NRC Reviewer Aid for Evaluating the Human-Performance Aspects Related to the Design and Operation of Small Modular Reactors (NUREG/CR-7202)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: April 2015
Date Published: June 2015

Prepared by:
John O’Hara & Jim Higgins, BNL
Amy D’Agostino, NRC

Brookhaven National Laboratory
Building 130
Upton, NY 11973

Amy D’Agostino, NRC Project Manager

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a potential approach to meeting future energy needs. Although the electrical output of an individual SMR is relatively small compared to that of typical commercial nuclear plants, they can be grouped to produce as much energy as a utility demands. Furthermore, SMRs can be used for other purposes, such as producing hydrogen and generating process heat. The design characteristics of many SMRs differ from those of current conventional plants and may require a distinct concept of operations (ConOps). The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted research to examine the human factors engineering (HFE) and the operational aspects of SMRs captured in Human-Performance Issues Related to the Design and Operation of Small Modular Reactors (NUREG/CR-7126). The research identified thirty potential human-performance issues that should be considered in the NRC’s reviews of SMR designs and in future research activities. While the main focus was on HFE, the analysis identified a number of issues in other areas, such as operational programs and probabilistic risk assessment. The work was intended to sensitize reviewers to potential new design aspects that may impact safety.

The main purpose of this report is to provide a supplemental document to NUREG/CR-7126 to support NRC HFE reviews. As noted above, it also contains information that may be useful to non-HFE reviewers. The document identifies questions that can be asked of applicants whose designs have characteristics identified in the issues. The questions for each issue were identified and organized based on the review elements and guidance contained in Chapter 18 of the Standard Review Plan (NUREG-0800), and the Human Factors Engineering Program Review Model (NUREG-0711).

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