Detailed cROP Description
The following information is a detailed description of the Construction Reactor Oversight Process.
On this page:
- Overall Description
- Organizational Structure
- Construction Inspection Program
- Roles and Responsibilities
- ITAAC Closeout Process, ITAAC Maintenance and Required Notifications
- Assessing Construction Performance
- NRC Response to Construction Performance
- Corrective Action Program Effectiveness Reviews
In the cROP, the staff implements the construction inspection program (CIP). Inspection findings are evaluated for significance and enforcement actions are considered, as appropriate. Inspection findings are also considered during the ITAAC closure verification process. The resulting information is then assessed and an appropriate NRC response is determined using the guidelines in the construction action matrix. NRC then uses various communication avenues to inform stakeholders of its regulatory decisions and actions. A diagram of the Construction Reactor Oversight Process has been provided to illustrate this process.
On February 26, 2006, in SECY-06-0041, the staff proposed strategies to support implementation of the new reactor construction inspection program. On April 21, 2006, the Commission approved the formation of a dedicated organization for new reactor construction inspection in the Region II Office in Atlanta, Georgia. The Commission stated that this organization will have total responsibility for all construction inspection activities across the country, including both the day-to-day onsite inspections and the specialized inspection resources needed to support NRC oversight of the construction of any new nuclear power plants. This approach is intended to ensure consistency in implementing the new inspection program and quickly incorporate ongoing lessons learned into the entire program.
On July 21, 2006, the Commission approved the staff's recommendation as described in SECY-06-0144 to reorganize the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation into two offices: the Office of New Reactors (NRO) with responsibility and authority for new reactor licensing and the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) with responsibility for operating reactor licensing. The Commission also approved the staff's recommendation to create a Deputy Regional Administrator for Construction in Region II.
Construction Inspection Program (CIP)
The CIP is an integral part of the NRC's Construction Reactor Oversight Process (cROP) 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 permit 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.
The construction inspection program includes baseline inspections common to all nuclear plants under construction pursuant to 10 CFR Part 52. 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 Part 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.
The inspection program will also review the cross-cutting issues that have been identified during the implementation of the construction inspection program. Inspections beyond the baseline will be performed at plants with performance below established thresholds, as assessed through information gained from NRC inspections. Additional inspections may also be performed in response to a specific event or problem which may arise at a plant.
The baseline inspection program delineates specific inspection activities to evaluate aspects of licensee programs and processes and their implementation by identifying findings that are indicative of licensee performance problems. Inspection findings from the baseline program are evaluated for significance and used to assess licensee performance. The baseline inspections are not diagnostic assessments of licensee performance leading to a root cause determination. Those assessments and root cause determinations are intended to be reviewed or independently made during supplemental inspections that are outside the scope of the baseline inspection program. The baseline inspection program is risk informed. The risk informed approach means that inspectable areas were selected based partly on their significance from a risk perspective. Risk has been factored into the baseline inspection program primarily by the ranking of ITAAC. The baseline inspection program consists of inspections in the following areas:
- ITAAC-Related Work Inspections.
- Construction Program Inspections (including Pre-operational Testing Inspections).
- Operational Program Inspections.
Plants whose performance is outside the licensee response band in the Construction Action Matrix will receive plant specific supplemental inspections based on their assessed performance. The depth and breadth of specific supplemental inspections chosen for implementation will depend upon the significance of the identified issues and will be conducted pursuant to the inspection procedure specified in the construction action matrix.
In addition, the staff may conduct reactive inspections in response to non-performance events and issues that occur at the facility. Reactive Inspections include inspections required for allegation response and event follow-up.
The core of the CIP is carried out by construction resident (on-site) inspectors (CRIs) assigned to the site by Region II; at least two inspectors are assigned to each site once significant construction activities are underway. 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.
Inspection reports will be issued for all inspections in accordance with the guidance in IMC 0613, "Documenting 10 CFR Part 52 Construction Inspections." The reports will be available to the public on the List of Construction Inspection Reports page and from the Public Document Room at NRC headquarters.
Additional information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions About the Construction Inspection Program web page.
Roles and Responsibilities
Since the formation of the Region II construction inspection staff and NRO in late 2006, the staff has evaluated the roles and responsibilities for the inspections needed to support the successful implementation of the CIP. The "Responsibilities for Inspection Activities" table included below shows the inspections in the approximate order that they will occur, and identifies the organization assigned lead and support responsibility for each type of inspection. A combined effort by the Region II construction inspection staff, the headquarters Construction, Quality, and Vendor staff, the NRO technical staff, and host region staff will be needed to ensure adequate inspection of construction and construction-related activities. However, the scope of the inspection effort associated with each item will vary significantly.
