U.S. NRC Blog

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Plainly Telling the Public about Our Environmental Reviews

Tomeka Terry, Project Manager
Office of New Reactors

The NRC feels it’s important to write our documents so that all readers can understand them. We’ve previously discussed writing in plain English and acronym use. The agency’s made extra effort to write plainly in its documents most read by the public, and to reduce the use of acronyms when we can.

We use many tools to inform the public about who we are and what we do. Our work is technical and some documents must meet legal standards, but we still want people to understand as much as possible. So we went a step further—creating a new tool to improve understanding and reduce reading effort.

Environmental impact statements help the NRC decide whether to approve projects, such as licensing the building and operating of a nuclear power plant. Each environmental impact statement for a new reactor will now include a “Reader’s Guide” with a simple, short overview of the statement. The Reader’s Guide summarizes the project’s potential environmental impacts. It also describes alternatives and ways to reduce the effects the project would have on the environment.

We’ve also included an overview of the NRC’s new reactor licensing process and opportunities for public participation in the Reader’s Guide.

The brochure format makes understanding the environmental impact statement easier. Most NRC environmental impact statements average 1500 pages, while the Reader’s Guide gives an overview in about 40 pages.

The Reader’s Guide also helps us conserve resources. When we send our documents to the public, we can now print a short document and include the full environmental impact statement on an enclosed CD.

Two recent Reader’s Guides cover a draft environmental impact statement for a proposed new reactor in Pennsylvania and a final environmental impact statement for a site in New Jersey.

4 responses to “Plainly Telling the Public about Our Environmental Reviews

  1. Rabby February 18, 2016 at 3:06 am

    It’s a good idea. I think that so many documents for public consultation are actually impossible to read unless you work with these kinds of issues – which means the point of a public consultation is missed. So plain English is needed. Thanks for making these developments and I hope it will encourage more people to be involved in the processes that are most important to them.

  2. Anonymous February 10, 2016 at 7:31 am

    What a Crock!

  3. Nikohl Vandel January 26, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Thank you, as a new person in the nuclear discussion, the NRC is always trying to help make it easy to understand.

    The biggest environmental issue, though, for each review is the waste. Without a REAL solution being used for the waste, no plant is environmentally sound. At least I have learned here on earth, when the garbage backs up we have serious problems everywhere.

    We can no longer have this situation without some commitment to recycling the waste.

    Speaking of environmental review, maybe I’m wrong, yet I still see a Fukushima style plant sitting on the earthquake faults on the coast here in California and, you know, could we really endure Diablo melting down as #fuqafukushima number 2 into our Pacific? Besides, what would happen to our wines in that region?

    • Engineer-Poet January 26, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      The biggest environmental issue, though, for each review is the waste. Without a REAL solution being used for the waste, no plant is environmentally sound.

      Then you’ll be happy to know that the actual waste, as in fission products, is steadily disappearing without any help from anyone.  It’s the source of the heat that must be dissipated from cooling pools and dry casks.  In about 300 years (much less than the toxic lifespan of landfills from the Roman republic!) spent fuel is so well-cooled that it can be handled for minutes or hours with nothing more than gloves.

      We can no longer have this situation without some commitment to recycling the waste.

      GE-Hitachi is trying to do something with the remaining uranium and higher actinides.  There is a deal in the works to build two S-PRISM units in the UK to dispose of their stockpile of reclaimed plutonium and turn it into energy.

      could we really endure Diablo melting down as #fuqafukushima number 2 into our Pacific?

      Diablo Canyon has PWRs, not BWRs.  It lies well above any possible tsunami.

      Besides, what would happen to our wines in that region?

      Have you ever gone to Alamagordo?  There are some tasty wines made there, atomic-bomb fallout notwithstanding.  When I went there I brought a couple cases home.

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