NRC to Make Public Records Available Electronically, Change Public Document Room Program

Office of Public Affairs Telephone: 301/415-8200
Washington, DC 20555-001 E-mail:

No. 99-96
May 6, 1999


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will implement a new system this fall to begin making public documents available through an "electronic reading room" on the NRC Internet web site, which is accessible by computers in homes, schools, offices and libraries, using a standard web browser.

The new system will mark a change in the current practice, by which, in most instances, these records are available only in paper or microfiche copies at the main NRC Public Document Room in Washington, D.C., and at 86 local public document rooms at libraries near nuclear power plants and other regulated facilities throughout the nation.

What will make these changes possible is NRC's new Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), which, when implemented, will allow for the electronic submission, storage and retrieval of all NRC official records. One of its important functions will be to make it possible for public records to be accessed through the Electronic Reading Room link at

Once this ADAMS service is operational, NRC will stop sending paper and microfiche copies of public records to the main Public Document Room and local public document rooms. The main NRC Public Document Room will remain open at 2120 L Street N.W. in downtown Washington, D.C. and also will continue to provide access for the public to its pre-ADAMS paper and microfiche documents. People using that facility will continue to have access to older paper and microfiche records, as well as on-site access to new documents from computers located there.

Access to the NRC Electronic Reading Room also will be possible from most libraries in the present local public document room program. An NRC survey also shows that all but six of these libraries either offer Internet access now or will do so by the end of this year. NRC also will offer all of these libraries the opportunity to keep their present document collections.

Nationwide, persons wanting copies of both new and older documents will be able to order them for a fee from the Public Document Room by mail, electronic mail, fax, toll-free telephone, or on-line directly from the NRC Electronic Reading Room web site. Bibliographic descriptions of the older documents will also be searchable via the Web site. Paper copies of new records may be obtained by downloading and printing them directly from the Internet.

NRC is seeking public comment on a proposed amendment to its regulations reflecting the change to the ADAMS system. Comments are specifically solicited regarding the process for converting to the electronic availability of records and to identify any unique problems involved. Comments should be submitted by 45 days after publication in a forthcoming edition of the Federal Register. They should be sent to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, Attention: rulemaking and Adjudications Staff.

Making documents available through ADAMS will have a number of benefits:

  • Post-ADAMS records will be available electronically in full text and image, which is not normally the case now.
  • ADAMS will provide full-text search capability and will make it easier to identify records that meet users' search criteria.
  • Newly received and generated records will be available to the public within days instead of weeks.
  • Through the Internet, a great many more members of the public will have ready access to NRC documents.

This change is expected to begin about October 1. Additional information will be available in the Federal Register notice. Another public announcement will be issued when the ADAMS system is in operation.

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