Effects of Deregulation on Safety:  Implications Drawn From The Aviation, Rail and United Kingdom Nuclear Power Industries (NUREG/CR-6735)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: June 2001
Date Published: August 2001

Prepared by:
V.M. Bier, University of Wisconsin-Madison
J.K. Joosten, Connect-USA.com
J.D. Glyer, J.A. Tracey, M.P. Welsh, Laurits R. Christensen Associates, Inc.

Center for Human Performance and Risk Analysis
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1513 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706

25131 Chambliss Court
Gaithersburg, MD 20882

Laurits R. Christensen Associates, Inc.
4610 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

Paul M. Lewis, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Systems Analysis and Regulatory Effectiveness
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code K6892

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Changes associated with economic deregulation of the U.S. electricity supply industry are causing major restructuring, with the potential to affect nuclear power safety. This study was undertaken to identify possible consequences of deregulation for nuclear power safety. A historical case study approach was adopted (using literature reviews and interviews), focusing on the U.S. aviation and rail industries and the United Kingdom nuclear power industry because of their relevance to the U.S. nuclear power industry. Overall, the experience of the case study industries suggests that economic deregulation need not be incompatible with a reasonable safety record, especially in areas where safety is positively related to productivity. However, safety clearly cannot be taken for granted after deregulation, since adverse effects on safety were observed in each of the three case study industries. Among the most notable of those involved financial pressures, safety culture problems associated with mergers and acquisitions, increased use of contractors, and downsizing. The magnitude and speed of such changes can create major challenges to the management of safety. Careful review and study of the problems observed in the case studies may make it possible to identify proactive ways of minimizing similar safety problems in the U.S. nuclear power industry.

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