IAEA Notes Improvements At Kazakhstan Research Reactor

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to Kazakhstan's Institute of Nuclear Physics has concluded that the research facility has made “significant modifications and upgrades to improve the safety,” of their nuclear reactor.

Kazakhstan Research reactor An IAEA Integrated Nuclear Safety Assessment of Research Reactors (INSARR) program, comprised of agency experts from three countries and IAEA staff, inspected the research facility from February 27 through March 3. The INSARR is a peer review mission to assess and evaluate safety of research reactors and is conducted on the basis of the international standards.

The team reviewed the comprehensive safety programs at the reactor called WWR-K, a 6 MWe light water reactor near Almaty that is used to produce medical and industrial radioisotopes and for other research. It was commissioned in 1967, first implementing high-enriched uranium for fuel, which was common in those days. It has since been converted to low-enriched uranium fuel, which required a shut down that began in 2015 and continued through late 2016.

The research reactor is now starting a new life after major modifications and refurbishment,” said Yergazy Kenzhin, General Director of Kazakhstan’s Institute of Nuclear Physics, who noted that the IAEA review would help ensure continued reactor safety.

David Sears, leader of the IAEA review team said the mission “noted the implementation of the previous INSARR mission in 2008, including those related to management system, training and qualification of personnel, and radiation protection.”

He added that additional recommendations on safety analysis, ageing management, safety of experiments and emergency preparedness were provided during this mission,” the IAEA said.

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