As part of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) efforts to create efficiencies in its enforcement process, the NRC Commissioners unanimously approved a staff proposal to change Section 4.1 of the NRC’s Enforcement Policy. Under this approved change, the NRC will not typically consider fitness-for-duty (FFD) drug and alcohol violations involving non-licensed individuals for enforcement action. But the NRC will still investigate if there are apparent deficiencies in a licensee’s FFD program itself or the program’s implementation. Thus, to avoid enforcement actions in the future, licensees must continue to maintain an effective FFD program for drug and alcohol violations.
Staff proposed this change to the Enforcement Policy in May 2017 in SECY-17-0059. They reviewed investigations of FFD drug and alcohol violations and found that in many cases, licensees identified the issue and conducted an internal investigation into the violation by the time the NRC received notification of the violation. Staff also found that licensees were imposing the penalties required by 10 CFR § 26.75 to appropriately disposition individual FFD drug and alcohol issues before most NRC investigations began. Staff viewed this as evidence of working Part 26 FFD programs in the industry and concluded that NRC could better allocate its investigative resources by not investigating individual drug and alcohol FFD violations.
The Commissioners agreed with Staff and unanimously approved a change to Section 4.1 of the Enforcement Policy to include the following paragraph:
For Fitness-for-Duty (FFD) violations involving non-licensed individuals that violate drug and alcohol provisions of site FFD programs, which are explicitly described in 10 CFR 26.75, “Sanctions,” the NRC will not typically consider FFD drug and alcohol-related violations for enforcement action unless there is an apparent deficiency in the licensee’s FFD program to take the required sanctions against the individual(s) or deficiencies in implementation of the licensee FFD program.
The Commission also directed Staff to make conforming changes to the NRC’s enforcement manual to reflect the revised policy and to provide criteria to aid Staff in consistently identifying the exceptions to the “typical” FFD drug and alcohol related violations covered under the revised policy.
We will continue to monitor developments in this area.