Review and Evaluation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Safety Research Program: A Report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NUREG-1635, Volume 2)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: June 1999
Date Published: July 1999

Advisory Committee on Reactors Safeguards
     with contributions from the
Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Availability Notice


In 1998, the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) a comprehensive report of the NRC's Safety Research Program, NUREG-1635, Vol.1, "Review and Evaluation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Safety Research Program," which documented the ACRS conclusions and recommendations. The ACRS continues to support the conclusions and recommendations of that report. The present report is more modest in scope and is intended to provide additional information concerning the research needed to support Commission programs, especially risk-informed regulation. Not all research programs are included in this report and our observations are often limited to certain aspects of a given program. This does not imply in any way that these programs are less important to the Commission's activities.

The primary reason the NRC carries out nuclear safety research is to provide the knowledge that constitutes the technical bases for regulatory decisions. When the Commission receives an application for licensing a new nuclear system or a major modification to an existing system, or is confronted with an unexpected situation, it often must make decisions on the basis of available knowledge. It is usually the responsibility of the NRC's Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES) to ensure that the necessary information is available or to initiate research to secure the needed information. A properly structured research program can ensure that such information is available when it is needed. For instance, the Commission has sponsored multi-year research programs into the aging and deterioration of materials (e.g., heavy section steel) and components (e.g., steam generator tubes). The resultant understanding is providing invaluable information in dealing with deterioration of components in operating plants and with many of the issues associated with license renewal.

This report addresses research in 11 areas:

  1. Probabilistic Risk Assessment
  2. Human Factors and Human-Machine Interface
  3. High-Bumup Fuel Performance and Mixed Oxide Fuel
  4. Instrumentation and Control Systems
  5. Severe Accidents
  6. Fire Protection Research
  7. Thermal Hydraulics
  8. Integrity of Steam Generators
  9. Integrity of Pressure Vessels
  10. Environmentally Assisted Stress Corrosion Cracking
  11. Nuclear Waste-Related Research (Contribution by the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste)

The scope and depth of our reviews of these 11 areas vary considerably and are related to changes that have occurred in the past year or to our perception that additional attention is timely. The ACRS is aware of RES's reorganization and self-assessment activities currently underway, as well as its use of a systematic methodology for prioritizing research activities. The ACRS expects to review those activities at a later date.

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