U.S. NRC Blog

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From the Chairman: An Update on the NRC Shutdown

Allison Macfarlane
NRC Chairman
 

Despite our best hopes, the NRC on Thursday will be joining the rest of the federal government in shutting down due to a lapse in appropriations. I believe we all share a deep disappointment that this action has become necessary.

By using “carryover” funds, we’ve been able to stay open, but those funds have now been depleted. Wednesday is the last full day that the NRC will be operating normally until we receive an appropriation. Beginning on Thursday, we will not conduct non-emergency reactor licensing, reactor license renewal amendments, emergency preparedness exercises, reviews of design certifications or rulemaking and regulatory guidance.

Also suspended for now will be routine licensing and inspection of nuclear materials and waste licensees, Agreement State support and rulemakings, including Waste Confidence. This is just a short list of the actions we are prohibited from performing under Anti-deficiency Act restrictions.

Let me stress, however, that all of our resident inspectors will remain on the job and any immediate safety or security matters will be handled with dispatch. We can — and will without hesitation — bring employees out of furlough to respond to an emergency. We must, in this regard, err on the side of safety and security.

Finally, the shutdown will negatively impact our ability to be transparent. The NRC website will remain available to the public, but it will not be updated until we return fully to work. In addition, routine press releases, meeting notices, plant status and event reports, or other information will not be available. The backlog of normally reportable information will be posted to the website once we are again fully functioning. Updates on the NRC status and the status of upcoming meetings will however continue to be made here, on the NRC blog, and via Twitter.

And, importantly, during the shutdown, we will continue to receive safety and security concerns via the web page and the hotlines listed here. The Inspector General’s Office will also be fully functional.

Some people are confused about why the lapse of appropriations is affecting the NRC when we collect fees for 90 percent of our budget. The bottom line is this: the NRC is not funded directly by the fees we collect. Fees collected by the NRC must be deposited in the U.S. Treasury, and the Congress provides us an appropriation.

We are mindful of the impact the shutdown will have on the public, our licensees, our staff and contractors and others who count on us. We are a proud agency with a serious, important mission and talented, dedicated people who make that mission a reality every day. The NRC staff deserves an enormous amount of credit for continuing to fulfill its normal responsibilities for the past week under very challenging circumstances.

We hope this interruption is as brief as possible and we look forward to being back at our desks, hard at work, doing what we do best here at the NRC in service to the nation.

17 responses to “From the Chairman: An Update on the NRC Shutdown

  1. Lowly resident of Georgia October 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    As the Chairman and your cohort EDO, take a leadership position. OMB Circular A-11 provides guidance and legal precedence on what should be funded. As an independent agency what is so indepedent when you don’t have your approporiations for critical needs funded over multiple years. Create a solution instead of cowering to your general counsel. The postal service is an independent agency and is still in operation. The social security administration is still in full operation. Not all government functions are funded with annual appropriations. Some operate under multi-year appropriations and others operate under indefinite appropriations provisions that do not require passage of annual appropriations legislation. Social security is a prominent example of a program that operates under an indefinite appropriation. In such cases, benefit checks continue to be honored by the treasury, because there is no lapse in the relevant appropriation. The last time I checked radiation does not take a vacation. Five half lives is millions of years. Wake up as leaders of your Agency and fund your so called excepted functions as multi year approporaitions to prevent such a calamity of your Agency. As a resident and taxpayer I am disappointed of the lack of imagination and leadership from this so called independent agency. I f the decay chain of uranium, plutonium, cesium, and iodine are improtant enough find a new career at a university. Signed resident and concerned citizen of Georgia.

  2. Buzz Davies Nuclear Quality Engineer , Retired October 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Virtually all of the Nuclear Power Plants have been licensed without inclusion of 10 CFR 50 Appendix B Nuclear Quality Programs. Since the NRC will readily tell you that safety is controlled by Items Relied On For Safety. I will tell you that a major duty of Quality is to independently audit all operating systems, including Safety. So without Quality the NRC has allowed the situation where there is no engineering management assurance that IROFS even work. Instead what typically exists is short term profit, feudalistic management at these Nuclear Plants which is fraught with failure and error response approach as controls. In 2011 the Nuclear News stated that 62 of 104 Nuclear Plants suffered unplanned emergency shutdowns. In 2012 the Society for Concerned Nuclear Engineers reported that 50% of our Nuclear Plants had significant problems. On 31 March 2013 the Arkansas Nuclear Power Plant experienced loss of all electrical power and was venting 500 degree steam from the primary coolant loop of unit 2 for over 10 hours. Fukushima experienced meltdown after 20 hours in exactly the same manner . A radioactive plume from Arkansas would have contaminated the cornbelt and caused economic destruction to our national security!

