SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS
L. Walter Dietrich
Session A: UTILIZATION AND APPLICATIONS
Thirty papers were presented in Session A (18 oral and 12 poster presentations). The papers described the present utilization of both new research reactors and those that have been in operation for many years and are still very well utilized, along with opportunities and challenges for utilization in the future.
In his keynote address for this session, Mr D. Ridikas (IAEA/NA) discussed opportunities for enhanced research reactor utilization through networks and coalitions. Key issues in utilization include a continuing decrease in the number of operational facilities, aging and the need for modernization and refurbishment, and underutilization of about half of the reactors. On the other hand, there are requests from ‘newcomer’ countries for assistance in a new research reactor project. Reasons for underutilization include lack of a clear purpose and strategy, lack of funding, lack of motivation to seek new users or clients, and lack of confidence on the part of stakeholders. He reviewed the IAEA’s support activities for enhanced utilization, which are based on promoting strategic planning and performance monitoring, international cooperation and networking, and sustainability through provision of products and services.
The main purpose for research reactor coalitions is to offer products and services in a wide range of areas through joint efforts that could not be offered by a single facility, and at the same time to increase reactor utilization and contribute to their sustainability. Mr Sklenka (Czech Republic) presented an excellent example how such a research reactor coalition operates based on the oldest network, the Eastern European Research Reactor Initiative. This coalition includes nine different reactors in Central and Eastern Europe. It is evident that formation of research reactor coalitions facilitated by the IAEA has a great potential and should be continued.
Several papers discussed applications of research reactors in training the required human resources and developing the nuclear infrastructure for ‘newcomer’ countries. This role was clearly highlighted by Mr El Mediouri of the host country, Morocco. Other papers from the USA, Czech Republic and France discussed the role of research reactors in universities and research institutes in providing the needed tools for education and training to students in nuclear science and engineering. Mr Hawari (USA) highlighted the recently implemented internet based audio-visual and data transfer connection established between the PULSTAR reactor at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST). Using this connection, students at JUST are able remotely to observe, participate and analyse the experiments carried out in the PULSTAR facility in a way comparable to that of the students on-site. Other university reactors, such as that at the University of Texas in Austin, have very positive internship experiences; its Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab remains a very valuable resource with various outreach programs for local, regional and international undergraduate students.
The 2nd most frequent application of research reactors, after education and training, remains neutron activation analysis (NAA). Close to 50% of all operational facilities provide this service. However, the requests for analytical methods that are fast, inexpensive and with low detection limits for environmental, geological, biological and industrial specimens have made other methods very attractive and bring this particular research reactor application into a very competitive environment. Mr Bode reported on the IAEA Collaborating Centre for neutron-activation methodologies at Technical University of Delft (Netherlands).
Isotope production remains an important application of research reactors. In particular, research reactors remain a unique tool for producing 99Mo as a fission product. Security of supply of 99Mo has received much attention since the recent interruptions of supply. Mr Ramamoorthy´s (India) paper emphasized that practically one diagnostic imaging study is performed every second using 99mTc, a decay product of 99Mo. In this paper, the economic aspects of 99Mo production were discussed with the conclusion that a major cost increase must occur, mainly at the front end of the production chain, (i.e. in charges for irradiation services) in order to ensure a sustainable 99Mo supply over the long term. Research reactors will continue to produce 99Mo because of the ‘social contract’ between governments and the medical community, under which governments pay for operation of the reactors and related infrastructure, including radioactive waste management. In return, nuclear medicine receives the frequently-required medical isotope. Various alternative 99Mo production routes are under development, including new reactors, alternative technologies, such as neutron capture in 98Mo targets, and various accelerator-based pathways, which will certainly contribute to secure availability of this radioisotope in time. Existing and new research reactors will continue to be needed for production of 99Mo and other isotopes.
