Enhancing NRC Public Meetings

Lance Rakovan
Senior Communications Specialist

pubmeetingIPThe NRC holds a lot of public meetings – more than 1,000 a year. Sometimes we seem to hit the mark with stakeholders. Sometimes not so much. In any event, we are always looking to make our meetings better. I recently co-chaired a group of NRC staff members who were tasked with providing the agency’s Executive Director for Operations (EDO) with a list of recommendations to make our public meetings better.

We took a comprehensive look at the NRC’s public meeting policies, processes, and guidance, including their implementation, and made recommendations to improve those aspects of our work. The group provided its report to the EDO earlier this year (ML15029A456).

Who was part of the group? The group’s members included representatives of the two offices that conduct by far the most NRC public meetings (the offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and New Reactors); members from all four NRC regions, including a public affairs officer; and many others. The task group members brought to the table extensive public meeting experience.

The task group considered additional public input provided through sources such as:

  • Years’ worth of feedback received through the NRC’s Public Meeting Feedback Form;
  • The results of extensive public outreach- and meeting-related interviews and surveys involving the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station; and
  • Input received during previous public meetings addressing public involvement.

This information was instrumental in the task group’s work and informed decisions the group made.

Now that the report is done, what are the next steps? NRC staff members are currently creating and revising our policies and guidance, including our policy statement on public meetings. Our intent is to engage the public by sharing draft products for comment and holding a public meeting once some of the improvements recommended by the task group have been made.

We hope that you will participate in those activities and continue to provide your input through the Public Meeting Feedback Form (fill out a hard copy at a meeting or provide your input electronically by clicking on “meeting feedback form” for meetings on the public meeting schedule) as well as through discussions with NRC staff. Our goal is to provide the public with useful information on our activities and to conduct business in an open manner, while at the same time ensuring that we can carry out our mission.

As the agency takes action on the recommendations, we’ll update you via the blog on proposed improvements, progress we’re making, and how the public can be involved with initiatives.





Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

10 thoughts on “Enhancing NRC Public Meetings”

  1. please do not judge the rest of us folks, who have grave concerns about nuclear power, based on the actions of reprobates like him.

    Why not?  Gary Sachs is the “bad cop” to your “good cop”.  You both have the same goal.

    I want to see you admit that you were wrong about the NRC’s enforcement authority and its use of it.  Somehow, for all your “concern” and “expertise”, you did not (admit to) knowing about the NRC keeping Ft. Calhoun shut down until its problems had been corrected, and more significantly, until its safety culture had been greatly improved; you were claiming the exact opposite, but you have not walked that back.

    For all your “concern” and “expertise”, you don’t seem to understand that more people died in each of the San Bruno gas-line explosion and several recent New York gas explosions than died from radiation in ALL the meltdowns of commercial light-water reactors in the WORLD, EVER.  I call that “more than adequately safe”.  Yes we can do better, but that’s good enough to use it to replace the dangerous stuff (like natural gas and [ugh!] coal) while we work on the next generation.

    How about getting right with the truth?

  2. @ Engineer-Poet (E-P)
    I don’t recall being in Vermont either E-P, but I hear it is a beautiful state and really we both should visit it sometime.
    E-P, I haven’t been to an NRC hearing or meeting since I worked in the nuke industry many years ago. And then it was for NRC meetings that I had to attend as a representative of a small nuclear utility in the Midwest. We both should try to attend an NRC meeting on a strictly voluntary basis!
    I am fully retired E-P and I highly recommend it. You should upgrade to it from your “semi-retired” status as soon as you can.
    I had to look up this Gary Sachs you mention E-P. He should have been thrown out of the meeting. But please do not judge the rest of us folks, who have grave concerns about nuclear power, based on the actions of reprobates like him.
    But do these agitators (and the evil ones that may be behind him), pay good money for “expert” nuclear testimony on their behalf? I could use the extra money E-P. I am on a fixed pension and the extra change would come in handy. Just kidding E-P (unless the price is right!).
    PS In researching the behavior of some activists at NRC meetings as Engineer-Poet has brought to my attention, I think:
    People who show disrespect and contempt for others draw attention, not to the issues that supposedly concern them, but to themselves and their contemptible behavior.
    There are so many attention whores out there, prostituting for people’s acknowledgment.
    Jason Myers
    Ignoring a child’s disrespect is the surest guarantee that it will continue.
    Fred G. Gosman

    Moderator Note: Some verbiage removed to adhere to comment guidelines.

