Health Physics Self-Assessment and the Nuclear Regulatory Oversight Process at a Nuclear Power Plant


R. S. Schofield


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has developed improvements in their Nuclear Power Plant inspection, assessment, and enforcement practices. The objective of these changes was to link regulatory action with power plant performance through a risk informed process which enhances objectivity. One of the Strategic Performance Areas of focus by the NRC is radiation safety. Two cornerstones, Occupational Radiation Safety and Public Radiation Safety, make up this area. These cornerstones are being evaluated through NRC performance indicators and baseline inspections. Key to the NRC's oversight program is the ability of the licensee to implement a self-assessment program which proactively identifies potential problems and develops improvements to enhance management's effectiveness. The Health Physics Self-Assessment Program at SONGS identifies radiation protection related weaknesses or negative trends and has improved performance through timely evaluation, corrective action and effectiveness reviews. A review of the radiation protection program oversight process and the SONGS Health Physics Self-Assessment Program will be presented. Lessons learned and management tools, which evaluate workforce and HP staff performance to improve radiological practices, are discussed. Veterans at the VA Medical Center San Francisco were the first veterans in the country to be provided with the latest treatment available for prostate cancer, due to the development and implementation of a model Radiation Safety program which meets and exceeds regulatory requirements from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Containers with approximately 80 to 170 "rice size" I-125 seeds are taken into custody by Radiation Safety. Radiological controls are maintained during receipt of the container, surveying/wiping containers and custody/documentation of seeds, individual seed counting, loading into seed sterilization and sorting trays, assaying 10% of seeds in a dose calibrator (including calibration seed) and loading of seeds. During early stages of prostate Brachytherapy program, temporary loss of seeds was common; however. Radiation Safety staff on-site during procedure recovered seeds, counted and flashes sterilized seeds. Radiation Safety stores sterilized seeds and is present during surgical implant for accountability and emergency response. Radiation Safety has accountability of all seeds, radiologically controls left over seeds and stores in approved area/container until they are shipped back to manufacturer. Development and implementation of a Quality Management Program to train authorized users of radioactive material and urologists. Training includes sterilization staff, nursing, housekeeping, patients and family members. Release of patient accomplished by Radiation Safety staff with tissue equivalent meter at 3 feet per guidelines of U.S. Regulatory Commission Regulatory Guide 8.39, "Release of Patients Administered Radioactive Materials."


This abstract was presented at the 34th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety and ALARA Considerations for the 21st Century", Other/Power Reactor Innovations Session, 2/4/2001 - 2/7/2001, held in Anaheim, CA.

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