NRC - U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

04/08/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/08/2020 06:34

COVID-19 Updates for Operator Licensing See how the NRC is addressing COVID-19 impacts to the NRC's Operator Licensing (OL) program

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The NRC is reviewing operator license requirements, and identifying potential appropriate use of existing waiver processes, already outlined by 10 CFR Part 55 regulations and/or associated guidance documents. Additionally, NRC staff is considering options for temporary regulatory adjustments that could help ensure an acceptable number of licensed operators remains available to facility licensees, in all modes of operation, and to avoid excessive licensed operator fatigue.

The NRC will consider exemptions or provide relief for operator licensing-related regulations based, in part, on what compensatory actions exist or are put in place. Current information available to the NRC continues to show acceptable availability of licensed operators to maintain safe operation. The NRC understands that certain regulatory processes associated with maintaining training and qualifications of licensed operators should be examined to reduce or possibly eliminate risk of spreading the virus. In anticipation of requests from the industry, the NRC is considering where the potential may exist for compensatory actions to be used as a safer option when compared to existing guidance and regulations.

In order to maintain compliance with Federal and NRC directives to conduct only essential mission travel and to maximize work at home, the NRC has postponed the administration of the initial operator license examination at three facilities that had scheduled examinations through April. This decision limits exposure to facility licensee personnel, as well as the NRC examiners who would be required to observe applicant performance during the operating test from a short distance. The NRC acknowledges the temporary suspension of initial operator licensing examinations could increase the need for relief of existing regulatory requirements at some facilities to ensure acceptable availability of existing licensed operators. For this reason, NRC staff has started to consider where relief may eventually be requested.

Additionally, over the last several years, the NRC has developed the National Exam Schedule, which has developed processes and tools for scheduling examinations both emergently and well into the future. The NRC OL program is well-positioned to catch up on postponed initial exams, using resources including headquarters and cross-regional support, once the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. The NRC will rely on an assessment from industry in terms of which exams would meet the most pressing need.

If relief is provided, the NRC OL program will ensure, when practical and safe to do so, that direction is provided to the industry to restore compliance with existing requirements in an expeditious manner. The NRC OL program staff has and will maintain regular communications with industry to ensure we understand the most current status in terms of the availability of licensed operators.

COVID-19 OL Regulatory Considerations

1) Initial Licensing Examinations-Written and Operating

2) Biennial Requalification Examinations and Training

3) Medical Examinations

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, April 08, 2020