information gained from the ISFSI security assessments and in recognition of the needed regulatory changes, the NRC staff addressed these issues to the Commission in SECY-07-0148, “Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation Security Requirements for Radiological Sabotage,” dated August 28, 2007. The Commission responded in a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM-SECY-07-0148), dated December 18, 2007, and directed the NRC staff to proceed with the development of a proposed rulemaking using a risk-informed and performance-based approach to these facilities and aggressively involve stakeholders in the process. The NRC published the draft regulatory basis (previously referred to as technical basis) in the Federal Register Notice on December 16, 2009. Given the importance of the proposed rulemaking, the staff held a public Webinar on January 14, 2010, to discuss the regulatory basis and facilitate the submission of informed comments from the public and stakeholders.

In light of the significant comments received from stakeholders during the public comment period on the draft regulatory basis of the rule, the staff requested additional Commission direction concerning the proposed rulemaking. The staff accomplished this by submitting SECY 10-0114, "Recommendation to Extend the Proposed Rulemaking on Security Requirements for Facilities Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste," dated August 26, 2010. Industry and public comments on the draft regulatory basis questioned the change from the design basis threat (DBT) for radiological sabotage to a dose-based approach. In addition, the staff asked the Commission to consider expanding the scope of the rulemaking to include SNF and HLW stored at a monitored retrievable storage (MRS) installation, and to extend the schedule of the proposed rulemaking. The resulting SRM-SECY-10-0114 directed the staff to continue on the current path, continue to engage stakeholders as directed and, when outreach was completed, to provide a fully developed basis for change, if needed. The staff published its evaluation of the stakeholder comments received on the draft regulatory basis in the Federal Register on December 24, 2013 .

Per Commission direction in SRM-SECY-07-0148, the staff developed a draft regulatory guidance document that contained security performance (adversary) characteristics. In response, the staff wrote draft Regulatory Guide DG-5033, "Security Performance (Adversary) Characteristics for Physical Security Programs for 10 CFR Part 72 Licensees." It is bounded by Regulatory Guide 5.69, but there are some specific differences. DG-5033 is not publicly available because it contains safeguards information.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, January 23, 2014