[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 147 (Tuesday, July 31, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 45282-45285]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18639]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 147 / Tuesday, July 31, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 45282]]



NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2012-0179]


NRC Position on the Relationship Between General Design Criteria 
and Technical Specification Operability

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Draft regulatory issue summary; public meeting and request for 
comment.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) 
is holding a public meeting to discuss a draft regulatory issue summary 
(RIS) that clarifies the NRC staff's position on the relationship 
between the general design criteria (GDC) for nuclear power plants and 
technical specification operability. In addition, the draft RIS 
clarifies the process for addressing nonconformances with GDC as 
incorporated into a plant's current licensing basis. The NRC is also 
seeking public comment on the draft RIS.

DATES: Submit comments by September 14, 2012. Comments received after 
this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC 
is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before 
this date.

ADDRESSES: You may access information and comment submissions related 
to this document, which the NRC possesses and is publicly available, by 
searching on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket ID NRC-2012-0179. 
You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0179. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, 
Mail Stop: TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001.
     Fax comments to: RADB at 301-492-3446.
    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Alexion, Senior Project 
Manager, Generic Communications Branch, Division of Policy and 
Rulemaking, Office Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Mail Stop: OWFN-12-D-20, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; 
telephone: 301-415-1326, email: Thomas.Alexion@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2012-0179 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this document. You may 
access information related to this document, which the NRC possesses 
and is publicly available, by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0179.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then 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, 301-415-
4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The draft RIS ``NRC Staff 
Position on the Relationship Between GDC Requirements and Technical 
Specification Operability,'' is available electronically under ADAMS 
Accession No. ML12137A346.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

B. Submitting Comments

    Please include Docket ID NRC-2012-0179 in the subject line of your 
comment submission, in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make 
your comment submission available to the public in this docket.
    The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact 
information that you do not want to be publicly disclosed in your 
comment submission. The NRC will post all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as enter the comment submissions into 
ADAMS. The NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove 
identifying or contact information.
    If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons 
for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to 
include identifying or contact information that they do not want to be 
publicly disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should 
state that the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to 
remove such information before making the comment submissions available 
to the public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. Discussion

Addressees

    All holders of, and applicants for, power reactor operating 
licenses issued under Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR) Part 50, ``Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization 
Facilities,'' except those that have permanently ceased operations and 
have certified that fuel has been permanently removed from the reactor 
vessel.

Intent

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this 
regulatory issue summary (RIS) to clarify the relationship between 
Appendix A, ``General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants,'' to 10 
CFR part 50, and 10 CFR 50.36, ``Technical Specifications.'' In 
addition, the RIS is clarifying the process for addressing 
nonconformances with general design criteria (GDC) as incorporated into 
a plant's current licensing basis (CLB). This RIS does not transmit any 
new requirements and does not require any

[[Page 45283]]

specific action or written response on the part of an addressee.

Background Information

    Recently, the NRC has received questions about the relationship 
between licensing basis design requirements, such as the GDC as 
incorporated into the plant CLB, and technical specification (TS) 
operability requirements. The relationship between CLB design 
requirements and the TS was addressed in a memorandum from Thomas E. 
Murley, Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) to the NRR 
staff, dated January 24, 1994 (ADAMS Accession No. ML12115A279). The 
positions described in this memo were incorporated into the Inspection 
Manual Part 9900 Technical Guidance, ``Operability Determinations & 
Functionality Assessments for Resolution of Degraded or Nonconforming 
Conditions Adverse to Quality or Safety (Operability Determination 
Process),'' which was issued as the attachment to RIS 2005-20, Revision 
1, ``Revision to NRC Inspection Manual Part 9900 Technical Guidance, 
`Operability Determinations & Functionality Assessments for Resolution 
of Degraded or Nonconforming Conditions Adverse to Quality or Safety''' 
(ADAMS Accession No. ML073531473).
    The GDCs or a plant-specific equivalent,\1\ as incorporated into 
the CLB, have an important relationship to the operability requirements 
of the TS. Comprehending this relationship is critical to understanding 
how licensees should address nonconformances with CLB design 
requirements. This RIS discusses these relationships to promote a more 
comprehensive understanding of how the NRC requirements work in concert 
with TS to ensure plant safety.
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    \1\ For example, plants with construction permits issued prior 
to May 21, 1971, may have been approved for construction based on 
the proposed General Design Criteria published by the Atomic Energy 
Commission (AEC) in the Federal Register (32 FR 10213) on July 11, 
1967, sometimes referred to as the AEC Draft GDC.
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Relationship of the GDC to the Technical Specifications

