North American Member News June 2024


4 July 2024


Eileen Supko

Congress Passes Major Nuclear Legislation

On June 18, 2024, the U.S. Senate passed the ADVANCE Act of 2024 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 88-2. This follows passage by the House of Representatives on May 8, 2024, with a vote of 391-13.

Passage of the ADVANCE act helps bolster U.S. international competitiveness, accelerate the domestic deployments of innovative advanced nuclear technologies, and modernize the oversight and licensing of the operating fleet of reactors. The bill will support efforts to further modernize the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as it prepares to review applications for subsequent license renewals, power uprates and next generation nuclear deployments.

Some of the key provisions of the bill are as follows:

American Nuclear Leadership:

    • Authorizes the NRC to establish the International Nuclear Export and Innovation Branch to improve global nuclear cooperation.
    • Requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to update its nuclear export review policy under 10 C.F.R. Part 810.
    • Requires the DOE to conduct a global study on the nuclear energy industry and its supply chains.

Developing and Deploying New Nuclear Technologies

      • Limits NRC fees collected from applicants and pre-applicants for advanced nuclear reactor licenses.
      • Requires the NRC to submit a report addressing any unique licensing issues related to the use of advanced nuclear reactors for flexible operation or exclusively for non-electric applications and the colocation of nuclear reactors with other facilities.
      • Eliminates costs associated with pre-application activities and early site permit reviews on DOE sites or critical national security infrastructure from the NRC fee base. Directs the NRC to develop risk-informed guidance to license and regulate micro-reactors.

Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation

    • Amends the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) to recognize the importance of foreign investment into the U.S. nuclear industry.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Supply Chain, Infrastructure, and Workforce

    • Requires the NRC to report on advanced manufacturing and construction for nuclear energy projects.
    • Directs the NRC to establish a traineeship program to meet NRC and nuclear workforce needs.
    • Requires the DOE to biennially report on the U.S. spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste inventory.
    • Requires the NRC to enhance preparedness and coordination for licensing advanced nuclear fuel.

Improving Commission Efficiency

    • Updates NRC hiring authorities to enable recruitment and appointment of highly qualified individuals to meet critical hiring needs.
    • Directs the NRC to establish guidance for efficient reactor license application reviews and to rely on existing licensing information when a new reactor is built at an existing site.
    • Directs the NRC to modernize its environmental review process.

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