Public Involvement in Enforcement
Public involvement and information about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's activities is a cornerstone of strong, fair regulation of the nuclear industry. The NRC recognizes the public's interest in the proper regulation of nuclear activities and provides opportunities for citizens to make their opinions known. This page describes the various ways the public may get involved in the NRC's enforcement program.
On this page:
- Status of OE-lead Agency Initiatives
- Meetings and Workshops
- Attending Predecisional Enforcement and Regulatory Conferences
- Hearing Opportunities in Enforcement Proceedings
- Reporting Safety or Security Concerns
- Petitions for Enforcement Action (2.206 Petitions)
NOTE: Please be aware that any comments that you submit to the NRC will be considered a public record and entered into the agency's electronic record keeping system.
Commenting on the Enforcement Policy or Program
Status of OE-lead Agency Initiatives
Issuance of Revised Enforcement Policy
Public Involvement in the Revised Enforcement Policy
On January 25, 2007, the NRC published (72 FR 3429) a notice announcing that it was undertaking a major revision of its Enforcement Policy. The purpose of the revision was to clarify the use of terms, remove outdated information, and to address enforcement topics in areas that the previous Policy did not directly address.
On September 15, 2008, the NRC published (73 FR 53286) a notice of availability of draft and request for comments on a proposed major revision to the Enforcement Policy. On October 16, 2008, the NRC published (73 FR 61442) a correction to the September 15th notice. The public comment period for the proposed revised Enforcement Policy ended on November 14, 2008. The 2008 draft Policy is located at NRC's Electronic Reading Room (i.e., ADAMS Accession Number ML082520457.)
During the 2008 comment period the NRC staff received from external stakeholders a wide range of comments on the proposed revised Policy. The staff subsequently spent considerable time reviewing the comments and, consequently, incorporated numerous changes throughout the proposed revised Policy (e.g., a section was added on Responsibilities, a more detailed discussion on Predecisional Enforcement Conferences was included, and the extensive discussion of the Civil Penalty Assessment Process located in the previous Policy was reinserted.) A summary of the comments received from external stakeholders and NRC responses to those comments is available in ADAMS at ML091830260.
Based, in part, on comments received from external stakeholders during the 2008 comment period, the NRC decided to continue the practice of providing violation examples (formally called supplements) only in the Enforcement Policy rather than having violation examples in both the Policy and in the NRC Enforcement Manual as was originally contemplated when the Policy revision project was initiated.
On June 8, 2009, the NRC published (74 FR 27191) a notice of availability of draft and request for comments on Section 6.0, Violation Examples, of the proposed revised Enforcement Policy. The June 8, 2009, revised violation examples are available in ADAMS at ML091520156. The public comments on the revised violation examples and NRC responses to those comments are available in ADAMS at ML092650309.
In August 2009 the staff made publicly available a preliminary final draft of the proposed revised Policy (ML092240160.) This preliminary final draft reflected changes the staff had made to the proposed revised Policy as a result of comments received during the 2008 public comment period. (Note: In August 2009 the staff was still evaluating comments on the violation examples received during the June 2009 public comment period; therefore, the violation examples contained in the August 2009 preliminary final draft were those that had been made publicly available for comment in 2008.) The August 2009 preliminary final draft was made available to the public for informational purposes only (i.e., the staff did not solicit additional comments on the proposed revised Enforcement Policy.) The staff reiterated that this was a preliminary final draft document and, as such, anticipated that more edits would be made before the proposed revised Policy would be provided to the Commission for approval later in 2009.
In November 2009 the staff made publicly available the most recent draft (at that time) of the proposed revised Enforcement Policy (ML093430119.) The November draft reflected changes the staff had made to the proposed revised Policy as a result of comments received on the revised violation examples as well as other edits made since the August 2009 draft. The staff made the November 2009 draft available to the public for informational purposes only and did not solicit additional comments.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The enforcement Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process pilot program concluded. The results of the pilot indicated that the use of ADR in certain kinds of enforcement cases was generally successful. Based on the results of the pilot, improvements were made to the ADR process and the agency will continue to use this process for certain kinds of enforcement cases.
