United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Guidance Memorandum for Implementation of the Revised

March 24, 1999

Dr. William D. Travers
Executive Director for Operations
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555-0001

Dear Dr. Travers:

SUBJECT: GUIDANCE MEMORANDUM FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVISED ENFORCEMENT POLICY

During the 460th meeting of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, March 10-13, 1999, we reviewed the guidance memorandum for implementing the revised Enforcement Policy and discussed proposals for making the Enforcement Policy risk informed. During our review, we had the benefit of discussions with representatives of the NRC staff and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and of the documents referenced.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • The guidance in the Enforcement Guidance Memorandum (EGM) is intended to aid inspectors in implementing the revised Enforcement Policy and is detailed and comprehensive.
  • In coordination with the stakeholders, the staff has proposed additional revisions to the Enforcement Policy. The staff should explain how these proposed revisions will ensure that violations are corrected in a timely manner on the basis of relative risk.
  • A process should be developed for entering information associated with violations into the assessment process.
  • The staff should use the available risk-informed fire analysis methods as part of the enforcement decisionmaking process.
  • The process for assessing the risk significance of all violations should be defined. Tools for quantifying risk associated with violations and for prioritizing the corrective action program should be developed.
  • The staff and the stakeholders should continue to discuss concerns associated with the proposed revisions to the Enforcement Policy.

Discussion

During our November 1998 meeting, we reviewed a proposed revision to the Enforcement Policy and concurred with the staff's proposal. The major feature of the revision was the relaxation of the requirement that a notice of violation (NOV) be issued for all Level IV violations. In our report of November 17, 1998, we recommended that the staff develop specific guidance for implementing the revised policy and endorsed the plan to monitor and assess the implementation of this policy. We also recommended that the staff continue discussions with NEI on making other aspects of the Enforcement Policy more risk-informed and objective.

The revised policy became effective on March 11, 1999. An EGM was issued to aid inspectors in implementing this policy. The EGM contains a discussion of the limited conditions under which a Level IV violation would still result in the issuance of an NOV and specific examples of violations that would warrant an NOV. The EGM also includes guidance for documentation and management approval of Level IV violations, including circumstances for exercising enforcement discretion and the structure of the process under which non-cited violations (NCVs) may be appealed. The EGM guidance is detailed and comprehensive.

The staff initiated a pilot study to evaluate the implementation of the revised Enforcement Policy. This study is expected to be completed in 6 months. We would like the opportunity to review the results of the staff's assessment of the implementation of the revised policy.

The staff, in coordination with stakeholders, has developed additional proposed revisions to the Enforcement Policy. These revisions include integration of the enforcement and assessment programs to eliminate duplication of efforts. The staff, however, needs to explain the ways in which the proposed revisions will ensure that violations are corrected in a timely manner on the basis of relative risk. We have the following concerns related to the implementation of these proposed revisions:

  • The method by which violations are provided as inputs to the assessment process is unclear. A process should be developed for entering information associated with violations into the plant issues matrix (PIM). For example, an appropriate performance indicator based on violation status could be provided as an input to the PIM.
  • The treatment of repetitive violations is still unresolved. The proposal to issue an NOV for repetitive violations identified by the NRC is appropriate, provided that the licensee is given time to correct the initial NCV commensurate with its risk significance.
  • The process used in assessing the risk significance of violations at any level is undefined. As with many problems of a nearly routine nature (Level IV violations and 10 CFR 50.59 screening decisions), the level of risk involved in a change in plant configuration or application of procedures falls below the threshold of the sensitivity of a probabilistic risk assessment. Yet, the staff has stated that risk significance will be the basis for prioritizing items in the corrective action program. Tools are needed to meet this expectation.
  • Enforcement of fire protection requirements stands in sharp contrast to the intent of using a risk-informed decisionmaking process in evaluating plant status. In the risk-informed process, changes in plant status are evaluated in terms of the resulting change to overall risk. In contrast, the evaluation of the success for fire protection regulations is deterministic and binary. The staff should use the available risk-informed fire analysis methods as part of the enforcement decisionmaking process.
  • The methods for quantifying risk associated with violations and the way in which risk judgments are made are not well defined. Development of quantitative risk assessment tools is a challenge to the NRC research program.

Since past discussions have proven to be so productive, the staff and the stakeholders should continue to discuss these concerns at future meetings.

Sincerely,

/s/

Dana A. Powers
Chairman

References:

  • Draft Memorandum received February 22, 1999, from James Lieberman, Office of Enforcement, to Multiple Addressees, Subject: Enforcement Guidance Memorandum - Guidance to Implement Interim Power Reactor NCV Policy.
  • Letter dated November 17, 1998, from R. L. Seale, Chairman, ACRS, to Shirley Ann Jackson, Chairman, NRC, Subject: Proposed Revision to the Enforcement Policy.
  • Letter dated March 11, 1999, from Ellen C. Ginsberg, Nuclear Energy Institute, to David L. Meyer, Office of Administration, NRC, Subject: Nuclear Power Industry Comments on "Interim Policy for Severity Level IV Violations Involving Power Reactor Licensees."
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