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Enhancing Public Participation in NRC Meetings

[Federal Register: May 28, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 102)]
[Notices]
[Page 36920-36924]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr28my02-87]

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION


Enhancing Public Participation in NRC Meetings; Policy Statement

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Policy Statement.

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SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is revising its public
meeting policy to enhance public participation in NRC meetings. This
policy brings consistency to NRC public meetings planned by
headquarters and regional staff by introducing a categorization system
whereby the public can anticipate the level of participation that will
be provided for during an upcoming meeting. The NRC has identified
three categories of public meetings it convenes and has described
information availability and follow-up effort associated with each
meeting category. Information such as agendas, background documents,
and meeting summaries will be available in ADAMS and at NRC's web site
for certain categories of meetings. The policy also provides guidance
on teleconferencing, security, and other administrative issues related
to NRC staff-sponsored public meetings. This revision is in response to
suggestions made by the public at a meeting held in April, 2001, and to
fulfill the NRC's strategic goal of increasing public confidence.

EFFECTIVE DATE: May 28, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mindy Landau or Ramin Assa, Office of
the Executive Director for Operations, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, telephone: (301) 415-8703 or
(301) 415-8709 respectively.

[[Page 36921]]

Commission Policy Statement on Staff Meetings Open to the Public

A. Purpose

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has had a formal policy regarding
open meetings since 1978 which has been revised periodically, and most
recently on September 20, 2000. This paper presents a revised policy
that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will follow in opening
meetings between the agency staff and one or more outside persons to
public observation and participation. The revised policy continues
NRC's longstanding practice of providing the public with substantial
information on its activities and of conducting business in an open
manner, while balancing the need for the NRC staff to exercise its
regulatory and safety responsibilities without undue administrative
burden. The revised policy also sets forth a plan for categorizing
meeting types that will provide a framework for enhancing public
participation. The public will be notified of the category of the
meeting, and thereby the level of participation to be anticipated, via
the NRC's Public Meeting Notice System on its web site. Implementing
guidance will be issued to the NRC staff. This meeting policy is a
matter of NRC discretion and may be departed from as circumstances
warrant.

B. Definition

    A public meeting is a planned, formal encounter open to public
observation and participation between one or more NRC staff members and
one or more external stakeholders, with the expressed intent of
discussing substantive issues that are directly associated with the
NRC's regulatory and safety responsibilities. An external stakeholder
is any individual who is not:
    1. An NRC employee;
    2. Under contract to the NRC;
    3. Acting as an official consultant to the NRC;
    4. Acting as an official representative of an agency of the
executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the U.S. Government
(except on matters where the agency is subject to NRC regulatory
oversight);
    5. Acting as an official representative of a foreign government;
    6. Acting as an official representative of a State or local
government or
    Tribal official (except when specific NRC licensing or regulatory
matters are discussed).

C. Applicability and Exemptions

    1. This policy applies solely to NRC staff-sponsored and conducted
meetings and not to meetings conducted by outside entities in which NRC
staff members might attend and participate. It does not apply to
Commission meetings or to meetings sponsored by offices that report
directly to the Commission. Similarly, it does not apply to meetings
between NRC staff and representatives of State government, including
Agreement State representatives, relating to NRC Agreement State
activities or to State regulatory actions or to other matters of
general interest to the State or to the Commission; that is, matters
other than specific NRC licensing or regulatory actions involving
specific licensees. Also, the policy is not intended to apply to or
supersede any existing law, rule or regulation that addresses public
attendance at a specific type of meeting. For example, 10 CFR part 7
and 10 CFR part 9 will continue to be applicable to advisory committee
meetings and Commission meetings, respectively.
    2. This policy covers various types of public ``meetings.'' It does
not cover the ``hearings'' associated with adjudicatory proceedings
under the Commission's Rules of Practice in 10 CFR part 2.
    The term ``public meeting'' is traditionally associated with the
Commission's efforts to provide information to the public and to seek
public views on various generic and site-specific issues. These
meetings are open to a wide variety of people with an interest in the
subject matter and a willingness to follow the ground rules established
for the conduct of the meeting.
    The term ``hearings,'' covered under 10 CFR part 2, relates
primarily to Commission adjudicatory proceedings on various types of
licenses and licensing actions (e.g., initial issuance of a license,
amendment of an existing license, renewal of a license) or to
enforcement actions involving the imposition of civil penalties or
orders to modify, suspend or revoke a license or take other appropriate
action. This policy also does not cover meetings concerning the
settlement of issues pertaining to any proceeding or regarding
enforcement matters. Specific requirements regarding participation in
and the conduct of such hearings are provided in the Commission's Rules
of Practice set out in 10 CFR part 2.
    3. Meetings between the NRC staff and external stakeholders will be
designated as public meetings unless the NRC staff determines that the
subject matter or information to be discussed meets one or more of the
following criteria:
    a. Is specifically authorized by an Executive Order to be withheld
in the interests of national defense or foreign policy (classified
information) or specifically exempt from public disclosure by statute;
    b. Contains safeguards or other protected information;
    c. Contains trade secrets and commercial or financial information
(proprietary information);
    d. Is of a personal nature where such disclosure would constitute a
clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
    e. Is related to a planned, ongoing, or completed investigation
and/or contains information compiled for law enforcement purposes;
    f. Could result in the inappropriate disclosure and dissemination
of preliminary, predecisional or unverified information;
    g. Is a general information exchange having no direct, substantive
connection to a specific NRC regulatory decision or action. However,
should discussions in a closed meeting approach issues that might lead
to a specific regulatory decision or action, the NRC staff may advise
the meeting attendees that such matters cannot be discussed in a closed
meeting and propose discussing the issues in a future open meeting.
    h. Indicates that the administrative burden associated with public
attendance at the meeting could interfere with the staff's execution of
its safety and regulatory responsibilities, such as when the meeting is
an integral part of the execution of the NRC inspection program.
    It is important to note that whether or not a meeting should be
open to the public is dependent primarily on the subject matter to be
discussed, not who is participating (e.g., staff level versus senior
management).
    Also note that meetings between staff and licensees or trade groups
to discuss technical issues or licensee performance would normally be
open because they may lead to a specific regulatory decision or action.

