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Using mediation to resolve issues at the FitzPatrick nuclear plant

King Solomon may have been one of history’s most revered mediators, but many others have tried to follow his lead when it comes to resolving disputes in a way that all parties involved can agree on and that yields practical results.

Count the NRC among the proponents of mediation, where appropriate.

The NRC, like many other regulatory agencies, uses a variety of regulatory tools to enforce its regulations. These can include the issuing fines, orders and confirmatory letters, all of which are designed to promote safety by preventing recurrence of the infractions.

But starting in 2004, the agency’s Office of Enforcement added another arrow to its quiver: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Under the ADR Program, a neutral mediator with no decision-making authority assists the parties in reaching an agreement resolving differences for certain enforcement issues.

Most recently, the NRC and Entergy used ADR to achieve a settlement regarding apparent violations at the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant, in Scriba (Oswego County), N.Y. The issues stemmed from failures by radiation protection technicians at the facility to perform or properly execute their duties.

Following an ADR mediation session held in the NRC’s Region I Office on Nov. 9, 2011, the parties arrived at an agreement that will not only lead to additional corrective actions at FitzPatrick but also raise awareness of the issues – and what is needed to prevent such problems — throughout Entergy’s nuclear power plant fleet and at plants nationwide.

For instance, Entergy will prepare a case study about what occurred, with top managers at each of the company’s nuclear power plants presenting the report to employees at their respective facilities. They will have to complete these presentations within 180 days.

In addition, the company will, within 360 days, deliver a presentation to managers of other U.S. nuclear power plants on lessons learned and actions taken in response to the issues identified at FitzPatrick.

Other agencies also make use of ADR in their enforcement programs. They include the Environmental Protection Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Data on the NRC’s use of ADR is available at: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/enforcement/adr/trending-data.html. More information about the use of ADR throughout the federal government is available at: http://www.adr.gov/.

Neil Sheehan
Region I Public Affairs Officer

One response to “Using mediation to resolve issues at the FitzPatrick nuclear plant

  1. Mike Mulligan February 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    How is there justice for the community in such a widespread event questioning the integrity of so many staff members of a nuclear plant when the event was found before July 1, 2009 and punishment or the fix not happening into some distant future. That is two and a half years. Does anyone understand the magnitude of confirmatory orders fleet wide with Entergy, really a agreement between the NRC and a bad behavior utility and plant. Then we got all the rather large fleet wide problems that has occurred after July 1, 2009.

    The NRC could have immediately issued a set of orders and maybe half these other fleet wide violation wouldn’t have happened. How many other discovered infraction are digesting in the intestines of the beast and we won’t find the fix to the problems outwards too 3 or more years? What is the justice to the community, a quick identification to the problems and a immediate fix to it.

    Entergy has had a mind boggling numerous amount of fleet training and repeated third party safety cultural surveys over a host of serious problems through the recent years and the evidence proves this kind of stuff doesn’t change the heart of this corporation.

    Matter of fact, this proves how ineffective the ADR process is at changing the bad behavior of nuclear plants…the parent corporations in general with numerious plants…with enduring systemic trouble fleet wide for years…

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