United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Interim Suspension of the Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance (SALP) Program

UNITED STATES
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555-0001

October 2, 1998

NRC ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER 98-07: INTERIM SUSPENSION OF THE SYSTEMATIC ASSESSMENT OF LICENSEE PERFORMANCE (SALP) PROGRAM

Addressees

All holders of operating licenses for nuclear power reactors.

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this administrative letter to inform addressees that the NRC has suspended the SALP program for an interim period until the NRC staff completes a review of its process for assessing performance at nuclear power plants. At the end of the review period, the Commission will decide whether to resume the SALP program or terminate it in favor of another process. This administrative letter does not transmit or imply any new or changed requirements or staff positions. No specific action or written response is required.

Background

The decision to suspend SALP is part of a larger NRC plan to improve its regulatory effectiveness. The plan represents a consolidation, refinement, and acceleration of a set of ongoing NRC initiatives, and is responsive to recent concerns expressed by congressional and other stakeholders. The plan contains improvement initiatives in the following areas: reactor licensee performance assessment; risk-informed, performance-based regulations; reactor inspection and enforcement; licensing activities; NRC's organizational structure; and a number of specific issues requiring prompt and sound decisions. The staff reported its plans for these initiatives in COMSECY-98-024, "Response to Issues Raised Within the Senate Authorization Context and July 17, 1998 Stakeholder Meeting." The resources conserved by suspending the SALP program are being used to accelerate the staff's efforts to redesign its regulatory practices to reflect in a more timely and efficient manner the performance of a mature nuclear industry.

SALP evaluations were conducted by regional and headquarters NRC staff every 12 to 24 months to assess performance of each licensed nuclear power plant. The SALP program has been in existence since 1980. However, since that time the NRC has developed other processes for assessing performance. One of these, the Plant Performance Review (PPR) process, provides a shorter term (semi-annual) integrated review of licensee performance than was provided by the SALP program. Since beginning the PPR process in 1988, the NRC has improved it to the point that these reviews now use similar information and address many of the same objectives as the SALP program.

Discussion

On September 15, 1998, the Commission suspended the SALP program for an interim period until the NRC staff completes a review of its process for assessing performance at nuclear power plants. If the NRC has convened a SALP board for a facility before September 15, 1998, the SALP process will be completed in accordance with current NRC directives, including issuing SALP reports and holding public meetings with licensees.

During the interim period that the SALP program is suspended, the NRC will continue to conduct PPRs semi-annually to provide an integrated assessment of licensee performance, with the objectives of identifying trends since the last assessment and making any appropriate changes to the NRC's inspection focus and plans. PPR results are sent to licensees in a letter that includes relevant performance issues as documented in a Plant Issues Matrix (PIM), as well as the NRC's inspection and activity schedule for at least the next six months. The letter provides the reasons for any revisions to the previous inspection schedule. A copy of this letter is placed in the NRC's Public Document Room, and will be sent to all organizations and individuals previously receiving the SALP reports, including appropriate state and local officials. Guidance for conducting PPRs and preparing PIMs can be found in NRC Inspection Manual Chapter (IMC) 0304, "Plant Performance Review."

A public meeting will be held at those sites where a public meeting on NRC's assessment of licensee performance has not been held within the last two years. The purpose of the public meeting will be to discuss the results of the most recent PPR. Public meetings will continue to be held for most plants at approximately two-year intervals (depending on the timing of the PPRs). More frequent meetings may be held at the discretion of the NRC's Regional Administrator on the basis of licensee performance, as documented in PIMs, NRC inspection reports, and other publicly available information.

The PIM and other selected sources of information constitute the raw assessment data used in the PPR. Assessment information for each plant is summarized in the PIM, which allows for a more efficient and thorough integration of information during the PPR. PIMs contain a historical listing of plant issues according to the four functional areas of the SALP program (Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, and Plant Support). The PIM contains only items from inspection reports or other publicly available correspondence between the NRC and the licensee. PIMs are also made publicly available as part of the letters sent to all licensees following the PPR.

The NRC recognizes that during this interim period, although NRC will continue focusing its resources on those plants that show poor or declining performance, the level of review that was provided by the SALP program will not be achieved for most plants and quantitative scores for performance will not be assigned.

The NRC staff will report on the status of its review to the Commission in early 1999. At the end of the review, the Commission will decide whether to resume the SALP program or terminate it in favor of another process. The NRC will inform stakeholders of its progress as more details become available.

This administrative letter requires no specific action or written response. If you have any questions about this letter, please contact one of the technical contacts listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) Project Manager.

/s/'d by
Jack W. Roe, Acting Director
Division of Reactor Program Management
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Technical contacts: Michael Johnson, NRR
301-415-1241
E-mail: Michael.Johnson@nrc.gov

Tom Boyce, NRR
301-415-1130
E-mail: Tom.Boyce@nrc.gov

John R. Tappert, NRR
301-415-1167
E-mail: John.Tappert@nrc.gov

 


(NUDOCS Accession Number 9810020160)

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