Special Inquiry into the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region II’s Inspections of Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations at Operating Reactors
OIG Investigations initiated this Special Inquiry in response to concerns that “Region II acted inappropriately and without authority with respect to performing independent spent fuel storage installation inspections,” that Region II failed to adhere to NRC policy by allowing resident inspectors who were not qualified the agency’s ISFSI inspection program to inspect ISFSIs, and that Region II deviated from the requirements in agency procedures for inspecting campaigns during which NRC licensees loaded spent fuel to dry cask storage.
The OIG found that Region II improperly deviated from NRC policies when it authorized resident inspectors who were not qualified to inspect ISFSIs to inspect repeat spent fuel loading campaigns to dry cask storage. Furthermore, data from 2018 and 2019 show that collectively Region II’s resident inspectors spent only about 20 percent of the number of hours anticipated for ISFSI inspections stated in the applicable inspection procedure. The limited inspection hours charged appear to show that Region II did not accomplish all inspection requirements identified in the procedure.
Region II’s actions potentially resulted in missed opportunities to adequately evaluate whether licensees met the NRC’s regulatory requirements. For example, from January 2021 to December 2022, after Region II began using properly qualified inspectors and following all the requirements in the applicable inspection procedure, those qualified inspectors identified numerous violations and other non-compliances during ISFSI inspections that could have been identified earlier.
The OIG did not identify an immediate safety concern related to ISFSIs. The OIG did find, however, that Region II’s deviation from NRC policies resulted in licensees loading significant numbers of casks during repeat loading campaigns, from 2012 through 2020, that did not receive—and still have not received—adequate NRC inspections to ensure the licensees met regulatory requirements for long-term storage and retrievability.
No recommendations at this time.