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NRC Moves to Streamline Environmental Review Process for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 23 approved a proposed rule to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act review process for advanced nuclear reactors. 

The approval codifies changes first proposed in the NRC’s Advanced Nuclear Reactor Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which was published in 2021.

The American Public Power Association supports efforts within Congress and the NRC to streamline the regulatory process for new and existing nuclear power plants while maintaining nuclear safety.

At its 2024 Legislative Rally, APPA passed a resolution in support of nuclear power and an efficient and effective Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In the proposal, NRC staff analyzed 121 environmental issues by resource area, determining that 100 of these issues (over 80%) had no more than a small adverse environmental impact or beneficial impact.

The report distinguishes between these small or beneficial impact issues (Category 1 issues) and 19 issues (Category 2 issues) which cannot be resolved generically for which both the applicant and the NRC must analyze in detail.

The proposed rule codifies Category 1 findings and specifies the assumptions that an advanced nuclear reactor applicant would need to meet to adopt Category 1 conclusions.

For these low-impact Category 1 issues, applicants can rely on the assumptions of the Advanced Nuclear Reactor Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Category 1 issues where there is no new and significant information.

If there is new information for Category 1 issues or Category 2 issues, applicants must provide a project-specific analysis.

NRC staff estimates that the streamlined review process could reduce the costs of environmental reviews by 20-45%.


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