United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Licensed Operators' and Other Nuclear Facility Personnel Fitness for Duty (Generic Letter 91-16)


October 3, 1991 



TO:       ALL HOLDERS OF OPERATING LICENSES OR CONSTRUCTION PERMITS FOR 
          NUCLEAR POWER AND NON-POWER REACTORS AND ALL LICENSED OPERATORS 
          AND SENIOR OPERATORS 

SUBJECT:  LICENSED OPERATORS' AND OTHER NUCLEAR FACILITY PERSONNEL 
          FITNESS FOR DUTY (GENERIC LETTER 91-16) 

The U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this generic 
letter to describe Federal legislation that may affect addressees 
regarding fitness-for-duty issues and to describe briefly the recent rule 
change to Part 2, Appendix C, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure 
for NRC Enforcement Actions," and Part 55, "Operators' Licenses," of Title 
10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 55).  Enclosure 1 is a 
copy of the Federal Register notice of this rule change. 

On November 18, 1988, the U. S. Congress, in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 
1988 (Public Law 100-690), established a national policy of a drug-free 
America by 1995.  Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act provides that 
persons convicted of possession or distribution of controlled substances 
may be declared by a sentencing court to be ineligible for Federal 
benefits. A "Federal benefit" is defined in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act to 
include any professional or commercial license provided by an agency of 
the United States or with appropriated funds of the United States.  Thus, 
all individuals who conduct licensed activities authorized by an NRC 
license and all licensed operators and senior operators should know that, 
in accordance with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, a conviction for possession or 
distribution of a controlled substance may result in the loss of 
eligibility for an NRC license, denial or revocation of an NRC license, or 
removal from NRC-licensed activities. 

On June 7, 1989 (54 FR 24468), the NRC issued a new 10 CFR Part 26, 
"Fitness-for-Duty Programs," to require each licensee authorized to 
construct or operate a nuclear power reactor to implement a 
fitness-for-duty program. A fitness-for-duty program, developed under the 
requirements of this rule, should create a work environment that is free 
of drugs, alcohol, and the effects of the use of these substances. 

On July 15, 1991 (56 FR 32066), the NRC amended 10 CFR Parts 2 and 55, 
effective August 14, 1991, to specify that the conditions and cutoff 
levels established in accordance with 10 CFR Part 26 apply directly to 
licensed operators and senior operators at nuclear power plants and 
non-power reactor facilities as conditions of their licenses.  These 
amendments did not impose the provisions of 10 CFR Part 26 upon non-power 
facility licensees.  However, this rule change made it clear that all 
licensed operators and senior operators will be subject to notices of 
violation, civil penalties, or orders for violation of their facility 
licensees' fitness-for-duty requirements. 

9109300068 
.

Generic Letter 91-16              - 2 -            October 3, 1991 


Drug and alcohol abuse is a social, medical, and safety problem affecting 
every segment of our society.  The NRC recognizes that such abuse may also
exist among licensed operators, senior operators, and others who work at 
nuclear reactors.  The Commission believes all facility licensees should 
manage licensed activities so as to provide reasonable assurance that 
nuclear reactor personnel will perform their tasks in a reliable and 
trustworthy manner, and not be under the influence of alcohol or any 
prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal substance that in any way 
affects their ability to safely and competently perform their duties. 

Individuals should also know that, even if a conviction for possession or 
distribution of a controlled substance does not result in a declaration of
ineligibility for Federal benefits by the sentencing court, the NRC may, 
in accordance with its independent responsibility to protect the public 
health and safety and the common defense and security, act on its own to 
deny, revoke, suspend, or modify a license or remove an individual from 
licensed activities, upon such conviction.  NRC sanctions for licensed 
operators in response to positive drug tests are described in 10 CFR Parts 
2 and 55. 

This generic letter requires no specific action or written response.  If 
you have any questions about the information in this letter, please call 
one of the technical or legal contacts listed below or the appropriate 
regional office. 

                                    Sincerely, 




                                    James G. Partlow, Associate Director 
                                      for Projects 
                                    Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 

Enclosures:
1. Federal Register notice 10 CFR Parts 2 and 55 (copy)
2. List of Recently Issued Generic Letters


Technical Contacts:     N. K. Hunemuller, NRR (10 CFR Part 55)
                        (301) 492-3173

                        L. L.Bush, Jr., NRR (10 CFR Part 26)
                        (301) 492-0944

Legal Contact:          R. L. Fonner, OGC
                        (301) 492-1643
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 28, 2013