This was reported by Oleksandr Kukhotskyi, researcher of the NPP Safety Analysis Unit of the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS), at the seventh meeting of the working group of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) on developing reference levels for research nuclear reactors. The event was held from 15 to 18 April 2019 in Warsaw (Poland).
WENRA reference levels for research nuclear reactors are developed by a working group composed of experts from more than ten member countries and observer countries of the Association. From Ukraine, experts of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) and SSTC NRS participate in the activities of the group.
“The contribution of both the national nuclear regulator and its technical support organization is quite significant”, Oleksandr Kukhotskyi says. “In particular, we performed a comparative analysis of the draft reference levels with the requirements of IAEA document SSR-3 “Safety of Research Reactors”. In addition, draft reference levels for experimental devices and experiments were developed; proposals for group E reference levels (design basis of research reactors) were made. “Our experts participated also in the discussion of other reference levels”, SSTC NRS expert adds.
According to the results of the seventh meeting of the WENRA working group in Warsaw, development of the first draft document on reference levels for research reactors was completed. The document will be sent to all operators of research nuclear reactor in WENRA countries for comments. In Ukraine, the document will be sent to the Institute for Nuclear Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv and the National Science Center “Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology", since both organizations have research nuclear installations.
The publication of the final version of the document revised taking into account comments of operating organizations is planned for October 2019. “After publication, WENRA member countries are obliged to harmonize national requirements for research nuclear reactors according to the reference levels. Harmonization of domestic requirements in the area is an important part of sustainable development of the nuclear industry in Ukraine”, SSTC NRS researcher sums up.
On 18 April, a technical visit to MARIA research reactor operated by the National Center for Nuclear Research of Poland (NCBJ) was organized for the participants of the seventh meeting of the WENRA working group.
MARIA was commissioned in 1974, it is still the only nuclear reactor in the country. MARIA was constructed mainly for nuclear research and personnel training for nuclear industry in Poland. Moreover, the installation should have become the so-called auxiliary facility for the Żarnowiec nuclear power plant. However, the latter was never constructed in Poland, so a new application was found for MARIA.
Today, MARIA is a source of intense neutron fluxes used to produce radiopharmaceuticals, special materials, and radiation sources for industry, environmental protection and medicine. A wide range of radioisotopes (including 99Mo), which are generated using neutron exposure in the reactor is processed into various medications, which are exported to more than 75 countries of the world under the POLATOM brand.
In the near future, it is expected to expand the use of MARIA by installing new experimental equipment (for horizontal channels), whose part will be delivered from the Berlin nuclear reactor, after its decommissioning.
“Successful operation and use of MARIA shows that under efficient management and successful promotion, a research nuclear reactor may be not only economically viable, but may also bring additional funds for its modernization, as well as development of science in the country”, Oleksandr Kukhotskyi says.