New Build

Bolivia / Latin American Country Pours First Concrete For $300 Million Nuclear Research Facility

By Kamen Kraev
27 July 2021

Russia helping with construction at El Alto site
Latin American Country Pours First Concrete For $300 Million Nuclear Research Facility
Bolivian president Luis Alberto Arce Catacora and Kirill Komarov, Rosatom's first deputy director-general, attended an inaugural ceremony at the El Alto site on 26 July 2021. Image courtesy Rosatom.
Pouring of first concrete began on Monday for the foundation of a $300m nuclear research reactor complex in Bolivia, marking the formal start of the project which will see Russia build a nuclear research and technology centre in the South American country.

In March 2016, Russia and Bolivia signed an agreement on cooperation on the construction of the centre at a site in the city of El Alto, western Bolivia. In September 2017, the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency and JSC State Specialised Design Institute, a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, signed a contract for construction.

The research centre will include a water-cooled research reactor with nominal power of up to 200 kW, an experimental gamma-installation, a cyclotron and radiopharmacology complex, engineering facilities and various laboratories.

Rosatom said the cyclotron and radiopharmacy complex and a multipurpose irradiation centre will be commissioned by the end of 2021, while the research reactor, a “key element”, is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Russia’s state news agency Tass has said the project would be fully funded by Bolivia.

The commissioning of the centre’s first facilities had been scheduled for 2019. In 2014 then-president Evo Morales reaffirmed plans for the country to embark on a nuclear energy programme, saying the project would include the construction of commercial power reactors.

Work resumed at the centre following the landslide election of a new government in October 2020 which saw Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party elected president in a landslide. Mr Arce is an ally of former president Evo Morales, who was forced into exile in November 2019. Mr Morales had allocated more than $350m for construction of the centre.

Rosatom said the project is “unique” for the nuclear industry because the research centre will be 4,000 metres above sea level, making it the highest nuclear facility in the world.

The centre will be used to produce radiopharmaceuticals, carry out more than 5,000 cancer diagnostics and treatment procedures per year, perform radiation treatment of agricultural products, and help train qualified personnel for the nuclear industry.

Pen Use this content