The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has promoted and fostered the exchange of scientific and technical information on research reactors for many years. An important mechanism for this exchange has been the IAEA’s organization of periodic meetings, seminars, symposia and conferences. Most recently, the IAEA has organized major international conferences on topics of interest to the research reactor community every four years.
The last such event was the International Conference on Research Reactors: Safe Management and Effective Utilization held in Vienna in November 2015. Since the 1950s, hundreds of research reactors around the world have served society and continued to be a cornerstone of the development of nuclear science and technology. In addition to the currently operating facilities, a number of new research reactor programmes are being planned and developed. Feedback from the IAEA’s activities in this area demonstrates the importance of ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of research reactors in view of the challenges that continue to be faced by the research reactor community.
These challenges are mainly related to the need to ensure regulatory effectiveness, manage the ageing of the facilities and staff, and enhance utilization programmes and strategic planning. Other challenges include effective leadership and management, spent fuel management, and decommissioning as well as the need to establish sustainable national nuclear infrastructure for new research reactor programmes. In the above-mentioned context, the IAEA is organizing this new international conference on research reactors, which will be hosted by the Government of Argentina in cooperation with the country’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA). Like earlier IAEA conferences on research reactors, the forthcoming one will play a vital role in national and international efforts to ensure maximization of the benefits that such facilities bring to society, with a primary focus on their effectiveness and sustainability.