NRC exhausts carryover funds, shuts down

Thursday - 10/10/2013, 11:03am EDT

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down Thursday after exhausting its funds, NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

The agency had been able to stay open through use of carryover funds.

"We are actually a 90 percent fee recoverable agency," Macfarlane said. "But remember that our fees go into the Treasury, and we're paid out of that. If everybody is not at work there, then we're affected."

Now that the government has reached day 10 of the shutdown, NRC's carryover funds have been depleted. This means furloughs for a majority of the agency's workers.

"Out of our 3,900 employees, only 300 will remain on the job," Macfarlane said. "This is the first time the agency has shut down, so it's a new experience for us."

Macfarlane said in a blog post that NRC will suspend the following operations:

  • Non-emergency reactor licensing
  • Reactor licensing renewal amendments
  • Emergency preparedness exercises
  • Reviews of design certifications
  • Rulemaking and regulatory guidance
  • Routine licensing and inspection of nuclear materials and waste licensees

Like many other agencies, the NRC will not update its website until it fully reopens. Press releases, meeting notices and reports will be unavailable.

Macfarlane also said that no contracts would be canceled, but contractors are likely to be furloughed.

The agency will, however, keep resident inspectors on the job to respond to any immediate security matters. Out of the 300 employees remaining on the job, more than half are resident inspectors, who ensure power plants across the country are operating safely and securely.

NRC will also continue to receive safety and security concerns through hotlines.

"We can — and will without hesitation — bring employees out of furlough to respond to an emergency. We must, in this regard, err on the side of safety and security," Macfarlane said.

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