8 November 2013
From 30 September to 4 October 2013, the IAEA carried out an Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) mission at the SAFARI-1 research reactor, located in Pelindaba, South Africa, and operated by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA). The mission reviewed the safety of the research reactor on the basis of the IAEA safety standards and provided recommendations and suggestions for further safety improvements. The peer review was organized under an ongoing technical cooperation project and was supported by the European Commission (EC), an important IAEA partner in promoting nuclear safety around the world.
Together with the EC, the IAEA has made extensive efforts to enhance and upgrade the safety and security of research reactors in Africa. Though its technical cooperation (TC) programme, the IAEA is working with its African Member States to strengthen the safety of research reactors in the region by providing technical assistance in developing and implementing safety policies and operational procedures in compliance with the IAEA’s safety standards. In this context, the IAEA conducts peer review missions to evaluate research reactor operations and processes and assess how well national regulations are being implemented in accordance with the IAEA standards.
The INSARR mission at SAFARI-1 was the first peer review conducted in South Africa. Carried out at the request of the government, INSARR missions are one of the top safety services offered by the IAEA to its Member States. By requesting this review, the Government of South Africa and SAFARI-1 have shown great commitment to nuclear safety and to continuous improvement.
Research reactors are small in size and are often used for research, education and training, testing materials or the production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry. Their main purpose is to produce neutrons for research and other nuclear applications. Around 246 research reactors are currently operating in 58 countries. Of these, 86 are located in developing countries.
Like nuclear power reactors, the safety of research reactors requires careful attention. Although research reactors are not covered by the Convention on Nuclear Safety, their safety is addressed by the IAEA’s Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors. The Code requires a comprehensive and systematic approach to operational radiation safety throughout the lifetime of a research reactor.
The Safety Review Service INSARR is a peer review of the safety of research reactors against IAEA Safety Standards and provides recommendations for safety improvements.
Promoting effective independent regulatory supervision of research reactor safety in Africa, with EU support: Workshop on ‘Regulatory Supervision of Research Reactors’ takes place in Vienna
Promoting operational radiation safety of research reactors in Africa, with EU support: Workshop on ‘Operational Radiological Protection Programme for Research Reactors’ takes place in Vienna