Page images
PDF
EPUB

operator training, emergency preparedness, control room design, reactor instrumentation, radiation measuring instrumentation, and hydrogen control. It resulted from the Commission's internal reviews of the accident coupled with the conclusions of the Presidential Commission and our own Special Inquiry Group. As you know, the development of that document and the Commission's increased attention to the safety in the 70 operating reactors took so much of our attention and our resources that we were unable to license new plants for a year after the accident. Following the issuance of the Action Plan, new operating licenses were issued to Sequoyah and North Anna units late last summer. Furthermore, low power test authorizations were issued to Salem and Farley, and we would anticipate those units going to full power in the near future. We are currently reviewing the conditions necessary for the resumption of construction permit issuance, and we confidently expect to issue those conditions in the immediate future.

While the overall picture is one of a licensing process and an inspection and enforcement regimen that is returning to predictability at a considerably enhanced level of safety, there is one problem area that I want to bring to your attention at the outset. The implementation of this enhanced level of safety has, of course, raised a number of potential new issues in the contested hearings for both operating licenses and construction permits around the country. Some of these units were substantially complete at the time of the Three Mile Ísland accident or have been completed since then. Thus, we do face a situation in which, for the first time, our hearings are or will be continuing for a significant number of plants that will be complete and ready to operate before the hearings conclude.

This situation is an indirect consequence of the TMI accident, which required a reexamination of the entire regulatory structure. We are not satisfied with the present situation and we are working to find ways to accelerate the hearings on these plants whose continued idleness prevents a substantial investment from benefiting either the consumers or the operating utilities.

I should note that this licensing situation is a unique occurrence. Our hearings have not in the past continued after the time that the plants were ready to operate, and they may not do so to the same extent in the future. There are differences of opinion within the Commission on the extent to which full public particiption in the litigation of TMI-related issues on plants already completed is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the costs involved and on how serious the delays are likely to be for plants not currently involved in hearings. However, we are in agreement that all unnecessary delay in these hearings should be avoided, and we are making every effort to that end.

HIGHLIGHTS OF REGULATORY ACTIVITIES Presently, there are 68 nuclear plants licensed to operated in the United States representing about 51,000 Megawatts of electrical generating capacity. Two plants representing an additional 2,000 Megawatts are undergoing low power testing. Eighty-two plants, with a capacity of 91,000 Megawatts, have been granted construction permits. Finally, there are eleven applications representing 14,000 Megawatts of capacity, undergoing construction permit review.

In 1980 four low power and two full power licenses were issued for the operation of nuclear reactors and about 2,000 amendments to operating reactor licenses were approved. Two operating license hearings, held in abeyance pending resolution of issues reaised by Three Mile Island, were resumed. Thirteen supplemental safety evaluation reports were also issued.

In the nuclear materials licensing program, three new fuel cycle facilities were licensed and over 700 new radioisotope licenses were issued. A number of license renewals were also granted including: one fuel cycle facility license; over 800 radioisotope license; and four uranium recovery facility licenses. In addition, over 300 license amendments were approved during 1980.

The Commission also approved 462 export licenses, 89 of which were major licenses associated with special nuclear material, source material and reactors.

Also, by the end of 1980, over 130 resident inspectors were on duty. These inspectors and the region-based inspecton force performed over 26,000 staff-days of on-site inspection. Most of this effort (about 21,000 staff-days) was devoted to reactor facilities inspections. In addition, nearly 50 enforcement orders were issued and over a million dollars in civil penalties were assessed. Resumption of Licensing

After the accident at Three Mile Island, the Commission decided that power reactor licensing should not continue until the assessment of that accident had been substantially completed and comprehensive improvements in both the operation and regulation of nuclear power plants had been set in motion. In late 1979 the NRC

began developing a comprehensive plan for the actions judged necessary to correct or improve the regulation and operation of nuclear facilities.

When it decided to curtail licensing of power rectors, the Commission was aware that a number of reactors would soon be completed and ready to be considered for an operating license. Immediately after the accident first priority was given to dealing with operating plants. The next step was to specify a discrete set of TMIrealted requirements for new operating licenses. Unfortunately, these actions were harder and the adjudicatory processes have taken much longer than we expected. In February, 1980, based on its review of initial drafts of the Action Plan, the Commission approved a listing of near-term operating license (NTOL) requirements, as being necessary but not necessarily sufficient requirements, for granting new operating licenses. Subsequently, the fuel load requirements on the NTOL list were used by the Commission in granting operating licenses with limited authorizations for fuel loading and low power testing for Sequoyah 1 in Tennessee, followed by similar licenses for North Anna 2 in Virginia, Salem 2 in New Jersey, and Farley 2 in Alabama. Subsequently, North Anna and Sequoyah were granted full operating licenses. The next power licenses are projected to be issued to Salem 2, which must conduct a successful emergency response exercise, and Farley 2.

