Getting the cold shoulder from an NRC resident inspector? There is a good reason why that’s the case . . . .
There are four regional offices that divide up oversight responsibilities for all of the nuclear power plants in the country. They report to the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
The regional offices have the responsibility of carrying out the inspection program. Regional inspectors are dispatched periodically to the plants in their region. The offices are located in Pennsylvania (Region 1), Georgia (Region 2), Illinois (Region 3), and Texas (Region 4). They have the authority to direct additional NRC resources to plants if they determine reports by resident inspectors warrant it. They can also provide direction to the resident inspectors and require that they step up their levels of scrutiny based on the inspectors’ findings.
The NRC has two or more resident inspectors on-site at each plant at all times. These inspectors serve as the NRC’s local presence and oversight throughout the industry so that it is not removed from day-to-day industry happenings. They are trained by the NRC and come from a variety of backgrounds, whether as veterans of the US Nuclear Navy, former employees in the industry, or new college graduates. They monitor the daily activities at each nuclear power plant. They observe routine functions, review logbooks and design modifications, and inquire about safety concerns. They will report issues and regulatory violations to the plant operators and NRC offices as necessary, which will then determine whether enforcement action is appropriate.
The resident inspectors work with the regional offices to provide various levels of scrutiny and response, especially to serious events. The inspectors are required to remain independent observers, so there are restrictions on how much social interaction they can have with plant employees.