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2nd semester 2017 scientific news


The AMORAD project: register for the scientific matinee organized by the IRSN


The IRSN is organizing a scientific matinee devoted to the AMORAD project on Thursday, November 23rd, from 9:00 to 13:00 in Fontenay-aux-Roses. Registration for this matinee is free and it is open to everyone.

The ANR AMORAD project, launched in November 2013 for six years under the direction of the IRSN, aims to improve simulation models for the dispersion and transfer of radionuclides in the environment. It is, thus, a question of reducing the uncertainties around the assessment of radiological consequences on humans and the environment in the event of a major nuclear accident such as those which occurred in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Two parts of the biosphere are involved, along with their interfaces: one is the marine environment, and the other is the terrestrial ecosystems and their associated surface waters.

The matinee will largely consist of a discussion of the main progress achieved by the 13 partners who make up the consortium, with two years left until the end of the project. The aim is to deliver recommendations and tools for an integrated approach to assessing the radiological consequences of a nuclear accident in order to take the best decisions.

To find out more about AMORAD project

Matinee program (PDF in French)

To register : Jacqueline Garnier-Laplace


The IRSN is co-organising a workshop on masonry techniques in the face of earthquakes

Seisme.jpgThe École Normale Supérieure (ENS), the IRSN and the French Association of Earthquake Engineering (AFPS) are organizing an international workshop on "Masonry techniques in the face of earthquakes, from Antiquity to the present: prospects for multidisciplinary studies".

Studying the characteristics of heritage buildings in earthquake situations is crucial, both for a better understanding of "past seismicity" and for improving architectural conservation techniques. The behaviour of masonries, which constitute one of the most traditional building techniques since Antiquity, is complex and still largely unknown and deserves more detailed research.

The workshop aims to bring together specialists from several disciplines connected with the study of earthquakes and/or buildings (archaeologists, seismologists, structural engineers and architects) so they can pool their methodological approaches to research. One of the day's objectives will be to explore new perspectives for the study and conservation of masonry buildings.

This workshop will be largely informed by the reflections carried out as part of the ANR RECAP project (Rebuilding after an earthquake: ancient experiences and innovations in Pompeii) initiated in January 2015 for four years by ENS, INRIA (French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), IPGP (Paris Institute of Earth Physics) and CJB (Centre Jean Bérard).

The IRSN is involved in the organisation of this workshop because of its research activity and expertise in seismology and the seismic behaviour of structures. The workshop is part of an exchange which the Institute began some years ago with the ENS and the AFPS around the theme of earthquake damage to buildings. This exchange is also reflected in a thesis starting this autumn and led by Arnaud Montabert on the "Classification of 2D and 3D seismic movements vis-à-vis different building types". It is co-supervised by the IRSN (Seismic Risk Assessment Section - BERSSIN) and the ENS.


Full programme

To find out more about BERSSIN


Updating the knowledge on tritium in the environment


The IRSN is publishing a review of knowledge accumulated since 2010 on the behaviour of tritium in the environment. It summarises the main advances in research, obtained by the IRSN and teams of international researchers, at a stage that clarifies questions around the metrology of tritium, its physicochemical forms, levels measured in environments such as air, water, soils and sediments, bioaccumulation and transfer in the food chain.

This report takes stock of the studies carried out on the behaviour of tritium in the environment following a white paper published by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in 2010, which included recommendations on the lines of research to be developed, particularly those relating to the impact of tritium. This document brought together the work of two pluralistic think tanks created by the ASN to synthesise existing knowledge on tritium. This work followed two reports from UK environmental and health agencies reporting high concentrations of organically bound tritium in some marine species in Cardiff Bay and Sellafield, giving rise to questions about the behaviour of tritium in the environment, its potential for bioaccumulation by living organisms and the methods of evaluating the biological effects of tritium in humans.

The IRSN is also continuing its work on the impact of tritium exposure on health. It is collaborating closely with the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which have suitable test platforms. One point of the acquired results set integrating the advances of the scientific community in this field will be made once the work undertaken has reached a sufficient level of maturity.

Read the IRSN report (in French)

Reports of the UK agencies: RIFE (Radioactivity in Food and the Environment) Report 11, 2005; Report of the AGIR Group of the Health Protection Agency (HPA), 2007.

The 14th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available
The fourteenth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is available on a HTML and PDF package. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, RSS and a pageflip PDF. 
In this issue, focus on improving the understanding of hydriding of cladding to anticipate rupture. Aktis n°14 also treats of quantifying uncertainties for better assessing consequences after a nuclear accident. As well, it deals with the evaluation of secondary neutron doses in proton therapy.

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


Nuclear accident and human and social sciences: First conference for the AGORAS project


How is an institutional balance established and how does it change between the various players involved in preventing nuclear accidents and in managing one should it occur? The AGORAS project sets outs to answer this very question, and the first conference will be organized by the IRSN for Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at Cité Universitaire in Paris.


The conference, organized by the IRSN, will bring together the program's partners to discuss the research that has been carried out. Questions regarding governance, crisis management and post-accident management will be addressed by around 20 different presenters throughout the day. The purpose is also to foster discussion on the knowledge generated by the project and to help the various communities involved and interested in these topics assimilate that knowledge. IRSN Director General Jean-Christophe Niel will kick off the conference.


