Working Group on Research Reactors (WGRR)

The Working Group on Research Reactors was created in 2017 as an ad hoc group with the mandate from  WENRA to develop a harmonized approach to nuclear safety of operating Research Reactors (RRs). To achieve this, the WGRR has developed the WENRA Safety Reference Levels (SRLs) for Existing Research Reactors. These SRLs are agreed by the WENRA members and published in December 2020. They reflect expected practices to be implemented in the WENRA countries. The scope of application is all RR, except except critical, sub-critical assemblies, homogeneous zero-power reactors and accelerator driven systems.

The set of SRLs is largely based on the SRLs for NPPs. The same Issues are used and added with one RR specific Issue on Experimental Diveses. It also took on board the modifications from RHWG in the Issues C (leadership and management for safety) and I (ageing management), the latter covering lessons learned from the Ensreg Topical Peer Review.

In April 2021 WENRA endorsed a proposed 5-year plan of WGRR and decided to continue the WGRR as the third working group of WENRA.

The 5-year plan contains the following main activities:

  • Self-assessment and Benchmarking the implementation of the SRLs in the national framworks and installations
  • Updating and expanding the SRLs (several subtasks)
  • Participation in the creation of the Technical Specification of the Topical Per Review
  • Participation in the creation of a new SRL structure with other Working Groups
  • Exchange of experience on selected topics

Self-assessment and Benchmarking

During 2021 the WGRR members will make a self-assessment of the SRLs as published in 2020. Self-assessment reports are due in December 2021. These include a description of the way the SRLs are included in the frameworks, results of a gap-analysis and an action plan. The next step is a peer review of these reports in 2022. The approach is still under discussion.

Updating and expanding SRLs for RR

RHWG recently updated the Issues S (fire safety) into Issue SV (internal events) and Issue T into TU (external events). WGRR is now working on the adoption of these. In addition WGRR is working on adapting the Guidances Issue F and T, existing for NPPs, with the goal to make them applicable for RR. The planning is to finish both in the first half of 2022. At a later stage WGRR will decide on including additional RR specific Issues. One idea is Core Design.

Topical Peer Review Technical Specification

The European Union’s Nuclear Safety Directive 2014/87/EURATOM (NSD) requires the member states to undertake topical peer reviews (TPR) every 6 years with the first starting in 2017.

For each review the directive requires the following:

(a) a national assessment is performed, based on a specific topic related to nuclear safety of the relevant nuclear installations on their territory;

(b) all other Member States, and the Commission as observer, are invited to peer review the national assessment referred to in point (a);

(c) appropriate follow-up measures are taken of relevant findings resulting from the peer review process;

(d) relevant reports are published on the above-mentioned process and its main outcome when results are available.

The member states, acting through the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), have decided that the topic for the first topical peer review is ageing management. The Technical Specification for the TPR 2017 can be found here.

The second topic was chosen in 2020 to be fire safety. The Technical Specification is being created via the ad hoc WENRA TPR-Working Group with the support of the other Working Groups, including WGRR. In 2021 WGRR spent several additional meetings on reviewing and providing feedback on drafts.

New SRL structure

WGRR participates, together with RHWG and WGWD in the SRL Steering Group, which coordinates the efforts to reach a new SRL-structure during the next years a combination of General and Installation or Activity specific SRLs. Generic SRLs should cover all current sets of reference levels as created by the three Working Groups. The activity started in 2021, but is currently still in brainstorm phase. First ideas were discussed on the structure, the Issues that might qualify to become generic and trails were done on selected SRLs to integrate/harmonize some texts. 

Exchange of experience

The intention is to start with this activity during 2022.