NRC Selects Nuclear Power Plants at Eight Sites as Pilots for New Inspection, Assessment and Enforcement Processes

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No. 99-31
February 22, 1999


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has selected nuclear power plants at eight sites throughout the country to begin phasing in its new inspection, assessment and enforcement processes during a six-month pilot program beginning June 1.

The pilot plant sites are (1) Hope Creek and Salem 1 and 2, near Wilmington, Delaware, operated by Public Service Electric & Gas; (2) Fitzpatrick, near Oswego, New York, operated by the Power Authority of the State of New York; (3) Shearon Harris, near Raleigh, North Carolina, operated by Carolina Power & Light Co. (4) Sequoyah 1 and 2, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority; (5) Prairie Island 1 and 2, near Minneapolis, Minnesota, operated by Northern States Power Co.; (6) Quad Cities 1 and 2, near Moline, Illinois, operated by Commonwealth Edison Co.; (7) Ft. Calhoun, near Omaha, Nebraska, operated by the Omaha Public Power District; and (8) Cooper, near Nebraska City, Nebraska, operated by the Nebraska Public Power District.

The new program that will be tested at these plants will include a baseline of inspections common to all nuclear plants. Inspections that go beyond the baseline will be performed when performance drops below a specified threshold. Additional inspections may be done in response to a specific event or problem.

This new program reflects improvements in the safety, reliability and performance of the nuclear power industry over the past 20 years, as well as the agency's need to regulate the industry effectively with a smaller staff and budget using risk insights in the inspection and assessment process. The NRC is therefore moving to measure nuclear power plant performance using a combination of objective indicators, as well as findings from an inspection program that will focus on plant activities most important to safety and minimizing risk.

NRC staff worked closely with the nuclear industry to select plants for the pilot program, using the following criteria:

  • To the maximum extent possible, licensees were chosen that had either volunteered to participate, or that had participated in an industry task group that worked with NRC in designing regulatory oversight process improvements. A number of different licensees were chosen to maximize industry exposure during the pilot program.
  • Plants were chosen to represent a broad spectrum of performance levels. Plants in extended shutdowns because of performance issues were not considered.
  • Plants also were selected to provide a mix of both pressurized-water reactors and boiling-water reactors, a combination of nuclear steam supply systems and a variety of plant ages.
  • To the extent possible, two plants that had different performance levels were chosen within each region.
  • NRC considered regional office concerns, such as the agency staff's experience with the pilot plants, and such transition issues as the expected departure of key NRC personnel during the pilot study. Also considered were such matters as licensee involvement with other significant NRC activities like license renewal and steam generator replacement.

These criteria, and potential candidate plants, were discussed with the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry's policy organization. Utilities which operate all of the candidate plants selected by NRC agreed to participate in the pilot program. Upon successful completion of the pilot program, NRC plans to fully implement a new oversight process in January 2000.

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