The nuclear center, which the government is building for more than 350 million dollars, looks imposing in the urbanization “Las Kantutas” in District 8 of the city of El Alto, which does not have drinking water around the clock, there is a lack of rainwater canals and is covered in dirt and covered in dust, as confirmed by these media on a visit to the area.
“We have no basic supplies and drinking water comes from a well we drilled at the neighbour’s expense,” said Bernardo Guarachi, a neighborhood leader.
Doña Juana Limachi, also a neighbor in the area, commented that the water does not flow 24 hours a day. “They cut us off for a couple of hours,” he said.
Guarachi confirmed this situation. “Between 6 in the morning and 10 in the evening there is drinking water from a well for the urbanization. The liquid is not there all day because the pump motor is warming up. We don’t exist for the Public Social Water and Sanitation Company (EPSAS), ”commented the leader.
The majority of nuclear reactors under development and construction are water-cooled reactors, the universal encyclopedia points out the importance they have to the operation of a nuclear power plant in any part of the world.
The government built is no exception to the rule. On this subject, the director of the Bolivian Atomic Energy Agency (ABEN), Hortensia Jiménez, said that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (UN) regularly visits the progress of the work at the facility.
“They come and are the ones who (monitor) the development and progress of the project and comply with safety standards,” he said.
About an hour from the center of the city of La Paz, the infrastructure worth millions reflects the extreme poverty that surrounds it, as a population of more or less 35 hectares, mostly rural migrants, who have lived in the area for more than a decade, he watches every day as the government builds the first nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes.
Last July, the President, Luis Arce, took part in an official act to begin construction of the reactor, the “third component” of the Center for Research and Development in Nuclear Technology (Cidnt), also made from a cyclotron radiopharmaceutical and a preclinical facility; and multipurpose gamma irradiation.
On March 6, 2016, the governments of Bolivia and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement that provided for the construction of a nuclear research center.
Construction work at the plant began in 2017 but was delayed in 2020 due to the change of government.
Almost four years after construction began, ABEN is absent from the area because it has not yet provided any information intended to inform the population about the benefits and risks of urbanization, a facility with these characteristics.
The population dubbed the nuclear power plant “huge,” said Guarachi, a neighborhood leader who came to “Las Kantutas” twelve years ago to live and build up like other 2,500 people who now live in the area.
Only one line of minibuses with the initials “SVA” handles the transfer of people who visit the plant after a day’s work or simply want to return home from the city of La Paz or El Alto.
The only stopping point on the line is the former Senkata Gate, so called by the locals to commemorate the facility of the same name, which is one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits that the La Paz department has to guarantee on a daily basis. the provision of fluids.
The tour lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes from the stopping point as you have to walk through streets and alleys made of dirt and stones to enter the urbanization as there is no pavement, tile and / or pavement in the area.
While driving, care must be taken not to hit dirty headlands that could damage the wheels or break springs.
Before arriving at the arrival point, there is another urbanization called “Amaranta I and II” in front of “Las Kantutas”, where the nuclear power plant will finally be built, which, according to the neighbors, will bring development and improve the lives of the population, a government promise that is still going on waiting to come true.
However, the director of the Bolivian Atomic Energy Agency (ABEN), Hortensia Jiménez, said that the area around the facility is urban.
“Today you have a completely paved avenue, you have lighting, you will have security (with regard to the operation of the research reactor) and optimal fiber optics (for the Internet),” he said, describing the advantages that the people living in the area seem to have.
However, the visit to the place revealed structural deficiencies and, above all, a lack of basic services such as water and sewerage. What to say about fiber optics for the internet or asphalt roads?
The “indirect products (leaving) the project” announced by Jiménez contrasts with a completely different reality, as poverty alone shines in the eyes of locals and strangers.
Limachi has a neighborhood store to live in. Per day, hopefully Bs100, it is generally below that.
“The Pepsi supplier has arrived. I won’t be able to buy, I don’t have enough cash, sales have fallen sharply and now I only sell bread and a cascadita (popular lemonade, which has a price of Bs1.) “, Said the neighbor in an interview with this medium.
The government agency also said it is constantly displaying information about the facility in the area. However, Guarachi claimed otherwise.
“At first (at the beginning) there were certain meetings, but not (in the background). Before the start of the work, they brought us together (to inform us), but we did not receive any further information, ”said the neighborhood manager.