The formal opening of the multi-purpose irradiation centre (MIC) has taken place at the Centre for Nuclear Research & Technology (CNRT) in Bolivia at El Alto. The CNRT is being built by Rosatom for the Bolivian Atomic Energy Agency (ABEN). The contract for the construction of the CNRT was signed in 2017 between JSC GSPI (State Specialised Design Institute, part of Rosatom) and ABEN. The CNRT is being built at an altitude of 4,000 metres above sea level. The opening ceremony also marked installation of reactor vessel for Bolivia’s first research reactor. The ceremony was attended by Bolivian President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora, and Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev (via video link).

The first stages of construction at the CNRT– the Centre for Nuclear Medicine & Radiotherapy (CNMR), equipped with a cyclotron (particle accelerator) and radiopharmacological complex – was put into operation in March. The associated MIC, equipped with an industrial gamma plant is the second stage of construction. Work continues on the 3rd and 4th stages of the centre, which include the reactor complex and laboratory buildings. The pool-type 200 kWt SM-3 high-precision research reactor unit was developed by specialists from Russia’s Research Institute for Atomic Reactors (NIIAR – part of Rosatom) in Dimitrovgrad, where a test assembly of the facility was carried out in May. An upgraded core has been developed by NIIAR for the reactor, which will have a service life of 50 years. The target completion date for the construction of the centre’s facilities is 2025.

The reactor complex will allow Bolivia to conduct fundamental and applied scientific research, which will support development of a number of economic sectors, including the lithium industry. The research reactor will also support production of radioisotope products and will be used to train future personnel for nuclear facilities.

“Thanks to the multi-purpose irradiation centre, we will be able to process agricultural products and subsequently export them in accordance with the standards required to enter international markets,” said Luis Alberto Arce Catacora. “We are very pleased that Bolivia, with the support of the Russian Federation, is successfully introducing advanced nuclear technologies into socially significant sectors of the economy,” said Likhachev.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Instrument Manufacturing Plant (PSZ) has signed a contract for the supply of proto-sampling probes for the CNRT. Under an agreement with the State Specialised Design Institute (GSPI), the plant will manufacture and supply sampling probes to construction sites in Bolivia. These devices serve as elements of the air sampling system for radiation monitoring at the research reactor under construction. Their task is to select radioactive gas-aerosol media.

Image: The multi-purpose irradiation centre at the Centre for Nuclear Research & Technology in Bolivia (courtesy of Rosatom)