U.S. NRC Blog

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Back to Basics – Seeking Comment on a New Commission Public Meeting Policy

Lance Rakovan
Senior Communications Specialist

We are always looking to make our public meetings better. To that end, we’ve drafted a new Commission policy statement on public meetings and are seeking public comment to make sure it hits the mark. The new policy statement is meant to re-affirm the importance of public participation in NRC’s public meetings and address a number of concerns noted previously by the public and NRC staff.

audienceFirst, some background. The NRC has had a formal policy regarding open meetings since 1978; the most recent revision was issued in 2002. The NRC assembled a task group on Enhancing NRC Public Meetings in June 2014. The task group recommended steps be taken to:

  • improve consistency of public meetings across the agency;
  • encourage increased management support for public interaction; and
  • seek out creative ways to effectively engage the public and promote participation.

In response to the task group’s report, the staff has begun implementing several enhancements to the existing public meeting process, including drafting the new policy statement.

The most significant proposed change to the policy statement is a revised meeting category system based on the level of public participation. The current categories of NRC public meetings are labeled 1, 2, and 3. Public participation levels for Category 1 and 2 meetings are essentially the same. However, public participation for a Category 3 meeting can range from the NRC simply engaging in dialogue with members of the public to receiving comments from the public (and responding later).

This has sometimes led to confusion over what to expect from a public meeting. The revised categorization system removes the 1, 2, and 3 labels and incorporates a clear description of the level of public participation planned for the meeting:

  • Observation Meeting
  • Information Meeting With Q&A
  • Commenting-Gathering Meeting

We hope these revised categories will help you prepare for and participate in NRC public meetings and will make more clear what you can expect. The table below compares the current categories to the proposed new categories. blog-capture_small

The NRC will be hosting a public meeting via webinar on September 29, 2016, to provide information and answer questions to help those interested in submitting comments. Formal comments, though, won’t be accepted during the meeting. To provide your comments on the draft statement, go here. Comments will be accepted until November 14, 2016.

12 responses to “Back to Basics – Seeking Comment on a New Commission Public Meeting Policy

  1. steamshovel2002 September 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Why can’t all public meeting be recorded and placed on your internet site? Then designate a contact person. I been listening in on the Fort Calhoun white finding this morning on the diode failure in their diesel generator. This meeting would be wonderful training for everyone in the industry.

    • steamshovel2002 September 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Correction: “I’ve been listening to the Wolf Creek public meeting”…

    • Moderator September 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Appreciate the suggestion. Budget limitations make recording all public meetings an impossibility, however we should record all meetings possible. If this direction does not appear in the final public meeting policy, it will appear in lower-level NRC guidance.

      Lance Rakovan

  2. Garry Morgan September 19, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Stop holding separate meetings for local Public Officials outside of the announced public meetings.

    When the NRC meets in secret with elected public officials you are not supporting the Federal Sunshine Act nor any concept of Open Government. Voters elect public officials, we voters have a right to hear elected officials public comments at these important public sessions, but you NRC interfere with this process.

    I have filed an official NRC OIG complaint regarding your unwise and possibly illegal action in violation of the Federal Sunshine Act when the NRC met in secret with the public officials at the Oak Ridge so called public info/scoping session regarding the Clinch River Site in April of this year. THE OIG has provided me with no reply. I know you are in receipt of my complaint, as I discussed the matter with one of your attorneys at the Oak Ridge meeting.

    Call me an “activist,” or late for supper, I don’t care, but to not uphold law and replace law with your policy of secrecy does not make it right. http://www.energycentral.com/news/oak-ridge-could-take-lead-new-tva-nuclear-design-critics-question-secrecy-need

    The NRC Public Information Officer commented to me at Oak Ridge, we are just following NRC policy – wrong, you are following a nuclear industry policy of keeping citizens in the dark and feeding them crap, what I call “mushroomitis”

  3. Roger Wink September 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I often listen in to NRC meetings and find the “introduction” process for people on the phone comical since nobody knows who is going to speak up next. Can’t we just figure out a way to email in the contact information of who is on the line to avoid that 5-10 minutes of completely awkward introductions?

  4. Isabel Cohen, Artist/Activist September 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    you could start by telling the public when you have a meeting!!!

    • Anonymous September 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      Isabel: Instead of jumping right back at the moderator, why don’t you read the Blog thoroughly “The NRC will be hosting a public meeting via webinar on September 29, 2016, to provide information and answer questions to help those interested in submitting comments” simply click on the link “hosting.” Hmmm.. always suspicious or critical of the Agency!!!

    • Moderator September 26, 2016 at 10:12 am

      All NRC public meetings are posted to our Public Meeting Schedule, usually at least 10 days before the meeting. In addition, different offices and groups at the NRC use a number of ways to reach out to known interested parties and communities to let them know about meetings in advance.

      Lance Rakovan

  5. Nikohl Vandel September 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you, I’ll take a look at it. In general, NRC meetings are very inaccessible to the public, mostly because of the exclusionary attitudes of those working with and for the NRC towards the general public in this very technical, scientific field. It’s been an interesting journey this far, for certain.

    • Moderator September 26, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Thank you for your comment, if you have any suggestions on how the NRC could be more inclusive with its public meetings, please consider submitting a comment on the policy statement through regulations.gov

      Lance Rakovan

      • Nikohl Vandel September 26, 2016 at 11:01 am

        Yes, I completed public comment, officially. Thank you for making the meetings as accessible as possible. Sometimes, we interested moms have great insights even on stuff like this.

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