NRC may scale down operations this week

7 October 2013

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that it expects its funds to run out by the middle of this week. Then, if necessary it will begin scaled-down operations focusing on immediate public safety and security issues.

NRC has cancelled public meetings scheduled for NRC headquarters and around the country, including two public meetings in California on waste confidence.

"Additional meetings scheduled throughout October and early November may also be affected if the current federal government shutdown continues," NRC said in a statement.

The US federal shutdown began on 1 October, the start of the new fiscal year, because Congress had not appropriated funding for government operations.

The NRC had been operating "largely normally" for the first week of October, using unexpended funds from previous appropriations. It held the first two public meetings on waste confidence at agency headquarters (1 October), and in Denver (3 October).

However, NRC said Friday 4 October that "NRC expects its funds to run out by the middle of next week."

"Should it be necessary at that time, the agency will begin scaled- down operations focusing on immediate public safety and security issues, such as nuclear power plant inspections," it said.

In the absence of action by Congress and the President, NRC expects to begin notifying employees whether they are excepted (non-furloughed) or non-excepted (furloughed). It is illegal for employees who are furloughed to perform agency work, Mark Satorius, Executive Director for Operations said in a blog post.

"It is possible that circumstances will require additional NRC employees to perform excepted functions, for example, in an emergency event requiring NRC response. If that situation arises, additional NRC employees who are required to perform excepted functions will be contacted, designated as excepted and removed from furlough status," his post said.

As Presidential appointees, Chairman Macfarlane and the four Commissioners will not be furloughed and will continue to perform their responsibilities. The public and congressional affairs offices will operate on skeleton staff and a limited Allegations staff will be on hand to evaluate allegations and address those with immediate safety or security ramifications.

Photo: NRC headquarters (Source: NRC)

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