United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Fitness For Duty Rule

HPPOS-216 PDR-9111220013

See the memorandum from L. J. Cunningham to R. R. Bellamy (and others) dated December 7, 1989.

The intent of 10 CFR 26.24 (a) (3), which requires drug testing "immediately ... after accidents in individual performance resulting ... in a radiation exposure or release ....," is not for minor releases. NRC will use reasonable interpretation of regulation to judge license action.

In November of 1988, the NRC published a proposed rule concerning the issue of Fitness for Duty (10 CFR Part 26). Paragraph 26.24 (a) (3) of this proposed rule lists instances that require drug testing "for cause." In part, this paragraph requires drug testing "immediately ... after accidents involving a failure in individual performance resulting ... in a radiation exposure or release of radioactivity in excess of regulatory limits." A strict reading of this criteria provides a very low threshold since even a minute amount or activity in a solid form, inadvertently released from site would be in excess of regulatory limits. NRC received several questions from the regions about the impact of Part 26 on the inspection program.

NUREG-1385 was issued to respond to several industry questions regarding the implementation of Part 26. Response No. 4.4 in the NUREG report, addressed testing for cause, and states that "the NRC will use reasonable interpretation of 10 CFR Part 26 to determine if the licensee acted prudently." During a seminar on Part 26 implementation, one of the rules authors verified that the reference to release of radioactivity refers to plant effluents and was not intended to apply to inadvertent releases of minor amounts of solid waste. It was also stated that once Part 26 is finalized, a Temporary Instruction will be issued and Team Inspections will be conducted to ensure proper licensee compliance. As part of this effort, inspection teams will be given appropriate training to ensure consistency of review.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 26.24

Subject codes: 1.1, 12.14

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, June 25, 2015