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Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Regulators' Forum

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are advanced reactors that produce electricity of up to 300 MW(e) per module, which is less than current power generation reactors. Many SMRs can be made in factories and transported by truck or rail.

The establishment of regulatory controls for this relatively new type of reactor requires focused and consistent attention. The SMR Regulators’ Forum, created in March 2015, provides enabling discussions among Member States and other stakeholders to share SMR regulatory knowledge and experience.

The Forum enhances nuclear safety by identifying and resolving common safety issues that may challenge regulatory reviews associated with SMRs and by facilitating robust and thorough regulatory decisions.

The Forum's work is expected to result in:

  • Positions statements on regulatory issues;
  • Suggestions for revisions to or new IAEA documents;
  • Information to help regulators enhance regulatory frameworks;
  • Reports on regulatory challenges with discussion on paths forward; and
  • Suggestions for changes to international codes and standards.

The Forum was initially created as a pilot project that was conducted from March 2015 to May 2017. That project studied how emergency planning zones and the principles of graded approach and defence-in-depth should be applied to SMRs.

The pilot project resulted in several reports:

Upon successful completion of the Pilot Project Report, in November 2017 the Forum continued to a Phase 2 and developed new working groups in the areas of Licensing Issues, Design and Safety Analysis, and Manufacturing, Commissioning and Operations. Below are the specific topics covered by these working groups.

The Licensing Issues Working Group:

  • Key Regulatory Interventions during a Small Modular Reactor Lifecycle
  • Potential issues related to the licensing process for a First of a Kind vs Nth of a Kind design
  • Licensing of new build projects with multiple module/unit facilities

The Design and Safety Analysis Working Group:

  • Multi-unit/Multi-module aspects specific to SMRs
  • Considerations in the use of passive and inherent safety features in SMR designs
  • Aspects of beyond design basis analysis relevant to SMRs

The Manufacturing, Commissioning and Operations Working Group:

  • Manufacturability, supply chain management and commissioning of SMRs
  • Collection and Use of Experience in the Lifecycle of Small Modular Reactor facilities
  • Conduct of Maintenance in an SMR
  • Conduct of Co-activities and Combined Activities on a Multiple Unit Small Modular Reactor Facility Site

The Reports from Phase 2 can be found below:

In November of 2020, the Forum’s Steering Committee selected the topics of work for Phase 3 that was initiated in 2021 with the same three working groups used in Phase 2.  The final reports for Phase 3 will be made available when they are published in early 2024.

In August 2022, the Forum officially joined the IAEA Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative (NHSI) to lead the NHSI-RT-WG3: Process for leveraging other regulatory bodies’ reviews. The Forum’s Licensing Issues Working Group serves as the main organizational modality for the NHSI-RT-WG3, with its focus, membership and schedule adjusted accordingly.

In April 2023, the Forum’s Steering Committee selected new topics of work for Phase 4 to be initiated in 2024.

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