    The GDC and the TS differ in that the GDC specify NRC's 
requirements for the design of nuclear power reactors, whereas the TS 
are included in the license and specify requirements for the operation 
of nuclear power reactors. Design requirements, such as GDCs or similar 
requirements, are typically included in the licensing basis for every 
nuclear power plant. GDCs, according to Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 50, 
``establish the necessary design, fabrication, construction, testing, 
and performance requirements for structures, systems, and components 
(SSCs) important to safety.'' As such, the GDCs cover a broad category 
of SSCs that are important to safety, including those SSCs that are 
covered by TS. Both the design capability of the facility to meet the 
GDC (or a plant-specific equivalent) and the operational restrictions, 
which are to be included in the TS, are described in the final safety 
analysis report (FSAR). The staff safety evaluation documents the 
acceptability of these analyses, and it is the combination of the FSAR 
analyses and the staff safety evaluation that forms the bases from 
which the TS are derived. It is important to note that the GDCs cover a 
broader scope of SSCs than the TS because the TS establish, among other 
things, the limiting conditions for operations (LCOs). LCOs are the 
``lowest functional capability or performance levels of equipment 
required for safe operation of the facility.'' Section 182 of the 
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended and as implemented by 10 CFR 
50.36, requires that those design features of the facility that, if 
altered or modified, would have a significant effect on safety, be 
included in the TS. Thus, TS are intended to ensure that the most 
safety-significant design features of a plant, as determined by the 
safety analysis, maintain their capability to perform their safety 
functions.

Technical Specification Operability Determinations and the GDC

    Recently, the NRC staff learned that some licensees follow their 
corrective action program for an identified nonconformance with a CLB 
design requirement, such as a GDC, or a plant-specific equivalent, that 
is part of the plant's CLB without consideration of the need to apply 
the Part 9900 operability determination process. To the NRC staff it 
appears that not every licensee understands the relationship between 
CLB design requirements and TS requirements for nonconforming 
conditions or that the Part 9900 operability determination process also 
applies to nonconforming conditions.
    As noted in the January 24, 1994, memo, not all GDCs that are 
included in the CLB are explicitly identified in TS. However, those 
that are not explicitly identified may still need to be considered when 
either determining or to establish the basis for operability of TS 
SSCs. It is the staff's position that any nonconformance with a GDC, or 
a plant-specific equivalent included in the CLB should be evaluated to 
determine if the nonconformance affects or alters the operability 
status of a TS SSC.
    As set forth in Part 9900, a documented determination is needed to 
establish the basis for concluding that an SSC remains capable of 
performing its safety function in the presence of the nonconforming 
condition. Part 9900 states that a ``degraded condition is one in which 
the qualification of an SSC or its functional capability is reduced.'' 
Similarly, Part 9900 defines a nonconforming condition as ``a condition 
of an SSC that involves a failure to meet the CLB or a situation in 
which quality has been reduced because of factors such as improper 
design, testing, construction, or modification.'' Examples of 
nonconforming conditions include: (1) An SSC that fails to conform to 
one or more applicable codes or standards (e.g., the CFR, operating 
license, TS, updated final safety analysis report, or licensee 
commitments), (2) an as-built or as-modified SSC that does not meet the 
current licensing basis, (3) operating experience or engineering 
reviews that identify a design inadequacy, or (4) documentation 
required by NRC requirements such as 10 CFR 50.54, ``Conditions of 
licenses,'' or 10 CFR 50.59, ``Changes, Tests, and Experiments,'' that 
is unavailable or deficient.
    Section 3.8 of Part 9900 covers the definition of operability. The 
definition includes the following statement:

