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NRC Section XI Report - December 2001

Site Updates


Presented By: Wally Norris, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission


NRC Report
Section XI
December 2001

1. NRC External Website

Release 1 of the NRC’s redesigned public web site is now available at http://www.nrc.gov. As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, the NRC shut down its previous public Web site on October 11 to conduct a thorough review of site content and restored a partial site on October 17. As reviews are completed, NRC will restore content incrementally in the redesigned format. As the site is being re-built, you may find a "blacked-out" link to information you are trying to locate, which indicates that the information is not yet available. See the site's What's New page for updates of new content for each release and plans for future releases.

The new Web site is organized by content and topic rather than by NRC organizational structure, uses top-down logic going from general to specific topics, makes navigation easy, gives greater visibility to frequently accessed information, uses plain language where possible, and complies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure site access to people with disabilities.

2. Amendment to 10 CFR 50.55a

The proposed amendment to § 50.55a was published on Friday, August 3, 2001 (66 FR 40626). The proposed amendment endorses the 1997 Addenda, 1998 Edition, 1999 Addenda, and 2000 Addenda of Section III, Section XI, and OM Code. The proposed rule is available at the Office of Federal Register website: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a010803c.html. The 75-day public comment period ended on October 17, 2001. Fourteen comment letters were received. The final rule is scheduled to be published in September 2002.

3. ASME Code Cases

Four draft regulatory guides will be published for public review in December 2001: Draft Regulatory Guide DG-1090, (Proposed Revision 32 to Regulatory Guide 1.84), "Design, Fabrication, and Materials Code Case Acceptability, ASME Section III; Draft Regulatory Guide DG-1089, "Operation and Maintenance Code Case Acceptability," ASME OM Code; Draft Regulatory Guide DG-1091, (Proposed Revision 13 to Regulatory Guide 1.147), "Inservice Inspection Code Case Acceptability, ASME Section XI, Division 1; and Draft Regulatory Guide DG-1112, "ASME Code Cases Not Approved for Use." The guides address Supplement 4 to the 1992 Edition through Supplement 11 to the 1998 Edition, and OMN-1 through OMN-13.

The NRC staff has begun its review of Supplement 12 to the 1998 Edition (the latest published supplement). These Code Cases will be contained in the next revision of the guides. It is the NRC staff’s intent to, in the future, remain more current in its endorsement of Code Cases by publishing new draft guides for public comment at about the same time that a set of final guides is being published.

4. PRA Standard

The staff has been working with the ASME and the other stakeholders to reach a consensus on a standard for PRAs. The ASME Standards document will help define the quality of PRAs to be used in applications to satisfy risk-informed regulations. Use of this Standard will diminish the need for staff review of PRAs, and provide uniformity and consistency of staff review when it is determined that a detailed review is necessary. On June 14, 2001, ASME's draft Revision 14a, was distributed for public review and comment. The NRC provided comments in a letter dated September 10, 2001 (ML012540035) stating that, although there has been substantial progress with the revision, there are still some staff concerns that have not been satisfactorily resolved. The ASME responded to the NRC’s comments in a letter dated November 16, 2001. A revision to the Standard is expected to be issued in early 2002.

5. Risk-Informed Inservice Inspection

According to the information provided by Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), approximately 100 plants are expected to have implemented RI-ISI in the next two years. Of these, the staff has approved RI-ISI programs for 20 plants and approximately 25 programs are currently being reviewed.

Recent activities in the application of RI-ISI methodology include the extension of the RI-ISI methodology to break exclusion region (BER) piping. Both EPRI and WOG have developed methodologies for this application. The staff is currently reviewing these methodologies and has held several meetings with the industry representatives to discuss relevant issues. Issues related to RI-ISI that have arisen recently include addressing the augmented ISI programs and the synergistic effects when multiple degradation mechanisms exist in a segment; details of merging the RI-ISI program with the existing ASME XI program when the RI-ISI program does not start at the beginning of an interval; implementing changes in the inservice examination (ISI) of BER piping via 10 CFR 50.59; clarifying the criteria to be used for sample expansion when ISI reveals unacceptable flaws; evaluating the application of RI-ISI methodology to preservice inspection; living program criteria.

6. Generic Activities on PWR Alloy-600 Weld Cracking

The industry's actions to address the generic implications of the cracking seen at V.C. Summer cracking and cracking in the Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) nozzles and seal welds is being managed by the EPRI Materials Reliability Project (MRP). One of the issues being studied is whether the Section XI examinations are adequate to detect and manage these type of degradations.

