The research nuclear reactors are licensed and inspected in compliance with the procedures specified by the Ministerial Decision on "Main requirements – principles of nuclear safety and regulatory control of research reactors" (Government Gazette 2877/B/26.10.2012).
The Ministerial Decision adopts the international nuclear safety requirements for research nuclear reactors, as provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (Safety of Research Reactors, Safety Requirements, NS-R-4, IAEA, Vienna 2005).
The licenses at the several stages of a research reactor lifetime are issued either by EEAE or by the competent Ministry, upon EEAE consent. More specifically, EEAE issues the commissioning license, the operation license and the long shut-down license, whilst, the competent Ministry issues the establishment license, the construction license and the final dismantling license. Any amendments as to the reactor license are subject to EEAE approval.
The licensing procedure includes the completeness checking of the application filed by the license holder and next the technical assessment of the submitted Safety Analysis Report for the reactor, as well as of any other supplementary documentation. The results of any technical assessment are thoroughly recorded to a Safety Assessment Report, submitted as a part of the licensing file to the Chairman of EEAE and uploaded on EEAE website.
The goal of inspections is to make sure that license holders comply with safety requirements and licensing terms. The inspections cover all the lifetime stages of a research nuclear reactor, from the initial selection of its place of installation and its construction, to the final dismantling thereof. Inspections are performed in compliance with the scheduled inspection program or whenever necessary, as a response and action taken by EEAE under particular conditions, such as significant changes or incidents. The frequency of inspections performed and the range of nuclear safety issues checked have to be compatible with the potential risks faced by employees, the public and the environment (graded approach).
Should an inspection identify any deviation from safety requirements and licensing terms, EEAE respectively informs the license holder and proceeds to a more frequent schedule of inspections till the problem and the causes thereof be properly handled. Having regard to the effects on safety, EEAE may impose related penalties.
All inspection results are recorded to an inspection report, which is sent to the license holder and is uploaded on EEAE website. The inspections have to result, if necessary, to actions taken both by EEAE and by the license holder, intending to improve the level of quality and the reaction to any problems.
Inspections involve the monitoring of operation and the activities of the reactor, a tour around the installation, interviews and meetings with the personnel and the management, review of files. In general, the inspections of an operating research reactor cover the following issues:
• Personnel: number-shifts, leaves, qualifications, suitability, training-education
• Personnel's radioprotection, check of environmental radiation, emissions
• Organization, operation, maintenance, changes
• Independent control, safety assessment (e.g. safety committee)
• Fuel management
• Supervision, systems control, equipment surveillance
• Emergency preparedness
• Physical protection.
The above list, as well as the inspection range of each specific safety issue, are adapted to the reactor's status. For example, in case of a long shut-down, the list is significantly limited in order to cover issues, such as: personnel, radioprotection, check of environmental radiation, emissions, supervision, systems control and equipment surveillance, emergency and physical protection.
An extraordinary inspection may take place if EEAE receives knowledge or information on:
• Construction and design faults or deficiencies
• Unusual measurements and monitoring results
• Radiation emission
• Infringement of operation license or other licensing terms
• Amendments and corrective measures
• Personnel's exposure
• Inadequacy or non-availability of safety systems and equipment
• Any other situation which may lead to risks for the personnel, the public and the environment.
Extraordinary inspections may be performed should new safety standards arise, either as a result of a safety assessment or of the operation experience or an analysis of incidents that took place at similar facilities world-wide.
The research nuclear reactor operated by the National Centre for Scientific Research "Demokritos" is in extended shut-down. EEAE has issued the required license.