United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Nuclear Research Programs To Ensure Public Health and Safety (NUREG/BR-0282, Revision 1)

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Publication Information

Date Published: September 2001

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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Introduction

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for assuring safety in the design, construction, and operation of commercial nuclear facilities and in the other uses of nuclear materials, such as in medicine and industrial activities. As a key component of nuclear safety, the NRC carries out a research program to provide independent information and expertise needed to support the NRC's decisionmaking process and to identify and characterize technical questions that may become important safety issues in the future. NRC's regulatory research is designed to improve the agency's knowledge in areas where uncertainty in knowledge exists, where safety margins are not well characterized, and where regulatory decisions need, or will need to be confirmed. Thus, the development of sound technical bases allows proper focus on safety issues and more realistic decisions.

The NRC's research program is carried out by the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES). RES develops its program with consideration of Commission direction and input from program offices and other stakeholders, including the academic and international communities. Its mission includes (1) complementing the front-line regulatory activities of licensing, inspection and oversight, (2) independently examining evolving technology and anticipated issues, (3) striving to be a center of excellence, and (4) having a major role in every strategic arena in implementing key strategies of NRC's Strategic Plan.

RES contributes to the agency's regulatory decisionmaking by providing technical advice, analytical tools and information for staff to identify and resolve safety issues, make regulatory decisions, develop regulations and guidance, conduct independent analyses to support decisions to grant or deny licensee proposed changes, renew plant operating licenses, evaluate operating experience, and evaluate proposed designs and technologies, and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of NRC programs and processes.

As part of its critical role at the agency, the office coordinates research activities within the NRC and leads the agency's initiative for cooperative research with the U.S. Department of Energy, the nuclear industry, universities, and international partners. Research sponsored by the office is performed primarily by national laboratories of the Energy Department, but universities and private firms also are used. Further, the RES staff possess broad knowledge in many scientific and engineering fields and is frequently called upon for its expertise by other offices of the NRC.

RES' efforts focus on a wide range of technical issues such as those discussed in this booklet.

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