D. Public Participation in NRC Meetings

    In order to fulfill the NRC's strategic goal of increasing public
confidence, the agency has identified three categories of public
meetings the agency convenes and has developed criteria for the level
of public participation, information availability and follow-up effort
associated with each meeting category. The extent of known public
interest in the meeting or activity and the objective of the meeting
insofar as public involvement is concerned, will be considered by the
staff when assigning a meeting to an appropriate category. The
description, purpose, and levels of

[[Page 36922]]

public participation for each category of meeting is described below.
Category 1
    Description--Meetings in this category are typically held with one
licensee, vendor, applicant or potential applicant rulemaking to
discuss particular regulatory issues regarding their specific facility
(or facilities), certificate of compliance, license or license
application.
    Meeting Purpose--The purpose of this type of meeting is to discuss
one particular facility or site, or certified system or device, with an
applicant or licensee regarding, for example, technical issues in an
application, licensee actions, or inspection results. At this type of
meeting, NRC anticipates that the public would obtain factual
information to assist in their understanding of the applicable
regulatory issues and NRC actions.
    Examples--Examples of this type of meeting could include: Annual
public meetings to discuss plant performance, regulatory conferences,
predecisional enforcement conferences, meetings held prior to a
facility restarting, as well as meetings held on licensing actions (or
applications), renewals and amendments, new facilities, away-from-
reactor storage sites, large or complex fuel cycle facilities, or waste
disposal sites. Certain inspection exit meetings such as those for
Incident Investigation Teams, Augmented Inspection Teams or others as
appropriate, would also be included in this category.
    Level of Public Participation--The public is invited to observe the
meeting consistent with past practice, and the public will have the
opportunity to communicate with the NRC after the business portion of
the meeting, but before the meeting is adjourned. This does not
preclude the licensee from responding to questions if they choose to do
so.
    For Category 1 meetings longer than two hours, one or more
opportunities may be provided for the public to ask questions before
the end of the meeting, if practicable. In advance of the meeting,
members of the public may request, via e-mail or telephone, that the
meeting coordinator consider changing the meeting to a Category 2
meeting (discussed below), depending on the level of public interest in
the activity being discussed. Meetings that the staff believe will
generate high public interest should also provide more than one
opportunity for public comments and questions. The decision on whether
to change the category of any particular meeting is a matter left to
the discretion of the staff on a case-by-case basis.
    Types of Information Provided--At a minimum, an agenda or a list of
items to be discussed will be entered into the Agencywide Documents
Access and Management System (ADAMS). The ADAMS document accession
number would be provided in the meeting notice that is posted at our
public Web site for access to any primary or background documents.
    Follow-up--No formal follow-up will be provided beyond the normal
period for questions. Informal follow-up (telephone or e-mail) may be
appropriate for certain questions that cannot be answered at the
meeting. Members of the public also have the option of writing or e-
mailing the staff about particular concerns. These concerns will be
considered by the staff as it deliberates on the issue. Feedback forms
would also be provided at this type of meeting, so that comments can be
reviewed and offices can track any planned improvements or resulting
actions in their operating plans, as appropriate. Meeting summaries and
participant lists will be publicly available in ADAMS.
Category 2
    Description--Meetings in this category are typically held with a
group of industry representatives, licensees, vendors or non-
governmental organizations.
    Meeting Purpose--The purpose of this type of meeting is for NRC to
obtain feedback from the regulated community and other external
stakeholders on issues that could potentially affect more than one
licensee. At this type of meeting, NRC anticipates that the public
would obtain factual information and provide the agency with feedback
on the analysis of the issues, alternatives and/or decisions.
    Examples--This type of meeting includes task force groups, industry
groups (such as the Nuclear Energy Institute or owners groups), or
