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Frequently Asked Questions About the Reactor Construction Inspection Program

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How is the Construction Inspection Program (CIP) structured?

The CIP is an integral part of the NRC's Construction Reactor Oversight Process and supports the goals and objectives of that process. The objectives of the CIP are to determine whether or not appropriate quality controls are implemented in the development of applications that will be or have been submitted to the NRC; and to provide reasonable assurance that the facility has been constructed and will be operated in conformity with the license, the provisions of the Act, and the Commission's rules and regulations.

The CIP has four phases. The first and second phases support a licensing decision for an early site permit (ESP) and the combined construction and operating license (COL) application. Inspections will initially be conducted to verify effective implementation of the quality assurance (QA) program, as described in the application for an ESP and/or COL, to provide reasonable assurance of the integrity and reliability of the ESP and/or COL data or analyses that would affect the performance of safety-related systems, structures, and components (SSCs). The third and fourth phases support construction activities and the preparations for operation. Prior to and during plant construction, inspections will be conducted to review vendor activities and licensee oversight of these activities. During plant construction, inspections will be conducted to verify satisfactory completion of inspections, tests, analyses, and acceptance criteria (ITAAC), adequate development and implementation of construction and operational programs, and to review the transition to power operations.

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What are the objectives of the construction baseline inspection program?

The overall objectives of the baseline inspection program are (1) to provide a sufficient basis to support the Commission determination, in accordance with 10 CFR 52.103(g), that the acceptance criteria in a combined license have been met; and (2) to develop confidence in the licensee's programmatic controls. To meet the first objective, the baseline program is designed to provide confidence that licensee ITAAC completion and verification processes are effective and provide reasonable assurance that licensee ITAAC completion notifications are sufficient and accurate. To meet the second objective, the baseline program confirms an adequate level of quality in construction products and verifies that operational programs are consistent with the FSAR.

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Who inspects a nuclear power plant that is under construction pursuant to 10 CFR Part 52?

Prior to and during plant construction, NRC staff lead inspections that are conducted to review vendor activities and licensee oversight of these activities.

The core of the CIP is carried out by construction resident (on-site) inspectors (CRIs) assigned to the site by Region II. The number of CRIs at a site will be dependent on the projected workload at the site. The CRIs will be supplemented with additional personnel from Region II, other regional offices, and Headquarters technical staff, as needed, to provide reasonable assurance that the as-built facility conforms to the conditions of the COL. NRC resources are carefully managed to ensure that construction inspection activities do not in any way detract from the ongoing oversight of operating reactors.

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How often does NRC inspect a nuclear power plant that is under construction pursuant to 10 CFR Part 52?

Continuously, CRIs monitor licensee activities in accordance with the baseline inspection program.

Periodically, regional inspection specialists and NRO technical staff conduct inspections of plant that are under construction.

Semiannually, Region II formulates a schedule of specialist inspections for assessing plant construction for the six months. They factor into their schedule plant performance for the previous six months so that inspection resources are focused in areas with declining performance.

As needed, the regional inspectors conduct special (supplemental) inspections of those plants that exceeded established thresholds during routine inspections and, therefore, require heightened agency scrutiny. The NRC also conducts event response inspections as needed.

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How does NRC record its findings from each inspection?

Issues identified during inspections at facilities being constructed pursuant to 10 CFR Part 52 will be documented in accordance with the guidance and requirements in IMC 0613, "Power Reactor Construction Inspection Reports."

Issues identified during vendor inspections and quality assurance (QA) implementation inspections will be documented in accordance with the guidance and requirements in IMC 0617, "Vendor and Quality Assurance Implementation Inspection Reports."

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How does NRC use inspection findings in its oversight of nuclear power plants that are under construction?

The purpose of reporting the results of NRC construction inspections is to document the scope of inspections and any findings in support of the assessment process. The number and significance of the findings are used to determine the agency's response.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, September 05, 2013