Pathetic US Nuclear Regulatory Agency Slow Processing of Standard License Renewals

Limited staffing at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission may slow the agency in renewing licenses for existing nuclear power plants, the agency’s chairman said. The NRC has over $1 billion per year in budget and over 3000 staff (charts below). Not only is the US not competing with China in building new reactors but the paperwork of its regulations continues to slow it down from even basic operations. The NRC also collects $200 an hour from utilities to cover the costs of license reviews.

“There are resource limitations,” Gregory Jaczko said today at a meeting with reporters at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. It may take a bit longer to get through the license renewal reviews, he said.

Reactor owners such as Entergy Corp. (ETR) of New Orleans are seeking operating-license extensions for some of the 104 U.S. commercial nuclear generating units. Entergy’s Indian Point plant, about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of New York City, has two units with licenses expiring in 2013 and 2015.

Jaczko didn’t say that licenses are in danger of expiring as the commission reviews their applications. The agency has renewal applications pending for 14 reactors, according to the NRC website

This site has noted how the NRC has failed to authorize any new reactor designs that were not a variant of existing approved designs since it was created in 1974

A previous claimed “big success” by the head of the NRC is being able to handle regular maintenance applications 90% of the time within 1 year.

Chart for 2009 from the NRC site

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