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2nd semester 2014 scientific news


Research program
AMORAD project: a LERCM team on assignment at Fukushima
Under the AMORAD project, a marine radio-ecology team from the La Seyne-sur-Mer agency of LERCM (Laboratory for Radio-ecological research in Continental and Marine Environments), which is part of IRSN (French Nuclear Radiation Protection and Safety Institute), traveled to the region of Fukushima Dai-ichi in October on a two week assignment. The assignment, whose purpose was to sample water, suspended matter and sediments, was carried out in cooperation with Professor Michio Aoyama of the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at the University of Fukushima. The assignment had two objectives:
  • to assess the contamination of the water and marine sediments along the Pacific coast located north of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant ;
  • to study what became of radionuclides released in the sea by the rivers that flow through the contaminated territories.


Amorad-1.jpg Amorad-2.jpg

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The team from the La Seyne sur Mer agency of LERCM, in cooperation with Prof. Michio Aoyama, collected samples in the coastal area subject to the influence of numerous small coastal rivers north of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. © IRSN


The AMORAD project, which started up in January 2014, aims to improve the models used to forecast the dispersion of radionuclides in two environmental compartments (along with their interfaces) and assess their impact on them as they will durably show traces of the accident at Fukushima. Understanding these mechanisms is thus essential. The first compartment is the marine environment and the second is the terrestrial ecosystems and related surface waters. To do so, several sampling and research campaigns were carried out in different geographic areas including the contaminated territories of Fukushima. Selected and funded by the National Research Agency (ANR), this project (ANR-11-RSNR-002) led by IRSN unites 13 partners for a six-year period.


The October assignment will supply the “marine” part of the AMORAD project whose main objective is to improve the methods used to assess the impact of accidental radionuclide release in the marine environment (water, sediments, and organisms).  

LERCM has just received the samples from Japan and is currently finalizing its analysis strategy to glean the most information possible from these precious samples. Initial results are expected in the first half of 2015.

Experimental facilities
Commissioning of PEARL facility and initial tests
The initial tests on the PEARL facility, commissioned November 27, 2014 in Cadarache, will take place in early December. The purpose of this facility is to conduct an experimental study of the re-injection of water on the debris of a PWR core damaged by a nuclear fusion accident. Ultimately the aim is to optimize water injection to best cool the core. PEARL is unique in the world due to its size and configuration possibilities. It was designed as part of the European excellence network for serious accident research, SARNET.
The PEARL facility will be used under the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) “Debris bed reflooding” research program whose purpose is to better understand  the flow of water and steam in a porous environment at very high temperature in conditions representative of those of a core fusion accident (or serious accident).   
If the water system that cools a reactor core ceases to operate for an extended period of time, the fuel rods composing the core will be damaged and a large part of them will form what is called a “debris bed”. If this bed is not quickly cooled, it will fuse and become more and more difficult to cool. To prevent such an outcome for this type of accident, one of the operations recommended consists in re-injecting water directly onto the core, this is the “reflooding”. The end-purpose of the program is to determine which injection conditions allow the core to be cooled most effectively taking into account an acceptable risk as regards the containment (the risk of explosion exists following the production of hydrogen when water is injected).
The PEARL facility includes a pressurized water tank. The debris bed – simulated by 500 kgs of metal balls of the same or differing size – is heated by induction.
Two lines are used for top-down or bottom-up flooding via the injection of water onto the debris bed. These lines are supplemented by a steam generator that places the bed in a steam atmosphere before the flooding phase. A valve is used to adjust the pressure of system up to 10 bars.
Experiment parameters are monitored by embedded instrumentation that measures the temperatures and pressure differences within the debris bed along with the water flow injected, steam flow generated and system pressure.

