U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Progresses Efforts to License Advanced Reactors

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Agency) continues to progress the Agency’s efforts to license commercial advanced reactors under two parallel paths. The Agency is reviewing applications for licensing of advanced reactors under the existing regulatory framework (10 CFR Part 50 and 10 CFR Part 52) while developing a “risk-informed” and “technology-inclusive” regulatory framework for advanced reactor technologies and designs — 10 CFR Part 53.

On April 10, 2024, NRC announced the Agency’s review of  TerraPower’s construction permit application, under 10 CFR Part 50, to build a 345 MWe sodium-cooled advanced reactor design on a site near an existing coal-fired power plant in Lincoln County, Wyoming. The plant includes an “energy storage system to temporarily boost output up to 500 MWe.” If the NRC issues the construction permit, TerraPower will need to submit a separate operating license application under 10 CFR Part 52 to operate the reactor.

On March 4, 2024, NRC published an update regarding the Agency’s development of 10 CFR Part 53. The highly anticipated rule, expected to be proposed in September 2024, will establish criteria for advanced reactor designs including “reactor siting requirements, analysis of potential accidents, safety functions, construction and manufacturing requirements, protecting the public and plant workers during normal operations” and modify existing regulations for operator licensing, employee fitness for duty, physical security, and site access authorization.

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