The industry group said there are many factors influencing the improvement including the cultivation of a strong safety and reliability culture by utilities, a strong independent nuclear regulator in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent industry excellence organisation (the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations), and the regulator’s adoption of “a risk-informed safety focus”.
This risk-informed approach focuses resources on the most safety significant issues, the NEI said. An effective risk-informed approach further improves safety by avoiding diversion of resources to items of low significance
The NEI noted that in 2000, the first year of the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process, or ROP, about 75% of nuclear plants were performing in a manner such that all indicators and all inspection findings were Green. This placed them in Column 1 of the action matrix, which reflects overall plant performance.
Since that time, industry performance has progressively improved. In its report for the 4th quarter of 2019, the NRC shows that all 96 commercial nuclear plants are in Column 1 of its action matrix.