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Decommissioning Projects - Asia

(last updated 23 Jan 2017)

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> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

China   flag

General · Gansu · Hunan

510 Uranium Mine · 712 Uranium Mine · Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

 

Hunan Province

712 Uranium Mine

712 Uranium Mine, Hunan Province

> View deposit info

Illicit uranium mining continues in closed 712 Uranium Mine

In Hunan province, peasants have made a cottage industry out of mining uranium ore. This black-market uranium - probably uraninite, containing up to a third of uranium oxide - has been retrieved from one of 18 abandoned mine shafts in the mountains that tower above the village. A subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation had blocked the mine entrances with concrete and dirt when it left about 10 years ago, but local workers immediately blew them open again. Since then, peasants have been carting uranium ore back to the village in bamboo baskets strapped to the village donkey. They wash it in the river, like the gold panners of old, and sell it by the truckload to anyone who pays. (Sydney Morning Herald, April 5, 2008)

 

Gansu Province

510 Uranium Mine · Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine

510 Uranium Mine

"Recently, the nuclear decommission project of Longjiang Uranium Industrial Co., Ltd gained a new achievement. The waste mine from 510 mine area was totally covered by thick grass, and became a 'natural oxygen bar'." (CNNC July 30, 2009)

 

Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine

Environmental activist Sun Xiaodi sentenced to two years of Reeducation-Through-Labor; daughter to year-and-a-half

Human Rights in China (HRIC) is deeply concerned that Gansu authorities have sentenced well-known environmental activist Sun Xiaodi to two years of Reeducation-Through Labor (RTL), and his daughter Sun Dunbai, also known as Sun Haiyan, to one-and-a-half years of RTL, for criminal acts that endangered state security.
In the RTL sentencing decision, the authorities assert that Sun Xiaodi stole information relating to the state-owned No. 792 Uranium Mine in Gansu, and gave it to his daughter to supply to overseas organizations, and that he distorted facts, spread rumors, and incited the public with libelous slogans of "nuclear pollution" and "human rights violations." The sentencing decision also states that the authorities have proof of the criminal acts committed by Sun and his daughter, including witness testimony, Sun's and his daughter's own statements, material proof, and official "state secrets" classification of the information Sun and his daughter handled.
"If the authorities have evidence that Sun Xiaodi and his daughter endangered state security, they should present it in an open and fair trial," said Sharon Hom, executive director of HRIC. "Instead, they chose RTL - a nontransparent process of administrative punishment lacking procedural protections - raising strong suspicions about their handling of these cases." HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to review the Sun cases and rescind or suspend their RTL sentences. (HRIC July 16, 2009)

Environmental activist Sun Xiaodi and daughter face Reeducation-Through-Labor

On July 10, 2009, Hu Jianhong, wife of anti-nuclear activist Sun Xiaodi, confirmed with Human Rights in China (HRIC) that the Public Security Bureau of Diebu County, Gansu Province, has recommended at least half-a-year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) for Sun and their daughter, Sun Haiyan (also known as Sun Dunbai). On June 16, 2009, Sun Xiaodi and Sun Haiyan were both detained on "suspicion of providing state secrets overseas."
Hu believes that Sun Xiaodi was detained because he revealed exaggerations made by officials of Diebu County, Gansu Province, about the earthquake disaster and issues such as nuclear contamination by the No. 792 Uranium Mine, and because his work compromised the local officials' vested interests. Sun Haiyan was accused by the police of posting related information on the Internet. (HRIC July 10, 2009)

Environmental Activist Sun Xiaodi faces further harassment

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Gansu-based activist Sun Xiaodi is facing serious harassment by local officials and unknown persons, and has been unable to obtain official permission to seek medical treatment in Beijing for a potentially life-threatening health condition. (HRIC Jan. 2, 2007)

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that rights activist Sun Xiaodi has gone to Beijing for treatment of a life-threatening tumor, while he and his family continue to be seriously harassed and face financial hardship. (HRIC March 27, 2007)

Activist Sun Xiaodi released from prison

Sun Xiaodi was released from Lanzhou Prison on Dec. 27, 2005. He remained under house arrest until notified on March 12, 2006, that he would be fully released on March 20, 2006. The notice specified that Sun should not leave his village in Diebu County after his release. Following his release from house arrest, Sun set off for Beijing on March 29, 2006, with the intention of petitioning the central government once again, and he was arrested again on April 6, 2006. (HRIC release Apr. 7, 2006)
He was released soon afterward, but remains under constant police surveillance. (HRIC release Dec. 2, 2006)

