United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

ROP Action Matrix Deviations

Brief Description

The NRC determines its regulatory response in accordance with an Action Matrix that provides for a range of actions commensurate with the significance of the performance indicator (PI) and inspection results as described in IMC 0305, "Operating Reactor Assessment Program." The NRC recognizes that there may be rare instances in which the regulatory actions dictated by the Action Matrix may not be appropriate. In these instances, the Agency may deviate from the Action Matrix to either increase or decrease Agency action when approved by the Executive Director for Operations.

As requested by the Commission and incorporated into the self-assessment program, the staff reviews the causes of all Action Matrix deviations and evaluates them for potential improvements to the program. The evaluations are included in the annual ROP self-assessment, are discussed with senior NRC management at the Agency Action Review Meeting, and are presented to the Commission in the resultant briefing.

Summary of Deviations

Since the beginning of the Reactor Oversight Process in calendar year (CY) 2000, there have been a total of twenty-three (23) deviations from the Action Matrix.  The annual ROP self-assessment process includes the evaluation of Action Matrix deviations and the potential need to modify programmatic guidance to address any generic issues associated with the need for the deviation.

February 2015 (Monticello) – On February 27, 2015, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to move Monticello to the Regulatory Response Column (Column 2) rather than move it to the Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column (Column 4).  Monticello entered the Degraded Cornerstone Column (Column 3) in the second quarter of 2013 because of a yellow finding in the Mitigating Systems Cornerstone.  NRC completed an Inspection Procedure (IP) 95002, "Supplemental Inspection for One Degraded Cornerstone or Any Three White Inputs in a Strategic Performance Area," in December 2014, closing the yellow finding.  During the fourth quarter of 2014, Monticello received a greater-than-green finding in the Security Cornerstone, and the licensee met the criteria for a repetitive degraded cornerstone as defined in IMC 0305.  Because of the successful completion of the IP 95002 supplemental inspection and successful completion of the biennial Problem Identification and Resolution inspection, and no evidence of broad or systemic performance issues across plant organizational areas, the staff concluded that placement of Monticello in Column 4 of the Action Matrix and the subsequent regulatory actions were not warranted.  The NRC will conduct an IP 95001, "Supplemental Inspection for One or Two White Inputs in a Strategic Performance Area," to close out the security finding.  The NRC will also perform a safety culture inspection focused on the area of human performance.

January 2013 (Perry) – On January 11, 2013, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to maintain Perry in the Degraded Cornerstone Column (Column 3) and not move it to the Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column (Column 4). Perry entered Column 3 in the second quarter of 2011 because of a White inspection finding and a White Performance Indicator (PI) in the Occupational Radiation Safety Cornerstone. The NRC conducted an Inspection Procedure (IP) 95002, "Supplemental Inspection for One Degraded Cornerstone or Any Three White Inputs in a Strategic Performance Area," in November 2012. The inspection team found that the licensee did not successfully address all of the inspection procedure objectives. Because the performance issues were not successfully addressed and the resultant findings, IMC 0305 specified that Perry should transition from Column 3 to Column 4 of the Action Matrix because of a repetitive degraded cornerstone. However, there have been no additional recent indications of significant performance problems in areas other than the Occupational Radiation Safety Cornerstone, so the regulatory actions specified for Column 3 of the Action Matrix are more appropriate at this time. The NRC will conduct a follow-up 95002 inspection in the May-July 2013 timeframe. This deviation will be closed if the follow-up 95002 inspection determines the white findings can be closed.

November 2012 (Palisades) – On November 8, 2012, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to provide increased resources for the oversight of the Palisades related to safety culture issues at the site and also technical issues for which initial NRC review identified no immediate safety concerns. The increased inspection is needed to ensure that the licensee is implementing appropriate corrective actions to improve the organization and strengthen the safety culture on site, as well as assessing the sustainability of these actions. Secondly, the additional inspection is also needed to ensure that planned actions for the technical issues are effective, such that these issues will not lead to more significant safety concerns. Furthermore, the staff also expects to conduct enhanced communication with the communities in southwest Michigan regarding NRC's mission, the status of site improvement initiatives and resolution of technical issues at Palisades.

