There are several safety issues associated with the operation of research reactors that are being considered by the IAEA (IAEA/NSR/2002, 2003). There exist reactors that have been shut down for long periods with no definite plans concerning their future, i. e. whether and how they might be restarted or decommissioned. Most of the reactors within IAEA Member States are in countries where there is an established regulatory regime that covers all nuclear installations.

Another issue that has been identified has been the storage of spent fuel and nuclear waste at research reactor sites. An IAEA international conference on research reactor utilisation, safety, decommissioning and fuel and waste management will take place in 2003. This will provide a forum for all interested parties, reactor operators, vendors and regulators to share experiences and develop priorities (IAEA International Conference, 2003a).

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