Rosatom has broken ground on Bolivia’s first nuclear reactor, a research facility in the city of El Alto. Â
The reactor is part of a $350m plan to build a Centre for Nuclear Technology Research and Development (CNTRD) in the city, on the western outskirts of the capital, La Paz (see further reading).
The 200kW reactor is part of the third phase of the development, along with a radioisotope production complex and neutron activation laboratories.
A ceremony on Monday marked the pouring of first concrete, attended by Bolivian president Luis Alberto Arce Catacora and Rosatom deputy director Kirill Komarov.
President Catacora commented: "Thanks to the centre, Bolivian and foreign scientists will be able to conduct unprecedented nuclear research at an altitude of 4,000m 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."
The first two phases will involve the installation of the "Preclinical Cyclotron-Radiopharmacology Complex", which will produce radioactive isotopes for cancer treatment, as well as the "Multipurpose Irradiation Centre", which will make a gamma-ray unit for medical devices and agricultural products.
Rosatom says it will hand over these two facilities by the end of the year. The deadline for commissioning the remaining facilities, including the reactor complex, is 2024.
Some 500 Bolivian citizens are currently working at the construction site, said Evgeny Pakermanov, President of Rusatom Overseas JSC, the management company of JSC GSPI which is responsible for the CNTRD project implementation.
Rosatom commented on its website that the centre 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".
Image: Work under way on the 15ha site of the nuclear research centre (Rosatom)