42 USC 16271: Nuclear energy
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42 USC 16271: Nuclear energy Text contains those laws in effect on July 22, 2024

§16271. Nuclear energy

(a) Mission

(1) In general

The Secretary shall carry out programs of civilian nuclear research, development, demonstration, and commercial application, including activities under this part.

(2) Considerations

The programs carried out under paragraph (1) shall take into consideration the following objectives:

(A) Providing research infrastructure to promote scientific progress and enable users from academia, the National Laboratories, and the private sector to make scientific discoveries relevant for nuclear, chemical, and materials science engineering.

(B) Maintaining nuclear energy research and development programs at the National Laboratories and institutions of higher education, including infrastructure at the National Laboratories and institutions of higher education.

(C) Providing the technical means to reduce the likelihood of nuclear proliferation.

(D) Increasing confidence margins for public safety of nuclear energy systems.

(E) Reducing the environmental impact of activities relating to nuclear energy.

(F) Supporting technology transfer from the National Laboratories to the private sector.

(G) Enabling the private sector to partner with the National Laboratories to demonstrate novel reactor concepts for the purpose of resolving technical uncertainty associated with the objectives described in subparagraphs (A) through (F).

(b) Definitions

In this part:

(1) Advanced nuclear reactor

The term "advanced nuclear reactor" means-

(A) a nuclear fission reactor, including a prototype plant (as defined in sections 50.2 and 52.1 of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations)), with significant improvements compared to reactors operating on December 27, 2020, including improvements such as-

(i) additional inherent safety features;

(ii) lower waste yields;

(iii) improved fuel and material performance;

(iv) increased tolerance to loss of fuel cooling;

(v) enhanced reliability or improved resilience;

(vi) increased proliferation resistance;

(vii) increased thermal efficiency;

(viii) reduced consumption of cooling water and other environmental impacts;

(ix) the ability to integrate into electric applications and nonelectric applications;

(x) modular sizes to allow for deployment that corresponds with the demand for electricity or process heat; and

(xi) operational flexibility to respond to changes in demand for electricity or process heat and to complement integration with intermittent renewable energy or energy storage;

(B) a fusion reactor; and

(C) a radioisotope power system that utilizes heat from radioactive decay to generate energy.

(2) Commission

The term "Commission" means the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

(3) Fast neutron

The term "fast neutron" means a neutron with kinetic energy above 100 kiloelectron volts.

(4) National Laboratory

(A) In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the term "National Laboratory" has the meaning given the term in section 15801 of this title.

(B) Limitation

With respect to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratories, the term "National Laboratory" means only the civilian activities of the laboratory.

(5) Neutron flux

The term "neutron flux" means the intensity of neutron radiation measured as a rate of flow of neutrons applied over an area.

(6) Neutron source

The term "neutron source" means a research machine that provides neutron irradiation services for-

(A) research on materials sciences and nuclear physics; and

(B) testing of advanced materials, nuclear fuels, and other related components for reactor systems.

( Pub. L. 109–58, title IX, §951, Aug. 8, 2005, 119 Stat. 884 ; Pub. L. 115–248, §2(a), Sept. 28, 2018, 132 Stat. 3154 ; Pub. L. 116–260, div. Z, title II, §2002, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 2459 ; Pub. L. 117–58, div. D, title X, §41002(b)(1), Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 1127 .)

Editorial Notes


2021-Subsec. (b)(1)(C). Pub. L. 117–58 added subpar. (C).

2020-Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 116–260 amended par. (1) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (1) defined the term "advanced nuclear reactor".

2018-Pub. L. 115–248 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to civilian nuclear energy research programs and authorizations of appropriations to carry out such programs.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Wage Rate Requirements

For provisions relating to rates of wages to be paid to laborers and mechanics on projects for construction, alteration, or repair work funded under div. D or an amendment by div. D of Pub. L. 117–58, including authority of Secretary of Labor, see section 18851 of this title.