For neutron science and neutron beam applications, research reactors continue to occupy a major place. This was clearly documented in the papers describing neutron beam facilities at the modern OPAL research reactor in Australia, the HANARO reactor in the Republic of Korea with its recently inaugurated cold neutron source, the upgraded neutron beam facilities at the SAFARI-1 reactor in South Africa, beam tube facilities at the Budapest research reactor in Hungary and the LVR-15 reactor in the Czech Republic, and the neutron powder diffractometer recently installed on the Brazilian 4 MW reactor at IPEN. Mr Metoki discussed neutron beam research in Japan, including use of the JRR-3 research reactor and the new spallation neutron source, J-PARC. He reported that the JRR-3 research reactor suffered no major damages from the recent earthquake, so its research program will resume shortly and the reactor will resume its high utilization as a multipurpose facility.
Finally, materials irradiations and testing remain an important application of research reactors. Ms Martin (France) reported on work done at the OSIRIS facility on material and fuel irradiation devices and instruments in preparation for the new Jules Horowitz Reactor now under construction at CEA Cadarache.
Session B: OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
Nineteen papers were presented in Session B (14 oral and 5 poster presentations). The topics discussed in the session covered a wide spectrum of Operation and Maintenance (O&M) - related aspects, including O&M experiences, ageing management practices and experience, analysis of core performance, and conversion from HEU to LEU fuel.
In his keynote address for the session, Mr Adelfang (IAEA/NE) presented a summary of the IAEA’s cross-cutting activities for research reactors that take place in NA, NE, NS and TC, and are coordinated by the Cross-cutting Coordination Group for Research Reactors. In particular, he concentrated on the Agency’s work in research reactor operation, maintenance and aging management, management of spent fuel from research reactors, assisting in spent fuel return programmes, support to international efforts to enhance security of 99Mo supply, and assisting ‘newcomer’ countries wanting a first research reactor. He highlighted numerous Agency publications in these areas, and introduced the Operations and Maintenance Assessment for Research Reactors (OMARR) service to be implemented through expert missions. In addition, he introduced the idea of a ‘Pioneer-Endurable-Controllable-Easy-care and Safe’ (PECES) research reactor, aimed at assisting newcomers in defining specifications for an ‘ideal’ research reactor concept.
Papers by Mr Tillwick (South Africa) and Mr Manoharan (India) discussed operations and maintenance experience at the SAFARI-1 (20 MW) and KAMINI (30 kW) reactors, respectively. Mr Tillwick discussed progress in areas needed to sustain operation of SAFARI-1 until a new Dedicated Isotope Production Reactor is available in the early 2020s and for back-up and research applications afterwards until about 2030. He reviewed the maintenance and aging management programmes, the integrated management system, safety, security and safeguards programmes. He discussed a methodology for selecting aging management projects based on impact factors if remedial action is not performed and weighting factors related to details of the remedial action. Mr Manoharan described the KAMINI reactor as a versatile and rich source of neutrons used primarily for neutron radiography, activation analysis and shielding physics. It is fuelled with 233U and cooled by water in natural convection.
Two papers addressed repairs to research reactors made necessary by leakage of primary coolant. The first of these, by Mr Cox of the Chalk River Laboratories (Canada) discussed the technical challenges and lessons learned in repair of a heavy-water leak in the NRU reactor vessel. He discussed location and characterization of the leak, inspection tool development, design and analysis of the repair, development of tooling and procedures, and execution of the repair welding, all with limited access and in a high radiation field. The lessons learned include: the need to establish broad design requirements early and proceed to fabrication and testing; Full size mock-ups are essential; thermal/mechanical analysis of each weld repair is necessary; practice to establish process controls; maintain close interaction with regulators; and provide regular communications to stakeholders. In the second paper, Mr Zulquarnain (Bangladesh) discussed repair of a leak in a beam port at their 3 MW TRIGA reactor. This job involved removal of a broken and stuck beam port plug, followed by location, analysis and repair of a leak caused by corrosion of the beam tube at an Al-stainless steel interface. The leak was repaired by installing a removable, silicone rubber-lined clamp around the leaking part of the beam tube.