Four test campaigns are planned some of which will involve the PRELUDE facility:
  • Campaign 1 (2014-2015): Flooding a homogenous debris bed (particles of the same size) – study parameters: flow rate, pressure and temperature
  • Campaign 2 (2016): Effect of geometric characteristics of debris bed – study parameters: distribution of diameter of particles and by-pass size
  • Campaign 3 (2017): Study of a compact zone in a debris bed 
  • Campaign 4 (2018): Study of the effect of oxidation of metals and production of hydrogen



IRSN's radiobiology and radiation protection seminar



A radiobiology and radiation protection seminar will take place on Tuesday 9th December 2014 at 3:00 pm at IRSN's (Fontenay-aux-Roses). It will be about "Évaluation des risques sanitaires radio-induits - Présentation du logiciel RadRAT (The Radiation Risk Assessment Tool)", by Dr Amy Berrington, epiodemiologist at National Cancer Institute. The presentation will be held in english.

The Radiobiology and radiation protection seminars are scientific meetings organized every month by the Radiobiology and Epidemiology Department (SRBE) of the IRSN's Human Health Radiation Protection Unit (PRP-HOM).


Find out more about seminars and registration





IRSN, new partner in the Earth Sciences Meeting
For the first time, IRSN will be a partner in the Earth Sciences Meeting (RST), a French-language conference on earth sciences. Organized by the SRST-2014.jpgociété Géologique de France since 1973, the Earth Sciences Meeting will be held in Pau in southwest France on 27-31 October 2014. It brings together researchers and students from around the world on ten themes that cover all disciplines of the earth sciences, from deep earth to superficial envelopes  and planetary bodies. The meeting is the occasion for a large number of PhD candidates to present their research for the first time. This year, it will focus on what the earth sciences can contribute to issues involving resources, pollution, storage, etc.
IRSN is actively contributing to the event through participation in the Scientific Committee (Jean-Michel Matray, assistant manager of LETIS, Laboratory for Migration and Interactions in the Geosphere), leading the session "Spéciation et dynamique des métaux dans les sols, interactions avec les microorganismes" (Laureline Février, engineer-researcher in L2BT, the Biogeochemistry, Bioavailability and Radionuclide Transfer Laboratory), ten oral presentations and five posters.
Sixty partners (including Total, Andra, Areva, CEA, BRGM, etc.) will be present, with 600-800 persons expected to attend this year.




The 5th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available 



The fifth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is now available on a new HTML and PDF package : clearer, more dynamic, more modern.

Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, HTML for mobile phones, RSS and, a new thing, a pageflip PDF. Since this issue, a mail alert has been created, for a fast look on summary and a best reception on mailboxes.

In this issue, focus on the study of contaminated terrestrial japanese foodstuffs to improve technical support during emergency response; it also talks about cooling a damaged reactor core and uranium targets in aquatic organisms.

The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to


To read the pageflip PDF


IRSN PhD student receives two awards for her thesis research


Émilie Rannou, a doctoral student at IRSN's Research on Radiobiology and Radiopathology Laboratory (L3R), has received two awards for her work on the "Consequences of the spatio-temporal genetic inactivation of PAI-1 in the endothelium in case of a radiation-induced intestinal injury".


The Young Investigator Award 2014 was awarded by the International Society for Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis (ISFP) at the 22nd International Congress on Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis held in Marseille from July 6 to 9, 2014 for her presentation entitled “Consequences of conditional inactivation of PAI-1 in endothelium on physiopathological functions associated with radiation therapy side effects”.


She received a second Young Investigator Award for her presentation on “Endothelial PAI-1 deletion protects from radiation-induced intestinal damage and influences inflammatory response” at the 41st Annual Meeting of the European Radiation Research Society (ERR 2014), held in Rhodes (Greece) from September 14 to 19, 2014.


Émilie Rannou is carrying out her research within the framework of the ROSIRIS program led by IRSN, the main aim of which is to improve our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of secondary effects after radiotherapy, at tissue and cellular levels in particular. More specifically, Émilie Rannou's thesis focuses on observing the links between endothelium dysfunction and the progression of radiation-induced intestinal damage (known as radiation enteritis). It has been demonstrated that the protein PAI-1 – mainly produced by the endothelium - is involved in the early and late stages of such damage. This thesis looks at the consequences of PAI-1 inactivation in the endothelium on the physiology of radiation enteritis.


