Forward-Looking Improvements to Licensing the Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors

By Prasad, Arjun | American University Business Law Review, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Forward-Looking Improvements to Licensing the Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors


Prasad, Arjun, American University Business Law Review


Nuclear regulation has faced a variety of challenges since the Atomic Energy Commission first introduced the procedure of two-step licensing, in which construction and operational licenses are issued separately to nuclear reactor developers. Since 1974, and the establishment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the process for licensing a nuclear power plant has changed dramatically. In addition to the two-step licensing process of old, developers now have the option of choosing a one-step combined license, which offers more flexibility in terms of developing technical specifications. The two-step and combined license options are codified under 10 C.F.R. §§ 50 and 52, respectively. Although intended to streamline the process and avoid expensive licensing periods that plagued plant development under the old regime, the newer combined license method is not being executed as planned and runs the risk of confronting developers with the same economic hurdles. This Note examines both licensing options and posits that a new strategy must be developed to efficiently license the next generation of nuclear power plants.

INTRODUCTION

The success of the commercial nuclear industry has fluctuated significantly over the past several decades due to a wide variety of safety related, economic, and political developments.1 Recently, there has been a growing movement towards expanding nuclear power in the United States once again.2 Despite the renewed interest, support for nuclear power has also proven to be polarizing; concerns over improper nuclear waste disposal and plant safety are hotly debated issues.3 Public opposition to nuclear plants was propelled further following the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, calling into question the desirability of large-scale nuclear power production.4 These concerns have been surfaced yet again following the recent developments at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.5

Notwithstanding the myriad safety concerns, the economics of plant development remains perhaps the most significant barrier to nuclear production.6 The construction and operation of nuclear facilities is an expensive business, which must also factor in decommissioning and waste disposal costs, among others.7 Cost overruns and construction delays witnessed in the 1970s and 1980s remain a crucial issue today in the debate over the economics of nuclear power.8 Long construction periods tend to significantly increase financing costs and push overall project costs well beyond initial estimates.9 Furthermore, with abundant shale-gas deposits contributing to even lower electricity rates,10 the high cost of developing a plant due to extended construction and engineering time may easily "dampen enthusiasm for major nuclear expansion."11

At the nexus of these issues is nuclear regulation. The government oversees nuclear licensing and regulation in the United States and must balance the need for advancing economical electricity generation with public opinion and safety.12 This Note examines broadly the licensing options available to nuclear plant developers today and suggests that the regulations need to be adapted to avoid the economic pitfalls of costly design and engineering-related delays for the advanced nuclear systems known as Generation IV reactors. Part I describes the history of nuclear reactor licensing, provides background on the Generation IV initiative, and introduces the prototype being developed in the United States, known as the Next Generation Nuclear Power Plant ("NGNP"). Part II outlines the feasibility of licensing a Generation IV reactor under today's available alternatives, while Part III provides broad suggestions for improving these alternatives.

I. A BACKGROUND ON NUCLEAR POWER REGULATION AND GENERATION IV TECHNOLOGY

A. Historical Underpinnings of Nuclear Power Regulation

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 ("1954 Act") governs the operation and regulation of nuclear energy13 and gave licensing and enforcement power to the Atomic Energy Commission ("AEC"), which previously maintained jurisdiction over both military and civilian applications of nuclear technology. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Forward-Looking Improvements to Licensing the Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.