Publicly funded nuclear safety research improves safety
SAFIR2018, a publicly funded research programme on nuclear power plant safety, is halfway through its four-year span. At the interim seminar, organized on 23–24 March at Innopoli in Espoo, participants will examine the programme’s achievements to date and discuss how a national nuclear safety research programme can best support the safe use of nuclear energy in Finland.
The projects in the SAFIR2018 programme, launched by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, focus on developing Finnish nuclear safety competence. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is represented on the programme’s management board and in the research area steering groups. The programme is coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.
Marja-Leena Järvinen, Principal Advisor at STUK and Chair of the SAFIR2018 management board, emphasises the research programme’s impact. She also believes that it is important that the authority overseeing nuclear safety is involved in planning and supervising the programme. “Without a research programme like SAFIR2018, Finland could not develop competence and tools to support the authority,” she points out.
More information and experts from SAFIR2018
STUK and nuclear power companies employ many people who have built their expertise in the use and control of nuclear energy while participating in publicly funded research programmes. “It is also important for Finland to carry out research that provides both the power plants responsible for the safe use of nuclear energy and the supervisory authority with information about the risks involved in nuclear energy use and the prevention of such risks,” says Marja-Leena Järvinen.
The SAFIR2018 research programme and its predecessors also offer vital opportunities for further training to organizations providing technological support services to STUK, such as VTT and the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). Both organizations allocate considerable resources to improving the national research infrastructure. According to Marja-Leena Järvinen, this is also reflected in the research programme.
SAFIR2018 focuses especially on research aiming to ensure that the authorities have access to adequate and comprehensive nuclear technology expertise. The programme comprises three broad thematic fields: plant safety and systems engineering, reactor safety, and structural safety and materials.
Marja-Leena Järvinen is particularly pleased that the programme has been able to accommodate revisions reflecting the latest information and requirements while it has been running. For example, research based on information about the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, as well as new topical research projects involving interferences in power systems, the ageing of polymers used in containment structures and NDT tests for concrete structures have been incorporated into the programme after its launch.
A gateway to international research
Active participation in international research projects and the performance of international tests in Finland are important elements of the SAFIR2018 research programme. The programme’s projects also provide opportunities for involvement in large international research projects and access to research information that would otherwise be unavailable.
In 2015–2016, investments in the programme totalled approximately €15.5 million. The National Nuclear Waste Management Fund is the programme’s main funder. VTT has also made significant financial contributions to the programme. The assets that the Nuclear Waste Management Fund has assigned to SAFIR2018 come from Finnish nuclear power companies.
The SAFIR2018 interim seminar will be held at Innopoli in Espoo from 23 to 24 March 2017. The seminar will be attended by 200 nuclear safety experts and researchers from different countries. It will showcase the research programme’s main achievements and scientific results.
Marja-Leena Järvinen, Principal Advisor, STUK, tel. +358 9 759 88 304
Jorma Aurela, Chief Engineer, MEE, tel. +358 29 506 4832
Jari Hämäläinen, SAFIR2018 Programme Director, VTT, tel. +358 20 722 6467