A final rule and corresponding update to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) uses when considering applications to renew operating reactor licenses will soon end up issued.

The rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The new rule is more of a technology-neutral approach for the generic environmental impact statement to cover different reactor designs. It would cover any new nuclear reactor application meeting the parameters used to develop the generic environmental impact statement.

The proposed generic environmental impact statement would streamline the environmental reviews for future new nuclear reactors by presenting generic environmental impacts for those designs that fit within certain site and plant parameters.

Last March, the NRC published a proposed rule that would update the license renewal generic environmental impact statement used by the agency when considering applications to renew operating reactor licenses.

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That proposed rule was in response to a 2022 Commission order that concluded the license renewal generic environmental impact statement did not analyze the environmental impacts of a subsequent license renewal term (from 60 to 80 years of operation).

That proposed rule amends the relevant rule language to account for initial license renewal and one term of subsequent license renewal, redefines the number and scope of the environmental issues that must be addressed during the review of each application for license renewal, and updates related guidance to fully address subsequent renewal.

The GEIS covers environmental topics relevant to all nuclear power plant licensees seeking renewed licenses. The revised document accounts for new or revised environmental impacts, reflects changes in regulations or guidance, and applies what the agency has learned during previous license renewals.

The NRC will notify the public when the final rule publishes.

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