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Jordan's First Nuclear Research Reactor Goes Through IAEA Peer Review


The IAEA peer review team in discussion with Jordanian experts during the IAEA Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors mission to Jordan. (Photo: Jordan Atomic Energy Commission)

After six years of intense design and construction activities, the first nuclear multipurpose research reactor in Jordan is being prepared for routine operation. This preparatory work involves updating the operational safety programmes based on results from the reactor commissioning tests and finalizing the establishment of an effective operating organization that maintains focus on safety, concluded an IAEA Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) mission this week.

“Jordan is commended for the significant progress made in introducing a nuclear research programme in the country,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “It has to be recognized that the transition from the construction to the operation phase of a nuclear facility is never simple. Thus, work has to continue to implement a management system to demonstrate that the operating organization is qualified, and to confirm adequate safety measures are being implemented,” he added.

Jordan’s Research and Training Reactor (JRTR) is stationed at the Jordan University for Science and Technology and is owned and operated by the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC).

The new 5MW research reactor will be used for research and development in science and engineering, education and training in neutron activation analysis to examine trace elements in the environment, neutron radiography as well as the production of medical and industrial radioactive isotopes.

“The IAEA team peer reviewed the JRTR safety programmes, focusing on the commissioning results and preparation for the reactor operation phase,” Amgad Shokr, IAEA INSARR Team Leader said. “The team provided JAEC with recommendations and suggestions for operational safety improvements, including in the areas of operation management, staff training and qualification, reactor maintenance, and operational radiation protection.”

Jordan actively participates in various IAEA nuclear safety activities and cooperates with several leading countries in the field of nuclear safety.  

“JAEC has been benefitting from the IAEA safety reviews and advisory missions during different phases and activities of the JRTR project,” Khaled Toukan, Chairman of the JAEC said. “We are committed to implement the recommendations from these missions for continuous safety improvements so as to maximize the safe use of the JRTR reactor for science and technology and socio-economic development in Jordan,” he added.   

The INSARR mission conducted at the JRTR research reactor took place from 4 to 8 December 2016.  The mission team was composed of IAEA and international nuclear safety experts from five countries that operate research reactors.

An IAEA INSARR mission is conducted at the request of a Member State. It is a peer review mission to assess and evaluate safety of research reactors that is conducted on the basis of 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.

Like nuclear power reactors, the safety of research reactors requires careful attention. Although research reactors are not covered by the Convention of 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 nuclear and radiation safety throughout the lifetime of a research reactor.

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