United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Protecting Our Nation: A Report of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NUREG/BR-0314, Revision 4)

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Publication Information

Date Published: August 2015

Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Foreword from the Chairman

On January 8, 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) marked its 40th anniversary. This significant milestone created an opportunity to reflect on the many ways the agency and its regulatory program have evolved over the past four decades and those seminal moments in our history that provided the impetus for change. From the beginning, the NRC understood that its mission of ensuring the safe use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes included assessing and planning for emergency events. In 1979, the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania provided industry and the NRC with new insights, which the NRC used to reevaluate its assumptions and approaches to emergency preparedness. These insights are still reflected in our regulatory program today.

Lessons learned from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, prompted the NRC to enhance its regulatory program to meet the security and emergency preparedness challenges of the new threat environment. Earlier editions of "Protecting Our Nation" have described these efforts, including revising the design basis threat regulations in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 73 in 2007 to ensure that nuclear power plants and other licensed facilities continue to have effective security measures in place. More recently, in 2013, the NRC published a new rule in 10 CFR Part 37, which imposes security requirements for the most risk-significant radioactive material that are intended to protect against the theft or diversion of this material.

Our efforts to meet the challenges of the threat environment have gone beyond the physical protection of radioactive material. The technological advances of the last few decades that have led us into the digital age have brought with them new threats to the protection of digital equipment and information. The NRC has made significant efforts to address these threats and to improve oversight for the protection of critical digital assets at nuclear power plants. In March 2009, many of these efforts culminated in the NRC’s publication of the cyber security rule, which applies to power reactor licensees and combined license applicants. More recently, in 2013, the NRC established a Cyber Security Directorate to centralize the agency’s oversight in this area.

If a reflection on the agency’s history teaches us anything, it is that change is constant. The NRC is committed to planning for and responding to change in order to ensure the protection of public health and safety and the common defense and security. I hope you find that this latest edition of “Protecting Our Nation” provides an informative description of the NRC’s current safety and security activities.

Stephen G. Burns
Chairman, NRC

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, August 27, 2015