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 that assist Member States in the following ways:

Insect Pest Control Laboratory

Fighting key insect pests through the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), a method of birth control applied to target insect pest populations.

Animal Production and Health Laboratory

Strengthening food security and livelihoods through improved livestock productivity and control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory

Strengthening food security and resilience to climate change through high-yielding crop varieties resistant to disease, drought and other harsh conditions.

Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory

Optimizing soil management and agricultural water use efficiency for climate-smart agriculture. Assessing and tracing the fate of radionuclides in soils, crops and agricultural water resources.

Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory

Establishing effective systems to support food authenticity, food traceability and contaminant control, to enhance food safety and international agriculture trade.

 

Three Seibersdorf laboratories are working in the following areas:

Dosimetry Laboratory

Ensuring the safe and effective use of radiation in cancer treatment and supporting radiation dosimetry by providing calibration and audit services worldwide.

Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory

Developing, adapting and transferring nuclear instrumentation as well as accelerator applications to Member States for a wide range of operations from environmental monitoring to materials science to the preservation of cultural heritage.

Terrestrial Environment Laboratory

Providing environmental assessments and ensuring high quality analytical measurements for radioactive, industrial, and other pollution in Member State laboratories by providing laboratory reference materials and conducting worldwide 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.