  3. Buzz Davies Nuclear Quality Engineer , Retired October 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Shutting down the NRC is a blessing in disguise! Inspection has always been an after the fact action, which in the NRC’s case only helps to identify what needs to be covered up first. The NRC has for decades serepticiously been illegally licensing all nuclear plants without including the 10 CFR 50 Appendix B Nuclear Quality Assurance Program requirements. Not only does this eliminate formal Quality Programs but more importantly it eliminates the mature engineering management systems necessary for feedback controls. In the case of nuclear chemical processing plants, they have been given carte blanche to repetitively release radioactive effluences into the environment. i.e. At Apollo PA over 800 lawsuits exist for radiation caused cancers to the surrounding population; At Rocky Flats CO. over 1500 documented cases of radiation caused illnesses and cancer deaths exist and 10,000 acres of adjacent land has had to be purchased by the NRC due to Plutonium contamination. And that plant is so uncontrolled it has been allowed to produce over 70,000 atomic bomb triggers for our 6,000 stockpiled bombs; At Erwin, TN that plant has had airborne releases of over 100 pounds of Highly Enriched (Bomb Grade 95+ % ) Uranium Hexafluoride gas and over 500 documented cancer victims exist in Unicoi County TN and Madison County, NC .
    The Nuclear Power Plants are growing older and the knowledgible fabricators have long ago retired. Without mature engineering management systems the current operators are second generation

  4. LillyMunster October 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Can someone at the NRC confirm if the resident inspectors and the skeleton crew in the offices are being paid or are they considered essential but working without pay as other govt. agencies are doing for critical employees?

    • Moderator October 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      The resident inspectors and other employees who are currently on the job as ‘exempt’ workers will not be paid until the NRC receives an appropriation.

      Moderator

  5. Angry Voter October 10, 2013 at 9:02 am

    No border patrol. No food inspectors. No nuclear inspectors.

    But they still spy on our email to see if we say anything bad about them.

    The government has demonstrated yet again that they never cared about security – it was all about power the whole time.

  6. Rod Adams (@Atomicrod) October 10, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Maybe shutting down the important functions of licensing new reactors, fixing the “waste confidence rule” and following the court order to complete the license review of the Yucca Mountain waste repository are on the list of the true goals of the people pushing the shutdown.

    [Some] in the fossil fuel business love the idea of throwing as many obstacles as possible in the process of developing more nuclear energy capacity. Atomic fission is only power source strong enough to displace hydrocarbon combustion from its vital role in our industrial society. Shifting as much of our energy consumption as possible to that inexhaustible source of emission-free power could push the fossil fuel suppliers and their friends in banking, transportation, media and government from their exalted positions in the established elite.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

    Moderator Note: Some content removed to adhere to the comment guidelines.

    • Rod Adams (@Atomicrod) October 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Thank you for pointing me to the comment guidelines while still publishing the majority of my comment. I will work harder in the future to make sure that I do not stray from them.

      Rod Adams

  7. Douglas White October 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    So this leaves me with several questions. If an nuclear event occurs while NRC is on Furlough does it really exist? Does this mean the reactors will be shut down because they have no regulatory body?

    The good news… and I would ask the NRC Chairman to share this with other NRC employees… Time to read the FOIA documents concerning Fukushima and Plumegate. Watch Hatrick Penry videos on youtube and understand you are part of the machine that is broken.

    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/foia/japan-foia-info.html

    http://hatrickpenryunbound.com/?p=3683

  8. Fred Stender October 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Nothing to worry about, those driven for maximum profit Nuclear corporations are “self policing”, no worries.

    • Virginica Datcu October 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Fred Stender, oh we do worry! You are WRONG!!!
      I don’t believe “self policing” intention of the corporations! That’s the big lye. You either are uninformed with what’s going on in the world or you try to sell us self assuring thoughts…
      Keep them for yourself, Fred Stender!

  9. CaptD October 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    If the Congressional gym is being kept open, while at the same time the Safety of the all the nations reactors is being left up to all the Utilities that operate them, this is nothing less that a National Security issue that the President of the USA needs to address NOW!

    • Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Have you even been reading these articles, or are you ignoring them on purpose? All of the plants are being held accountable to follow regulations during the shutdown, resident inspectors are still working, reporting pathways are still open, and emergency response resources can and will be activated if need be. Are you even listening?

      • CaptD October 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        Anonymous
        Yes, I’m both reading and “listening”…
        My point is that reactor safety is far more important the Congressional gyms, so everyone (even you) should be calling for an end to the Gov’t. shutdowns ASAP.
        Are you with me?

    • Eric Grumling October 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Did you read the release?

      all of our resident inspectors will remain on the job and any immediate safety or security matters will be handled with dispatch.

      The actual feet on the ground inspectors are still there, still funded, still getting paid. The shutdown is only affecting new applications and funding for things like fire department emergency drills (which could (and IMHO should) be funded by the nuclear plant operators if there were reason to think they will be necessary during the shutdown).

  10. Hester, Thomas J October 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Dave: this might be a good time for you Areva boys to go back to Florida and restart Crystal River.

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