United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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NRC Successes of Transformation and Innovation

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Improving the license amendment review process

The NRC has increased transparency and efficiency in its review of license amendment requests for operating reactors. After completing its acceptance review, staff now provides the licensee with an estimate of the number of staff hours needed to complete the technical review, along with an estimated completion date. Specific performance goals and indicators help track progress and reinforce accountability.

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Increasing participation at public meetings

Annual assessment meetings at some nuclear power plants have been sparsely attended by the public. The agency coordinated with licensees to hold the meetings in conjunction with licensee-sponsored outreach, such as community information nights, that typically draw large crowds. The meetings were held in separate facilities to support the NRC's independence while allowing Resident Inspectors to interact with members of the public attending the licensee events. Public attendance at these meetings has increased as a result. NRC has also held "virtual" annual assessment meetings for some sites, saving costs on travel while increasing participation rates.

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Clarifying expectations for risk-informed reviews

In August 2018, the Director for the Office of New Reactors issued a memorandum entitled, "Expectations for New Reactor Reviews," reminding staff to focus licensing decisions on a reasonable assurance of adequate protection, not the elimination of risk. Staff should concentrate on what's required by regulation and what is needed to make its safety finding. The memo has opened a fuller dialogue between staff and management on expectations and provided a framework for guiding reviews.

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Learning from China's AP1000 inspection program

Three NRC inspectors observed China's National Nuclear Safety Administration's (NNSA) AP1000 inspection program and start-up testing at the Sanmen Nuclear Power Station, Units 1 & 2, in the summer of 2018. Afterwards, they were able to incorporate what they learned into NRC processes and training. The NRC will be able to apply their insights as the agency prepares to oversee start-up test activities at Vogtle Units 3 & 4 in Georgia, currently under construction.

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Improving the uranium recovery licensing process

NRC staff re-assessed its uranium recovery licensing practices and is now implementing several enhancements to improve efficiency and effectiveness. These include greater discipline in planning and scheduling the review process and focusing requests for additional information on issues related to radiological safety and security. These efforts have already improved timeliness in meeting licensing milestones.

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Establishing the rulemaking Center of Expertise

To help improve efficiency, effectiveness and agility, the NRC created a new Center of Expertise for rulemaking in October 2017, consolidating functions previously conducted in four separate offices. The new center has adopted innovative approaches that helped it complete a number of high-quality projects on or ahead of schedule.

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Improving transparency of fee billing invoices

In response to external stakeholder feedback, the NRC improved license fee billing invoices to include new project-activity data and information on work performed at the staff level. The agency has received very positive feedback from stakeholders about the improved invoices providing enhanced transparency and accountability.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, March 01, 2019