The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has opened its proposed fees for fiscal 2016 for public comment. The proposals would see licence fees decrease for facilities including operating reactors and fuel facilities, while fees for most uranium recovery licensees would increase.
The NRC is required by law to recover about 90% of its budget through fees, although this excludes funds appropriated for waste incidental to reprocessing, generic homeland security activities, and services provided to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, as well as any amounts appropriated from the US Nuclear Waste Fund. This leaves the regulator about $883.9 million to raise through fees levied on licensees in fiscal 2016. About 37% of this total - $325.8 million - would recover the cost of specific services provided to "identifiable applicants and licensees", while the remainder - $558.1 million - would be billed as annual fees.
The NRC said that the proposed fees for operating reactors, fuel facilities, research and test reactors, used fuel storage and reactor decommissioning, some materials users and US Department of Energy (DOE) transportation activities would all decrease compared to annual fees for 2015.
Fees for most uranium recovery licensees would increase, the NRC said. This is in part due to the need for additional work expected for expansion at Uranerz Energy's Jane Doe and Strata Energy's Kenderick operations, increased inspection activities for Strata's newly licensed Ross and increased hearing activities, requiring more budgetary resources in fiscal 2016 than were needed in 2015.
The proposed rule would also see a slight reduction in the NRC's hourly rate for staff review time, from $268 to $266, resulting in revised application and registration fees. The NRC has also proposed the establishment of a fee structure to enable it to recover costs incurred in responding to so-called Touhy requests - requests for information, records or employee testimony related to lawsuits where the regulator is not itself a named party. Such requests may involve a substantial amount of work for the NRC, but current regulations do not allow it to collect fees to cover the cost of such activities meaning that it must meet them from its annual fees. Instead, the NRC has proposed that Touhy requests requiring over 50 hours of NRC staff time will be assessed for fees.
The proposed fee rules for 2016 were published in the US Federal Register yesterday, and will be open for public comment until 22 April.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News