NRC furloughs could begin within days

After using “carryover” funds to avoid furloughs during the first week of the partial government shutdown, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have to start furloughing employees around “the middle of next week.”

NRC Executive Director for Operations Mark Satorius made the announcement in an Oct. 4 blog from the nuclear regulator.

“In the absence of action by Congress and the President, we expect to begin notifying employees whether they are excepted (non-furloughed) or non-excepted (furloughed),” Satorius said.

Meetings scheduled for next week are in the process of being cancelled or postponed; the NRC operations chief went on to say.

The NRC is also reviewing its contractors to determine which ones will receive “stop work orders” during a furlough.

While the NRC website will remain up, it may not be updated once a furlough has started. “We will use the blog to provide up-to-date information about NRC actions,” Satorius said.

“We sincerely regret these actions are necessary and are eager to resume our important mission as soon as possible,” Satorius said.

The planned staffing for NRC “excepted functions” necessary to support emergency operations during a lapse of appropriations is approximately 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees, Satorius said previously.

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. The Chairman, the NRC Commissioners and Inspector General are in addition to this number and are exempted from furloughs because they are Presidential appointees.

Waste confidence, Seabrook meetings shelved

In an announcement posted on its website, NRC said it was postponed public meetings set Oct. 7 and Oct. 9 in California on the agency’s proposed rule and environmental study about the extended storage of spent nuclear fuel.

The Oct. 7 waste confidence meeting was scheduled for San Luis Obispo; the Oct. 9 meeting for Carlsbad.

In addition, NRC said Oct. 4 that it has cancelled an open house scheduled Oct. 9 in Hampton, N.H., regarding concrete degradation at the NextEra (NYSE:NEE) Seabrook nuclear power plant.

The federal shutdown began Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, because Congress has not appropriated funding for government operations. NRC was able to operate several days on unexpended funds from prior appropriations.

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.