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Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or NRC) is a United Statesmarker government agency that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act in 1974 from the Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975.

The NRC oversees reactor safety, reactor licensing and renewal, radioactive material safety and licensing, and spent fuel management (storage, recycling, and disposal).


The NRC's mission is to regulate the nation's civilian use of byproduct, source, and special nuclear materials to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, to promote the common defense and security, and to protect the environment.

The NRC's regulatory mission covers three main areas:
  • Reactors - Commercial reactors for generating electric power and research and test reactors used for research, testing, and training
  • Materials - Uses of nuclear materials in medical, industrial, and academic settings and facilities that produce nuclear fuel
  • Waste - Transportation, storage, and disposal of nuclear materials and waste, and decommissioning of nuclear facilities from service

The NRC is headed by five Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate for five-year terms. One of them is designated by the President to be the Chairman and official spokesperson of the Commission. The current chairman is Gregory B. Jackzo. He was first sworn in as a Commissioner on Jan. 21, 2005, and his term runs through June 2013. He was designated Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Barack Obama on May 13, 2009.


The NRC was one component of the United States Atomic Energy Commission prior to 1975. When the U.S. AEC became the Energy Research and Development Administration in 1975, the NRC was formed as an independent commission to take over the role of oversight of nuclear energy matters, oversight of nuclear medicine, and nuclear safety. The development and oversight of nuclear weapons was transferred to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a subcomponent of ERDA. Research and promotion of civil uses of radioactive materials, such as for nuclear non-destructive testing, nuclear medicine, and nuclear power, was split into the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science & Technology within ERDA by the same act. (In 1977, ERDA became the United States Department of Energy).


Currently Headquartered in Rockville, Marylandmarker, the NRC previously had five regions. In the late 1990s, the Region V office in Walnut Creek, Californiamarker was absorbed into Region IV and Region V was dissolved. The NRC is broken down into 4 regions:
Map of the NRC Regions

These four regions oversee the operation of 104 power-producing reactors, and 36 non-power-producing reactors. This oversight is done on several levels, for example:

  • Each power-producing reactor site has Resident Inspectors, who monitor day to day operations
  • Numerous special inspection teams, with many different specialties, routinely conduct inspections at each site
  • Whistleblower reports are investigated by special teams

Training and accreditation

Commission headquarters.

The NRC recognizes the industry's training and accreditation through the Training Rule, which was issued in 1993.

The NRC observes the National Nuclear Accrediting Board accrediting board meetings, and conducts audits and training inspections. In addition, the NRC nominates some members of the National Nuclear Accrediting Board. The National Nuclear Accrediting Board is not a government body, but related to the National Academy for Nuclear Training, created in 1985, which integrates and standardizes the training efforts of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and all U.S. nuclear power plants.

Terrorism threats

Terrorist attacks such as those executed by Al-Qaeda in New York on September 11, 2001 and in London on July 7, 2005 have prompted fears that extremist groups might use radioactive dirty bombs in further attacks in the United States and elsewhere.

In March 2007, undercover investigators from the Government Accountability Office set up a false company and obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would have allowed them to buy the radioactive materials needed for a dirty bomb. According to the GAO report, NRC officials did not visit the company or attempt to personally interview its executives. Instead, within 28 days, the NRC mailed the license to the West Virginia postal box. Upon receipt of the license, GAO officials were able to easily modify its stipulations, and remove a limit on the amount of radioactive material they could buy. A spokesman for the NRC said that the agency considered the radioactive devices a "lower-level threat," even though a bomb built with the materials could have contaminated an area about the length of a city block, but would not have presented an immediate health hazard.


  1. NRC - Related Documents and Other Resources
  2. After A Nuclear 9/11
  3. Averting Catastrophe p. 338.
  4. A Nuclear 9/11
  5. A Nuclear Ruse Uncovers Holes in U.S. Security

See also

External links

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