Several papers addressed aging management programmes and experience, including papers from Romania (the 14 MW TRIGA at ICN Pitesti), Indonesia (the RSG-GAS reactor) and Algeria (the NUR reactor). Mr Ciocanescu (Romania) reported on a classification method for SSCs based on considerations of vulnerability to aging and importance to safety, in which items ranking high in both considerations get increased attention. Experience in conversion of the nuclear instrumentation from analogue to digital technology at the HOR (Netherlands) was reported by Ms Wetzels. Refurbishment of the primary cooling system and upgrading of the I&C system at the Malaysian TRIGA research reactor was reported. The reactor physics, thermal-hydraulics and I&C analyses required for this work served to improve the Malaysian capabilities in these areas.
Studies related to core conversion from HEU to LEU were reported in this session and in the preceding session utilization. Mr Aziz (Egypt) reported neutronic analysis for conversion of a 10 MW IAEA research reactor benchmark model, comparing the results using an exact heterogeneous model with a benchmark homogeneous model. Mr Jonah (Nigeria) reported on the impact of conversion on utilization of their 30 kW MNSR, NIRR-1, and Ms Klavitskaya (Belarus) reported on the effect of conversion on the neutronics of the YALINA-Booster sub-critical assembly.
Generally, the experience discussed in inspections and corrective maintenance showed the importance of the careful design, keeping operational records and the use of various methods or tools to resolve or mitigate problems identified, which eventually should be fed back in the design of new reactors, preparation of spare parts or special tools and maintenance programmes.
Some other interesting points identified:
A major facility supplying radio-isotopes worldwide became a member of the WANO which heretofore has been a forum only of NPP operators;
A requirement of one regulatory body to participate in and agree with the audits and selection of suppliers of class I equipment important to safety;
One country’s preparation of staff training and replacement (STR) programme to address the ageing of staff and potential loss of corporate memory.
Session C: New Research Reactor Projects
Thirteen papers were presented in Session C (10 oral and 3 poster presentations).
In the opening paper of the session, Mr Shokr (IAEA/NS) presented an overview of the IAEA’s systematic Milestones Approach to New Research Reactor Projects. A new document describing this approach is in publication. Three phases are defined, including: 1) a pre-project phase leading to a decision to proceed with a new research reactor project; 2) a project formulation stage leading to readiness to invite bids for the new research reactor; and 3) a project implementation phase, leading to commissioning of the new reactor and subsequent operation and eventual decommissioning. The phases, issues and milestones are similar to those defined in the NPP milestone approach, but graded for research reactor application. The most important point is that a systematic approach must be applied to deciding to have a research reactor and to make the commitment to nuclear technology.
Evidence that projects are being developed consistent with the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, was apparent to a varying degree in presentations from Argentina, France, Brazil, Korea, Netherlands and Vietnam. However, Mr Hawari (Jordan) noted inconsistencies between the Jordanian project and the guidance in the Milestones Approach, including abbreviated and accelerated pre-project and project formulation phases. He added that the Jordanian project should prove to be an interesting and informative test case for the RR community.
Progress reports on reactors now in commissioning
Mr Chen (China) presented an overview of the design of the 60 MWt China Advanced Research Reactor (CARR) and the 65 MWt/20 MWe China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR). Both of these reactors are quite new. The CARR achieved first criticality in May 2010, and is expected to achieve full power early in 2012. The CEFR achieved first criticality in July 2010 and was able to test its first electricity generation a year later.
Mr Arkhangelskiy (Russia) gave a comprehensive overview of research reactors in Russia. They have recently achieved physical start-up of two unique reactors for fundamental research: the modernized IBR-2, a pulsed neutron source reactor; and the very high-flux steady-state PIK reactor. Development of new reactors in the Russian Federation is focused on a new generation of reactors having low and medium power (1 to 10 MW with differing experimental capabilities) and a multi-purpose fast research reactor (MBIR) to support material testing for Generation IV power reactors.
Progress reports on on-going projects
Mr Baumann (Argentina) discussed the RA-10 project, which has completed its initial planning and conceptual stage. The RA-10 is a multipurpose reactor of 30 MW rating, intended to replace the RA-3, increase radioisotope production, provide for fuel and materials testing and offer new capabilities in neutron science applications.