September 2012 (Seabrook) – On September 5, 2012, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to provide increased resources for the oversight of the Seabrook Station related to the degradation of safety-related concrete structures because of the alkali-silica reaction (ASR). On May 16, 2012, the NRC issued a Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) to confirm commitments made by the licensee regarding the ASR concrete degradation issue. The staff will perform additional inspection and analysis to support the review of licensee commitments and planned large scale concrete specimen testing. The additional resources will also be used to develop staff technical guidance and communicate with stakeholders via outreach activities. The staff anticipates closure of the deviation memo when the NRC has concluded (1) that all CAL commitments have been satisfactorily completed, and (2) an acceptable basis has been established to assure that the continued operability of concrete structures will be maintained.

September 2010 (Browns Ferry 1, 2, and 3) – On September 29, 2010, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to allow Browns Ferry, Units 1, 2, and 3, to remain in Column 3 (Degraded Cornerstone Column) of the ROP Action Matrix in the fourth quarter of 2010 to provide additional time for the NRC to perform an IP 95002 supplemental inspection and follow-up assessment.   The deviation was necessary because of  high site activity level and regional inspection workload when the licensee informed the NRC that it was ready for the supplemental inspection.   An initial interpretation of IMC 0305, "Operating Reactor Assessment Program," regarding the definition of a repetitive degraded cornerstone also contributed to the need for the deviation.  IMC 0305 will be clarified to avoid further misinterpretation.  The staff intends to close the deviation by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 after it completes the IP 95002 supplemental inspection and determines the appropriate applicable Action Matrix column and response.

April 2010 (San Onofre) – On April 30, 2010, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to provide increased oversight of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) related to long-standing human performance and problem identification and resolution problems, as well as a significant increase in allegations. The deviation was necessary for the NRC to conduct agency actions beyond those prescribed by SONGS' Action Matrix characterization. The staff intends to close the deviation after it completes inspections to verify (1) latent technical issues have been appropriately identified in SONGS' corrective action program, (2) SONGS is addressing corrective action backlogs and correcting emergent technical issues, (3) allegations have been resolved, and (4) SONGS' response to the safety culture survey is adequate.

April 2010 (Vermont Yankee) – On April 5, 2010, the EDO approved a deviation from the ROP Action Matrix to provide increased oversight of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station related to on-site groundwater contamination and the March 1, 2010, demand for information (DFI). The deviation was necessary for the NRC to conduct agency actions beyond those prescribed by the site's Action Matrix characterization. The staff intends to close the deviation when (1) the NRC has concluded that Entergy has established and implemented effluent control and environmental monitoring procedures that provide reasonable assurance that the existing groundwater conditions will continue to be effectively monitored and assessed; that the procedures will detect new or changed conditions in a timely manner; and that the procedures are sufficient to monitor remediation efforts associated with the Vermont Yankee groundwater contamination plume, and (2) the NRC has concluded that Entergy has appropriately addressed the information requested in the DFI, and that sufficient information is available for the NRC to determine whether further regulatory action, if any, is warranted.

December 2008 (Indian Point) – On October 28, 2005, and renewed on December 11, 2006, December 19, 2007, and December 18, 2008, the EDO approved the deviation memorandum to continue to deviate from the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) Action Matrix for the Indian Point Energy Center to provide heightened NRC oversight throughout calendar year 2009 (ROP 10). This action is necessary because the exit criteria for the existing deviation have not been met. The staff intends to continue to closely monitor the licensees actions to address issues associated with on-site groundwater contamination characterization and mitigation. The actions proposed in the deviation request for the Indian Point Energy Center represent a customized approach that considers factors beyond each units Action Matrix categorization. This approach is consistent with underlying concepts of Inspection Manual Chapter 0305, Operating Reactor Assessment Program.

December 2007 (Indian Point) – On October 28, 2005, and renewed on December 11, 2006 and December 19, 2007, the EDO approved the deviation memorandum to continue to deviate from the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) Action Matrix for the Indian Point Energy Center to provide heightened NRC oversight throughout calendar year 2008 (ROP 9). This action is necessary because the exit criteria for the existing deviation have not been met. The staff intends to continue to closely monitor the licensees actions to address issues associated with on-site groundwater contamination characterization and mitigation, and the Alert and Notification System (ANS), including implementation and testing of the replacement ANS that Entergy is installing in response to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The actions proposed in the deviation request for the Indian Point Energy Center represent a customized approach that considers factors beyond each units Action Matrix categorization. This approach is consistent with underlying concepts of Inspection Manual Chapter 0305, Operating Reactor Assessment Program.

