United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions About License Applications for New Nuclear Power Reactors (NUREG/BR-0468)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2009
Date Published: December 2009

Office of New Reactors

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Abstract

With the number of applications for new licenses for commercial nuclear power plants increasing, the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) realized that members of the public had similar questions related to the environmental review and licensing process. Therefore, this report uses a question-and-answer format to respond to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about these issues for new commercial nuclear power reactors. The questions were taken from a variety of sources, including public comments on the new licensing process, written inquiries to the NRC, and questions from informal discussions with NRC staff. The staff has attempted to provide answers in a clear and nontechnical form.

In addition to answering the FAQs, this document describes the NRC's licensing process, the types of reviews conducted on applications for new nuclear power plants, and the types of licenses an applicant can seek. It also describes the stages and issues examined during the environmental review, including the consideration of alternative sites, reviews of severe accident mitigation alternatives, and the processes of eventual decommissioning. Although this document focuses on the environmental review process, it also briefly addresses general questions about the impacts and risks of nuclear power. These topics include waste management, radiological safety, storage and disposal of waste, the effects of radiation on human health, and security concerns. Finally, the document covers questions about public involvement in the licensing and review process and how members of the public can obtain more information about the process.

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