Long live MARIA!

40 lecie "Marii". Goście "Marii" (fot. Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ) MARIA guests (photo Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ)

A few hundred of guests arrived to NCBJ Świerk near Warsaw on December 17, 2014 to jointly celebrate 40th birthday of MARIA, the sole nuclear reactor operated in Poland. An expert debate on the role of research reactors in contemporary world was a culmination point of the celebrations.

Reaktor "Maria" z lotu ptaka (fot. NCBJ) A bird's-eye view of the MARIA reactor bildings (photo NCBJ)

Andrea Borio-Di-Tiglioe from International Atomic Energy Agency gave a speech on the role of research reactors in national nuclear power programmes run in various countries. Remigiusz Barańczyk from European Commission and Roy Brown, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Director pointed out importance of research reactors for nuclear medicine. Just one week of MARIA operation in that application is enough to produce a portion of radioisotopes sufficient to treat 100,000 patients of oncological clinics. Kevin Charlton from OECD discussed future perspectives for research nuclear reactors. Stamatios Tsalas and Bruno Schmitz who are directing the Euratom programme presented some plans concerning some projects of the programme. Finally, Gilles Bingan from CEA presented the Jules Horowitz Reactor project. Since mutual relations of Polish and French nuclear research institution are excellent, some physicists and technicians from Poland are engaged also in that project. NCBJ was represented in the debate by some top-rank managers, including Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, NCBJ Director General, Eng. Krzysztof Bańko MSc, POLATOM Deputy Director in charge of Trade, Eng. Grzegorz Krzysztoszek MSc, Director of the NCBJ Nuclear Energy Department. The discussion was moderated by Professor Andrzej Strupczewski from NCBJ.

40 lecie "Marii". Debata ekspercka (fot. Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ) Expert debate (photo Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ)

„The fact that MARIA’s celebrations in Świerk were attended by leading world experts has only confirmed how significant our nuclear reactor is in the international arena.” – said Professor G.Wrochna – „Our 40 years old MARIA reactor is one of the youngest facilities of that type operated in the world. We hope to continue to successfully make use of its unique features over the next decades. We are also convinced that it can significantly help to successfully accomplish the Polish Nuclear Power Programme”.

Nowadays the MARIA reactor is principally a source of intense neutron fluxes necessary for research in some fields of physics, and for applications targeted at industry, medicine, and environment protection. The reactor regularly irradiates uranium targets (of which plenty of practically usable radioactive isotopes are next produced), helps to conduct advanced studies of materials/produce new materials, and is a training facility, in which prospective staff for nuclear power industry, as well as experts in nuclear safety and radiation protection are being practically trained.

Reaktor "Ewa" (archiwum NCBJ) "Ewa", our first reactor

The „From EWA to MARIA” exhibition illustrating 60 years of Polish experience with nuclear reactors has been compiled on the occasion of the MARIA 40th birthday. EWA, the first reactor in Świerk, was put into operation on June 14, 1958 and remained operational till 1995. A few other critical sets/zero power reactors built subsequently in Świerk include two versions of MARYLA, ANNA, PRĘDKA ANNA (the first and so-far the only fast neutron reactor ever built in Poland), UR-100, and AGATA. All these facilities have already been decommissioned. The high-flux MARIA reactor which is still operated could not be designed, constructed and successfully put into operation on December 17, 1974 without that previous experience. It is expected that MARIA will remain operational for another 40 years.

Everybody could formulate his/her wishes on the occasion of MARIA 40th birthday using a specially prepared contest application published on the Institute Facebook profile. Contest runners could submit texts, pictures, photos and videos. Public interest in the contest was tremendous. Jury has awarded the grand prize to Jacek Cisło, second place has been won by Kuba Guza and Paweł Klementowski, the third place – by Mariusz Taczała, Estera Rączkowiak, Paweł Zawisza and Małgorzata Szweda. Jury has distinguished also works of Jakub Bocian, Aleksy Deryło and Kasia Stankiewicz. Contest prizes included a tablet, a set of books, an invitation to Polish premiere of the „Pandora Promise” film on nuclear power, and a special guided tour to MARIA. The celebrations were organized under the patronage of the Polish Minister of Economy.

40 lecie "Marii". Goście "Marii" (fot. Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ)
40 lecie "Marii". Debata ekspercka (fot. Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ)
Budynek reaktora Maria (fot. Marcin Jakubowski, NCBJ)
Reaktor "Maria" z lotu ptaka (fot. NCBJ)
Reaktor "Ewa" (archiwum NCBJ)