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Improved Safety at Turkey’s TR-2 Research Reactor: IAEA Peer Review Mission Concludes

The IAEA peer review team observes a demonstration of the reactor control console. (Photo: Turkish Atomic Energy Authority)

The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) has implemented several safety improvements to the TR-2 research reactor in Turkey, including facility modifications to strengthen protection against seismic hazards, upgrades to the reactor operational safety systems and improvements to safety documentation, concluded an IAEA Integrated Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) follow-up mission.

The TR-2, a 5MWs research reactor located at the Cekmece nuclear research and training centre in Istanbul, was commissioned in 1981 and initially used high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to conduct research and training and to produce radioisotopes.

In order to decrease nuclear proliferation risks and perform reactor upgrades, the reactor was shut down in 2009 and converted to use LEU fuel. The HEU fuel was shipped back to the United States in 2009. The TAEK is currently seeking regulatory approval to restart the reactor using LEU fuel.

“We are planning to resume operation of the reactor soon to meet the needs of the country for nuclear research, training and radioisotope production,” said Bulent Sevdik, the Manager of the TR-2 Reactor. “The IAEA INSARR safety review service provided us with valuable technical advice and recommendations to enhance the safety of the reactor,” he added.

The IAEA team performed on-site observations of the reactor systems and structures, reviewed reactor documents and held technical discussions with the management and staff to assess safety improvements implemented at the reactor facilities since the last INSARR review in 2015.

William Kennedy, nuclear safety officer at the IAEA and head of the review team said: “The IAEA team noted that additional efforts are needed to strengthen the functions of the reactor safety committee, improve the procedure for safety classification of experiments and to formally establish an ageing management programme, including preventive maintenance activities and periodic safety reviews, to support continued safe operation of the reactor.”

In its assessment, the IAEA peer review team noted the implementation of the recommendations from the 2015 INSARR review on reactor safety analysis, management system, training and qualification of personnel, commissioning of the reactor with the new fuel and seismic safety, Kennedy said.

The review mission took place from 25 to 28 April 2017. The mission team was composed of international nuclear safety experts from two countries that operate research reactors and nuclear power plants and IAEA staff.

Peer review: the INSARR mission

An IAEA INSARR mission is conducted at the request of a Member State. It is a peer review service that assesses and evaluates the safety of research reactors based on the IAEA Safety Standards. Research reactors are nuclear installations often used for research, education and training, testing materials or the production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry.

TR-2 staff in the reactor hall. (Photo: Turkish Atomic Energy Authority)

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