[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 228 (Wednesday, November 26, 2003)]
[Pages 66501-66503]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-29560]



Draft Criteria for Determining Feasibility of Manual Actions To 
Achieve Post-Fire Safe Shutdown

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of opportunity for public comment.


SUMMARY: The U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering a 
revision to the fire protection regulations in 10 CFR part 50, appendix 
R, paragraph III.G.2 to allow the use of manual actions by nuclear 
power plant operators to achieve hot shutdown conditions in the event 
of fires in certain areas provided the actions are evaluated against 
specific criteria and determined to be acceptable. Currently, licensees 
who rely on operator manual actions which have not been reviewed and 
approved by the NRC are generally considered to be in non-compliance 
with NRC regulations. However, the NRC believes that manual actions 
relied upon by licensees are safe and effective when performed under 
appropriate conditions. Accordingly, until the fire protection 
regulations are revised, the NRC is planning to issue an interim 
enforcement policy to exercise enforcement discretion if licensees' 
manual actions meet the NRC's interim acceptance criteria. The NRC is 
seeking comments from interested parties on the adequacy and clarity of 
draft interim acceptance criteria which will be utilized by the interim 
enforcement discretion policy.

DATES: Comment period expires December 26, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to the Chief, Rules and Directives 
Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mail Stop T6-D59, Washington, DC 
20555-0001. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to [email protected]. 
Comments may be delivered to the NRC's headquarters at Two White Flint 
North, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Dudley, Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation, Washington DC 20555-0001, telephone (301) 415-1116, 
e-mail [email protected] or Ray Gallucci, telephone (301) 415-1255, e-mail 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Nuclear power plant fire protection 
regulations and associated guidelines prescribe fire protection 
features to ensure that at least one means of achieving and maintaining 
safe shutdown conditions will remain available during or after any 
postulated fire. The NRC has concluded that a fire protection 
regulatory compliance issue exists at many nuclear power plants. This 
situation involves fire protection of redundant safe shutdown trains 
when these trains are located within the same fire area. Regional 
inspections indicate that rather than using fire barriers or physical 
separation to maintain safe shutdown capability, many licensees rely on 
operator manual actions that have not been approved by the NRC. 
Operator manual actions refer to those actions taken by operators to 
manipulate components and equipment from outside the main control room 
to achieve and maintain post-fire safe shutdown. Operator manual 
actions are not permitted in 10 CFR part 50, appendix R, paragraph 
III.G.2, for plants licensed to operate before 1979 unless a specific 
exemption has been granted. For plants licensed to operate after 1979, 
there is uncertainty as to whether operator manual actions can be used 
without NRC approval as Appendix R is not required by regulation for 
those plants (although most plants committed to Appendix R-equivalent 
guidance in their fire protection programs). It is the NRC's 
understanding that most of the licensees who rely on unapproved 
operator manual actions have done so under the belief that the use of 
operator manual actions to achieve safe shutdown is acceptable, without 
NRC prior approval, as long as the reliance on operator manual actions 
does not adversely affect the ability of a plant to achieve and 
maintain safe shutdown. The industry also believes that most operator 
manual actions used by licensees for operation of a safe shutdown train 
during a fire do not involve any safety significant feasibility 
concerns and would likely be approved by the NRC if processed as an 
exemption or deviation request. The results from NRC fire protection 
inspections to date indicate that there is insufficient evidence that 
the generic use of these manual actions poses a safety concern. Thus 
the staff believes that use of unapproved manual actions (for both pre- 
and post-1979 plants) is typically a compliance issue and is not a 
significant safety issue.
    The Commission has decided to resolve this issue generically 
through rulemaking because rulemaking provides the most efficient and 
effective process to align regulatory requirements and safety 
objectives. In SECY-03-0100, dated June 17, 2003, the staff proposed 
and on September 12, 2003, the Commission approved developing an 
interim enforcement policy which would be in effect while the 
rulemaking was being undertaken to codify final acceptance criteria for 
operator manual actions. This policy would exercise discretion in that 
the NRC would refrain from taking enforcement action for those 
licensees who rely on operator manual actions, provided these licensees 
have demonstrated and documented the acceptability of their operator 
manual actions in accordance with interim acceptance criteria developed 
by the staff. The Commission approved the staff's recommendation to 
engage stakeholders in at least one public meeting to discuss the 
interim manual action acceptability criteria and how they would be used 
in interim enforcement policy. (See Commission Memorandum dated 
September 12, 2003, ADAMS Accession No. ML032550222).
    The NRC staff has developed draft interim acceptance criteria for 
manual actions. These draft criteria are provided below. They are an 
extension of the ``Inspection Criteria for Fire Protection Manual 
Actions'' issued by the NRC in March 2003 in Inspection Procedure 
71111.05. This inspection procedure is available on the NRC public Web 
site (http://www.nrc.gov.) The NRC held a public meeting on November 
12, 2003, at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland to allow members 
of the public to comment on the preliminary draft criteria below. 
Additional written comments on these criteria may be submitted to the 
NRC during the 30 day comment period.
    During the rulemaking process to codify the final acceptance 
criteria for manual actions, additional public notices will be issued 
and additional public comments will be solicited to further ensure that 
public stakeholder input is considered.