Mr Hawari (Jordan) presented the status of the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR) and the Jordan Sub-critical Assembly (JSA). The 5 MW JRTR is intended to provide a focus for a nuclear science and technology centre for training and support of medical, industrial, agricultural and scientific applications. The reactor will be designed and constructed by a Korean consortium of KAERI and Daewoo. The JSA, designed and built by the CIAE (China) provides hands-on experience for students and trainees in reactor physics.
Mr Lim (Republic of Korea) discussed plans for a new research reactor in Korea. A site for the new reactor and associated facilities has been selected near Busan and the Kori NPP site. A budget proposal has been approved by the National Assembly. The new reactor of about 20 MW power is intended as a service facility, primarily for radioisotope production, silicon doping, support to power device and automobile industries, and for validation of innovative research reactor technologies. The current HANARO reactor will remain as a scientific research facility.
Mr Bignan (France) presented the status of the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) and its safety approach. The JHR is a materials-testing reactor, not a beam reactor. It is intended to replace the current aged fleet of MTRs in Europe. It will support work on major challenges in material aging and fuel behaviour under irradiation related to life-extension of current NPPs, Generation III and Generation IV plants. In addition, it is expected to be able to supply 25% normally and up to 50% exceptionally of European requirements for 99Mo, and be a key tool for developing expertise. The JHR is now under construction at Cadarache, with commissioning and first criticality expected in 2016. The safety approach is based on 4 levels of defence-in-depth, physical barriers and the optimization principle, with particular attention to confinement and issues of availability vs. safety and coupling between experiments and the facility. The safety analysis approach is deterministic, with an iterative process between design and safety, with safety impacts on design choices. Mr Bignan emphasized the role of the JHR as an international user facility and an international centre of excellence.
Status reports on projects that are at an earlier stage in development
Mr Perrotta (Brazil) discussed plans for the new multipurpose RMB reactor. This project includes the reactor and all necessary facilities to support utilization. The scope and preliminary design are under development, using the OPAL reactor as the reference (common with Argentina’s RA-10). A site has been identified about 100 km west of Sao Paulo and environmental licensing started. The project is included in the 2012-2015 budget planning.
Mr Wijtsma (Netherlands) presented the status of the PALLAS reactor, intended as a replacement for the 50-year old HFR at Petten. The principal purpose of the reactor is isotope production and irradiation services with in-core and in-reflector locations. The design must be flexible to meet NRG’s business needs in the future and be fully compliant with IAEA safety guides and international good practice. A sound business case has been developed, user requirements specifications, a project plan, a licensing plan and a project management plan compliant with ISO-9001, -14001 and IAEA Safety Requirements are available. Financing for project execution is urgently needed and expected soon.
Mr Kien Nguyen (Vietnam) discussed the status of the Dalat Research Reactor and plans for a new research reactor in Vietnam. The Dalat reactor has been upgraded and is now preparing to re-start with a complete LEU core after a successful fuel conversion process. It will remain in operation but has limitations in flux and in experimental facilities, so a new research reactor is considered to be needed to support the NPP programme and further development of nuclear technology in Vietnam. A new multipurpose research reactor is expected to be put into operation by 2020.
Nearly all presentations involved multipurpose reactors. Exceptions include Russia, France and the Netherlands where the scope of utilization is more specific. The desire to produce 99Mo and support national nuclear power programmes were mentioned as key motivating factors supporting project justification;
Presented projects include a mix of use of indigenous technology (Argentina, China, France, Repbulic of Korea and Russian Federation) and external engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts (Jordan, Brazil, Netherlands and Vietnam);
A key point in several presentations and/or resulting from questions is that, while the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident resulted in project reviews for safety and the impact of severe accidents, the principal deciding factor continues to be the availability of funds.
