Languages
Page last updated at 23:20 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 00:20 UK

Plutonium leaks at Austrian plant

IAEA logo
The head of the IAEA had warned the Seibersdorf facility was outdated

There has been a plutonium leak at a site run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Austria.

UN nuclear monitors said pressure had built up and plutonium had contaminated a storage-room at the Seibersdorf laboratory, south of Vienna.

Last year the head of the IAEA warned the facility was outdated and did not meet UN safety standards.

Austrian officials said the empty lab had been sealed off and no-one was at risk. An investigation is planned.

The lab is used to carry out tests on samples taken during IAEA inspection missions.

El-Baradei warning

"Pressure build-up in a small sealed sample bottle in a storage safe resulted in plutonium contamination of a storage room... at the IAEA's Safeguards Analytical Laboratory in Seibersdorf," said the agency.

The leak, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, automatically set off an alarm via an air-monitoring system, said Daniel Kapp, a spokesman for Austria's environment ministry.

He added that radioactivity in the air would have been completely contained by the lab's filters, and Austrian monitoring centres had detected no increase in radioactivity, meaning no-one was in danger.

Last November, IAEA director general Mohammed ElBaradei said the site, constructed in 1970, did not meet UN safety standards.

He warned there was an "ever-growing risk" key components of the lab might break down, although the IAEA said there was no connection between Sunday's leak and the modernisation requirements.


SEE ALSO
Profile: IAEA
26 Jan 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: IAEA
26 Jan 08 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific