January 23, 2006
The Honorable A. J. Eggenberger
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue, N W, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20004
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Your letter of November 23, 2005 to Secretary Bodman, requested a report from the Department of Energy (DOE) “providing the details of a more aggressive plan for developing and implementing an appropriate DOE-level policy, along with the necessary implementing guidance, to ensure the appropriate use of risk assessment methodologies at defense nuclear facilities.” You noted a concern that in the absence of DOE policy and guidance on the use of risk assessment, “individual program elements and field entities continue to apply various approaches on an ad hoc basis.” On behalf of Secretary Bodman, I am pleased to respond to your request for a plan to develop DOE policy and guidance on the use of risk assessment methodologies.
Attached is a revised draft Department of Energy Risk Assessment Policy. You provided comments on a previous draft and this revision responds to your comments and other input. Also attached is a draft Risk Management Planning and Execution Guidance document (draft DOE G 421.1-2). This draft guidance provides DOE expectations on appropriate processes to plan and execute risk assessment methodologies for nuclear applications.
This guidance document is based on the review of other risk assessment methodologies and techniques used in other government agencies and industries as tools to aid safety decision-making. References to some of these other methodologies are provided in this document. We recognize, however, that DOE hazards and work environments are unique and evolving, and safety decisions inherently involve some assumption of risk. To properly assess and use risk-insights, we agree that DOE should provide a more formalized and disciplined structure and process for risk assessment and management so that important safety decisions are credible and defensible.
The Office of Nuclear and Facility Safety Policy developed the attached draft policy and guidance. I requested that it lead a DOE-wide effort to finalize this policy and guidance. A team will be formed to (a) further review DOE applications of risk assessment tools, (b) collaborate with other government agencies, particularly the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Aeronautical Space Agency, on processes, (c) evaluate industries standards for probabilistic risk assessments, (d) involve risk assessment experts in our National Laboratories, and (e) involve appropriate working groups from the Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG).
I believe that the draft policy and guidance documents are good starting points for this collaborative effort. DOE will form a review team and hold the first planning meeting within 45 days. Your staff will be invited to this meeting. This meeting will occur after the EFCOG Safety Basis Workshop in Albuquerque on February 14 and 15, 2006. This Workshop will provide more details on expected actions, schedules and responsibilities that are necessary for the review team. We will provide those details to you after the first team meeting. I expect the next version of the policy and guidance documents within 6 months based on the broader team input. The final policy and guidance documents should be available for DOE-wide review within I2 months. This effort will be coordinated with your staff and periodic meetings and briefings will be provided.
John Spitaleri Shaw
Safety and Health
C. Sell, S-2
L. Brooks, NA-1
D. Garman, ESE-1
J. Rispoli, EM-1
S. Johnson, NE-1
M. Whitaker, DR-1