The AGORAS project (Improving the Governance of Organisations and Networks of Actors for Nuclear Safety) was launched in 2014 for a five-year period, following Complementary Safety Assessments (CSAs) conducted on French nuclear installations after the Fukushima accident. These assessments underscore the importance of having a solid scientific understanding of the relationships between nuclear safety institutions and organizations in order to improve prevention and preparations for crisis management and post-accident management. AGORAS was one of 14 projects selected by the ANR from the call for research projects, launched after the Fukushima accident, in the fields of nuclear safety and radiation protection.


The project involves academic, industrial and institutional partners, including the IRSN, which runs two workpackages of the AGORAS program. The first one deals with decisions made during the design phase of nuclear installations with regard to severe accidents and natural hazards—decisions which, in light of the Fukushima accident, proved to be unacceptable. The second one looks at how an accident—and particularly Fukushima—changes the ways in which knowledge is acquired and mobilized in the technical dialog between operators and safety experts.


Sign up to attend the conference (in French)
AGORAS project website




Doctoral student at the IRSN receives Best Paper Award at ICONE 25

BPA-ICONE25-IMG_4794-crop.jpgSalima Kaissoun, a doctoral student at the Research and Modeling Laboratory for Airborne Dispersion and Containment (LEMAC) at the IRSN received a Best Paper Award during the ICONE 25 conference (International Conference on Nuclear Engineering) held in Shanghai from July 2-6, 2017.


The paper, "Experimental and numerical study of airflow dynamics through an opening in a depressurized enclosure: application to nuclear decommissioning", was one of five that received awards from a student contest with over 100 papers selected. Her work aims to describe airflow and the amount of radioactive pollutants that can escape during maintenance operations and dismantling through an opening in the containment of a nuclear installation. This paper includes both digital simulations and experimental studies on models.


Taking place once a year, ICONE is the main conference on nuclear reactor technology. The conference is co-sponsored by the Chinese Nuclear Society (CNS), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME). This year over 1,300 participants attended from all over the world.


Photo: presentation of the Best Paper Awards (Salima Kaissoun is second from the right). © IRSN




ICRER 2017 launch

The 4th International Conference on Radioecology and Environmental Radioactivity (ICRER) starts this Sunday 3 September and runs to 8 September in Berlin (Germany). ICRER is an international conference devoted to radioecology, which will host around 300 scientists from all over the world this year. It is jointly organised by the IRSN and the NRPA every three years. This year it is being supported by the European radiation protection platforms ALLIANCE, MELODI, NERIS, IAEA, IUR and BfS, which chairing the local organising committee.


The scientific programme includes a selection of oral presentations and posters on nine different themes (see list on the conference website).The conference brings together scientists, industrial players, regulators and experts. Three internationally renowned speakers, Prof Brenda Howard (UK), Dr Ken Buesseler (USA) and Prof Gilles Bœuf (France) will open the conference.


Throughout the week, participants will discuss the latest scientific advances in radioecology and associated disciplines. In this way, the conference will contribute to improving the knowledge, methods and tools required to make advances to protect people and the environment from the effects of radiation.  

ICRER 2017 website

An ex-IRSN PhD student awarded the CCR Cat Nat 2017 prize
Elif_Oral.jpgElif Oral won the CCR Cat Nat 2017 award for her thesis on "Multi-dimensional modelling of seismic wave propagation in linear and non-linear media”. Her thesis, defended in December 2016, was funded and supported by the IRSN and IFSTTAR.

The ex-IRSN PhD student (at BERSSIN – Seismic Risk Assessment Section) received her prize during the 8th CCR Cat Day on the 8th June. Her work was to improve prediction of seismic movements taking into account the properties of superficial geological strata. This consisted of numerically modelling seismic waves propagation in complex heterogeneous geological strata that displayed linear and non-linear mechanical behaviour.

Launched in 2015 by the reinsurer CCR, the CCR Cat Nat prize is awarded annually for a PhD thesis that improves knowledge of natural disasters and application of this to the insurance and risk prevention professions. It is open at European level and the prize is awarded by a jury made up of university professors, research and insurance experts and representative from CCR.

Watch the video of the prize award
To find out more about Elif Oral's thesis
To find out more about BERSSIN
To find out more about 2017 CCR Cat Day

Photo: Elif Oral -on the left- and Laurent Montador, CCR Deputy Chief Executive Officer © IRSN

AwardBest Poster Award for LNC researcher
Alexis Jinaphanh, a researcher at the IRSN’s Criticality Research and Neutronics Development Laboratory (LNC) has received the Best Poster Award at ANS M&C 2017 (International Conference on Mathematics & Computational Methods Applied to Nuclear Science & Engineering) held in Jeju, South Korea.

The poster designed by Alexis Jinaphanh presents a new way of calculating the sensitivity of nuclear data, which has been implemented in IRSN’s MORET 5 code (a Monte Carlo code for neutronics and criticality). The software simulates the transport of neutrons in a three dimensional space. It is used to evaluate the criticality risk of a nuclear installation, i.e. the appearance of an uncontrolled chain reaction outside the core of a reactor during operation (criticality accident).

The nuclear data comes from measurements or mathematical models and is fed into the MORET code to perform simulations. There is uncertainty in the data which has to be quantified and its effect estimated on the neutron multiplication coefficient. One of the possible methods of doing this is to calculate the sensitivity coefficients which indicate the sensitivity of the system to uncertainty in the input data. The final objective is to assess the reliability of safety margins on the risk of criticality in a nuclear installation.

After having implemented a first reference method, Alexis Jinaphanh adapted a computational method from a US Monte Carlo code (the CLUTCH approach) to improve the performance of MORET.

To see the poster
To find out more about MORET code
To find out more about LNC


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