    In order to be considered operable, an SSC must be capable of 
performing the safety functions specified by its design, within the 
required range of design physical conditions, initiation times, and 
mission times. [Emphasis added]

    Section 4.0 of Part 9900 states the following:

    Determinations of operability are appropriate whenever a review, 
TS surveillance, or other information calls into question the 
ability of SSCs to perform specified safety functions. The 
operability determination process is used to assess operability of 
SSCs and support functions for compliance with TS when a degraded or 
nonconforming condition is identified for a specific SSC described 
in TS, or when a degraded or nonconforming condition is identified 
for a necessary and related support function. [Emphasis added]

    Section 3.10 of Part 9900 further defines ``specified function/
specified safety function'' as follows:

    The specified function(s) of the system, subsystem, train, 
component, or device (required by the definition of operability) is 
that specified safety function(s) in the CLB for the facility. In 
addition to providing the specified safety function required by the 
TSs definition of operability, a system is expected

[[Page 45284]]

to perform as designed, tested and maintained. When system 
capability is degraded to a point where it cannot perform with 
reasonable expectation or reliability, the system should be judged 
inoperable, even if at this instantaneous point in time the system 
could provide the specified safety function. [Emphasis added]

    Thus, an operability determination (or functionality assessment) is 
performed upon identification of a degraded or nonconforming condition, 
including any nonconforming condition with a GDC included in either the 
CLB for an SSC described in TS or for a necessary and related support 
function required by the definition of operability. If the licensee 
determination concludes that the TS SSC is nonconforming but operable 
or the necessary and related support function is nonconforming but 
functional, it would be appropriate to address the nonconforming 
condition through the licensee's corrective action program. As stated 
in Section 6.3 of Part 9900:

    The purpose of an operability determination is to provide a 
basis for making a timely decision on plant operation when a 
degraded or nonconforming condition is discovered. Corrective 
actions taken to restore full qualification should be addressed 
through the corrective action process. The treatment of operability 
as a separate issue from the restoration of full qualification 
emphasizes that the operability determination process is focused on 
safe plant operation and should not be impacted by decisions or 
actions necessary to plan and implement corrective action (i.e., 
restore full qualification).

    Example:  Operability Determination for a Nonconformance with 
GDC 2 for Natural Phenomenon

    The following example discusses a nonconforming condition that 
involves a failure to meet the current licensing basis because of 
improper construction:
    As indicated in the January 24, 1994, memo, the design bases for 
protection against natural phenomena (GDC 2), when included in the CLB, 
are inherently considered in the operability of safety-related SSCs 
that satisfy the criteria for inclusion in the TS. The Part 9900 
operability determination process should be entered when a licensee 
identifies any nonconformance with GDC 2 or its equivalent, as 
incorporated into a plant licensing basis (e.g., nonconformance with 
the CLB for protection against flooding, seismic events, tornadoes, 
etc.). Criterion 2 of the GDC states:

    Design bases for protection against natural phenomena. 
Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be 
designed to withstand the effects of natural phenomena such as 
earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tsunami, and seiches 
without loss of capability to perform their safety functions. The 
design bases for these structures, systems, and components shall 
reflect: (1) Appropriate consideration of the most severe of the 
natural phenomena that have been historically reported for the site 
and surrounding area, with sufficient margin for the limited 
accuracy, quantity, and period of time in which the historical data 
have been accumulated, (2) appropriate combinations of the effects 
of normal and accident conditions with the effects of the natural 
phenomena and (3) the importance of the safety functions to be 
performed.

