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Technical Specification Task Force (TSTF) Travelers

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How the Standard Technical Specifications (STS) are Maintained Up-to-Date

In 1992, the NRC issued the improved STS to clarify the content and form of requirements necessary to ensure safe operation of nuclear power plants in accordance with 10 CFR 50.36. Major revisions to the STS were published in April 2001 and June 2004. Total adoption of the improved STS will substantially improve the efficiency of the regulatory process, and ensure that licensee and NRC resources are applied to significant safety matters.

As the STS mature, necessary improvements are identified. The process used to initiate changes the STS involves the industry-sponsored Technical Specifications Task Force (TSTF) submitting travelers to the NRC for review, approval, and subsequent incorporation into the next revision of the STS. The submissions are frequently referred to as TSTFs pronounced "tiss tiffs"), but are properly called TSTF Travelers.

The NRC reviews TSTF Travelers, with the end product being a model application, a model safety evaluation, and a review plan which licensees may use in license amendment requests. Although the industry owners groups technical specifications task force included a discussion of the safety basis for each TSTF Traveler it proposed (called a traveler), the NRC staff did not, prior to 2002, prepare a formal safety evaluation (SE) describing its safety basis for accepting the associated changes to the STSs. This was consistent with the development of the STSs themselves. The staff also did not prepare SEs for the STSs, which were published as NUREGs, because they are considered to be guidance documents and are not of themselves legally binding on Part 50 licensees. (The generic acceptability of the model specifications in the STSs, however, is documented in the much expanded and improved Bases for the STSs.) Consequently, a licensee applying to incorporate TSTF Traveler into its TSs must provide a plant specific justification acceptable to the staff. If another licensee subsequently finds that this safety basis is applicable to its facility, it may choose to rely on it to justify adopting the same TSTF Traveler. In practice, the SE accompanying the license amendment for the first plant to adopt a particular TSTF Traveler establishes a baseline safety basis for the TSTF Traveler.

Beginning in 2002, the staff revised its TSTF Traveler review and approval process to require preparation of a formal staff SE to support the approval of each new acceptable TSTF Traveler proposal. Providing a model SE with the NRC's approval of a TSTF Traveler streamlines the license amendment process for plants adopting the TSTF Traveler, by establishing a generally applicable and acceptable baseline safety basis that licensees can use to justify adoption of the TSTF Traveler, consistent with any pertinent plant specific considerations.

Approved TSTF Travelers are available for adoption by licensees and are also incorporated into the STS. Some TSTF Travelers are candidates for the Consolidated Line item Improvement Process (CLIIP) for Technical Specifications (TS) amendments.

Using the TSTF Traveler process to change the Standard Technical Specifications improves the efficiency of the licensing process by allowing the staff to review and approve a proposed change that will be used and referenced in preparation of License Amendment Requests(LARs) by multiple licensees. An approved TSTF Traveler traveler provides the model technical and regulatory bases for a LAR.

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NRC Approved TSTF Travelers

For more information regarding TSTF Travelers that have been approved, but did not utilize the CLIIP process, please contact an STSB member from the Leads and Alternates.

See our Consolidated Line Item Improvement Process (CLIIP) page for more information regarding TSTF Travelers that have been approved utilizing the CLIIP process.

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TSTF Travelers Under Review

For information on the travelers, see our "TSTF Travelers Milestone Schedule". The schedule page includes target completion dates with anticipated dates for publishing associated model safety evaluations. It also shows when information from the Technical Specification Task Force (e.g. RAI answers, a revision to a traveler) is anticipated to be submitted.

Technical assignment control (TAC) numbers are used to categorize work and determine fee recovery. Most TSTF Travelers have associated TAC numbers. A closed TSTF Traveler is one where all work associated with the TAC # has been completed. Closure will occur when the NRC issues the final FRN or the final SE.

Closure will also occur if the NRC anticipates that no further work will be done on a particular revision, and a new TSTF Traveler is not submitted to the NRC within a reasonable time. A TSTF Traveler might also be closed if the TSTF group informs the NRC that a TSTF Traveler is "on hold" or if a significant amount of time passes without a response to formal RAIs or informal questions.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, April 14, 2016