United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

IE Circular No. 81-04, The Role of Shift Technical Advisors and Importance of Reporting Operational Events

                                                          SSINS No.: 6830  
                                                          Accession No:    
                                                          IEC 81-04        

                               UNITED STATES 
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 
                               April 30, 1981 

                         OF REPORTING OPERATIONAL EVENTS 


The purpose of this circular is to focus attention on several problems NRC 
has identified in licensee implementation of the shift technical advisor 
(STA) program and the program for reporting operational events. Problems in 
both of these areas have been identified, and to varying degrees, are 
believed to be fairly wide-spread. 

Shift Technical Advisor (STA) Program: 

The STA position is a TMI-2 Action Plan Requirement clarified in NUREG-0737 
and also in the letter from Mr. H. R. Denton, Director of the Office of 
Nuclear Reactor Regulation, "To All Operating Nuclear Power Plant 
Licensees," dated October 30, 1979. 

The STA position was established to provide additional on-shift technical 
support and knowledge to the shift supervisors in the areas of operational 
event evaluation and accident assessment. The primary duties of the STA 
include providing technical and engineering advice in assuring safe 
operations of the plant. This is to be accomplished through additional 
reviews and evaluations of operating events and accident and incident 
assessments. As the title implies, the position is one of advisor. The 
duties of the STA should include the review and evaluation of off-normal 
events. The STA should also provide advice or recommendations to the shift 
supervisor on the safety significance and reportability of these events as 
they occur. 

Based on results of a recent investigation, NRC has concluded that the STA 
position is not being utilized to the extent envisioned. It is important 
that the STA be kept well informed of off-normal events and of 
safety-related activities being performed by others. By strengthening the 
STA program, an additional margin of safety can be realized. 

Specific areas, identified by our inspection and investigative activities, 
where, it appears that the STA program can be strengthened, include the 

1.   STAs are not routinely being called upon for advice when potential 
     safety problems are identified. The threshold for identifying 
     off-normal conditions the STA should evaluate appears to be too high. 
     It is recommended that licensees review their guidance to STAs and 
     shift supervisors in this area so that use of the STA will be 

                                                          IEC 81-04       
                                                          April 30, 1981  
                                                          Page 2 of 2     

2.   Basic organizational structures and procedures do not suitably define, 
     in many cases, the functional duties of the STA during operating or 
     shutdown conditions. The working relationships between the STA, who 
     functions in an advisory capacity, and the shift supervisors must be 
     clear in order to achieve improvements in overall safety. 

Program for Reporting Operational Events: 

Reports of operational events are essential for NRC to carry out its ongoing
review and analysis of operating problems. Information provided to NRC must 
represent a complete picture of the event, the cause, and corrective actions
taken. This does not mean that a lengthy description is required. 
Descriptions may be brief but must be sufficient to reflect the situation as
understood at the time of the report. Supplementary reports adding 
additional facts or reflecting significant changes in the facts surrounding 
the event must be made on a priority basis commensurate with the 
significance of the additional facts or changes to facts previously 

An evaluation of each off-normal condition and any change in that condition 
should be made to determine reportability. It is recommended that licensees 
review with their staffs the importance of ensuring that initial and 
subsequent important information on off-normal events is reported to NRC as 
required by conditions of operating licenses and NRC regulations. Although 
it is important to keep the NRC resident inspector informed of each event, 
the official NRC notification must be made in accordance with the 
requirements as stated in the license and NRC regulations. 

It is essential that reporting to NRC and other government offices does not 
detract from the response to the event. Reporting cannot be allowed to 
degrade safety. It is therefore essential that sufficient shift staffing be 
provided to meet both event response and reporting requirements. 

No written response to this circular is required. If additional information 
regarding this matter is needed, licensees should contact the director of 
the appropriate NRC regional office. 

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