With regard to cracking in the Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) nozzles and seal welds, the NRC has issued Bulletin 2001-01, "Circumferential Cracking of Reactor Pressure Vessel Head Penetration Nozzles," on August 3, 2001. The bulletin sought information from the licensees of 69 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) regarding the structural integrity of their nuclear reactor pressure vessel (RPV) head penetrations. On September 26, 2001, NRC ASME Section XI representatives transmitted a request to the Section XI task group that is considering issues regarding primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) of nickel-based alloys in pressurized water reactors (PWRs) to enhance the vessel head visual examination requirements. The MRP provided an update of industry activities to the NRC staff on November 27, 2001.

7. Future Reactor Licensing Activities

On October 12, 2001, SECY-01-0188, "Future Licensing And Inspection Readiness Assessment," was issued. This Commission paper presents the staff’s assessment of its readiness to review applications for licenses and to inspect new nuclear power plants in response to the February 13, 2001, staff requirements memorandum (SRM) for COMJSM-00-0003, "Staff Readiness for New Nuclear Plant Construction and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor." The staff concludes that the NRC’s licensing processes in 10 CFR Part 52 are ready to be used and the NRC is ready to complete new reactor licensing activities currently underway, such as the pre-application reviews for the AP1000 and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and current rulemaking activities for 10 CFR Part 51 and Part 52. Additional work is needed in order to ensure the staff will be ready to effectively carry out its responsibilities associated with the review of early site permits (ESPs), license applications, and construction of new nuclear power plants, given the potential for significant new licensing activity over the next several years. Staff decisions regarding the relative priorities of new reactor licensing activities will depend largely on the number and timing of industry decisions to pursue new licensing activities. In making these decisions, the staff will remain focused on the agency’s Advanced Reactor Policy and its performance goals of maintaining safety, protecting the environment and the common defense and security; increasing public confidence; making NRC activities and decisions more effective, efficient, and realistic; and reducing unnecessary regulatory burden.

The most current information with regard to industry schedules is an August 10, 2001, letter from NEI’s Marvin Fertel to Chairman Meserve. This letter provides an integrated industry schedule for new plant activities and identifies when power companies will make business decisions on whether to proceed. Based on the NEI letter, the staff expects to receive requests to begin the International Reactor Innovative and Secure (IRIS) and Gas Turbine - Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR) pre-application reviews in early to mid fiscal year (FY) 2002. In addition, the staff expects that it will receive one ESP application in the middle of FY 2002, and at least two additional ESP applications in mid-FY 2003. Assuming decisions by Westinghouse Electric Company, Exelon Generation, and General Atomics to move forward, the staff expects to receive an application for certification of the AP1000 design in early FY 2002, a combined license (COL) application for the PBMR in early FY 2003, and a COL application for the GT-MHR in early FY 2004. Design certification reviews for the PBMR and for IRIS could be submitted in the 2005-2006 time frame.

8. License Renewal

In SECY-01-0157, "License Renewal Rule Making," dated August 17, 2001, the staff recommended to the Commission that the current license renewal rule (10 CFR Part 54), "Requirements for Renewal of Operating Licenses for Nuclear Power Plants," need not be changed to achieve the benefits of the improved renewal guidance and generic aging lessons learned.

9. Risk-Informing 10 CFR Part 50 (Option 2)

The staff is currently translating the lessons learned from the South Texas Plant Nuclear Operating Company review into the rulemaking framework for Option 2. The staff is continuing to interact with the NEI and other interested stakeholders on guidance for implementing Option 2 and interacting with NEI and the industry owners groups to move forward with pilot activities to support Option 2.

On November 7, 2001, NRR conducted a public workshop on the rulemaking for risk-informing special treatment requirements (Option 2). A number of NRR managers and staff attended, including the office director, several division directors, and approximately 25 representatives of nuclear utilities, NEI, and other groups. The staff had released background information for the workshop that included preliminary rule concepts, as well as discussion material relating to alternative ways of specifying requirements for treatment of low-risk, but safety-related (RISC-3) structures, systems, and components (SSC). The staff presented the "boundary conditions" or "outcomes" expected from requirements concerning treatment of RISC-3 SSC and how various alternatives would achieve these outcomes. NEI presented information on the use of "nuclear industrial treatment" (described in a licensee’s quality assurance plan), and why it is appropriate for RISC-3 SSC. The staff plans to draft proposed rule language, obtain management agreement, and then make it available for public comment in the near term.


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