Safety and modernisation go hand in hand at Reactor Institute Delft (RID)
In September, Reactor Institute Delft (RID) was visited by an INSARR mission (Integrated Safety Assessment for Research Reactors) from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In its report, the team of experts from the IAEA concluded that during a significant modernisation operation of the research reactor, safety was prioritised. The team also found areas requiring further enhancements, including the organisational structure and safety procedures and documentation.
Openness and transparency
The IAEA team appreciated the openness and transparency of the RID management and operating staff and their commitment to continued safety improvements, as well as the competence of the staff and the depth of the discussions carried out during the mission. The team noted the considerable efforts made by the licence holder with regard to the refurbishment and modernisation of the reactor's safety systems and components with an eye to continued improvements to safety.
It is ten years ago that the accident in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station took place. In light of this, a stress test was carried out on the Delft research reactor. In this test further improvements were identified to raise the safety level even higher. These improvements have been implemented, as was also concluded by the IAEA experts during the INSARR mission.
It can be considered unique for a probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) to be carried out on the relatively small research reactor at TU Delft, as these are not normally conducted for research reactors. This PSA was carried out as part of the renewed safety assessments and the renewed safety report which is nearing completion.
Among other things it will help the organisation to improve safety yet further, as part of its commitment to ‘continued improvement’. The TU Delft research reactor is a role model for the sector in this regard.
Improved and new instruments
The research reactor has been shut down since 6 May 2019. As part of the OYSTER programme (Optimised Yield - for Science, Technology & Education - of Radiation), the reactor is being fitted with a new cold neutron source. Besides an upgrade of the reactor itself, the OYSTER programme involves an investment in improved and new instruments and associated irradiation facilities. The imminent placement of the cold neutron source in the TU Delft research reactor signals an end to a renewal process that began back in 2005. The reactor's neutron and positron bundles will be used to conduct research in the field of materials on the themes of health and energy.