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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 207625, 2 pages

Nuclear Activities in Argentina, 2010

1Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear, Avenida del Libertador 8250, 1429 Buenos Aires, Argentina
2CONICET, Avenida Rivadavia, 1033 Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Avenida del Libertador 8250, 1429 Buenos Aires, Argentina
4Universidad Nacional del Centro, Tandil, 7000 Buenos Aires, Argentina
5INVAP SE, 8400 San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
6Nucleoeléctrica de Argentina (NA-SA), 2806 Lima, Argentina

Received 27 January 2011; Accepted 27 January 2011

Copyright © 2011 Juan Carlos Ferreri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Nuclear activities in Argentina are restarted. After almost two decades of near stagnation, the government’s political decision of August 2006 regarding electrical energy production, considered the nuclear option as a valid one to solve the problems of the growing demand of electrical energy. This decision triggered again the activities related to the finalization of the third nuclear power reactor (ATUCHA-II), now actively progressing, the construction of a prototype of the CAREM integral advanced reactor, the life extension of the EMBALSE CANDU nuclear power plant (NPP) and the studies for the emplacement of a fourth NPP in an appropriate site. In all those years of near stagnation, there were notable exceptions related to the design and construction of experimental and radioisotope production reactors, led by INVAP, a state-owned industry, which exported its production. The accompanying industries of nuclear fuel elements production also remained active, given the demand of the two active NPPs. Meanwhile, the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina continued the efforts on research and development that were at the base of the technological achievements of the nuclear activities in Argentina. Nuclear safety studies associated with ATUCHA II and EMBALSE NPPs and radiological safety were also a substantive part of the continued efforts by Núcleo-Eléctrica de Argentina SA and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina.

The aforementioned activities imply the ones related to a number of key issues, like fundamental studies, design and plant engineering, radiological and nuclear safety, economics, safeguards, regulation, environmental aspects, public acceptance, and so forth, that had to be addressed.

In view of the above and following an invitation of the Editor in Chief, it was decided to document the present status of the nuclear activities in Argentina related to the aforementioned main activities. The papers included in this special issue partially document the technical status and some recent advances in relation to the subject.

This special issue is organized according the following rationale: it is opened by an invited, overview paper by A. J. González on the ethical basis of Radiation Safety in Argentina, stating the current framework for design licensing. It must be noted that Radiation Safety embodies Nuclear Safety studies, because the protection of the public is the main goal of these analyses, through the assurance of appropriate levels of protection against radiation hazards. Argentina has pioneered the application of fully probabilistic acceptance criteria in these aspects, and this paper puts the question in its true perspective. Present ways of licensing may imply the use of best estimate codes plus uncertainty (BEPU) evaluation. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina has adopted this criterion for the acceptance of the final safety analysis reports associated with ATUCHA-II and CAREM. The same concepts will be applied for future life extension studies or the licensing of new installations. The importance of this approach is documented in the second paper, which specifies the procedure to be followed for this BEPU methodology. The status of the CAREM project is described in a specific collective paper by the responsible team and this first section is closed by a paper dealing with the description of different designs of research reactors by INVAP.

The second part of the issue collects scientific and technical contributions from different authors. Some of them are the outcome of the research and development work mentioned previously. They deal with computational tools, fuel element behavior and design, verification and validation of computational results, coupled codes analyses, and other aspects of interest from the nuclear scientific and technological point of view. They are organized in alphabetical order by author. The present status of nuclear activities cannot be fully reflected in twenty-one papers, but this limited number gives, at a glance, an overview of the current practices followed in Argentina, even if not in an exhaustive way.

The Guest Editors wish to sincerely thank their host institutions, namely, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina, the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina, INVAP SE and Núcleo-Eléctrica de Argentina SA for their support. The efforts and kind collaboration by the contributing authors cannot be thanked enough in a time of work hurries.

Juan Carlos Ferreri
Alejandro Clausse
Juan Pablo Ordóñez
Oscar Alberto Mazzantini