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Nuclear safeguards: 10-year anniversary of on-site laboratories

The news

The JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), the Directorate General for Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency celebrated on June 15 the 10th anniversary of the on site laboratories at the nuclear reprocessing plants of Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France).

On site laboratories: 10 years on

The set up of the On Site Laboratories (OSL) at the Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France) reprocessing plants 10 years ago has reduced drastically the transport of radioactive samples. The laboratories at these two largest European reprocessing plants were set up by JRC-ITU and the EURATOM Safeguards office (ESO), who were in charge of their design and installation. The inauguration took place on the 13th October 1999 in Sellafield and on the 6th June 2000 in La Hague. Since then, the On Site Laboratories have been operated by ITU personnel on behalf of DG Energy.

The 10th anniversary event provided unique insights into their functioning: from the 2000 tons of spent fuel which are reprocessed per year (equivalent to the consumption of 70 reactors), JRC-ITU performs on average 800 analyses per year, checking both input and output. Euratom inspectors of DG Energy evaluate the results to assure that the nuclear material is only used for declared, peaceful purposes.

These two plants account for over 80% of total reprocessing capacity worldwide and ITU's expertise in the field has led to providing assistance for the installation and the start-up of a similar laboratory at a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho (Japan).


Press release

  • JRC scientists monitor safeguards compliance of 80% of the world's reprocessed nuclear fuel15/06/10 Read more


Elena González Verdesoto (JRC Press officer Brussels), Tel.: +32 (0)2 299 98 62
Gabriele Tamborini (JRC-ITU Communication officer), Tel: + 49 7247951 275

Background documents

Safe nuclear materials for peaceful purposes only  EN

Illicit Trafficking and Nuclear Forensics

Electron Microscopy Laboratory

Nuclear Safeguards and non-Proliferation: Environmental Sampling Analysis

Nuclear Safety and Security: Safeguards Analytical On-Site Laboratories

Examples of Nuclear Forensic Investigations Performed at ITU