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Self-Assessment Supports Research Reactor Safety, IAEA Workshop Participants Say

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Research reactor RA-6 at the Atomic Centre Bariloche, Argentina. (Photo: M. Recio/IAEA)

Self-assessment is an important tool to enhance research reactor safety and new guidelines to be published by the IAEA this year will help operating organizations use this tool to strengthen safety continuously, participants in a recent IAEA workshop said.

The 39 participants in the March 2018 workshop on self-assessment of research reactor safety discussed how self-assessment in areas such as safety analyses, management systems, radiation protection and ageing management had helped them improve safety.

They welcomed an IAEA methodology for research reactor self-assessment, which was developed as part of work to strengthen the IAEA Integrated Safety Assessment of Research Reactor (INSARR) missions. The methodology, which also can be used independently of INSARR missions, is based on the IAEA safety standards. By publishing guidelines for the methodology, the IAEA hopes to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of INSARR missions.

Greg Rzentkowski, IAEA Director of the Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, said self-assessment helped research reactor organizations verify that they comply with national safety requirements and identify opportunities for improvements in line with the IAEA safety standards.

Workshop participant Alvie Asuncion Astronomo from the Philippines Nuclear Research Institute said self-assessments she and her colleagues had performed ahead of the workshop, combined with workshop discussions, had contributed to safety aspects of a project to build a new research reactor in her country.

Other efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of INSARR missions include a planned publication collecting mission feedback and increased training for mission team members.

Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA Research Reactor Safety Section, underlined the importance of countries taking advantage of INSARR missions.

“The INSARR programme’s contribution to global research reactor safety ultimately depends on countries requesting the missions, and on research reactor organizations implementing their recommendations,” he said.

Background

Research Reactors: Research reactors are small in size compared to nuclear power plants. For more than 60 years, these reactors have been centres of innovation and productivity for nuclear science and technology programmes around the world. They are used for education and training, to produce medical and industrial radioisotopes, to test material, and to improve agriculture and more. They also contribute to building expertise to support national nuclear power programmes.

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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