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IAEA Review Recommends Safety Improvements to the Democratic Republic of Congo's Research Reactor

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An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said organizational and technical measures are needed to improve the safety of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s research reactor, which has not been in operation since 2003.

An Integrated Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) peer review of the CREN-K research reactor at University of Kinshasa was held from 7-9 May 2018 at the request of its owner and operator, the  General Commissariat for Atomic Energy (CGEA). The mission followed a previous INSARR held in 2004, and several follow-up missions conducted from 2007 to 2015.

The INSARR mission assessed the reactor’s safety status based on the IAEA safety standards. The team focused on the implementation of recommendations provided by earlier IAEA safety missions, and noted limited progress.

The team recommended that organizational and technical measures be taken to ensure the safety of the reactor in its current shutdown state. The team also recommended that regulatory, organizational and technical improvements be implemented, particularly considering the country’s decision to bring the reactor back into operation.

“We appreciate the IAEA’s long-standing assistance and CGEA is committed to implementing the recommendations shared,” said CGEA General Commissioner Vincent Lukanda.

The five-member INSARR team comprised experts from Belgium, Egypt, France and Morocco and the IAEA.  It made several recommendations, including:

  • an effective regulatory supervision, including licensing and an inspection programme, should be established;
  • the organisational structure for reactor operation, including a training and qualification programme for reactor staff, should be improved;
  • adequate human and financial resources for reactor safety should be ensured;
  • reactor safety documents and programmes should be developed and updated. This includes operating instructions, safety analysis, operational radiation protection and emergency preparedness and response;
  • reactor safety systems and components that have been out of service for several years should be refurbished to resolve technical problems.

The 1 MW TRIGA MARK II reactor was built in 1972 for research, education, training and radioisotope production. It has been operated for about 3,500 hours. 

About INSARR Missions

INSARR mission is an IAEA peer review service, conducted at the request of a Member State, to assess the safety of research reactors based on IAEA safety standards. General information about INSARR missions can be found on the IAEA Website.

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