In addition to those facilities which received licenses in 1980, several others were nearing completion or had completed constructon during the year. McGuire received a license in January, 1981, to load fuel and for zero power testing and its request for a full power license is before a hearing board. A low power license for Diablo Canyon Unit 1 is presently scheduled for a hearing before an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. We have been examining ways to expedite the hearings and to focus staff resources. However, the 30 January report to this Committee shows that in 1981 and 1982 11 plants will be completed from 1 to 13 months before a full power license decision can be made, and that assumes the hearing process uncovers no presently unknown flaws. This also assumes states cooperate in developing and exercising emergency plans.

Before the pause in licensing, the staff also was near completion of their review of several applications for construction permits. Before construction permits can be issued, however, these facilities must be reviewed against new requirements resulting from the accident at Three Mile Island. A proposal has been developed with respect to the TMI-related requirements that should be applied to construction permits and manufacturing licenses and it was issued for public comment. A final version of the new requirements should be issued early in calendar year 1981. Reorganization of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

The Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation was reorganized in April 1980. The purpose of the reorganization was to implement some of the changes and improvements recommended by the various investigations of the TMI accident and to use our manpower resources more effectively. More specifically, recognizing that the people who manage and operate nuclear plants are an important safety feature we established a new Division of Human Factors Safety to look specifically at the people-oriented aspects of safety. The responsibilities of this division include: various aspects of the man-machine interface; plant procedures and safety-related tests; qualifications and licensing of persons in certain functions; and the organization and management of the plant and the corporate staff as a whole. Most of this division's early efforts have been spent in reviewing plants which were to be ready for an operating license in the near future with particular emphasis on control room design, emergency operating procedures, and operator qualifications. In addition, a single Division of Licensing was formed to eliminate the separation between plants in operation and those under licensing review. This change should result in a more effective interchange of information. Finally, we established the Division of Safety Technology to develop solutions to generic safety issues, perform reliability and risk assessments, and assess operating experience. Deployment of Inspectors

During 1980 the NRC completed stationing resident inspectors at the sites of all operating nuclear power plants and of some under construction. By the end of fiscal year 1980, 136 inspectors were assigned to 78 sites: 47 sites with operating reactors, 11 sites with power reactors in preoperational testing, 18 sites where power reactors are being constructed, and two fuel facilities. Resident inspectors are NRC's continuing presence on-site and monitor licensee performance and day-to-day activities at the site. They also follow-up on NRC bulletins, circulars, and information notices and assure the licensee meets commitments in response to NRC enforcement actions. They are also available to respond to events, on-site and in the local area. With the assistance of region-based inspectors, they perform a scheduled program of inspections into most aspects of plant construction, testing, and operation. About 78

percent of the staff of the Office of Inspection and Enforcement are now assigned to NRC's regional offices and to individual sites.

The Commission will continue to assign one or more resident inspectors to sites with power reactors in operation or in preoperational testing. In addition, one resident inspector is being assigned to each site where nuclear plant construction is well advanced or where problems are evident in early stages of construction. Away-from-reactor storage

The need for storage of spent nuclear fuel leads nuclear power plant licensees to increase capacities of storage pools at reactor sites and to ship irradiated fuel from sites with filled pools to others where room is available. At present there are nine applications pending for expansion of existing spent fuel pools. Some utilities are requesting modifications of existing pools for the second time. Applications of this kind have already been approved and, in principle, there does not appear to be any health and safety reasons why other such applications cannot be approved. If pending and anticipated applications for expansion of spent fuel pools are approved as expected, there should be sufficient capacity to accommodate currently projected storage needs through 1985. This projection is consistent with the current DOE estimates and indicates an initial requirement for AFR storage capacity in 1986. However, this projection is sensitive to assumptions regarding fuel burn-up rates, maximum compaction possible at existing reactor basins, and trans-shipment of spent fuel among reactors. Reflecting this sensitivity, previous DOE estimates indicated the need for a government-owned AFR by 1983.