November 2007 (Peach Bottom) – The NRC issued a deviation memorandum in November, 2007 to Exelon for Peach Bottom to address concerns related to the security program at the two-reactor plant to address concerns related to the security program. The deviation memorandum emphasizes the companys agreement to take certain actions in response to inattentiveness on the part of some security officers at Peach Bottom. The companys actions include detailed briefings to security force personnel on acceptable behavior; round-the-clock supervisory oversight of security activities, and keeping the NRC informed of the status of the Peach Bottom transition from a contractor security force to one that is run by Exelon. The commitments in the letter will remain in effect until the NRC has reviewed Exelons root cause analysis of the security program issues, the companys corrective actions and implementation schedule, and the companys method for assessing the effectiveness of the corrective actions.

August 2007 (Davis Besse) – The NRC issued a deviation for Davis-Besse in August 2006 in order to continue heightened NRC oversight for the time period of August 2006 through July 2007. The Davis-Besse deviation was an extension of the previous deviation in CY 2005. Davis-Besse was placed under the IMC 0350 process for about 3 years. While the plant transitioned from the IMC 0350 process, the NRC authorized a deviation from the ROP on May 16, 2005, for the period of July 2005 through June 2006. The extension is necessary for continued monitoring of the licensees efforts to sustain improved plant performance following resolution of the long-standing underlying problems that culminated in a Red finding associated with the severe wastage that was discovered on the reactor vessel head. As noted in last years self-assessment, the staff revised IMC 0305 to allow the regional offices to use additional followup actions for plants that are exiting the IMC 0350 process. The programmatic changes made as a result of this deviation will prevent the need for similar deviations in the future.

December 2006 (Indian Point) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Indian Point plants in December 2006 to allow for an increased level of oversight for two issues: groundwater contamination from cracks in the Unit 2 spent fuel pool and problems with the alert and notification system. The Indian Point deviation was an extension of the previous deviation in October 2005.

July 2006 (Waterford) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Waterford 3 plant in July 2006 to conduct actions specified in the Licensee Response Column rather than the Multiple/Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column for a Red safety system unavailability (SSU) performance indicator (PI) for high-pressure safety injection (HPSI) and a Yellow PI for residual heat removal (RHR). The deviation was necessary because the actions outlined in the Licensee Response Column were more appropriate for the situation at Waterford 3 than those of the Multiple/Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column. Specifically, the risk was more appropriately characterized at a Green level and the low risk evaluation result did not warrant the significant resources and expanded focus of a 95003 supplemental inspection.

July 2006 (Davis-Besse) – This NRC issued a deviation for the Davis Besse plant in July 2006 in order to continue heightened oversight for the time period of August 2006 through July 2007. This action was necessary to continue to monitor the licensee's efforts, in response to the NRC Orders, to sustain improved plant performance following resolution of the long-standing underlying problems that culminated in a Red finding associated with the severe wastage that was discovered on the reactor vessel head.

December 2005 (Point Beach) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Point Beach plant in December 2005 to waive the requirement for a separate supplemental inspection for a finding of white significance in the emergency preparedness cornerstone. The NRC previously inspected the performance deficiency associated with this finding in accordance with IP 95003 and its attachment 95003.01, "Additional Emergency Preparedness Cornerstone Inspection." Ongoing investigations by the Office of Investigations and the Department of Justice delayed the formal NRC technical resolution for this finding. In addition, the finding related to an old inspection item did not reflect current licensee performance; therefore, this deviation represented a unique situation. The NRC does not anticipate any programmatic changes as a result of this deviation.

October 2005 (Indian Point 2) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Indian Point 2 plant in October 2005 to closely monitor the utility's performance in addressing issues associated with the spent fuel pool, including onsite tritium contamination, and improving the reliability and availability of thealert and notification system, including implementation of the backup power requirements in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This deviation addressed a variety of performance issues unique to the site and represented a customized approach as envisioned in IMC 0305. The staff does not anticipate any programmatic changes to the assessment program as a result of this deviation, although on-site tritium issues may be a generic concern that could result in safety issue inspections in the future.

