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The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a letter on April 9 to provide guidance on reporting requirements under 10 CFR 50.55a, “Codes and Standards,” in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance is applicable to nuclear reactors licensed under 10 CFR Part 50.

10 CFR 50.55a contains “requirements for the use of certain codes and standards for the design, construction and inservice inspection of nuclear power plants.” The NRC may consider alternatives to those codes and standards under 10 CFR 50.55a(z), if the alternatives would maintain safety and quality or if complying with the codes and standards would “result in hardship or unusual difficulty without a compensating increase in the level of quality and safety.”

The NRC guidance specifies that licensees can now submit proposed alternatives to normal 90-day, post-refueling outage reporting requirements under 10 CFR 50.55a(b)(2)(xxxii). The report consists of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Form Owner’s Activity Report (OAR-1), and provides a summary of items that require additional maintenance and repairs that took place during the outage, among other things. Licensees can now request that the NRC defer submission of this report “where the licensee demonstrates a hardship without a compensating increase in the level of quality and safety as an alternative under 10 CFR 50.55a(z)(2).”

To receive expedited review of a request, licensees should include the following:

  • A description of the hardship
  • The original due date of the OAR-1 report
  • A proposed alternative submission date for the OAR-1 report
  • A statement that the licensee has established procedures to retain records of its completed inspection activities that are easily accessible for NRC inspection

The NRC will “consider granting deferrals of Form OAR-1 for up to 90 days after [the pandemic] is ended but in no case later than the beginning of the subsequent refueling outage.” The NRC will either provide written or verbal decisions on such requests, and recommends that licensees make documents related to the request available for inspection.

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