WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), questioned Kristine Svinicki, chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
Barrasso questions Svinicki on deadline to make Wyoming an NRC Agreement State:
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Svinicki on deadline to make Wyoming an NRC Agreement State.
“Chairman Svinicki, the State of Wyoming is currently in the process of becoming an NRC Agreement State.
“This means that Wyoming is going to assume the role of the primary regulator of in situ uranium recovery.
“I understand that Wyoming submitted its application to the NRC on November 13th of last year.
“We expect to be able to sign a final agreement with the NRC by September 30, 2018 –the end of the federal fiscal year.
“Do you know if the NRC is on track to meet the deadline?”
“Yes, Chairman Barrasso. The staff is on track to present the voting matter to the commission in September.
“And I would acknowledge the practical realities of the turnover of the fiscal year would make it desirable for the commission to act in a timely way.
“I have served on the commission for other agreements, state agreements, and assuming that the NRC staff in Wyoming do careful work, if the agreement is presented to us in accordance with the requirements, my experience is the deliberation is not overly long – it’s merely a verification that the needed elements are there.”
Barrasso questions Svinicki on timeline of uranium recovery proposals in Wyoming:
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Svinicki on timeline of uranium recovery proposals in Wyoming.
“I know the NRC’s most recent monthly report indicates the agency is currently reviewing four major uranium recovery proposals in Wyoming.
“Specifically, the NRC is considering two renewals of existing uranium recovery licenses, two expansions of existing uranium recovery licenses.
“I understand the NRC anticipates completing its review of these proposals by the end of September of this year.
“That is when Wyoming is expected to become the Agreement State.
“It’s important for the NRC to complete its review for these four uranium recovery proposals by September in order to have a smooth transition to Wyoming as the new regulatory authority.
“Will you please commit to informing my staff immediately if the NRC does not think it can complete its review of these four proposals by the end of the fiscal year?”
“Yes, we will inform you, and again, my experience in the past is that it benefits both the NRC, the agreement state, and the licensees if we can have the most orderly transfer of responsibility and sometimes that includes realizing what pending actions that are before us and the timely completion of those.”
Barrasso questions Svinicki about the importance of uranium production to our national security:
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Svinicki about the importance of uranium production to our national security.
“I’d like now to ask a question and I’d like you to answer it –not in your role as NRC Chair, but based on your personal experience in the nuclear field.
“Prior to your service on the Commission, you served as a professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where you were responsible for nuclear issues.
“Before your tenure in the Senate, you worked at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.
“You are –of course –a nuclear engineer.
“Do you think maintaining uranium production in the U.S. is critical to our national security?”
“I appreciate that you’re making a distinction between my role as NRC Chairman.
“Of course our commission is policy-neutral – I know there are pending actions before the Commerce Department and other trade matters.
“You ask me this at a time when last week, I had a responsibility as NRC Chairman to sign the extension of a cooperation agreement with a Ukrainian regulator and he also brought along the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.
“It was an opportunity to hear from a country that, overnight, found itself somewhat hostage to a country for energy supply and nuclear fuel supply.
“The practical realities of that are a very complicated matter for Ukraine.
“The broad principle of having some energy security and diversity, sitting with my colleagues from Ukraine, I will say that went from a conceptual conversation to a very real conversation as they described what they face there.
“So, again, last week had the opportunity to see what it is to not have domestic production or supply.
“And depending on the actions of other countries, it can be an overnight problem for your country.”
Barrasso questions Svinicki about the cybersecurity of nuclear power plants:
Click here for video of Chairman Barrasso questioning Svinicki about the cybersecurity of nuclear power plants.
“Last week, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint alert stating: ‘Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors ... targeted government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors…’
“I understand that these cyber-attacks have penetrated some corporate networks, but have not infiltrated the critical safety, security, or control systems of nuclear power plants.
“Is that correct?”
“That is accurate.
“And respecting the public setting I would also note that the nature of the things declassified and released by the FBI last week are issues we’ve been monitoring very very closely with the inner agency and yes, there were penetrations and probing of corporate systems but there was not successful penetration on the operational side.”
“And if that situation changes and the NRC learns of a successful penetration into critical nuclear plant systems, will you commit to brief this committee immediately”