Session D: SAFETY OF RESEARCH REACTORS
The session on Safety of Research Reactors included 23 oral presentations plus 18 poster presentations on many of the same subjects. Many papers in other sessions also addressed topics relevant to safety.
The IAEA’s research reactor safety programme
In his keynote address, Mr Abou Yehia reviewed the IAEA’s research reactor safety programme. Since 2006, the Agency has conducted over 18 technical meetings on identified common issues, 31 regional or inter-regional workshops on safety topics, and more than 80 Integrated Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) and other safety review and assistance missions, operated the Incident Reporting System for Research Reactors and organized regular meetings for exchange of information and lessons learned from events. Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) were conducted on the safety significance of various postulated initiating events (2007), modelling and analysis of radionuclide transport and source term evaluation (2010) and benchmarking of neutronic and thermal-hydraulic methods and codes for research reactors (on-going). Future challenges include maintaining and expanding application of the Code of Conduct and Safety Standards, establishing safety infrastructure in ‘newcomer’ states, strengthening regulation of research reactors, maintaining safety of aging reactors, and improving international networking. The Agency will continue its programme of regional and international meetings, INSARR and other safety missions and providing mechanisms for sharing of experience. In addition, the Agency will promote synergy between safety and security and facilitate international and regional cooperation, such as through regional expert groups.
General safety considerations
Mr Evrard (France) presented the views of the NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) on safety of research reactors. In December 2009, the CSNI decided to identify safety issues where knowledge gaps specific to research reactors may exist and examine how its working groups could contribute to filling these gaps. The CSNI review showed no major safety issues resulting from lack of scientific data, but some areas of potential interest for CSNI involvement exist. Technical issues identified include: risk characterization; aging management and long-term operation; accident analysis code review and validation; severe accident analysis and source term assessment; and human and organizational performance. Any technical work must be closely coordinated with the IAEA. While most attention to lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident is focused on power reactors, concerns with some research reactors should be addressed with due consideration of the actual risk involved.
Mr Schneider (Germany) discussed the status of research reactor safety in Germany. The phase-out of nuclear power in Germany does not apply to research reactors, so safe operation must be assured for a longer time into future.
Regional safety initiatives
Mr Storr (Australia) reported on regional research reactor safety initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. There are now 50 operating research reactors in the Asia-Pacific region with diverse facility design and increasing utilization, and prospects of a substantial increase in nuclear power in the region. Regional challenges include maintaining and improving safety, aging management, design improvements to meet more rigorous standards, development of people, and long-term planning and financing for waste management. The Code of Conduct and effective networking, cooperation and collaboration will help in overcoming the challenges and assist with a safe nuclear future.
Mr Golab (Poland) discussed the safety management of the MARIA reactor. He concluded that a high level of safety is assured by: a clear and adequate administrative and legislative system; adequate financing; sufficient number of well-trained personnel; good reactor technical status; and continuous internal and external supervision and inspection. These measures must be complemented by a high level of safety culture, continuously developed.
Ms Doval (Argentina-on behalf of Ms Garea) discussed human factors assessment and human factors engineering in design and safety assessment of research reactors. Human factors engineering can be addressed early in the design process, and must provide feedback to the design as soon as possible. Prototypes, training and commissioning can be valuable tools in identifying problems. Human factors issues in design include identification of latent design errors, establishment of a human factors design basis, design of the human-machine interface in pool top operations and the control room, design for maintenance and design for accident management.
Mr Kowalski (Canada) presented a regulatory view on use of a graded approach to safety assessment of radiation risk, safety functions, engineering aspects, defence-in-depth, site characteristics and safety analysis. Safety assessment must be consistent with the possible radiation risk arising from the facility. Before starting safety assessment, the scope and detail has to be agreed with the regulatory body.
Mr Pascal (France) discussed French practices for safety classification and application of a graded approach for mechanical components for research reactors. Three safety classes are used, common principles are tailored for each project, and design and construction rules embody the graded approach.
Ms Seals (South Africa) discussed the site selection and evaluation process for location of a new isotope production reactor on the existing NECSA complex at Pelindaba. Three preferred sites were identified for characterization from a list of possible sites within the complex. Specific site location studies include ambient radiation, geology and seismology, nearby transportation, industrial and military facilities and environmental impact.
