IAEA Board of Governors
7-11 September 2015
Statement by Mr Mark Alexander, Alternate Resident Representative to the IAEA
Agenda Item 5: Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications
Thank you Madam Chair.
Australia welcomes the Director General’s report on Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications and takes note of the information contained within the Annexes to that document. We also thank Deputy Director Generals Chudakov and Malavasi for their helpful introduction to the report. Through its seven Annexes, the report covers a wide range of beneficial uses of nuclear science and technology, which contribute to economic development, human health and environmental protection. We recognise the important relationship between the Agency’s activities in this area and the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme, noting the significant benefits delivered to Member States in this regard.
Our delegation read with interest the report of the IAEA’s continuing work on Isotope Hydrology for Water Resources Management, as this is an area where Australia has substantial expertise. Australia and the IAEA were among the pioneers to develop capabilities to measure the isotopic abundance of key radioisotopes and stable isotopes in water. Today, Australia has active research programmes that use isotopic techniques to: measure the movement of water through the ecosystem, including marine, atmospheric, terrestrial and subterranean environments; study the characteristics of complex aquatic environments such as rivers, deltas and wetlands; and reconstruct geological aquatic climate variations to assess the scope and impact of climate change. All of this research is vital to providing responsible water management policies and practices.
Australia is also pleased to continue our cooperation with the Agency in this important area. During the course of this year, Australia hosted detailed scientific fellowships for Ghanaian and Nigerian scientists to provide experience in the application of isotopic techniques for the analysis for underground aquifers in the Sahel region. Utilising these techniques, the fellows learnt how to measure key characteristics of groundwater such as source, age, and recharge rate. Such information will be able to directly improve water management strategies which are vital in arid areas like the Sahel.
Australia has also recently provided financial support for the creation of two new projects being run by the IAEA’s Environment Laboratories at Monaco. Specifically, we are supporting the formation of a new Coordinated Research Project on “Levels, Trends and Radiological Effects of Radionuclides in the Marine Environment”, and the creation of two new certified reference materials. These projects will provide a greater understanding of marine characteristics, and both radioactive and chemical pollutants in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. This will in turn enable efficiencies in areas such as seafood management and marine environment protection practices for participating countries.
Australia’s contributions to these projects will build on our support for applying the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in the Pacific made earlier this year when we provided funding for a workshop for experts from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Palau to develop their first Technical Cooperation project designs.
Australia welcomes the update provided in the report on the status of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories at Seibersdorf, the so called ReNuAL project. This project is central to modernising the Agency’s capability in major areas of its technical competency, as well as supporting the development of these capabilities in Member States.
The work conducted at the laboratories also aligns well with Australian priorities. To give some examples:
• The sterile insect technique developed as part of the work of the Joint IAEA/FAO Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture has been useful in controlling the economic damage caused by the Queensland fruit fly.
• Australia is a member of the Dosimetry Laboratory-coordinated IAEA/WHO Network of Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratories, which helps ensure the accuracy of radiological doses to patients in nuclear medicine procedures for conditions such cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders.
• We have used the nuclear techniques developed at the Plant Breeding Laboratory to develop hardy strains of sorghum, barley and pearl millet, and acknowledge that the research done at Seibersdorf has directly benefitted farmers across the world.
Australia has been a consistent supporter of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme, and we recognise the valuable resource the Laboratories also provide Member States in this regard. We will continue to meet our TCF targets in-full and on-time, and we urge all other Member States to do likewise.
We share the high priority the Director General has given to the ReNuAL project. We confirmed at the June meeting of the Board that Australia had made a contribution of 250 000 Euros to the ReNuAL project. We can now inform the Board that Australia has subsequently made a further contribution of 350 000 Euros to the project in July, bringing our total contribution to 600 000 Euros. These contributions have been made under the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI), and bring Australia’s direct financial contributions to the Initiative to about 1 million Euros since 2011, not including substantial in-kind support and training programmes during this period. Such contributions are an important supplement to the Technical Cooperation Fund to enable the implementation of extra-budgetary projects and thus increase the impact of the TC programme’s development outcomes. We encourage other Member States in a position to do so to make contributions to the both the ReNuAL project and to the PUI.
With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Director General’s report on Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications, and endorses the Board’s submission of the report to the General Conference.
Thank you, Madam Chair.