The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that all commercial nuclear power plants in the United States establish a program to identify potential drug or alcohol problems through a Fitness for Duty system that requires the facilities to randomly test employees for substance abuse. The regulations require both random testing as well as testing for-cause.
Yesterday, the Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania notified the NRC that it had identified what it called a “programmatic deficiency” in its testing system. Susquehanna reported that its “(c)urrent contractual agreement with PPL vendor to perform Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counseling and treatment for self referrals does not require appropriate reporting to the utility as mandated by 10CFR26.”
10CFR26 is the section of the Code of Federal Regulations that mandates testing programs and sets standards. It requires reporting of “(a)ny programmatic failure, degradation, or discovered vulnerability of the FFD program that may permit undetected drug or alcohol use or abuse by individuals within a protected area, or by individuals who are assigned to perform duties that require them to be subject to the FFD program.”
Susquehanna says it has reached an informal agreement with the vendor to relay information to plant management until the contract with the vendor can be revised to meet the federal requirement.