NRC restores Web docs

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials have restored various documents to the agency's Web site a week after they removed documents that were deemed a threat to national security.

NRC officials took down the Agency Document Access and Management System (ADAMS) Oct. 25 after several media organizations alerted officials that some documents contained floor plans and locations of nuclear materials. NRC's policy is to remove any documents that could possibly be used by terrorists. Officials decided to take ADAMS off-line to conduct a comprehensive security review and then restore documents in phases.

"Last week's initial restoration of documents was a sign of the agency's commitment to remain as open and transparent as possible in our regulatory functions," said agency spokesman David McIntyre in an e-mail message. "We are making good progress and expect to complete the initial review on schedule. We will issue further updates to keep the public informed as major sections of the online library are restored."

According to a press release, restoration of documents dealing with nuclear materials is expected to take longer. But NRC officials expect to restore the following documents in the next several weeks, based on priorities and feasibility, with large portions of information online:

  • Additional hearing-related documents that are non-high-level waste.
  • Time-sensitive documents related to opportunities for hearings or needed for public reviews and comments, including license amendment applications.
  • Other nuclear reactor documents and information not related to specific facilities.

Although most documents removed were located on ADAMS, many other documents, such as access to the majority of rulemaking documents, have remained accessible to the public and were not affected by the shutdown, according to agency officials.

NRC officials restored references last week to the staff's document collection in their electronic Licensing Support Network (www.lsnnet.gov) for a possible application for a high-level waste repository. High-level waste documents on the electronic hearing docket — located at www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ehd.html#2 — have also been restored for public access.

Several watchdog groups have criticized NRC for taking ADAMS completely off-line while officials scrubbed the site of sensitive documents. They support NRC officials' decision to remove some documents that could pose a risk but said completely taking down the site was a public disservice.

They also said that some mechanism should be in place to ensure that the public knows of the existence of sensitive documents that are shielded from view. Some also said they didn't think NRC officials could do such a comprehensive review within a matter of weeks.

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