United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Reactor Inspection Basics

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Who inspects a nuclear power plant?

The core of the NRC inspection program for nuclear power plants is carried out by resident (on-site) inspectors; at least two inspectors are assigned to each site.

Inspection specialists from the regional offices review plant security, emergency planning, radiation protection, environmental monitoring, periodic testing of plant equipment and systems, fire protection, construction activities, and other more specialized areas. During the course of a year, NRC specialists may conduct 10 to 25 routine inspections at each nuclear power plant, depending on the activities at the plants and problems that may occur. Team inspections regularly review fire protection, plant design, and corrective actions. Special team inspections may focus on a specific plant activity, such as maintenance or security, or a team may be sent to the plant to look at a specific operating problem or accident.

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How often does NRC inspect a nuclear power plant?

Continuously, resident inspectors monitor licensee activities in accordance with the baseline inspection program.

Periodically, regional inspection specialists conduct inspections of each plant in their region.

Semiannually, each region formulates a schedule of specialist inspections for assessing plant performance for the following year. They factor into their schedule plant performance for the previous year so that inspection resources are focused on plants with declining performance.

As needed, the regional inspectors conduct special (supplemental) inspections of those plants that exceeded established thresholds during routine inspections and, therefore, require heightened agency scrutiny.

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How does NRC record its findings from each inspection?

NRC documents the findings for an inspection in a report in accordance with IMC 0612. Routine inspection reports are typically issued every quarter. Other reports are issued within weeks of the inspection.

Regardless of a plant's performance, inspectors document their findings in a report for every plant in their region following their inspection and give that report to the licensee for information and action as appropriate.

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How does NRC use inspection findings in its oversight of nuclear power plants?

The significance of each inspection finding is established using the NRC's significance determination process. The number and significance of the findings are used collectively with performance indicators to determine the agency's response.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 12, 2015