Mossman called to join nuclear panel

<p>Kenneth Mossman, an ASU professor of health physics and an international expert in radiation health and safety, has been named to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The panel is an independent, trial-level adjudicatory body of the NRC.</p><separator></separator><p>The panel, acting on behalf of the NRC, conducts hearings and makes decisions with respect to granting, suspending, revoking, or amending licenses authorized by the Atomic Energy Act., The panel hears cases on licensing and enforcement regarding nuclear reactors and civilian use of nuclear materials in the United States. It considers issues concerning the operation of the nation’s more than 100 nuclear power plants and programs related to about 5,000 nuclear materials licenses.</p><separator></separator><p>In recent years, the panel’s hearings have shifted to focus on license extensions, site decontamination, enforcement actions, reactor and materials license amendments, and spent fuel storage.</p><separator></separator><p>“Nuclear industry activities generate some of the most challenging questions that face the government,” Mossman says. “The questions raised are highly technical, and they pertain to engineering, nuclear materials, the environment, infrastructure, public health and safety, and security.”</p><separator></separator><p>Mossman said the panel’s work is in a formal court setting, sifting through legal suits about nuclear reactor operations, the use of nuclear materials or the disposal of nuclear wastes. Drawing on a pool of 20 to 30 judges located across the United States, the ASLBP assembles three judge panels for each case that comes before it. Typically, panels comprise one legal judge and two technical judges.</p><separator></separator><p>Panelists are chosen based on the content of cases and the technical issues in question. Each judge has one independent vote, and court decisions can be appealed through the federal circuit court where the suit originated. For example, Arizona would have jurisdiction over a suit concerning the Palo Verde nuclear plant.</p><separator></separator><p>The panel is likely to see a significant increase in activity in the next 18 to 24 months, as nuclear utilities submit license applications for new nuclear plants, Mossman says. Another area the panel will deal with is the suitability of Yucca Mountain, Nev., as a site for a high-level waste repository. Yucca Mountain is the U.S. government’s proposed site for the long-term storage of the U.S. nuclear reactor wastes. It is proposed to be the site where nuclear wastes from all over the United States will be stored for periods up to thousands of years, raising many scientific, engineering and social concerns.</p><separator></separator><p>“There are groups that are very concerned about Yucca Mountain,” Mossman says. “They are concerned about the geology of the site and about the storage of wastes at this site for very long periods of time. There also are concerns about the safe transportation of wastes to Yucca Mountain. This panel will help sort through these issues and see which concerns have legal merit.”</p><separator></separator><p>Mossman has published widely in topics such as biological effects of low- and high-dose X-ray, gamma and neutron radiation; radiation exposure during pregnancy; the health effects of radon; and radiation protection and public policy. His research includes nuclear regulatory science and policy and managing small risks, as well as risk perception and risk communication.</p>