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Congressman Stresses Importance of Improved Fuel Pool Licensing and Analysis

Oct. 24, 2013—Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ensure that regulation on used fuel storage pool management be handled more efficiently while recognizing the progress the NRC is making toward this goal.

Foster noted in an Oct 18 letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane that reactor licensees often submit license amendment requests to improve their management of used fuel storage pools but that some of the agency reviews have become protracted, “often taking longer than two years.” He said he believed Macfarlane shares his concern that these issues be addressed.

“The NRC’s regulatory guidance on the management and storage of used fuel in pools must be based on well-established methods for nuclear criticality and safety analyses,” Foster said, and urged the agency to expedite finalizing proposed guidance for performing the safety analyses.   

“I understand that the NRC has recently approved a fee waiver to review a proposal by the industry to establish guidance for agreed upon methods for the performance of nuclear criticality safety analyses for used fuel pools,” Foster said. “I strongly encourage you to act to expeditiously work with industry to finalize the proposed guidance. This action is necessary to restore confidence in the agency’s regulatory process for used nuclear fuel pool management.”

Foster also recognized the steps the agency has already taken toward making its licensing processes more efficient.

“I commend NRC for recognizing the need for improvements by developing an action plan, in 2010, to address regulatory enhancements to facilitate a more efficient licensing decision-making process,” Foster said.