Activist disappeared after reporting contamination from uranium mine / Call for action

"Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that a Gansu uranium mine employee has been missing for 110 days after being detained by public security police following his attempts to petition officials over severe radiation poisoning affecting local residents."
"The No. 792 Uranium Mine is located in Diebu County (also known as Thebo District) in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It was originally established under the State Nuclear Industry Department as one of China's most important sources of uranium, but was "closed as a matter of policy" in 2002 on the basis of mine-exhaustion. Sources say that after the closure, mine employees accused mining and Nuclear Industry Department officials of plundering employee and state assets and damaging the environment, not only locally, but in all downstream areas. However, their complaints were ignored by the authorities.
Sources say that radioactive material from the mine has been improperly handled, with the result that residents near and downstream of the plant have begun suffering a high incidence of cancerous tumors, leukemia, birth defects, miscarriages and other unusual afflictions. Before the mine opened in 1980, the area was well populated by a large variety of fish, bird, plant and animal species, but has since become a barren wasteland. Livestock also suffer unusually high death rates, apparently from drinking contaminated water. Banks, shops and other public buildings report radiation levels many times higher than the normal level. Local medical workers report that nearly half of all deaths in the area are from some form of cancer, but patients' case histories are routinely altered because of "state secrets" concerns. As a result, many residents remain ignorant of the health hazards, and no preventative measures are taken to protect human and animal life.
Sources say Sun Xiaodi began reporting these health concerns to the Nuclear Industry Department in 1988. Instead of an official response, however, Sun reportedly found himself subjected to various forms of retaliation. In 1994 he was dismissed from the mine and forced to make due on a subsistence allowance of a little over 100 yuan per month. His wife and daughter also faced a range of discriminatory treatment and harassment, and the family was under constant surveillance and telephone monitoring, culminating in Sun Xiaodi's apparent abduction at the end of April [2005]." (HRIC release Aug. 19, 2005)

"HRIC fully supports the efforts of Sun Xiaodi's family and friends to ascertain his whereabouts and secure his release. [...] HRIC urges the international community to press the Chinese authorities to conduct an in-depth investigation of Sun's allegations of the corruption and severe human health impacts and environmental degradation at the Gansu No. 792 Uranium Mine." (HRIC release Sep. 7, 2005)

 


Kazakhstan   flag

General · Akmola · Almaty · Mangystau · Zhambyl

Koshkar-Ata, Aktau · Krasnogorsk · Kurday · Tselinny · Zharkent


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

Scientists concerned about lack of groundwater restoration after uranium in situ leaching in Kazakhstan

[...] This in situ leach (ISL) method avoids making a mess above ground, but leaves toxic levels of heavy metals in the ground water. In the US, companies using the method have tried for years and failed to return ground water to its pre-mining state. In Kazakhstan, a country that has seen the disastrous effects of the Soviet Union's use of nuclear testing and waste disposal, officials with the state-owned uranium company, Kazatomprom, express no concern about the legacy of its rapidly expanding use of ISL mining. They argue that natural processes will clean the mine site.

Scientists studying the effects of ISL doubt how quickly mine sites can self-cleanse. This uncertainty appears to be little known to both Kazakhstan's nuclear industry and fledgling environmentalists. In the near term, the stakes do not appear high: Kazakhstan's uranium mines are mostly located in deserted areas of an already sparsely populated country. But as the US learned in its own uranium-rich Southwest, population patterns and land use can change, potentially deferring an expensive cleanup or rendering some water resources unusable. "Kazakhstan is a growing country and the pollution could persist for up to thousands of years, and you just don't know in the future if people might live in the area," says Brian Reinsch, an environmental scientist researching ISL remediation methods in Kazakhstan. It could take natural processes between tens to thousands of years depending on the conditions at each mine site, says Dr. Reinsch. Active remediation efforts can shorten the time substantially, removing the uncertainty that comes with such longtime horizons.

