United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 93-81: Implementation of Engineering Expertise on Shift

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

                               October 12, 1993


NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 93-81:  IMPLEMENTATION OF ENGINEERING EXPERTISE ON      
                               SHIFT 


Addressees

All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power
reactors.

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information
notice to alert addressees to potential problems resulting from the
ineffective implementation of the requirement for licensees to provide
engineering expertise on shift.  It is expected that recipients will review
the information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, as
appropriate, to avoid similar problems.  However, suggestions contained in
this information notice are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific
action or written response is required.  

Description of Circumstances

As a result of recommendations to the industry and the NRC regarding
improvement of the ability of shift operating personnel to recognize,
diagnose, and effectively deal with plant transients or other abnormal plant
conditions following the accident at Three Mile Island in March 1979, each
nuclear power plant is required to have a shift technical advisor (STA) on
duty.  The STA's function is to provide engineering and accident assessment
expertise to the shift supervisor in the event of abnormal or accident
conditions.  The STA requirement was communicated to licensees in NUREG-0578
(July 1979) and NUREG-0737, Item I.A.1.1 (November 1980).

On September 25, 1985 the NRC approved the "Policy Statement on Engineering
Expertise on Shift," published in the Federal Register (50 FR 43621) on
October 28, 1985.  This policy statement provides licensees two options for
meeting the STA requirement.  Option 1 permits licensees to combine one of the
required on-shift senior reactor operator (SRO) positions with the STA
position into a "dual role" position (SRO/STA).  Option 2 permits licensees to
place on each shift a dedicated STA who is qualified and participates in
normal shift activities.  

Recent NRC and industry surveys and studies, including the Office for Analysis
and Evaluation of Operational Data (AEOD) study "Operating Experience Feedback
Report - Human Performance in Operating Events," Volume 8 of NUREG-1275,
December 1992, have noted some weaknesses and considerable diversity in
licensee implementation of the STA requirement.  "On-call" STAs are in use at 

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14 of the 79 operating units that use dedicated STAs.  Several of these
licensees have STAs whose responsibilities do not include participation in
such normal shift activities as shift turnover, plant log review, and shift
training.  In addition, the NRC continues to identify potential problems with
some licensee's implementation of the "dual role" SRO/STA.  Improper task
allocation may lead to the overburdening of the SRO/STA during an event,
particularly if that individual has been assigned additional duties.  Improper
task allocation also could result in the remaining control room personnel
being overburdened when the "dual role" SRO/STA assumes the STA function. 
Furthermore, some licensees assign the STA to concurrent roles such as
communicator or fire brigade member during an event.  For example, according
to the procedures at one facility, the STA would respond to a fire as the fire
brigade leader rather than performing those functions identified for the STA
in the Commission's policy statement.     

Discussion

The following are excerpts from the Federal Register notice promulgating the
Commission's "Policy Statement on Engineering Expertise on Shift:" "[The NRC]
required that as of January 1, 1980, each nuclear power plant have on duty a
Shift Technical Advisor (STA) whose function was to provide engineering and
accident assessment advice to the Shift Supervisor in the event of abnormal or
accident conditions....In this Policy Statement, .accident assessment. means
immediate actions needed to be taken while an event is in progress....The
[dedicated] STA should assume an active role in shift activities.  For
example, the [dedicated] STA should review plant logs, participate in shift
turnover activities, and maintain an awareness of plant configuration and
status."

The above circumstances indicate the potential for distraction from or
interference with STA duties when the STA serves in concurrent roles such as
fire brigade leader or communicator.  Timely response to the need for
engineering expertise in the control room of an affected unit was one of the
primary reasons for requiring an STA on shift. 

The Commission's policy statement assumes that the STA will have an active
role in shift activities.  STA review of plant logs, participation in shift
turnover activities, and maintenance of an awareness of plant configuration
and status is clearly contemplated by the policy statement.

Proper implementation of the STA requirement can provide significant assurance
that engineering expertise is available and accident assessment is carried out
for the immediate actions needed to be taken while an event is in progress. 
This information notice, which affords licensees the opportunity to review
their STA programs and assure that all appropriate areas are addressed, was
provided in advance to the Commission as part of SECY-93-193.  That SECY paper
states that staff follow-up will be conducted through performance based
evaluations of operational events.  
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                                                            IN 93-81
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Related Generic Communications

1.  NRC Generic Letter 86-04, "Policy Statement on Engineering Expertise on    
    Shift," dated February 13, 1986.

2.  NRC Information Notice 91-77, "Shift Staffing at Nuclear Power Plants," 
    dated November 26, 1991.
 
This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
one of the technical contacts listed below or the appropriate Office of
Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) project manager.




                                   Brian K. Grimes, Director
                                   Division of Operating Reactor Support
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Technical contacts:  Jesse A. Arildsen, NRR
                     (301) 504-1026

                     Warren H. Swenson, NRR
                     (301) 504-1015

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices

 



















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