Briefing on the latest developments at the Institute for Transuranium elements in Karlsruhe, Germany

October 1, 2003

Brussels, 30 Sep 2003

Media briefing on the latest developments in nuclear safeguards and waste management: combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials via the devel-opment and operation of advanced detection tools; and passing on nuclear competence to young researchers from all over the world. Invitation to attend the 'Radiation Protection of Environment & Human Health' workshop and the ITU's 40 th anniversary celebrations, plus a networking lunch with EU Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin.

When? 16 th (optional) & 17 th October 2003.

Where? Joint Research Centre, Karlsruhe, Germany.

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre plays a key role in detecting, fingerprinting, and tracking down nuclear materials across Europe – and beyond. It therefore contributes to the fight against nuclear smuggling and nuclear prolifera-tion, in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But the JRC also manages projects for nuclear waste management, radiation protection, and other nuclear-related activities. The JRC is offering journalists, on 16 th & 17 th October, a comprehensive media briefing on the occasion of the 40 th anniversary of the Institute for Transuranium Elements. Encompassing expert presentations and a workshop on a range of nuclear research-related themes, on-site visits to unique laboratories, and a meeting with European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, media will experience firsthand how the JRC provides scientific support for nuclear safety and safeguards policies to protect EU citizens.

The overall media briefing is designed to respond to the particular interests of spe-cialised journalists while focusing on practical research demonstrations.

Here is a sample of what's on offer from development & application to international co-operation and future projects & perspectives:

Safeguarding Nuclear Materials: Protecting the Citizen

Preventing proliferation of nuclear material is a worldwide task shared by the European Commission's Euratom and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectorates. They are responsible for implementing safeguards and measures to control the use of nu-clear materials within the European Union and worldwide. As a long-time partner ITU con-tinues to provide analytical assistance and expertise on plutonium handling facilities..The ITU is a key player in the international fight against the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and is, for example, active in training customs officials in Eastern European Countries. Media will be shown how the Institute's Safeguards Analytical Reference Labo-ratory provides analytical assistance and expertise on plutonium-handling facilities and is developing new high-performance analytical tools for trace analysis i.e. nuclear finger-printing. In the areas of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, illicit waste dumping and envi-ronmental impact of radioactive releases, ITU improves the selectivity, sensitivity and ac-curacy of detection and measurement methods to better identify the origin of the materi-als.

Actinide User Lab: At the Cutting-Edge

The JRC is at the forefront of providing sound training to scientists in how to work with highly radiated substances, especially scientists those from EU Member States, which lack nuclear installations suitable for training. To ensure the safety of fuel cycle activities, the ITU acts as a reference centre for basic actinide research and is developing a thor-ough knowledge of the physical, chemical and material properties of actinides. This pro-vides for a solid basis for work on all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Institute's Acti-nide User Lab, established in 2002, is an international centre open to outside users for specialised studies.

The Minor Actinide Laboratory

Nuclear Waste Management is one of the main priorities of the EURATOM 6th Framework Programme. Partitioning and transmutation (P&T) is a suggested option for reducing the inventory of long-lived nuclear wastes. The aim is to partition - chemically separate - the hazardous elements present in the waste (Neptunium, Curium, Americium, and the "Minor Actinides") and then to transmute them, to produce shorter lived or more stable nuclides. As an example of these specific developments, the Minor Actinide Laboratory of ITU is a unique facility for the fabrication of fuels and targets containing minor actinides such as americium and curium.

Radiation Workshop (see detailed programme below)

Ionising radiation can result from human activities such as the nuclear fuel cycle, medical applications and waste storage. In view of the enlargement of the EU, radiation protection is of growing concern. Journalists are thus invited to attend the workshop: 'Radiation Pro-tection of Environment and Human Health' on Thursday 16 th October.

Further information

Contact: Margit.Roedder@cec.eu.int

Joint Research Centre
http:///www.jrc.cec.eu.int

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