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Kyrgyzstan’s uranium-polluted rivers threaten Central Asia

30 october 2012, 11:26
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Wastes dump. ©RIA Novosti
Wastes dump. ©RIA Novosti
Pollution of Kyrgyzstan’s water resources with the wastes of uranium tailing dumps poses a threat to the whole Central Asian region, KazTAG reports.

“Regional risks of degradation and destruction of the uranium tailing dumps are related to a whole range of factors, especially since many of the dumps are located very close to water resources. Since they are located at the river heads (of the rivers that start in Kyrgyzstan), the potential catastrophe may cause major mass and ecological disasters and have a long-term effect on health of millions of people in the lower reaches of the rivers,” first Vice-PM of Kyrgyzstan Dzhoomart Otorbayev said at the international conference called Uranium tailing dumps in Central Asia: Join Efforts on Lowering Risks on Wednesday, October 24.

“We should not let this happen and it is also important to consider the time factor: the more we delay the process of lands reclamation and conservation, the more risk of trans-border catastrophe we have,” he explained. According to him, the situation has seriously deteriorated over the past years, wastes isolation no longer comply with the modern security requirements, the tailing dumps keep degrading and breaking, which causes pollution of both fresh and service water sources.

Otorbayev stressed that it was necessary to step up the work on ensuring radioactive security. “We would like the complex work on ensuring of radioactive security to be significantly activated, adequately to the risks and with involvement of human, financial and other resources. Our country is fully prepared for such work. We are currently at the stage of transition from consultations to practical actions in certain projects ensuring people’s security both at national and international levels,” Otorbayev noted.

According to the state registry of Kyrgyzstan mining wastes, the country has 92 tailing dumps with the total volume of 254.4 million cubic meters (457 billion tons) of mining wastes. According to the scientists, Mailuu-Suu, Min-Kush, Kadzhi-Sai and Aktyu tailing dumps remain the most vulnerable and hazardous.

Reclamation and rehabilitation of the uranium tailing dumps require $38 million, including $16.8 million for the tailing dump and prevention of landslides in Mailuu Suu, $16.9 million for the tailing dump in Min-Kush village, $3.7 million for the dump in Kadzhi-Sai and $1.5 million for elimination of the dumps in Shekaftar village.

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