NRC Revising Approach to Japan Lessons-Learned Recommendations

Recent developments have given us the opportunity to improve on our goal of implementing the agency’s Japan Near-Term Task Force recommendations by 2016. You can get an up-close view of a meeting Friday between senior NRC managers and industry executives as we lay out the NRC’s new implementation approach.

When Congress passed a bill funding the NRC through fiscal 2012, it added specific instructions regarding the task force recommendations. Our task force focused primarily on earthquake and flooding concerns, but Congress required us to consider all kinds of “external hazards” in directing U.S. nuclear power plants to review their ability to meet our requirements, “as expeditiously as possible.” Congress also directed the NRC to implement the eight “Tier I,” or top priority, recommendations at least as quickly as the schedule described in the staff’s Oct. 3, 2011 paper to the Commission.

Last month the Nuclear Energy Institute laid out the nuclear power industry’s “FLEX” approach to addressing several recommendations. “FLEX” would create a diverse, flexible set of strategies for counteracting the effects of severe natural events that could exceed a plant’s design limits.

The NRC staff believes this approach is a reasonable starting point, although more work is needed on defining these strategies. We also must ensure the NRC can inspect how plants put the strategies in place and that we can hold plants accountable for keeping those strategies ready and available.

The bottom line is that we believe these combined developments may enhance the agency’s approach to implementing the recommendations. The NRC Steering Committee overseeing the implementation effort will lay out our new approach to members of the industry’s Steering Committee on Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon at NRC Headquarters in Rockville, Md. This meeting will also lay the foundation for more detailed, recommendation-specific discussions next week.

The meeting will be webcast and a teleconference will also be available. The NRC has also set up the e-mail address for public comment on the recommendations and their ongoing implementation. We hope you’ll take the time to learn more about our new approach and come back to the blog and our website as more information becomes available.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer
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