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Highlights

GAO reviewed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) management of its operating nuclear power plant inspection program, including: (1) the NRC response to investigative findings concerning the Three Mile Island accident in 1979; (2) documentation for inspection program policies and procedures; and (3) the design and management of the inspection program. To oversee nuclear power plant operations, NRC maintains resident inspectors at each plant to observe daily operations and uses regional inspectors to perform specialized inspection functions.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 1. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should use information available in the inspection database to plan and monitor inspections at specific power plants. Analyses of the various types of inspections that are and are not being performed, as well as the frequency of violations detected, should be included in this process.
Closed - Implemented
In October 1985, NRC started compiling quarterly inspection data to analyze the implementation of selected key inspection procedures at each operating plant. Although the data provides a breakdown of types of inspections, it does not include the frequency of violations detected.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 2. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should systematically analyze licensee reports of plant events to identify trends or issues that need consideration in managing the overall inspection program.
Closed - Implemented
NRC developed a program to identify trends and patterns from licensee event reports. Periodic products generated by the new program are being provided to all NRC headquarters and regional offices.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 3. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should formally correlate the inspection procedures with the functional areas used in annual plant assessments.
Closed - Implemented
NRC agreed with this recommendation and undertook two efforts to implement it. NRC correlated inspection procedures with functional areas and upgraded related inspection policies and guidance.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 4. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should use risk-based analyses, as appropriate, to aid in evaluating overall inspection program and individual power plant priorities by identifying plant operations and inspection procedures that are most clearly related to control of public risk.
Closed - Implemented
NRC agreed and is committed to conducting studies and research and providing training to inspectors to enhance the use of risk-based analyses in the inspection program. This will, however, be a long-term effort.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 5. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should use the reports and analyses discussed above to prepare written inspection plans for each plant.
Closed - Implemented
In May 1985, NRC agreed to develop a policy on the make-up and use of site-specific inspection plans that included the use of assessment results in developing inspection plans. In November 1985, NRC revised its inspection policy to implement this recommendation.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 6. To improve the NRC operating nuclear reactor inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should establish and implement a policy on how NRC managers and inspectors are to monitor utilities' corrective action to evaluation findings, and recognize these evaluations in inspection plans.
Closed - Implemented
NRC restated its policy in this area to its inspectors in July 1986.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 7. Because NRC has reduced the number of its performance appraisal team inspections in recognition of similar INPO evaluations, the Chairman, NRC, should also compile and maintain a list of all INPO evaluation reports and those reports released by utilities to NRC.
Closed - Not Implemented
Because INPO reports are available to NRC inspectors at plant sites, NRC does not consider it necessary to compile a duplicate list. NRC added that selected INPO reports are often duplicated and evaluated in detail by NRC headquarters and regional inspection officials.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 8. Because NRC has reduced the number of its performance appraisal team inspections in recognition of similar INPO evaluations, the Chairman, NRC, should also establish criteria for determining when the number of NRC performance appraisal team inspections should be increased or decreased in relation to NRC success in obtaining INPO evaluation reports.
Closed - Not Implemented
NRC stated that adequate methods exist to monitor INPO evaluations without increasing the number of performance appraisal team inspections or requiring that NRC obtain copies of all INPO reports. These methods include NRC accompaniment on INPO evaluations, periodic briefings by INPO management, and access to INPO reports.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 9. To clarify the inspection program, the Chairman, NRC, should identify and revise, as may be appropriate, areas within the inspection procedures, regulations, or other NRC requirements which are ambiguous or not sufficiently clear in their use or intent.
Closed - Implemented
Based on the GAO report, NRC identified 64 procedures needing clarification or other revision. It superseded or deleted 15, substantially revised 12, began rewriting 27, and scheduled the 10 for revision in 1986.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 10. To improve the inspection training program, the Chairman, NRC, should identify mandatory training courses, acceptable reasons for not attending on schedule, and maximum permissible time for rescheduling attendance at these courses.
Closed - Implemented
In a letter dated January 8, 1986, NRC described steps taken that, in its view, implement this recommendation. However, the steps cover only those inspectors who have not yet met minimum training requirements and thus are not fully responsive. NRC clearly does not intend to take additional action, so this recommendation should be closed.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 11. To improve the inspection training program, the Chairman, NRC, should determine whether the existing training program meets the needs of inspectors in ensuring compliance with NRC regulations at operating nuclear power plants.
Closed - Implemented
In a January 8, 1986, letter, NRC described steps taken that, in its view, implement this recommendation. However, the steps cover only those inspectors who have not met minimum training requirements and thus are not fully responsive. NRC clearly does not intend to take additional action, so this recommendation should be closed.

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