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Audit Finds Room for Improvement in NRC’s Environmental Reports

Aug. 22, 2013—The NRC’s independent Office of the Inspector General has identified “areas of noncompliance” in how the agency prepares environmental impact statements. 

“NRC is not presenting, in an accessible way, the proposed action, alternatives, major issues, controversies, remaining issues, and conclusions and recommendations to the public, including Congress, federal agencies, government partners, and other stakeholders,” the Inspector General’s audit report said.

The OIG said in creating the report it had gathered feedback “from stakeholders who provided public comments on environmental impact statements published by the NRC.”

“Generally, the stakeholders opined that information provided is not clear,” the report said, adding that the agency may have missed chances for greater public participation.

“The agency has made it difficult for stakeholders to access information developed in environmental reviews and may have omitted opportunities for public participation in certain environmental reviews,” the report said.

The OIG made several recommendations on how the NRC might improve its environmental review process, including:

  • develop agencywide guidance for NRC staff to prepare and publish concise records of decision in compliance with the requirements in 10 CFR 51
  • develop and implement agencywide guidance to ensure that all environmental impact statements follow a consistent format, including cover sheet information, concise summaries and an index
  • develop agencywide guidance to ensure that scoping for environmental impact statements is fully developed and includes adequate public involvement.

The NRC released a statement in response to the audit report.

“Adequate, transparent environmental reviews under [the National Environmental Policy Act] are important to the NRC in fulfilling its mission,” the NRC said. “The agency will therefore carefully review the OIG’s recommendations and consider whether any enhancements are needed to regulations, guidance, and/or staff practice that might further strengthen the agency’s environmental review process, and maintain public trust in the NRC.”