United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Resolution of Generic Safety Issues: Introduction ( NUREG-0933, Main Report with Supplements 1–34 )

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has identified by its assessment of plant operations certain issues involving public health and safety, the common defense and security, or the environment that could affect multiple entities under NRC jurisdiction. Under the Generic Issues Program (GIP), resolution of these generic issues (GIs) is documented and tracked. In addition, GIP tracks and reports the GI status and resolutions to Congress and the public. The resolution of these issues may involve new or revised rules, new or revised guidance, or revised interpretation of rules or guidance that affect nuclear power plant licensees, nuclear material certificate holders, or holders of other regulatory approvals. Congress requires that the NRC maintain this program (see Section 210 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (Public Law 95-209)).

A generic issue is (1) a well-defined, discrete, technical or security issue, (2) the risk or safety significance of which can be adequately determined, and that (3) applies to two or more facilities or licensees and certificate holders or holders of other regulatory approvals (including design certification rules), (4) affects public health and safety, the common defense and security, or the environment, (5) is not already being processed under an existing program or process, (6) cannot be readily addressed through other regulatory programs and processes, existing regulations, policies, guidance, or voluntary industry initiatives, and (7) can be resolved by new or revised regulation, policy, or guidance or by voluntary industry initiatives. NRC staff or members of the public may propose a GI when issues are identified that indicate or suggest there might be weaknesses in NRC rules and regulations to ensure public health and safety and security for nuclear matters.

The agency’s GIP process for resolving GIs is described in Management Directive 6.4, “Generic Issues Program,” dated November 17, 2009, and SECY-07-0022, “Status Report on Proposed Improvements to the Generic Issues Program,” dated January 30, 2007. These documents provide recent program improvement initiatives. This process includes five distinct possible stages: identification, acceptance review, screening, safety/risk assessment, and regulatory assessment. During each stage, the NRC staff determines whether or not the issue needs more information and if the issue should proceed to the next stage, or recommends that the issue exit the GIP. When issues exit the GIP, the possible outcomes include: no action, further research, transfer to appropriate regulatory programs, or possible industry initiative. In any case, the GIP provides feedback about the outcome at each stage to the person proposing the GI (requestor) and the appropriate regulatory office. Issues that proceed through all five stages result in regulatory solutions that are provided to regulatory offices for implementation and verification. The following figure presents the GIP in perspective with other regulatory programs and processes. Historical GIP procedures are documented in Appendix G of this report.

Progress in resolving GIs that the NRC has identified for regulation and guidance development is published quarterly in the Generic Issue Management Control System (GIMCS), which is available in the NRC’s Public Document Room or from the Publicly Available Records component of the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS). Furthermore, this report (NUREG-0933) publishes the resolutions of all resolved generic safety issues and the partial assessments of all remaining unresolved GIs. Table II of NUREG-0933 presents a list of all GIs. In addition, Table III of this report summarizes and tabulates by group the results of the resolution of all issues contained in this report. GIs identified since the previous publication of NUREG-0933 are identified in the quarterly GIMCS reports.