A nuclear technology research and development center is to be constructed in the Bolivian city of El Alto with Russian assistance, the country’s president Evo Morales announced Friday.
“This center will have a cost of $300 million, the planned installation will be completed in four years, it will use Russian technology and will be with the participation of some South American countries, like Argentina”, Morales said in a press conference following a meeting with the Federation of Neighbourhood Councils (Fejuve) of El Alto.
Morales said the project would comprise three components: a cyclotron radiotherapy facility, a multi-purpose gamma radiation facility and a nuclear research reactor.
Construction of the new center is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2016, Morales said. He requested that authorities in El Alto accelerate the transfer of land for the project.
“The construction and implementation of this center will allow our country to take a leap in scientific and technological capabilities”, the president said.
Earlier this month, Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Bolivian ministry of hydrocarbons and energy on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The document was signed by Sergey Kirienko, Rosatom director general, and Luis Alberto Sanchez, Bolivia’s energy minister.
Cooperation under the MOU is to include: the use of radioisotopes and radiation technologies and their application in industry, medicine, agriculture and other fields; providing training and education personnel; assistance in the creation and development of infrastructure for the management and regulation of Bolivia’s nuclear power program; the potential construction of a nuclear science and technology center; holding consultations on the possible construction of nuclear power plants of Russian design in Bolivia; and the development of public information programs.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said in October 2014 that the South American country would invest more than $2 billion in the development of nuclear energy over the next decade. He said that Bolivia’s nuclear energy program will “streamline and strengthen the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, in addition to improving food preservation, seeds, soil and pest control with the installation of an irradiation plant.” Morales added that the country plans to install a cyclotron PET/CT linear accelerator as well as a nuclear research reactor.
In March this year, Bolivia signed a cooperation agreement with Argentina to promote and develop the infrastructure and institutions needed for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The agreement will “strengthen the scientific, technical and financial support in national nuclear programs under the framework of [Bolivia’s] national legislation and its international obligations”, the ministry said.