In the area of nuclear safety, the JRC addresses the key science and technology challenges to maintain and improve safety level and competitiveness of fission technologies, covering existing (GenII), evolutionary (GenIII) and advanced/sustainable (GenIV) reactor concepts and related fuel cycles. This effort includes implementing long-term waste management solutions and closing the nuclear fuel cycle. Attention is particularly devoted to safety aspects of emerging trends and concepts, including innovation perspectives for energy and other applications.
The Commission deems it important to establish basic obligations and general principles for nuclear safety together with monitoring mechanisms to protect the general public and workers against the dangers of ionising radiation from nuclear installations. These measures are described in the Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom of 25 June 2009 establishing a Community Framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations.
The JRC provides indirect policy support contributions by generating experimental data and expanding the knowledge base for defining safety-relevant policies and regulations. This is achieved through bilateral support/collaboration (e.g. support to Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER) on fuel safety matters, collaboration with Member State safety organizations, implementation lines of The Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP) technology and safety targets), and by releasing data in scientific publications.
JRC's nuclear safety expertise is also utilised in direct support to EU policy on the promotion of the highest standards of nuclear safety outside the EU through assistance to the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and the Directorate General for Enlargement (DG ELARG) for the implementation of the Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INCS).
The JRC research activities for nuclear safety include both the safety of the reactors and the safety of the nuclear fuel itself. On the one hand, research is addressing the long-term safe operation of both Western and Russian type of nuclear power plants. To this end, advanced and refined safety assessment methodologies and corresponding analytical tools have to be extended and validated. The JRC is also fully involved in international efforts for advanced nuclear reactor safety. On the other hand, activities with regard to the safety of nuclear fuel concentrate on prevention and mitigation of the consequences of hypothetical accidents. The two main aspects in this research are: mechanical integrity of the fuel assemblies during reactor lifetime, and fuel response to transient conditions and to severe reactor accident conditions. The studies have also to reflect on the new reactor strategies presently considered worldwide, such as the Generation IV International Forum, inspired by a comprehensive assessment including public concerns, such as improved safety, reduced wastes and improved resistance to proliferation.
The Clearinghouse initiative brings together sixteen European Safety Authorities in order to enhance nuclear safety through improvement of the use of lessons learned from operational experience.
More information: Clearinghouse
Reactor safety research at the JRC contributes to the implementation of the Nuclear Safety Directive in order to ensure that the highest standards of safety are achieved and maintained throughout the EU.
More information: Reactor safety
Nuclear fuel safety
Nuclear fuel safety research at the JRC involves experimenting under normal and extreme circumstances in order to study nuclear fuel behaviour, in order to provide knowledge on the safety limits of nuclear fuel.
More information: Nuclear fuel safety
Nuclear waste management and decommissioning
The safe handling, storage and disposal of nuclear fuel is hugely important in the area of nuclear research, and includes the areas of long-term storage, retrievability and recoverability requirements, and safe decommissioning.
More information: Nuclear waste management and decommissioning
Radioactive environmental monitoring
All EU member states are required to monitor radioactivity in the environment. The JRC is responsible for collecting this data, where it is then compiled in an online Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring (REM) database.
More information: Radioactive environmental monitoring
Radiation occurs naturally in the environment and in order to monitor this activity, the JRC collects and validates environmental radioactivity data from natural origin.
More information: Natural radiation
Severe accident modelling
The JRC provides independent scientific and technical expertise in the field of nuclear incidents and accidents.
With this purpose, the JRC created in 2012 a team with strong expertise on nuclear accident modelling, the Nuclear Reactor Accident Analysis and Modelling (NURAM) team. This reinforces research and collaboration in the field of Severe Accidents for Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).
The NURAM team provides JRC contribution to the European post-Fukushima efforts needed to update the Severe Accident Management strategies and practices.
More information: Severe accident modelling