IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Publications and documentation

Reference documents


The Reference Documents Series presents IRSN’s position regarding a given subject at a given moment.


ISSN 2117-7791



Nuclear fusion reactor // safety and radiation protection considerations for demonstration reactor that follow the ITER facility


Couv_ITER_EN_petit.jpgDate of publication: 2018 


In this document, IRSN details the measures that should be taken into consideration in terms of safety and radiation protection when designing the demonstration fusion reactors to be built after the completion of the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) facility. These considerations are based on IRSN’s expertise in terms of safety and radiation protection, and on specific experience acquired through the safety analysis of ITER. ITER’s design and operation presents specific safety and radiation protection issues, such as the risk of dust and hydrogen isotopes explosion, plasma malfunction, magnetic system failure, etc. The future demonstration fusion reactors will differ from ITER reactor mainly by seeking tritium self-sufficiency and achieve significantly longer operating times with plasma. These differences will have a significant impact on their design, and by extension, on safety and radiation protection for these installations.


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Overview of Generation IV (Gen IV) Reactor Designs


Date of publication: 2012 


This document is a follow-on to the one that IRSN published on the same subject in 2007, Reference Document. Its purpose is to provide an updated overview of specific safety and radiological protection issues for all the reactor concepts adopted by the GIF, independent of their advantages or disadvantages in terms of resource optimization or long-lived-waste reduction. In particular, this new document attempts to bring out the advantages and disadvantages of each concept in terms of safety, taking into account the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA) statement concerning "safety objectives for new nuclear power plants" issued in November 2010, Reference Document.


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Consideration of BORAX-type reactivity accidents applied to research reactors


Date of publication: 2011


The SL-1 research reactor accident on January 3rd 1961 and various test results have shown that in the event of a sudden and significant increase in core reactivity, reactors using aluminum and uranium-based fuel may be subject to an explosion resulting in their partial or complete destruction.

In the document presented, the IRSN considers that this type of core reactivity accident (referred to as a BORAX-type accident) must be taken into account in the containment design for such research reactors, and also addresses a number of related aspects such as the amount of thermal energy deposited in the fuel and the amount of energy transferred to the cooling water.


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Security culture in the nuclear field


 Culture de sécurité dans le domaine nucléaireDate of publication: 2010

Security culture encompasses all of the characteristics and attitudes which, in both organisations and in individuals, mean that questions relative to protection with respect to the loss, the theft and the misappropriation of nuclear materials, on the one hand, and malevolent acts in nuclear facilities and during the transport of nuclear materials, on the other hand, benefit from the attention that they merit on account of their importance (update of the 2005 edition).


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Comparative approach between nuclear safety and security


 Approche comparative entre sûreté et sécurité nucléaireDate of publication: 2009

For the persons responsible for a nuclear facility or activity, the management of nuclear or radiological risks are in keeping with two complementary approaches that have their own logic: safety and security. Contributing to the same end, both approaches need to mutually consolidate but not hinder each other. IRSN profitably employs its expertise in risk evaluation to the benefit of the French safety and security authorities as well as its internationally acquired experience, as presented in this document.


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Serious accidents of electricity generation water reactors


 Accidents graves des réacteurs à eau de production d'électricitéDate of publication: 2008


This document sets out the key aspects of current knowledge on serious accidents involving pressurised water reactors (PWR). Firstly, it describes the physics of the melt down of the core of a PWR and the possible failure modes of the containment in such a case. Then, it outlines the measures put in place with regard to such accidents in France, in particular the pragmatic approach that prevails for reactors that have already been constructed. Finally, the document discusses the case of PWR reactors, for which the design explicitly takes into account serious accidents: this involves design objectives and their compliance must be subject to rigorous demonstration, taking into account uncertainties.


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Accidents due to ionising radiation


Date of publication: 2007


The present report summarises the situation, updated in 2006, regarding serious accidents due to ionising radiation that have occurred in the civil, industrial, medical and military sectors. Its objective is to provide an explanatory and critical review of the most representative accidents that have caused serious damage to victims and proposes the key lessons to be drawn from them. This report is intended for persons involved in radiation protection in general and is not targeted specifically at experts in any particular speciality.


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Fourth generation reactors


 Les réacteurs de quatrième générationDate of publication: 2007


From the preparation to the development of fourth generation nuclear systems (reactors and facilities of the fuel cycle), IRSN puts forward in this document an initial reflection on the six systems studied within the scope of the “Generation IV International Forum”, the industrialisation of which could take place in the middle of the century. This document highlights several research and development themes for systems for which the maturity and/or the interest appear the most advanced. The document also sets out the actions undertaken and planned by IRSN with regard to these systems, in order to prepare itself in particular for the deadlines set by the government, providing for the commissioning of a reactor prototype before 2020.


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IRSN summary of UNSCEAR reports


 Synthèse par l'IRSN des rapports de l'UNSCEARDate of publication: 2006


The present document describes in a succinct manner nine reports examined during the 54th UNCSCEAR session, which dealt with highly diversified subjects ranging from radiation sources to non-targeted effects and long term effects. This work does not constitute a position of the Institute but rather a presentation by IRSN of the main orientations of UNSCEAR reports for the period 2003-2007. The objective is to help radiation protection professionals to familiarise themselves with the work.


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Radioprotection of the environment


Date of publication: 2006


This document outlines the state of international knowledge with regard to environmental risk assessment associated with contamination of ecosystems by radionuclides. It completes the doctrine document "Protection of the environment, position of IRSN" also available on the Institute’s website.


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Protection of the environment


 Protection de l'environnementDate of publication: 2005


The surveillance and protection of the environment have always been a primary concern for IRSN. The build up of environmental concerns over the last decade has now led IRSN to set out its general strategy conducted within the scope of an environmental radioprotection system. This document outlines the changes in practices in this field, current knowledge and knowledge that still needs to be acquired to consolidate an evaluation of the risks for the environment with respect to radionuclides. The document also considers the consequences of this approach on the strategy of surveillance of the environment and the orientations that ensue from this on the relations that the Institute fosters with its research partners on a national, European and international level.


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