United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Operating Reactor Oversight

On this page:

Power Reactors

The reactor oversight process for power reactors uses a variety of tools to monitor and evaluate the performance of commercial nuclear power plants. The process is designed to focus on those plant activities most important to safety.

For more information on this process and plant assessment results see:

About Reactor Oversight

Recent Results


To top of page

Research and Test Reactors

Research and test reactors operate at power levels that are small fractions of the power of large commercial nuclear power reactors (most are less then 1/1000th the power levels). Because of their low power levels, these reactors are much less complex in design and in the need for safety systems and programs. This smaller size and reduced complexity result in less risk to the public health and safety. Therefore, the safety oversight program for these reactors requires fewer resources. All research and test reactors can automatically shut down if an unsafe condition occurs. Research and test reactor licensees also follow detailed radiation safety and operational requirements.

NRC completes the inspection program every 2 years for research or test reactors licensed for less than 2 Mw, and every year for those reactors licensed for more than or equal to 2 Mw. The inspections cover such areas as reactor operations, organizational structure, operator qualifications, design, review and audit functions, radiation and environmental protection, maintenance, fuel handling, experiments, and others.

As with power reactors, NRC may take enforcement actions, including Notices of Violation, fines, or orders, for certain types of violations. See our Enforcement page for additional information.

To top of page

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, October 25, 2016