public interest and citizen group discussions that focus on issues that
could apply to several facilities, such as plant system aging, license
renewal, decommissioning, or spent fuel storage.
    Level of Public Participation--The public is invited to discuss
regulatory issues with the agency at designated points identified on
the agenda. Generally, there will be more opportunities provided for
the public to ask questions and provide comments at a meeting of this
type than at a Category 1 meeting.
    Types of Information--An agenda, names of participants, and
background documents will be entered into ADAMS, and the ADAMS package
accession number will be provided in the meeting notice. A Web page
with links to other appropriate background information will be made
available at NRC discretion. The ADAMS package accession number and any
link to a Web page will be posted to the public Web site.
    Follow-up--Staff will provide answers to questions as appropriate
during the meeting. Questions that cannot be answered at the meeting
will be assigned to a designated staff person as an action item.
Meeting summaries or any transcripts and participant lists would be
provided in ADAMS and on the Web, if a Web site is established.
Feedback forms will be provided as they are in Category 1 meetings, so
that comments can be reviewed and offices can track any planned
improvements or resulting actions in their operating plans, as
appropriate.
Category 3
    Description--This type of meeting would be held with
representatives of non-government organizations, private citizens or
interested parties, or various businesses or industries (other than
those covered under Category 2) to fully engage them in a discussion on
regulatory issues.
    Meeting Purpose--The purpose of this type of meeting is to maximize
discussions with the public to ensure that their issues and concerns
are presented, understood and considered by the NRC. The NRC
anticipates that the public would work with the agency to facilitate
the widest exchange of information, views, concerns and suggestions
with regard to license-specific or generic regulatory issues.
    Examples--Examples might include town hall or roundtable
discussions, Environmental Impact Statement scoping meetings,
workshops, the Regulatory Information Conference, the Nuclear Safety
Research Conference, or proposed rulemaking meetings.
    Level of Public Participation--Public participation is actively
sought at this type of meeting, which has the widest participation
opportunities and is specifically tailored for the public to comment
and ask questions throughout the meeting.
    Types of Information--An agenda, names of participants and
background documents will be entered into ADAMS, and the accession
number will be provided in the meeting notice. In addition, a Web page
will be created where all relevant documents for the meeting will be
posted. The ADAMS accession number and a link to the required Web page
will be posted to the public Web site.

[[Page 36923]]

    Follow-up--Staff follow-up is similar to Category 2, but meeting
summaries or transcripts and participant lists will be provided in
ADAMS and linked to the Web site. Feedback forms will also be provided
at this level meeting.

E. Notice to the Public

    Meeting announcement information is to be provided to the public as
soon as the staff is reasonably confident that a meeting will be held
and firm date, time and facility arrangements have been made, but
generally no fewer than 10 calendar days before the meeting. Where a
meeting must be scheduled but cannot be announced 10 calendar days in
advance, the staff will provide as much advance notice as possible.
Public notice of meetings will be made via the internet on the NRC Web
site. Meeting changes or cancellations will also be announced promptly
on the NRC Web site. Members of the public who cannot access the NRC
Web site can contact the NRC Public Document Room staff via a toll-free
number (1-800-397-4209) or by e-mail (PDR.Resource@nrc.gov) for information on
scheduled NRC meetings. Some meetings having very high public interest
will also be noticed via a press release or paid advertisement in local
newspapers, or both.
    The assigned category level of the meeting, agenda, background
documents, Commission papers, or other material that could be helpful
to attendees at the meeting will be entered into ADAMS and made
available through the public meeting notice system.
    Teleconferencing may be requested by participants to the extent
that travel to a meeting is considered difficult for interested
citizens. Requests for teleconferencing should be made directly to the
meeting contact listed on the public meeting Web site. Such requests
may be granted to the extent budget resources are available and
technical factors can be accommodated.

