Why doesn’t the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) enforce its fire protection regulations, instead of giving out hundreds of exemptions?
The NRC enforces all of its regulations, including those related to fire protection. However, the NRC issued a new fire protection rule in 1981, after about 50 percent of the nation’s nuclear power plants had been constructed (or were nearing completion). As a result, the new rule created situations in which licensees were required to modify their already-constructed plants with negligible safety gains. In such situations, after thorough review, the NRC granted exemptions from the fire protection rule, in accordance with the requirements of Title 10, Section 50.12, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 50.12), “Specific Exemptions.” Why doesn’t the NRC force nuclear power plant licensees to make real long-term changes to their plants in order to provide fire protection, instead of allowing them to use “interim” compensatory measures that seem to be accepted as permanent changes? In general, the NRC does expect licensees to make real changes to their plants in a timely manner, inst