Inderscience Publishers

Licensing the next generation of reactors in the USA: recent experience, key issues and challenges

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Over the past 20 years, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has spent much effort on revising its procedures for reviewing nuclear power plant designs. Earlier procedures, instituted by the NRC's predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, permitted the resolution of important safety and environmental issues to be delayed until construction was underway. Moreover, the principal means of public participation in the resolution was through the medium of the courtroom trial. However, under new procedures, which have been upheld in the federal courts, nearly all safety and environmental issues are resolved before construction begins, and the public participates in the resolution of these issues without having to engage in a full-blown trial. The agency believes that safety and public participation are better served by the new procedures, and that the agency is thus well-positioned to review new designs. Nonetheless, the agency continues to seek improvements in its processes. This paper was presented in an earlier form by Mr. Burns at Nuclear Inter Jura 2005.

Keywords: licensing, nuclear power plants, design certification, public participation, international cooperation, nuclear law, nuclear reactors, nuclear enegrgy, nuclear power, USA, United Sates, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, power plant design, nuclear safety, environmental issues

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