The ETSON network
Together for nuclear safety in Europe
The technical safety organisation (TSO) of a country plays a particularly important role in the field of nuclear safety: it supports the respective national licensing and supervisory authority in all scientific and technical questions relating to the safety of nuclear energy. Combining this expertise to achieve the best technical results in the interest of safety was the guiding principle when the European Technical Safety and Support Organisation Network (ETSON) was founded in 2006.
ETSON's self-image and objectives
In addition to GRS, the founding members were the TSOs in France (IRSN) and Belgium (BelV, then AVN). To date, the number of members has grown to 17 organisations (three of which are associated members). ETSON cooperates internationally with partners such as the European Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One example is the TSO Forum , which was hosted by the IAEA in October 2018 and at which GRS was also represented with contributions. But ETSON also maintains a close professional exchange with numerous European and the respective national organisations.
The objective of the network is to improve and standardise safety practices and scientifically based safety assessments in the participating states and to ensure the maintenance of competence in the field of reactor safety in the long term. In order to organise the scientific exchange between the participating TSOs, 14 expert groups have been set up on the main topics of reactor safety. In these groups, the experts deal, among other things, with technical aspects such as electrical systems, core behaviour, safety concepts and periodic safety analyses (under GRS management). However, there are also expert groups on topics such as human and organisational factors and emergency preparedness. In addition to scientific cooperation, jointly used methods are also developed there – formulated in Technical Safety Assessment Guides. They contain concrete recommendations that have been developed on specific topics within the expert groups, such as the deterministic analysis of severe accidents.
In addition to the expert groups, there are other organisational units that deal with for knowledge management, the exchange of information on research topics, the quality of the technical programme and acquisition for the network. Another important instrument within the ETSON network is the Junior Staff Programme (JSP). It promotes the exchange and networking of young nuclear experts within the network, among other things within the framework of the annual summer workshops.
GRS takes over ETSON presidency
In October 2018, GRS, in the person of its technical and scientific managing director Uwe Stoll, has taking over the ETSON presidency. The two-year term of office focuses, among other things, on measures to strengthen ETSON's position with the regulatory authorities. To this end, the Association of Western Regulatory Authorities (WENRA) is to be joined more closely, for example through the establishment of joint expert groups. ETSON would, in the future, also like to play a greater role in the work of the European Commission and the Joint Research Centres (JRCs) on reactor safety, for example through joint projects.
In addition, ETSON intends to further expand its technical activities in the next two years – on the one hand, by promoting technical documents and publications more strongly to the public and, on the other hand, by ETSON seminars on current topics beyond the topic of reactor safety will also be offered, such as radiation protection and decommissioning.
Find out more