The mandate of the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) is to support and advance the scientific and technical knowledge base for the safety of nuclear installations. In particular, the CSNI has developed a broad knowledge base in support of the water-cooled power-reactor technologies that are currently widely deployed. With the growing importance of small modular reactors (SMRs), following the proposal of the CSNI Bureau, the CSNI has decided at its 69th meeting held in June 2021 to form an Expert Group on Small Modular Reactors (EGSMR).
The EGSMR handles safety challenges and develops a solid scientific basis which supports safety demonstration of the advanced and innovative technologies used for SMRs. The group addresses a wide range of technologies, from water-cooled reactors to innovative reactors under development, and sets priorities for nuclear safety research to be undertaken together by NEA member countries. This group supports safety assessment and licensing reviews performed at the national level, which help make progress towards the deployment of SMRs.
The EGSMR focuses on SMR designs with high technology readiness that are anticipated to be deployed in near future. Recognising that some flexibility is needed when deciding which technologies should be considered as having high technology readiness, the EGSMR will use different tools, such as phenomena identification and ranking table process, to identify cross-cutting safety issues as possible areas for co-operative activities (e.g. passive systems, natural circulation, transportability, application of defense in depth principle for innovative designs, remote/autonomous operation, multi-source risk, among others). Specific consideration will be given to implications for human aspects of safety.
The EGSMR is comprised of representatives from 15 NEA member countries (Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, and the United States) along with representatives of international organisations (International Atomic Energy Agency and EC Euratom Research) with an interest in SMRs. The expert group involves 23 organisations including research institutes, national laboratories, technical support organisations, regulatory authorities, vendors, and utilities.
The EGSMR will:
The first output from the EGSMR will be a report that summarises the outcomes of the group's assessment and provides key recommendations on common safety research and assessment to be undertaken by NEA member countries to support the safe and timely deployment of SMR technologies globally. Based on CSNI's decisions, joint SMR safety research projects will be pursued and work to support safety assessment of novelties in SMR technologies will be conducted by groups of experts working under the auspices of NEA CSNI working groups in co-operation with nuclear technology stakeholders and other international organisations supporting safe deployment of SMRs.
Andrew Morreale (CNL, Canada)