National Center for Nuclear Research, Swierk - Poland

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National Centre for Nuclear Research – Otwock-Świerk

Otwock-Świerk 30 km in the south-east of Warsaw has been Polands top location for nuclear research since 1955 and continues to be so to present day. During the decades several Swierk institutes formed the core of Poland nuclear ambitions, also bearing over the time four of Polands five ever set up nuclear research reactors and critical assemblies, of which one is still at service. During the first decades from 1955 to 1982 Polands nuclear research was centralized in the Instytutu Badań Jądrowych (IBJ), which was split up in 1982 due to political dissent within the scientific staff. A new reorganization took place in September 2011 when the new National Centre for Nuclear Research - Narodowe Centrum Badań Jądrowych (NCBJ) – was merged out of the former independent Sołtan Institute for Nuclear Studies (IPJ) and POLATOM Institute for Atomic Energy (IEA). This officially occurred as direct consequence out of the current atomic energy program, with its aim of implementing a commercial atomic reactor in Poland. According to its self understanding the NCBJ shall be providing background infrastructure for this in a technical and theoretical scientific way as well as providing so called „expert support for decision makers“ in the nuclear power project. Beyond this the NCBJs profile contains almost everything connected to nuclear physics. This ranges from fundamental research in plasma physics over engineering nuclear accelerators, design and production of nuclear medical treatments to cooperation with European security and law enforcement programs such as euritrack. Also in Swierk, the national radioactive waste management facility runs several plants for intermediate storage and conditioning of any kind of radioactive waste, that is produced in Poland. This waste subsequently is being transferred to Russia, as spend fuel of the research reactors is concerned, or, in case of low and medium radioactive wast, shipped to national repository at Rozan.

Institutes in Swierk

  • Institute of Nuclear Research -Instytutu Badań Jądrowych (IBJ) - 4.6.55 until 1982
  • POLATOM Institute for Atomic Energy (IEA) 1982 until 31.10.2011
  • Sołtan Institute for Nuclear Studies (IPJ) 1982 until 31.10.2011
  • Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology (IChTJ) since 1982
  • National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) since 1.11.2011
  • Radioactive Waste Manegment Plant (RWMP) operated by the minstry of treasury

Research Reactors

Maria research reactor

Named after the polish physicist pioneer maria Curie this reseach reaktor (RR) is Polands jungest, largest, and the only one still operating. Nonetheless it has now had a run time of already 40 years. The construction started in June 1970 ans was completed in December 19741, jet supposedly it is also - according to operator information - „one of the best of European medium size nuclear research reactors.“2, which is supposed to be so due to the high neutron fluxdensity, as well as the high versatility of fuel core configuartions. MARIA therefor is used for a large scale of purposes. This are neutron and condensed matter research with neutron beams in connected refractors; radiation chemistry research; nuclear materials research; radioisotopes production; application of the radiation emitted by spent fuel assemblies; production and application of short-life radioisotopes; studies in nuclear reactor engineering and technology. Of all this, the material research is of most importance, as seen as an important contribution to Polands current Plans of building a commercial nuclear power plant.3 Maria RR was designed as a Pool-type reactor, water cooled, with Bryllium as an additional moderator and Graphite used as a neutron reflector., with a nominal power of 30MW.4 The high fluxdensity is, among constructive reasons, reached by usage of potential weapongrade highly enriched uranium containing 36 percent U235. 5This is being considered to be dangerous in means of potential proliferation and the seizure of weapongrade uranium by so called terrorist organizations. Therefor it is planed to reduce the grade of enrichment used to m fuel aria RR. It has already been downgraded from originally 80 percent enriched uranium 235 in 1999.6 In 2005 aproximatly 39 kg of highly HEU were transferd tu russia.7 This occurred among the "Global treat reduction initiative", a treatment between Russia and the united states which subsequently supports the removal or disposal of excess HEU and other and radiological materials from civilian sites worldwide.8 In September 2009 Poland and Russia signed a contract to export spent nuclear fuel to Russia to be processed at the mayak plant.9 Until then all spent fuel has been temporarily stored at Svierk.10 After the Chernobyl Catastrophe the reactor has been shout down for several years for some security improvements, and was not operating anymore before 1992. Currently it is planed to run the reactor on these configuration from 1992 at least until 2020, possibly – supposedly with some further more renovation even until 2060.


  • 1 Maria research reactor conversion to LEU fuel


  • oldest polish atomic reactor, launched in 1958 shut down february 1995
  • nominal power 10MW
  • ligthwater ractor, powered with 10% U235 LEU
  • the reactor building is currently under reconstruction and beeing turnd into a dry storage facility for nuclear waste



  • zero-power-reactor
  • unloaded and dismanteled



  • critical assembley
  • unloaded and dismanteled


Additional resources