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The NRC recently issued an allegation guidance memorandum (AGM) to provide guidance on the handling of certain drug and alcohol fitness-for-duty (FFD) violations. The AGM directs that licensee-identified drug and alcohol FFD violations by nonlicensed individuals not be processed in the NRC’s allegation program. This guidance took effect immediately and will be incorporated into the Allegation Manual. The next revision of Management Directive (MD) 8.8 will also incorporate this guidance by adding “Licensee-identified [FFD] drug- and alcohol-related violations by nonlicensed individuals” to the list of concerns excluded from the definition of an “allegation.”

The AGM is the result of changes to Section 4.1 of the NRC’s Enforcement Policy approved by the Commission on April 18, 2019. As we discussed at that time, an NRC Staff review found that for most FFD drug and alcohol violations, the licensees had 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.

Both the Commission and the AGM make clear, however, that the NRC is not exempting all FFD violations from the Allegation Program. The NRC will continue to process within the Allegation Program “those cases where the licensee fails to take the required sanctions against the individual” for a drug- or alcohol-related FFD violation or where “it is apparent that there are deficiencies in the implementation of the licensee’s FFD program if, in either of these cases, they involve an indication of wrongdoing.”

We will continue to monitor developments in this area.