CANDU Owners and NEA sign MOU to advance global pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) safety research

CANDU Owners Group (COG) and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to co‑operate in research and activities related to pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) technology. The purpose of the MOU is to advance the scientific and technical knowledge base for PHWRs and foster co‑operation amongst research organisations that support PHWRs.

While the most common technology deployed in NEA member countries is light‑water reactors, there is an increasing interest in PHWRs within the membership. PHWRs, such as Canadian designed CANDU reactors, are currently in operation in four NEA member countries: Argentina, Canada, Korea and Romania. The NEA also has active engagement and discussions about nuclear reactor safety with other countries using PHWR technology, particularly China and India.

“The NEA has done much to bring countries together to conduct research in areas particularly related to nuclear safety. We have not, however, done very much in the area of PHWRs as the vast majority of our members operate LWRs,” said NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV during an online ceremony held to mark the MOU signing. “This MOU gives us an immediate boost as we try to become more cognisant, more active in this area, because we can join hands with COG instead of recreating the wheel. This is a tremendous benefit to our member countries.”

All participants in the signing ceremony, which included representatives of both government and industry, stressed the advantages of working together to strengthen the technology base for PHWRs. The MOU outlines the scope of a five year agreement and provides a framework for collaboration between the two organisations. Under the new framework, COG and NEA will develop joint research activities and workshops, and exchange views on a range of technical subjects.

Fred Dermarkar, outgoing COG President and CEO, underlined the value of collaboration to achieve common objectives. “I see a big opportunity to work together on workshops where we’re exchanging information and initiating joint projects to advance technology: things that benefit both COG members and NEA membership,” he said.

The incoming COG President and CEO Stephanie Smith added, “Collaboration is really what is needed to make progress in many areas, so we look forward to working with the NEA.”


The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is an intergovernmental agency which operates within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD). It facilitates co‑operation among countries with advanced nuclear technology infrastructures to seek excellence in nuclear safety, technology, science, related environmental and economic matters and law. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co‑operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally sound and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It strives to provide authoritative assessments and to forge common understandings on key issues as input to government decisions on nuclear technology policies. NEA membership includes 33 countries that co‑operate through joint research, consensus building among experts and development of best practices.

CANDU Owners Group (COG) is a Canadian not‑for‑profit corporation funded voluntarily by CANDU operating utilities in seven countries worldwide and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. Additional COG participants include key industry suppliers, small modular reactor vendors and nuclear agencies. COG works with its members and partner organizations to create nuclear excellence through collaboration in research and development, joint projects, information sharing and knowledge development and transfer, in CANDU technology and beyond.

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