United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Discretion Involving Natural Events

[Federal Register: January 6, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 3)]
[Notices]
[Page 915-916]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06ja99-92]

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NUREG-1600, Rev.1]

NRC Enforcement Policy; Discretion Involving Natural Events

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Policy Statement; revision.

SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is publishing a revision to its Enforcement Policy (NUREG-1600, Rev.1, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions") to address enforcement discretion in cases involving natural events, such as severe weather conditions.

DATES: This action is effective January 6, 1999, while comments are being received. Submit comments on or before February 22, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to: David L. Meyer, Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: T6D59, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555. Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, between 7:30 am and 4:15 pm, Federal workdays. Copies of comments received may be examined at the NRC Public Document Room, 2120 L Street, NW, (Lower Level), Washington, DC.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Lieberman, Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, (301) 415-2741.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The changes to the Enforcement Policy (in the order that they appear in the Policy) aredescribed below:

III. Responsibilities

This section has been modified to indicate that the Commission is to be provided notification when enforcement discretion is exercised in accordance with Section VII.C for natural events, such as severe weather conditions. Item (1) concerning Commission consultation was also modified to include a parenthetical phrase indicating that cases involving severe weather or other natural phenomena may be addressed by the staff without prior Commission consultation in accordance with Section VII.C.

VII. Exercise of Discretion

C. Exercise of Discretion for an Operating Facility

This section is being modified to allow the NRC staff to exercise enforcement discretion in the form of a Notice of Enforcement Discretion (NOED) in cases involving severe weather or other natural phenomena, based upon balancing the public health and safety or common defense and security of not operating, against the potential radiological or other hazards associated with continued operation, and a determination that safety will not be impacted unacceptably by exercising this discretion. Exercising enforcement discretion for this type of situation previously required prior Commission approval in accordance with Section III. This change in policy should not be viewed as lowering the threshold for granting NOEDs. The Commission has concluded that public health and safety is best served by allowing the staff to take expedited regulatory action in these cases. This section is also being modified to reflect that the Commission is to be informed expeditiously following the grant of a NOED in such situations.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This policy statement does not contain a new or amended information collection requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Existing requirements were approved by the Office of Management and Budget, approval number 3150-0136. The approved information collection requirements contained in this policy statement appear in Section VII.C.

Public Protection Notification

The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

In accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, the NRC has determined that this action is not a major rule and has verified this determination with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB.

Accordingly, the NRC Enforcement Policy is revised to read as follows:

General Statement of Policy and Procedure For NRC Enforcement Actions

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III. Responsibilities

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Unless Commission consultation or notification is required by this policy, the NRC staff may depart, where warranted in the public's interest, from this policy as provided in Section VII, "Exercise of Enforcement Discretion."

The Commission will be provided written notification for the following situations:

(1) All enforcement actions involving civil penalties or orders;
(2) The first time that discretion is exercised for a plant that meets the criteria of Section VII.B.2;
(3) (Where appropriate, based on the uniqueness or significance of the issue) when discretion is exercised for violations that meet the criteria of Section VII.B.6; and
(4) All Notices of Enforcement Discretion (NOEDs) issued involving natural events, such as severe weather conditions.

The Commission will be consulted prior to taking action in the following situations (unless the urgency of the situation dictates immediate action):

(1) An action affecting a licensee's operation that requires balancing the public health and safety or common defense and security implications of not operating against the potential radiological or other hazards associated with continued operation (cases involving severe weather or other natural phenomena may be addressed by the staff without prior Commission consultation in accordance with Section VII.C);

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VII. Exercise of Discretion

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C. Exercise of Discretion for an Operating Facility

On occasion, circumstances may arise where a licensee's compliance with a Technical Specification (TS) Limiting Condition for Operation or with other license conditions would involve an unnecessary plant transient or performance of testing, inspection, or system realignment that is inappropriate with the specific plant conditions, or unnecessary delays in plant startup without a corresponding health and safety benefit. In these circumstances, the NRC staff may choose not to enforce the applicable TS or other license condition. This enforcement discretion, designated as a Notice of Enforcement Discretion (NOED), will only be exercised if the NRC staff is clearly satisfied that the action is consistent with protecting the public health and safety. The staff may also grant enforcement discretion in cases involving severe weather or other natural phenomena, based upon balancing the public health and safety or common defense and security of not operating, against the potential radiological or other hazards associated with continued operation, and a determination that safety will not be impacted unacceptably by exercising this discretion. The Commission is to be informed expeditiously following the granting of an NOED in such situations. A licensee seeking the issuance of a NOED must provide a written justification, or in circumstances where good cause is shown, oral justification followed as soon as possible by written justification, that documents the safety basis for the request and provides whatever other information the NRC staff deems necessary in making a decision on whether or not to issue a NOED.

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Dated at Rockville, MD, this 30th day of December, 1998.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
John C. Hoyle,
Secretary of the Commission.

[FR Doc. 99-193 Filed 1-5-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01

 

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