Bandung – BRIN Public Relations. Talking about the development of nuclear science and technology, one cannot separate it from the history of the construction of the first research reactor in Indonesia, namely the TRIGA 2000 Reactor in Bandung. Quoted from the book “Nyukcruk Galur BATAN Bandung“, the construction of the TRIGA Reactor began with the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the government of the United States of America on 11 March 1960. The groundbreaking of the construction of the TRIGA Mark II Reactor was carried out on 9 April 1961. On 20 February 20 1965 the Bandung Atomic Reactor Center (PRAB) was officiated with the TRIGA Mark II Reactor operating at 250kW. Since then Indonesia has entered the nuclear era.

TRIGA Reactor

History records that to meet the increasing demand for radioisotopes, the TRIGA Mark II Reactor needed to increase its power from 250 kW to 1,000kW (1MW). Finally, on 4 December 1971, the TRIGA Mark II reactor with a power of 1,000kW (1MW) was inaugurated by the second President of the Republic of Indonesia, Suharto. The power of the TRIGA Mark II reactor was again increased to 2,000 kW (2 MW) which was inaugurated by Vice President Megawati Soekarno Putri and at the same time changed its name to the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor.

To anticipate shocks caused by earthquakes, the main reactor’s building was strengthened (retrofitting)  in 2014. And in 2015, the control rod was modified from FFCR to BKRTTBB in collaboration with PTBBN – BATAN. On 7  May 2015, the TRIGA 2000 Reactor successfully operated using control rods, and soon afterward the BATAN Bandung received extended operating permit for the reactor with the issuance of Decision of the Head of Nuclear Energy Supervisory Agency (BAPETEN) Number 500/IO/Ka-BAPETEN/29-V-2017 concerning Extension of the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor Operation Permit on 29 May 2017 which is valid until July 2027, with a power of 1,000 kW.

57 years have passed, the TRIGA 2000 Reactor is still operating to meet the needs of internal users of the Bandung Nuclear Area. Abdul Rohim Iso Suwarso, Coordinator of the  TRIGA 2000 Reactor of the Directorate of Nuclear Facility Management (DPFK) – National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), said that the reactor is in good condition and can operate properly.

“The reactor operates every 3 (three) weeks for irradiation services. In addition, we carry out reactor maintenance operation 2 (two) times in 1 week, namely every Monday and Thursday. We provide services for short irradiation at pneumatic facilities,” he said.

Decommissioning Consideration of TRIGA 2000 Reactor

The option to decommission the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor, which is currently a hot issue, is a common thing in a facility. The result of study related to the reactor aging has been submitted to BAPETEN during the arrangement for extension of the reactor operating permit. This aging study document must be updated related the Structure, System and Components (SSK), characterization, and the wastes to be produced by the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor.

ISO views that the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor is still feasible until the next extension of operating license as it has Human Resources (HR), facilities and infrastructure, equipment such as fuel, reactor tanks and so forth.

“As the reactor operator, we see that the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor is still feasible for operation until 2027. This is considering that the reactor SSK has been rejuvenated, and the reactor tank, which is the benchmark for a facility, can still be used for the next 50 years,” he said.

Iso explained that several SSKs and other systems have been replaced with the new ones. The reactor building has been strengthened, the cooling system has been replaced with the new one, while the secondary pump, cooling tower and the ventilation system have been replaced in 2019. Up to now, the reactor’s spare fuel element (spent fuel) is still sufficient to operate a reactor with a power of 1,000 kW for 3 x 24 hours in two weeks. “We see that the reactor can still operate until the next extension, after year 2027,” he said.

However, apart from the SSK and other rejuvenated systems, the Bandung TRIGA 2000 Reactor needs to have improvement in the Instrumentation and Control System (SIK). This is because the current SIK has been used since the 1990s. Iso said that in order to boost the reliability of the reactor, the SIK as a whole should better be improved. SIK improvement is estimated to cost IDR16-45 billion, depending on which equipment will be replaced and used. A reliable SIK will certainly need accurate control and monitoring.

“Under the current state of SIK, as the reactor operator, we have to extra in monitoring, controlling and supervising the products. The completely rejuvenated SIK will ease the operator’s task in operating the unit,” he explained.

Mohammad Subekti, BRIN Acting Director of Nuclear Facility Management expects that the TRIGA reactor can continue to be useful at the national and international levels. According to him, at the age of 57, the TRIGA 2000 Bandung reactor should continue its service in the energy, medical and industrial fields, and continue to support the academic community.

The collaboration between the three research reactors in safety evaluation will become stronger in various national and international activities in 2022, including workshops, expert visits, and reactor monitoring activities. “The aging reactor can also serve and provide  experience in maintaining and operating nuclear reactors and the basic knowledge of how to maintain nuclear power plants of up to 60 years or more in service,” he hoped. (kpv/ ed. kg)