Revision of the NRC Enforcement Policy - October 4, 2000

[Federal Register: October 4, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 193)]
[Page 59274-59275]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

[[Page 59274]]




Revision of the NRC Enforcement Policy

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Policy statement: revision.


SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) is
publishing a revision to its General Statement of Policy and Procedure
for NRC Enforcement Actions (NUREG-1600) (Enforcement Policy or Policy)
to address the requirements of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation
Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement
Act of 1996. The Act requires Federal agencies to adjust civil monetary
penalties to reflect inflation.

DATES: This action is effective on November 3, 2000. Comments on this
revision should be submitted on or before November 3, 2000 and will be
considered by the NRC before the next Enforcement Policy revision. The
Commission will apply the modified Policy to violations that occur
after the effective date.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to: David L. Meyer, Chief, Rules and
Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of
Administration, Mail Stop: T6D59, U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Washington, DC 20555-0001. Hand deliver comments to: Room T6D22, 11545
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.,
Federal workdays. Copies of comments received may be examined at the
NRC Public Document Room, 11555 Rockville Pike, Room O1-F21, Rockville,
MD, and through the NRC Agencywide Documents Access and Management
System (ADAMS). Comments may also be sent electronically by completing
the online comment form available on the NRC's Office of Enforcement
Internet webpage at Contact Us About Enforcement.
    The NRC's Office of Enforcement maintains the current policy
statement on its homepage on the Internet at NRC Enforcement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Borchardt, Director, Office of
Enforcement, (301) 415-2741, e-mail or Rene Pedersen,
Senior Enforcement Specialist, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, (301) 415-2742, e-

    Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) limits the maximum civil
penalty amount that the NRC may issue for violations of the AEA at
$100,000 per violation, per day. The Federal Civil Monetary Penalties
Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (as amended by the Debt Collection
Improvement Act of 1996 (the Act)) requires that the head of each
agency adjust by regulation the civil monetary penalties (CMPs)
provided by law within the jurisdiction of the agency for inflation at
least once every four years. On November 12, 1996, the NRC adjusted the
aforementioned maximum civil penalty amount to $110,000. Thus, the NRC
is required to adjust this civil penalty by November 12, 2000.
    The inflation adjustment mandated by the Act results in a six
percent increase to the maximum CMPs.\1\ Increases are to be rounded to
the nearest multiple of $10,000 in the case of penalties greater than
$100,000, but less than or equal to $200,000.

    \1\ Adjustment for inflation=Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June
1999--CPI for June 1996.

    After this mandatory adjustment for inflation and the rounding
mandated by statute, the new maximum civil penalty amount will be
$120,000 per violation, per day. Concurrent with this change, the NRC
is publishing in the Federal Register, a change to 10 CFR 2.205 to
reflect the new maximum CMP mandated by the Act. The new maximum civil
penalty applies only to violations that occur after the date that the
increase takes effect.
    The changes mandated by the Act apply to the maximum CMP. This is
also the amount that, under the Enforcement Policy approved by the
Commission, is assigned as the base civil penalty for power reactors
and gaseous diffusion plants for a Severity Level I violation
(considered the most significant severity level). Also as a matter of
policy, the Commission has approved use of lesser amounts for other
types of licensees, primarily materials licensees, and for violations
that are assessed at lower severity levels. This approach is set out in
Tables 1A and 1B of the Enforcement Policy. While the 1996 Act does not
mandate changes to these lesser civil penalty amounts, the NRC is
modifying Table 1A of the Enforcement Policy by increasing each amount
to maintain the same proportional relationships between the penalties.
These changes apply to violations occurring after the effective date of
this Policy Statement.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final policy statement does not contain a new or amended
information collection requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction
Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Existing requirements were
approved by the Office of Management and Budget, approval number 3150-

Public Protection Notification

    If a means used to impose an information collection does not
display a currently valid OMB control number, the NRC may not conduct
or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, the information

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    In accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement
Fairness Act of 1996, the NRC has determined that this action is not a
``major'' rule and has verified this determination with the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget.
    Accordingly, the NRC Enforcement Policy published on May 1, 2000
(65 FR 25368) is revised to read as follows:

General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions

* * * * *

VI. Disposition of Violations

* * * * *

C. Civil Penalty

* * * * *

1. Base Civil Penalty

* * * * *

[[Page 59275]]

                     Table 1A.--Base Civil Penalties

a. Power reactors and gaseous diffusion plants.............     $120,000
b. Fuel fabricators authorized to possess Category I or II        60,000
 quantities of SNM.........................................
c. Fuel fabricators, industrial processors,\1\ and                30,000
 independent spent fuel and monitored retrievable storage
d. Test reactors, mills and uranium conversion facilities,        12,000
 contractors, waste disposal licensees, industrial
 radiographers, and other large material users.............
e. Research reactors, academic, medical, or other small           6,000
 material users \2\........................................
\1\ Large firms engaged in manufacturing or distribution of byproduct,
  source, or special nuclear material.
\2\ This applies to nonprofit institutions not otherwise categorized in
  this table, mobile nuclear services, nuclear pharmacies, and physician

* * * * *

2. Civil Penalty Assessment

* * * * *

d. Exercise of Discretion

    As provided in Section VII, ``Exercise of Discretion,''
discretion may be exercised by either escalating or mitigating the
amount of the civil penalty determined after applying the civil
penalty adjustment factors to ensure that the proposed civil penalty
reflects all relevant circumstances of the particular case. However,
in no instance will a civil penalty for any one violation exceed
$120,000 per day.
* * * * *

VII. Exercise of Discretion

* * * * *

A. Escalation of Enforcement Sanctions

    The NRC considers violations categorized at Severity Level I,
II, or III to be of significant regulatory concern. The NRC also
considers violations associated with findings that the Reactor
Oversight Process's Significance Determination Process evaluates as
having low to moderate, or greater safety significance (i.e., white,
yellow, or red) to be of significant regulatory concern. If the
application of the normal guidance in this policy does not result in
an appropriate sanction, with the approval of the Deputy Executive
Director and consultation with the EDO and Commission, as warranted,
the NRC may apply its full enforcement authority where the action is
warranted. NRC action may include: (1) escalating civil penalties;
(2) issuing appropriate orders; and (3) assessing civil penalties
for continuing violations on a per day basis, up to the statutory
limit of $120,000 per violation, per day.
* * * * *

3. Daily Civil Penalties

    In order to recognize the added significance for those cases
where a very strong message is warranted for a significant violation
that continues for more than one day, the NRC may exercise
discretion and assess a separate violation and attendant civil
penalty up to the statutory limit of $120,000 for each day the
violation continues. The NRC may exercise this discretion if a
licensee was aware of or clearly should have been aware of a
violation, or if the licensee had an opportunity to identify and
corerct the violation but failed to do so.
* * * * *

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 27th day of September, 2000.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette L. Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 00-25375 Filed 10-3-00; 8:45 am]


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