United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions About Access Authorization

On this page:

Index to All Frequently Asked Questions Pages

What can the NRC do to restore my access authorization?

The NRC sets requirements for access authorization for all nuclear power plants, but it is the responsibility of the owner and operator of the plant (licensee) to implement them. You need to consult your plant’s access authorization program for conditions for reinstating access if there has been an interruption. The licensee’s program will also specify procedures for how denials or revocations of access are reviewed. Such a review is required under NRC regulations. Under NRC regulations, the licensee must give you a chance to provide additional relevant information. The licensee also must conduct an objective review of the information on which the denial or revocation was based. You will not be granted unescorted access during the review process. If you believe you are being denied the opportunity for an objective review, you can file an allegation with the NRC. Information on how to do this is found here: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/allegations/safety-concern.html.

To top of page

I want to apply for a job at a nuclear power plant. How do I get an access authorization from the NRC?

Access authorization to nuclear power plants is not obtained from the NRC. If you are hired to work at a nuclear power plant, your employer (the licensee) must determine your trustworthiness and reliability in order authorize you unescorted access to the facility. The licensee will conduct a background investigation, which must verify your identity and determine your employment, education, credit and criminal history, and military service in order to verify your character and reputation. You must also undergo a psychological assessment designed to evaluate any psychological characteristics that may affect your trustworthiness and reliability. You will also be tested for drug or alcohol abuse that could affect your fitness for duty. Based on this information, the licensee will determine whether or not to grant you unescorted access to the facility.

To top of page

I have a DUI/felony/drug arrest or conviction on my record. Will this prevent me from getting access authorization from a nuclear power plant? What if the offense was five years or more ago?

The fact that you have a criminal conviction on your record does not alone prevent you from obtaining access authorization to a nuclear power plant. There are no specific criminal offenses that are disqualifying. However, licensees may not deny unescorted access solely on an arrest that is more than one year old and for which there is no information about the disposition of the case. Similarly, the final determination on access authorization cannot be based on an arrest that ended in a dismissal or an acquittal. But your criminal history information will be considered by the licensee along with all of the other information obtained during the criminal investigation when making a final determination about whether or not to grant you unescorted access to a nuclear power plant. The final determination of trustworthiness and reliability is based on reviewing and evaluating the background investigation, psychological assessment and drug and alcohol test.

To top of page

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get an access authorization?

No.

To top of page

If one plant denies me access authorization can I still apply to work at other nuclear power plants?

Yes, you can still apply. However, information such as a denial of access authorization is maintained in a common database that is accessible by each licensee.

To top of page

If my access authorization is denied or withdrawn, how long is that information kept on file and who maintains that file?

The record of the denial or withdrawal must be maintained for five years by the licensee that took the action.

To top of page

If my access authorization is restored, does the information on the withdrawal stay in my file?

Yes. Each licensee who denies an individual unescorted access must retain the records on which the denial is based for five years.

To top of page

What are my recourses if I believe that my employer revoked my access authorization unfairly?

Each licensee is required, by the NRC, to have a procedure for reviewing a denial or revocation of unescorted access. The procedure must provide the employee with the grounds for the denial or revocation and allow the employee to provide additional, relevant information that might affect the action. The denied employee must also get an objective review of the information on which the denial or revocation was based. If the employee upholds the revocation and he/she still believe the action is unjustified, you can file an allegation with the NRC. Information on filing an allegation can be found here: http://www.nrc.gov/aboutnrc/regulatory/allegations/safety-concern.html.

To top of page

How does the NRC check that a plant’s access authorization process is fair and adhering to regulations?

Each licensee is subject to inspections conducted by the NRC. NRC inspectors review a plant’s access authorization program to ensure that it is being conducted in compliance with NRC regulations.

To top of page

If I’m having a problem with obtaining and retaining my access authorization, should I contact the resident inspector for help?

You should contact the licensee’s Reviewing Officials at the nuclear plant for which you wish to obtain access authorization.

To top of page

Can a plant have higher standards for access authorization than outlined in the NRC regulations?

Yes. A licensee may impose more stringent standards for access authorization as long as the licensee maintains its compliance with NRC regulations.

To top of page

Do all plants have the same access authorization standards?

All nuclear plants are required to be in compliance with the NRC regulations that apply to access authorization, but their procedures and standards may vary within the constraints of the NRC regulations.

To top of page

How can I appeal an access authorization denial or withdrawal?

Each licensee is required to have a procedure for an objective review of a denial or revocation of unescorted access. The NRC does not routinely review denials or revocations of access. If you feel your authorization was pulled without justification, you can file an allegation with the NRC. Ways to file an allegation are found here: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/allegations/safety-concern.html.

To top of page

Can I file an allegation if I believe that if my access authorization was withdrawn for no reason?

Yes. If you believe your access authorization has been withdrawn “for no reason” you can file an allegation with the NRC. Ways to file an allegation are found here: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/allegations/safety-concern.html . However, you should first pursue the revocation through your plant’s access authorization review procedure for denials or revocations.

To top of page

Why does the NRC have such strict access authorization regulations when the regulations act as a barrier for employment for so many people?

The objective of the NRC access authorization regulations is to provide high assurance that individuals with unescorted access in nuclear power plants are trustworthy and reliable, and do not constitute an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public, including a potential to commit radiological sabotage. The NRC takes this responsibility very seriously and has created robust access authorization regulations for this purpose. In addition, the requirement for licensees to obtain the criminal history record information from persons applying for unescorted access is mandated by Congress.

To top of page

Are a background check and fingerprints always part of an access authorization check?

Yes. Background checks and fingerprints are required as part of the access authorization process. Fingerprints are required for an FBI identification and criminal history check. Congress has required NRC licensees to collect fingerprints for these purposes for anyone seeking unescorted access to a nuclear power plant.

To top of page

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012