The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Licensing of Tennessee Valley Authority Reactors

EMD-78-37: Published: Feb 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1982.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) processing of permit applications for the Tennessee Valley Authority's Hartsville and Phipps Bend powerplants took longer than it should have, and most of the delay was attributable to weaknesses in NRC procedures. Two weaknesses were found to delay most, if not all, applications before the Commission: the printing of a notice in the Federal Register and not requiring the Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards to begin hearings within 30 days after an environmental statement is published. A delay in the notice in the Federal Register can delay the start of the public hearing. In addition to the delays experienced in the Hartsville and Phipps Bend projects, NRC took an average of 50 days to have the notice printed for seven other recent applications. NRC has granted the two Boards nearly complete discretion in ruling on schedule-related matters in public hearings; granting the Boards such discretion on precedural matters causes NRC to relinguish all direct control over the hearing schedules. The Chairman of NRC should: submit notices of hearing on applications to the Federal Register no later than 1 week after the Commission formally accepts applications for review; require Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards to establish at the outset, in consultation with all parties, schedules for completing the public hearing process; and designate a focal point to monitor the progress of license applications and alert the NRC of potential delays so that it can act to mitigate them.

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