January 31, 2023
Conference Paper

Risk-Informed Approach for Regulatory Approval of Microreactor Transport


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is addressing the challenges associated with safe transport of microreactors including the development and evaluation of regulatory options. PNNL developed a risk-informed regulatory framework for the licensing of the transportation of microreactors in which irradiated nuclear fuel is part microreactor transportation package. The framework lays out a viable regulatory pathway, including decision points for regulatory options and the supporting technical evaluations for those options in phases from near to long term. A microreactor and its contents will likely not be able to meet all the federal regulatory requirements as a Type B or fissile material transportation package under 10 CFR Part 71 (“Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Material”). However, the regulatory framework developed by PNNL lays out a viable risk-informed licensing options that are safe and feasible. Risk assessment such as probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) can be used to show comparable safety to that provided by a Type B or fissile material package for surface transport. The framework includes guidance on applicable regulations and discusses historical precedence in using risk information for transportation licensing. The framework includes guidance for performing a microreactor transportation PRA, use and development of risk evaluation criteria, and factors such of defense-in-depth and safety margin concepts. Key advantages of using the approach are (1) increasing the likelihood of successfully obtaining regulatory transportation package approval, (2) informing the design on the relative risk significance of microreactor containment and shielding, and (3) informing the need for transportation compensatory measures. This paper focuses on two primary elements of the framework which are development of a transportation PRA for microreactor packages and development of the risk acceptance guidelines to assess the results of the PRA for regulatory decision-making.

Published: January 31, 2023


Coles G.A., S.M. Short, S.J. Maheras, and H.E. Adkins. 2022. Risk-Informed Approach for Regulatory Approval of Microreactor Transport. In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (PSAM 2022), June 26-July 1, 2022, Honolulu, HI. Los Angeles, California:International Association for Probablistic Safety Assessment and Management. PNNL-SA-172477.

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