Health Physics Questions and Answers - Question 137

Question 137: At a nuclear power plant, the individual asked to approve a planned special exposure (PSE) will need to believe that the alternatives are impractical or unavailable before doing so. But he or she must recognize that the NRC inspector who later reviews the PSE report may not agree, possibly leading to a notice of violation for an overexposure. If the individual at the nuclear power plant chooses to request it from the Region, can a decision be obtained in advance regarding the acceptability of the licensee's alternatives analysis?

Answer: Yes. Any licensee may contact the appropriate supervisor or manager (e.g., a Branch Chief in the Division of Radiation Safety and Safeguards in an NRC regional office) to determine whether or not the NRC staff agrees that the circumstances in an actual situation meet the requirement for an "exceptional situation when alternatives that might avoid the higher exposure are unavailable or impractical." A written description of the circumstances of the exceptional situation should be provided to the NRC regional office when requesting NRC review in advance of a PSE. However, an NRC decision in advance of a PSE, based on the information submitted by the licensee, that the circumstances appear to meet the regulatory requirements does not preclude a subsequent NRC finding, based on additional information obtained during an inspection, that the circumstances were not as originally described and, therefore, that the PSE was not in accordance with the regulatory requirements concerning PSEs.

(Reference: 10 CFR 20.1206)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 07, 2017