  3. While Engineer-Poet is working to limit input

    Given his own problems with sticking to the truth, it does not surprise me that Nuke Puke defends the obscenity of agents of fossil-fuel interests calling themselves “environmentalists” and peddling falsehoods to the Commission and the public in PUBLIC hearings.  Such people do not represent the public, they represent oligarchy.  If those people want to speak in NRC public hearings, let them declare who they actually speak for (under penalty of perjury).  If the wealthy want to use mouthpieces anonymously they are quite able to buy ads in the media, pay for their own rallies, etc.

    Of the 1000 or so public meetings held during that time frame, how many completed public feedback forms were submitted that you reviewed?

    That’s not my job.  Are you EMPLOYED to do this?  Who is your employer, and what is their agenda?  Let’s have some truth from you.

    Of course you realize that each time you exclude the public from meeting participation you erode our trust in you.

    Each time you turn a public meeting into political theater with hecklers doing their best to silence anyone outside their camp you erode public trust in the process.  Tell us who your employers are and what they pay you to do, then we can decide whether to trust you or not.  (For the record I have never been to an NRC hearing or meeting, and have never set foot in Vermont.  I’m also semi-retired and have no financial interests in anything nuclear, though I do have some interests in wind farms via mutual funds.)

    I have no objections to the agents of oligarchy speaking in NRC meetings and hearings so long as they properly represent the facts, themselves and who they’re speaking for.  Allowing people to lie about matters of fact, including who they represent, erodes public trust.  The agents of “political theater” like Gary Sachs and his band of agitators should be specifically expelled by no-trespass order.

  4. While Engineer-Poet is working to limit input, especially input that is contrary to his playbook, the NRC should consider the following:
    Public Meeting Feedback
    In seeking how to improve NRC public meetings, the NRC in an NRC Blog mentioned that the NRC used a “Years’ worth of feedback received through the NRC’s Public Meeting Feedback Form”.
    Of the 1000 or so public meetings held during that time frame, how many completed public feedback forms were submitted that you reviewed?
    Also how many “public” meetings were held during that year that really weren’t public? That is they were either partially or completely closed to the public?
    Of course you realize that each time you exclude the public from meeting participation you erode our trust in you. You also cause us to speculate on just why you would do such a thing?! It raises a red flag not only to us but to those who may not have the best interests of the USA at heart. What are you hiding? For example, you have excluded the public from some meetings regarding post-Fukushima flooding analyses performed by US nuclear plants. I suspect in those cases that the flooding analyses results may be alarming and show nuclear power plant vulnerabilities. If so, keeping this information from the public including county and state emergency response personnel seems quite inappropriate. There were a couple of these closed meetings that included representatives of state and federal elected officials. Naturally these folks can be trusted but members of the public cannot. NRC secrecy is of great concern to me.

  5. Well, Engineer-Poet lets add censorship to secrecy in all things nuclear. Our freedom of speech is the last hope we have not only against Koch & Buffett but against other 1 per centers that support nuking us further. I guess we should look to you to determine who is knowledgeable and who is not?!

  6. NRC, UCS, ANS, NEI, and other stakeholders having divergent perspectives should post YouTube videos on how to prepare for an NRC public meetings.

    Proper Prior Planning Practically Prevents Pathetically Poor Performance

    Failing to plan is planning to fail.

    Good seamanship of meetings: Never take your vessel anywhere you haven’t already been with your brain.

  7. The NRC should work to discourage or bar “input” from activist pressure groups and their agents (especially those which are financed by anonymous donors or money-laundering foundations) in favor of knowledgable members of the public (e.g. James Hansen).  It is currently possible for the Koch brothers and Warren Buffett to donate to a foundation which finances an “environmental” group to stand against a nuclear plant which threatens their fossil-fuel mining or transport business.  These wealthy donors have far too much influence against the true public interest.  It is long past time to take that influence away.

  8. The nuclear utilities regulated by the agency have a strong stake in NR C meetings not being disrupted by political theatre or publicity stunts.

    The agency needs to think about how it managed meetings which are both civil and safe for all who want to participate in making their views known.

  9. BTW: Since the NRC has the stated mission to improve its public outreach, it should immediately improve its blog system to eliminate the moderation delays, that more than anything will help improve the public discussion about what the NRC is and is not doing.

    Three key issues regarding public meetings:

    1) Assign a percentage of scheduled meeting time for questions and discussion, far too many NRC meeting have far to little public input.

    2) Provide WWW coverage, with the ability to ask questions for every public meeting, which will enable orders of magnitude more of the public to get involved.

    3) Provide HD quality video of the meeting as what is currently being provide is poor, considering what is current technology available.

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