The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has signed a trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to collaborate on the assessment of small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced modular reactor (AMR) designs. The MOC, signed at the NRC’s Annual Regulatory Information Conference in Maryland, will enable both good practice and experience of reviewing SMR/AMR designs to be shared between regulators.

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Nuclear Inspector & CEO said: “Importantly, the trilateral agreement signals a partnering approach that will improve both regulatory effectiveness and efficiency, essential given the rapid growth in reactor technologies that are seeking regulatory consideration and approval.” He added: “The agreement will ensure the efficient use of regulators’ time and resources through a willingness to share technical knowledge and judgements, streamlining regulation while maintaining safety standards, acting as an exemplar of how regulators should work together in today’s modern world.”

Christopher T Hanson, NRC’s Chair said the agreement “shows the great progress we’ve made with our international counterparts to ensure advanced reactor technology can be safely and efficiently deployed”. He added: “We’ve seen our work with CNSC on joint reports support significant licensing activities on several advanced designs over the past couple of years. We look forward to ONR’s contributions as we all consider applications to build SMRs and advanced reactors.”

Ramzi Jammal, CNSC’s acting CEO, said the MOC “will help us discover greater regulatory efficiencies and strengthen the effectiveness of our reviews of advanced reactor technologies”. He added that it “provides a framework for the three organisations to work together to optimise our collective skills, experiences, and knowledge”.

The trilateral memorandum furthers the countries’ mutual interest in effectively and efficiently considering next-generation technologies, in keeping with their agencies’ safety and security missions. NRC, CNSC and ONR are building on the information-sharing aspects of several previous agreements, as well as recent bilateral Memoranda of Cooperation on SMR/advanced reactor technology.

The memorandum underscores the agencies’ commitment to share best practices and regulatory experience as new technologies move toward standardization that facilitates international deployment. The agreement is expected to aid development of shared approaches for reviewing common technical safety issues to meet each country’s regulatory requirements. The agencies will also collaborate on pre-application activities, research, training, and emerging novel technical issues.

Image (L-R): Ramzi Jammal, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; Christopher Hanson, Chair, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Mark Foy, Chief Nuclear Inspector, UK Office for Nuclear Regulation, at the signing of the agreement (courtesy of ONR, NRC, CNSC)