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IAEA Reporting System for Incidents at Research Reactors Enhances Safety, National Coordinators Say at Meeting in Vienna

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A peek into a research reactor. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

An IAEA system that collects, analyses and disseminates reports from incidents at research reactors improves worldwide safety by enabling regulators and operators to learn from others’ experience, national coordinators who use the system concluded during a meeting this week in Vienna.

Analysis of events reported to the IAEA Incident Reporting System for Research Reactors (IRSRR) system shows that due attention should be paid to the ageing of the facilities and human and organizational factors, Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA’s Research Reactor Safety Section, told a meeting gathering national coordinators from 32 countries.

“This could highlight a need for a focus on activities such as refurbishments and safety upgrades, as well as improved training programmes and management systems that provide for a strong culture for safety,” he said.

The IRSRR facilitates the exchange of information on research reactors incidents, their root causes and lessons learned from them to prevent that similar incidents occur in the future. The system was established in 1997 and now has 58 IAEA Member States as participants – this represents almost all countries that operate research reactors.

Participants in the 21-25 August 2017 meeting discussed ways to enhance the effectiveness of the IRSRR, including measures to ensure that research reactor operation and maintenance staff are informed of its findings, said Frank Joppen, a nuclear safety engineer at SCK/CEN Belgium who served as the meeting’s chairman.

The meeting included a training session on event investigation techniques and root cause analysis. Wafaa Bakr of Egypt’s Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority said this session was particularly useful.

“It helped me and other national coordinators sharpen our knowledge, which will help us improve safety,” she said.

The meeting was part of a series of meetings of national coordinators held every two years. The next one will be held in 2019.

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