Placing Resident Inspectors at Nuclear Powerplant Sites:

Is It Working?

EMD-80-28: Published: Nov 15, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 1979.

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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.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of NRC should resolve present weaknesses by taking the following steps during implementation of the revised inspection program: (1) require that resident inspectors perform more direct observations than review of records and provide resident inspectors with more administrative support; (2) define the role of the resident inspectors and establish what qualifications and training they need, specifically requiring them to have plant-specific training, and a level of training comparable with a reactor operator; (3) assign resident inspectors to those reactor sites that are most in need of regulatory attention; (4) coordinate the interface between the existing regional inspection approach and the evolving resident inspection approach; and (5) reevaluate and restructure the performance appraisal team and develop appropriate goals and measures of effectiveness for its nuclear powerplant inspection program.

    Agency Affected:


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