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NRC tries out online public hearing

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is experimenting with online public hearings using its Web site coupled with a videoconferencing system located in six U.S. towns and cities.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is heading online. The commission has begun an experiment to hold a public meeting online. Recently, the group linked its Web site with a videoconferencing system.

The meeting was part of a new push by the NRC, called the RuleNet project, to establish two-way communication with the public and to test the usefulness of computer-based communications as a tool in its rule-making process.

Commission officials said they plan to use public input collected via the RuleNet site to draft a new fire protection rule, and that they hope to have more online meetings. The decision to experiment further, said officials, will be based on the level of public participation on the RuleNet site.