United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
Home > Public Involvement > Conferences and Symposia > International Workshop on Operational & Regulatory Aspects of Criticality Safety

International Workshop on Operational and Regulatory Aspects of Criticality Safety: Assessing the challenges of nuclear criticality safety from an operational and regulatory perspective

Criticality safety is an integral component of ensuring the continued safe operation of current reactor and fuel cycle facilities, as well as addressing new and interesting challenges that are expected in the design of anticipated future nuclear facilities.  Fuel cycle facilities (FCFs) represent a broad range of operations including uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication, radioisotope production, reprocessing, decommissioning, waste management (storage, handling, maintenance, and disposal of fissile materials including spent and damaged fuel) and transportation.  All these operations exhibit the need to maintain a complete and thorough nuclear criticality safety (NCS) Program.  The workshop discussions are intended to bring significant regulatory and operational aspects of these programs into focus.

On this page:

General Information

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) Working Group on Fuel Cycle Safety (WGFCS) will hold an International Workshop on Operational and Regulatory Aspects of Criticality Safety (ORACS). The Workshop will be hosted jointly by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the United States Department of Energy in May 19-21, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States. The Workshop is planned for 3 days. This announcement includes the information on this event and the call for papers to be submitted for presentation at the workshop.

All the information will also be available at the NEA Calendar of forthcoming workshops and extended meetings site.

Objectives of the Workshop

Working under the mandate of the CSNI, the objective of the WGFCS is to advance the understanding for regulators, technical support organizations (TSO) and operators of relevant aspects of nuclear fuel cycle safety in NEA member countries.

The objective of this workshop is to discuss and review current national activities, plans and strategies for maintaining and improving operational and regulatory approaches to criticality safety. Safety authorities and their TSO, Fuel Cycle Facilities (FCF) operating organisations and international organisations are invited to share information on their approaches, practices and current developments.

To top of page

Scope and Contents of the Workshop

In order to provide an opportunity to discuss regulatory, industry and operational perspectives from participating countries, the workshop will address the following topics:

National regulatory approaches:

  1. Regulatory Criterion and Guidance (Sub-critical margins, Prevention or mitigation of consequences, Human and organizational factors, Design Principles, National Reporting of events)
  2. Assessing NCS for proposed operations (verification of engineered and administrative controls)
  3. Implementation and evaluation of operations (Audits, inspections, change management and configuration control)
  4. Post Operational Clean-Out Criterion/Methods

Operational NCS Analysis:

  1. Completeness: avoiding unanalyzed and other improper conditions
  2. Risk-informed versus traditional deterministic defense-in-depth framework
  3. Consideration of human and organizational factors
  4. Conservatism and uncertainties of NCS Analysis
  5.  Application Case (A comparison of safety practices based on a practical application)
  6. Operational implications on the use of burn up credit for Spent Fuel for storage, transportation, disposal.

Operational NCS Implementation:

  1. Main practices, controls, and challenges for preventing inadvertent criticality events
  2. Lessons learned from operating experience (including R&D needs) and potential regulatory gaps
  3. Use of neutron poisoned fixtures for NCS
  4. Operator Training for NCS

To top of page

Logistics and Participation in the Workshop

The Workshop will be divided into five sessions: Opening Session; Technical Sessions (3); and a Final Summary Session. All the speakers are expected to take part in the discussions at the panel sessions after the end of each Technical Session, and in the formulation of conclusions in the Final Summary Session.

There will be a site visit to a US Department of Energy (DOE) research facility, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in Albuquerque, NM. The site visit will be on the last day of the workshop and it will include a tour of three different research facilities at SNL: the Annular Core Research Reactor, the Gamma Irradiation Facility and the Sandia Critical Experiments. Please visit SNL to get more information.

For this site visit, participants will need to provide personal and security information in advance of the workshop. Once registration closes, participants will receive an email with the information request form needed for the site visit.


Participation is open to experts from FCF operating organisations, regulatory authorities and their technical support organisations, FCF designers and vendors, and industry associations and observers from OECD NEA member countries.

Papers and Registration

Participants wishing to present papers shall submit an abstract (between 200 and 400 words). All abstracts should be submitted by 31 October 2014 with registration form when available. (Note: All abstracts should be submitted electronically, using the form provided above.)

The Organising Committee will review the abstracts, and authors will be notified of the result of the review by 12 December 2014. Specific instructions for the format of papers will be provided to authors. The paper length should not exceed 12 pages of A4 format including tables and figures.

Registration will open after 1 May 2014 and will close 31 January 2015. Participants should verify final registration dates at the NEA Calendar of forthcoming workshops and extended meetings site.

Full Papers submittal and their presentation

Full papers should be submitted by 27 February 2015. Presentations of the papers should not exceed 20 minutes and should be sent electronically no later than 31 March 2015.

Deadline for Abstracts Submission and Registration Extended to: 31 October 2014
Notification of Accepted Papers Extended to: 12 December 2014  
Deadline for Full Paper Submission and Final Registration Extended to: 27 February 2015 On-line registration form
Deadline for Presentation Submission 31 March 2015  

Location and accommodations

The workshop will be hosted by the US NRC and US DOE. It will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, at Hotel Andaluz, 125 Second Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.

Special rates were negotiated and 50 rooms were blocked with Hotel Andaluz for the participants of this workshop for reservations up to six weeks in advance. Participants will need a credit card to guarantee their reservation at the time making the reservation.

Participants have to make their own reservation no later than 31 March 2015 by online booking or by phone 505-242-9090.

To obtain the special rates please identify yourself with the keyword "ORACS Workshop" and quote group code: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

To top of page

Contact Information

If you have questions or need further information regarding this course, please contact the following:

Marilyn Diaz
Fuel Manufacturing Branch
Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Tel: (301) 287-9068
E-mail:  Marilyn.Diaz@nrc.gov

Robert Johnson
Fuel Manufacturing Branch
Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Tel: (301) 287-9083
E-mail:  Robert.Johnson@nrc.gov

Olli Nevander
Nuclear Safety Division
OECD Nuclear Energy Agency
Le Seine St-Germain
12 Boulevard des Iles
92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux

Tel: +33 1 45 24 10 58
E-mail: olli.nevander@oecd.org

To top of page

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, April 29, 2015