Enforcement Actions Involving Individuals/Discrimination Task Group (DTG)
During CY 2006, no changes were made to Section VIII of the Enforcement Policy which addresses enforcement actions against individuals. The most recent revision was proposed by an internal NRC working group chaired by OE to evaluate and propose recommendations to this section of the Enforcement Policy. The proposed revision was published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2001, and sought stakeholder feedback on the proposed revision.
The NRC received comments from several stakeholders including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The staff evaluated these comments; however, since the Discrimination Task Group (DTG) was considering a related question, namely whether hearing rights should be granted to individuals who receive NOVs, revision to Section VIII was placed on hold pending issuance of the DTG Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM). Issued on March 26, 2003, the DTG SRM provided the staff with the Commission's direction to "fully explore the policy and resource implications of providing hearing rights (either formal or informal) to individuals subject to an NOV in connection with violations of the employee protection regulations."
During the ADR pilot program, the staff engaged in mediation with individuals as well as licensees. Although it was a challenge to coordinate and honor confidentiality issues, the staff, as well as some external stakeholders, believed that ADR offered an opportunity to resolve these matters in a positive manner. The ADR pilot program offered individuals creative actions meeting the agency's interest in deterrence and compliance. In addition, the staff allowed individuals to gain their employer's agreement to certain actions prior to finalizing a settlement agreement. Consequently, the staff concluded in SECY-06-0102, that offering ADR to individuals accused of wrongdoing provides the alternative process for individuals the Commission directed the staff to continue considering in the DTG SRM.
The Enforcement Policy will be revised to incorporate the use of ADR for individuals subject to an NOV in connection with violations of the employee protection regulations.
Meetings and Workshops
From time to time, the NRC conducts meetings or workshops to address specific enforcement issues. These meetings may be conducted in the Washington, D.C. area or in the areas around the NRC's four regional offices. In some cases, meetings may be held in the community near a nuclear power plant or other facility to make it easier for the public to participate. Meetings and workshops will be listed here as well as on our Public Meeting Schedule page.
Meeting Notice and Agenda
[No meeting is currently scheduled]
[No workshop is currently scheduled]
Attending Predecisional Enforcement and Regulatory Conferences
Predecisional enforcement conferences are often held with a licensee, a vendor, or other person before the NRC makes its final decision on a significant enforcement action. Regulatory Conferences are conducted (in lieu of predecisional enforcement conferences) when apparent violations are associated with findings evaluated by the reactor oversight process's Significance Determination Process. In most cases, these conferences are open to public observation. See our page on Upcoming Conferences.
Hearing Opportunities in Enforcement Proceedings
The NRC provides opportunities for members of the public to request hearings in enforcement proceedings. See Hearing Opportunities and License Applications for current information on opportunities to request a hearing in major enforcement proceedings.
Reporting Safety or Security Concerns
Often workers at nuclear power plants or members of the public raise concerns that safety rules are not being followed at the facilities where they work or near where they live. The NRC has established a formal process for reviewing and resolving these concerns.
The NRC encourages workers in the nuclear industry to take their concerns directly to their employer because he or she has the primary responsibility for maintaining safe operations. However, should employees not be satisfied by company response or choose to bring their safety concerns directly to the NRC, they may Report a Safety or Security Concern through NRC's toll-free safety hotline. Any member of the public may voice safety concerns in this same manner. Learn more by visiting our Allegations page or consulting our brochure "Reporting Safety Concerns."
Petitions for Enforcement Action Under 10 CFR 2.206
In accordance with Part 2.206 of NRC's regulations, any member of the public may raise potential health and safety issues in a petition to the NRC requesting that the NRC take specific enforcement action regarding a licensed, operating facility. To learn more about this process, see our detailed instructions: Petition the NRC To Take an Enforcement Action.