Tests confirm no radioactivity release from incident at UN laboratory

29 August 2008

Independent experts have confirmed the initial findings of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there was no release of radioactive material to the environment after an incident at one of its laboratories earlier this month.

Independent experts have confirmed the initial findings of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there was no release of radioactive material to the environment after an incident at one of its laboratories earlier this month.

The test results were provided by the Austrian Research Centers (ARC), from analysis of soil, plant and water samples collected from outside the IAEA’s Laboratories in Seibersdorf – some 35 kilometres from Vienna.

During the incident on 3 August, a storage room at the laboratory was contaminated with plutonium due to a pressure build-up in a small sealed bottle kept in a storage room. The laboratory regularly analyzes small samples of nuclear material, such as uranium or plutonium, as part of the Agency’s safeguards verification work.

The ARC’s radiation protection experts confirmed the IAEA’s initial findings from the laboratory’s automatic monitoring system which indicated that there had been no release of radioactivity to the environment.

Since the incident, constant air monitoring near the laboratory, undertaken by the IAEA, has also provided no evidence of any radioactive contamination.

The IAEA said a probe into the circumstances and causes of the incident is still underway. Meanwhile, the first stage of the clean-up of the storage room was successfully completed on 22 August.

According to the IAEA’s nuclear regulator’s assessment of the incident, the laboratory’s safety systems worked properly and successfully contained the contamination.

 

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