Legend: L = Lead; S = Support
|Inspection Focus||Region II||NRO QVB
|QA program implementation used for development of an ESP application (IMC-2501)||S||L|
|Data collection, analysis and use of data in support of the ESP application (IMC-2501)||S||S||L|
|Geotechnical /foundation activity in support of an ESP (IMC-2501)||L||S||S|
|Procedures used for Geotechnical /foundation activity in support of a COL (IMC-2502)||S||L||S|
|Inspection of Applicant QA Programs related to COLA/LWA licensing review (IMC 2502)||S||L||S|
|Implementation of Architect /Engineer QA program including Engineering Design Verification (IMC-2502)||S||L||S|
|Inspection of Vendor Programs related to on-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2507)||S||L||S|
|Inspection of Vendor Programs related to off-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2507)||S||L||S|
|Inspection of Applicant QA Programs related to off-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2502)||L||S||S|
|Inspection of Applicant QA Programs related to on-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2502)||L||S||S|
|Inspection of Licensee Programs related to on-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2503)||L||S||S|
|Inspection of Licensee Programs related to off-site fabrication and testing of components and modules (IMC-2503)||L||S||S|
|The installation and testing of structures, systems, and components (IMC-2503)||L||S||S|
|Development and implementation of licensee operational programs (IMC-2504)||L||S||S||S|
|Design Acceptance Criteria Inspections (IMC-2503)||L||S|
ITAAC Closeout Process, ITAAC Maintenance and Required Notifications
For each ITAAC, in accordance with 10 CFR 52.99(c)(1), the licensee is required to notify the NRC that the prescribed inspections, tests, and analyses have been performed and that the prescribed acceptance criteria have been met. The notification must contain sufficient information to demonstrate that the prescribed inspections, tests, and analyses have been performed and that the prescribed acceptance criteria have been met. This notification is commonly referred to as an ITAAC Closeout Notification (ICN). These notifications facilitate the staff recommendation regarding the 10 CFR 52.103(g) finding on whether all of the acceptance criteria are met.
For each ICN, the NRC conducts an "acceptance review" to determine if the ICN has correct format and references based on the examples of ICNs developed by the NRC and industry. During the ICN review, the staff will review information related to the respective ITAAC, including NRC inspection results, in order to verify that the ITAAC should be closed. As part of the ITAAC closure strategy, the staff plans to ensure that a majority of ITAAC targeted for direct inspection have been inspected prior to closing other ITAAC in the same family that were not directly inspected.
The staff is required, at appropriate intervals during construction, to publish Federal Register notices of successful ITAAC completion. The periodic notices will not only inform the public that the licensee has completed the inspections, tests, and analyses in one or more ITAAC, but also that the staff has completed its review of the involved ITAAC and has found that the licensee successfully completed the ITAAC.
After all ITAAC have been completed, the Director of NRO, in consultation with the appropriate Regional Administrators, will inform the Commission that all ITAAC have been met. NRC inspection results, together with the information submitted by the licensee, will be the foundation of the staff's recommendation to the Commission in support of its finding on whether the acceptance criteria in the COL have been met.
Completion of ITAAC will be accomplished by the licensee over a prolonged period. For some ITAAC, this will mean significant time will elapse between the initial determination that an individual ITAAC is closed and the Commission finding, in accordance with 10 CFR 52.103(g), on whether all of the acceptance criteria are met. An important aspect of the 10 CFR 52.103(g) process is to confirm that the acceptance criteria continue to be met for ITAAC that were completed well before the Commission makes the 10 CFR 52.103(g) finding. The staff recognizes that in such cases, normal maintenance will be needed on SSCs with associated ITAAC or program elements, and such SSCs may also need repairs. The inspection program will confirm, on a sampling basis, that the surveillance and post-maintenance testing performed in this interim period are focused not only on technical specification operability and similar operational concerns, but also on maintaining the validity of ITAAC determinations.
Assessing Construction Performance
A construction assessment program for plants being constructed under the 10 CFR Part 52 licensing process was developed by NRO through interactions with its stakeholders. Details regarding implementation of the construction assessment program are contained in IMC 2505, "Periodic Assessment of Construction Inspection Program Results," which was initially issued on October 20, 2008. The IMC 2505 construction assessment program requires the NRC to conduct a semiannual performance review (SPR) every six months once significant construction activities have begun at a site. The NRC implemented the IMC 2505 construction assessment program at Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 3 and 4 on July 1, 2010 and has subsequently conducted two SPRs for Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The NRC plans to conduct its next semiannual performance review of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in February 2012 for the period of July 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. To date, the NRC has not implemented the IMC 2505 assessment program at any other sites. The IMC 2505 assessment program will be implemented at additional sites once significant construction activities begin at those sites.
The results of NRC's assessment of licensee construction performance can be found at the List of Construction Assessment Reports page.
