Operator Licensing Examination Standards for Power Reactors, Final Report (NUREG-1021, Revision 11)

On this page:

Download complete document

Download the Forms included in the document

Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2016
Date Published: February 2017

Prepared by:
T. Kolb
M. Scheetz

Division of Construction Inspection and Operational Programs Office of New Reactors

Division of Inspection and Regional Support
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Availability Notice


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) publishes NUREG-1021, "Operator Licensing Examination Standards for Power Reactors," to establish the policies, procedures, and practices for examining licensees and applicants for reactor operator and senior reactor operator licenses at power reactor facilities in accordance with Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 55, "Operators' Licenses."

The intent of these examination standards is to help NRC examiners and facility licensees better understand the processes associated with initial and requalification examinations. The standards also ensure the equitable and consistent administration of examinations for all applicants. As stated in 10 CFR 55.40, "Implementation," "[t]he Commission shall use the criteria in NUREG-1021…in effect 6 months before the examination date to prepare the written examinations required by [10 CFR] 55.41 and [10 CFR] 55.43 and the operating tests required by [10 CFR] 55.45. The Commission shall also use the criteria in NUREG-1021 to evaluate the written examinations and operating tests prepared by power reactor facility licensees pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section."

The NRC issued Revision 10 to NUREG-1021 in December 2014 to (1) add guidance for licensing of operators for new reactors, (2) add, as references, NUREG-2103, "Knowledge and Abilities Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: Westinghouse AP1000 Pressurized-Water Reactors," issued October 2011, and NUREG-2104, "Knowledge and Abilities Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: Advanced Boiling-Water Reactors," issued December 2011, (3) add the Division of Construction Inspection and Operational Programs, Office of New Reactors, as an operator licensing program office, (4) change the submission dates for licensed operator materials and correspondence, and (5) address a number of other minor issues.

The NRC is issuing Revision 11 to NUREG-1021 to (1) clarify the waiver process for 10 CFR 55.47, "Waiver of Examination and Test Requirements," (2) clarify the excusal process for 10 CFR 55.35(b), (3) clarify the independent review (appeal) process and revise the process and timeframe for the submission of post-examination comments, (4) clarify and modify existing grading criteria for the simulator operating test to improve objectivity and ensure proper emphasis on operator competence, and (5) incorporate guidance that was previously published on the NRC's operator licensing Web page and approved in a regional report on interactions.

Most of the changes in Revision 11 to NUREG-1021 derive from recommendations in a report issued by the Operator Licensing Lessons Learned Review Team in November 2014. The NRC established the review team to assess the issues contributing to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decision on March 18, 2014, overturning the staff's denial of a senior reactor operator license application for an applicant from the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. In that decision, the Board highlighted the NRC staff's handling of several procedural issues related to the operator licensing examination process. The team conducted a focused review of the NRC's processes for initial operator licensing and staff administrative reviews (appeals) and provided 23 recommended improvements to the operator licensing process.

This NUREG is a rule as defined in the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801-808). However, the Office of Management and Budget has not found it to be a major rule as defined in the Congressional Review Act.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 25, 2021