An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of nuclear safety experts today completed an assessment of ageing management programme and continued safe operation of the Belgian Research Reactor 2 (BR2), which plays a key role in the global production of medical and industrial radioisotopes and the semiconductor industry. The Belgian Nuclear Research Center is commended for the significant progress made in establishing an effective ageing management programme.
The mission for the research reactor BR2 was requested by the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). The in-depth review, which began on 7 November, focused on aspects essential to the safe continued operation of the reactor. This mission complements the efforts of SCK-CEN to the safe operation of the BR2 reactor that were conducted in the frame of the third refurbishment campaign of the reactor during the 2015-2016 period and the analyses made during the preparation of periodic safety reassessment, due in July 2016. The ageing management of the BR2 reactor was a special focus point of these two endeavors.
The mission team comprised experts from Argentina, Canada, South Africa and the IAEA. They concluded the reactor had made significant progress on ageing management and preparation for continued safe operation. “This programme has addressed most of the areas recommended by the IAEA safety standards, and is addressing all remaining topics”, observed the experts. “All these good performances will be shared with the research reactor community globally.”
“BR2 is commended for the significant progress made in establishing an effective ageing management programme”, said Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA’s Research Reactor Safety Section.
The operating team and internal safety department of SCK•CEN provided their full co-operation to this mission, which was performed in an atmosphere of full transparency and openness. The high level of expertise of the mission team members yielded valuable insights for further improvement of the management of the plant.
“After our successful refurbishment in 2016, the mission of IAEA was very useful for further improving the ageing management of the reactor and ensuring a high level of safety that is essential for effective operation of the reactor in the long-term” said Steven Van Dyck, BR2 Reactor Manager. “Our research Center is fully committed to further assess and implement the findings of this mission and to continue co-operation with the agency for the optimal safe operation of its infrastructure.”
The BR2 is the research reactor with the highest power operational at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre. The reactor is one of Western Europe’s biggest flexibelresearch reactors. The BR2 accounts for approximately 20 to 25% of the global production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial purposes, including for cancer therapy and medical imaging. Every year, nearly 7 million medical tests are conducted thanks to the Belgian production. Besides the radioisotopes, BR2 also produces doped silicon, a semiconductor used in electronic components for hybrid cars, wind turbines and solar panels, among others.
From left to right:
Frank Hardeman, Deputy Director-General SCK•CEN
Jan Bens, Director-General FANC
Amgad Shokr, Head of the IAEA’s Research Reactor Safety Section