2020 enforcement cases rise but still below five-year average

June 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released its Enforcement Program Annual Report for calendar year 2020, showing a total of 61 escalated enforcement actions taken last year against licensees, non-licensees, and individuals—an increase of 7 percent from CY 2019, but a number that remains below the five-year (2016–2020) average.

The breakdown: Of 2020’s 61 actions, 15 involved notices of violation (NOVs) with civil penalties (14 of those proposed, totaling $1,586,413, and one imposed, for $606,942), 37 escalated NOVs without proposed penalties, and nine orders without penalties.

Operating reactor licensees received 32 escalated enforcement actions, the largest share in 2020, accounting for 52 percent of all actions taken. This was followed closely by nuclear material users, the target of 29 actions, or 48 percent of the total. No escalated actions were issued to licensees in any of the NRC’s other regulated business lines, including decommissioning and low-level waste, fuel facilities, and spent fuel storage and transportation.

Operating reactor licensees and nuclear material users also accounted for all of 2020’s non-escalated enforcement actions (NOVs and non-cited violations associated with issues of minor concern). For reactor licensees, the NRC issued 327 non-escalated actions, a solid drop from 2019’s 495 and a continuation of an overall downward trend that began in 2016.

In case you missed it: Among the cases highlighted in the report are the imposed penalty to the Tennessee Valley Authority for allegedly subjecting employees to reprisals for raising concerns regarding a chilled work environment, and proposed penalties to TVA totaling more than $900,000 in response to a 2015 incident at the utility’s Watts Bar nuclear plant.

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