United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 94-14: Failure to Implement Requirements for Biennial Medical Examinations and Notification to the NRC of Changes in Licensed Operator Medical Conditions

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

                               February 24, 1994


NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 94-14:  FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR BIENNIAL
                               MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS AND NOTIFICATION TO THE
                               NRC OF CHANGES IN LICENSED OPERATOR MEDICAL
                               CONDITIONS


Addressees

All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power
and non-power reactors and all licensed reactor operators and senior reactor
operators.

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information
notice to remind addressees of the requirements for licensed reactor operators
and senior reactor operators (licensees) to be examined by a physician every
2 years and for facility licensees to notify the NRC of changes in a licensed
operator's physical or mental condition, as determined by a physician, that
cause the operator to fail to meet the medical requirements of Title 10 of the
Code of Federal Regulations Part 55, "Operators' Licenses" (10 CFR Part 55).
It is expected that recipients will review the information for applicability
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.

Background

10 CFR 55.21, "Medical examination," requires NRC-licensed operators to be
examined by a physician every 2 years.  The purpose of this examination is to
determine if the individual meets the requirements of 10 CFR 55.33(a)(1).
Further, 10 CFR 55.23 specifies that an authorized representative of the
facility licensee shall complete and sign NRC Form 396, "Certification of
Medical Examination by Facility Licensee," to certify the medical fitness of
the individual.  By signing NRC Form 396, the facility licensee certifies that
(1) the guidance in American Nuclear Society Standard, ANSI/ANS 3.4-1983,
"Medical Certification and Monitoring of Personnel Requiring Operator Licenses
for Nuclear Power Plants," was followed in determining the medical fitness of
an operator for power reactors, or (2) the guidance in ANSI/ANS 15.4-1988,
"Selection and Training of Personnel for Research Reactors," was followed in
determining the medical fitness of an operator for non-power reactors.  If the
guidance in these documents was not used, a facility licensee may certify that
an alternative method, acceptable to the NRC, was used.

As indicated in 10 CFR 50.54(i), the facility licensee is responsible for
ensuring that (1) facility controls are manipulated only by operators licensed

9402170298.

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                                                            February 24, 1994
                                                            Page 2 of 3


under 10 CFR Part 55 and (2) only operators so licensed are permitted to
direct manipulation of the facility controls.  This responsibility includes
ensuring that any conditions or limitations to an operator's license are
followed.  Controls in this sense are defined in 10 CFR 55.4 as apparatus and
mechanisms the manipulation of which directly affects the reactivity or power
level of the reactor.

Description of Circumstances

During recent inspections of the implementation of the above requirements,
the NRC determined that some facility licensees did not ensure that the
restrictions or limitations to an operator's license were followed.  Further,
the NRC found examples where facility licensees failed to notify the NRC of
changes in a licensed operator's medical condition.  An inspection of licensed
operator medical records at the Brunswick Steam Electric Plant found that a
physician had determined that (1) the eyesight of four licensed operators did
not meet the medical standards described in ANSI/ANS-3.4-1983 and (2) a
licensed operator's medical condition required that the operator not perform
licensee duties alone.  These changes in the licensed operators' conditions
should have been reported to the NRC as required by 10 CFR 55.25.  In 1993,
NRC inspectors found 74 instances at Region III facilities where licensed
operators had not had a medical examination within the 2-year period
prescribed by 10 CFR 55.21.  In one instance, the time since the last medical
examination exceeded 4 years.

Discussion

The responsibility for ensuring that only personnel licensed in accordance
with 10 CFR Part 55 are permitted to manipulate or direct the manipulation of
the controls of a licensed facility rests with the facility licensee.  The NRC
considers proper certification to medical standards, as required by
10 CFR 55.23, to be the basis for finding that a licensed operator's medical
condition and general health will not adversely affect performance of assigned
operator duties or cause operational errors that endanger public health and
safety.  10 CFR Part 55 Subpart C, "Medical Requirements," states that
licensed operators shall have a medical examination by a physician every
2 years.  If, during the term of the license, the operator develops a
permanent physical or mental condition that causes the operator to fail to
meet the requirements of 10 CFR 55.21, the facility licensee shall, in
accordance with 10 CFR 55.25, notify the Commission within 30 days of learning
of the diagnosis.

Deficiencies were found during NRC inspections in facility medical examination
programs for applicants for licenses and for licensed operators.  The results
of these inspections indicate that some facility programs may not be receiving
sufficient management oversight to ensure that the medical qualifications of
licensed operators and applicants for licenses are maintained at the required
level.  This information notice reminds facility licensees that, prior to
submitting NRC Form 396, the facility licensee needs to ensure that medical
examinations performed by physicians for certifying the fitness of operators
.

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                                                            Page 3 of 3


are complete and accurate and that any restriction or limitation to an
operator's license resulting from the examination is complied with.

10 CFR 55.25 requires that the NRC be notified when a licensed operator's
medical condition no longer meets the original licensing standard and that an
appropriate certification form be submitted if the facility licensee is
requesting a conditional license to accommodate the change in the operator's
physical or mental condition.  NRC Information Notice 91-08, "Medical
Examination for Licensed Operators," February 5, 1991, provides additional
information on this subject.

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 contacts listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear Reactor
Regulation (NRR) project manager.


                                    ORIGINAL SIGNED BY


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

Technical contacts:  R. J. Conte, RI                  J. L. Pellet, RIV
                     (610) 337-5210                   (817) 860-8159

                     T. A. Peebles, RII               P. J. Morrill, RV
                     (404) 331-5541                   (510) 975-0293

                     M. A. Ring, RIII                 D. J. Lange, NRR
                     (708) 829-9703                   (301) 504-3171

Attachment:
List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices



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