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and environmental samples
The IAEA Safeguards Analytical Laboratory
The IAEA is responsible for verifying that nuclear material held by Member States is not diverted from peaceful purposes. The Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL) at Seibersdorf, near Vienna, has played a key role in the Agency’s verification activities since 1976. SAL provides accurate and timely analysis of nuclear material and environmental samples. It is part of a Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL), which at present consists of 14 laboratories in eight IAEA Member States. SAL provides extremely accurate and independent measurements of the samples it receives from the IAEA’s safeguards inspectors. Strict confidentiality is maintained. Findings are reported promptly to help the Agency to determine whether States are complying with their responsibility to ensure that nuclear material is not diverted. SAL consists of two main parts — the Nuclear Laboratory and the Clean Laboratory. The Nuclear Laboratory analyses nuclear material samples and radioactive environmental samples. The Clean Laboratory screens all environmental samples provided by IAEA safeguards inspectors and analyses approximately 20% of them by highly sophisticated techniques. The SAL complex at Seibersdorf is organized physically into three areas: nuclear material samples; environmental samples; and non-routine samples. Analytical chemistry, radiometric and mass spectrometric techniques are used to determine the elemental and isotopic composition of nuclear material and environmental samples. Strict quality assurance and quality control are essential for maintaining confidence in the results. External quality control is attained through SAL’s participation in numerous interlaboratory comparison programmes. SAL aims to keep pace with technological developments, and the use of sophisticated instruments, including robots, is one area of special achievement. Mechanical and electronic workshops, equipped with state-of-the-art computer hardware and software, assist the analysts in their work. SAL staff provide comprehensive training for IAEA safeguards inspectors in taking samples of nuclear material and shipping them carefully back to SAL. Inspectors are briefed on the precautions they must take in handling nuclear samples. Training is also provided for inspectors in taking environmental samples, most of which are obtained from swipes of equipment surfaces and building structures.
In partnership with the Japanese authorities, the IAEA has established an on-site laboratory at the Rokkasho-mura reprocessing facility.
The IAEA Safeguards Analytical Laboratory
Approx im a te ly 100 0 s a m p l e s of n u clear m at e r ia l a n d o v e r 600 e n v iron m e n ta l s a m p l e s a re recei v e d a n d a n a ly se d b y S A L every y e a r.
T h e I AE A st a r t e d it s e nv ironme nt a l sa m p l ing progr a mme in t he e a r ly 1 9 9 0 s. SAL's Cle a n La bor a t or y is a n e xt e nsiv e c le a n room fa c ilit y for t h e h a ndling of e nv ironme nt a l sa m p l e s from inspe c t ions w or ldw ide . I t i n c l ude s fa c ilit ie s for sa mple sc re e ning a nd pre pa r a t ion of e n v i ro nme nt a l sw ipe kit s for sa mple c o l l e c tion, c he mic a l proc e ssing a nd a n a l y sis.
Non-routine Samples Nuclear Material Samples
Nucle a r m a te r ial s a mp l e s c o l l e c t e d from all p oin t s of t h e n u c l e a r mater ia l fu e l c y c le a re p ro c e s se d exclu s iv e ly in SAL 's Nu c l e a r L ab or at or y, w h ic h h a s b e e n i n op erat ion for m ore t h a n 3 0 y e a r s. Non-routine samples are collected by inspe c t or s from outs i de a nuc le a r fa c ilit y ’s m ateri al bal ance a re a . Suc h sa mples m ay have diffe re nt for ms a nd com pos i ti ons c ompa re d w it h re gul ar i ns pecti on sa mple s a nd oft e n requi re spe c ia l ha ndling a nd anal yti cal proc e ssing.
Saf egu ards Samplin g an d Test in g
A k e y e le me nt of t he sa fe gua rds sy st e m is t he phy sic a l inspe c t ion of n u c l e a r inst a lla t ions by I AE A inspe c t o r s . Among ot he r v e r ific a t ion me a su re s, I AE A inspe c t or s ma y re que st n u c l e a r ma t e r ia l sa mple s from v a r io u s me a sure me nt point s of t he fue l c y c l e . Ac c ur a t e de st r uc t iv e a na ly se s o f t h e se sa mple s a re a n e sse nt ia l e l e me nt t o v e r ify t ha t fa c ilit ie s me e t t h e st ringe nt re quire me nt s of nuc le a r ma t e r i a l a c c ount ing, t ha t a ll nuc le a r ma t e r i a l ha s be e n c or re c t ly de c la re d a n d t ha t no div e r sion ha s oc c ur re d.
International Atomic Energy Agency Information Series Division of Public Information 07-33201 / FS Series 1/05/E A ne w re proc e ssing pl ant at R okka sho- mur a , Japan, s tarted a c t iv e c ommissioni ng and wi l l re quire v e r ific a t ion of l arge a mount s of proc e s s ed reactor plut onium.
Th e Mas s S p e c tro m e t r y Laboratories determine the isotopic compos it ion of s am p l e s a t t h e n an ogr am a n d e v e n f e m t o g r a m (10–15 g) leve ls . Hig h ly s en s itiv e s e c o n d a r y i o n mass s p ect rom e tr y a l l o ws S A L t o d raw s p at ia l im age s o f e n r i c h me n t .