Vietnam Time

1/2/2019 11:08:55 AM

IAEA helps Vietnam plan for new research reactor

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission has reviewed Vietnam's infrastructure for a new multi-purpose research reactor, identifying improvements needed for successful and sustainable development of the project.

The IAEA INIR-RR mission team and Vietnam delegation during discussions in Hanoi on 3 December (Image: IAEA)

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom signed an agreement in June 2017 with Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology to establish the Centre for Nuclear Energy Science & Technology under the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VinAtom). This will be based in Hanoi but have facilities in both the south and north of the country. An early project is to build a new 15 MW research reactor. The province of Lam Dong has proposed three sites: one in Lac Duong District, near to where the existing Da Lat research reactor is sited, and two near Long Khanh Town in Dong Nai province.

According to the IAEA, operation of a research reactor requires a national infrastructure - including a legal and regulatory framework - to ensure that national and international obligations are met during planning, design, construction, operation and decommissioning.

The organisation's Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review for Research Reactors (INIR-RR) service follows the IAEA's 'Milestones Approach', which provides guidance on the preparation of a research reactor project by addressing 19 issues ranging from nuclear safety and security to the fuel cycle, waste management, and funding and financing.

An INIR-RR review was held in Hanoi between 3 and 7 December.

The Vietnamese delegation, headed by Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Pham Cong Tac, provided a number of documents to facilitate the assessment of the nuclear national infrastructure developed in preparation for the new research reactor project, which is planned to start operation in 2026. The new facility is to serve diverse needs, such as in education, training, radioisotope production and materials science.

"Vietnam has demonstrated strong government support and understanding of long-term national commitments for developing the nuclear infrastructure for the new research reactor," said mission leader Andrey Sitnikov. "We noted that Vietnam has adopted a holistic approach to this project, to ensure effective use of resources in developing infrastructure for the proposed multi-purpose research reactor."

The team made recommendations and suggestions, highlighting areas where action could assist Vietnam in making further progress. These include strengthening the independence of the regulatory body; updating and broadening the human resources development plan; and, conducting a more detailed assessment of the potential use of the research reactor.

The team identified Vietnam's use of an Information Centre for Atomic Energy for public outreach as good practice of stakeholder involvement that would benefit other countries considering new research reactor projects.

The first INIR-RR mission was conducted in Nigeria in February this year. The IAEA mission's final report was submitted to the Nigerian government on 12 December.

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