On October 11 2023, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held the first public meeting of a series of three to share the staff’s progress and seek external input on the preliminary proposed rule language, draft guidance, and specific topics that would form the regulatory framework under 10 CFR Part 30 for fusion systems.
This comes after the five Commissioners of the NRC voted last April to regulate fusion under the byproduct materials approach, separating fusion energy from nuclear fission regulations. Now, with the rulemaking process officially underway, the NRC is sharing how proposals to amend existing byproduct material regulations to support fusion systems. The preliminary proposed rule language defines a fusion energy system as “a system that, through use of byproduct material or to produce byproduct material, induces nuclear fusion and includes any associated radiation, radioactive material, and supporting structures, systems, and components that are used to contain, process, or control radiation and radioactive materials.”
Additional preliminary changes were proposed to different parts of the byproduct material framework:
- At a previous NRC public meeting on July 12, the FIA proposed to include fusion energy machines in the definition of particle accelerators. The preliminary proposed rule language eliminates the energy requirement of “in excess of 1 mega electron volt” to be defined as particle accelerators.
- “Production” of byproduct material to §30.51 and §30.52 as many fusion systems will produce neutrons that will activate materials or produce tritium in lithium breeding beds.
- Fusion systems byproduct material waste will be disposed of at existing low-level waste (LLW) sites. The new §20.2008(c) rulemaking dictates that “waste resulting from fusion systems must be disposed of in a disposal facility that has completed a site-specific intrusion assessment that demonstrates the projected dose to an individual who inadvertently intrudes into the waste at the facility will be less than 5 millisievert (mSv) per year.”
- All applicants shall prepare an environmental report for issuance or renewal of a license or other form of permission for construction and operation of a fusion system for other than research and development purposes.
Here is the NRC summary of the meeting.
This page will be updated with information and takeaways on the upcoming rule-making meetings.
Page Update: On November 1, the NRC held the second public meeting. Here are the meeting slides, and the Preliminary Draft NUREG-1556, Volume 22. The FIA will submit comments for NRC consideration, and looks forward to participating in the next meeting on November 9.