Seibersdorf Laboratories
50 Years Ago

Published: 28 November 2012

When the first concrete was poured on the u-shaped building that would house the 'First IAEA Laboratory', hopes were high that this facility would usher in an influx of scientific activity that would would benefit communities around the globe. Dr. Higatsberger, one of the Managing Directors of the Oesterreichische Studiengesellschaft fuer Atomenergie (S.G.A.E.) is chatting with Dr. H. Seligman, IAEA Deputy Director General for Research and Isotopes, and Mr. Sterling Cole, Director General of the IAEA. They are about to sign the agreement between the IAEA and S.G.A.E. for the 99 year lease for the site at Seibersdorf, 19 miles east of Vienna. Left to right: Mr. Sterling Cole, Dr. Higatsberger, Dr. Seligman. 24 July 1959 Members of the Board of Governors, Mr. Sterling Cole, Director General of the IAEA, and other officials of the IAEA visit the site of the laboratory which is due to start operation in 1961. In the background, the reactor and laboratories of the SGAE are under construction, 9 April 1959. This picture shows the site of the Agency's laboratory and, in the background, the Austrian reactor and laboratories under construction. 25 May 1959. Construction work on the IAEA's laboratory at Seibersdorf near Vienna was inaugurated by then IAEA Director General, Mr. Sterling Cole. Also present were Mr. John A. McCone, Head of the United States delegation to the third General Conference of the IAEA, Mr. Henry Seligman, Deputy Director General of IAEA, Dr. Michael Higatsberger and Dr. Raphael Spann, Managing Directors of the Austrian Research Society for Atomic Energy and the Mayor of Seibersdorf. Mr. Sterling Cole, Director General of the IAEA, pours the first load of concrete into the foundations of the new laboratory. Mr. Sterling Cole, Director of the IAEA deposits an engraved coin on the first load of cement poured into the new laboratory's foundations. The medal shows the emblem of the Agency and the words 'First Laboratory IAEA' and on the reverse the starting date of the construction: 28 September 1959. Building costs were estimated at $420,000 and the cost of equipment at $180,000. This sum was donated by the US Government. Dr. Michael J. Higatsbrerger, Managing Director of the Austrian Society of Atomic Energy Studies (right), and Dr. Henry Seligman, Deputy Director General of the IAEA, shake hands after the signing agreement to lease the Seibersdorf laboratory site to the IAEA. The Austrian Federal Chancellor, Mr. Julius Raab visits the laboratory building of the IAEA at Seibersdorf to celebrate the completion of its construction. From left to right are Mr. Sterling Cole, Director General IAEA, Mr. Julius Raab and Dr. Henry Seligman, Deputy Director General in charge of research and isotopes, 26 March 1960. An artist's rendition of the future IAEA laboratory at Seibersdorf, Austria, October 1961. The Laboratory is a one story, U-shaped building in reinforced concrete that is being built on a 14-acre site and covers 638 square meters. A protocol between the IAEA and the Oeterreichische Studiengesellschaft fuer Atomenergie (SGAE) on the removal of radioactive waste and other safety measures concerning the Agency's laboratory at Seibersdorf was signed on 14 November 1961. From left to right: Dr. Michael J. Higatsbrerger, Managing Director of the SGAE, Mr. Sterling Cole, Director General of the IAEA, and Dr. Raphael Spann, Director of the SGAE; standing - Dr. Henry Seligman, Deputy Director General IAEA. External view of the entrance to the IAEA laboratory, taken in November 1961. The Laboratory of the IAEA at Seibersdorf, near Vienna, Austria, circa November 1965.