Friday, April 2, 2010

NRC Briefing on Safety Culture - March 30, 2010

It would be difficult to come up with an attention-grabbing headline for the March 30 Commission briefing on safety culture. Not much happened. There were a lot of high fives for the perceived success of the staff’s February workshop and its main product, a strawman definition of nuclear safety culture. The only provocative remarks came from a couple of outside the mainstream “stakeholders”, the union rep for the NRC employees (and this was really limited to perceptions of internal NRC safety culture) and long time nuclear gadfly, Bille Garde (commended by Commissioner Svinicki for her consistency of position on safety culture spanning the last 20 years). Otherwise the discussions were heavily process oriented with very light questioning by the two currently seated Commissioners.

The main thrust of the briefing was on the definition of safety culture that was produced in the workshop. That strawman is different than that proposed by the NRC staff, or for that matter those used by other nuclear organizations such as INPO and INSAG. The workshop process sounded much more open and collegial than recent legislative processes on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps the one quote of the session that yields some insight as to where the Commission may be headed was from Chairman Jaczko; his comments can be viewed in the video below. Later in the briefing the staff demurred on endorsing the workshop product (versus the original staff proposal) pending additional input from internal and external sources.

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