The NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) recently published its Annual Report Fiscal Year 2022 summarizing its activities from October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. According to the annual report, OI opened 70 new cases in FY 2022, compared to 65 in FY 2021—an 8% increase. In contrast, it closed only 67 cases, compared to 96 in FY 2021—a 30% decrease.
By the Numbers
OI’s total case inventory in FY 2022 decreased by 20%—from 130 in FY 2021 to 104 in FY 2022. OI’s FY 2022 case inventory included 68 investigations, 26 of which carried over from FY 2021, and 36 assists to staff, 8 of which carried over from FY 2021. OI developed sufficient information to either substantiate or unsubstantiate allegations of willful wrongdoing for the 36 investigations it closed within 12 months and the 31 assists to staff it closed within 90 days.
The breakdown of the 70 cases opened in FY 2022 is as follows:
- 13 involved suspected material false statements (a 117% increase from FY 2021)
- 19 involved potential violations of other NRC regulatory requirements (a 10% decrease)
- 28 were assists to staff (a 4% increase)
- 10 addressed allegations of discrimination (a 9% decrease)
The annual report shows a significant jump in reactor investigations and assists to staff. OI opened 16 more reactor cases than in FY 2021, a 44% increase. Reactor investigations and reactor-related assists to staff increased by 13 cases (a 62% increase) and 3 cases (a 20% increase), respectively. On the other hand, numbers for material licensees decreased, ending the upward trend seen over the past several years. From FY 2021, opened material licensee cases declined to 18 (a 40% decrease)—investigations dropped by 9 (a 53% decrease) and assists to staff fell by 2 (a 17% decrease).
The annual report also shows a decrease in new discrimination investigations (i.e., potential violations of NRC employee protection provisions), dropping to 10 new cases, a 79% decrease from the high of 41 cases seen in FY 2017. Discrimination investigations remain near a five-year low.
OI’s annual report summarized the following investigations involving deliberate misconduct:
- OI substantiated deliberate misconduct by a materials licensee manager who intentionally failed to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC in violation of NRC requirements. The manager was indicted in the US District Court for the District of Hawaii and charged with giving false statements and obstructing a proceeding, among several alleged offenses. The proceeding is still pending resolution in Hawaii.
- OI substantiated that a security training manager at a power reactor intentionally failed to implement a firearm testing and maintenance program and provided incomplete and inaccurate information that caused the licensee to violate NRC requirements. After engaging in the alternative dispute resolution process, the NRC issued the licensee a confirmatory order with a $50,000 civil penalty for the security-related violations and a Severity Level III notice of violation to the subject of the OI investigation.
- OI substantiated that the former owner of a Pennsylvania company engaged in deliberate misconduct in conjunction with two violations of NRC requirements for (1) failure to file for reciprocity before performing work within an NRC jurisdiction and (2) conducting unlicensed industrial radiography activities within the NRC jurisdiction. After participating in a predecisional enforcement conference, the NRC issued a Severity Level II notice of violation to the company, imposed a $25,600 civil penalty, and issued an order banning the company’s former owner from NRC-licensed activities for five years.
In FY 2022, OI updated its internal policy guidance to align with the revised US Department of Justice’s use-of-force requirements and Executive Order 14074 on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety.
Morgan Lewis counsels reactor and materials licensees and their contractors about OI investigations and will continue to closely follow developments in this area.