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Austrian President Van der Bellen Visits IAEA Laboratories in Seibersdorf

44/2018
Seibersdorf, Austria

(Video: IAEA)

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen today visited the laboratories of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the town of Seibersdorf, where scientists carry out unique work in support of global peace and development. Located 35 kilometres south of Vienna, the 10 laboratories play an important role in the IAEA’s activities in the areas of nuclear verification, food and agriculture, human health, industrial applications and the environment.

“It is impressive in how many ways the IAEA laboratories are making concrete contributions to both human development and nuclear non-proliferation, two of the most urgent global issues of our time,” President Van der Bellen said. “These laboratories are a hub of scientific excellence and one more reason for Austria to be proud to host the IAEA in our country.”

The IAEA Seibersdorf facility opened its doors in 1962 with less than 40 staff members and has since more than doubled in size, employing more than 200 staff and training over 250 scientists from around the world each year. It comprises two safeguards analytical laboratories for nuclear verification, and eight nuclear applications laboratories.

President Van der Bellen highlighted the role of the laboratories in helping the world meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “I am very pleased to have learnt that many Austrian institutions work closely together with them,” he said.

During the visit, President Van der Bellen toured several of the laboratories and was briefed about their work.

Since the IAEA Seibersdorf laboratories opened six decades ago, demand for their services has increased considerably as the number of IAEA Member States more than doubled. The Agency started a modernization project for its nuclear application laboratories in 2014 which has involved the construction of new buildings and the upgrade of equipment and infrastructure. The Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) project has raised over €32 million in extra-budgetary funds plus in-kind contributions from different donors, including 34 IAEA Member States.

The ReNuAL project will enable the IAEA to deliver improved services to its Member States, for example in helping them to make food safer, improve the control of harmful insect pests and maximize the benefits of new radiation technology for cancer treatment.

A separate modernization project for the safeguards laboratories was completed on time and on budget at the end of 2015. It provided the IAEA with increased capacity to process nuclear material samples, improved accuracy in the analysis of these samples and reduced the time required to produce analytical results. Known as Enhancing Capabilities of Safeguards Analytical Services (ECAS), the upgrades cost €77 million, of which €56 million was provided through voluntary contributions from 18 IAEA Member States.

Video footage available here.

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Last update: 11 Oct 2018

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