ISL mining in many parts of the world involves some treatment of the solution that is left behind in the ore-bearing aquifers. If untreated, the solution could contain arsenic and cadmium at levels thousands of times higher than drinking water standards, says Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer at Monash University in Australia. Arsenic can also be absorbed by plants, leaving the water unusable for irrigating crops. Over time, the contaminated water will gradually spread laterally often at paces as slow as a meter per year beyond the mining site. ISL mine sites are chosen in areas where there are barriers like clay above and below the ore deposit to prevent water from seeping vertically into new aquifers with higher quality water. But the clay layer is not entirely continuous, nor is it certain the mining acid wouldn't dissolve the clay, according to Reinsch. Furthermore, the mining process treats the ore-bearing aquifer like a pincushion, drilling holes all over the area. These are plugged up. But there is uncertainty about the spread of contamination over the long haul. "Even if we were monitoring for five or 10 years, that's nowhere near enough. We need literally hundreds of years of data of watching these sites to show yes, they are stable," says Dr. Mudd.
Kazatomprom officials say they don't share this doubt. "It's the other way around," says senior manager Kalilallo Baytasov, who notes companies must set aside funds in case cleanup is needed. "We extract ... uranium from the formation and send it to atomic reactors, so we are actually purifying the subsoil from heavy metals."

In 2012, Kazakhstan accounted for 35 percent of global uranium production, garnering $1.54 billion in uranium sales for Kazatomprom. China bought more than half of it. The company claims that "it has been unambiguously proved" that southern areas of Kazakhstan have "a unique capability of self-restoration."
But Susan Hall, a geologist with the US Geological Survey, says: "When I question them about what kind of work they've done to prove this concept, I don't get a clear response." [...] (The Christian Science Monitor Aug. 28, 2013)

Past uranium mining in Kazakhstan still causing elevated uranium concentrations in river water

Uranium series radionuclides in surface waters from the Shu river (Kazakhstan) , by Burkitbayev M, Uralbekov B, Nazarkulova S, et al., in: Journal of Environmental Monitoring Vol. 14, No. 4, April 1, 2012, p. 1189-1194

No groundwater restoration required for Kazakh in-situ leach uranium mines?

"Full self-recovery of soil within 12 years after completion of mining operations: It has been unambiguously proved that the natural hydrochemical environment of uranium deposits of South Kazakhstan has a unique capability of self-restoration from man-caused impact. Due to the eventual restoration of natural oxidation-reduction conditions there is a slow but irreversible process of recultivation of subsurface waters of ore-containing water horizons."
[Olga Gorbatenko, NAC "Kazatomprom": In-situ leaching method in uranium production in Kazakhstan, IAEA Technical Meeting on "The Implementation of Sustainable Global Best Practices in Uranium Mining and Processing" in cooperation with the WNA, 15 - 17 October 2008]

 

Akmola Province

General · Krasnogorsk · Tselinny

General

Plant for extraction of rare earths from uranium mill tailings, Stepnogorsk (Akmola Province)

Test production of rare earths from Kazakh uranium mine residues commenced: Japan's Sumitomo Corp. has commenced test production of rare earth elements in its joint venture (JV) with Kazatomprom, the national atomic energy company of Kazakhstan. In a statement sent to IM, a spokesperson for Sumitomo in Tokyo confirmed: "Currently, we are producing a small amount of rare earth materials on a trial basis since this June, and we are now making preparations to go into commercial production." Exports to Japan had been due to start in 2013, suggesting that the project is at present behind schedule.
The two companies set up Summit Atom Rare Earth Co. LLP (SARECO) in 2010 to recover rare earth elements within residues from Kazatomprom's uranium mines. The JV company built a new factory in 2012 to work alongside one of Kazatomprom's existing facilities, and in the same year announced an annual output target of 1,500 tonnes rare earth oxides in its initial years of operations, to be scaled up to 3,000 tonnes by 2015 and 5,000-6,000 tonnes by 2017 according to a SARECO announcement. (Industrial Minerals Oct. 17, 2014)

Plant for rare earth production from uranium-ore residue opened in Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan's state nuclear company and Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp opened a new plant on Friday (Nov. 2) to produce rare earth metals. Summit Atom Rare Earth Co, a joint venture between Kazatomprom and Sumitomo, will produce 1,500 tonnes a year of rare earth oxides at a $30 million plant in the north of the Central Asian republic. Located in Stepnogorsk, near the capital Astana, the new plant intends to double annual production capacity to 3,000 tonnes by 2015, Kazatomprom said in a statement. By 2017, it would be capable of producing between 5,000 and 6,000 tonnes per year of rare earth oxides, it said. (Reuters Nov. 2, 2012)

