A team of international experts, in collaboration with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and Departments of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and Science and Innovation (DSI) have successfully completed a review of South Africa’s research reactor SAFARI-1 last week.
The International Research Reactor Utilisation Review (IRRUR) is a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that was requested by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, to conduct a review that would evaluate current utilisation of the SAFARI-1 reactor in relation to neutron beamlines. This entails reviewing the current model of operation and the management and resources of the facility, in comparison with other leading neutron scattering laboratories, globally.
Necsa Group CEO Loyiso Tyabashe said the importance of peer reviews in the nuclear industry plays a significant role in ensuring that Necsa and South Africa continue to run South Africa’s research reactor safely and optimally. “SAFARI-1 plays a huge role globally in the provision of medical radioisotopes for the detection and treatment of cancer. It is a responsibility we aim to fulfil for many years to come as we move steam ahead with a new Multi-Purpose Reactor (MPR) to come online in the early 2030s. We therefore appreciate the IAEA’s support by allocating a team of experts to come and give us credible feedback on our operation and management of SAFARI-1 and infuse the latest best practice. We remain cognisant of our mandate to enrich the nuclear research community with knowledge flowing from our research and impact people’s lives positively with resulting innovations hence our resolve to be the best at what we do”.
This is a fundamental evaluation required, as the Multi-Purpose Reactor (MPR) approved by Cabinet to replace SAFARI-1 in September 2021 progresses towards feasibility phase.
To advance the research utilisation at SAFARI-1, and its natural progression to the large scale research infrastructure replacement MPR, Necsa made the most of IAEA IRRUR peer review service.
“The review gave Necsa an opportunity to have meaningful robust engagements with the experts. The team working on these critical nuclear reactor aspects are grateful to the IAEA for assisting us because this will ensure that the imminent MPR is of an international standard. There was definitely no better way to source the wealth of knowledge we gained, other than through this engagement. The discussions went beyond the scope of terms of reference, because with the face to face conversations one is able to probe and gain more information,. said Necsa Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Pradish Rampersadh.