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Up & Atom

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a revised version of Inspection Manual Chapter (IMC) 0620 (Inspection Documents and Records) on January 28. These revisions add clarifying guidance on marking, handling, and transmitting—internally and externally—inspection documents and records to ensure that all such materials are appropriately controlled and handled by NRC inspectors. These revisions could affect how the NRC Staff maintains and shares NRC inspection documents and records.

Last revised in 2011, Inspection Manual Chapter 0620 provides guidance to NRC Staff on requesting, controlling, and dispositioning NRC inspection documents and records during all phases of the inspection program related to construction, fuel cycle facilities, mining facilities, repository facilities, vendor inspections, operating facilities, power reactors, research reactors, license renewals, and materials inspections. Although the NRC made a variety of revisions to the chapter, revisions that might be of especial importance are summarized below.

  • The NRC will replace the Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information (SUNSI) program with the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program. Additional information on this transition is available here. The IMC directs the Staff to handle CUI in accordance with applicable guidance regarding the handling of SUNSI.
  • Documents that are in the possession and control of NRC Staff at the time a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is received are considered agency records that must be released unless FOIA exemptions apply. Although the 2011 version of IMC 0620 described at what point a document would be considered to be in the possession and control of the NRC—as does the revised version of IMC 0620—it did not specify that, to be eligible for release under FOIA, documents must be in the possession or control of the NRC prior to the time the NRC received the FOIA request.
  • An inspector’s written notes must not be shared with the licensee and written notes that discuss preliminary results/findings of an inspection should be reviewed in accordance with NRC Management Directive 12 (Security). The 2011 version of IMC 0620 did not explicitly address the sharing of, or review of, these notes.
  • NRC Staff may use a PowerPoint presentation during a licensee, vendor, or applicant debrief, and that, if used, the presentation should be placed into the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management Systems (ADAMS) as a nonpublic official agency record. The 2011 version of IMC 0620 provided that, in the event that an NRC inspector presented documentary information to a regulated entity at a management meeting, that presentation must be placed in ADAMS, but did not specify whether a public or nonpublic record.
  • NRC Staff may not show or give documents containing cut-sets—unique combinations of component failures that can cause system failure—in support of detailed risk evaluations related to the Significance Determination Process to any non-NRC employee absent the executive director for operations’ permission. The 2011 version of IMC 0620 did not address cut-sets in any way, and did not therefore address whether NRC Staff could provide these cut-sets to non-NRC employees.

We will continue to monitor developments in this area.