NRC permits maintenance check flexibility

Published on August 15, 2018 by Douglas Clark

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is in accordance with the industry’s position of nuclear plant licensees determining maintenance check frequency without Commission oversight.

Officials said the NRC reversed an earlier decision in which it had given a violation to Exelon’s Byron Generating Station related to changes to the licensee-controlled Surveillance Frequency Control Program (SFCP).

“If the NRC’s initial violation had stood, Byron and many other nuclear power plants would have seen a sharp increase in paperwork and duplicative evaluations,” Victoria Anderson, NEI technical advisor, said. “This would have added expense and reduced efficiency of operations with little, if any, measurable safety benefit. It would also have increased wear and tear on instruments and systems due to testing.”

NRC staff acknowledged that its earlier position was erroneous and rescinded Byron’s violation, officials said, allowing the plant, and others, to continue to determine the frequency of their equipment inspections under the SFCP with their current programmatic controls.

“The developments with SFCP show how important it is that the NRC and industry maintain consistent interpretations of relevant NRC regulatory requirements and industry guidance,” Anderson said. “This allows our industry to maintain the highest standard for safe and efficient operations at our nation’s nuclear power plants.”

Nuclear Energy Institute officials said they previously outlined why SFCP changes are not subject to the NRC’s legal oversight and are not a regulatory requirement, but an industry guideline.