NRC — Independent Regulator of Nuclear Safety (NUREG/BR-0164, Revision 9)

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Publication Information

Date Published: June 2012

Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), created by Congress, began operating in 1975. Its mission is to regulate commercial and institutional uses of nuclear materials, including nuclear power plants. The agency succeeded the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which was responsible for both developing and regulating nuclear activities. Now, federal research and development, and nuclear weapons production are done by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The NRC's overall responsibility is to protect public health and safety. Its main regulatory functions are to:

  • establish standards and regulations;
  • issue licenses for nuclear facilities and users of nuclear materials; and
  • inspect facilities and users of nuclear materials to ensure compliance with the requirements.

These regulatory functions relate to both nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials — such as nuclear medicine programs at hospitals, academic activities at educational institutions and research. They also relate to such industrial applications as gauges, irradiators and other devices that contain radioactive material.

The NRC places a high priority on keeping the public informed of its work. The agency maintains a Web site and has a Public Document Room at its headquarters in Rockville, Md. It also holds public meetings throughout the country.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, March 24, 2021