The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Handling of Allegations of Defective Cable

EMD-80-115: Published: Sep 17, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the circumstances surrounding the alleged defective cable supplied to five nuclear utilities during the period 1971 to 1975. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) investigated the allegations from 1976 to 1977, and based on tests and other studies decided, in its technical judgment, that the cable was not defective. In conducting the review, GAO established three objectives: (1) understanding the events which triggered the allegations; (2) reviewing the investigation by NRC of the cable problem; and (3) evaluating the actions of the affected utilities.

GAO found that the handling of the investigation by NRC was extremely poor. Examples included: (1) the reluctance of NRC to issue a bulletin or an advisory informing affected utilities of a potential generic safety problem with the cable; (2) the lack of information on who had received the defective cable and in what quantity; and (3) the failure of NRC to inform the person making the allegation of the results of its investigation or to prepare a summary document that closed out its investigation. The overriding issue was whether sufficient information was gathered and sufficient tests were made to determine the suitability and acceptability of the cable. NRC decided that the cable would safely meet intended use requirements and that the cable was not defective. GAO verified that the tests were made and had no basis to question the technical judgment of NRC.

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