The Petten research reactor in the Netherlands was given the go-ahead to restart on 22 March. The European Commission-owned high flux reactor (HFR) had been offline since 18 February, following concerns over a hairline crack in one of the welds of the reactor vessel (see NEI March 2002, p6 or see links below).
An evaluation of "the weld anomalies and lifetime assessment of the reactor vessel" by Serco Assurance concluded that the reactor may be restarted and operate until the next in-service inspection, due in summer of 2003. A detailed plan of action will now be drafted in response to several recommendations made by Serco, including the development of a "validated in-service inspection programme".
An International Atomic Energy Agency study found that the facility needed improved, and more frequent, training of personnel; improved communications channels; tightening of monitoring and review procedures and an in-depth review of the reactor licence. The changes are to be implemented by the operator (NRG), in some cases together with the EC's Joint Research Centre.