IAEA launches laboratory upgrade project

02 October 2014

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week held a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) project at Seibersdorf, near Vienna.

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Dignitaries break ground for the ReNuAL project (Image: IAEA)

Welcoming ambassadors and IAEA member state representatives to the event, IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said he was confident that the agency would have a "cluster of modern, well-equipped laboratories that we can all be proud of" by 2017.

The NA Laboratories - eight in total - are a "unique feature" of the United Nations system, the agency said in a statement.

The laboratories that will be refurbished under this project provide an "essential contribution" to achieving the IAEA's mission of supporting the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies to help meet global development challenges, the agency said.

Their work includes supporting research, and providing training and analytical services for improving animal production and health, ensuring the effective and safe use of radiotherapy equipment, reinforcing food safety and developing hardier and higher-yielding food crops. They also contribute to protecting the terrestrial environment, eliminating insect pests, enhancing countries' capabilities in the use of advanced nuclear instrumentation and analytical techniques, and managing agricultural soil and water resources sustainably.

"Since their establishment in 1962, there has been no comprehensive renovation of the IAEA Nuclear Applications laboratories or significant upgrading of their equipment to ensure the continuing ability of the laboratories to respond to Member States' growing and evolving needs," IAEA said. "As a result, laboratory buildings are currently in average to below average condition, space is under critical strain, and 70% of laboratory equipment is fully depreciated. The laboratories are no longer fit for purpose and are increasingly struggling to respond to Member States' demands."

The ReNuAL project was formally established on 1 January, with project completion planned for December 2017. Specific elements of the project include upgrading the infrastructure and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of laboratory operations and services; acquiring new equipment either to replace aging or obsolete hardware or to be able to respond to emerging issues and/or changes in technology.

Amano told the IAEA General Conference in Vienna last week that a major overhaul of the laboratories were long overdue, Amano said. He presented the ReNuAL strategy to the IAEA board in May. ReNuAL is an "extremely important" project for the agency which will benefit all member states, he said. "I appeal to all countries to contribute generously."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News