Elimination of Immediate Notification Requirements for Nonemergency Events, 44290-44296 [2021-17244]

Download as PDF 44290 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules from June 9 to June 8 of the following year. * * * * * Erin Morris, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2021–17235 Filed 8–11–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 10 CFR Part 50 [Docket No. PRM–50–116; NRC–2018–0201] Elimination of Immediate Notification Requirements for Nonemergency Events Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; consideration in the rulemaking process. AGENCY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will consider in its rulemaking process issues raised in a petition for rulemaking (PRM), dated August 2, 2018, submitted by Mr. Bill Pitesa on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute. The petition was docketed by the NRC on November 20, 2018, and assigned Docket No. PRM–50–116. The petitioner requested that the NRC amend its regulations to eliminate immediate notification requirements for nonemergency events for operating nuclear power reactors. The NRC will evaluate the current requirements and guidance for immediate notification of nonemergency events for operating nuclear power reactors, assess whether the requirements present an unnecessary reporting burden, and if they do, determine whether reporting can be reduced or eliminated that does not have a commensurate safety benefit. DATES: The docket for the petition for rulemaking, PRM–50–116, is closed on August 12, 2021. ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC–2018–0201 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information for this action. You may obtain publicly available information related to this action by any of the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Website: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC–2018–0201 or the future rulemaking Docket ID NRC– 2020–0036. Address questions about NRC dockets to Dawn Forder; telephone: 301–415–3407; email: Dawn.Forder@nrc.gov. For technical lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. • NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may obtain publicly available documents online in the ADAMS Public Documents collection at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ adams.html. To begin the search, select ‘‘Begin Web-Based ADAMS Search.’’ For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, at 301–415–4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. For the convenience of the reader, instructions about obtaining materials referenced in this document are provided in the ‘‘Availability of Documents’’ section. • Attention: The PDR, where you may examine and order copies of public documents, is currently closed. You may submit your request to the PDR via email at pdr.resource@nrc.gov or call 1–800–397–4209 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Doyle, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001; telephone: 301–415– 3748, email: Daniel.Doyle@nrc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. The Petition II. Public Comments on the Petition III. Reasons for Consideration IV. Availability of Documents V. Conclusion I. The Petition Section 2.802 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), ‘‘Petition for rulemaking—requirements for filing,’’ provides an opportunity for any person to petition the Commission to issue, amend, or rescind any regulation. The NRC received and docketed a PRM dated August 2, 2018, filed by Mr. Bill Pitesa on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The NRC assigned this PRM the docket number of PRM–50–116. On November 20, 2018 (83 FR 58509), the NRC published a notice of docketing and request for comment on PRM–50–116 in the Federal Register. The petitioner requests that the NRC revise its regulations in 10 CFR 50.72, ‘‘Immediate notification requirements for operating nuclear power reactors,’’ to remove the current requirement for licensees to immediately report nonemergency events that occur at operating nuclear power reactors. The petitioner states that licensees currently PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 have procedures for responding to nonemergency events and ensuring that NRC resident inspectors are notified of nonemergency events independent of the requirements in § 50.72. The petitioner did not request removal of § 50.72 in its entirety, only the nonemergency notification requirements in § 50.72(b). The petitioner believes that ‘‘duplicative notifications under § 50.72 serve no safety function and are not needed to prevent or minimize possible injury to the public or to allow the NRC to take necessary action.’’ The petitioner suggests that in lieu of the currently required notifications, the NRC should establish guidance for the resident inspectors that provides consistent and standard expectations for using the existing communication protocols that the petitioner claims have proven to be effective for communicating from the site to the resident inspectors and, from there, to NRC management. II. Public Comments on the Petition On November 20, 2018, the NRC requested comments from the public on the petition and posed five specific questions to gain a better understanding of the scope and basis for the issues raised by the petitioner. The comment period ended on February 4, 2019, and the NRC received 16 public comments. Eleven comments (from NEI and nuclear power reactor licensees) supported the petition, one comment (from two private citizens) partially supported the petition, two comments (from a private citizen and a nongovernmental organization) opposed the petition, and two comments (from private citizens) were out of scope. The following is a summary of the comments organized by the specific questions in the notice of docketing. In the first question, the NRC requested feedback on how stakeholders review and use the information contained in nonemergency event notifications, and how they would be affected if all nonemergency event notifications were eliminated. Two private citizens stated that they do not regularly review notifications on the NRC’s website, but the information may be beneficial to maintain for public review. The same commenters supported the removal of redundancies in communication and suggested that the NRC maintain only those § 50.72 requirements that do not have a corresponding § 50.73, ‘‘Licensee event report system’’ report so the public is kept informed. Several industry commenters also responded to this question. While their comments varied regarding the level of E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules regular review of nonemergency event notifications, the consensus was that their organizations would not be adversely impacted by the elimination of the nonemergency reporting requirements of § 50.72. Several industry commenters stated that their primary sources of operating experience are § 50.73 licensee event reports (LERs), NRC inspection reports, NRC generic communications, and the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) operating experience database. Several commenters also stated that § 50.72 event notifications are of little value because they do not contain sufficient information on which to base follow-up or corrective actions. The second NRC question requested feedback on whether the public release of § 50.73 LERs alone meets the needs of the public and noted the three § 50.72 reporting requirements that do not have a corresponding § 50.73 LER. Two private citizens and a nongovernmental organization agreed that the NRC should retain those nonemergency event notifications that do not have a corresponding § 50.73 LER. For the remaining reporting requirements, the public comments were divided. Two private citizens suggested that redundant reporting requirements should be eliminated, and a third private citizen preferred maintaining the status quo for nonemergency event notifications. A nongovernmental organization stated that notification of plant shutdown, deviation from technical specifications, degraded conditions (i.e., safety barriers), unanalyzed conditions, and system actuation should continue because the seriousness of some conditions may not be readily apparent. Several industry members also provided comments in response to this question. In general, the industry commenters agreed that the information in the § 50.73 LERs provides more detail and context than § 50.72 event notifications. The commenters also concluded that generally, additional information beyond the § 50.73 LER (e.g., from the INPO operating experience database) is necessary to meet the information needs of the industry in order to determine applicability and take corrective actions. The third NRC question requested that stakeholders identify, from their perspectives, the most burdensome provisions in § 50.72. The NRC received several responses from members of the industry on this topic. Several commenters repeated concerns raised by the petition. In addition, the commenters provided additional insight to the potential burdens of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 nonemergency reporting requirements of § 50.72. Specifically, one commenter expressed a concern that the training required to make infrequent event notifications detracts from training in other areas. Another commenter stated that subjective terms in the regulation, such as ‘‘seriously’’ (§ 50.72(b)(3)(ii)(A)), ‘‘significantly’’ (§ 50.72(b)(3)(ii)(B)), or ‘‘could’’ (§ 50.72(b)(3)(v)) foster strenuous debates within the licensee organization or between the licensee and the NRC. One commenter estimated that approximately 30 to 40 evaluations per licensee are performed per year and determined not to be reportable under § 50.72. The fourth NRC question directly asked if stakeholders agree with the petitioner’s assertion that § 50.72 nonemergency notifications are contrary to the best interests of the public and are contrary to the stated purpose of the regulation. The comments received from members of the public generally disagreed with the petitioner’s assertion. Comments received from industry agreed with the petitioner’s assertion. The fifth NRC question requested feedback from stakeholders on potential alternatives to the petitioner’s proposed changes that would address the concerns raised in the petition while still providing timely event information to the NRC and the public. Most of the comments received were from members of the industry and did not provide alternative approaches to the petitioner’s proposed changes to § 50.72. One commenter stated that the NRC should eliminate the reporting requirements of §§ 50.72 and 50.73 on the basis that licensees already have access to various industry platforms in order to obtain pertinent operational experience information. The NRC received other comments related to the petition, including specific comments on the basis and background of current requirements, the significance of a loss of safety function, and suggested alternatives to the timeliness requirements for submission of § 50.73 LERs. The NRC reviewed the other public comments received and recommends consideration of these comments in the rulemaking process. The NRC uses the basis and background of the current requirements to inform the regulatory basis of any proposed rule. The staff will discuss the significance of the loss of a safety function in greater detail in its regulatory basis. Regarding the suggested alternatives to the timeliness requirements for submission of a § 50.73 LER, the staff notes that this would result in a significant change to the reporting PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44291 requirements of § 50.73. This change may also result in the NRC receiving less information regarding root causes of the events reported due to the more stringent time demand. The NRC intends to gather additional stakeholder feedback on this topic in the rulemaking process. III. Reasons for Consideration Although the petitioner requested elimination of the requirements for licensees to immediately report nonemergency events that occur at operating nuclear power plants, the underlying issue is whether the current nonemergency reporting requirements create an unnecessary reporting burden. The NRC will consider this issue in its rulemaking process. The NRC will evaluate the current requirements and guidance for immediate notification of nonemergency events for operating nuclear reactors, assess whether the requirements