NRC chair lays out plan to boost advance nuclear despite setbacks

By Catherine Morehouse | 03/13/2024 07:01 AM EDT

He said the commission is “close” to finalizing its updated environmental review requirements for advanced reactors, which will streamline their review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission painted an optimistic picture of the nuclear industry’s future during the agency’s annual conference Tuesday, pledging to forge ahead on critical rules aimed at speeding new reactor deployments and increasing the capacity of the existing fleet.

Chair Chris Hanson also said the agency has “learned a lot” from recent industry setbacks, including the cancellation of the sole advanced nuclear project with an NRC license and the years of delays and cost overruns that plagued the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia.

“I recognize the significant strides the agency has made over time, strides that have put us in a fundamentally better place, I think, than we were 20 years ago,” Hanson said Tuesday. “As we speak, the NRC is laying the groundwork for things like technology inclusive licensing, regulation of fusion energy and micro reactors.”


The nuclear industry has notched a number of critical wins in recent weeks from the Biden administration, Congress and nuclear regulators. The NRC recently released new guidance aimed at developing rules better suited to license a diverse array of advanced reactor technologies, and Hanson said the agency is on track to make other critical strides as well.