Research Reactors:
Safe Management and Effective Utilization

Proceedings of an International Conference organized
by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

held in Sydney, 5-9 November 2007


Hosted by the Government of Australia through
the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)



From its inception in 1957 there has been a broad interest at the IAEA in the benefits to be derived from the safe operation of research reactors. The multi-disciplinary research that research reactors can support has led to the development of numerous capacities within Member States. The IAEA has been promoting the exchange of scientific and technical information related to the safety and utilization of research reactors, as well as issues surrounding the research reactor fuel cycle. A major avenue for this exchange has been the periodic organization of seminars, symposia and conferences.

The research reactor community, which has had a long and successful history of both productive and safe operation, now faces a number of critical issues ranging from the ageing of facilities and personnel and changes in governmental support to the need for financial independence to cover operational costs. Under-utilization and a lack of resources for operation are interlinked, causing problems in safety and other areas. The IAEA is helping countries pursue viable utilization strategies on national and regional bases. With growing energy needs for sustainable and environmental friendly development, IAEA Member States are viewing nuclear energy as a viable option and requesting IAEA assistance to either build their first research reactor or to utilize research reactors operating in neighbouring countries, by means of networking and cooperation arrangements. The IAEA looks to the enhancement of the safety of research reactors through the development of safety standards and safety guides that support the application of the Code of Conduct, the provision of assistance in the areas of ageing management and decommissioning planning, and the improvement of regulatory capabilities.

Minimization of the use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) in civilian applications is an urgent need that can be achieved by converting existing reactors from Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), designing new reactors to use exclusively LEU and returning HEU fresh and spent research reactor fuel to the country where it was originally enriched. The conversion of research reactors from HEU to LEU and the non-proliferation issues involving research reactors are adequately dealt with in annual international conferences.

The focus of this international conference on ‘Research Reactors: Safe Management and Effective Utilization” was on safety, scientific and technical activities of the research reactor community. Held from 5 to 9 November 2007 in Sydney, Australia, the conference was organized by the IAEA and hosted by the Government of Australia through the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). It provided a forum for reactor operators, designers, managers, experimenters and regulators to share their experience, evaluate their findings and present recommendations for future activities in this area.

The conference provided comprehensive and up to date information on the current status of the research reactors. It is hoped that these proceedings will serve as a valuable source of information for specialists involved in research reactor work and for regulatory authorities in IAEA Member States. These proceedings contain a summary of the conference, the major findings, the opening addresses and the technical papers.

The IAEA wishes to express its appreciation to all chairpersons and co-chairpersons of sessions and to those who presented the papers and posters for their contributions to the technical success of the conference, as well as to all of the authors of the papers compiled in these proceedings. Special thanks go to the Government of Australia for hosting and co-sponsoring the conference through the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, for their hospitality, and to the local coordinator, J. Loy and his team.

The IAEA Scientific Secretaries responsible for this conference were:
H. Abou Yehia, Division of Nuclear Installation Safety;
S. Paranjpe, Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences; and
P. Adelfang; Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology.