Regulatory Framework for Licensing

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In preparation for forthcoming submittals of topical reports and license amendment requests from vendors and licensees requesting the approval of near-term accident tolerant fuel (ATF)-concept, higher burnup, and increased enrichment fuels, the staff performed an assessment of whether any changes to existing regulations and guidance were needed to support the licensing of these fuel types. The results of this assessment are contained in the Regulatory Framework Applicability Assessment and Licensing Pathway report. Based on the results of this assessment, the staff has determined that no changes to the regulatory framework are needed to support the licensing of near-term ATF concepts or higher burnup and increased enrichment fuels. However, the NRC has identified certain areas in which the framework may be enhanced to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the licensing process. For example, on March 16, 2022, the Commission directed the staff  to initiate a rulemaking to amend the NRC’s regulations for the use of nuclear fuel enriched to greater than 5 weight-percent uranium 235. Any changes made to the regulatory framework will include significant communication with NRC stakeholders throughout the process, so that transparency is maintained and regulatory expectations are clearly communicated.