On November 9, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff held a public meeting to discuss how the NRC plans to optimize the safety review process applicable to subsequent license renewal (SLR) applications—the third such public meeting on this important topic. The purpose of these meetings has been to solicit interested stakeholder perspectives on the lessons learned from initial license renewal application reviews and inspection activities. The objective is to identify process improvements, heighten efficiency and, ultimately, infuse greater certainty into both the process and schedule for SLR application review.

The NRC Staff and meeting participants identified several actions to help achieve these objectives, including the following:

  • Pre-application discussions, site visits, and public meetings are precursors to the application acceptance review. The acceptance review should be completed in 45 days or less. 
  • During the acceptance review period, material used to conduct the safety review will be loaded into a portal through which the NRC Staff will review, on an electronic basis, various basis and operating experience documents supporting an SLR application. Use of the portal will lead to greater efficiency and streamlining of the review process.
  • The SLR application itself will be submitted electronically. Once accepted for docketing, it will be the subject of safety reviews and audit activities encompassing both the scoping and screening methodology and aging management programs. Specific Technical Issue audits will be performed on an as-needed basis to resolve highly technical issues early in the review process. Audits will be conducted by the NRC Staff both off- and on-site. Key to these processes are the identification of any methodological changes in how scoping and screening are performed for purposes of SLR (in comparison to initial license renewal), changes to plant configuration during the renewed operating period, and operating experience related to aging management programs. 
  • NRC Staff is evaluating the possible elimination of IP 71002 (pre-renewal) inspections for purposes of SLR (they will continue for purposes of initial license renewal), as they are duplicative of such activities during initial license renewal. Doing so will further streamline inspection activities by reducing administrative burden at the regional level that are duplicative of audit activities performed by Staff at NRC headquarters. The Staff made clear, however, that the regions will continue to perform IP 71003 readiness inspections prior to a licensee entering the period of extended operation.

The list of topics to be discussed at the next public meeting on SLR optimization include further details on schedule, use of operating experience, coordination between safety and environmental reviews, and Staff expectations for acceptance reviews and overall application quality.