The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
It’s Structure, Main Functions and Goals
The USA is a federal republic with the President at the head. It is known that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the state which is based on the principle of separation of powers between the legislative (the U.S. Congress), the executive (the U.S. President) and the judicial (the U.S. Supreme Court) powers.
All the government institutions of the USA such as White House and Administration, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal agencies and departments are very important in the political, economic and other systems of the country. Besides each government institution performs its special functions.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or NRG), one of the Executive branch agencies of the US government, takes charge of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and takes an enormous importance in the life of the country.
It is necessary to say some words about the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in order to see how it became such a significant governmental institution.
The Atomic Energy Commission was the first governmental institution which was responsible for the nuclear regulation. It was established according to the Atomic Energy Act in 1946. Later in 1956 a new law allowed to generate the nuclear power for commercial purposes. The Atomic Energy Commission was responsible for the the special regulatory programs which provided “public health and safety from the hazards of nuclear power”. (Allardice, Trapnell)
However a great deal of critics considered that most of the regulations were invalid and could damage the health of the citizens due to non-effective radiation protection standards as well as unsatisfactory reactor safety, inappropriate plant-siting and poor environmental protection. That is why this agency was abolished by the Congress in 1974 and according to the Energy Reorganization Act a Nuclear Regulatory Commission was created on January, 19 in 1975.
The main goals of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which lie in protection the health and the safety of all the people living in the USA have a special relation to the following points:
- Radiation protection
- Reactor safety
- Regulation of nuclear materials
- Environmental protection
Here is a figure which helps to understand the main branches of activities of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
As we can see the U.S.NRC field of concern is rather large and touches upon the serious points such as the realization of two major important programs which should provide the nuclear reactor safety and nuclear materials and waste safety. The fulfillment of the first program concerns the correct licensing and high-grade inspection. The main activities of the second program include the inspection and licensing of the fuel facilities and nuclear materials users, high-level radioactive waste storage, as well as the control of decommissioning and low-level waste, spent-fuel storage and transportation.
Moreover there are a great number of other programs and researches which are also of great importance. For example the research to support risk-informed regulation established by the new policies of the Commission in 1996 which “focus on licensee activities commensurate with their significance to public risk” including “human liability analysis” , “fire risk analysis”. (Cunningham)
Among the numerous programs of Nuclear Regulatory Commission one can find International programs, State and Tribal programs, alternative dispute resolution programs which allow the governmental agency to carry out its plans and functions.
Of course such an important institution should have a well-qualified staff and a reliable administrative apparatus in order to perform its duties in a proper way.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is headed by five Commissioners who were appointed by the President and approved by the Senate for a period of five years.
Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory B. Jaczko
The Chairman is appointed by the President. Today the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is Gregory B. Jaczko, an experienced chief executive director who has a great deal of merits in the sphere of science. He is sure that “ to best accomplish its mission of protecting public health and safety and the environment, the NRC should be as open with information as possible”. (Abernethy)
The other four Commissioners who are at the head of the NRC are Kristine L. Svinicki, a talented nuclear engineer and trained policy advicer, Dc. Apostolakis, a well-qualified
Commissioner of the NRC Kristine L. Svinicki
engineer, a professor of Nuclear science and an expert risk analyst, who is famous for “his innovations in the theory and practice of probabilistic risk assessment and risk management”.
Commissioner of the NRC George Apostolakis
The other Commissioner William D. Magwood made a good career in the nuclear field as well as in public service and has a lot of achievements in the sphere of nuclear power.
Commissioner of the NRC William D. Magwood
The fifth member of the NRC who sworn in as a Commissioner is William C. Ostendorff, a skilled engineer, legal counsel and a policy advicer, and a native officer who has a great experience in the field of science and engineering well as in public policy.
Commissioner of the NRC William C. Ostendorff
According to the law the Chairman is considered to be not only the chief executive officer but also the official spokesman of the Commission. He holds responsibility for numerous functions such as administrative and organizational, budgetary and long-range planning and some personnel ones. His actions are determined by the general policies of the Commission. His authority covers all the functions of the U.S. NRC including the licensing.
The following activities are included in the duties of the Commission:
- formulation of policies
- development of regulations concerning the governing of nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety
- issue of orders to licensees
- making decisions concerning different legal matters
Speaking about the location of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the USA it is necessary to mention that the Headquarters is situated in Rockville, Maryland and the numerous offices are situated in a number of states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Tennessee, which divide the USA into regions in order to oversee the regulatory activities. (See the map of location below)
It is clear that this part of bureaucracy is rather large and has more than 4000 well-qualified employees.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has its Strategic Plan which shows the way the agency is going to perform its mission namely its “goals of safety, security, effectiveness and management” that altogether serve “to maintain public health , safety and trust”. (Strategic Plan)
The U.S. NRC Performance Budget is published every year and gives an account of the programs of the Commission according to the plan. The Budget “estimates for this program activities, the distribution of the budget ($ 1,071.1 million) by major program”. (FY 2011)
According to the statistical data the Budget FY 2011 is decreasing comparing with the the Budget of the previous year due to the forcing the high-level waste repository program into application and decreasing in the number of operating nuclear power plant applications. (Steveheiser)
I think that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission plays an important role in the economical, political structures of the country because it is the main institution which protects all the people and the environment against the terrible damages that can be coursed by the incorrect commercial use of nuclear materials. Besides this agency deals with the nuclear reactors and radioactive wastes what is a dangerous thing not only for the citizens of the USA but also for the population of the whole world. As a matter of fact the consequences of the nuclear catastrophe can be horrifying. That is why we should pay special attention to the field of activity of this Commission.
Shield of Atomic Energy Commission
which was established in 1946 and reorganized into two agencies:
the U.S. NRC and Energy Research and Development Administration
Shield of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission which was formed on January,19 in 1975