On Wednesday 21 March 2018, the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) welcomed Mr Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “It is a real honour to welcome Director General Yukiya Amano and to be able to display our contribution to the field of nuclear medicine research”, claims Eric van Walle, SCK•CEN Director General.
The IAEA Director General travelled from Vienna to Mol to learn more about the nuclear medical applications developed by the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre. First stop: the Belgian Reactor 2 (BR2). The BR2 plays a key role in the medical sector, and mainly in the fight against cancer by producing medical radioisotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Annually, the research reactor produces on average more than 25% of the world’s demand in molybdenum-99, the most used medical radioisotope, and this can amount up to 65% when the demand is high. Each year, some 7 million check-ups are carried out thanks to the Belgian production and we are working hard to develop new medical radioisotopes which would greatly increase the efficiency of treatments. The new MYRRHA research infrastructure will eventually take over the role of the BR2 and allow
advanced production of radioisotopes with its accelerator and reactor.
Today was a golden opportunity to unveil the official ICERR plaque. Last year, SCK•CEN was the third institute in the world to receive the ICERR label (International Centre based on Research Reactor) for its unique infrastructure and knowledge. This label is granted by the IAEA to advanced research centres which make use of research reactors and related equipment. Thanks to this label, the IAEA wants to give member states access to these research facilities in order to help them develop their nuclear science and technology programs.
“Awarding SCK•CEN with the ICERR status is an honour for all of our researchers and collaborators. It shows that Belgium is among the very best in the world in terms of nuclear research”, explains Eric van Walle, SCK•CEN Director General.
Director General Amano then visited the underground laboratory HADES, where SCK•CEN and NIRAS/ONDRAF carry out studies on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in a deep clay formation at a depth of 225 meters. A very busy schedule which allowed for a better understanding of the strengths of the Belgian experts.
“The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre conducts very important and impressive work in the area of nuclear medicine. Cancer is a particular focus of the IAEA’s activities. Improving access to radiotherapy and nuclear medicine is a priority for our Member States, especially for developing countries,” Director General Yukiya Amano said. “I’m also very pleased that SCK•CEN has been designated as an IAEA International Centre based on Research Reactor (ICERR). The IAEA ICERR scheme provides our Member States with access to state-of-the-art facilities and helps them achieve their national nuclear research and capacity building objectives.”
SCK•CEN recognized as a role model by IAEA