Fuel Cycle Facilities Oversight
The safety oversight program that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) administers for major fuel cycle facilities includes inspections focused on reviews of safety, safeguards, and environmental protection. This program applies to gaseous diffusion plants, highly enriched uranium fuel fabrication facilities, low-enriched uranium fuel fabrication facilities, and uranium hexafluoride production facilities. The NRC has a separate program for Oversight of Licensed Uranium Recovery Operations. For more information on fuel cycle facilities oversight, please see the following topics on this page:
- How the NRC Conducts its Oversight Program
- Enhancing the Fuel Cycle Oversight Process
- Results of Oversight Program
How the NRC Conducts its Oversight Program
Fuel cycle facility inspections focus on the areas that are most important to safety and safeguards, using approved inspection procedures. Inspections at fuel cycle facilities occur several times a year and typically cover activities such as nuclear criticality control, chemical process, emergency preparedness, fire safety, and radiation safety. Resident inspectors are assigned to operating Category I Fuel Facilities and Gaseous Diffusion Plants and perform daily inspections at those sites. The NRC has two full-time resident inspectors at several fuel cycle sites. Periodic specialized inspections are conducted using personnel from NRC headquarters in Maryland and the Region II office in Atlanta, Georgia. The NRC Inspection Manual provides guidance for inspectors on the objectives for each type of inspection and procedures to be used. For more information, see NRC Inspection Manual, Chapter 2600.
The inspection program for fuel cycle facilities is being revised to accommodate the use of risk insights to focus the NRC inspection process on matters that are most important to safety and safeguards.
Enhancing the Fuel Cycle Oversight Process
The NRC is undertaking a long-term effort to enhance its oversight process by developing a structured regulatory framework, referred to as the Revised Fuel Cycle Oversight Process (RFCOP). The RFCOP will attempt to make the oversight of fuel cycle facilities more objective, transparent, predictable, efficient, and risk-informed. The NRC staff plans to engage a diverse set of external stakeholders throughout the process and consider both formal and informal comments to the extent practical. For more information regarding public involvement, documents for comment, and communication with the Commission, see Revised Fuel Cycle Oversight Process.
Results of Oversight Program
The results of the fuel cycle facility oversight program are documented in inspection reports and licensee performance review (LPR) letters. Information about the performance of fuel cycle facilities (i.e. inspection reports and LPR letters) are available to the public in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS). You can locate fuel cycle facility inspection reports and LPR Letters by searching with a licensee's name or docket number. For more information about the LPR, see NRC Inspection Manual, Chapter 2604.
As part of our oversight process, NRC issues sanctions called enforcement actions to licensees who violate our regulations. These sanctions, may include notices of violation, monetary fines, or orders to modify, suspend, or revoke a license or require specific actions because of a public health issue. See our Enforcement page for more information.