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Research Reactors: FORO, Supported by IAEA, to Create Regulatory Inspection Manual

Experts of the Forum of Ibero-American Radiological and Nuclear Regulators working together with the IAEA to create a standardized inspection manual for nuclear research reactors. (Photo: Maria F. Masoero/INVAP)

With IAEA support, the Forum of Ibero-American Radiological and Nuclear Regulators began work this week to create a standardized inspection manual for nuclear research reactors to assist regulatory bodies in the region.

Experts from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Spain and the IAEA met 26 February to 2 March in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, to launch work on the manual. References used in the development of the manual include an IAEA training manual on regulatory inspection programmes for research reactors that is under development.

As some research reactors in the FORO area have operated for many years, the document will place particular emphasis on inspecting reactor operators’ ageing management programmes. The inspection manual will be complemented by a guide document intended to be used as a reference when establishing regulatory requirements for ageing management.

The project to develop a manual forms part of long-standing cooperation between the IAEA and the FORO aimed at achieving a high level of radiation and nuclear safety and security in a sustainable manner. This cooperation, affirmed in a renewed practical agreement of cooperation signed in 2017, also includes an Ibero-American knowledge sharing network, known as RED, through which regulatory specialists network and share experiences.

Nine Latin American and Caribbean countries operate a total of 16 research reactors that provide essential services ranging from academic research and education to applications in medicine, agriculture, environment and industry. The reactors produce radioisotopes for use in medicine and industry.

Regulatory inspection programmes form part of countries’ work to ensure that their research reactors are safe and secure.

Gerardo Lazaro, coordinator of the project and responsible for the inspection of research reactors at the Peruvian Institute for Nuclear Energy, said he expected countries beyond those that are part of FORO to benefit from the project:

“I am convinced that the advice and support of the IAEA will make the standardized inspection manual an outstanding reference for all countries operating research reactors,” he said.

The meeting will be followed by three more. The manual is expected to be completed in 2020.

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