> See also: Rare earth recovery project for Aktau uranium mill tailings

 

Krasnogorsk uranium mine, Yesilsk district, Akmola region

Carbon monoxide exhalation from former Krasnogorsk uranium mine identified as cause of mysterious sleeping sickness among village residents

A closed uranium mine was pinpointed as the culprit behind the outbreaks of a mysterious sleep-inducing disease that has plagued the residents of two villages in Kazakhstan since 2013.
"The cause of the disease... has been established. It's carbon monoxide," said Deputy Prime Minister Berdybek Saparbayev. "There used to be a uranium mine in the area, which is now closed. Occasionally it released carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon [sic, presumably methane] in high concentrations... That is when these 'sleepy disease' outbreaks happened."
Villagers at Kalachi and Krasnogorsky, which stand roughly 600 meters apart, started complaining about strange onsets of sleepiness, nausea and hallucinations in March 2013. Doctors had trouble diagnosing the disease that affected about one in 10 people.
The conclusion of the Kazakh researchers was independently confirmed in Moscow and Prague, Saparbayev said. The local authorities decided to move both villages to a safer location. (RIA Novosti July 11, 2015)

Carbon monoxide exhalation from former Krasnogorsk uranium mine suspected as cause of mysterious sleeping sickness among village residents

Scholars in Kazakhstan confirmed a hypothesis on the cause of "sleep illness", which affected many residents in the Kalachi village. According to the Novosti-Kazakhstan information agency, Viktor Kryukov, the former director of a shaft at the abandoned Krasnogorsk Uranium Mine, advanced a theory. Mr Kryukov assumes that the cause of falling asleep is carbon monoxide, which started surfacing through cracks in soil.
"This is a normal chemical reaction under the ground. Water was no longer pumped out of the shaft after its closure and it filled all the empty spaces over last 20 years. And we have left wood used for propping and reinforcing [shaft walls and ceilings] down there because it was [radioactive] from using in uranium mines, so it could no longer be used elsewhere. The wood started to oxidise in water and started emitting carbon monoxide (CO)".
In April 2015, a group of scientists from the geo- and radio-ecological research department under the National Nuclear Centre (NNC) drilled 12 boreholes in Kalachi to test Mr Kyurkov's theory. Samples were then examined at the National Nuclear Centre under the Radiation Safety and Ecology Institute. The findings lent support for Mr Kryukov's theory. NNC Deputy Director General Sergey Lukashenko said, "We identified increased contents of the CO carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon in the samples [collected] in Kalachi. I would formulate the cause of the 'sleep illness' in the following way: periodical inhalation of air with decreased concentration of oxygen and increased concentration of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon. The most interesting part is that 'sleep illness' is not caused by one factor, but a composition of three factors does". (Fergana News May 27, 2015)

 

Tselinny uranium mill tailings

Lack of dust control at Tselinny tailings

The irrigation of the Tselinny uranium mill tailings became insufficient, since the uranium production of the mill was reduced in 1996. Today, only one third of the 800 hectares of tailings is being irrigated, and wind erosion of tailings has become a serious problem. Since neither the present owner, Joint-Stock Company "Kaz-Subtone", nor the local governments have sufficient funds available for continued irrigation, the allocation of the necessary 50 million Tenge (US$ 330,000) is now sought in parliament from the national budget. (SEU Times No. 3 (25), April 2002)

 

Mangystau Province

General · Koshkar-Ata, Aktau

General

Ore grades too low for revival of uranium mining in Mangistau Province

In spite of the strive of Kazakhstan's west to diversify itself away from oil, uranium mining is not going to be revived in Mangistau Oblast for the time being, reports Tengrinews citing the Oblast's Akim (Mayor) Alik Aidarbayev. "According to our experts, the concentration of uranium in our ores is so low that revival of this industry is counterproductive. The uranium industry is developing rapidly in other regions of our country, such as South Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda Oblasts," said Aidarbayev at the briefing at the Center for Communication Service. (Tengrinews Nov. 17, 2013)

More than one hundred thousand tons of hazardous waste sulfur found near Aktau

More than one hundred thousand tons of hazardous waste sulfur were found near Aktau. The piles of toxic substances in the plant "KazAzot" do not even have a cover, and the wind blows the substances all over the county. And, on rainy days they form a whole puddle of sulfuric acid! And all this - in the middle of the suburbs! Environmentalists have demanded to remove the waste, or at least install a safety fence. However, the company "KazAzot" is not in a hurry to get rid of the landfill.
The waste piles comprise about one hundred thousand tons of pure sulfur and iron pyrites. This raw material was once used to produce sulfuric acid for the uranium industry. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the wastes piles were somehow forgotten. (KTK Nov. 12, 2013)