present an unnecessary reporting burden, and if they do, determine whether reporting can be reduced or eliminated that does not have a commensurate safety benefit. The NRC must preserve the ability to maintain situational awareness of significant events at nuclear power plants, and the visibility and openness of the event notifications to public stakeholders. Evaluation of Petitioner Assertions Assertion 1: § 50.72 is overdue for an update. The petitioner states that the NRC has occasionally revised the notification and reporting requirements in §§ 50.72 and 50.73 based on accumulated operating experience to remove certain requirements that provided little or no safety benefit. The petitioner asserts that these regulations have not been updated in this manner since January 2001, and that the petition is based on the accumulation of additional operating experience. NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees with this assertion. The NRC acknowledges that it last updated notification and reporting requirements in § 50.72 in 2001 and that sufficient operating experience exists to consider an update to the reporting requirements in § 50.72(b). The staff performed an initial evaluation of each reporting requirement in § 50.72(b) and preliminarily determined that some nonemergency reporting requirements could be updated. The NRC agrees that the reporting requirements in § 50.72(b) should be assessed and will evaluate each reporting requirement in its rulemaking process. E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 44292 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Assertion 2: The § 50.72 nonemergency notifications are redundant with resident inspectors’ communications to the NRC. In support of this assertion, the petitioner states that resident inspectors are familiar with the design and operations of nuclear power plants and are trained how to react to events that occur at the site, including when to escalate issues to NRC management. The petitioner also claims that NRC licensees have procedures or practices in place that ensure notification of the resident inspector independent of the requirements of § 50.72, and that the nonemergency notifications under § 50.72 serve no unique safety function. NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees with the assertion that § 50.72 nonemergency notifications to the Headquarters Operations Center (HOC) 1 are redundant with resident inspectors’ communications to the NRC. The petitioner claims that licensees have procedures in place to ensure that resident inspectors are informed of these types of events and that the reports made under § 50.72 are duplicated by licensee verbal reports to the onsite NRC resident inspectors. The NRC notes that the notifications to the resident inspectors as described by the petitioner are voluntary initiatives performed by the licensees; the NRC does not require licensees to contact the resident inspector. If the NRC relies on voluntary practices alone to maintain awareness of the nonemergency events listed in § 50.72(b), then there is an increased risk of loss of situational awareness and the ability to make timely decisions with adequate information. The resident inspectors may receive voluntary reports from licensees but may not always be immediately available and are not expected to perform the communication duties assumed by the HOC. Headquarters Operations Officers (HOOs) are always on call and have special knowledge and communication tools to enable accurate and efficient collection and dissemination of information for all types of facilities. In addition, every call to the HOO is recorded to ensure accuracy of information. Adding this burden to the resident inspectors could impact their ability to provide adequate oversight of 1 The NRC HOC is the primary center of communication and coordination among the NRC, its licensees, State and Tribal agencies, and other Federal agencies regarding operating events involving nuclear reactors or materials. Located in Rockville, MD, the NRC HOC is staffed 24 hours a day by employees trained to receive and evaluate event reports and coordinate incident response activities. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 the nonemergency events and decrease the speed and quality of information sharing within the NRC about nonemergency events. Further, reliance on the Resident Inspectors picking up the reporting requirement undermines the basis for the rule change as it would recognize that the need for the reporting is still necessary, it would simply shift the responsibility from the licensee to the NRC. Assertion 3: The § 50.72 nonemergency notifications distract key plant staff when they are addressing events. The petitioner claims that elimination of the § 50.72(b) nonemergency notifications requirement would provide a safety benefit by allowing licensees to redirect technical and engineering resources away from procedural reporting compliance activities and toward assessment and corrective action activities immediately following nonemergency events. NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees, in part, with this assertion. A wide variety of events are reportable in accordance with § 50.72. Likewise, the amount of effort expended to determine if the event in question is reportable varies widely. For example, a licensee should know immediately if it is issuing a press release or notifying another government agency, which is reportable under § 50.72(b)(2)(xi). The burden for reporting this event should be only the additional cost of calling the NRC HOO and reporting the event without a significant amount of internal deliberation by the licensee. The onehour report for deviation from a technical specification in accordance with § 50.54(x) serves as an example reporting requirement that should be apparent to the licensee and require minimal resources to report. On the other hand, commenters on the petition noted that other events, such as unanalyzed conditions, are less apparent and require more resources to determine if they are reportable. The time estimates provided by the commenters varied significantly. The NRC also received public comments that question whether licensees have sufficient resources to respond to events if they do not have sufficient resources to determine if an event is reportable. This assertion also raises a concern that licensees do not have a sufficient understanding of the intent of § 50.72(b). To address these concerns, the NRC would need to perform additional analysis on each reporting requirement to determine which reporting requirements are creating these issues. The NRC will gather additional input PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 from external stakeholders to determine the best way to resolve these concerns. In summary, it is likely that certain reporting requirements have significantly more impact on licensees than others. As part of the rulemaking process, the NRC will hold public meetings with licensees to better understand which requirements cause these issues and how best to address them. Assertion 4: The § 50.72 nonemergency notifications that are not currently reported in a 60-day LER under § 50.73 are unrelated to reactor safety. The petitioner asserts that the three § 50.72 nonemergency notifications that do not have a corresponding requirement for a 60-day LER under § 50.73 are unrelated to reactor safety. These three requirements are § 50.72(b)(2)(xi), involving a news release or notification to another government agency; § 50.72(b)(3)(xii), involving the transport of a radioactively contaminated person to an offsite medical facility; and § 50.72(b)(3)(xiii), involving a major loss of emergency assessment capability, offsite response capability, or offsite communications capability. The petitioner states that the first two requirements are essentially ‘‘courtesy calls,’’ and resident inspectors can handle them. The petitioner claims that § 50.72(b)(3)(xiii) is a good example of a burdensome regulation that distracts licensee managers from the problems at hand. The petitioner claims that resident inspectors will be aware of these types of emergency preparedness problems. Furthermore, the petitioner claims that issues reported under § 50.72(b)(3)(xiii) will be captured in the licensee’s corrective action program, reviewed by the resident inspector, and, as appropriate, captured in a subsequent quarterly inspection report that is made available to the public. NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees, in part, with this assertion. The petitioner correctly points out the three kinds of § 50.72 event notifications that have no corresponding requirement for a LER pursuant to § 50.73. The NRC believes that these reports are important for other reasons not identified by the petitioner. Although the § 50.72(b)(2)(xi) and (3)(xii) events do not directly impact reactor safety, the § 50.72(b)(3)(xiii) notification allows the NRC to confirm that reasonable assurance of public health and safety and the common defense and security is maintained by quickly evaluating and ensuring that the licensee maintains its ability to effectively implement the emergency response plan or that the E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules licensee has taken or is taking the appropriate compensatory measures to ensure the emergency plan can still be effectively implemented. The NRC may need to take immediate action in response to these events. For example, a major loss of assessment capability, without adequate compensatory measures put in place, could degrade or prevent a licensee’s ability to successfully implement its emergency response plan and negatively affect the NRC’s reasonable assurance determination. The NRC needs to be able to quickly assess the impact of the loss of assessment capability as well as the adequacy of the compensatory measure(s) put in place to address the loss, to allow for timely engagement with the licensee, if required. The number of event reports under § 50.72(b)(3)(xiii) dropped significantly after NRC endorsement of NEI 13–01, ‘‘Reportable Action Levels for Loss of Emergency Preparedness Capabilities,’’ dated July 2014 in Supplement 1 to NUREG–1022, Revision 3, dated September 2014. Prior to the endorsement of NEI 13–01, the NRC received on the order of hundreds of reports per year under this requirement. After the endorsement of NEI 13–01, the NRC now receives approximately 50–60 reports per year. As explained in the statement of considerations for the 2000 final rule amending § 50.72, ‘‘Reporting Requirements for Nuclear Power Reactors and Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations at Power Reactor Sites; Final Rule’’ (65 FR 63769, 63774; October 25, 2000), the 8-hour reports, such as § 50.72(b)(3)(xii) through (xiii), are for ‘‘events where there may be a need for the NRC to take an action within about a day, such as initiating a special inspection or investigation.’’ If the NRC accepts the petitioner’s suggested changes and relies solely on licensees’ voluntary calls to the resident inspectors, then the NRC may not be able to take appropriate action in a timely manner. The current requirements in § 50.72 establish timeliness requirements for notifying the NRC. If the NRC removed these requirements, then licensees would instead provide voluntary reports to resident inspectors based on each licensee’s procedures, which may or may not impose timeliness expectations for notification of the resident inspector. For example, event response for nonemergency events could be delayed several days if an event, such as an actuation of the reactor protection system, occurs on a Friday night, and the resident inspector is not informed until Monday morning. Such a delay VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 may impact the agency’s ability to determine the appropriate response to an event in a timely manner. If, due to the delay in reporting, the NRC is delayed in this assessment and in potentially taking responsive action, public health and safety could be affected. In addition, it may not be readily apparent to the public how the NRC communicates and utilizes information received under these reporting requirements. The HOO communicates this information to all the interested internal NRC stakeholders when these reports are made. The reports in § 50.72(b)(2)(xi) and (b)(3)(xii) are of particular interest to the agency in that they ensure that the NRC is aware of communications made to other agencies and is kept informed of situations that are of high public interest (i.e., news releases and transport of contaminated personnel). An important factor for event notifications under § 50.72(b)(3)(xii) is the potential for radioactive materials on the contaminated individual to be removed from the site and distributed outside of the radioactivity-controlled area. The petitioner claims that reports made under § 50.72(b)(2)(xi) and (b)(3)(xii) are essentially ‘‘courtesy calls’’ made to the NRC. The NRC notes that by the petitioner’s own admission, licensees expend minimal effort to notify the NRC if a news release or notification to another government agency is made. In these cases, the reportability of these events should be readily apparent to the licensee and, therefore, cause little administrative burden beyond that of a call to the NRC HOO. Regarding the claim that resident inspectors can handle these ‘‘courtesy calls,’’ in addition to the previous discussion regarding delayed communication, communicating these events only to the resident inspector could alter the direct and efficient communication structure via the HOO and replace it with an indirect structure that is less efficient at disseminating information within the NRC. Moreover, licensee calls to the NRC HOC are recorded to ensure accuracy of information but, under the petitioner’s proposal, licensee conversations with resident inspectors would not be recorded. Since the NRC HOC infrastructure for dissemination of this information currently exists, the resident inspectors could report the information to the NRC HOC. But this shifts the responsibility of contacting the HOC from the licensee to the resident inspectors. In addition, the NRC HOC procedures would need to be PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44293 updated to address any issues associated with this change, and the NRC would need to develop guidance for the resident inspectors to communicate nonemergency events to the NRC HOC. These changes would incur additional costs for training and equipment and may result in inconsistencies in the quality and timeliness of information about these events being shared within the NRC. This could potentially delay the NRC in the performance of its regulatory functions. The concerns with additional burden on resident inspectors if they are expected to communicate issues within the NRC are provided in the NRC’s evaluation of Assertion 2. The NRC needs to preserve the ability to respond effectively to events, maintain situational awareness, provide proper regulatory oversight, and maintain credibility with the public. The NRC intends to gather additional stakeholder feedback on this topic in the rulemaking process. Assertion 5: The public will continue to be notified of the event in accordance with § 50.73. The petitioner states that the fuller descriptions in LERs ‘‘provided within 60 days, as required by 10 CFR 50.73, are available to the public. Given that these are nonemergency events, this is sufficient for transparency purposes.’’ NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees, in part, with this assertion. The petitioner’s claim that the public will be notified of the event in accordance with § 50.73 is correct, with the exception of the three reporting requirements in § 50.72, as discussed in Assertion 4, that do not have a corresponding reporting requirement in § 50.73: § 50.72(b)(2)(xi), (b)(3)(xii), and (b)(3)(xiii). For these reports, the NRC disagrees that the reporting requirements of § 50.73 are sufficient for the purposes of public transparency. The NRC agrees with the petitioner’s statement that LERs contain ‘‘fuller,’’ or more complete, descriptions of the reported event. The requirements of § 50.73 contain more detail regarding required content than the event notification requirements in § 50.72. The LERs generally contain a much more descriptive narrative of the event and the failure mechanisms involved. In addition, the NRC received several public comments regarding timeliness of LERs. Two private citizens expressed support for the petition with the caveat that § 50.73 LERs should be moved to a 30-day reporting requirement to meet the needs of informing the public. However, such a significant change to the timing of the reporting requirements in § 50.73 may increase the burden on E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 44294 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules licensees and result in the NRC receiving less information regarding root causes of the events reported due to the more stringent time demand. Furthermore, even a 30-day reporting requirement for § 50.73 LERs would represent a significant reduction in timeliness for public notification compared to the current § 50.72 notification requirements. As part of the rulemaking, the NRC will consider how it would continue to provide timely notification of events to the public if it also alters timing requirements for notifications by licensees. The NRC intends to gather additional stakeholder feedback on this topic in the rulemaking process. Assertion 6: The NRC has never taken any kind of action in response to prompt notifications. The petitioner claims that the requirement to notify the NRC within 4 or 8 hours implies that the NRC would need to take action before the end of the 8-hour shift (for a 4-hour report) or soon after the shift turnover (for an 8-hour report). The petitioner claims that in the almost 40 years that this regulation has been in place, the NRC has never taken any kind of action in this tight timeframe to protect the public for one of these nonemergency events. The petitioner claims that there is no need for this type of prompt action, and that the NRC rarely dispatches inspection teams. The petitioner claims that notification from the resident inspector is more than sufficient for this kind of ‘‘prompt action.’’ NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees with this assertion. The petitioner claims that the requirement to notify the NRC within 4 or 8 hours implies that the NRC would need to take action before the end of the 8-hour shift (for a 4-hour report) or soon after the shift turnover (for an 8-hour report). When the NRC receives these reports, the NRC HOO adds the items to a database for communication in a regular morning email. If there are items of interest (e.g., complicated reactor scrams, emergency core cooling system injection) that indicate a need for prompt communication, the NRC HOO notifies interested NRC stakeholders via immediate phone calls as soon as the information from the event is put into the database. The NRC HOO may also issue to NRC management a ‘‘HOO Highlight’’ email. These events are typically communicated to staff and management within an hour of receipt of the notification. There are several other actions that the NRC could take in response to these notifications. In the statement of considerations for the 2000 final rule, VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 the Commission analyzed the intent of the timeliness requirements in § 50.72(b), and noted that the final provisions required 4-hour reporting, if the event was not reported in 1 hour, for an event or situation, related to the health and safety of the public or onsite personnel, or protection of the environment, for which a news release is planned or notification to other government agencies has been or will be made. The Commission stated that such an event may include an onsite fatality or inadvertent release of radioactively contaminated materials, and that this is the same as previously required. The Commission concluded that these reports are needed promptly because they involve events where there may be a need for the NRC to respond to heightened public concern. The 2000 final rule also required 4-hour reporting, if the event was not reported in 1 hour, for unplanned transients. The Commission explained that these are events where there may be a need for the NRC to take a reasonably prompt action, such as partially activating its response plan to monitor the course of the event. For the remaining events reportable under § 50.72, the final rule required 8-hour reporting, if not reported in 1 hour or 4 hours; these are events where there may be a need for the NRC to take an action within about a day, such as initiating a special inspection or investigation. Since the implementation of the 2000 final rule, the NRC has taken various prompt actions in response to event notifications under § 50.72(b). For example, the nonemergency event notifications serve as a potential trigger for Management Directive (MD) 8.3, ‘‘NRC Incident Investigation Program,’’ evaluations, which may or may not result in a reactive inspection in response to the event. The NRC performed a total of 140 reactive inspections from 2006 to 2018, an average of approximately 11 reactive inspections per year. In the period from 2006 to 2012, the NRC performed an average of approximately 14 reactive inspections per year. In the period from 2013 to 2018, the NRC performed an average of approximately 7 reactive inspections per year. In 2018, the NRC performed 4 reactive inspections. Even though the total number of reactive inspections has declined over the past 12 years, the NRC still performs several reactive inspections per year. In addition to these reactive inspections, there are more events for which the agency performs an MD 8.3 evaluation. For those evaluations where baseline inspection is recommended (no reactive inspection), the regions occasionally PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 dispatch additional inspectors to the site to respond to nonemergency events. There are also cases, such as the dual unit trip at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in 2015 (Event Notification 50961), where the NRC performed an MD 8.3 evaluation and decided to perform a reactive inspection within approximately 24 hours (‘‘Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2— NRC Special Inspection Report 05000317/2015009 and 05000318/ 2015009,’’ dated May 27, 2015). The NRC also routinely receives inquiries from reporters and members of the public regarding events at nuclear power stations. The nonemergency event notifications provide timely notification of events for those situations where the agency may need to respond to heightened public concern. For example, the Calvert Cliffs dual unit trip resulted in local news media coverage. Wholesale removal of these reporting requirements could render the agency unable to respond effectively to public requests for information. Finally, depending on the nature of the nonemergency event, the agency may need to activate its response plan. At the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, winter storm Juno in January 2015 caused a loss-of-offsite power that caused a reactor trip (see Event Notification 50769). Then, about 10 hours later, a second event notification, 50771, was made due to complications with the plant response and failed mitigating systems. At that point, the NRC’s Incident Response Center entered into Monitoring mode for this complicated event even though emergency plan activation criteria were not met. The petitioner claims that the NRC dispatches inspection teams for only 1% of nonemergency events. However, the petitioner’s statement does not recognize the actions taken by the NRC prior to dispatching these inspection teams. As discussed earlier in this section, the NRC sends inspection teams to nuclear power plants several times a year. The notifications made under § 50.72 serve as a potential trigger for the resident inspectors and regional staff to perform an MD 8.3 evaluation. The MD 8.3 evaluation assesses an event against several criteria to determine if the NRC should, in response to an event, (1) handle the issue in the baseline inspection program, (2) dispatch a special inspection team to investigate the event, or (3) dispatch an augmented inspection team to investigate the event in greater detail. The NRC may initiate an MD 8.3 evaluation as soon as a report is received, depending on the event. E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules Based on these reasons and examples, the NRC disagrees with the petitioner’s assertion that the NRC has never taken any kind of action in response to these types of prompt event notifications or that these types of ‘‘prompt actions’’ are not needed. Assertion 7: The § 50.72 nonemergency notification requirements are contrary to the NRC’s principles of good regulation, specifically efficiency and openness. As set forth in NUREG–1614, Volume 7, ‘‘Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2018– 2022,’’ the NRC’s principle of efficiency states, in part, ‘‘Regulatory activities should be consistent with the degree of risk reduction they achieve. Where several effective alternatives are available, the option which minimizes the use of resources should be adopted.’’ The petitioner argues that the burden of these requirements is not consistent with the degree of risk reduction achieved for the reasons discussed in the petition. Several commenters provided additional details about burdens associated with these requirements, including developing and maintaining procedures and training, screening events for possible reporting, over-reporting, retracting notifications determined to be unnecessary, and recordkeeping. The petitioner and several commenters state that the limited benefit to the NRC and the public from these notifications is not commensurate with the time and resources expended. The petitioner states that there are currently two pathways for communicating similar information, and the more efficient pathway that optimizes resources and also communicates more information should be the one that is adopted. The petitioner believes that the more efficient pathway is from the licensee to a resident inspector and then from the resident inspector to NRC regional management. Regarding the principle of openness, the petitioner states that a perceived benefit of the current § 50.72 requirements is that information is provided to the public. However, the petitioner states that the public availability of LERs under § 50.73 within 60 days is sufficient for transparency purposes given that these are nonemergency events. The NRC’s response to this view is included in its evaluation of Assertion 5. NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees that the reporting requirements of § 50.72 are contrary to the other principles of good regulations. The NRC agrees in part with the petitioner’s claim VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 that the reporting requirements of § 50.72 should be evaluated for efficiency. However, as discussed previously, the reporting requirements vary greatly by number of reports per year and the amount of time licensees may spend deciding whether a specific reporting requirement has been met. Therefore, the NRC will consider this issue in its rulemaking process, where the NRC may solicit public input to help determine the best course of action to address the petitioner’s concerns. The NRC agrees in part that LERs meet the informational needs of the public, except in those cases where an event causes immediate heightened public concern. These cases may include press releases, emergency response to the site, failures or inadvertent actuation of emergency sirens, notification of other government agencies, or the transport of contaminated individuals from the site, and openness and efficiency is of utmost importance. Regarding the principle of independence, the nonemergency reporting requirements in § 50.72 support the concept of seeking all available facts and opinions from licensees. Specifically, the nonemergency reporting requirements support this principle in that licensees notify the NRC of events of interest. The intent of the rule is to support the capability of the NRC to make timely decisions and to provide adequate assurances regarding actual or potential threats to public health and safety. This depends heavily on the rapidity with which significant events are communicated by nuclear power reactor licensees to NRC. The NRC has an obligation to collect facts quickly and accurately about significant events, assess the facts, take necessary action, and inform the public about the extent of the threat, if any, to public health and safety. Notification of these nonemergency events in a timely manner allows the agency to perform an independent assessment of the event and take appropriate action, if necessary. Regarding reliability, the NRC acknowledges that § 50.72 has not been updated since 2001. During the rulemaking process, the NRC will evaluate the additional operating and regulatory experience gained since 2001 and determine if any changes are necessary to the nonemergency reporting requirements of § 50.72. Assertion 8: The purpose and objectives of § 50.72 will continue to be PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44295 fully met if the requested amendments are made. The petitioner claims that the purpose and objectives of § 50.72 will continue to be fully met if the NRC grants the petitioner’s request to remove the nonemergency reporting requirements contained in § 50.72(b). The petitioner bases the request on the existence of voluntary procedures to inform resident inspectors. NRC Evaluation: For the reasons listed in the responses to the assertions in this section of this document, the NRC disagrees in general that the intent of § 50.72 would be fully met if the requested amendments were implemented as stated; however, the NRC intends to assess this claim in the rulemaking process to determine whether the NRC can eliminate any requirements within § 50.72 (due to being unnecessarily burdensome) and still preserve the purposes and objectives of § 50.72. The NRC needs to maintain the ability to respond effectively to events, maintain situational awareness, provide proper regulatory oversight, and preserve credibility with the public. Assertion 9: Rulemaking is the preferred solution to deal with the petitioner’s concerns. NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees, in part, that the rulemaking process can evaluate and potentially resolve the petitioner’s underlying concerns associated with unnecessary burden caused by requirements associated with nonemergency event notifications. The NRC will address this issue in the rulemaking process. The NRC disagrees with the petitioner’s proposed changes that would eliminate all nonemergency reporting requirements in § 50.72. Rulemaking will enable the NRC to evaluate the reporting criteria in § 50.72(b) on a case-by-case basis to determine if the reporting requirements should be modified (e.g., changing the timeliness or method of reporting requirements or eliminating or adding requirements). The NRC will hold public meetings with stakeholders throughout the rulemaking process to better understand which requirements have the greatest impact on industry and the public. It may be possible to address some of these concerns by clarifying regulatory guidance. IV. Availability of Documents The documents identified in the following table are available to interested persons through one or more of the following methods, as indicated. E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1 44296 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 153 / Thursday, August 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules ADAMS accession No./web link/Federal Register citation Document PRM–50–116—Nuclear Energy Institute Petition to Amend 10 CFR 50.72, ‘‘Immediate Notification Requirements for Operating Nuclear Power Reactors,’’ August 2, 2018. PRM–50–116: Petition for rulemaking; notice of docketing and request for comment, November 20, 2018 ......... Management Directive 8.3, ‘‘NRC Incident Investigation Program,’’ June 25, 2014 ............................................... NUREG–1614, Volume 7, ‘‘Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2018–2022,’’ February 2018 .......................................... NUREG–1022, Rev 3, Supplement 1, ‘‘Event Report Guidelines 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(xiii),’’ September 2014 ...... NEI 13–01, Rev 0, ‘‘Reportable Action Levels for Loss of Emergency Preparedness Capabilities,’’ July 2014 .... ‘‘Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2—NRC Special Inspection Report 05000317/2015009 and 05000318/2015009,’’ May 27, 2015. Event Notification Report for January 28, 2015: EN 50769 ..................................................................................... Event Notification Report for January 28, 2015: EN 50771 ..................................................................................... Event Notification Report for April 10, 2015: EN 50961 .......................................................................................... V. Conclusion For the reasons cited in this document, the NRC will consider the petition in the rulemaking process. The NRC will evaluate the current requirements and guidance for immediate notification of nonemergency events for operating nuclear power reactors, assess whether the requirements present an unnecessary reporting burden, and if they do, determine whether reporting can be reduced or eliminated that does not have a commensurate safety benefit. The NRC tracks the status of all rules and PRMs on its website at https:// www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/ rulemaking/rules-petitions.html. The public may monitor the docket for the rulemaking on the Federal rulemaking website, https://www.regulations.gov, by searching on Docket ID NRC–2020– 0036. Publication of this document in the Federal Register closes Docket ID NRC–2018–0201 for PRM–50–116. Dated: August, 9, 2021. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Annette L. Vietti-Cook, Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2021–17244 Filed 8–11–21; 8:45 am] lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 BILLING CODE 7590–01–P 10 CFR Part 72 [NRC–2021–0124] RIN 3150–AK66 List of Approved Spent Fuel Storage Casks: TN Americas LLC; NUHOMS® EOS Dry Spent Fuel Storage System, Certificate of Compliance No. 1042, Amendment No. 2 Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: 22:35 Aug 11, 2021 Jkt 253001 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to amend its spent fuel storage regulations by revising the TN Americas LLC, NUHOMS® EOS Dry Spent Fuel Storage System listing within the ‘‘List of approved spent fuel storage casks’’ to include Amendment No. 2 to Certificate of Compliance No. 1042. Amendment No. 2 would revise the certificate of compliance to add a dry shielded canister for storage, add new heat load zone configurations, and make other changes to the storage system. Amendment No. 2 also would change the certificate of compliance, technical specifications, and updated final safety analysis report for consistency and clarity. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ doc-collections/event-status/ event/2015/20150128 en.html#en50769. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ doc-collections/event-status/ event/2015/20150128 en.html#en50771. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/ doc-collections/event-status/ event/2015/20150410 en.html#en50961. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID NRC–2021– 0124, at https://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using https://www.regulations.gov, call or email the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions. For additional direction on obtaining information and submitting comments, see ‘‘Obtaining Information and Submitting Comments’’ in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Submit comments by September 13, 2021. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to ensure consideration only for comments received on or before this date. VerDate Sep<11>2014 83 FR 58509. ML18073A200. ML18032A561. ML14267A447. ML14197A206. ML15147A354. ADDRESSES: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION DATES: ML18247A204. Christian J. Jacobs, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; telephone: 301–415–6825; email: Christian.Jacobs@nrc.gov or Andrew G. Carrera, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; telephone: 301– 415–1078; email: Andrew.Carrera@ nrc.gov. Both are staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Obtaining Information and Submitting Comments II. Rulemaking Procedure III. Background IV. Plain Writing V. Availability of Documents I. Obtaining Information and Submitting Comments A. Obtaining Information Please refer to Docket ID NRC–2021– 0124 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information for this action. You may obtain publicly- E:\FR\FM\12AUP1.SGM 12AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 153 (Thursday, August 12, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44290-44296]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-17244]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 50

