The nuclear research center of Bolivia

The nuclear research center of Bolivia

Russia’s ambassador to Bolivia, Vladimir Sprinchan, said the Russian company Rosatom is ready to start building a nuclear research center in the South American country by the end of July. “The project is ready to start and it seems that at the end of July the start of work will be presented in El Alto”, department of La Paz, said the diplomat.

Sprinchan made the announcement when evaluating the recent visit of President Evo Morales to Russia, during which he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attended the signing of investment and cooperation agreements.

The nuclear power plant in El Alto, a city next to La Paz, will not be a power generation plant but a site for the application of technologies for health and agricultural development programs, among others. The 300 million US dollar project, personally negotiated by President Morales for three years, was formally contracted with Rosatom in October 2017, and it is expected that it will be partially operational by the end of 2019.

“It is a research center with a very small reactor, it does not need much water (…), the fuel is going to enter the reactor once in 18 years and the waste goes to an industrialization plant so that it does not contaminate “Explained Sprinchan.

Evgueni Pakermanov, president of Rosatom Overseas, the subsidiary of the company in charge of international projects, said that the alteña plant will put Bolivia in a situation of “continental leadership” in peaceful use of nuclear energy.

He said the center will have a multipurpose experimental reactor based on a scientific pressure water with a nominal power of about 200 kilowatts, a treatment center with gamma rays, a radiopharmaceutical cyclotron adapted for medical studies and several laboratories.

The center, the only one of its kind in the world at 4,000 meters above sea level, “will open the way for Bolivia towards the use of atomic technologies in science, medicine, geology, agriculture and other fields,” Pakermanov said.

Ambassador Sprinchán also stated that Morales’ visit to Moscow allowed for the creation of a legal basis to accelerate cooperation in all spheres, “with a financial and technological vision.” The diplomat identified the South American rail corridor project (Brazil-Bolivia-Peru) and assistance in the military field as areas of interest for Russian cooperation in Bolivia.

The presidents of Russia,  Vladimir Putin , and Bolivia,  Evo Morales , discussed in mid-June the  possibilities of expanding cooperation in the areas of energy and military-technical , during a meeting they held in the Kremlin.

“We are studying the possibilities of expanding cooperation in the technical-military sphere … Your country is one of our important partners in Latin America,” Putin said when welcoming the Bolivian president. “Therefore, we are pleased to see that our relationships are growing,” he said.

For his part,  Morales stressed that Bolivia and Russia are “allies” and that they share “numerous human values”. He stressed that the cooperation projects with Gazprom and Rosatom are “very interesting issues” in bilateral relations. Morales said that, apart from the gas issue,  Bolivia is very interested in cooperating with regard to lithium.

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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.