What GAO Discovered
The Nuclear Regulatory Fee (NRC) has taken a number of actions to change its licensing course of to incorporate superior nuclear reactors—nuclear fission reactors that will provide vital enhancements over the latest technology of nuclear fission reactors and should contain first-of-a-kind designs. For instance, NRC reorganized its workplaces answerable for licensing superior reactors and established devoted evaluation groups to offer continuity of workers all through the evaluation of a sophisticated reactor license software. NRC additionally issued a regulatory roadmap to assist superior reactor builders navigate the company’s licensing course of. Moreover, NRC has engaged with the nuclear trade to develop a technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance-based strategy for assessing superior reactor purposes. NRC has additionally cooperated with the Division of Power to share technical experience and has included suggestions from a number of federal companies and different stakeholders concerning modifications to its licensing course of.
Examples of Superior Nuclear Reactor Sizes and Output
Among the modifications NRC made to its licensing course of have higher ready the company to evaluation superior reactors. Nonetheless, the modifications don’t absolutely tackle ongoing challenges associated to hiring and retaining the workers essential to license superior reactors. NRC analyzes its workforce yearly and has applied a number of measures to deal with its estimated workforce shortfalls, resembling providing recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives for hard-to-fill positions. NRC acknowledges its staffing limitations, recruitment challenges, and the anticipated inflow of superior reactor purposes. Nonetheless, NRC has not evaluated its efforts to deal with staffing gaps. NRC doesn’t know the extent to which its recruitment methods and incentives have had a optimistic impact on hiring and retention as a result of the company doesn’t have benchmarks to evaluate their effectiveness. With out measures and benchmarks to evaluate its recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives and recruitment methods, NRC is unable to find out the effectiveness of its efforts to make sure that it has adequate numbers of educated workers wanted to conduct licensing opinions within the coming years.
Why GAO Did This Research
Our nation’s demand for power is anticipated to develop within the coming a long time. To handle this demand, Congress has supported the event of superior nuclear reactors. NRC officers anticipate receiving a major improve within the variety of purposes for superior reactors within the subsequent a number of years. Nonetheless, as a result of NRC’s laws and licensing processes have been used to judge present nuclear reactor applied sciences, NRC is within the course of of creating adjustments to license superior reactors.
GAO was requested to evaluation NRC’s preparedness to evaluation purposes for superior nuclear reactors. This report examines (1) NRC’s actions to change its licensing course of to incorporate superior reactors and (2) the extent to which modifications to NRC’s licensing course of have ready the company to evaluation superior reactors. GAO reviewed statutes, NRC laws and steering; analyzed NRC documentation on the modifications to its licensing course of; interviewed NRC officers; and interviewed a nongeneralizable pattern of 17 stakeholders.