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New IAEA Publication on Operating Experience Feedback for Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities


IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan (Photo: IAEA) 

An important new resource for the community of nuclear fuel cycle facilities (NFCFs) – the Operating Experience Feedback from Events Reported to the IAEA/NEA Fuel Incident Notification and Analysis System (FINAS) – is now available. The 229 NFCFs in operation around the world include uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication, fuel reprocessing, spent fuel storage, and related research and development facilities. This publication is useful to these facilities in all stages of their lifetime, including design, construction, commissioning, and operation.

The publication summarizes the operating experience from events occurred at NFCFs, including root causes and lessons learned from them and how to implement corrective actions which will further help designers, operators, and regulators of NFCFs to enhance nuclear safety. 

“Effective use of operating experience and the information in this publication help NFCFs’ operators and regulators to enhance safety regulations and oversight programmes,” said Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA Section responsible for safety of NFCFs, adding that “ it also provides guidance on specific organization and technical measures to not only  prevent incidents but also to enable and enhance adequate safety operational performance of the facilities.”

The nuclear fuel cycle is an industrial process involving various steps to produce electricity from nuclear fuel in nuclear power reactors. The cycle starts with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste.

The new publication contains summary of the operating experience from nearly 300 reports that were submitted to the FINAS database since 1992. It covers all organizational and technical topics that are important to safety of NFCFs such as human factors, safety management, design, safety assessment, operation and maintenance. It can also be used for planning and implementing research and development proposals aimed at continuous safety improvements during the entire life cycle of NFCFs.

FINAS is jointly operated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and is an important tool for international exchange of operating experience for NFCFs. It is a global contact network and forum that enables the NFCFs community to share and review information on lessons learned from reported events on a worldwide basis.

“Notably our effort is to assist Member States in the prioritization of areas where further resources may be directed,” Shokr highlighted. “The operating experience in FINAS can also give indications on which work processes, procedures, or programmes are important to safety, thus supporting the use of a graded approach in application of the relevant safety requirements to these facilities.”

In addition to the dissemination of operating experience, IAEA supports its Member States in work to continuously enhance safety of NFCFs, including by developing safety standards and technical guidelines, by conducting safety peer review and advisory services and by organizing technical meetings, training courses and workshops.

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