The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff issued SECY-20-0034 on April 22, informing the NRC Commissioners of the Staff’s plan to exercise enforcement discretion for licensee noncompliance with regulatory requirements resulting from illnesses or other factors caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE). The Staff’s approach applies to all classes of licensees and provides long-awaited guidance on the subject of enforcement discretion.

At a meeting on June 1, the NRC and industry representatives agreed to pursue a revised definition of operability of those structures, systems, and components (SSCs) addressed in the technical specifications (TS) for nuclear power plants.

Currently, the standard definition states that an SSC identified in a TS is operable if it can perform its “specified safety functions”—which, in turn, is undefined. Typically, an SSC may have a number of safety functions. The industry representatives proposed that “specified safety functions” be limited to those safety functions that satisfy one or more of the criteria in 10 CFR 50.36(c)(2)(ii), which governs the SSCs needed to be addressed in the limiting conditions for operation in a TS. The industry representatives explained that this definition would include those support systems and functions that are necessary for the performance of the specified safety functions.