[Docket No. PRM-50-116; NRC-2018-0201]


Elimination of Immediate Notification Requirements for 
Nonemergency Events

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; consideration in the rulemaking 
process.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will consider in 
its rulemaking process issues raised in a petition for rulemaking 
(PRM), dated August 2, 2018, submitted by Mr. Bill Pitesa on behalf of 
the Nuclear Energy Institute. The petition was docketed by the NRC on 
November 20, 2018, and assigned Docket No. PRM-50-116. The petitioner 
requested that the NRC amend its regulations to eliminate immediate 
notification requirements for nonemergency events for operating nuclear 
power reactors. The NRC will evaluate the current requirements and 
guidance for immediate notification of nonemergency events for 
operating nuclear power reactors, assess whether the requirements 
present an unnecessary reporting burden, and if they do, determine 
whether reporting can be reduced or eliminated that does not have a 
commensurate safety benefit.

DATES: The docket for the petition for rulemaking, PRM-50-116, is 
closed on August 12, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2018-0201 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information for this action. You may 
obtain publicly available information related to this action by any of 
the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Website: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2018-0201 or the 
future rulemaking Docket ID NRC-2020-0036. Address questions about NRC 
dockets to Dawn Forder; telephone: 301-415-3407; email: 
[email protected]. For technical questions, contact the individual 
listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ``Begin Web-Based ADAMS 
Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public 
Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, at 301-415-4737, 
or by email to [email protected]. For the convenience of the reader, 
instructions about obtaining materials referenced in this document are 
provided in the ``Availability of Documents'' section.
     Attention: The PDR, where you may examine and order copies 
of public documents, is currently closed. You may submit your request 
to the PDR via email at [email protected] or call 1-800-397-4209 
between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Doyle, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-3748, email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. The Petition
II. Public Comments on the Petition
III. Reasons for Consideration
IV. Availability of Documents
V. Conclusion

I. The Petition

    Section 2.802 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR), ``Petition for rulemaking--requirements for filing,'' provides an 
opportunity for any person to petition the Commission to issue, amend, 
or rescind any regulation. The NRC received and docketed a PRM dated 
August 2, 2018, filed by Mr. Bill Pitesa on behalf of the Nuclear 
Energy Institute (NEI). The NRC assigned this PRM the docket number of 
PRM-50-116. On November 20, 2018 (83 FR 58509), the NRC published a 
notice of docketing and request for comment on PRM-50-116 in the 
Federal Register. The petitioner requests that the NRC revise its 
regulations in 10 CFR 50.72, ``Immediate notification requirements for 
operating nuclear power reactors,'' to remove the current requirement 
for licensees to immediately report nonemergency events that occur at 
operating nuclear power reactors. The petitioner states that licensees 
currently have procedures for responding to nonemergency events and 
ensuring that NRC resident inspectors are notified of nonemergency 
events independent of the requirements in Sec.  50.72. The petitioner 
did not request removal of Sec.  50.72 in its entirety, only the 
nonemergency notification requirements in Sec.  50.72(b). The 
petitioner believes that ``duplicative notifications under Sec.  50.72 
serve no safety function and are not needed to prevent or minimize 
possible injury to the public or to allow the NRC to take necessary 
action.''
    The petitioner suggests that in lieu of the currently required 
notifications, the NRC should establish guidance for the resident 
inspectors that provides consistent and standard expectations for using 
the existing communication protocols that the petitioner claims have 
proven to be effective for communicating from the site to the resident 
inspectors and, from there, to NRC management.

II. Public Comments on the Petition

    On November 20, 2018, the NRC requested comments from the public on 
the petition and posed five specific questions to gain a better 
understanding of the scope and basis for the issues raised by the 
petitioner. The comment period ended on February 4, 2019, and the NRC 
received 16 public comments. Eleven comments (from NEI and nuclear 
power reactor licensees) supported the petition, one comment (from two 
private citizens) partially supported the petition, two comments (from 
a private citizen and a nongovernmental organization) opposed the 
petition, and two comments (from private citizens) were out of scope. 
The following is a summary of the comments organized by the specific 
questions in the notice of docketing.
    In the first question, the NRC requested feedback on how 
stakeholders review and use the information contained in nonemergency 
event notifications, and how they would be affected if all nonemergency 
event notifications were eliminated. Two private citizens stated that 
they do not regularly review notifications on the NRC's website, but 
the information may be beneficial to maintain for public review. The 
same commenters supported the removal of redundancies in communication 
and suggested that the NRC maintain only those Sec.  50.72 requirements 
that do not have a corresponding Sec.  50.73, ``Licensee event report 
system'' report so the public is kept informed.
    Several industry commenters also responded to this question. While 
their comments varied regarding the level of

[[Page 44291]]

regular review of nonemergency event notifications, the consensus was 
that their organizations would not be adversely impacted by the 
elimination of the nonemergency reporting requirements of Sec.  50.72. 
Several industry commenters stated that their primary sources of 
operating experience are Sec.  50.73 licensee event reports (LERs), NRC 
inspection reports, NRC generic communications, and the Institute for 
Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) operating experience database. Several 
commenters also stated that Sec.  50.72 event notifications are of 
little value because they do not contain sufficient information on 
which to base follow-up or corrective actions.
    The second NRC question requested feedback on whether the public 
release of Sec.  50.73 LERs alone meets the needs of the public and 
noted the three Sec.  50.72 reporting requirements that do not have a 
corresponding Sec.  50.73 LER. Two private citizens and a 
nongovernmental organization agreed that the NRC should retain those 
nonemergency event notifications that do not have a corresponding Sec.  
50.73 LER. For the remaining reporting requirements, the public 
comments were divided. Two private citizens suggested that redundant 
reporting requirements should be eliminated, and a third private 
citizen preferred maintaining the status quo for nonemergency event 
notifications. A nongovernmental organization stated that notification 
of plant shutdown, deviation from technical specifications, degraded 
conditions (i.e., safety barriers), unanalyzed conditions, and system 
actuation should continue because the seriousness of some conditions 
may not be readily apparent.
    Several industry members also provided comments in response to this 
question. In general, the industry commenters agreed that the 
information in the Sec.  50.73 LERs provides more detail and context 
than Sec.  50.72 event notifications. The commenters also concluded 
that generally, additional information beyond the Sec.  50.73 LER 
(e.g., from the INPO operating experience database) is necessary to 
meet the information needs of the industry in order to determine 
applicability and take corrective actions.
    The third NRC question requested that stakeholders identify, from 
their perspectives, the most burdensome provisions in Sec.  50.72. The 
NRC received several responses from members of the industry on this 
topic. Several commenters repeated concerns raised by the petition. In 
addition, the commenters provided additional insight to the potential 
burdens of the nonemergency reporting requirements of Sec.  50.72. 
Specifically, one commenter expressed a concern that the training 
required to make infrequent event notifications detracts from training 
in other areas. Another commenter stated that subjective terms in the 
regulation, such as ``seriously'' (Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(ii)(A)), 
``significantly'' (Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(ii)(B)), or ``could'' (Sec.  
50.72(b)(3)(v)) foster strenuous debates within the licensee 
organization or between the licensee and the NRC. One commenter 
estimated that approximately 30 to 40 evaluations per licensee are 
performed per year and determined not to be reportable under Sec.  
50.72.
    The fourth NRC question directly asked if stakeholders agree with 
the petitioner's assertion that Sec.  50.72 nonemergency notifications 
are contrary to the best interests of the public and are contrary to 
the stated purpose of the regulation. The comments received from 
members of the public generally disagreed with the petitioner's 
assertion. Comments received from industry agreed with the petitioner's 
assertion.
    The fifth NRC question requested feedback from stakeholders on 
potential alternatives to the petitioner's proposed changes that would 
address the concerns raised in the petition while still providing 
timely event information to the NRC and the public. Most of the 
comments received were from members of the industry and did not provide 
alternative approaches to the petitioner's proposed changes to Sec.  
50.72. One commenter stated that the NRC should eliminate the reporting 
requirements of Sec. Sec.  50.72 and 50.73 on the basis that licensees 
already have access to various industry platforms in order to obtain 
pertinent operational experience information.
    The NRC received other comments related to the petition, including 
specific comments on the basis and background of current requirements, 
the significance of a loss of safety function, and suggested 
alternatives to the timeliness requirements for submission of Sec.  
50.73 LERs.
    The NRC reviewed the other public comments received and recommends 
consideration of these comments in the rulemaking process. The NRC uses 
the basis and background of the current requirements to inform the 
regulatory basis of any proposed rule. The staff will discuss the 
significance of the loss of a safety function in greater detail in its 
regulatory basis.
    Regarding the suggested alternatives to the timeliness requirements 
for submission of a Sec.  50.73 LER, the staff notes that this would 
result in a significant change to the reporting requirements of Sec.  
50.73. This change may also result in the NRC receiving less 
information regarding root causes of the events reported due to the 
more stringent time demand. The NRC intends to gather additional 
stakeholder feedback on this topic in the rulemaking process.

III. Reasons for Consideration

    Although the petitioner requested elimination of the requirements 
for licensees to immediately report nonemergency events that occur at 
operating nuclear power plants, the underlying issue is whether the 
current nonemergency reporting requirements create an unnecessary 
reporting burden. The NRC will consider this issue in its rulemaking 
process. The NRC will evaluate the current requirements and guidance 
for immediate notification of nonemergency events for operating nuclear 
reactors, assess whether the requirements present an unnecessary 
reporting burden, and if they do, determine whether reporting can be 
reduced or eliminated that does not have a commensurate safety benefit. 
The NRC must preserve the ability to maintain situational awareness of 
significant events at nuclear power plants, and the visibility and 
openness of the event notifications to public stakeholders.

