The 50th anniversary of the opening of the IAEA's Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf will be marked in a ceremony to be held from 11:00-12:00 on 28 November in Boardroom A, M-Building at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).
An exhibit with interactive display will be opened by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at 12:15 outside the Boardroom. It will remain on display for two days. Journalists are invited to the ceremony and the exhibit opening as well as a press tour of the laboratories ahead of the anniversary. The tour, to be held on the afternoon of 27 November, will highlight the eight Nuclear Applications laboratories. Safeguards-related laboratories are not part of the tour.
The Nuclear Applications laboratories provide support to the IAEA's Member States in their efforts to address developmental needs through the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. Work carried out at the laboratories includes food and agriculture, human health, environmental monitoring and assessment, and the use of nuclear analytical instruments. The laboratories provide applied research and development, training and capacity-building, and technical and analytical services. Hundreds of trainees and young scientists from developing countries take part each year in training courses, workshops and seminars.
Thanks to research carried out at the laboratories in the past five decades, farmers in several developing countries are better off: for example, tools developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratories helped eradicate rinderpest, a cattle plague that was estimated to cost Africa about US$1 billion a year. The laboratories have also contributed to research to develop 3 200 improved plant varieties such as drought tolerant wheat, barley that can be grown at higher altitudes, and a variety of rice that flourishes in saline and acidic coastal soils. Harmful insects such as the tsetse fly have been controlled or even eradicated in some regions by the sterile insect technique researched in Seibersdorf. Through the labs, the IAEA also provides dosimetry calibrations to help Member States ensure that medical equipment delivers correct radiation doses. In addition, the labs develop radiological assessment strategies that can be used to ensure the quality of measurement results.
The laboratories also play a role closer to home: for example, by using a specialized spectrometer to help Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum to determine the condition of the Saliera, a golden sculpture created by Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini in 1543, which had been stolen and buried in a forest for three years.
At the IAEA's 56th General Conference, held in September 2012, Member States called for the modernization of the Nuclear Applications laboratories, which were first opened in 1962. An extension of the Safeguards Clean Laboratory was inaugurated in 2011, and a new safeguards-related Nuclear Materials Laboratory is under construction.
Journalists wishing to take part in the tour must register by email to [email protected] by 22 November. A bus will depart from the VIC at 13:00. The tour is expected to conclude at 16:00, with the return to Vienna expected about an hour later.