Regulatory research

In the area of regulatory research, ENSI awards and coordinates projects designed to identify and develop scientific know-how of relevance to the regulatory process. The research focuses on issues of regulatory concern. ENSI supports national and international research in the areas “reactor safety”, “radiological protection”, “transport and waste management” and “human influence, organisation and safety culture”.

Reactor safety: Besides materials research, regulatory research focuses primarily on deterministic and probabilistic analyses of incidents. In the field of materials research, ENSI supports projects looking at ageing mechanisms, e.g. fatigue, corrosion, embrittlement and the development of cracks under a range of environmental conditions. In terms of accident research, the projects include the interaction of core meltdown with water and concrete, and the development of methodologies and software for safety analyses. In addition, ENSI is a partner in several international database projects and thus obtains information on the causes, frequency and sequence of accidents.

The aim of radiological protection is to protect personnel, the population and the environment of nuclear facilities from the effects of ionising radiation. Accurate metrology plays a key role in radiological protection. ENSI therefore promotes the development of dosimetry and radio analysis. Another area of importance is the development of improved methods for monitoring the release of radioactive materials into the environment.

Transport and waste management: : The focus of ENSI’s current research is the identification of geological strata that might be suitable for the disposal of high level radioactive waste. The Mont Terri rock laboratory is conducting studies on the geological, hydro-geological, geochemical and rock-mechanical properties of the Opalinus clay. As part of the Mont Terri project, ENSI is supporting studies designed to characterise fracture generation in the excavation damage zone of a gallery triggered by stress changes in the surrounding rock.

Human influence, organisation and safety culture play a major role in nuclear safety. In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of this area, and regulators now pay greater attention to it. ENSI is currently supporting projects concerning the influence of human behaviour in accident situations and the job profiles of personnel working in the control rooms of nuclear power plants.