Find out more about Émilie Rannou's thesis

Find out more about ROSIRIS program

Find out more about ERR 2014

Find out more about the ISFP Congress




IRSN's radiobiology and radiation protection seminar



A radiobiology and radiation protection seminar will take place on Thursay 26th October 2014 at 2:30 pm at IRSN's (Fontenay-aux-Roses). It will be about "Effets d'une exposition chronique au césium 137 sur la progression de l'athérosclérose", by Clélia Le Gallic, from Experimental radiotoxicology laboratory (LRTOX).


The Radiobiology and radiation protection seminars are scientific meetings organized every month by the Radiobiology and Epidemiology Department (SRBE) of the IRSN's Human Health Radiation Protection Unit (PRP-HOM).


Find out more about seminars and registration



ICAPP 2015 Call for papers, until 20th October



ICAPP 2015 paper submission is ending soon! Papers can be sent to program comitee until 20th October 2014. Notification of acceptance will be sent from 31st October.

Organized by SFEN (Nuclear Energy French Society), ICAPP (International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants) is an international congress which IRSN takes part in. Indeed, IRSN manages a technical track on pant safety assessment and regulatory issues (Track 5).


The congress will be held from 3rd to 6th May in Nice (France). It will talk about will address advances in nuclear power plants in a broad sense, not only covering technological progress in reactors and associated nuclear fuel cycles but also extending to broader applications of nuclear power, such as cogeneration, transportation and industry sectors.

Registrations remain open.


Submit an abstract




IRSN jointly organizes a "seismic hazard" day



IRSN is jointly organizing an event on seismic hazard, under the aegis of the ECCOREV research federation. It will take place in the conference room at the Forum du technopole de l'environnement Arbois Méditerranée in Aix en Provence on Friday October 10, 2014.

ECCOREV (from the French for "continental ecosystems and environmental risks") is a federation that promotes interdisciplinary research in the environmental sciences. The research topics covered are seismic and climatic hazards, forest fires, water resources, soils, biodiversity, contaminants, waste, and green technologies. 

Find out more about ECCOREV (in French)

Event program (in French)

Register at





Final report on AMANDE international key comparison now available



The detailed results and the full report on the international metrology comparison of CCRI-K11 neutrons are published in the latest issue of the Metrologia Technical Supplement. This international comparison, which took three years to complete, was led by IRSN and involved nine National Metrology Institutes, the reference metrology laboratories in their respective countries. Using its own instrumentation, each institute measured the fluence - i.e. the number of particles incident on a surface per unit area (m²) – of four neutron fields produced by the AMANDE accelerator. IRSN's accelerator produces monoenergetic reference fields, in other words fields with a single specific neutron energy defined by the operator.


Thanks to the AMANDE international comparison, the institutes have been able to assess the precision of their measurement systems. The exercise has also demonstrated that the neutron fluence produced at the AMANDE facility shows excellent reproducibility over time. This is the first time that IRSN has compared its reference measurement system, which is based on a long counter (a shielded low-energy neutron detector). This system has now been validated. In addition to organizing and playing host for this comparison, IRSN was also responsible for assessing the results.


Read the final report in Metrologia

For more informations on AMANDE


Experimental facilities


Foundation stone laid for MIRCOM, the future microbeam facility



A ceremony was held at Cadarache on September 4 to lay the foundation stone for the building that is to house MIRCOM, the future ion microbeam facility. The ceremony was attended by the project partners (CNRS/CENBG and subcontractors) and future users.
The new facility, scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2015, is part of a radiobiological research initiative to understand the mechanisms induced in cells by ionizing radiation.
In practice, MIRCOM will be capable of targeting cellular and subcellular mechanisms to the nearest micrometer with a finite number of ions. This will allow the study of the effects induced in cells by various types of radiation (ions and neutrons) that are produced in particular by new radiation therapy methods. The facility will be used to explore radiation-induced malfunctions not only at DNA level, but also in intra- and intercellular communication.
In particular, MIRCOM will contribute to ROSIRIS, a major radiobiology research project at IRSN, the main objective of which is to learn more about the long-term complications of radiation therapy and quantify the risk of occurrence in patients to develop new therapeutic approaches for their medical care. 