Enhancing safety performance of various reactors
Mr Kardakar (India) discussed enhancement of safety performance of the research reactors at the Trombay site. He concluded that effective trending and analysis of accumulating minor, low impact events that could be precursors for a significant event provide an opportunity to take effective corrective action and that this is an important contributor to improving safety performance. Regular in-service inspection and periodic safety review helps identify weaknesses in plant configuration. Although completely new systems may not be possible, understanding of the changes needed and suitable modifications can bring about substantial improvement in safety performance.
Ms Ding (China) presented the capabilities and status of the China Advanced Research Reactor (CARR) and the management arrangements. These arrangements are based on Chinese law, regulatory requirements and IAEA Safety Requirements NS-R-4.
Periodic safety review
Ms Auzas and Ms Gupta (France) presented the French approach to periodic safety review (PSR) and its application to four research reactors. French law requires a PSR every ten years. The review is done by the operator and submitted to the regulatory body. The regulator decides on continuation of reactor operation for an additional 10 years and defines improvements to be made. Examples of technical assessments of PSRs for the EOLE and MINERVE (zero-power) reactors, and to the 14 MW ORPHEE reactors were presented. In the IRSN assessment all risks are reviewed; safety issues will depend on specific features of the reactor. The assessment requires a specific organization and strong interactions with the operator. On-site inspections and evaluation of operators’ response to regulator recommendations continues between PSRs.
Mr Joppen (Belgium) discussed a PSR of the 50-year old, 125 MW BR2 reactor in Belgium. He concluded that PSR is a major task. The main topics were aging, response to changing regulations and knowledge management. Important investment could be involved in response to the review.
Safety performance indicators
Mr Wu (Republic of Korea) presented the safety performance indicators developed and applied for the HANARO reactor at KAERI. There are 12 indicators covering the areas of reactor safety (8), radiation safety (2) and utilization safety (2). The SPIs have been found to be an effective way to monitor and enhance safety of operation, research and utilization. The SPI evaluation provides an opportunity to review the overall safety status of the facility.
Building safety assessment and regulatory capabilities
Mr Sapozhnikov and Mr Poliakov (Russian Federation) presented various aspects of regulation of nuclear research installations (NRIs) and research reactors in the Russian Federation. Both papers discussed the legal and regulatory framework and documents that govern nuclear research installations. Mr Sapozhnikov noted that PSR is not currently required, but that regulations requiring PSR are being drafted. He concluded that there are no safety issues where lack of scientific and technical data cause weakness in safe regulation and utilization of NRIs. Further development of licensing will address adherence to the global safety regime, including safety and security risk management. Issues for further investigation include aging management and clarification of aging mechanisms, and validation of codes for assessment of severe accidents.
Mr Le Ruyet (France) addressed the question of how to transform a university engineering graduate into a safety analyst. The safety analyst must possess know-how, knowledge and behavioural competences. Safety is not taught in most university programmes, but a programme has been started in France (Nantes). Most training is on-the-job in the TSO organization.
Mr Jraut (Morocco) discussed development of TSO capability in the CNESTEN organization in anticipation of a role as TSO supporting the new Moroccan regulatory body when it is established. The infrastructure and capabilities needed to ensure an independent following of safety of the TRIGA reactor has been established. This included an effective safety committee with the required skills, adoption of an approach to safety review of experiments, implementation of best practices and organization of critical steps of independent safety reviews in the framework of international cooperation with the IAEA and IRSN (France).
