United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Meeting Scheduled to Address Pilot Program for NRC Oversight at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory


NRC Seal NRC NEWS

U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION II

61 Forsyth Street, Suite 23T85, Atlanta, GA 30303

CONTACT: Ken Clark (Phone: 404/562-4416, E-mail: kmc2@nrc.gov)
Roger Hannah (Phone 404/562-4417, E-mail: rdh1@nrc.gov)

No: II-98-20

March 16,1998

MEETING SCHEDULED TO ADDRESS PILOT PROGRAM FOR NRC OVERSIGHT
AT DOE'S OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy will hold a joint public meeting on March 24 at Oak Ridge, Tennessee to present a pilot program under which the NRC will provide simulated oversight at some nuclear facilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the American Museum of Science and Energy, 300 South Tulane Avenue, in Oak Ridge. Members of the public are invited to comment on the pilot program in writing by May 1, 1988.

The focus of the pilot is to evaluate issues related to using NRC requirements to regulate the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. The facility is the production, storage, and distribution center for the DOE heavy-element research program.

The pilot program is authorized by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in late November of last year by NRC Chairman Shirley Ann Jackson and Energy Secretary Frederico Pena. The memorandum also authorizes a pilot program for NRC oversight at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, and a spent fuel storage installation at the DOE's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in South Carolina.

The NRC and DOE envision similar pilot programs to be in place at a total of six to 10 Energy Department facilities within the next two years. The pilot programs are an important step in assessing the desirability of NRC safety regulation of certain DOE facilities. Full NRC regulation over such facilities would require legislation and funding by Congress.

Major issues to be covered at the meeting include the overall pilot program, the work plan being developed for the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center, and generic and site-specific issues affecting NRC oversight of ORNL facilities.

The pilot program is the result of a recommendation in December, 1995 by an advisory committee that DOE nuclear-related facilities be regulated by an external agency. The NRC's principal mission is ensuring public health and safety through the regulation of 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. and a variety of licensed users of radioactive materials.

During the pilot phase, the program will use "simulated regulation" as defined in the Memorandum of Understanding to test regulatory concepts at DOE facilities by evaluating them against standards used by the NRC.

The NRC now provides technical assistance to DOE at its Tank Waste Remediation System at the Hanford site near Richland, Washington, and at its West Valley Demonstration Project in West Valley, New York. The NRC also regulates the gaseous diffusion enrichment plants that are operated by the U.S. Enrichment Corporation under leases from DOE.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation. ORNL's activities are focused on basic and applied research and development to advance the nation's energy resources, environmental quality and scientific knowledge.

An Internet Web Site has been established for the public to access information on the pilot program at: http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NMSS/doepilot.html

EDITORS: This information has also been released by the U.S. Department of Energy at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

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