IAEA notes upgrades to Turkish research reactor

11 May 2017

The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) has moved a step closer to the restart of its TR-2 research reactor, which was shut down in 2009 and converted to use low-enriched uranium fuel. A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out an Integrated Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) follow-up mission between 25 and 28 April, which concluded that several safety improvements to TR-2 have been implemented, including facility modifications to strengthen protection against seismic hazards, upgrades to the reactor operational safety systems and improvements to safety documentation.

TR-2 control room - 460 (TAEK)
The IAEA peer review team observes a demonstration of the reactor control console (Image: TAEK)

TR-2 is a 5 MWe research reactor located at the Cekmece nuclear research and training centre in Istanbul. It was commissioned in 1981 and initially used high-enriched uranium fuel to conduct research and training and to produce radioisotopes. In order to decrease nuclear proliferation risks and perform reactor upgrades, the reactor was shut down in 2009 and the HEU fuel was shipped back to the USA the same year. The TAEK is currently seeking regulatory approval to restart the reactor using LEU fuel.

"We are planning to resume operation of the reactor soon to meet the needs of the country for nuclear research, training and radioisotope production," Bulent Sevdik, manager of TR-2, said in an IAEA statement on 9 May. "The IAEA INSARR safety review service provided us with valuable technical advice and recommendations to enhance the safety of the reactor," he added.

The INSARR team performed on-site observations of the reactor systems and structures, reviewed reactor documents and held technical discussions with the management and staff to assess safety improvements implemented at the reactor facilities since the last INSARR review in 2015.

William Kennedy, nuclear safety officer at the IAEA and head of the review team said: "The IAEA team noted that additional efforts are needed to strengthen the functions of the reactor safety committee, improve the procedure for safety classification of experiments and to formally establish an ageing management program, including preventive maintenance activities and periodic safety reviews, to support continued safe operation of the reactor."

In its assessment, the IAEA peer review team noted the implementation of the recommendations from the 2015 INSARR review on reactor safety analysis, management system, training and qualification of personnel, commissioning of the reactor with the new fuel and seismic safety, Kennedy said.

An IAEA INSARR mission is conducted at the request of an IAEA member state. It is a peer review service that assesses and evaluates the safety of research reactors based on the IAEA Safety Standards.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News