Agency Seeks Info on Possible New Nuke Rules

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks input on potential new regulations for prompt remediation of residual contamination at nuclear facilities, the agency announced.
     The regulations would apply to sites licensed to handle nuclear materials, including nuclear reactors during their operational phase.
     Operators of nuclear sites have been subject to the NRC’s Decommissioning Planning Rule (DPR), since December 2012. The rule requires licensed facilities to “operate in a way to minimize spills, leaks and other unplanned releases of radioactive contaminants into the environment,” while the facility is still in operation. The DPR, however, does not require licensees to remediate contamination as it happens.
     The NRC is considering requiring licensees to remediate residual contamination when it reaches threshold limits, and would use its current effluent discharge concentrations standards as the threshold for action.
     “The preferred approach would also include a provision allowing licensees to delay remediation when certain conditions are met. To justify delaying remediation, licensees would be required to perform analyses such as dose assessment, risk assessments and/or cost benefit analyses for the NRC’s review,” the NRC said in its notice.
     In addition, the NRC has considered alternative frameworks for prompt remediation, including issuing a regulation that would require remediation after certain thresholds are reached, but would not “provide the licensee with the opportunity to conduct an analysis to justify delayed remediation.”
     The alternative framework could include site-specific license conditions connected to a certain volume or concentration of contamination, issuance of a new guidance regulation or no action at all, which the NRC says would “rely on existing regulations and guidance documents to encourage licensees to consider prompt remediation after spills or leaks.”
     Part of potentially requiring licensees to promptly remediate radiological contamination is to prevent sites from becoming “legacy” sites, which have insufficient financial resources to decommission a given facility, the NRC said in its notice.
     Additionally, the NRC seeks comments on what concentration, dose limits or other thresholds should be considered, if it does issue a rule, and what conditions would justify delaying remediation of contamination.
     Comments are due by Aug. 2.

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