Going Nuclear – Laws, Regulations & Organizations


Watching events unfold at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant over the past week have reminded me how little I really know about how nuclear power is regulated.  While reading about and listening to commentary on the crisis has better acquainted me with the work and analysis of U.S. and international organizations that oversee and promote the operation of this technology, I still thought it might be useful for those of you who are interested, like me, in learning more on the issues to prepare a compilation of information and resources related to nuclear power laws, regulations and organizations.

United States

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) – Established in 1974, the USNRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements.

Key U.S. Laws Governing the USNRC – Includes brief summaries of the laws and regulations.

Nuclear Regulatory Legislation – A January, 2011 report prepared by the Office of the General Counsel of the USNRC. Includes a compilation of statutes and materials pertaining to nuclear regulatory policy legislation through the 111th Congress, 2nd Session. (Note: the Report is 500+ pages long.)

A Short History of Nuclear Regulation, 1946 – 1999

Bios of the five Commission members of the USNRC

Map of Nuclear Power Reactors in the United States

United States Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy

United States Department of State, Office of Nuclear Energy Safety and Security – Among other charges, the Office’s role is to develop U.S. policy related to nuclear safety and the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities. The Office provides technical advice and recommendations on sensitive fuel cycle developments, in particular with regard to U.S. policy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and advises U.S. delegations to the IAEA and other international bodies on nuclear energy issues, including leading efforts to strengthen the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and the Waste Management Convention.

C-SPAN – Japan Nuclear Plant Crisis

MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Blog – Information about the incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants in Japan maintained by the students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) – UCS staff monitor and work to improve the safety and security provisions at existing nuclear power plants and the performance of the industry’s oversight body – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) – Operators of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) – Responsible for the safety of nuclear energy in Japan. NISA has also issued threat assessments on the severity of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, now determined to be a Level 5 based on the seven level scale established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Created in 1957, the IAEA is an independent international organization related to the United Nations system and reports annually to the UN General Assembly and, when appropriate, to the Security Council regarding non-compliance by States with their safeguards obligations as well as on matters relating to international peace and security.

IAEA – States’ Participation in Major Nuclear Agreements –  Helpful chart outlining signatories and parties to major nuclear agreements.

Statute of the IAEA, with Amendments

IAEA – Texts of the IAEA’s agreements with the United Nations

Bio of the IAEA’s Director General, Yukiya Amano
Worldwide List of Nuclear Reactors – The list includes plants that are under construction, fully operational and off-line or dismantled . Note source is Wikipedia and may need more authentication.