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IAEA Mission Observes Safety Improvements at Research Reactor in Czech Republic, Sees Scope for Further Enhancement

Řež, Czech Republic

The INSARR team concluded an eight-day mission to assess the safety of the 10 MW LVR-15 research reactor in the Czech Republic. (Photo: V. Vrbik / CVR - Czech Republic) 

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said the operator of a research reactor in the Czech Republic has continued to improve safety since a previous review in 2003, implementing significant refurbishments to modernize the reactor’s systems and components. The team also found areas for further safety enhancements, such as in organizational aspects and in operational safety programmes.

The Integrated Safety Assessment for Research Reactors (INSARR) team concluded an eight-day mission today to assess the safety of the 10 MW LVR-15 research reactor. It was the first IAEA safety review mission to take place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Czech Republic’s first and largest research reactor was first commissioned in 1957 and has undergone extensive refurbishments starting in 1989 and continuing in recent years. The reactor is operated by the Research Centre Řež (CVR) and is located about 10 km north of Prague. It is used for medical radioisotope production, research and development, material irradiation and neutron activation analysis. The Czech Republic currently has three research reactors in operation.

“By requesting an IAEA INSARR mission, CVR has shown a strong commitment to safety and to its continuous improvement,” said Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA’s Research Reactor Safety Section. “Given its long service life and utilization, refurbishment and modernization work at the reactor should continue. This work should also be extended to include a review of safety analysis and procedures to identify practicable upgrades to maintain the continued safe operation of the facility in accordance with IAEA safety standards.”

The six-member team comprised experts from Argentina, the Netherlands and Slovenia, as well as three IAEA officials. The mission covered organizational and management aspects as well as technical areas, including safety analysis; operation and maintenance programmes; radiation protection; and safety of modifications, experimental devices and irradiation facilities. The team visited the reactor and its associated facilities and met with CVR officials.

The IAEA team noted the effective implementation of administrative and technical measures to ensure the continuity of safe operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also observed continued improvement in the effectiveness of training, maintenance and ageing management programmes.

“We appreciate the IAEA’s support, especially considering the constraints imposed by the global pandemic situation,” said Ján Milčák, Head of CVR’s Reactor Operation Section. “The INSARR mission provided us with valuable recommendations and suggestions for further enhancement of operational safety, and we are committed to implementing them.”

The mission made recommendations and suggestions for improvements, including:

  • Strengthening the organizational structure for operation by clarifying staff roles and responsibilities to avoid potential conflicts of duties and authorities.
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of the CVR safety committee by enlarging its scope and working procedures to cover new experiments, modifications, and the operational safety programme.
  • Broadening the ageing management programme to include experimental devices, irradiation facilities, radiation monitoring systems and the reactor’s civil structures.
  • Strengthening procedures to respond to abnormal situations such as flood, seismic events and total loss of electrical power supply.
  • Enhancing the operational radiation protection programme through improvements to work instructions and radiation monitoring practices.

The research reactor operator CVR said that they will request a follow-up INSARR mission in 2022.

About INSARR Missions

INSARR missions are an IAEA peer review service, conducted at the request of a Member State, to assess and evaluate 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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