In addition, NRC senior management will review the adequacy of agency actions for plants with significant performance problems. The managers will also take a wider view both of the overall industry performance and of the performance of the agency's regulatory programs. The performance of plants requiring heightened agency scrutiny will then be discussed during a public meeting with the NRC Commissioners at the agency's Rockville, Maryland, headquarters.
A description of the construction assessment program was provided to the Commission in SECY-08-0155, "Update on the Development of the Construction Inspection Program for New Reactor Construction under 10 CFR Part 52," dated October 17, 2008. On December 5, 2008, the Commission issued SRM M081022, which directed the staff to reconsider the construction assessment process as presented in IMC 2505 and propose policy options to the Commission. The Commission further directed that the staff proposal should address the inclusion in the construction oversight process of objective elements such as construction program performance indicators (PIs) and significance determination processes (SDPs) analogous to those used in the ROP.
In response to SRM M081022, NRO, other program offices, and the regional offices formed an interoffice working group to develop construction assessment program options for Commission consideration, which were documented in Commission Paper SECY-2010-0140, "Options For Revising The Construction Reactor Oversight Process Assessment Program." In SRM-SECY-10-0140, the Commission approved the staff's recommended option to develop a construction assessment program that includes a regulatory framework, the use of a construction significance determination process (SDP) to determine the significance of findings identified during the construction inspection program (CIP), and the use of a construction action matrix (CAM) to determine the appropriate NRC response to findings. Since receiving the Commission's direction, the NRC has been developing a revised cROP assessment program. The NRC will begin a yearlong pilot of the revised assessment program at Vogtle Units 3 and 4 on January 1, 2012. As part of the new assessment program, the NRC will transition to an annual assessment cycle. The annual assessment cycle will consist of a mid-cycle review for the period of January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012, and an end-of-cycle review for the period of January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.
Additional information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions About the Construction Assessment Program web page.
NRC Response to Construction Performance
The quarterly reviews of plant performance will determine what additional action, if any, the NRC will take if there are signs of declining performance. The process utilizes three levels of heightened regulatory response with NRC regulatory review increasing as plant performance declines. The first two levels of heightened regulatory review are managed by Region II. The next level calls for an agency response, involving senior management attention from both headquarters and Region II.
The NRC's actions for performance below the first level of response may include meetings with the utility, additional inspections, and required reviews and response by the utility. Further declines in performance would warrant stronger action by the NRC, including a civil order or even the suspension of the utility's COL. The NRC response plan is summarized in the table at this link.
Corrective Action Program Effectiveness Reviews
A fundamental goal of the NRC's oversight of new construction activities is to establish confidence that licensees (and their contractors) are detecting and correcting problems in a manner that ensures quality and safety are top priorities and that construction activities will be completed in a manner that ensures each plant is constructed in accordance with the design and will operate safely. A key premise of NRC oversight is that weaknesses in a licensee's corrective action program (CAP) will manifest themselves as performance issues that will be identified during the inspection program. Completion of these objectives is accomplished by resident inspectors through the implementation of IP 35007, "Quality Assurance Program Implementation During Construction."
The use of Non-Cited Violations (NCVs) for self-revealing and NRC-identified violations as part of the enforcement process is predicated on a licensee having an adequate CAP into which identified issues are entered and effectively resolved in a timely manner. Because the CAP at construction sites will be new and implemented initially by individuals with limited experience with the new program and because construction will involve program implementation by contractors, the NRC will delay the use of NCVs for self-revealing and NRC-identified violations pending confirmation that the new program is adequate and being effectively implemented. Therefore, prior to or near the beginning of construction for each plant, inspections of the QA program will be conducted to allow the NRC to gather sufficient information to make a timely decision that the licensee has demonstrated its CAP is being implemented in a manner that supports issuing NCVs for self-revealing and NRC-identified violations. After the staff has concluded that a licensee's CAP is adequate, inspections in accordance with IP 35007 will be conducted on a normal schedule.
If a licensee's CAP implementation performance degrades, then it will be necessary to evaluate the extent of the degradation to determine if issuing NCVs remains appropriate. This decision will be made based on the nature of identified issues that indicate a significant degradation of the licensee's CAP. The staff expects that if the identified issues are significant, then the staff will have taken escalated enforcement measures in accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy for new construction. Therefore, the issuance of a Severity Level II violation against the licensee's CAP will be considered one indicator that the program has sufficiently degraded such that reverting to issuing Notices of Violations (NOVs) for self-revealing and NRC-identified violations for all NRC identified violations is appropriate. If the decision is reached to revert to issuing NOVs, then it should be communicated to the licensee as part of the assessment of licensee performance (e.g., included in the SPR assessment letter or in a letter communicating the results of the NRC quarterly assessment review). Following the licensee's corrective actions to restore the effectiveness of their CAP, the process described above to allow the NRC to issue NCVs for self-revealing and NRC-identified violations would need to be repeated as appropriate.