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According finality to licensing issues resolved in earlier proceedings and limiting preoperational hearings to matters that could not have been previously considered is fair, fully justified and an essential underpinning for a viable standardization program. Title XIII thus reflects both practical sense and good public policy.
Appendix II—Additional Material Submitted for the Record
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
UNITED STATES SENATE
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
S.341, THE NATIONAL ENERGY SECURITY ACT OF 1991
SUBMITTED MARCH 22, 1991
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Commission) appreciates the opportunity
to testify on Titles XII and XIII of S. 341, the National Energy Security Act of 1991, provisions of which address nuclear energy issues. The Commission fully supports the
goals of Titles XII and XIII to encourage the development of advanced reactor
technology and certified designs. The concepts reflected in the legislation would
encourage the development and commercialization of advanced reactors that would be
safer, less costly, and easier to build and operate than the current generation of plants.
Title XII sets forth a comprehensive framework for partnership between the
Department of Energy and the private sector to provide for the institution and
commercial demonstration of advanced nuclear reactor technology, and provides a
process for the Commission to license that technology. Section 12003 provides for the
submission to the Commission for certification of completed standardized designs for
commercial nuclear reactors. Section 12004 requires the Department of Energy to
hold meetings to obtain the public's views on advanced nuclear reactors and to take
these views into account in submitting a plan to Congress which would carry out the purposes of Title XII. Section 12005 authorizes DOE to solicit and select proposals for collaboration with private sector parties who agree to become applicants for
licenses for advanced reactors. This section provides for Commission input both at
the time of solicitation and after proposals are reviewed. The section also provides
for Commission licensing of prototype reactors in accordance with provisions that are
similar to those of the Commission's Part 52. Section 12006 provides for the
commercial demonstration of advanced nuclear reactor technology. It calls for DOE
consultation with the Commission both before and after the Secretary issues a draft
request for construction proposals and provides that the Secretary recommend to the
Commission any changes in Commission regulations which would assist in the licensing
process. Section 12008 requires that, within two years after selection of a proposal, the Commission submit to Congress any recommendations for legislation needed to
facilitate the licensing of commercial advanced reactors. This section also requires
that the Secretary of Energy report to Congress and the Commission on the development of advanced reactors technologies in other countries, and that the
Commission report to Congress on the licensability of any such technology that the
Secretary's report recommends.
Title XIII of the bill would augment the Commission's ability to limit the
opportunity for a post-construction licensing hearing. Under the legislation, a facility
which has been issued a combined construction permit and operating license would be
permitted to operate notwithstanding the pendency of a request for a preoperational hearing unless a showing is made that (1) there exists a substantial dispute of material
fact that has not been considered by the Commission and that cannot be resolved
except at a hearing and (2) a showing has been made that there has been a
nonconformance with the combined license that has not been corrected and that could
materially and adversely affect the safe operation of the facility. The bill's language,
found both in Title XII and in Title XIII, would essentially codify the one-step
licensing process the Commission adopted in Part 52.
The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the provisions of Part 52 that institute
combined construction permits and operating licenses and provide for design
certification and early site approval. The only portion of Part 52 which the Court
invalidated was the provision which limits the opportunity for a posi-construction
hearing to the question of whether the acceptance criteria in the combined license
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have been met. The Court found that the Atomic Energy Act requires the
opportunity for a post-construction hearing to encompass any significant new issue concerning conformity with the Atomic Energy Act. The Commission, with the
support of the Department of Justice, has filed a petition for rehearing of that
decision. A copy of that petition is attached to this testimony. If the Court denies
the petition, the Commission will consider seeking Supreme Court review.
As we have argued before the Court, the Commission continues to believes that
the Atomic Energy Act gives us ample authority to promulgate Part 52 as written.
The Commission believes that this view may ultimately prevail before the courts.
In summary, the commission believes that the bill's language would essentially
codify the preoperational hearing process that the Commission adopted in Part 52.
Hence, the Commission would have no objection to enactment of this legislation.