NRC has contingency plan in case of government shutdown

The operations chief for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Sept. 27 that the agency has a contingency plan ready that should keep it running near normal for a week beyond any Oct. 1 government shutdown.

In the event of a more extended shutdown, the NRC would use a fraction of its workforce to continue reactor inspections and respond to any potential emergencies that arise, the NRC official said.

“The NRC can’t predict the likelihood of a government shutdown next week, but we are prepared for all contingencies in case of a lapse of appropriations for federal agencies effective on Tuesday,” Executive Director for Operations Mark Satorius said in an NRC blog posting.

While many agencies might shut down, NRC has some “carryover” funding, which is essentially previous year’s funding that was not spent. The leftover funds should enable NRC to remain open “for at least one additional week of largely normal operations,” Satorius said.

At this time, then, the NRC is not issuing employee furlough notifications. If a shutdown lasts longer than a few days, NRC has a plan that has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for identifying staff members who will remain on the job to perform the excepted NRC functions for emergencies.

The planned staffing for NRC “excepted functions” necessary to support emergency operations during a lapse of appropriations is roughly 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees. Of that number, roughly half are resident inspectors assigned to reactor and fuel facilities. The rest of the “excepted” personnel include staff necessary to initially respond to emergency situations at NRC licensed facilities.

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane, the other four NRC commissioners and Inspector General are in addition to this number and are exempted from furloughs because they are Presidential appointees, Satorius said.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.