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Vinča Nuclear Institute

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Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences

The Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences is a nuclear physics research institution near Belgrade, Serbia.[1] Since its founding, the institute has also conducted research in the fields in physics, chemistry and biology. The scholarly institute is part of the University of Belgrade.[2]



Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences logo

The institute was established in 1948 as the Institute for Physics. Several different research groups started in the 1950s, and two research reactors were built.[3]

The institute operates two research reactors; RA[4] and RB.[5] The research reactors were supplied by the USSR. The larger of the two reactors was rated at 6.5 MW and used Soviet-supplied 80% enriched uranium fuel.[6]

The nuclear research program ended in 1968, while the reactors were switched off in 1984.

1958 reactor incidentEdit

On 15 October 1958, there was a criticality accident at one of the research reactors. Six workers received large doses of radiation; one died shortly afterwards.[7] The other five received the first ever bone marrow transplants in Europe.[8][9]

Six young researchers, all between 24 and 26 years, were conducting an experiment on the reactor, and the results were to be used by one student for his thesis. At some point, they smelled the strong scent of ozone. It took them 10 minutes to discover the origin of the ozone, but by they time they were already radiated. The news was briefly broadcast by the state agency Tanjug, but the news on the incident were then suppressed. The reasons included the position of state in the atmosphere of the Cold war division, but also a fact that the state commission concluded that the incident was caused by the carelessness and indiscipline of the researchers. The patients were first treated in Belgrade, under care of dr Vasa Janković. Thanks to the personal connections of the Institute director Pavle Savić, who was collaborator of Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, so they were transferred to the Curie Institute in Paris.[10]

In Paris, they were treated by oncologist Georges Mathé. Five researchers were heavily radiated: Rosanda Dangubić, Života Vranić, Radojko Maksić, Draško Grujić and Stijepo Hajduković, while Živorad Bogojević received a low dose of radiation. Mathé operated all five of them, performing the first successful allogeneic bone marrow transplant ever performed on unrelated human beings.[11] The donors were all French: Marcel Pabion, Albert Biron, Raymond Castanier and Odette Draghi, a mother of four young children. The fifth donor was Dr. Léon Schwartzenberg (fr), member of Mathé's team. On 11 November 11 1958, Maksić became the first man to receive a graft from an unrelated donor (Pabion). Out of five treated patients, only Vranić, died. Other recovered and returned to Belgrade to continue working in Vinča or other institutes. Several years later, Dangubić gave birth to a healthy baby girl.[10]

Removal of radioactive wasteEdit

In 2009, it was reported that the nuclear fuel storage pool, containing large quantities of radioactive waste, was in poor condition.[12]

In 2010, 2.5 tonnes of waste, including 13 kg of 80% enriched uranium, were transported from Vinča to a reprocessing facility at Mayak, Russia.[13] This was the IAEA's largest ever technical cooperation project, and thousands of police protected the convoys.[14][15]

Removal of the nuclear waste allows decommissioning of Vinča's remaining reactor to be completed.[16]


  1. ^ "Vinca Special Weapons Facilities - Serbia". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Members of the University of Belgrade - Vinča Institute of Nuclear Science". Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  3. ^ "Vinca Special Weapons Facilities - Serbia". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Former Yugoslavia: Research Reactor Details - RA". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  5. ^ "Former Yugoslavia: Research Reactor Details - RB". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  6. ^ "Q&A: Fuel Repatriation Project from Vinca Institute". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  7. ^ "1958-01-01". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  8. ^ Vinca reactor accident, 1958, compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
  9. ^ Nuove esplosioni a Fukushima: danni al nocciolo. Ue: “In Giappone l’apocalisse”, 14 marzo 2011
  10. ^ a b Budo Novović (16 October 2011), "Miris iz pedeset osme" [Scent from fifty-eight], Politika (in Serbian) 
  11. ^ Douglas Martin (20 October 2010). "Dr. Georges Mathé, Transplant Pioneer, Dies at 88". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Vasovic, Aleksandar (2009-06-23). "Serbs send nuclear fuel to Russia, citing security". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  13. ^ "NTI Commits $5 Million To Help Secure Vulnerable Nuclear Weapons Material" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  14. ^ "Serbia gets rid of dangerous nuclear material (". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  15. ^ "Massive Operation Safely Secures Serbian Nuclear Fuel in Russia". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  16. ^ "Nuclear decommissioning of Vinča this year". Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 

External linksEdit