NRC Endorses New Guidance for Advanced Reactor Licensing

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April 9, 2024 | Originally published by U.S. Department of Energy on March 25, 2024

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued new guidance documents to facilitate the licensing process for non-light water reactor designs. The guidance is expected to significantly reduce the regulatory uncertainty for new reactor concepts that don’t fit the mold of conventional reactor technologies.

This is big news for advanced reactor vendors, including two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) demonstration projects with TerraPower and X-energy. Both companies are applying this guidance to their construction permit applications to be submitted to the NRC within the year.

A New Approach for Advanced Reactor Licensing
The NRC finalized 10 documents that will help streamline the licensing process for non-light-water reactor applicants. They include the endorsement of an industry-led TICAP project to deliver a more technology-inclusive review of the safety analysis report.

The documents also include the NRC’s public release of interim staff guidance on the project to give applicants and interested members of the public a transparent look at the licensing process.

The new guidance places an added emphasis on the parts of the design and its operation that most directly affect safety and is seen as an important step to establishing an efficient and cost-effective approach to licensing non-light water reactors.

“I’d like to thank our industry partners, led by Southern Company Services, along with DOE, and the NRC for achieving this milestone,” said Jason Andrus, the Idaho National Laboratory Technical Lead for TICAP. “Endorsement of this guidance allows for a more efficient and clear licensing application and review process for advanced reactors by focusing on what’s most important – safety.”

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