New Reactors: Striving for Enhanced Safety (NUREG/BR-0356)

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Publication Information

Date Published: November 2011

Office of New Reactors
U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was created by Congress in 1974 as an independent agency. The NRC regulates the Nation's civilian use of nuclear materials, including nuclear power plants, to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, to promote the common defense and security, and to protect the environment.

All 104 operating nuclear power plants in the United States were subject to a rigorous licensing process, described in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Part 50, "Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities." The NRC approved construction of these plants between 1964 and 1978 and granted the most recent operating license in 1996. These plants continue to operate safely today and are constantly monitored through inspections and licensing reviews.

Following the licensing of these reactors, the NRC implemented a strategy for licensing the next generation of nuclear power plants, linking the foundation of safety provided by the NRC's regulations with the industry's desire for continuous improvement. This brochure describes key NRC policies, rules, and guidance that contribute to enhanced safety for new reactors being proposed today.

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