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Projects for high activity sources

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LEA has a wide range of authorizations and capabilities covering the import, distribution and recovery of high activity sources including their transportation and replacement:

  • Large network of suppliers and partners to cover a wide range of services, in particular in conjunction with Orano skills (engineering, transport, and radiation protection) and with French and abroad primary metrology laboratories for source characterization,
  • Knowledge of relevant transport regulations, in particular in France,
  • Secured installations within the Tricastin industrial platform (South of France), offering high logistical flexibility,
  • Partners for carrying out source reconditioning or recycling, assembly/disassembly operations,
  • A secured storage room to facilitate logistics for new and spent sources.

LEA already has recognized experience in this area in particular for neutron sources (252Cf and AmBe) and gamma sources (60Co) for various applications: manufacturing of EPR nuclear reactor primary rods, gamma scanning of nuclear fuel rods, replacement of sources for industrial gammagraphy in nuclear process plants or for irradiators.


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Gammagraphy is an imaging technique using radiation from gamma sources to inspect structures’ internals. While 192Ir and 75Se are most frequently used for mobile equipment, 60Co is the preferred option of industrial players for their process controls’ fixed equipment.

Likewise, Orano La Hague plant uses several sources of high activity 60Co (>5TBq) to control, at different positions, the clogging of the dissolution wheels used in the nuclear fuel reprocessing facility.

With its industrial and logistics partners, LEA has provided La Hague a turnkey solution including source supply and mounting on specific supports before installation, on-site replacement of the sources, transportation with specific containers and elimination of used sources.

Its Radiation Protection Certification (Qualianor) allows LEA to perform such interventions in nuclear facilities. 

 

Conteneur-métallique-gaz (2) © Orano - La Hague
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To initiate the nuclear reaction in reactors and ensure a minimum counting rate of the neutron detectors, a powerful and controlled neutron flux is necessary.

This is the role of the primary rods aka “PNS” (Primary Neutron Sources) which integrate high activity 252Cf sources (>25GBq).

In collaboration with FRAMATOME and Orano NPS, LEA manufactures and delivers primary rods for all EPR reactors. 252Cf sources are supplied from Russia or USA; rods are manufactured at LEA.

 

PNS © LEA
PNS © LEA
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Gamma radiation can also be used for R&D purpose, in particular to study materials’ behavior under irradiation.

Gamma sources at stake are usually highly active (thousands of Ci) and require specific resources for transportation and handling, adapted to the specific configuration of the irradiator and the installation housing it.

For such projects, LEA can set-up trial mock-ups for training and preparation of on-site operations (removal of used sources and installations of new ones)

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