The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.
NEI has sent the NRC information on the industry’s Severe Accident Management Guidelines (SAMGs) for managing extreme events at nuclear power plants, in response to the agency’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking for emergency response capabilities.
As part of its implementation of lessons learned from the Fukushima accident, the NRC is seeking to establish regulatory controls for the industry SAMGs, which now are voluntary. The NRC also is seeking information on how SAMGs are integrated with other emergency response procedures.
“The NRC rule on onsite emergency response has the potential to place voluntary SAMGs under NRC oversight, formalizing industry practices already in place at the country’s operating nuclear power plants,” said Biff Bradley, director of risk assessment at NEI.
In a June 18 letter, the industry proposed that the NRC “develop a high-level rule specifying necessary attributes of onsite emergency preparedness.” At the same time, the industry would develop guidance for a draft NRC Regulatory Guide to accompany the rule.
During the initial stages of an accident at a nuclear power plant, operators are guided by emergency operating procedures (EOPs). If the accident progresses to the point where nuclear fuel is damaged, operators transition to SAMGs to manage the situation. EOPs at nuclear power plants are already under NRC oversight.
Other Fukushima regulatory activities should be taken into account as the rule is developed, NEI said. The industry’s FLEX strategy in particular could modify how plant operators deal with severe events.
“Implementation of the diverse and flexible coping strategies (FLEX) will result in new procedures and interfaces with EOPs and will affect SAMGs to a smaller degree,” NEI said.
NEI’s letter includes detailed information on current practices and procedures for SAMGs at plant sites.