Reporting Unscheduled Events at Commercial Nuclear Facilities:

Opportunities To Improve Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight

EMD-79-16: Published: Jan 26, 1979. Publicly Released: Jan 26, 1979.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates the construction and operation of nuclear powerplants and other facilities and the possession, use, and disposal of nuclear materials to protect the public from radiation hazards. To oversee these activities, the Commission relies on information obtained in reports from licensees. The Commission uses these reports to: (1) identify safety-related incidents and problems; (2) assist in making safety-related decisions; and (3) disseminate information to the public on the nuclear industry's operating experiences. GAO reviewed the Commission's program for collecting and evaluating these reports.

The Commission needs to improve its licensee report assessment procedures to better assure that it is identifying and acting on all safety-related problems. For example, the Commission's review of reported events following its discovery of a safety related problem at two operating nuclear powerplants revealed that the problem had been widespread for sometime. Better assessment procedures may have enabled the Commission to identify this problem earlier.

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