July 2005 (Salem/Hope Creek) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Salem/Hope Creek plants in July 2005 to renew the August 2004 deviation to provide heightened NRC oversight to closely monitor the licensee's actions to address significant SCWE issues. The actions taken at Salem/Hope Creek were considered in the NRC's safety culture initiative. Programmatic changes will be made as a result of the safety culture initiative that are expected to prevent the need for similar deviations in the future.

May 2005 (Davis-Besse) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Davis-Besse plant in May 2005 to allow for an increased level of oversight as Davis-Besse transitioned out of the process outlined in IMC 0350, "Oversight of Reactor Facilities in a Shutdown Condition Due to Significant Performance and/or Operational Concerns," to the normal ROP assessment process on July 1, 2005. Based on a review of this deviation, the staff revised IMC 0305 to allow the regional offices to use additional followup actions for plants that are exiting the IMC 0350 process. This revision allows the regional offices to use some of the actions that are consistent with the multiple/repetitive degraded cornerstone or degraded cornerstone columns of the Action Matrix for a period of 1 year after the original findings have been resolved. These actions, which now do not constitute a deviation from the Action Matrix, include: (1) senior management participation at periodic meetings and site visits that are focused on reviewing the results of licensee improvement initiatives, such as efforts to reduce corrective action backlogs and progress in completing the Performance Improvement Plan; (2) limited Inspection Procedure (IP) 95003, "Supplemental Inspection for Repetitive Degraded Cornerstones, Multiple Degraded Cornerstones, Multiple Yellow Inputs, or One Red Input,"; activities and confirmatory action letter follow-up inspections beyond the baseline inspection program; (3) senior management attendance at the annual public meetings; and (4) signature authority for the subsequent assessment letters. These actions were previously made available for plants exiting the multiple/repetitive degraded cornerstone of the Action Matrix. The programmatic changes made as a result of this deviation will prevent the need for similar deviations in the future.

August 2004 (Salem/Hope Creek) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Salem/Hope Creek plants in August 2004 to provide heightened NRC oversight to closely monitor the licensee's actions to address significant issues associated with its safety conscious work environment (SCWE). This deviation was renewed in July 2005 as discussed above and may result in programmatic changes as a result of the NRC's safety culture initiative.

April 2004 (Cooper) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Cooper plant in April 2004 to provide heightened NRC oversight to monitor the actions confirmed by the Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) dated January 30, 2003. Upon review of this deviation and others described below, the staff identified a need to clarify follow-up activities for plants that are exiting the multiple/repetitive degraded cornerstone column of the Action Matrix, and revised the guidance in IMC 0305 to provide for greater transparency and standardization of staff actions as plants transition out of increased oversight columns of the Action Matrix. This revision allows the regional offices to utilize some of the actions that are consistent with the multiple/repetitive degraded cornerstone or degraded cornerstone columns of the Action Matrix for a period of one year after the original findings have been closed out. These actions, which do not constitute a deviation from the Action Matrix, include senior management participation at periodic meetings and site visits that are focused on reviewing the results of licensee improvement initiatives such as efforts to reduce corrective action backlogs and progress in completing the Performance Improvement Plan, limited IP 95003 and CAL follow-up inspections beyond the baseline inspection program, senior management attendance at the annual public meetings, and signature authority for the subsequent assessment letters. The programmatic changes made as a result of this deviation will prevent the need for similar deviations in the future.

April 2004 (Indian Point 2) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Indian Point 2 plant in April 2004 to renew the March 2003 deviation to closely monitor the utility's performance following the station's recovery from longstanding problems. This deviation contributed to the staff's revision to program guidance described above to allow for limited heightened oversight as plants transition out of increased oversight columns of the Action Matrix.

March 2003 (Indian Point 2) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Indian Point 2 plant in March 2003 to provide for heightened oversight of the facility to closely monitor the utility's performance following the station's recovery from longstanding problems. This deviation was renewed in April 2004 as discussed above and contributed to the staff's revision to program guidance to allow for limited heightened oversight as plants transition out of increased oversight columns of the Action Matrix.

August 2002 (Oconee) – The NRC issued a deviation for the Oconee plant in August 2002 to permit for agency actions consistent with the degraded cornerstone column of the Action Matrix, including the performance of an IP 95002 vice IP 95003 supplemental inspection. The deviation, however, is not publicly available due to privacy information.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, April 27, 2018