Draft Interim Criteria for Determining the Acceptability of Manual 
Actions To Achieve Post-Fire Safe Shutdown

    Licensees who have relied on operator manual actions to comply with 
Paragraph III.G.2 of Appendix R may be allowed enforcement discretion 
if the area where the fire occurs has fire detectors and an automatic 
fire suppression system installed in the fire area and if the manual 
actions relied upon are consistent with all of the following acceptance 
criteria \1\:

    \1\ The criteria are not listed in any particular order.

1. Available Indications

    Diagnostic indication, if credited to support operator manual 
actions, shall be capable of:
    [sbull] Confirming that the action is necessary;
    [sbull] Being unaffected by the postulated fire;
    [sbull] Providing a means for the operator to detect whether 
spurious operation of safety-related equipment has occurred; and
    [sbull] Verifying that the operator manual action accomplished the 
intended objective.

2. Environmental Considerations

    Environmental conditions encountered while accessing and performing 
operator manual actions shall be demonstrated to be consistent with the 
following human factor considerations for visibility and habitability:
    [sbull] Emergency lighting shall be provided as required in 
Appendix R, Section III.J, or by the licensee's approved fire 
protection program, [e.g., lit with 8-hr battery-backed emergency 
lighting], and sufficient lighting shall be provided for paths to and 
from locations requiring any actions.
    [sbull] Radiation shall not exceed 10 CFR Part 20, Section 20.1201, 
    [sbull] Temperature and humidity conditions shall be evaluated to 
ensure that temperature and humidity do not adversely affect the 
capability to perform the operator manual action (See, e.g., NUREG/CR-
5680, Vol. 2, ``The Impact of Environmental Conditions on Human 
Performance'') or the licensee shall provide an acceptable rationale 
for why temperature/humidity do not adversely affect performing the 
manual actions.
    [sbull] Fire effects shall be evaluated to ensure that smoke and 
toxic gases from the fire do not adversely affect the capability to 
access the required equipment or to perform the operator manual action.

3. Staffing and Training

    There shall be a sufficient number of plant operators, under all 
staffing levels, to perform all of the required actions in the times 
required for a given fire scenario. The use of operators to perform 
actions shall be independent

[[Page 66503]]

from any collateral fire brigade or control room duties they may need 
to perform as a result of the fire. Operators required to perform the 
manual actions shall be qualified and continuously available to perform 
the actions required to achieve and maintain safe shutdown. A training 
program on the use of operator manual actions and associated procedures 
during a postulated fire shall demonstrate that operators can 
successfully achieve these objectives.

4. Communications

    To achieve and maintain safe shutdown, adequate communications 
capability shall be demonstrated for operator manual actions that must 
be coordinated with other plant operations, with this communications 
capability continuously available.

5. Special Equipment

    Any special equipment required to support operator manual actions, 
including keys, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), and 
personnel protective equipment, shall be readily available, easily 
accessible and demonstrated to be effective.

6. Procedures

    Procedural guidance on the use of required operator manual actions 
shall be readily available, easily accessible and demonstrated to be 

7. Local Accessibility

    All locations where operator manual actions are performed shall be 
assessed as accessible without hazards to personnel, with controls 
needed to assure availability of any special equipment, such as keys or 
ladders, being demonstrated.

8. Demonstration

    The capability to successfully accomplish required operator manual 
actions within the time allowable using the required procedures and 
equipment shall be demonstrated using the same personnel/crews who will 
be required to perform the actions during the fire; documentation of 
the demonstration shall be provided.

9. Complexity and Number

    The degree of complexity and total number of operator manual 
actions required to effect safe shutdown shall be limited such that 
their successful accomplishment under realistically severe conditions 
is assured for a given fire scenario. The need to perform operator 
manual actions in different locations shall be considered when 
sequential actions are required. Analyses of the postulated fire time 
line shall demonstrate that there is sufficient time to travel to each 
action location and perform the action required to support the 
associated shutdown function(s) such that an unrecoverable condition 
does not occur.

10. Equipment Pre-Conditions

    Possible failure modes and damage that may occur to equipment used 
during a fire shall be considered to the extent that the equipment's 
subsequent use could be prevented, or at least made difficult. Credit 
for using equipment whose operability may have been adversely affected 
by the fire due to smoke, heat, water, combustion products or spurious 
actuation effects shall account for such possibilities (e.g., over-
torquing an MOV due to a spurious signal, as discussed in Information 
Notice 92-18).

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 20th day of November, 2003.

    For The Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Catherine Haney,
Program Director, Policy and Rulemaking Program, Division of Regulatory 
Improvement Programs, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 03-29560 Filed 11-25-03; 8:45 am]