The Phenix prototype fast breeder reactor, which originally began operation in 1973, has been restarted after five years of being off line. It restarted in June after permission was given to start the reactor's 51st operating cycle following an extensive inspection, repair and safety upgrade project (see NEI February 2003, p3).
Alain Bugat, the head of CEA, France's atomic energy commission, said that there were 12 transmutation projects to be carried out between now and the scheduled closure date of the reactor in 2008. Although the cost of the upgrade work was "very high" Euros 250 million Bugat described Phenix as an "important tool".
It will be used to irradiate actinide transmutation experimental rods and to demonstrate fast reactor operation.