Evaluation of Petitioner Assertions

    Assertion 1: Sec.  50.72 is overdue for an update.
    The petitioner states that the NRC has occasionally revised the 
notification and reporting requirements in Sec. Sec.  50.72 and 50.73 
based on accumulated operating experience to remove certain 
requirements that provided little or no safety benefit. The petitioner 
asserts that these regulations have not been updated in this manner 
since January 2001, and that the petition is based on the accumulation 
of additional operating experience.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees with this assertion. The NRC 
acknowledges that it last updated notification and reporting 
requirements in Sec.  50.72 in 2001 and that sufficient operating 
experience exists to consider an update to the reporting requirements 
in Sec.  50.72(b). The staff performed an initial evaluation of each 
reporting requirement in Sec.  50.72(b) and preliminarily determined 
that some nonemergency reporting requirements could be updated. The NRC 
agrees that the reporting requirements in Sec.  50.72(b) should be 
assessed and will evaluate each reporting requirement in its rulemaking 
process.

[[Page 44292]]

    Assertion 2: The Sec.  50.72 nonemergency notifications are 
redundant with resident inspectors' communications to the NRC.
    In support of this assertion, the petitioner states that resident 
inspectors are familiar with the design and operations of nuclear power 
plants and are trained how to react to events that occur at the site, 
including when to escalate issues to NRC management. The petitioner 
also claims that NRC licensees have procedures or practices in place 
that ensure notification of the resident inspector independent of the 
requirements of Sec.  50.72, and that the nonemergency notifications 
under Sec.  50.72 serve no unique safety function.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees with the assertion that Sec.  
50.72 nonemergency notifications to the Headquarters Operations Center 
(HOC) \1\ are redundant with resident inspectors' communications to the 
NRC. The petitioner claims that licensees have procedures in place to 
ensure that resident inspectors are informed of these types of events 
and that the reports made under Sec.  50.72 are duplicated by licensee 
verbal reports to the onsite NRC resident inspectors. The NRC notes 
that the notifications to the resident inspectors as described by the 
petitioner are voluntary initiatives performed by the licensees; the 
NRC does not require licensees to contact the resident inspector. If 
the NRC relies on voluntary practices alone to maintain awareness of 
the nonemergency events listed in Sec.  50.72(b), then there is an 
increased risk of loss of situational awareness and the ability to make 
timely decisions with adequate information. The resident inspectors may 
receive voluntary reports from licensees but may not always be 
immediately available and are not expected to perform the communication 
duties assumed by the HOC. Headquarters Operations Officers (HOOs) are 
always on call and have special knowledge and communication tools to 
enable accurate and efficient collection and dissemination of 
information for all types of facilities. In addition, every call to the 
HOO is recorded to ensure accuracy of information. Adding this burden 
to the resident inspectors could impact their ability to provide 
adequate oversight of the nonemergency events and decrease the speed 
and quality of information sharing within the NRC about nonemergency 
events. Further, reliance on the Resident Inspectors picking up the 
reporting requirement undermines the basis for the rule change as it 
would recognize that the need for the reporting is still necessary, it 
would simply shift the responsibility from the licensee to the NRC.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The NRC HOC is the primary center of communication and 
coordination among the NRC, its licensees, State and Tribal 
agencies, and other Federal agencies regarding operating events 
involving nuclear reactors or materials. Located in Rockville, MD, 
the NRC HOC is staffed 24 hours a day by employees trained to 
receive and evaluate event reports and coordinate incident response 
activities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Assertion 3: The Sec.  50.72 nonemergency notifications distract 
key plant staff when they are addressing events.
    The petitioner claims that elimination of the Sec.  50.72(b) 
nonemergency notifications requirement would provide a safety benefit 
by allowing licensees to redirect technical and engineering resources 
away from procedural reporting compliance activities and toward 
assessment and corrective action activities immediately following 
nonemergency events.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees, in part, with this assertion. A 
wide variety of events are reportable in accordance with Sec.  50.72. 
Likewise, the amount of effort expended to determine if the event in 
question is reportable varies widely. For example, a licensee should 
know immediately if it is issuing a press release or notifying another 
government agency, which is reportable under Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi). The 
burden for reporting this event should be only the additional cost of 
calling the NRC HOO and reporting the event without a significant 
amount of internal deliberation by the licensee. The one-hour report 
for deviation from a technical specification in accordance with Sec.  
50.54(x) serves as an example reporting requirement that should be 
apparent to the licensee and require minimal resources to report. On 
the other hand, commenters on the petition noted that other events, 
such as unanalyzed conditions, are less apparent and require more 
resources to determine if they are reportable. The time estimates 
provided by the commenters varied significantly. The NRC also received 
public comments that question whether licensees have sufficient 
resources to respond to events if they do not have sufficient resources 
to determine if an event is reportable. This assertion also raises a 
concern that licensees do not have a sufficient understanding of the 
intent of Sec.  50.72(b).
    To address these concerns, the NRC would need to perform additional 
analysis on each reporting requirement to determine which reporting 
requirements are creating these issues. The NRC will gather additional 
input from external stakeholders to determine the best way to resolve 
these concerns.
    In summary, it is likely that certain reporting requirements have 
significantly more impact on licensees than others. As part of the 
rulemaking process, the NRC will hold public meetings with licensees to 
better understand which requirements cause these issues and how best to 
address them.
    Assertion 4: The Sec.  50.72 nonemergency notifications that are 
not currently reported in a 60-day LER under Sec.  50.73 are unrelated 
to reactor safety.
    The petitioner asserts that the three Sec.  50.72 nonemergency 
notifications that do not have a corresponding requirement for a 60-day 
LER under Sec.  50.73 are unrelated to reactor safety. These three 
requirements are Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi), involving a news release or 
notification to another government agency; Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xii), 
involving the transport of a radioactively contaminated person to an 
offsite medical facility; and Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xiii), involving a 
major loss of emergency assessment capability, offsite response 
capability, or offsite communications capability.
    The petitioner states that the first two requirements are 
essentially ``courtesy calls,'' and resident inspectors can handle 
them. The petitioner claims that Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xiii) is a good 
example of a burdensome regulation that distracts licensee managers 
from the problems at hand. The petitioner claims that resident 
inspectors will be aware of these types of emergency preparedness 
problems. Furthermore, the petitioner claims that issues reported under 
Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xiii) will be captured in the licensee's corrective 
action program, reviewed by the resident inspector, and, as 
appropriate, captured in a subsequent quarterly inspection report that 
is made available to the public.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees, in part, with this assertion. 
The petitioner correctly points out the three kinds of Sec.  50.72 
event notifications that have no corresponding requirement for a LER 
pursuant to Sec.  50.73. The NRC believes that these reports are 
important for other reasons not identified by the petitioner. Although 
the Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi) and (3)(xii) events do not directly impact 
reactor safety, the Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xiii) notification allows the NRC 
to confirm that reasonable assurance of public health and safety and 
the common defense and security is maintained by quickly evaluating and 
ensuring that the licensee maintains its ability to effectively 
implement the emergency response plan or that the

[[Page 44293]]

