Over the years, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has assisted Senegal in introducing and developing the safe use of nuclear and related analytical techniques. In furtherance of this effort, the techniques so far acquired and introduced need to be consolidated and expanded by a decision to build a research reactor in the research centre that is planned in Diamniadio, 30km from the capital Dakar.
The five key objectives of this Research Reactor project is to
- Strengthen the country’s nuclear technology infrastructure through the installation and operation of a neutron source reactor at the new National Research Centre at Diamniadio
- Build national capacities in training and research and development
- Produce radioisotopes necessary for nuclear medicine
- Perform advanced research in materials science, and in nuclear applications
- Prepare the future nuclear power plant project in the long term energy planning
The Government of Senegal has put in place a steering committee led by the Minister of Higher Research and Education, and a technical committee with technical experts. The government is looking to promote the involvement of scientific communities in all activities leading to creating awareness on the use, to encourage private sector participation and endeavor, together with the IAEA, to secure extra-budgetary contributions for the project. The Government will provide facilities, laboratories, etc.
Therefore, as part of the Government of Senegal plans in building capacity and strengthening national infrastructure in science and technology to serve social and economic development, the Government has decided to install and commission a neutron source reactor for specific applications, in particular health, agriculture, industrial, environment and minerals exploration. In this connection, a strong request was made to the IAEA for the approval of a project related to the “Establishing a Reactor Facility in Senegal”, as part of the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme.
The timeline for the establishment of the research reactor is as follows:
- 2020 – 2022: Conduct of feasibility studies and building the required infrastructure for research reactor
- 2023 – 2026: Construction, commissioning and operation of the research reactor. This will include sitting, construction, licensing and commissioning of the research reactor within the IAEA approach for building a research reactor
- 2026: Operation, maintenance and development of other related techniques into the research reactor facility
The construction of the research reactor will be followed by projects related to the use of the research reactor. These projects will contribute to improving the socio economic problems by enabling the optimal use of the research reactor and isotope production. The research reactor must also be used for the analysis of soils, mineral ores, and vegetation, water and food materials.
Strategic and business plans will be developed which will guide the development of the overall research reactor programme. With this in mind, Senegal is planning to hire consultants to help through with feasibility study as well as economical and environmental studies. The call of tender was supposed to be last year, however, due to the current Covid-19 it was postponed. The new date for the call of tender is expected to be in the second or third quarter of 2021.
The above information was shared by the Technical Committee for the Implementation of a Research Reactor in Senegal during the West Africa session of the Africa Nuclear Research Reactor Update meeting. If you would like to get further information, email [email protected]