F. Visitors and Security

1. Registration, Badging, and Sign-in Procedures
    All visitors to the NRC's White Flint North (WFN) complex in
Rockville, Maryland are screened through metal detectors and their
packages are x-rayed. All visitors age 18 and older must present a
picture identification.
    During normal security access hours (6 a.m.--6 p.m. Monday through
Friday), NRC employees must register their visitors (visitor's name,
organization, time, place and purpose of visit, and whether the visit
involves classified information) with the guard force.
    Visitors who have been registered in advance are issued a visitor
badge by a guard and may move about freely without an escort in the
public spaces. The public spaces in One White Flint North are the
Public Document Room, the Commission Meeting Room (when open for a
meeting), and the NUREG Caf[eacute]. In Two White Flint North, the
public spaces are the Exhibit Area, Cafeteria, Snack 'n Go, and the
Credit Union. Restrooms are also considered public spaces in both
building complexes.
    Visitors to the Public Document Room, the Commission Meeting Room
or Credit Union are not normally registered in advance and their access
to the public spaces is restricted.
2. Parking Procedures
    Visitors to the NRC are encouraged to use Metro because parking
availability is limited. Vehicles driven by visitors are subject to
inspection (undercarriage, trunk, hood, and inside), before being
allowed to enter the complex. Visitors must have prior approval
(arranged by an NRC employee) to park inside the garage or in the
outside visitor parking area behind the buildings. Visitors who want to
park in the garage must have an NRC escort before driving into the
garage. The NRC escort must accompany the visitor from the garage to a
receptionist area on the lobby level for screening, registration, and
badging. Visitors pre-approved to park in the outside visitor parking
area are directed by a guard to park their vehicles in the visitor
parking area and proceed to the lobby of either building to meet their
escorts and go through screening, registration, and badging.
3. Recording Devices and Cameras
    Portable electronic devices including cellular telephones, pagers,
palm-size computing devices, two-way radios, and portable computers are
allowed into NRC buildings and public meetings. However, devices that
could interrupt or distract from public meetings (cellular phones,
pagers and two-way radios) are not to be used during public meetings.
    In addition, visitors may use recording devices in public meetings
held in NRC headquarters spaces on the lobby levels designated as a
``public access area.'' Cameras and video recording devices (e.g.
camcorders) are permitted in public meetings on a case-by-case basis,
with the approval of the Director, Office of Public Affairs or the
Director, Division of Facilities and Security.
    Any article that could cause property damage or personal injury is
prohibited in NRC buildings. Prohibited articles include firearms,
explosives, and incendiary devices. Members of the public going to NRC
``controlled spaces'' inside the buildings above the lobby levels are
allowed access with recording devices with the approval of the
sponsoring office and under the escort of an NRC employee.
4. Restrictions on Signs and Banners
    Signs, banners, posters, and displays not larger than 18''x18'' are
permitted at NRC public meetings, but cannot be waved, held over one's
head, or generally moved about in the meeting room because they are
distracting to the participants and audience. Signs, banners, posters,
and displays affixed to sticks, poles, etc., are not permitted in the
meeting rooms.
5. Escort Requirements
    All visitors going to locations above the first floor lobby level
must display an NRC visitor badge and must be escorted by an NRC
employee--one employee may escort up to five visitors.
6. Use of NRC Copiers, Telephones, and Fax Machines
    Visitors may not use NRC copiers and fax machines without the
approval and supervision of an NRC employee. Visitors may use building
lobby level telephones to make brief in-house and local calls. Those
visiting the PDR or attending public meetings are also prohibited from
bringing copying or imaging devices, including scanners, CD-ROM
writers, photocopy machines, or other devices which permit the
duplication of NRC documents because of the devices' intrusive and
disruptive nature.
7. Other Locations or Regions
    Visitor controls and related security procedures are established
for public meetings held in NRC regional offices or other remote
locations based on an overall assessment by the Physical Security
Branch relative to potential security concerns. Security requirements
nationwide may differ based on various factors and therefore meetings
are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
G. Contact
    The primary point of contact in the agency for general issues
related to this policy will be the Assistant for Communications, Deputy
Executive Director for Management Services, Office of the Executive
Director for Operations. The Office of Public Affairs

[[Page 36924]]

is also available to receive questions and suggestions. There are also
opportunities for comment on our public participation policies, or on
any of our programs, at the link on the public involvement page of our
Web site.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 21st day of May, 2002.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 02-13244 Filed 5-24-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P

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