Implementing Management Systems for Research Reactors

Core of the TRIGA Mark II research reactor
of the University of Pavia, Italy.
(Photo: A. Borio di Tigliole/IAEA)

2013-07-03 | Organizations that are operating research reactors face particular challenges in developing, implementing and continuously improving integrated management systems (IMS) due to resource limitations and governance structures.

The global research reactor community includes a number of highly diverse facility designs, organizational structures and technical missions. Some research reactor operating organizations are large and comprise teams of operators, maintenance technicians, safety and radiation control officers, managers, and licensing and other support staff. Other reactors are operated by a relatively small team of around ten or even fewer permanent staff.

At a recent IAEA workshop, experts from 28 IAEA Member States discussed the status of current management systems and future improvement plans, and shared their experience and good practices in implementing IMS in research reactors.

In particular, the meeting focused on the practical aspects of implementing the requirements of the IAEA Safety Standards on ‘The Management System for Facilities and Activities’ (IAEA GS-R-3) in research reactor operating organizations. GS-R-3 requires that management systems be established, implemented, assessed and continually improved and that all elements of safety, health, environment, security and economics be integrated.

A new IAEA Safety Report (SRS No. 75) on ‘Implementation of a Management System for Operating Organizations of Research Reactors’ was presented, as a guide for Member States, including practical examples and case studies.

The meeting also focused on key issues and trends in the management of research reactor, a graded approach in the application of management systems requirements, the transition from a quality assurance system to an IMS and the assessment, monitoring and continuous improvement of IMS including the safety culture.

The plenary discussions indicated that there are significant differences in implementing the IAEA Safety Standards GS-R-3. Some research reactor organizations have implemented an IMS, while others have implemented a quality management system (some based on ISO 9001) or a quality assurance system. Improvement in the safety culture is also an area of concern in many organizations.

The participants considered the IAEA missions to be valuable in assisting research reactor organizations improve their management system.

The meeting provided several recommendations to IAEA Member States on good practices in establishing an IMS or transitioning a quality assurance programme to an IMS.

The safety culture could be enhanced by maximizing the level of discipline with regards to safety and compliance to procedures, building safety into all processes to achieve safety assurance rather than only control, and creating and maintaining an organizational culture in which people are engaged and empowered and can become fully involved to achieve the organisation’s safety objectives.

The experts also recommended to the IAEA to further enhance the assistance provided to Member States by considering an international conference on the implementation of IMS, and providing training for senior managers to create a better understanding of the needs and benefits of an IMS. They also proposed developing dedicated programmes to assist those countries facing challenges with the implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards GS-R-3.

The IAEA Workshop on Management Systems for Research Reactors was held at the IAEA on 17-21 June 2013. It was organized jointly by the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy and the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security under cross-cutting activities on research reactors.

Related Resources

Safety Reports Series No. 75: Implementation of a Management System for Ope5raing Organizations of Research Reactors

IAEA Safety Standards Series GS-R-3: The Management System for Facilities and Activities - Safety Requirements

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