NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants

On March 4, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has issued letters to the nation’s 99 commercial operating nuclear plants about their performance in 2015.  All but three plants were in the two highest performance categories.

“These assessment letters are the result of a holistic review of operating performance at each domestic power reactor facility,” said Bill Dean, Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.  “In addition to ensuring that the nation’s nuclear power plants are safe by inspecting them, the NRC continuously assesses performance.  The purpose of these assessment letters is to ensure that all of our stakeholders clearly understand the basis for our assessments of plant performance and the actions we are taking to address any identified performance deficiencies.”

Later this year, the NRC will host a public meeting or other event in the vicinity of each plant to discuss the details of the annual assessment results.  A separate announcement will be issued for each meeting.


Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 85 fully met all safety and security performance objectives.  The NRC used the normal “baseline” inspection program to inspect these reactors.

Eleven reactors need to resolve one or two items of low safety significance.  For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspections and follow-up of corrective actions.  Plants in this level include:

  •   Clinton (Illinois);
  •   Davis Besse (Ohio);
  •   Dresden 2 (Illinois);
  •   Duane Arnold (Iowa);
  •   Indian Point 3 (New York);
  •   Millstone 3 (Connecticut);
  •   Prairie Island 2 (Minnesota);
  •   River Bend (Louisiana);
  •   Sequoyah 1 (Tennessee); and,
  •   Susquehanna 1 and 2 (Pennsylvania).

NRC reports that Duane Arnold, Millstone 3, and Susquehanna 1 and 2 have resolved their issues since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.

There were no reactors in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance.

There were three reactors in the fourth performance category.  Arkansas Nuclear One 1 and 2 (Arkansas) require increased oversight because of two safety findings of substantial significance.  Pilgrim (Massachusetts) is in the fourth performance category because of long-standing issues of low- to-moderate safety significance.  NRC states that reactors in this category receive additional inspections and increased agency management attention to confirm performance issues are being addressed.


The NRC routinely updates information on each plant’s current performance and posts the latest information as it becomes available to the action matrix summary. The annual assessment letters sent to each operating reactor are also available through the NRC’s webpage on the Reactor Oversight Process.

Annual construction oversight assessments for new reactors at the Vogtle and Summer sites are available on the NRC website.  The assessment letter for Watts Bar 2, which received its operating license in October 2015, is also available.

Every six months each plant receives either a mid-cycle or annual assessment letter along with an NRC inspection plan.

For additional information, please contact Eric Stahl of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.