Department of Energy (DOE) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Team Up on Advanced Nuclear Technologies

Oct 28, 2019

by ASME.org

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that formalizes the sharing of technical expertise and computing resources to speed up the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies. The MOU focuses on DOE’s new National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC), which was previously reported on in ASME’s October 11 Capitol Update Newsletter. The agreement specifically states that that DOE is responsible for carrying out the NRIC at Idaho National Laboratory and for “leveraging the technical expertise of relevant Federal agencies and the National Laboratories, as appropriate, in order to minimize the time required to enable construction and operation of privately funded experimental reactors.”
 
The MOU instructs DOE and NRC to begin sharing technical expertise and knowledge, as well as coordinate relevant activities. Now, the research being done at DOE facilities—such as National Laboratories—will be shared with the NRC in an effort to quicken the time it takes between the research phase and development. Similarly, the NRC is set to share its regulatory expertise with DOE to help inform nuclear R&D at the National Laboratories and encourage collaboration across the government. This added collaboration should drive nuclear technologies to the testing and development stages earlier than current timelines allow.
 
Additionally, the MOU outlines that the NRC is responsible for licensing new and advanced nuclear technology and for preforming its role as an independent safety and security regulator—and for sharing its expertise specifically in the area of safety analysis. It is important to note that this MOU does not alter the authorizations or independence of the NRC and DOE.

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