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Seibersdorf: Then and Now

Construction of the first IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf was inaugurated by the first Director General, William Sterling Cole, in 1959. The laboratory came into operation 3 years later.

In 2014, the 5th IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano, launched the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) Project with a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony held at the NA laboratories in Seibersdorf. The new laboratory buildings are expected to be completed in 2017.

When the first IAEA laboratory in Seibersdorf opened in 1962, there were less than 40 staff members. The next year, the first international training course participants were welcomed.

Today, more than 130 scientists, technicians and other staff from around the world work on-site in the NA laboratories. An additional 300 to more than 400 scientists are trained on-site each year.

After the first phase of construction total IAEA laboratory space was less than 1 800 m2. This first laboratory distributed information on radioactive isotopes reference sources to Member State laboratories and their medical facilities to calibrate radiation measuring instruments.

The Seibersdorf laboratories have since expanded by nearly 12-fold, now housing the Safeguards Analytical Laboratories and eight NA laboratories, researching in various areas such as food and agriculture, human health, environmental monitoring and the use of nuclear analytical instruments.

Support from IAEA Member States has been critical for the success of the NA laboratories: The land was provided by the Austrian Studiengesellschaft; the United States donated $600 000 for construction. Former Permanent Representative of the USA to the IAEA, Paul F. Foster, handed over the donation check to the then-Director General Sterling Cole.

More than 50 years after the opening, Director General Yukiya Amano, called upon Member States to provide their support to the modernization of the NA laboratories (ReNuAL project).

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