03.05.2023 change 03.05.2023

MARIA nuclear reactor to be upgraded for operation until 2050

23.04.2019. PAP/Piotr Nowak 23.04.2019. PAP/Piotr Nowak

The government wants to modernise the only operating Polish nuclear reactor, MARIA, located at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Otwock - Świerk. The reason for the planned modernisation is to ensure its safe operation after 2027, until at least 2050.

The draft resolution of the Council of Ministers on the matter was announced in the list of legislative and program tasks of the Council of Ministers.

The project concerning the modernisation of the MARIA nuclear research reactor was prepared by the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

According to a press release, the MARIA nuclear research reactor is currently the only operating nuclear reactor in Poland and a unique research device 'of high importance for public health, economy and science'.

The reactor is located at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Otwock - Świerk. After more than 40 years of operation, almost all technological systems of the reactor require upgrades.

An alternative solution would be to build a new research reactor, however, its estimated cost would amount to approx. PLN 2 billion, and the costs of a possible reactor decommissioning would exceed the costs of its modernisation many times over.

The possibility of financing the modernisation of the Polish research reactor in its entirety from the state budget has been included in the amendment to the Act on the Preparation and Implementation of Investments in Nuclear Power Facilities and Accompanying Investments, and some other acts. The act was signed in mid-March by President Andrzej Duda and entered into force last week Friday.

The MARIA research nuclear reactor was named in honour of the Polish Nobel Prize winner Maria Skłodowska-Curie. Its construction began in June 1970, and it was launched in December 1974 at the Institute for Nuclear Research (currently the National Centre for Nuclear Research) in Otwock-Świerk near Warsaw. It was designed and built by Polish specialists.

The power of the MARIA reactor is 30 MW. The flux of neutrons generated during the fission of uranium nuclei is used to modify the material placed in the reactor core. The results of its operation include radioisotopes used in medicine, industry and science. In addition, the reactor is used for training and physics research purposes.

According to the resolution announcement in the list of legislative and program tasks of the Council of Ministers, extending the operation of the reactor is of fundamental importance primarily for the health and life of Polish patients.

Approx. 17 million people around the world use the products based on radioisotopes produced in the MARIA reactor. According to the estimates of the national nuclear medicine consultant, 380,000 nuclear medicine procedures are carried out in Poland every year.

Thanks to the modernization of the MARIA reactor, radiopharmaceuticals obtained at the NCBJ-POLATOM Radioisotope Centre will provide Poles with access to cancer imaging and treatment at lower prices than with alternative, foreign solutions. Radioisotopes produced in the reactor will be used for targeted alpha therapy, brachytherapy, blood sterilisation and imaging of internal bleeding, arthritis and joint pain therapy, liver cancer diagnosis and therapy, prostate and brain brachytherapy, therapy for thyroid cancer, melanoma, breast and ovarian cancer, endocrine tumours , scintigraphy, pulmonary examinations, cerebrospinal fluid examinations, etc. (PAP)

author: Łukasz Pawłowski

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