NRC Requests Planned Licensing Action Submittals for All Power Reactor Licensees

In late calendar year 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2015-16 to ask licensees to provide information regarding the licensing actions they plan to submit to the NRC for review over the next 3 calendar years, and power uprate applications they plan to submit to the NRC for review over the next 5 calendar years. The NRC plans to continue to request this information of licensees on an annual basis. Submittal of the requested information is strictly voluntary. No specific action or written response is required.

During the budget development process, the NRC allocates resources based on an assumed number of licensing actions of certain types (e.g., license amendments, exemptions, relief requests) that will be submitted for that particular fiscal year. To the degree that these assumptions do not correlate to incoming requests, the agency’s budget estimates can be significantly incorrect in total resources, specific skill sets, or both. This ultimately impedes the NRC’s ability to process licensing actions on a timely basis and can cause a significant delay in processing licensing actions when the required resources are not available. Specifically, licensing actions include requests for license amendments, renewals, and transfers; requests for exemptions; relief requests from in-service inspection and testing requirements; program reviews; review of topical reports submitted on a plant-specific basis; and, power uprate requests.

To more accurately forecast the resources needed to complete the requested licensing actions, the NRC is asking that all power reactor licensees voluntarily provide information regarding the number of licensing actions they plan to submit for NRC review for the next 3 calendar years, and any planned power uprates they plan to submit in the next 5 calendar years. The responses to NRC’s request are not binding and can be updated, as needed. The NRC plans to continue to request this information of licensees on an annual basis. This information will enable the agency to better meet its performance and timeliness goals under the agency’s strategic plan.

To adequately capture the resource impact of the various licensing action reviews, the NRC is requesting that licensees provide information such as a brief title and description of each of their planned licensing action submittals, an indication of whether the review would be first-of-a-kind or an update, an estimate of when the request would be submitted to the NRC, and the estimated requested completion date. Licensees would also assist the NRC by indicating if the licensing action is routine or if it is outage-related. Based on the information received, the NRC will determine the complexity of the review and the technical skill set needed to perform the review, and develop preliminary review schedules. The NRC will use this information in planning for future workload and as the basis for allocating future technical resources.

The NRC encourages continued communication between licensees and site-specific NRC project managers with regard to plant licensing actions and schedules for submittal of licensing actions. According to NRC, RIS 2015-16 is not intended to replace the communications that take place between licensees and project managers regarding current and planned licensing actions. Indeed, NRC states that the continued communication will play a large role in improving project planning by the agency. However, NRC believes that the information provided in response to RIS 2015-16 will help the agency improve project planning and resource allocation throughout the entire budget cycle.

For additional information, please contact Tracy Orf of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at (301) 415-2788 or at