The MIRCOM beamline is supported by the AMANDE facility, France’s national reference in neutron metrology in single-energy fields since 2005. MIRCOM will use the AMANDE 2 MV Tandetron, which produces light-hydrogen and deuterium ion beams in the 100 keV to 4 MeV range. Two new ion sources (a helium source and a light-hydrogen source containing, in particular, boron, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) have already been added to the accelerator to meet MIRCOM’s future requirements.  The building currently under construction (see diagram) will house the microbeam line to produce ions  and a biology laboratory for preparing and analyzing experiments.

The beamline was developed by CENBG, a CNRS-IN2P3 nuclear research center in Bordeaux, with which IRSN has a collaboration agreement. It will complement CENBG’s AIFIRA beamline facility, which is equipped with a 3.5 MV Singletron accelerator that produces proton, deuteron and alpha particle beams. Talks are underway between the AMANDE -MIRCOM and AIFIRA teams to set up a joint facility that will offer unprecedented irradiation capabilities in France.  A joint thesis entitled “In vitro and in vivo ion beam targeted micro-irradiation for radiobiology” was defended in 2014.

Find out more about the AMANDE facility
Find out more about FrançoisVianna’s thesis
Find out more about the neutron metrology and neutron dosimetry laboratory (LMDN)





IRSN researcher receives the “Young Medical Physicist” award at the 6th AAMP Meeting



Jad Farah, a research engineer at the Ionizing Radiation Dosimetry Laboratory (LDRI) received the “Young Medical Physicist” award at the 6th Alpe-Adria Medical Physics (AAMP) meeting held in Budapest, Hungary, on May 29-31, 2014. The presentation, entitled “Characterization of XR-RV3 GafChromic films in standard laboratory and in clinical conditions: Means to reduce uncertainties” looked at ways of reducing uncertainties relating to the use of radiochromic films for interventional radiology purposes. This type of film can be particularly useful in dosimetry in cases with high dose gradients. This prize-winning research was carried out within the Eurados network, which brings together a large number of European research laboratories concerned with ionizing radiation dosimetry.


 Find out more about Eurados

 Find out more about the 6th AAMP meeting


Scientific collaborations


Scientists, give your opinion on radiation protection research priorities in Europe



The consortium OPERRA has launched an online survey open to the scientific community on radiation protection research priorities. You can give your opinion on the feasibility and importance of research areas identified as priorities by European platforms MELODI (low doses), The Alliance (radioecology), NERIS (management of emergency situations) and EURADOS (dosimetry).

The results of this survey will be used for the preparation of the 2nd call for OPERRA research projects, to be published by mid-December 2014. OPERRA needs as many submissions as possible, please respond by September 15, 2014 using this link.





Second “Young Scientist Award” goes to IRSN researcher at the IRPA 2014 Congress


Fabien Panza, an engineer at the Department for Radiological Protection Operations and Assistance (SIAR) received the second “Young Scientist Award” at the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) Congress held in Geneva, Switzerland on June 23-27, 2014. The award came in recognition of Fabien Panza’s work on developing an embedded system for measuring radioactivity. The system is called MARCASSIN, or mobile in situ gamma spectrometry for environmental contamination monitoring system. It consists of a quad that travels at constant speed, measuring radioactivity in the ground. It is equipped with a germanium spectrometer, a GPS, and a computer that records real-time data. Measurements are processed instantaneously to obtain a detailed map of the inspected site. MARCASSIN can be used in normal situations to check for radioactivity – for example on a former industrial site – or following an accident to build a detailed map of area contamination. It was used for this purpose in areas around Fukushima in Japan. Patents are pending on various measurement processing techniques.


Photo : Fabien Panza sit on MARCASSIN system. © IRSN


 Find out more about the IRPA 2014 Congress





The 4th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available 


The fourth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is now available. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, HTML for mobile phones, PDF and RSS. In this issue, focus on the use of dose rate to characterize accident releases; it also talks about the iron/clay interaction in the presence of bacteria. The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to