United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Safety Significance and Discussion About Important Matters

HPPOS-125 PDR-9111210295

See the memorandum from V. Stello, Jr. to all IE Technical Personnel dated October 1, 1980. This memo defines IE policy in two important matters. First, the consideration of safety significance always precedes noncompliance in evaluating any concern, and second, inspectors are expected to communicate promptly to their supervisors all concerns involving public safety and national security.

The first IE policy statement asserts that the consideration of safety significance always precedes noncompliance in evaluating any concern. During an inspection, an NRC inspector apparently became diverted from the safety significance of control room operators sleeping while on duty by his belief that noncompliance could not be substantiated using his word against that of the operators. The inspector should have concluded that a sleeping control room operator is a matter of safety significance and then promptly and firmly followed this through up to the plant superintendent. The inspector was mistaken about the requirement for verification by someone else of his observation. In precedent cases, it has been established that when it comes down to an inspector's word against the word of the licensee or its employee, the inspector's word will be accepted, all other things being equal.

The second IE policy statement asserts that inspectors are expected to communicate promptly to their supervision all concerns involving public safety and national security. This policy is complementary to the first and serves as a backup line of defense to minimize the chance of either under-reacting or overreacting to safety issues. Failure of inspectors to notify management is contrary to the above policies and severely hampers NRC's ability to respond to safety issues and public concerns.

Regulatory references: None

Subject codes: 12.18, 12.19

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 12, 2015