JRC News

  1. 19 Feb 2010

    To further strengthen its activities in the detection of single uranium particles, the JRC and Euratom Safeguards have decided to jointly establish a high-sensitivity particle analysis laboratory. The new laboratory's core facility will be a large geometry secondary ion mass spectrometer (LG-SIMS) for trace analysis of aerosol particles. It will allow the detection speed and sensitivity of nuclear material to be increased by at least a factor of ten. The minor isotopes of uranium will become accessible, which is important for identifying the source of the material.

    The European Commission's JRC is among the few laboratories in the world that can provide the highly specialised analytical methods and techniques needed for nuclear safeguards and forensics purposes. In Karlsruhe, Germany, the JRC's Institute for Transuranium Elements (JRC-ITU) supports Euratom Safeguards. Its mission is to ensure that within the EU, nuclear material is not diverted from its intended use and that safeguarding obligations agreed with third parties are complied with.

    Nuclear safeguards also include environmental sampling to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities. The JRC provides the safeguards authorities with experimental evidence by analysing micron-sized particles in dust material, thus enabling the detection of a single uranium particle among millions of ordinary dust particles.

    Preventing the spread of nuclear weapon technology and illicit trafficking of nuclear materials that can be used for the production of nuclear weapons, or so-called dirty bombs, is a key issue today. Illicit trafficking of nuclear material demands a qualified and comprehensive response. The JRC has been playing an active role in enhancing the European Union (EU) member states' capabilities to combat illicit trafficking for many years. An extensive training programme was developed covering all aspects of the entire response process, from the development of a national response plan to nuclear forensic analysis with advanced analytical techniques.

    The JRC's capabilities in this field were the basis for the recent agreement concluded with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to work together on science and technology for safety, security and sustainability. In particular, nuclear forensics and safeguards technology for combating illicit trafficking of nuclear material is a primary area of common interest.

  2. 22 Oct 2009

    At this year's Annual Congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM 2009), the JRC's work in the field of alpha immunotherapy received special recognition. The presentation by Frank Bruchertseifer of the JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) was nominated for the EANM 2009 Marie Curie Award and received the Eckert and Ziegler Award (Top 5 papers presented by young investigators below 38 years of age). The paper describes methods for the production of the alpha emitters Th-226 and Bi-213 and compares their therapeutic efficacy in vitro and in vivo.

  3. 15 Oct 2009

    A fully computerised Nuclear Material Accountancy and Control (NMAC) system will soon be in place at the Russian Mayak reprocessing plant located in Ozersk in the Chelyabinsk region. The project, technically managed by the JRC in the framework of the European Commission's TACIS Programme, is the first one of its kind to conceive and implement such a system in a Russian designed nuclear reprocessing facility. After validation, the complete system is likely to become a prototype for all Russian reprocessing plants. This important achievement marks a significant step forward in securing nuclear material in the Russian Federation.

  4. 14 Oct 2009

    Illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material remains a reason for concern and a threat to our security. The recent survey on radiological vulnerability in the EU identified the need for training of first responders at the European level. The JRC has been tasked by the Commission's Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security to create a European Security Training Centre and to provide a training session demonstrating the JRC's capabilities. A seminar dedicated to the response to nuclear security incidents is being held this week (14 – 16 October) at the Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) in Karlsruhe. This follows the first pilot session for training in the area of prevention and detection in nuclear security that was recently held by the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) at the JRC Ispra site.

  5. 22 Sep 2009

    The JRC is currently hosting the trial (pilot) edition of a training course on nuclear security and detection for 'frontline' European security personnel such as customs officers, police and border guards.

  6. 5 Aug 2009

    The JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), together with international partners, will carry out research into the possibilities of using catalysts based on 'actinide' elements (such as uranium, neptunium, plutonium and beyond) to convert hydrocarbons from biomass or fossil fuels into high-value chemicals. This could lead to new ways of reducing the release of greenhouse gases such as methane into the atmosphere, while at the same time offering economic benefits.

  7. 17 Jun 2009

    The Annual reports 2008 from the JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) and Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) are now available. These reports give an overview of the activities, accomplishments and resources related to the Institutes' work carried out in 2008.

  8. 27 Mar 2009

    On 26 March, the European Commission adopted a Communication on nuclear non-proliferation, identifying possible actions to strengthen the EU's contribution to international efforts in this domain, including the development of an international system of guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel under the umbrella of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document also presents the main instruments that the Community already has at its disposal to reduce the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

  9. 19 Mar 2009

    The JRC has today released details of nuclear forensic work carried out on samples dating back to the early days of the technology's history: from Germany's World War II Programme. At a workshop for journalists held today, 19 March, on nuclear security and forensics at the JRC's Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) in Karlsruhe, Germany, JRC scientists presented the results of nuclear forensic investigations into two samples dating back to the first German nuclear energy project, thought to have begun in 1939.

    One sample, a uranium metal cube, was obtained from the Haigerloch Atomic Museum in Baden-Württemberg and originated from the German "Uranverein" nuclear programme under the scientific leadership of 1932 Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Werner Heisenberg. The second sample, a uranium metal plate, was obtained from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and is thought to have played a part in the work of Heisenberg's fellow researcher, Karl Wirtz.

    Download the press release on German WWII nuclear programme forensics

  10. 14 Feb 2009

    Today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, Ekaterina Dadachova of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York gave a topical lecture on "Novel approaches to the therapy of infectious diseases", detailing the results of a joint project with scientists at the JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) on the use of alpha-immunotherapy as a new option for the treatment of HIV infections.