On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved changes to emergency preparedness regulations affecting existing nuclear power plants, those that might be licensed and built in the future, and research and test reactors.

Changes include limitations on the duties of a plant’s onsite emergency responders to ensure they are not overburdened during an emergency event, requirements to incorporate hostile-action-based scenarios in the drills and exercise programs, and back-up measures for alerting and notification systems.
 
The new regulations will also require nuclear power plants to update their evacuation time estimates after every U.S. Census or when changes in population would increase the estimate by either 25% or 30 minutes, whichever is less.

“Although there are likely to be lessons learned from Japan that will apply to emergency preparedness, I do not think that we need to wait to implement the many enhancements that this rule will provide,” said Chairman Gregory Jaczko. “This rule represents good work on the part of NRC staff members, who have spent several years working on the rule in coordination with other federal agencies and various stakeholders.”

The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register and become effective in 30 days.

Sources: NRC