Placing Resident Inspectors at Nuclear Powerplant Sites

Is It Working? Gao ID: EMD-80-28 November 15, 1979

The nuclear industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have complementary responsibilities in assuring the safe operation of commercial nuclear powerplants. In the past, regional (NRC) inspectors traveled from five offices to inspect nuclear reactor sites and other facilities. About 25 percent of the regional inspector's time was spent onsite, and the balance of the time was spent in regional offices preparing for and evaluating inspections. In June, 1974, a 2-year trial program was begun in which inspectors were assigned to locations at or near nuclear power reactor sites. The program involved assigning two NRC inspectors to locations from which they could inspect a total of four reactor sites.

After a study of the program was made in 1977, the Commissioners approved the use of resident inspectors and began assigning resident inspectors to 20 reactor sites. NRC now believes that there is a need to assign more than one resident inspector to some powerplant sites. When a site includes one or more plants in operational or pre-operational testing status, NRC plans to assign one resident for each of those plants plus another resident to be responsible for the overall site inspection effort. This latter resident will coordinate activities of the plant residents and regional inspectors, and be the principal contact with the reactor owner. Under this concept, NRC plans to increase the number of residents to 174 by the end of fiscal year 1981. This new system will enable NRC to compare different reactors and utilities and adjust its inspection methods accordingly. The regions can also maintain overall unified management and direction. In essence, NRC's regional and resident inspection approaches working together will lead to an overal inspection effort that will be more effective in ensuring nuclear reactor safety.


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