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Construction starts on Bolivian research reactor complex

Russia’s Rosatom has launched construction works for a research reactor facility in Bolivia, which is part of a nuclear technology research and development centre (CNTRD) in the city of El Alto. A ceremony held yesterday to mark the pouring of first concrete was attended by Bolivian President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora and Rosatom First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business Kirill Komarov.

The two officials visited stages 1 and 2 of the CNTRD project: the Cyclotron Radiopharmacy Preclinical Complex (CRPC) and the Multipurpose Irradiation Centre (MIC), which will be commissioned in the next few months.

The CNTRD project is unique in the global nuclear industry, Rosatom said, in that it is located 4000 meters above sea level, and as such is the highest nuclear facility in the world. Its construction will greatly contribute to the development of science, medicine, agriculture and education in Bolivia, along with providing more than 500 highly qualified jobs for El Alto and La Paz residents, Rosatom added.

The CNTRD will be used to produce radiopharmaceuticals and will enable more than 5000 oncology diagnostics and treatment procedures to be carried out each year. It will also perform radiation treatment of agricultural products to improve their quality, extend their shelf life and significantly increase exports. This kind of food treatment does not affect the taste of food products and is absolutely safe for the consumer, which makes it a much-in-demand technology worldwide, Rosatom said. The research reactor and laboratories will allow for advanced research and training of personnel for the nuclear industry.

“Thanks to the infrastructure [of the CNTRD] Bolivian and foreign scientists will be able to conduct unprecedented nuclear research at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level, which will help us in various industries, such as mining, water resources, agriculture, and they will also carry out a multitude of other studies for the benefit of the Bolivian people,” Catacora said.

Komarov added that the CNTRD is Rosatom’s first project in Latin America “of such significance”. He said: “Despite all the difficulties, the Russian side is fully complying with its contract obligations, and I am sure that in the coming years we will maintain the momentum we have gained. That said, we are eager to develop our cooperation with our Bolivian partners.”

The CNTRD is being constructed by ABEN (the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency) in cooperation with JSC GSPI, which is responsible for the CNTRD project implementation.

“We have completed the major construction works at the Construction 1 facilities, and now we’re preparing to hand over the CRPC and the MIC to the customer by the end of 2021,” said Evgeny Pakermanov, president of Rusatom Overseas JSC. “The deadline for commissioning the remaining facilities of the centre, including the reactor complex is set for 2024. Especially, I would like to express my gratitude to our Bolivian partners and contractors for their efficient work on our joint project. Today, more than 500 Bolivian citizens are working at the construction site,” he added.

Source: World Nuclear News