United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Qualifications of Reactor Operators - License Examinations (Generic Letter 81-40)

                               UNITED STATES 
                       NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION  
                          WASHINGTON, D. C. 20555 

                             December 16, 1981 



Subject:  Qualifications of Reactor Operators - License Examinations 
          (Generic Letter 81-40) 

In letters dated September 13, 1979 and March 28, 1980, we informed you of 
proposed recommendations and revised criteria to be used by the staff in 
evaluating reactor operator training and licensing. We also informed you 
that Commission review was continuing in this area and could be expected to 
result in additional criteria. 

As part of our effort, we have conducted an in-depth review of the 
examination process, including the scope and format of the examination. The 
review has resulted in several changes to our internal procedures and a 
revised operator and senior operator written examination. 

Both examinations will consist of five categories and have a six-hour time 
limit imposed. The weight given to theory is reduced from 38% in the 
operator written and 56% in the senior operator written, to about 25% in 
each. Consequently, the examination becomes less of a writing marathon than 
at present. Enclosure 1 presents the scope of the new examinations and how 
they relate to the current examinations. 

In addition to the above, the senior operator written examination is 
restructured so that a senior operator need not take the operator written 
portion. Senior operator candidates who elect to sit only for this written 
examination will not be considered for an operator's license should they 
fail this examination. 

We hope to initiate the administration of the new examinations early in 
1982. However, we believe that it is essential to receive public comments 
prior to implementation. In particular, we would welcome comments on how 
best to schedule the implementation of this program so as to minimize 
disruption of ongoing training programs and staffing plans for pending 
operating license applicants. Also, we believe it is essential to have some 
type of controlled experiment to assure that the proposed examination will 
result in well-qualified licensed individuals.  We welcome any suggestions 
regarding these experiments. We have scheduled an all-day meeting at the 
Holiday Inn, 8200 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Md. on January 6, 1982 at 9:00 

We plan a one-hour presentation and question/answer session. This will be 
followed by small roundtable discussions involving OLB examiners and 
industry, vendor, and members of the public to assure complete understanding
of our approach and answer additional questions and address individual 
concerns. We urge you to have representation of your training department at 
this meeting. 


                                    - 2 -

Mr. Paul F. Collins, Chief, Operator Licensing Branch, will conduct the 
meeting.  Mr. Collins can be reached on (301)492-4868 if you require 
additional information. 


                              Darrell G. Eisenhut, Director 
                              Division of Licensing 

Revised examinations 

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