A team of seven international experts, on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently visited NRG's High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten, the Netherlands. The aim was to examine the way in which NRG manages the ageing of its installations. NRG celebrated the reactor's 60th anniversary last year.
The experts spent a week looking at all the programmes, procedures and projects that the HFR uses to keep the mechanical, electrical and civil structures and components in good condition. They concluded that NRG has made great strides in recent years in setting up a comprehensive ageing control programme in line with the IAEA standards. NRG said it would continue and expand these activities.
The IAEA welcomed the appointment of a coordinator to supervise the ageing process of the reactor. Other “good performances” included the way major replacement projects were carried out, the implementation of 10-year safety assessments and the reactor vessel monitoring programme.
However, IAEA established that a number of components are not yet within the scope of the ageing management programme. Improvements were need with respect to civil structures and some practical recommendations were made for better monitoring ageing concrete structures, cables and components in storage. NRG agreed to follow the recommendations made.
IAEA Mission Leader Amgad Shokr, Head of Research Reactor Safety Section, said: "NRG has made significant progress in establishing, based on IAEA safety standards, a programme and procedures to manage ageing and prepare for continued safe operation of the HFR The IAEA team encouraged continuation of this practice, including for activities that support ageing management, such as maintenance, inspection and periodic safety assessment. The team also noted good performance in several organizational and technical areas and made recommendations and suggestions for further improvements."
There are currently five reactors worldwide that play an essential role in producing nuclear medicines. The reactors in Europe, where the High Flux Reactor (HFR) is the largest supplier of nuclear medicines, are all between 45 and 65 years old. NRG has set up an ageing control programme to keep the HFR safe and reliable in operation.
Image: IAEA experts visit Petten for a mission on ageing management of the High Flux Reactor (photo courtesy of IAEA)