Nuclear Regulation:

NRC's Relationship with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations

RCED-91-122: Published: May 16, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) relationship with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), focusing on whether NRC: (1) used INPO evaluation reports instead of its own oversight of the nuclear power industry; and (2) relied on INPO communications to alert industry of potential nuclear plant safety problems instead of issuing its own information notices.

GAO found that: (1) the nuclear power industry established INPO not to supplant the NRC regulatory role but to provide the means whereby the industry itself could make its nuclear operations safer; (2) INPO had no legal authority over nuclear utilities, but worked with NRC to coordinate regulatory activities; (3) NRC did not routinely use INPO evaluation reports instead of its own inspections to carry out its oversight of the nuclear power industry; (4) approximately 12 times over the past 2 years, NRC decided not to issue its own information notice since INPO had already alerted the industry to the potential problem; and (5) NRC decisions not to issue notices on the same matters reported on by INPO reduced the amount of nuclear power plant safety information available to the public, since INPO reports were not available to the public.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation has been implemented.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the public has full access to all information about potential safety problems, the Chairman, NRC, should issue information notices without regard to whether they include the same or similar information as INPO communications.

    Agency Affected: Nuclear Regulatory Commission


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