licensee has taken or is taking the appropriate compensatory measures 
to ensure the emergency plan can still be effectively implemented. The 
NRC may need to take immediate action in response to these events. For 
example, a major loss of assessment capability, without adequate 
compensatory measures put in place, could degrade or prevent a 
licensee's ability to successfully implement its emergency response 
plan and negatively affect the NRC's reasonable assurance 
determination. The NRC needs to be able to quickly assess the impact of 
the loss of assessment capability as well as the adequacy of the 
compensatory measure(s) put in place to address the loss, to allow for 
timely engagement with the licensee, if required.
    The number of event reports under Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xiii) dropped 
significantly after NRC endorsement of NEI 13-01, ``Reportable Action 
Levels for Loss of Emergency Preparedness Capabilities,'' dated July 
2014 in Supplement 1 to NUREG-1022, Revision 3, dated September 2014. 
Prior to the endorsement of NEI 13-01, the NRC received on the order of 
hundreds of reports per year under this requirement. After the 
endorsement of NEI 13-01, the NRC now receives approximately 50-60 
reports per year. As explained in the statement of considerations for 
the 2000 final rule amending Sec.  50.72, ``Reporting Requirements for 
Nuclear Power Reactors and Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations 
at Power Reactor Sites; Final Rule'' (65 FR 63769, 63774; October 25, 
2000), the 8-hour reports, such as Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xii) through 
(xiii), are for ``events where there may be a need for the NRC to take 
an action within about a day, such as initiating a special inspection 
or investigation.'' If the NRC accepts the petitioner's suggested 
changes and relies solely on licensees' voluntary calls to the resident 
inspectors, then the NRC may not be able to take appropriate action in 
a timely manner. The current requirements in Sec.  50.72 establish 
timeliness requirements for notifying the NRC. If the NRC removed these 
requirements, then licensees would instead provide voluntary reports to 
resident inspectors based on each licensee's procedures, which may or 
may not impose timeliness expectations for notification of the resident 
inspector. For example, event response for nonemergency events could be 
delayed several days if an event, such as an actuation of the reactor 
protection system, occurs on a Friday night, and the resident inspector 
is not informed until Monday morning. Such a delay may impact the 
agency's ability to determine the appropriate response to an event in a 
timely manner. If, due to the delay in reporting, the NRC is delayed in 
this assessment and in potentially taking responsive action, public 
health and safety could be affected.
    In addition, it may not be readily apparent to the public how the 
NRC communicates and utilizes information received under these 
reporting requirements. The HOO communicates this information to all 
the interested internal NRC stakeholders when these reports are made. 
The reports in Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi) and (b)(3)(xii) are of particular 
interest to the agency in that they ensure that the NRC is aware of 
communications made to other agencies and is kept informed of 
situations that are of high public interest (i.e., news releases and 
transport of contaminated personnel). An important factor for event 
notifications under Sec.  50.72(b)(3)(xii) is the potential for 
radioactive materials on the contaminated individual to be removed from 
the site and distributed outside of the radioactivity-controlled area.
    The petitioner claims that reports made under Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi) 
and (b)(3)(xii) are essentially ``courtesy calls'' made to the NRC. The 
NRC notes that by the petitioner's own admission, licensees expend 
minimal effort to notify the NRC if a news release or notification to 
another government agency is made. In these cases, the reportability of 
these events should be readily apparent to the licensee and, therefore, 
cause little administrative burden beyond that of a call to the NRC 
HOO.
    Regarding the claim that resident inspectors can handle these 
``courtesy calls,'' in addition to the previous discussion regarding 
delayed communication, communicating these events only to the resident 
inspector could alter the direct and efficient communication structure 
via the HOO and replace it with an indirect structure that is less 
efficient at disseminating information within the NRC. Moreover, 
licensee calls to the NRC HOC are recorded to ensure accuracy of 
information but, under the petitioner's proposal, licensee 
conversations with resident inspectors would not be recorded. Since the 
NRC HOC infrastructure for dissemination of this information currently 
exists, the resident inspectors could report the information to the NRC 
HOC. But this shifts the responsibility of contacting the HOC from the 
licensee to the resident inspectors. In addition, the NRC HOC 
procedures would need to be updated to address any issues associated 
with this change, and the NRC would need to develop guidance for the 
resident inspectors to communicate nonemergency events to the NRC HOC. 
These changes would incur additional costs for training and equipment 
and may result in inconsistencies in the quality and timeliness of 
information about these events being shared within the NRC. This could 
potentially delay the NRC in the performance of its regulatory 
functions. The concerns with additional burden on resident inspectors 
if they are expected to communicate issues within the NRC are provided 
in the NRC's evaluation of Assertion 2.
    The NRC needs to preserve the ability to respond effectively to 
events, maintain situational awareness, provide proper regulatory 
oversight, and maintain credibility with the public. The NRC intends to 
gather additional stakeholder feedback on this topic in the rulemaking 
process.
    Assertion 5: The public will continue to be notified of the event 
in accordance with Sec.  50.73.
    The petitioner states that the fuller descriptions in LERs 
``provided within 60 days, as required by 10 CFR 50.73, are available 
to the public. Given that these are nonemergency events, this is 
sufficient for transparency purposes.''
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees, in part, with this assertion. The 
petitioner's claim that the public will be notified of the event in 
accordance with Sec.  50.73 is correct, with the exception of the three 
reporting requirements in Sec.  50.72, as discussed in Assertion 4, 
that do not have a corresponding reporting requirement in Sec.  50.73: 
Sec.  50.72(b)(2)(xi), (b)(3)(xii), and (b)(3)(xiii). For these 
reports, the NRC disagrees that the reporting requirements of Sec.  
50.73 are sufficient for the purposes of public transparency.
    The NRC agrees with the petitioner's statement that LERs contain 
``fuller,'' or more complete, descriptions of the reported event. The 
requirements of Sec.  50.73 contain more detail regarding required 
content than the event notification requirements in Sec.  50.72. The 
LERs generally contain a much more descriptive narrative of the event 
and the failure mechanisms involved.
    In addition, the NRC received several public comments regarding 
timeliness of LERs. Two private citizens expressed support for the 
petition with the caveat that Sec.  50.73 LERs should be moved to a 30-
day reporting requirement to meet the needs of informing the public. 
However, such a significant change to the timing of the reporting 
requirements in Sec.  50.73 may increase the burden on

[[Page 44294]]

licensees and result in the NRC receiving less information regarding 
root causes of the events reported due to the more stringent time 
demand. Furthermore, even a 30-day reporting requirement for Sec.  
50.73 LERs would represent a significant reduction in timeliness for 
public notification compared to the current Sec.  50.72 notification 
requirements. As part of the rulemaking, the NRC will consider how it 
would continue to provide timely notification of events to the public 
if it also alters timing requirements for notifications by licensees. 
The NRC intends to gather additional stakeholder feedback on this topic 
in the rulemaking process.
    Assertion 6: The NRC has never taken any kind of action in response 
to prompt notifications.
    The petitioner claims that the requirement to notify the NRC within 
4 or 8 hours implies that the NRC would need to take action before the 
end of the 8-hour shift (for a 4-hour report) or soon after the shift 
turnover (for an 8-hour report). The petitioner claims that in the 
almost 40 years that this regulation has been in place, the NRC has 
never taken any kind of action in this tight timeframe to protect the 
public for one of these nonemergency events. The petitioner claims that 
there is no need for this type of prompt action, and that the NRC 
rarely dispatches inspection teams. The petitioner claims that 
notification from the resident inspector is more than sufficient for 
this kind of ``prompt action.''
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees with this assertion. The 
petitioner claims that the requirement to notify the NRC within 4 or 8 
hours implies that the NRC would need to take action before the end of 
the 8-hour shift (for a 4-hour report) or soon after the shift turnover 
(for an 8-hour report). When the NRC receives these reports, the NRC 
HOO adds the items to a database for communication in a regular morning 
email. If there are items of interest (e.g., complicated reactor 
scrams, emergency core cooling system injection) that indicate a need 
for prompt communication, the NRC HOO notifies interested NRC 
stakeholders via immediate phone calls as soon as the information from 
the event is put into the database. The NRC HOO may also issue to NRC 
management a ``HOO Highlight'' email. These events are typically 
communicated to staff and management within an hour of receipt of the 
notification.
    There are several other actions that the NRC could take in response 
to these notifications. In the statement of considerations for the 2000 
final rule, the Commission analyzed the intent of the timeliness 
requirements in Sec.  50.72(b), and noted that the final provisions 
required 4-hour reporting, if the event was not reported in 1 hour, for 
an event or situation, related to the health and safety of the public 
or onsite personnel, or protection of the environment, for which a news 
release is planned or notification to other government agencies has 
been or will be made. The Commission stated that such an event may 
include an onsite fatality or inadvertent release of radioactively 
contaminated materials, and that this is the same as previously 
required. The Commission concluded that these reports are needed 
promptly because they involve events where there may be a need for the 
NRC to respond to heightened public concern.
    The 2000 final rule also required 4-hour reporting, if the event 
was not reported in 1 hour, for unplanned transients. The Commission 
explained that these are events where there may be a need for the NRC 
to take a reasonably prompt action, such as partially activating its 
response plan to monitor the course of the event. For the remaining 
events reportable under Sec.  50.72, the final rule required 8-hour 
reporting, if not reported in 1 hour or 4 hours; these are events where 
there may be a need for the NRC to take an action within about a day, 
such as initiating a special inspection or investigation.
    Since the implementation of the 2000 final rule, the NRC has taken 
various prompt actions in response to event notifications under Sec.  
50.72(b). For example, the nonemergency event notifications serve as a 
potential trigger for Management Directive (MD) 8.3, ``NRC Incident 
Investigation Program,'' evaluations, which may or may not result in a 
reactive inspection in response to the event.
    The NRC performed a total of 140 reactive inspections from 2006 to 
2018, an average of approximately 11 reactive inspections per year. In 
the period from 2006 to 2012, the NRC performed an average of 
approximately 14 reactive inspections per year. In the period from 2013 
to 2018, the NRC performed an average of approximately 7 reactive 
inspections per year. In 2018, the NRC performed 4 reactive 
inspections. Even though the total number of reactive inspections has 
declined over the past 12 years, the NRC still performs several 
reactive inspections per year. In addition to these reactive 
inspections, there are more events for which the agency performs an MD 
8.3 evaluation. For those evaluations where baseline inspection is 
recommended (no reactive inspection), the regions occasionally dispatch 
additional inspectors to the site to respond to nonemergency events. 
There are also cases, such as the dual unit trip at the Calvert Cliffs 
Nuclear Power Plant in 2015 (Event Notification 50961), where the NRC 
performed an MD 8.3 evaluation and decided to perform a reactive 
inspection within approximately 24 hours (``Calvert Cliffs Nuclear 
Power Plant Units 1 and 2--NRC Special Inspection Report 05000317/
2015009 and 05000318/2015009,'' dated May 27, 2015).
    The NRC also routinely receives inquiries from reporters and 
members of the public regarding events at nuclear power stations. The 
nonemergency event notifications provide timely notification of events 
for those situations where the agency may need to respond to heightened 
public concern. For example, the Calvert Cliffs dual unit trip resulted 
in local news media coverage. Wholesale removal of these reporting 
requirements could render the agency unable to respond effectively to 
public requests for information.
    Finally, depending on the nature of the nonemergency event, the 
agency may need to activate its response plan. At the Pilgrim Nuclear 
Power Station, winter storm Juno in January 2015 caused a loss-of-
offsite power that caused a reactor trip (see Event Notification 
50769). Then, about 10 hours later, a second event notification, 50771, 
was made due to complications with the plant response and failed 
mitigating systems. At that point, the NRC's Incident Response Center 
entered into Monitoring mode for this complicated event even though 
emergency plan activation criteria were not met.
    The petitioner claims that the NRC dispatches inspection teams for 
only 1% of nonemergency events. However, the petitioner's statement 
does not recognize the actions taken by the NRC prior to dispatching 
these inspection teams. As discussed earlier in this section, the NRC 
sends inspection teams to nuclear power plants several times a year. 
The notifications made under Sec.  50.72 serve as a potential trigger 
for the resident inspectors and regional staff to perform an MD 8.3 
evaluation. The MD 8.3 evaluation assesses an event against several 
criteria to determine if the NRC should, in response to an event, (1) 
handle the issue in the baseline inspection program, (2) dispatch a 
special inspection team to investigate the event, or (3) dispatch an 
augmented inspection team to investigate the event in greater detail. 
The NRC may initiate an MD 8.3 evaluation as soon as a report is 
received, depending on the event.

