Subjects of NRC Hearings

NRC hearings relate to issues arising out of the operation of the nation's more than 100 nuclear power plants and out of programs related to approximately 4,000 nuclear materials licensees. Individuals or entities that are directly affected by any licensing or enforcement action involving a facility that produces or uses nuclear materials may request a hearing. Hearings have shifted away from the large nuclear power plant operating licenses and construction permits and, instead, now focus on reactor license extensions, reactor site decontamination, enforcement actions, reactor materials license amendments, nuclear waste storage, license transfers, and decommissioning activities.

A potential, significant future proceeding may involve the licensing of a high-level radioactive waste repository. In February 2002 the United States Department of Energy (DOE) began the process for seeking an NRC license for a proposed high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. If a DOE license application ultimately is filed, the ensuing adjudication before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) likely would involve numerous novel and complex scientific issues. A prelicense application presiding officer will resolve disputes over which documents should be placed in the Licensing Support Network.

Hearings often involve difficult, interdisciplinary questions at the cutting edge of science and technology. In addition, NRC hearings air local concerns about the consequences of severe accidents and continue the national debate over the role nuclear power should play in meeting the nation's energy needs.

An increasingly important area of hearings deals with the sale of nuclear power plants or materials facilities and the sale of all or part of companies owning plants or material facilities. The Commission, rather than the ASLBP, conducts this type of hearing but has, in the past, appointed a member of the ASLBP to preside over the process of creating a record for these proceedings.

See the Types of Hearings page for more information.