5 August 2022, El Alto, Bolivia – A commissioning ceremony has been held at the site of the world’s highest-altitude Centre for Nuclear Technology Research and Development, CNTRD, where pilot operation began for its first industrial facilities, the Cyclotron Radiopharmacy Preclinical Complex, CRPC, and the Multipurpose Irradiation Centre, MIC. Hortensia Jiménez, General Executive Director of the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency, ABEN, and Evgeny Pakermanov, President of Rusatom Overseas JSC, took part in the event.
The CRPC is equipped with a cyclotron, or particle accelerator, and will be able to provide Bolivian centres of nuclear medicine with radiopharmaceuticals allowing clinics to test more than 5,000 patients every year. This will enable Bolivians to undergo a medical examination using advanced nuclear medicine in a timely and quality manner without having to leave the country.
The MIC is fitted with a gamma irradiation facility, which will contribute to food security and extend the shelf life of various agricultural products. It is capable of processing more than 70 tonnes of products per day in order to preserve their quality and consumer appeal and boost export over long distances to other countries. In addition to agricultural use, the MIC can be employed in the healthcare sector to sterilise various medical products.
"We work in close cooperation with ROSATOM in order to successfully complete the 1st and 2nd construction stages. The constructed facilities have been fitted out with cutting-edge, high-tech equipment," explained Hortensia Jiménez, General Executive Director of ABEN.
"Together with our Bolivian partners, we have done a large amount of work. At the cyclotron complex, the Bolivian students who have passed a complete cycle of training are already producing fluorodeoxyglucose, a very important radiopharmaceutical used to diagnose oncology conditions. Yesterday, for the first time in Bolivian history, we obtained technetium, another radiopharmaceutical that can only be produced in a few countries of the world. Once all the tests have been completed and the required licenses from Bolivian regulators received, the CRPC will begin supplying radiopharmaceuticals to Bolivian clinics. The first sources of radiation have already been loaded into the MIC with the test irradiation of a batch of medical products successfully conducted on August the 5th. Bolivia is now becoming one of the leading nations in Latin America in the application of nuclear technologies, something that is our joint success," said Evgeny Pakermanov, President of Rusatom Overseas.
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The Centre for Nuclear Technology Research and Development, CNTRD, in El Alto, Bolivia, is an innovative project that brings together cutting-edge nuclear technologies for healthcare, agriculture and many other sectors of industry. The CNTRD construction project is delivered by the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency, ABEN, in collaboration with GSPI JSC (under general management of Rusatom Overseas JSC). The 1st and 2nd construction stage facilities, the Cyclotron Radiopharmacy Preclinical Complex, CRPC, and the Multipurpose Irradiation Centre, MIC, have so far been commissioned. At the same time, construction and installation work is ongoing for stages 3 and 4, which include the reactor complex and laboratory buildings. Summer 2021 saw the momentous, first concrete pour ceremony for the building that will house the first research reactor in Bolivia. The target completion date for the project is set for 2025.