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NRC issues regulatory basis for new decommissioning regulations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed the regulatory basis for proposed new regulations on the decommissioning of commercial nuclear power reactors. The regulatory basis supports a proposed rule expected to be published for public comment next year.

In the regulatory basis, the NRC staff concludes that there is sufficient justification to proceed with new regulations in the areas of emergency preparedness, physical security, cyber security, drug and alcohol testing, training requirements for certified fuel handlers, decommissioning trust funds, financial protection requirements and indemnity agreements, and application of the backfit rule. In many cases, these new regulations would formalize steps to transition power reactors from operating status to decommissioning, without the use of exemptions and license amendments.

The NRC staff also recommends clarifying requirements regarding topics such as spent fuel management and environmental reporting requirements. The NRC staff recommends addressing some topics via updated guidance or inspection procedures in lieu of rulemaking. These topics include the role of state and local governments in the decommissioning process, certain staffing requirements, and aging management of certain plant systems, structures and components.

The NRC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in November 2015, followed by a draft regulatory basis in March 2017. The NRC staff considered public comments received during both stages in preparing this regulatory basis.