Brussels, 05 February 2002
The Joint Research Centre's (JRC) high flux reactor (HFR) in Petten, the Netherlands will be shut down during the first week of February after a crack in the reactor was found to be expanding.
'The JRC is convinced that the safe operation of the HFR reactor in Petten, the Netherlands, is not compromised. Nevertheless, further improvements to the safety culture at the HFR are desirable and possible. The JRC recommends that the reactor should be shut down to permit re-measurement of a known crack (an internal welding anomaly) which has existed since the installation of the reactor vessel in 1984,' reads a statement by the JRC.
The statement came following a call by Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk for a tightening of safety measures. In addition to the expanding crack, Mr Pronk claimed that JRC employees had also violated safety precautions by operating the reactor without an emergency cooling system. The JRC has reacted to this by stating that the shutdown period will be used to accelerate the implementation of training and other measures to enhance a safety culture. The JRC also emphasises that whilst it is the licence holder of the Petten reactor, the operator is a private company, namely NRG.
The HRF reactor is used to enhance the safety of nuclear installations and to produce medical radioisotopes for cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as for developing new therapies.