NRC Revises Stance on Emergency Drills

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently endorsed revised guidance developed by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) for how nuclear power plants should voluntarily conduct baseline hostile action-based emergency preparedness drills.

Current regulations do not require licensees to use hostile action scenarios in their emergency preparedness drills and exercises. However, in 2005, NEI offered a phased approach for licensees to voluntarily conduct such drills within a three-year period. These "off-year" hostile-action based drills, also called "Phase 3 Drills," are not evaluated by the NRC or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and provide a "no fault" opportunity for licensees to demonstrate responses to the unique challenges security actions pose to existing emergency preparedness programs. During 2007, nine hostile action-based drills were conducted, and 26 are scheduled for 2008.

The revised guidance being endorsed clarifies the scope and methods of demonstration of key objectives of these hostile-action drills. The commission is working with FEMA to identify proposed changes to emergency preparedness regulations and guidance to incorporate hostile action-based scenarios into biennial emergency preparedness exercises.

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