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On first glance it appears reasonable to define what “structures, systems and components” are “safety-related’ and ‘nonsafety-related”. However, coming from an alleged nuclear engineer-nuclear licensing contractor and consultant, one can guess that this is yet another poison US NRC gift for the New Year. They are full of it. Holtec is getting more dangerous safety exemptions – oh, yeah, what is safety? Preventing nuclear accident – duh!

Common sense tells us that the repercussions of a nuclear accident are so serious; so deadly and so long-lasting – some radionuclides will remain lethal for longer than humans have been on the face of the earth – that ALL structures, systems and components of nuclear reactors and other nuclear facilities are “safety-related”.

The comment deadline is apparently in 75 days. More related posts will probably be added between then and now, and this post may be updated. The post was done quickly just to get it online. A larger picture of who is behind this petition may soon become apparent, as it did for the 100 mSv hormesis (aka cancer for everyone) petition. Is this guy German or Swiss German? (He has been on this topic for almost a decade. http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0613/ML061310166.pdf_

Update: This is actually an old argument from the nuclear utilities, industry going back to the early 1980s that has been trotted back out to an apparently even more industry compliant US NRC. Here was the short response then.
NRC Use of the Terms, "Important to Safety" and "Safety Related" (Generic Letter 84-01)
The entire 59 pages of debate are here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0311/ML031150515.pdf

This document is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on 01/06/2016 and available online at http://federalregister.gov/a/2015-33287

Some excerpts:
“NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 50

[Docket No. PRM-50-112; NRC-2015-0213]

Determining Which Structures, Systems, Components and Functions are

Important to Safety

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; notice of docketing and request for comment.

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received a petition for

rulemaking (PRM) requesting that the NRC amend its “Domestic licensing of production and

utilization facilities” regulations to define the term “important to safety” and provide a set of

specific criteria for determining which structures, systems, components (SSCs), and functions

are “important to safety.” The petition, dated July 20, 2015, was submitted by Kurt T. Schaefer

(the petitioner) and was supplemented on August 31, 2015. The petition was docketed by the

NRC on September 4, 2015, and was assigned Docket Number PRM-50-112. The NRC is

examining the issues raised in this petition to determine whether it should be considered in

rulemaking. The NRC is requesting public comments on this petition for rulemaking.

DATES: Submit comments by [INSERT DATE THAT IS 75 DAYS AFTER PUBLICATION IN

THE FEDERAL REGISTER]. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is

practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or

before this date.
[…]
II. The Petitioner

On July 20, 2015, Mr. Kurt T. Schaefer filed a PRM with the Commission, PRM-50-112

(ADAMS Accession No. ML15278A208), which was subsequently supplemented on August 31,

2015 (ADAMS Accession No. ML15278A211). The petitioner states that he is a nuclear

engineer with over 40 years of nuclear experience, and 30 years of nuclear power plant

licensing experience. The petitioner claims to have taught numerous classes related to § 50.59

of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “Changes, test, and experiments.” The

petitioner notes that he is a nuclear licensing contractor and consultant, and that he is

“supporting utility and vendor implementation of the United Arab Emirates Federal Authority of

Nuclear Regulation (FANR) version of 10 CFR 50.59.”
[…]
IV. Discussion of the Petition

The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations in 10 CFR 50.2 to include a

definition with specific criteria for determining what SSCs and functions are “important to safety.”

The petitioner states that “[t]he nuclear industry is on its third generation of engineers and

regulators with no clear definition of what is ‘important to safety’” and that “there is no excuse for

not having a concise set of functional criteria defining such a used term.”

The petitioner notes that the “NRC staff’s current position is that SSCs ‘important to

safety’ consists of two subcategories, ‘safety-related’ and ‘nonsafety-related’.” The petitioner

asserts that while safety-related SSCs are defined in 10 CFR 50.2, “the regulations do not

provide an equivalent set of criteria for determining which nonsafety-related SSCs are ‘important

to safety.’” The petitioner notes that there is very little agreement about what “nonsafety-related

structures, systems and components (SSCs) should be categorized as ‘important to safety’.”

Furthermore, the petitioner states that “there is only a general description of what is ‘important

to safety’ in 10 CFR 50 Appendix A, and the regulations do not provide a specific set of criteria

for determining which SSCs are ‘important to safety’.” The petitioner states that NRC Generic

Letter 84-01, “NRC use of the terms, ‘Important to Safety’ and ‘Safety Related’,” and its

attachments (January 5, 1984; ADAMS Accession No. ML031150515), sought to clarify the

NRC staff’s use of these terms, but did not “provide a specific set of criteria for determining

which nonsafety-related SSCs are to be categorized as ‘important to safety’.” The petitioner
6

asserts that this lack of clarity is problematic because “important to safety” is used “in numerous

regulations and NRC guidance documents.” The petitioner notes that consequently, “there are

regulations, regulatory guidance and routinely generated regulatory evaluations, based on

SSCs with no specific criteria that determines what are the applicable SSCs.”

The petitioner requests that the NRC define “important to safety” as SSCs and functions

that are:

a) Safety-related SSCs (including supporting auxiliaries) as defined in 10 CFR 50.2 and

their associated safety-related functions;

b) Equipment and function(s) assumed or used to mitigate the anticipated operational

occurrences and non-accident events evaluated in the Final Safety Analysis Report (as

updated) or Design Control Document Tier 2 safety analyses;

c) Equipment and functions assumed or used to prevent or mitigate internal events that

involve common cause failures and/or failures beyond the 10 CFR part 50, appendix A, single

failure criterion, which have been postulated to demonstrate some specific mitigation capability

in accordance with regulatory requirements, as described in the Final Safety Analysis Report

(as updated) or Design Control Document Tier 2;

d) Equipment and functions whose failure or malfunction could impair the ability of other

equipment to perform a safety-related function;

e) Equipment and functions requiring (for ensuring nuclear safety) elevated quality

assurance or design requirements (i.e., special treatment), but not to full safety-related

standards;

f) Nonsafety-related readiness functions of installed plant equipment and their

associated plant condition(s) assumed, prior to the initiation of an accident, in any accident

safety analysis described in the Final Safety Analysis Report (as updated) or Design Control

Document Tier 2; ….”
https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-33287.pdf
[Entire document is 9 pages. There are related documents. This post may be edited as time allows.]