    Licensees can implement GDC 2 in the design by specifying design 
bases for combinations of normal and accident conditions to protect 
SSCs from the effects of natural phenomena. Failure to meet GDC 2, as 
described in the licensing basis should be treated as a nonconforming 
condition and is an entry point for an operability determination for 
any impacted TS-required SSC or a necessary and related support 
function.
    For example, if a licensee with GDC 2 in its CLB identified that 
the exhaust stacks for the emergency diesel generators (EDGs) were not 
protected from the impact of tornado missiles, then this condition 
would call into question the operability of the EDGs. EDG operability 
is called into question because the exhaust stacks are an integral 
component of the EDGs, which, if crimped by a missile, could prevent 
the EDGs from performing their specified safety function. Accordingly, 
the licensee should then enter the operability determination process to 
evaluate the impact of not meeting the CLB requirement for tornado 
missile protection. If the licensee's evaluation concludes that the 
EDGs are inoperable, then the licensee must enter its TS and follow the 
applicable required actions. As stated in Section 7.3 of Part 9900, the 
licensee may implement compensatory measures to restore ``inoperable 
SSCs to an operable but degraded or nonconforming status. In general, 
these measures should have minimal impact on the operators or plant 
operations and should be relatively simple to implement.'' If the 
licensee successfully implements compensatory measures to restore the 
inoperable EDGs to an operable but nonconforming status; or if the 
licensee's operability determination evaluation concludes that the EDGs 
are operable and nonconforming, then the licensee should use its 
corrective action program to bring the EDGs back into conformance with 
the CLB.

Summary

    In summary, TS SSCs must be capable of performing their specified 
safety function (i.e., be operable or have operability) whenever a 
plant is operating in the modes and other specified conditions of the 
applicability of TS limiting conditions for operation. In addition to 
providing the safety function, a system is expected to perform as 
designed, tested, and maintained. Any nonconformance with a GDC in the 
CLB has the potential to negatively impact the operability of a TS SSC 
and must be evaluated to determine if the nonconforming condition has 
rendered any TS SSC inoperable. When system capability is degraded to a 
point in which it cannot perform with reasonable expectation or 
reliability, the system should be judged inoperable, even if the system 
could provide the specified safety function at this instantaneous point 
in time.

Backfit Discussion

    This RIS provides information concerning the NRC staff position on 
the relationship between Appendix A to 10 CFR part 50 and 10 CFR 50.36 
so that the stakeholders may understand the requirements of the 
regulations more broadly. This RIS is identical to earlier NRC 
positions on the relationship of the GDC and the TS and, therefore, is 
not a backfit under 10 CFR 50.109, ``Backfitting.'' Consequently, the 
NRC staff did not perform a backfit analysis.

Federal Register Notification

[Discussion to be provided in final RIS]

Congressional Review Act

[Discussion to be provided in final RIS]

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This RIS does not contain any new or amended information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.). Existing collection requirements under 10 CFR part 50 
were approved by the Office of Management and Budget, control number 
3150-0011.

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, an information collection unless the requesting document 
displays a currently valid OMB control number.

III. Public Meeting

    The NRC plans to hold a public meeting on August 8, 2012, to 
discuss the draft RIS and to obtain feedback from members of the 
public. The public meeting notice is available electronically under 
ADAMS Accession No. ML12188A402. In addition, the meeting agenda will 
be posted on the NRC's Public Meeting Schedule Web site at http://
www.nrc.gov/public-

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involve/public-meetings/index.cfm. Information regarding topics to be 
discussed, changes to the agenda, whether the meeting has been 
cancelled or rescheduled, and the time allotted for public comments can 
be obtained from the Public Meeting Schedule Web site.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 24th day of July 2012.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
David L. Pelton,
Chief, Generic Communications Branch, Division of Policy and 
Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 2012-18639 Filed 7-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P