Donation of a sample from the Oklo natural reactor to the Natural History Museum Vienna
On 5 March, Ms Anne Laza-Sury, Governor for France to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on behalf of the CEA and of Orano, officially donated a rock sample from the Oklo natural reactor (Gabon) to the Natural History Museum Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien). This sample will be the central object of a permanant exhibition on natural radioactivity, to open in 2019-2020
In 1972, French physicist Francis Perrin discovered, in uranium samples coming from the Oklo mining site (Gabon), traces of self-sustained nuclear fission chain reactions. He stated that these fissions occurred 2 billion years ago. Up to this day, Oklo is the one and only natural nuclear reactor known to the world.
Combined efforts of Prof. Dr. Christian Köberl, Director General of the Museum, and of Dr. Ludovic Ferrière, Curator of the rock collection, along with the financial contribution of Orano and the CEA, with the support of the French Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna have made possible that a sample of the Oklo mining site will be for the very first time presented to the public.
The donation ceremony took place inside the sumptuous location of the museum, in presence of Ambassadors, representatives of the academic and scientific research world, high representatives of the IAEA and journalists. Dr. Köberl and Dr. Ferrière successively shared their knowledge on the Oklo story and information on the upcoming exhibition dedicated to natural radioactivity. After a short speech, Governor Anne Lazar-Sury officially gave the sample to the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, before an open discussion with the public.
Several reports on this event have been published in Austrian medias:
- the Vienna Online website : "Naturhistorisches Museum Wien erhielt Probe vom Naturkernreaktor Oklo" ;
- Der Standard newspaper : "Strahlende Probe aus einem natürlichen Kernreaktor" ;
- ORF Online : "NHM erhält Probe von Naturreaktor" ;
- Science APA : "Fossiles Atomkraftwerk: NHM erhält Probe vom Naturreaktor Oklo" ;
- TECH2 (in English) : "NHM receives sample from natural reactor".