Research and Test Reactor On-the-Job Inspection Exercise for the Ghana Nuclear Regulatory Authority (GNRA)

April 14th, 2018 — 

From April 8 - 13, 2018, Bob Gramm and Steve Reese (AdSTM) conducted an On-the-Job (OTJ) research reactor inspection exercise at the Penn State University’s Breazeale TRIGA Reactor (PSBR); located in State College, Pennsylvania. The participants were four nuclear regulators from the Ghana Nuclear Regulatory Authority (GNRA), whose responsibility encompasses various aspects of research reactor inspection and oversight. The IRDP and Penn State have collaborated on three OTJ exercises over the last two years, which this is the third.

The OTJ inspection exercise provided the NRA staff a practical application of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) inspection protocols for a typical Research and Test (RTR) reactor. The participants implemented the assigned portions of USNRC Inspection Procedure (IP) 69001, “Class II Research and Test Reactors.” They performed a combination of: reactor facility examinations and walk-downs; observations of reactor staff while performing a pre-start-up reactor checkout and a reactor start-up; observation of a reactor pulse; review of the facility operating license, safety analysis report and implementing facility procedures; and review of selected facility records. A special scenario regarding simulated operation of the facility in a manner inconsistent with the Technical Specifications was also created for the participants to diagnose.

During the inspection exercise, Bob Gramm and Steve Reese provided instruction, mentoring, background information, and facilitated interactive dialogues with the participants that focused on USNRC and RTR facility practices relevant to RTR inspections and regulatory oversight practices. In addition, Dr. Jeff Guether, Associate Director for Operations for the Breazeale Research Reactor at Penn State, was extensively involved throughout the week as he supported all aspects of the inspection exercise. Dr. Guenther was also the focal point for providing facility responses to all inspection questions raised by the participants.

The NRA participants were highly engaged throughout the week and they were very enthusiastic about this unique opportunity. They found the overall inspection exercise, examinations of facility operations, discussions about the TRIGA reactor and USNRC inspection protocols, and the interactions with AdSTM staff to be extremely valuable.

The OTJ inspection exercise was only made possible through the outstanding support provided by the PSBR management and staff, and their willingness to make the PSBR facility available for the OTJ inspection team. In particular, the students and instructors appreciate the continued support of Dr. Kenan Unlu, Director of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center; Dr. Jeff Guether; and the PSBR staff.