ISU Headlines

Scientists from around the globe to gather at ISU for nuclear criticality safety research conference

Posted September 16, 2009

Idaho State University, U.S. Department of Energy and the Idaho National Laboratory will host an Organization Economic Co-operation and Development-Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA) workshop on “Future Criticality Safety Research Need” on Sept. 21-22 on Idaho State’s Pocatello campus.

The purpose of the workshop is to help the international nuclear criticality safety community identify future criticality safety research needs, so it will be better prepared to respond to those needs as future nuclear energy systems are developed.   

More than 100 scientists and engineers from the international community will attend the workshop in the Rendezvous Complex. International nuclear experts will identify the issues for the attendees to discuss.  

Monday’s lunch will be hosted by Studsvik Scandpower.  A reception sponsored by AREVA and dinner, sponsored by DOE, INL, and ISU, will take place Monday evening in the Rotunda of the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center.  

George Imel, chair of the Idaho State University Department of Nuclear Engineering, David Nigg, senior technical manager at the INL and Blair Briggs, senior scientist at the INL, made a formal proposal to the OECD-NEA to hold this meeting in Idaho and were awarded the workshop.

Imel is a consultant to the European Union’s Euratom. He conducted and directed nuclear research in France for 11 years before coming to Idaho State University in 2007.   Nigg and Briggs initiated the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Program, which subsequently became a sanctioned project of the OECD-NEA under Briggs’ leadership. Nigg is also a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board and the Nuclear Engineering Advisory Board at Idaho State University.

The OECD was established under United States Marshall Plan in 1947. Nuclear criticality is a field concerned with safety issues involving nuclear reactor fuel fabrication, transport, and storage, nuclear waste management and storage, and nonproliferation. The Working Party on Nuclear Criticality Safety is chaired by Véronique Rouyer, deputy director for Programs in the Strategy, Development, and External Relations Division of the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), France.  Yolanda Rugama, the Secretariat, is the OECD NEA facilitator.

Additional information is available at or by contacting Karen Leibert at or (208) 282-7703.