First concrete poured for Bolivian nuclear centre

29 July 2021

Bolivian President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora and Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business Kirill Komarov on 27 July took part in the ceremony of pouring the first concrete, launching construction of the research reactor complex at the Centre for Nuclear Research and Technology (CNIT). The first and second stages of the centre - the preclinical cyclotron-radiopharmacological complex (PCRK) and the multipurpose irradiation centre (MCR) will be commissioned in the coming months.

Rosatom continued to implement the project, despite the pandemic and all the restrictions associated with it, and the pace of construction was maintained. The centre is a first for the nuclear industry as it is located at an altitude of 4000 metres above sea level making it the highest nuclear facility in the world. Its construction will contribute to the development of science, medicine, agriculture and education in Bolivia, and will also create more than 500 highly qualified jobs for the residents of El Alto and La Paz.

Radiopharmaceuticals will be produced at CNIT, which will make it possible to carry out more than 5,000 procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer a year. In addition, the centre will carry out radiation processing of agricultural products, which will improve their quality, extend their shelf life and significantly increase exports. The research reactor and laboratories will allow for advanced research and training of highly qualified personnel to work in the nuclear industry.

“Bolivian and foreign scientists will be able to undertake unique nuclear research at a high altitude. They will help Bolivia develop various industries, such as the mining sector and agriculture, and explore water resources,” said President Catacora.

“For Rosatom, the construction of the nuclear research and technology centre is one of the priority tasks,” said Komarov. “This is our first such serious project in Latin America and we are doing our best for its successful and timely implementation. Despite all the difficulties, Russia has fully complied with its contractual obligations, and I am sure that in the coming years we will maintain the momentum we have gained. At the same time, we are interested in further developing relations with our Bolivian partners.”

Evgeny Pakermanov, President of Rusatom Overseas JSC, the management company GSPI, which is responsible for the implementation of the CNIT project, said: “We have completed the main construction work at the facilities for the first stage and are preparing to hand over the preclinical cyclotron-radiopharmacological complex (PCRK) and the multipurpose irradiation centre (MCR) to the customer by the end of 2021. The deadline for the delivery of the rest of the centre's facilities, including the reactor complex, is 2024.” He noted that more than 500 Bolivian citizens are working work at the construction site.

The project for the construction of the CNIT is being implemented by the Bolivian Atomic Energy Agency (ABEN) in cooperation with GSPI. This year the PCRK and MCR will be commissioned. The PCRK complex is designed to produce a wide range of isotopes that will be supplied to medical clinics in Bolivia for diagnosis and treatment. The MCR will make possible the processing of agricultural and food products. The facilities can also undertake sterilisation of medical devices.

In response to question, Komarov acknowledged that Rosatom is also interested in the extraction of lithium in Bolivia. “Yes, we have such an interest,” he told RIA Novosti. He noted that Rosatom possesses unique technologies that make possible the environmentally safe extraction of lithium from salt brines. He added that Rosatom is participating in the tender for lithium development.

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