Modernizing and Refurbishing IAEA Laboratories for State-of-the-art Nuclear Science

A new phase of the modernization of the IAEA’s nuclear application laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria is required in order to better serve the needs of Member States, speakers said at today’s virtual side event on the margins of the 64th IAEA General Conference.

“Many of our Member States lack the resources to address cancer, pandemics and climate change. They are counting on us to help them,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi during his opening remarks at the event. “That is why I believe it is imperative that we complete the modernization of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories – your laboratories – as soon as possible.”

Research on human and zoonotic diseases, cancer treatment and adapting to changing climates through climate smart agriculture are some examples of the work that takes place in the eight IAEA laboratories. Under the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratory (ReNuAL) Project: Labs Fit for the Future, some of these laboratories have been undergoing modernization. The side event highlighted the accomplishments of the project, the remaining work to be done and the most recent contributions.

From ReNuAL to ReNuAL 2

The ReNuAL Project, which broke ground on 29 September 2014 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, resulted in a new Insect Pest Control Laboratory building, a new Linear Accelerator Facility and the Yukiya Amano Laboratories building – home to the Animal Production and Health Laboratory, the Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory and the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory. The new building enables the three labs to address rapidly increasing demands for support from Member States around the world and to advance ground-breaking research with major implications for both animal and human health.

Building on those achievements, Director General Grossi announced earlier this month to Member States ReNuAL 2 a new effort to tackle the laboratories that have not yet been modernized under the ReNuAL Project. This includes the construction of a new building to house the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory, the Terrestrial Environment Laboratory and the Nuclear Sciences and Instrumentation Laboratory. ReNuAL 2 will also include new and improved greenhouses and refurbishment of the current Dosimetry Laboratory facilities.

“The ReNuAL Project is proof of the excellent relationship between the IAEA Secretariat and Member States,” said German Ambassador Gerhard Kuntzle during the side event. Ambassador Kuntzle is one of the co-chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL, an informal group of Member States working to promote fundraising and raise awareness of the renovation. “The project is based on trust, efficiency and transparency among the stakeholders.”

“The ReNuAL Project and its outcomes continue to show the importance of the project in meeting the new challenges the world will be faced with head on,” said Ambassador Rapulane Molekane of South Africa.

New donors recognized

During the side event, representatives of Argentina, Montenegro, the Netherlands and Paraguay symbolically placed their “national bricks” into a small replica of a donor wall, the original of which is permanently installed at the Laboratories in Seibersdorf. These countries are new contributors to the project since the last General Conference. Since the launch of the ReNuAL Project in 2014, the IAEA has raised over €39 million in extra budgetary contributions from a range of donors including 42 governments and additional institutional contributors and partners.

“This contribution of the Government of Paraguay is just a little help to ensure that the nuclear application laboratories can continue to provide high quality services to Member States,” said Ambassador Juan Francisco Facetti of Paraguay.

Construction under ReNuAL 2 is slated to begin in mid-2021 with a completion date of all three elements by the end of 2023. To achieve the successful implementation of ReNuAL 2, the IAEA is calling for the mobilisation of €24.8 million from Member States, institutional partners and contributors, with an initial funding target of €14.8 million by mid-2021.

“We are very proud to be a part of Friends of ReNuAL and continue to support the ReNuAL Project and contribute to the renovations of the laboratories in Seibersdorf,” said Ambassador Maite Fernandez Garcia of Argentina at the side event today.

Virtual tour of the laboratories

A virtual tour of the Seibersdorf laboratories was also shared during the General Conference in lieu of in-person visits. This tour is a chance to experience the laboratories and see the renovations that have taken place with the ReNuAL Project. These virtual activities are part of precautionary measures in place at the General Conference due to protect the health and safety of all participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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