In related actions the Commission promulgated a new rule entitled “Licensing Requirements for the Storage of Spent Fuel in an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation”, which became effective in December 1980. The NRC staff is reevaluating the pending license renewal request by General Electric for its Morris Operation, where spent fuel has been stored since 1972, in light of the new regulation. Spent fuel shipments

In fiscal year 1980 the number of spent fuel shipments made by NRC licensees dropped to about 125. These shipments fall roughly into four equally divided categories: (i) imports of research reactor fuel for reprocessing at the DOE Savannah River Facility; (ii) transfers between reactor facility storage pools; (iii) transfers to the GE storage facility at Morris, Illinois; and (iv) transfers to commercial laboratories for post-irradiation research. It is expected that in the future spent fuel shipments will amount to about 200 per year until a national waste storage/disposal program has been established.

In July of 1979 the Commission prescribed new regulations requiring licensees to protect spent fuel shipments against sabotage. The key requirement consisted of avoiding heavily populated areas in order to mitigate the potential consequences of a sabotage action in an urban environ. Based on public comment, the regulations were amended in July of 1980 to permit transit of urban areas if additional protection measures, such as armed guards, were employed.

In response to the new Sections 147 and 301 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, (Public Law 96-295) the Commission published proposed rules in December 1980 that would require licensees to provide advanced notification to Governors of States of any shipment of spent fuel into or through their states. The notification would have to be protected against unauthorized disclosure until some time after the shipment had been completed. The notification requirements also apply to certain other nuclear waste shipments, in addition to spent fuel.

The Department of Transportation recently issued a final rule (effective February 1, 1982) regarding routing requirements for all radioactive materials. Under this rule, carriers of large quantity radioactive materials would be required to use Interstate Highways or highways designated by a State routing agency. The carriers would have to avoid travel through city centers if an Interstate beltway or State designated by-pass route were available. The Commission is considering the merits of adopting the provisions of this regulation for protected spent fuel shipments.

There were no incidents or accidents involved in any of the spent fuel shipments made in fiscal year 1980. Several short delays resulted from vehicle mechanical problems. Regulation of high-level waste repositories

Progress in developing regulations for the management of high-level radioactive waste has been made. The proposed regulation for licensing the disposal by DOE of high-level wastes in geological repositories is being developed in two parts. The first part contains procedures to be followed in preparing and applying for a license to dispose of high level wastes. These were issued for public comment. Based on the

public comments a final procedural regulation was prepared. It was approved by the Commission in February, 1981.

In May 1980, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for the technical portion of this rule was published. It contains, among other things, requirements for owner. ship, site design, waste packaging, retrieval of waste and monitoring. The advance notice informs the public of the technical criteria being considered and allows an opportunity for comment. The Commission intends to issue the technical part as a proposed rule this year. Low level waste site

Unlike high-level waste repositories, there are several existing licensed low level waste disposal sites. These sites were licensed under existing regulations. Experience has shown that current regulations do not provide adequate guidance. Consequently, during the past year the staff completed an environmental impact statement on near surface disposal of low level waste and is finishing comprehensive licensing criteria for low level waste. These criteria will be available late this year.

Meanwhile, the regional imbalance of sites for disposal of low level waste continues. Only one applicant sought a license last year, for a site in Kansas (an Agreement state) and only three of the six sites formerly operating were accepting low level waste. Of these three, the Beatty (Nevada) and Hanford (Washington) sites were both closed at various times by the States. The operating facility at Barnwell (South Carolina) is reducing the amount of waste it is receiving during 1980-81 by fifty percent and the Hanford facility will be closed to out-of-state non-medical waste in July, 1981. The governors of Washington, Nevada, and South Carolina have stressed the need for new sites to handle regional disposal needs and expressed the hope that other states will join in addressing the problem.

The NRC continued to furnish technical advice to Agreement States regarding low level waste licensing activities during fiscal year 1980. Research is also being conducted to give Agreement States a better technical basis for making regulatory decisions.

Recently, TVA submitted requests for amendments to its reactor operating licenses for permission to store onsite for five years, low-level radioactive waste generated during plant operation. TVA has indicated that it may seek life-of-plant storage at the reactor sites. While the TVA application is the first of its kind, current uncertainties about the availability of offsite disposal of low level radioactive wastes may lead other utilities to consider such on-site storage. The staff has proposed that a programmatic environmental impact statement be prepared to provide a basis for Commission policy on licensing long-term, on-site storage. Regulation of mill tailings

The NRC is responsible for assuring that uranium recovery facilities are constructed, operated, and decommissioned in a manner that will protect the public health and safety and the environment. In October, 1980, as part of its continuing efforts to upgrade regulations for uranium recovery operations and associated tailings, the Commission issued its final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Uranium Mining along with regulations on mill tailings, which constitute minimum national standards. The regulations primarily concentrate on tailings disposal and specify broad criteria for mill operations and decommissioning.