Safety analysis methodology
Mr Hainoun (Syria) discussed neutronic, thermal-hydraulic and safety analysis of research reactors and proposed an approach towards a standard methodology. He proposed establishment of a qualified deterministic safety analysis code including a thermal-hydraulic system code and three-dimensional neutronics. An IAEA technical working group would be established to initiate the development programme based on a system code such as RELAP, ATHLET, or CATHARE and a 3-D neutronics codes. Testing would be done by the working group and selected teams in Member States. Mr Hainoun asserted that this would improve performance and utilization and safety culture, and open the possibility of simulating combined event sequences.Mr Boyard (France) discussed the core design methods used by AREVA TA for the Jules Horowitz Reactor and Ms Chegrani (France) discussed the methods developed to analyse fast reactivity insertion (BORAX-type) accidents in French research reactors.
Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident
Ms Doval (Argentina) presented a study of the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident for research reactors. Her findings involve nuclear designers, operators and regulators, and involve update of the natural hazards data base, improve adherence to the defence-in-depth philosophy and redundancy and diversity concepts applied to external events, and periodic reviews and upgrades of analyses of extreme events. She concluded that a Fukushima Daiichi NPP-like LOCA plus loss of all electrical power can be managed by passive systems and components in design engineered safety features for open-pool reactors, but that tank-in-pool reactors may require additional measures.
Mr Barnea (IAEA) presented a preliminary analysis of the results of a questionnaire (related to Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident) distributed to delegates prior to the Conference. Fifty-six answers were received from 29 Member States. No dedicated activity was reported by 31% of the respondents, while 69% reported some activity, ranging up to a complete re-evaluation of the SAR and emergency preparedness plan. Fifty-two per cent of the responses indicated revision of the emergency preparedness plan and 75% reported revision of the emergency response plan. Other statistical data are presented in the paper, and a complete analysis will be available on the Agency’s Web-site shortly.
The discussion of the analysis of the potential impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident was especially interesting. It is on everyone’s mind, rightly so, and will certainly be the subject of much greater emphasis when the lesson learned are clearer and the heavy emphasis on NPP evaluations – stress tests – abates. The fact that almost one-third of the respondents to the questionnaire had done nothing does not betray a proactive attitude in a significant fraction of the community.
The papers on human factors and the graded approach are an encouraging observation. Both topics are very important and the use of some risk-informed thinking, while not necessarily supported by PSA, is a step forward;
Overall, this meeting conveys a sense of progress, not only in safety, but in utilization and new projects, which suggests improved health of the research reactor community.
Session E: SPENT FUEL, WASTE AND DECOMMISSIONING>
Five papers were presented in this session on a mixture of different topics (due to last minute cancellations).
Mr Roglans-Ribas (USA) presented a progress report on conversion of research reactors from HEU to LEU fuel under the US Reduced Enrichment Research and Test Reactor (RERTR) programme and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). A total of 76 research reactors have been converted, 20 in the US and 56 in other countries. The current GTRI programme focuses on developing and qualifying a high density LEU fuel for high-flux reactors, converting MNSRs and remaining Soviet-supplied reactors in third countries, and studying the feasibility of converting specific Russian domestic reactors. Many of the reactors now being studied require advanced, higher density fuels, and development and qualification work on candidate fuels (monolithic U-Mo, U-Mo dispersion, complex fuel with burnable poison) is under way as part of the conversion programme. Close technical and political cooperation is the key to progress and a requirement for success.
Mr Šotić (Serbia) discussed fuel repatriation from the Vinca reactor in Serbia to Russia. All 5048 fresh HEU elements were shipped to Russia in August 2002. Repatriation of the remaining 6656 spent LEU elements and 1374 spent HEU elements was a complex and challenging task. First, it was necessary to develop a legal framework for repatriation. All fuel elements had to be repacked into new containers suitable for transportation. Suitable transport casks (TUK-19 and Skoda VPVR/M) were chosen. Considerable physical preparations were necessary for equipment, the facility and operational readiness. Repackaging was accomplished from late-2009 to mid-2010; loading of the casks was accomplished in the latter half of 2010. The shipment left Vinca on 19 November and arrived at Mayak on 22 December 2010. All the work was accomplished without incident, injury or overexposure of personnel, or radioactive release above limits. Good planning and organization, reliable and experienced project management, well trained personnel and substantial financial help enabled successful accomplishment of the project.
