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Procedure Overhaul at the NIST Center for Neutron Research



Brandy Frie, David Griffin, James R. Whipple


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research operates a 20 MW research reactor whose primary purpose is to produce cold neutrons for material sciences experiments. On February 3rd, 2021, a fuel element was unlatched, causing an accident that resulted in a multi-year cease in operations of the reactor. One of the root causes of the fuel element latching issue was inadequacies in procedure clarity and compliance, exacerbated by the loss of experienced personnel who shored up deficiencies in the procedure with their internal knowledge of the system. In this particular accident, the refueling procedures were rife with subjective instructions that could not ensure proper performance for newly trained individuals. The NCNR needed an overhaul to bring all procedures, not just those relating to refueling, to an acceptable level. To address this issue, the organization undertook a comprehensive review of its procedures and document management system. Gaps and redundancies were identified, and all Reactor Operations and Engineering (ROE) staff were consulted for feedback and suggestions for procedures. Existing standards both from within and outside of the nuclear industry were used to create a standard at the organization for procedure writing, review, adherence, and auditing. Further, the implementation of a document management system was used to keep records and ensure up-to-date instructions were in use for all NCNR staff. This presentation will describe the actions taken by the corrective action team to overhaul the procedures at the organization, to improve procedural and regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, and continuous improvement. Moreover, this effort demonstrated the organization's commitment to quality, safety, and reliability.
Conference Dates
June 18-22, 2023
Conference Location
College Park, MD, US
Conference Title
TRTR & IGORR Research Reactor Conference


procedure writing


Frie, B. , Griffin, D. and Whipple, J. (2023), Procedure Overhaul at the NIST Center for Neutron Research, TRTR & IGORR Research Reactor Conference, College Park, MD, US, [online], (Accessed June 25, 2024)


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Created June 19, 2023, Updated March 11, 2024