A number of new requirements affecting the NRC Agreement States program were established by the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-604), as amended. The Commission has been providing technical assistance to the Agreement States to assure that their licensing and regulatory criteria for uranium recovery operations are at least equivalent to criteria for similar operations under NRC jurisdiction. In this connection technical assistance was provided to California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington during 1980.

Public Law 95-604 also requires the NRC to review DOE's remedial action program at inactive tailing sites and other former ore processing areas. The NRC reviewed the initial phases of several DOE actions in 1980.

Finally, in cooperation with the State of South Dakota and various Federal agencies, NRC has developed a cleanup program for the offsite areas surrounding the uranium mill formerly operated at Edgemont, South Dakota, and now owned by TVA.

OTHER MAJOR ACTIONS New emergency preparedness requirements

As a result of the accident at TMI, NRC concluded that the protection provided by siting and engineered safety design features must be supplemented by the ability to

take protective measures during the course of an accident. In mid-1979 the NRC began a formal reconsideration of the role of emergency planning for ensuring protection of the public in areas surrounding nuclear plants. Public comment was received through workshops and other means from the nuclear power industry, State and local governments, and public interest groups.

The final rule was published in August, 1980. The rule requires an emergency plan that will assure proper emergency response organization, accurate assessment of an accident's potential severity, ability to activate an emergency response team, prompt and effective notice to responsible government officials, capability to provide prompt and effective notice to the general public, and adequate emergency facilities, equipment, and training. New operating licenses will not be granted unless the NRC finds that the integration of onsite and offsite emergency planning provides reasonable assurance that adequate protective measures can be taken in the event of a radiological emergency. The NRC will base its finding on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's views as to whether State and local emergency plans are adequate and capable of being implemented, and on an NRC assessment as to whether the applicant's onsite emergency plans are adequate.

The final rule also requires that emergency planning considerations must be extended to Emergency Planning Zones, and those shall consist of an area of about 10 miles in radius for exposure to a radioactive plume that might result from an accident in a nuclear power reactor and an area of about 50 miles in radius for food that might become contaminated. Additionally, the final rule sets forth a number of standards which must be met by the licensee emergency plans.

Lead responsibility for offsite emergency preparedness around nuclear facilities rests with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The NRC and FEMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to avoid duplicative efforts in reviewing emergency preparedness of nuclear facilities. FEMA is responsible for coordinating all Federal emergency planning, for assessing State and local emergency response plans, and for making findings and determinations as to the adequacy and capability of implementing State and local plans. NRC reviews those FEMA findings for the purpose of making determinations on the overall state of emergency preparedness for issuance of licenses or shutdown of operating reactors.

Prior to approving an emergency plan under the new emergency preparedness rules, the NRC requires applicants and licensees to conduct an exercise to test as much of the licensee, State and local emergency plans as is reasonably achieveable without mandatory public participation. These exercises are to be observed and critiqued by Federal teams. For new operating licenses, the exercise must be satisfactorily concluded before the operating license is issued. By April, 1981, all operating reactors must have emergency plans and procedures in place and the plans submitted to the NRC. During the following twelve months, FEMA and NRC will review the adequacy of these plans. An exercise must be conducted annually thereafter. In 1980 exercises were held at seven sites. Rulemaking on revision of siting criteria

The Commission is developing new siting criteria for nuclear power plants. An advance notice of rulemaking has been published requesting comments on recommendations of the Commission's Siting Policy Task Force. Among the recommendations were proposals to change the way protection is provided for accidents by incorporating a fixed exclusion and protective action distance and population density and distribution criteria; to require consideration of the potential hazards posed by human activities and natural phenomena by establishing minimum standoff distances; to include consideration of post licensing changes in offsite activites; and to continue the current approach relative to site selection from a safety viewpoint, but to select sites so that there are no unfavorable characteristics requiring unique or unusual design to compensate for site inadequacies. Aside from this activity, the fiscal year 1980 Authorization Act directed NRC to promulgate regulations establishing demographic criteria for siting of nuclear power facilities. Environmental qualification

Last year, the Commission took several major actions to resolve the equipment qualification problems which have become apparent over the past few years. A fundamental principal of nuclear regulation is that equipment must be able to perform its function even in accident conditions. Confirmation that these systems will remain functional under such conditions constitutes environmental qualification. The Commission has found a widespread lack of documentation showing that safety-grade electrical equipment is qualified. Additionally, some electrical equipment has been found in plants which is definitely unqualified. The Commission attempted to resolve this problem informally but, in the spring of last year, found that some licensees were responding inadequately to this informal process and that

« PreviousContinue »