Mr Fabbri (Argentina) reported on a study of relocating the RA-8 research reactor (10 W nominal power, 100 W maximum) from its current location at the Pilcaniyeu Technological Centre to the Bariloche Atomic Centre, a distance of about 70 km. Relocation would allow the reactor to be used more efficiently for academic E&T purposes and research. A disassembly plan consistent with regulatory requirements is the key document. The critical issue is identifying the origin and termination of some 23 000 wiring connections, along with limited space. The total mass to be transported is about 34 tonnes, which could be done in 5 shipments. The project was estimated to take 9 months and cost about USD 1 million. The move has not yet been done.
Mr Krezhov (Bulgaria) reported on refurbishment of the 50-year old IRT reactor in Sofia, after it had been partially dismantled. It is to be rebuilt as the IRT-200, with a power rating of 200 kW using LEU fuel. The primary and secondary cooling systems are to be refurbished, radwaste and ventilation systems refurbished and a BNCT facility built. New systems to be designed, fabricated, installed and commissioned include reactor I&C, reactor vessel, the reactor core and spent fuel storage. Fuel is expected to be delivered by the end of 2011. The utilization of the newly refurbished reactor is expected to be in education and training, radioisotope production, NAA, radiography, materials irradiation and BNCT.
Mr Bai (China) presented an overview of lead-bismuth-cooled reactor development and the accelerator-driven systems (ADS) programme in China. He described a very ambitious program of R&D on ADS, driven by a proton accelerator producing spallation neutrons and cooled by lead-bismuth eutectic. The development programme includes three steps: CLEAR-I, an ADS verification facility in 2017 (10 MWt); CLEAR-II, an ADS experimental reactor in 2022 (100 MWt); and CLEAR-III, an ADS demonstration reactor in 2032 (1000 MWt). R&D activities for the CLEAR reactors include KYLIN lead-bismuth loops and verification facilities for thermal-hydraulic and materials corrosion tests with alloy circulation. International cooperation on reactor design and technology R&D is welcome.
Session F: RESEARCH REACTOR DESIGNERS AND PROVIDERS
This session was planned to provide a forum for commercial designers and providers of research reactors to bring their capabilities and products to the attention of the research reactor operation, regulation and user community represented at the Conference. Their presentations are summarized very briefly here.
Mr J.P. Ordońez (INVAP-Argentina) presented INVAP’s long standing involvement in designing and supplying research reactors. The company is well positioned to supply research reactors, especially of MTR type, within a wide range of power and utilization features.
Mr Y. Li (CIAE-China) described the In-Hospital Neutron Irradiator, which is an evolutionary successor to the successful Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR). The reactor is mainly designed for boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), but can also be used for neutron activation analysis (NAA), neutron radiography, education and training, and for production of a limited number of short-lived radioisotopes.
Mr B. Vidal (AREVA TA-France) presented status and perspectives of the research reactor business at AREVA TA, a subsidiary of AREVA specialized in the field of research reactors. AREVA TA offers a comprehensive approach addressing all aspects of the research reactor lifecycle, including design, operation, licensing support, training, expertise and technical support from initial design to waste management, decommissioning and recycling.
Mr J. Ha (KAERI-Republic of Korea) described the role of research reactors in the development of the Republic of Korea’s nuclear competence. The HANARO research reactor was presented in detail including utilization capabilities. A plan to build a new 20 MW MTR type reactor in the Republic of Korea was highlighted. The new reactor’s main purposes are to produce medical radioisotopes and silicon doping. A justification of the new reactor, based on a comprehensive analysis of the trends of Korean economic development was presented. Korean nuclear industry is competent to supply a wide range of research reactors, as well as NPPs.
Ms S.V. Osipovich (NIKIET-Russia) presented two variants of pool-type research reactors designed by JSC “NIKIET.” These reactors have natural circulation cooling for powers up to 0.5 MW; or forced circulation for power up to 10 MW. The company can provide tube-type fuel elements using LEU and all the necessary research reactor components. The reactors are designed to be used in a wide range of nuclear applications.