[[Page 44295]]

    Based on these reasons and examples, the NRC disagrees with the 
petitioner's assertion that the NRC has never taken any kind of action 
in response to these types of prompt event notifications or that these 
types of ``prompt actions'' are not needed.
    Assertion 7: The Sec.  50.72 nonemergency notification requirements 
are contrary to the NRC's principles of good regulation, specifically 
efficiency and openness.
    As set forth in NUREG-1614, Volume 7, ``Strategic Plan: Fiscal 
Years 2018-2022,'' the NRC's principle of efficiency states, in part, 
``Regulatory activities should be consistent with the degree of risk 
reduction they achieve. Where several effective alternatives are 
available, the option which minimizes the use of resources should be 
adopted.'' The petitioner argues that the burden of these requirements 
is not consistent with the degree of risk reduction achieved for the 
reasons discussed in the petition. Several commenters provided 
additional details about burdens associated with these requirements, 
including developing and maintaining procedures and training, screening 
events for possible reporting, over-reporting, retracting notifications 
determined to be unnecessary, and recordkeeping. The petitioner and 
several commenters state that the limited benefit to the NRC and the 
public from these notifications is not commensurate with the time and 
resources expended. The petitioner states that there are currently two 
pathways for communicating similar information, and the more efficient 
pathway that optimizes resources and also communicates more information 
should be the one that is adopted. The petitioner believes that the 
more efficient pathway is from the licensee to a resident inspector and 
then from the resident inspector to NRC regional management.
    Regarding the principle of openness, the petitioner states that a 
perceived benefit of the current Sec.  50.72 requirements is that 
information is provided to the public. However, the petitioner states 
that the public availability of LERs under Sec.  50.73 within 60 days 
is sufficient for transparency purposes given that these are 
nonemergency events. The NRC's response to this view is included in its 
evaluation of Assertion 5.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC disagrees that the reporting requirements 
of Sec.  50.72 are contrary to the other principles of good 
regulations. The NRC agrees in part with the petitioner's claim that 
the reporting requirements of Sec.  50.72 should be evaluated for 
efficiency. However, as discussed previously, the reporting 
requirements vary greatly by number of reports per year and the amount 
of time licensees may spend deciding whether a specific reporting 
requirement has been met. Therefore, the NRC will consider this issue 
in its rulemaking process, where the NRC may solicit public input to 
help determine the best course of action to address the petitioner's 
concerns.
    The NRC agrees in part that LERs meet the informational needs of 
the public, except in those cases where an event causes immediate 
heightened public concern. These cases may include press releases, 
emergency response to the site, failures or inadvertent actuation of 
emergency sirens, notification of other government agencies, or the 
transport of contaminated individuals from the site, and openness and 
efficiency is of utmost importance.
    Regarding the principle of independence, the nonemergency reporting 
requirements in Sec.  50.72 support the concept of seeking all 
available facts and opinions from licensees. Specifically, the 
nonemergency reporting requirements support this principle in that 
licensees notify the NRC of events of interest. The intent of the rule 
is to support the capability of the NRC to make timely decisions and to 
provide adequate assurances regarding actual or potential threats to 
public health and safety. This depends heavily on the rapidity with 
which significant events are communicated by nuclear power reactor 
licensees to NRC. The NRC has an obligation to collect facts quickly 
and accurately about significant events, assess the facts, take 
necessary action, and inform the public about the extent of the threat, 
if any, to public health and safety. Notification of these nonemergency 
events in a timely manner allows the agency to perform an independent 
assessment of the event and take appropriate action, if necessary.
    Regarding reliability, the NRC acknowledges that Sec.  50.72 has 
not been updated since 2001. During the rulemaking process, the NRC 
will evaluate the additional operating and regulatory experience gained 
since 2001 and determine if any changes are necessary to the 
nonemergency reporting requirements of Sec.  50.72.
    Assertion 8: The purpose and objectives of Sec.  50.72 will 
continue to be fully met if the requested amendments are made.
    The petitioner claims that the purpose and objectives of Sec.  
50.72 will continue to be fully met if the NRC grants the petitioner's 
request to remove the nonemergency reporting requirements contained in 
Sec.  50.72(b). The petitioner bases the request on the existence of 
voluntary procedures to inform resident inspectors.
    NRC Evaluation: For the reasons listed in the responses to the 
assertions in this section of this document, the NRC disagrees in 
general that the intent of Sec.  50.72 would be fully met if the 
requested amendments were implemented as stated; however, the NRC 
intends to assess this claim in the rulemaking process to determine 
whether the NRC can eliminate any requirements within Sec.  50.72 (due 
to being unnecessarily burdensome) and still preserve the purposes and 
objectives of Sec.  50.72. The NRC needs to maintain the ability to 
respond effectively to events, maintain situational awareness, provide 
proper regulatory oversight, and preserve credibility with the public.
    Assertion 9: Rulemaking is the preferred solution to deal with the 
petitioner's concerns.
    NRC Evaluation: The NRC agrees, in part, that the rulemaking 
process can evaluate and potentially resolve the petitioner's 
underlying concerns associated with unnecessary burden caused by 
requirements associated with nonemergency event notifications. The NRC 
will address this issue in the rulemaking process. The NRC disagrees 
with the petitioner's proposed changes that would eliminate all 
nonemergency reporting requirements in Sec.  50.72. Rulemaking will 
enable the NRC to evaluate the reporting criteria in Sec.  50.72(b) on 
a case-by-case basis to determine if the reporting requirements should 
be modified (e.g., changing the timeliness or method of reporting 
requirements or eliminating or adding requirements). The NRC will hold 
public meetings with stakeholders throughout the rulemaking process to 
better understand which requirements have the greatest impact on 
industry and the public. It may be possible to address some of these 
concerns by clarifying regulatory guidance.

IV. Availability of Documents

    The documents identified in the following table are available to 
interested persons through one or more of the following methods, as 
indicated.

[[Page 44296]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                ADAMS accession No./web
                   Document                      link/Federal Register
                                                        citation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
PRM-50-116--Nuclear Energy Institute Petition  ML18247A204.
 to Amend 10 CFR 50.72, ``Immediate
 Notification Requirements for Operating
 Nuclear Power Reactors,'' August 2, 2018.
PRM-50-116: Petition for rulemaking; notice    83 FR 58509.
 of docketing and request for comment,
 November 20, 2018.
Management Directive 8.3, ``NRC Incident       ML18073A200.
 Investigation Program,'' June 25, 2014.
NUREG-1614, Volume 7, ``Strategic Plan:        ML18032A561.
 Fiscal Years 2018-2022,'' February 2018.
NUREG-1022, Rev 3, Supplement 1, ``Event       ML14267A447.
 Report Guidelines 10 CFR
 50.72(b)(3)(xiii),'' September 2014.
NEI 13-01, Rev 0, ``Reportable Action Levels   ML14197A206.
 for Loss of Emergency Preparedness
 Capabilities,'' July 2014.
``Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant Units 1   ML15147A354.
 and 2--NRC Special Inspection Report
 05000317/2015009 and 05000318/2015009,'' May
 27, 2015.
Event Notification Report for January 28,      https://www.nrc.gov/
 2015: EN 50769.                                reading-rm/doc-
                                                collections/event-status/
                                                event/2015/
                                                20150128en.html#en50769.
Event Notification Report for January 28,      https://www.nrc.gov/
 2015: EN 50771.                                reading-rm/doc-
                                                collections/event-status/
                                                event/2015/
                                                20150128en.html#en50771.
Event Notification Report for April 10, 2015:  https://www.nrc.gov/
 EN 50961.                                      reading-rm/doc-
                                                collections/event-status/
                                                event/2015/
                                                20150410en.html#en50961.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Conclusion

    For the reasons cited in this document, the NRC will consider the 
petition in the rulemaking process. The NRC will evaluate the current 
requirements and guidance for immediate notification of nonemergency 
events for operating nuclear power reactors, assess whether the 
requirements present an unnecessary reporting burden, and if they do, 
determine whether reporting can be reduced or eliminated that does not 
have a commensurate safety benefit.
    The NRC tracks the status of all rules and PRMs on its website at 
https://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking/rules-petitions.html. The public may monitor the docket for the rulemaking on 
the Federal rulemaking website, https://www.regulations.gov, by 
searching on Docket ID NRC-2020-0036. Publication of this document in 
the Federal Register closes Docket ID NRC-2018-0201 for PRM-50-116.

    Dated: August, 9, 2021.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette L. Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2021-17244 Filed 8-11-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P