Rosatom steps in Congo nuclear program

Rosatom steps in Congo nuclear program

Historically, the Republic of Congo has no nuclear power plant and research reactor facilities. Rather, the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo had two research reactors in operation. Owned by the Commissariat Général à l’Energie Atomique (CGEA) and operated by Centre Régional d’Etudes Nucléaires de Kinshasa (CREN K), TRICO-I, a 50kW reactor, was fully operational from 6 June 1959 when it first went critical to 29 June 1970 when it was permanently shutdown and dismantled but had not yet been fully decommissioned. The second and more powerful Congolese research reactor, the TRICO-II, a 1MW reactor, achieved its initial criticality on 24 March 1972 and was fully operational till November 2004 when it was temporary shutdown.  As of January 2018, TRICO-II remains in an extended shutdown condition.

However recently, ROSATOM and the Ministry of Scientific Research and Technological Innovations of the Republic of Congo today signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy.

The document was signed by ROSATOM’s Deputy Director General for International Relations Nikolay Spassky, and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Congo in the Russian Federation David Maduka.

The Memorandum is the first document in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy signed between the two countries. The document establishes a legal basis for the implementation of bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the development of nuclear infrastructure in the Republic of Congo and the development of programs aimed at higher awareness of nuclear technologies and their applications, as well as the use of radioisotopes and radiation technologies in manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare the education and training of personnel. It is planned to start developing approaches to constructing such facilities as a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology with Russian-designed research reactor at its core on the territory of the Republic of Congo. It is planned to create joint expert working groups to start implementation of the above-mentioned areas.

Note:  This laboratory, which could be attached to Marien-Ngouabi University, will help strengthen the skills of Congolese scientists (physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists and nuclear technicians).

Congo will see the development of an animal disease surveillance project on farms and certification of the health status of imported animals on its soil, this year by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The project will be carried out on the Kombé site and also provides for the equipment of the new veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Brazzaville.

Nuclear research is a cornerstone in new analytical technologies in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, mining and geology. Russia and France are important partners of the Congo in scientific research.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.