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Regulatory Support

 Third Way - Nuclear Reimagined

Regulatory Support​
Through GAIN, DOE – in close coordination with NRC – is providing nuclear technology developers through regulatory framework development and licensing support. This support and its outcomes will take a variety of forms and continue to evolve as technologies mature.  A few high impact actions that have recently completed, or are nearing completion, are listed below.

Regular Industry Interaction with NRC on Advanced Reactor Topics  
Following a successful series of semi-annual DOE-NRC workshops on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors held in 2015 – 2017, the workshop format was transitioned to more frequent (6 weeks) periodic industry stakeholder meetings with NRC that are focused on specific topics of interest.  GAIN participates in these meetings in support of DOE and through its engagement with the NEI's Advanced Reactor Regulatory Task Force. For information on the topics being addressed in these meetings, please visit the link below. 
NRC Periodic Stakeholder Meetings 

Major Commission Policy Issue Resolved Based on Utility-Led Licensing Modernization Project (LMP)
June 15, 2020
The DOE has recently completed its work with industry stakeholders in support of the advanced reactor Licensing Modernization Project (LMP). This project was led by Southern Company (on behalf of industry), coordinated through the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and cost-shared by DOE. The project developed technical licensing methods reflected in NEI 18-04 that are non-LWR technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance-based.  LMP's key objective is to establish formally NRC endorsed regulatory guidance for this foundational design and licensing approach that can be used by advanced reactor license applicants. The NRC technical staff has completed its review of the approach the Commission has  unanimously approved its use, resolving this longstanding policy and regulatory uncertainty for advanced reactor technologies.  Completion of this coordinated DOE-Industry-NRC effort is expected to encourage safer, simpler advanced reactor designs, and potentially accelerate their commercial deployment.   
Regulatory Guide 1.233

Status of NRC's "Readiness for non-LWRs" - Near-Term Implementation Action Plans
June 12, 2020
The NRC staff developed a vision and strategy that was coordinated with industry stakeholders in the 2016-2017 timeframe.  Its purpose is to assure that the NRC is ready to review potential applications for non-light water reactor (non-LWR) technologies effectively and efficiently.  To achieve the goals and objectives stated in the vision and strategy, the NRC developed implementation action plans (IAPs).  Many of the key topics in the plans have been addressed through NRC review of industry and DOE-sponsored regulatory framework proposals.   NRC has recently provided a detailed status and schedule for the specific activities already completed or in progress regarding the high priority and near-term (2017 – 2022) portion of the plan).
NRC Integrated Schedule 

Industry-Led Technology-Inclusive Content of Application Project (TICAP)
March 9, 2020
The TICAP is an industry-led and DOE cost-shared effort to develop technology-inclusive guidance regarding the expectations for the content for specific portions of the safety analysis report (SAR) that would be used to support an advanced reactor application.  Development of this guidance, and its endorsement by NRC, is another key to reducing regulatory uncertainty for advanced non-LWRs, since existing application guidance is very large-LWR centric.    The TICAP effort is directly informed by the results of the LMP summarized above.  It is a foundational part of a broader effort by the NRC, termed the advanced reactor content of application project (ARCAP), to establish a new set of risk-informed regulations (sometimes referred to as "Part 53") as directed by Congress via NEIMA. 

Key Commission Policy Issue Regarding Containment Now Resolved
December 4, 2018
The Commission formally concurred with the NRC technical staff's recommendations regarding the advanced non-LWR approach for allowing alternatives to large leaktight containment structures (see NRC SECY-18-0096).  Allowing alternatives to containment structures has been an unresolved Commission policy issue for over 25 years, and has been a significant source of regulatory and financial uncertainty for advanced reactor developers.  This more flexible and performance-based "functional containment" approach was proposed to the NRC by DOE-supported work within the NGNP Project, and later the Advanced Reactor Technology Program.  It was more recently confirmed by advanced non-LWR developers to be technology-inclusive through a series of NRC interactions with industry stakeholders earlier this year that were supported by GAIN.

For more information regarding the containment flexibilities available to advanced non-LWR developers, please see SECY-18-0096, "Functional Containment Performance Criteria for Non-Light-Water-Reactors"

Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Non-Light-Water Reactors
April 2018
This document provides fundamental guidance that will reduce regulatory risk for the advanced non-LWR design community.

Cooperation between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) has culminated in the issuance of a significant licensing aid for developers of advanced non-light-water (non-LWR) reactors. The NRC's new Regulatory Guide 1.232, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Non-Light-Water Reactors," helps developers of these technologies align their concepts with relevant NRC regulations and forms a key portion of the NRC's advanced reactor regulatory framework.

The Regulatory Guide's generic set of Advanced Reactor Design Criteria cover most non-LWR technologies. The guide also includes technology-specific criteria for sodium-cooled fast reactors and high temperature gas-cooled reactors. Revision 0 to RG 1.232 (ADAMS Accession No. ML17325A611) was made available to the public on April 9, 2018.

DOE-NRC Memorandum of Understanding 
November 10, 2016
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) describes the roles, responsibilities, and the processes related to the implementation of the DOE Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. GAIN is an initiative that is intended to provide the nuclear energy community with increased access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to mover new or advanced nuclear reactor designs toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.