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Government Shutdown: NRC to Begin Reduced Operations Next Week

Oct. 2, 2013—A day before the government shutdown that began Oct. 1, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it had sufficient unspent “carryover” funding from the previous year to maintain “largely normal” operations for about a week.

Because of that funding, the NRC said it was not issuing employee furlough notifications. However, the agency will operate at a reduced level and enter a minimal maintenance and monitoring mode.

Should the lapse in appropriations last longer than its carryover funding allows, the agency said, it has a plan reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget for identifying staff members who will remain on the job to perform “excepted” NRC functions.

Approximately 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees will be needed for those functions. Roughly half of the excepted personnel are resident inspectors assigned to reactor and fuel facilities. The remaining excepted personnel include staff needed to respond to emergency situations at NRC-licensed facilities. The NRC chairwoman, commissioners and inspector general are exempted because they are presidential appointees.

The agency identified the functions it will continue to perform throughout the shutdown. These include:

  • receipt and processing of pre-shipment notifications and receipt and assessment of licensee event notifications through the Headquarters Operations Center
  • review and analysis of potential security threats
  • response to emergencies and assembling of teams for incident response
  • oversight at nuclear power plants and fuel-cycle facilities by resident inspectors
  • processing and approval of enforcement orders
  • receipt, assessment and response to safety or security allegations and initiation of investigations
  • processing of emergency licensing actions
  • international liaison including with other U.S. government agencies and/or foreign nations to address export and import, international safeguards, and other matters.

The NRC also stressed licensees’ continuing obligation to comply with all applicable requirements and license conditions, regardless of the NRC’s operating status.

If the lapse in appropriations exceeds the availability of “carryover” funds, the agency will notify licensees and stakeholders through a Regulatory Issue Summary.