Seibersdorf laboratories

The IAEA maintains eight nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria. They support and implement activities that respond to the developmental needs of Member States in a range of subject areas, conduct applied research and development, deliver training and capacity-building to Member States and provide technical and analytical services.

The IAEA laboratories are a unique feature in the United Nations. The nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf focus on such issues as food and agriculture, human health, environmental monitoring and assessment, as well as the use of nuclear analytical instrumentation.

The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/IAEA Division operates five of the eight laboratories in Seibersdorf:

Insect Pest Control Laboratory
Fights selected key insect pests through the sterile insect technique, a mechanism of birth control applied to the target pest insect.

Animal Production and Health Laboratory
Strengthens food security through improved livestock productivity, biodiversity and control of transboundary animal diseases.

Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory
Boosts biodiversity through mutation breeding to improve yield and hardiness in conditions relevant to the locality of the crop.

Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory
Optimizes soil management and improves agricultural water use efficiency for climate-smart agriculture, as well as enhances nuclear emergency preparedness and response.

Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory
Assists Member States in establishing effective food traceability and food contaminant control systems to support food safety.

Three Seibersdorf laboratories are working in the following areas:

Dosimetry Laboratory
Ensures accurate dosimetry in radiation medicine and radiation protection applications through providing calibrations and audit services for institutions worldwide.

Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory
Develops and adapts nuclear instrumentation for a wide range of applications from environmental monitoring to materials science to cultural heritage, with an emphasis on portable instrumentation or on-site measurements.

Terrestrial Environment Laboratory
Provides environmental assessments and ensures high quality analytical measurements in Member State laboratories by making available reference materials and proficiency tests.

A need for ReNuAL

These laboratories in Seibersdorf were built in 1962. Since then, the number of IAEA Member States has more than doubled, and so have the requests for assistance from the nuclear applications laboratories. Over time, Member States' needs have also been evolving, as demonstrated by such new challenges as the Zika virus, climate change, the global cancer epidemic, and emergency preparedness and response related to nuclear incidents.

The laboratories, however, have not received a comprehensive renovation or thorough upgrading of equipment since their inauguration over 50 years ago. As a result, they increasingly struggle to respond to the needs of Member States. Recognizing this, the IAEA has established the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories project (ReNuAL), which seeks to begin the modernization of the nuclear application laboratories.