As we reported last summer, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff is considering whether to prepare a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the construction and operation of advanced nuclear reactors (ANR GEIS). As part of that effort, the NRC announced in the Federal Register on Friday that it is now soliciting input from stakeholders.

The NRC believes that an ANR GEIS could (1) streamline the process for advanced nuclear reactor environmental reviews; and (2) determine which environmental impacts would result in essentially the same (generic) impact for many advanced reactors, and which ones would result in different levels of environmental impacts requiring a plant-specific analysis. Environmental reviews for advanced nuclear reactor licenses would incorporate the ANR GEIS by reference and provide site-specific information in a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, thereby streamlining the environmental review process.

The NRC is considering the following:

  1. Whether an ANR GEIS would improve the efficiency of the environmental review process, where the advanced nuclear reactors would be located, the types of technologies that would be involved, and which environmental impacts should be addressed in an ANR GEIS
  2. Whether an ANR GEIS could avoid duplication of effort and focus the review on important environmental issues
  3. How an ANR GEIS can align with the goals and best practices of federal government efforts to streamline National Environmental Policy Act processes

In order to inform its decisionmaking, NRC has requested stakeholder feedback on the following topics:

  1. Should the scope of the ANR GEIS include reactors regardless of technology or be limited to specific reactor technologies?
  2. What reactor sizes (footprint) and power levels should the NRC include in the scope of the ANR GEIS?
  3. The NRC is considering limiting an ANR GEIS to geographical areas that have common environmental conditions.
    1. Should the NRC consider the geographical site of a reactor when developing the scope of the ANR GEIS?
    2. Should the NRC consider a set of bounding plant parameters when developing the scope of the ANR GEIS?
    3. If so, what parameters should be considered?

The NRC held a public meeting to discuss stakeholder input on November 15 and will hold a second meeting on November 20. The presentation materials are available here. In addition, NRC will hold a workshop in December 2019 and will post the date and location on its public website.

If, after gathering stakeholder input, the NRC has sufficient information to develop a GEIS, the Staff intends to begin the scoping process and to prepare a schedule for completing one.

NRC requests that stakeholders provide input via email through December 31, 2019.