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Kazakhstan proposes using nuclear energy in food and water industries 27 августа 2015, 20:38

Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are considering use of nuclear energy in food and water industries.
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Photo © tengrinews.kz Photo © tengrinews.kz

Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are considering an opportunity to use nuclear energy in food and water industries, Tengrinews reports citing the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerlan Idrissov.

Kazakhstan has signed an agreement establishing a fuel bank today. The agreement was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the IAEA. It officially makes Kazakhstan the country hosting the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank.

The members of the IAEA that include the UK, China, the USA, and France along with donors - the EU, Norway, Kuwait and the UAE - took part in the agreement signing ceremony today, August 27. The agreement was signed by Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov and IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano.

"Membership in IAEA along with the responsibility of establishing the LEU Bank proves the fact that Kazakhstan is a responsible and reliable partner. Let me mention that our country has a solid experience in working with nuclear materials. Kazakhstan has all the necessary conditions and infrastructure to establish the IAEI LEU Bank," Idrissov said.

The IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank, according to IAEA, provides supply mechanism of last resort physically available reserve of LEU for eligible IAEA member states. The LEU Bank in Kazakhstan will hold up to 90 metric tons of LEU. The bank is owned and fully managed by the IAEA.

Idrissov added that Kazakhstan urged the IAEA to support all the programs directed at development and transfer of technologies and knowledge in the peaceful use of nuclear power in Kazakhstan.

"We have discussed a new sphere where we can try to develop and promote our partnership. The proposed area is use of nuclear energy in food industry and water resources. I think it will become a new area of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the IAEA, which can be very fruitful," Idrissov said.

Nuclear energy is used to improve food production and agriculture. The IAEA is working on a number of programs towards advancing food sustainability using nuclear and related biotechnologies in cooperation with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Radiation is used to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects present in food, sterilize tools and equipment, and produce improved species. 

IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano said that Kazakhstan was a very fit candidate to host the LEU Bank. "Kazakhstan is one of the biggest producers of uranium and has all the necessary technologies and equipment. That is why it is a perfect place for the LEU Bank," Amano said.

"The country has a licensed nuclear platform and 60 years of experience. In addition, Kazakhstan is a steady IAEA partner. (...) I'm looking forward to the continuation of our close cooperation in the upcoming years. I'm confident that the LEU Bank will bring a significant contribution to international efforts to guarantee fuel for nuclear states," Amano said.

The IAEA LEU Bank will be established at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk (also known as Oskemen) in northeastern Kazakhstan with almost 300 thousand inhabitants. Ust-Kamenogorsk, the administrative center of East-Kazakhstan Oblast has "a large mining and metals industry". "The Ulba Metallurgical Plant is a licensed nuclear site with commercial scale operations and complete infrastructure to safely and securely store, transport and process LEU," IAEA website said.

The current expenses of Kazakhstan on realization of the project amount to $250 thousand.

By Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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