Up & Atom

Morgan Lewis routinely assists licensees in connection with NRC allegations, investigations, and enforcement. The following are summaries of trends and findings in the NRC’s 2023 Allegation Program Annual Trends Report and Enforcement Program Annual Report.
The NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) recently published its Annual Report for fiscal year 2023, summarizing its activities from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023. According to the annual report, OI opened 82 new cases in FY 2023 compared to 70 in FY 2022, a 17% increase. It also closed 72 cases in 2023 compared to 67 in FY 2022, a 7.5% increase.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a proposed rule to amend the licensing, inspection, special project, and annual fees charged to applicants and licensees. The proposed amendments are necessary under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to ensure the NRC recovers approximately its full annual budget, except funds for specific excluded activities. Among other changes, the NRC proposes decreasing the annual fee for the operating power reactors fee class by $4,000—approximately 0.07%—from $5.492 million in fiscal year 2023 to $5.488 million.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently published its annual vendor newsletter, The Vendor Times, documenting findings of NRC vendor inspection staff and lessons learned related to the vendor inspection program. The newsletter follows the NRC’s November 20 vendor inspection program self-assessment for fiscal year 2023. Through these two issuances, the NRC noted an increase in enforcement findings and indicated that it will focus on 10 CFR Part 21 and supplier oversight compliance during future inspections.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently published a memorandum from the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) documenting planned changes to the NRR’s Safety Culture Inspection Program. The NRC expects to implement these changes by the end of 2023.
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.
The NRC recently issued its Allegation Program Annual Trends Report, analyzing regional, national, and site-specific allegation trends for calendar year 2021. The report’s top-line numbers show that allegations increased approximately 40% from 2020. The broad-based increase spanned reactor and materials licensees, as well as their vendors.
In response to reports from the NRC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and a tasking order from the NRC's executive director of operations (EDO) directing a review of NRC oversight of “counterfeit, fraudulent, and suspect items” (CFSI) in all regulated activities, the directors of the NRC's Offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) and Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) jointly issued a memorandum on March 4 concluding that “there is no evidence that CFSIs have adversely challenged the safety of reactor facilities” or any licensed activities. However, the NRC Staff's activities evaluating whether program improvements are necessary to address the risks posed by CFSI remain ongoing, with a final report expected in mid-April.
The NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) recently published its Office of Investigations Annual Report FY 2021 summarizing its activities during the past fiscal year. Overall, OI saw a drop in caseload, likely due—at least in part—to the COVID-19 pandemic and more workers working from home. Even so, the trend of increasing investigations of materials licensees continued, and this is likely to be a continuing area of focus for the NRC.
The NRC’s Commissioners approved an NRC Staff request on August 5 to withdraw two SECY memoranda related to improvements of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP). These SECY papers were initially issued in 2018 (SECY-18-113) and 2019 (SECY-19-067), and sought Commission approval for what the NRC Staff recommended would be potential improvements to the ROP as a whole. In withdrawing these two SECY papers, the Commission’s brief Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) provided little explanation as to why the Staff requested withdrawal of the two SECY papers.