Late August witnessed completion of the first project in the MNSR Conversion and Removal Program.
The GHARR-1 reactor is operated by the National Nuclear Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and is one of the MNSR reactors designed and constructed by China in several countries (China, Pakistan, Ghana, Iran, Syria, Nigeria) in the 1980s and 2000s.
The MNSR reactors consume HEU fuel; so, nowadays global non-proliferation and threat reduction efforts are directed to their conversion to LEU fuel and HEU removal to the country of origin, i.e. China.
Under a 3-year pilot project by order of the U.S. DOE and IAEA, Sosny R&D Company performed the following HEU removal activities:
- develop procedures, design and fabricate equipment for the reactor defueling, loading of irradiated fuel into a shipping cask in Ghana and reloading of the fuel from the shipping cask into a storage facility in China;
- justify safety of the above activities on the reactor site;
- design a package for safe transportation of irradiated and fresh HEU fuel by air and road;
- justify safety of the package design and shipment, obtain a certificate of approval, endorse the certificate in Ghana and China;
- conduct personnel training and provide support for the actual reactor defueling, loading of irradiated fuel into a shipping cask in Ghana, and reloading of the fuel from the shipping cask into a storage facility in China;
- organize delivery of the irradiated and fresh HEU fuel by air from Ghana to China in transit through Russia in full concordance with all national regulations regarding emergency response and overflying permits in dozens of countries of transit.
This positive experience is already much-needed in follow-on MNSR projects.