Design and safety assessment of fuel cycle facilities

Ensuring the safe design of fuel cycle facilities and conducting regular safety assessments are fundamental to make sure these installations operate under adequate conditions and to prevent accidents. Through its safety standards, review services and training programme, the IAEA helps achieve this goal.

Just like nuclear power plants and research reactors, fuel cycle facilities use potentially harmful radioactive material. While these installations have many different designs, they all have in common safety features that control the reactor or facility and limit the release of radioactive material. Comprehensive and systematic assessments are critical to verify these safety features during the design, commissioning, operation, possible modification and eventual decommissioning of the installations. The systematic regulatory review and assessment of the results is also an essential component of the regulatory framework.

The IAEA contributes to achieving the fundamental objective of protecting the public from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation through its safety standards, services and training programmes for design safety and safety assessment. The IAEA safety standards cover the safety aspects of nuclear power plants, research reactors and fuel cycle facilities.

These safety standards are developed on the basis of international consensus and best practices and include guidance on safety assessments for the organization that operates the installation in question. The IAEA also provides guidance for the review and assessment of the results by regulatory bodies, covering the assessment of new designs and reassessment of existing facilities with techniques relevant to the different nuclear and chemical hazards in these facilities.

IAEA Member States can request training, workshops and technical advisory and safety review services from the Agency. This has the goal to assist them with the implementation of the safety standards and thereby achieve and maintain the highest level of safety in the design of their facilities. Technical safety reviews can be conducted to support Member States at different stages of a facility’s lifecycle, for instance the conceptual design, licensing, construction and operation, or the extension of a facility’s lifetime.

The IAEA also helps operating organizations perform safety assessments during the design of a facility design, as well as its commissioning, operation and modifications. Depending on the needs of the host organization, these services can address either very broad topics or focus on a particular safety issue.

These services typically result in recommendations conveyed to the host organization, national nuclear regulator or Member State government.

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