Permanent Missions to the IAEA in Vienna visit the Environment Laboratories in Monaco

Permanent Missions to the IAEA in Vienna visit Monacco labMore than 11 representatives from ten Vienna-based Permanent Missions to the IAEA visited the IAEA Environmental laboratories in Monaco. They learned more about the labs' role in supporting Member States to better understand, monitor and protect the marine environment. During their visit, the diplomats received detailed briefings on the work of the Radiometrics Laboratory, the Radioecology Laboratory and the Marine Environment Studies Laboratory, all based in Monaco, as well as the Terrestrial Environment laboratory, based at Seibersdorf, not far from Vienna.

The Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Daud Mohamad welcomed the participants. "The IAEA Environmental Laboratories are uniquely placed to provide Member States with the assistance needed for the implementation of monitoring programmes on mercury in the marine and freshwater environment", DDG Daud told the high-level visitors, "I trust you will enjoy your visit and be impressed with a wide array of services available to Member States."

Permanent Missions to the IAEA in Vienna visit Monacco labIn addition to the three labs, the participants viewed the Training Centre, where scientists from Member States receive training related to the application of radionuclides in marine studies and the analysis of non-radioactive pollutants. The Underground Laboratory houses some of the most high-tech equipment in the labs, including low-level gamma-ray spectrometry equipment used for low-level counting, a process which allows for the recording of highly accurate data for studies on marine processes, global fallout and material characterisation.

The visit comes on the heels of the IAEA's 2013 Scientific Forum, "The Blue Planet – Nuclear Applications for a Sustainable Marine Environment", which was held during the 57th IAEA General Conference in Vienna. The Forum served to initiate dialogue on the protection and preservation of the ecological balance vital for preserving coastal regions and the marine environment and sparked increased interest in the IAEA's activities on the topic.

One particular point of interest during the forum was ocean acidification. During the Rio+20 Conference, the IAEA launched a new project – Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC). The project, hosted by the IAEA Environmental Laboratories in Monaco, facilitates and promotes activities related to ocean acidification.

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This annual visit by the Member State representatives to the Environmental Laboratories in Monaco has been well appreciated by the IAEA diplomatic community. It has provided an opportunity to see first-hand the work that is conducted at the labs and helped Member States to better understand the kind of services that are available to them. In addition to applied research and development, training and capacity building, the laboratories provide low-cost reference materials for both terrestrial and marine environments.


5Permanent Missions to the IAEA in Vienna visit Monacco labEstablished in 1961 as the only marine laboratory within the UN system the IAEA Environmental Laboratories have a unique role to play, responding not only to the needs of Member States, but also to regular requests for technical assistance from other UN agencies and programmes, including UNEP, UNESCO, FAO, WHO and WMO. With a wide range of research and programmatic focuses, the laboratories contribute to development and monitoring in such important areas as carbon export, ocean acidification, marine pollution and contamination, and more, as well as provide reference materials for both terrestrial and marine environments.

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