NRC COVID-19 Update

NRC managers Mohamed Shams and Rob Taylor are #OntheJob at TerraPower observing staffers experimenting with salt for use in the company’s advanced reactor design.

NRC Region I inspectors including (left to right) Joe Schoppy, Mel Gray and Kevin Mangan are #OntheJob at the Millstone nuclear power plant verifying the plant owner is carrying out its aging management plan during the license renewal period.

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The NRC is ensuring the health and safety of employees while maintaining its important safety and security mission during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Significant NRC actions include:

  • Maintaining employee safety and effectiveness as the agency employs a hybrid work model with continued adherence to government-wide vaccine mandates, and Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce and CDC guidance related to masking, visitors, social distancing, self-health assessments and other pandemic-related safety measures.

  • Maintaining web pages outlining temporary flexibilities related to COVID-19 for nuclear power plant licensees and nuclear materials licensees, consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while licensees focus on nuclear safety and security.

  • Communicating regularly with nuclear facilities to discuss current activities and future plans including reactor operator licensing, reductions in non-essential maintenance, fire brigade staff requirements, and other matters.

  • When necessary, reviewing nuclear power industry requests for temporary exemptions to work-hour limits to allow flexibility in maintaining an appropriate workforce to meet the NRC's minimum reactor operator and security staffing requirements.

  • Holding the first-ever virtual Regulatory Information Conference in March 2021, and continuing the virtual approach for the 2022 RIC.

  • Providing information to NRC licensees to facilitate the expedited review of requests for temporary exemptions to some emergency exercise requirements.

  • Providing information on how non-power reactors remain safe during the pandemic and how those facilities can request extensions to requirements to account for special nuclear materials.

  • Phasing resident inspectors back into nuclear plants, the Vogtle Units 3 & 4 construction site, and Category 1 fuel fabrication facilities. On a site-specific basis, the inspectors and related staff are performing on-site and remote monitoring, and remain in a ready status to respond immediately, if necessary.

  • Conducting a lessons-learned/best practices review on how the agency dealt with COVID-19-related licensing and oversight issues.

  • Adjusting inspection plans and schedules to safeguard the health and safety of NRC and licensee staff while effectively implementing the Reactor Oversight Program. Each planned inspection is reviewed to determine how best to perform on-site portions to minimize health risks.

  • Informing NRC non-reactor licensees (such as medical and industrial users and fuel cycle facilities) about the existing ways to request temporary relief from some agency requirements while maintaining safety. These licensees have also been informed about using email to submit these requests, and impacts on the agency's ability to process some important information.

  • Adapting force-on-force inspection procedures to incorporate COVID-19 precautions for the safety of NRC and licensee staff, while ensuring continued confidence in licensees' protective strategies.

  • Issuing general enforcement guidance on how the agency will examine COVID-19-related potential violations of NRC regulations. The NRC also issued specific enforcement guidance on COVID-19-related potential security training and qualification violations.

  • Ensuring the NRC's Office of Small Business and Civil Rights mitigates the pandemic's impact on small businesses and continues to safeguard the agency's equal employment opportunity and civil rights non-discrimination laws.

  • Reorganizing public meetings to use communication technology, such as teleconference, videoconference, webinars and other means.

  • Extending public comment deadlines, depending on the circumstances of each activity, specific impacts of the pandemic, and the activity's significance to the NRC's mission.

  • Creating the NRC eLearning initiative to help parents with children being schooled at home, and for adults who want to know more about science, nuclear technology and the NRC.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, January 20, 2022