United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Inspector Access to Facilities

HPPOS-164 PDR-9111220176

Title: Inspector Access to Facilities

See the memorandum from Dudley Thompson to C. M. Upright

and C. E. Norelius dated May 13, 1980. It is an OELD

opinion that nonresident inspectors could be required to

have an escort for access to vital, radiation, and

contamination areas. In other areas, inspectors must be

given immediate unescorted access. 10 CFR 14 covers claims

for damages by any NRC employee while acting with the scope

of his office or employment.

In an enclosed letter from Wisconsin Electric Power Company

dated October 22, 1979, it is stated: "Recently a Region

III inspector questioned the Point Beach Nuclear Plant

procedures related to the requirements of 10 CFR 50.70 (b)

(3). This section specifies:

(3) The licensee or construction permit holder shall

afford any NRC resident inspector assigned to that site, or

other NRC inspectors identified by the Regional Director as

likely to inspect the facility, immediate unfettered

access, equivalent to access provided regular plant

employees, following proper identification and compliance

with applicable access control measures for security,

radiological protection, and personal safety."

"Wisconsin Electric intends to meet the requirements of the

regulation by providing access to authorized inspectors to

all areas of the plant where plant or inspector safety are

not compromised and to allow inspector access to any plant

employees for discussions related to carrying out the

inspector's duties. The new regulation differs from the

proposed regulation in that it demands "unfettered" access

and deletes the sentence which provided for establishing

the purpose and scope of the inspection so that planning

can be done to facilitate an efficient inspection. No

public comment was requested with respect to this matter.

We are, of course, determined to cooperate with your

inspection program consistent with assuring plant safety

and the safety of all visitor to the plant, including NRC

inspectors. Accordingly, we plan to implement this

regulation by furnishing an escort for your inspectors

following an entrance meeting."

"We believe that the NRC does not indemnify the utility or

the public against any damage which might involve the

actions of the inspector; therefore, we believe it

necessary to provide an escort unless the inspector is so

familiar with the plant, and the plant personnel with the

inspector, that we determine such escort requirements can

be waived. If unannounced inspections take place outside

normal working hours, it may be necessary to call in an

escort if the inspector desires access to plant areas

outside the normal work stations of on-duty personnel. We

do not believe that the minor delay which might be involved

under such circumstances is in conflict with the

regulations in view of the safety and security

considerations already discussed. If the inspection is

announced in advance, we would plan to have an escort

available without delay."

Because of concerns by NRC Region III and other regional

offices, OELD has provided guidance on 10 CFR 50.70,

specifically those sections dealing with "immediate

unfettered access" and "liability for damages." 10 CFR

50.70 (b) (3) requires a licensee or construction permit

holder to afford an NRC inspector "immediate unfettered

access, equivalent to access provided regular plant

employees" (emphasis supplied). If the licensee requires a

training program of reasonable duration, or the presence of

an escort during a reasonable site familiarization phase

for regular plant employees, the inspector would be

required by the current regulation to have such training

and escort. It seems clear that once an inspector is

familiar with a site, upon properly identifying himself at

the gate, he should be allowed immediate unescorted access

to the facility. However, it is also clear that a

nonresident inspector could be required to have an escort

to gain access to vital areas, radiation areas, or

contaminated areas. But assuming an inspector does not

intend to enter the prohibited areas without an escort, any

delay caused by the licensee at the gate, in excess of that

borne by regular employees, is a violation of Commission


As far as inspector liability is concerned, Part 14 of the

Commission's regulations provides detailed procedures for

filing a claim for any damages "caused by the negligent or

wrongful act or omission of any employee of the NRC while

acting within the scope of his office or employment" (10

CFR 14.1).

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 14.1, 10 CFR 50.70

Subject codes: 1.2, 12.18

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012