 

Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings, Aktau, Mangistau Oblast

Aerial view: Google Maps

Reclamation of Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings to resume in 2013

Reclamation of the tailings at Koshkar-Ata may resume in 2013 if the city administration completes the project documents in the near future. This was announced by Kazakhstan's Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection Mirlan Mukhambetov. (Gazeta.kz June 11, 2012)

Rare earth recovery project for Aktau uranium mill tailings

Kazakhstan plans to join the race to supply rare earth metals to a global market squeezed by Chinese export cuts when it launches a project with Japanese trader Sumitomo Corp to treat uranium tailings in 2012. Summit Atom Rare Earth Co, co-owned by Kazakh state uranium miner Kazatomprom, plans to start producing 1,500 tonnes a year of rare earth oxides, Kazatomprom said in a written reply to questions. Kazatomprom said the Summit Rare Earth joint venture would process tailings from a disused plant in the western Kazakh city of Aktau and export rare earths mainly to Japan and Europe. (Reuters Mar. 24, 2011)

> See also: Plant for extraction of rare earths from uranium mill tailings, Stepnogorsk (Akmola Province)

Analysis of plant samples documents contamination in the surroundings of former Aktau uranium mines

Two former uranium mines and a uranium reprocessing factory in the city of Aktau, Kazakhstan, may represent a risk of contaminating the surrounding areas by uranium and its daughter elements.
One of the possible fingerprinting tools for studying the environmental contamination is using plant samples, collected in the surroundings of this city in 2007 and 2008. The distribution pattern of environmental pollution by uranium and thorium was evaluated by determining the thorium and uranium concentrations in plant samples (Artemisia austriaca) from the city of Aktau and comparing these results with those obtained for the same species of plants from an unpolluted area (town of Kurchatov).
The determination of the uranium and thorium concentrations in different parts of A. austriaca plants collected from the analyzed areas demonstrated that the main contamination of the flora in areas surrounding the city of Aktau was due to dust transported by the wind from the uranium mines. The results obtained demonstrate that all the areas surrounding Aktau have a higher pollution level due to thorium and uranium than the control area (Kurchatov). A few "hot points" with high concentrations of uranium and thorium were found near the uranium reprocessing factory and the uranium mines.
Biomonitoring of environmental pollution by thorium and uranium in selected regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, by Zoriy P, Ostapczuk P, Dederichs H, et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity , March 24, 2010 (ahead of print)

> See also: Strahlenbelastung der Bevölkerung in der Region Aktau, Kaspisches Meer (Geschäftsbereich Sicherheit und Strahlenschutz, Forschungszentrum Jülich)

First stage of reclamation of Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings completed

The first stage of reclamation of the second section of the Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings was completed by installing a cover layer of 0.25 - 0.75 metres of inert soil over an area of 40.3 hectares. The project cost was 394.26 million Tenge [US$ 2.65 million].
The reclamation of the particularly contaminated first section comprising 24.5 hectares had been completed in September 2008 by installing an 0.25 metre reinforced concrete cover.
The complete reclamation of the 2700 hectares of bare tailings is expected to last 4 years at cost of 2.4 billion Tenge [US$ 16.14 million]. (Kazakhstan today Aug. 17, 2009)

Reclamation to begin at Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings

Reclamation of two sections of the Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings dam is to begin on Nov. 1, 2007, and will last 20 months. On Oct. 30, 2007, 402 million Tenge (US$ 3.38 million) have been set aside from the state budget for the reclamation work.
At present, the highest gamma radiation doses at these sections are 3000 micro Roentgen per hour [18.4 micro Sievert per hour]; the applicable standard is 100 micro Roentgen per hour [0.614 micro Sievert per hour], and the reclamation goal is 29.4 micro Roentgen per hour [0.18 micro Sievert per hour]. (Kazakhstan today Oct. 31, 2007)

Low-cost reclamation of Aktau tailings to begin from 2007

124 million Tenge (US$ 1.01 million) have been set aside from the 2007 state budget for the reclamation of the Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings, a project that is to begin in 2007. The total reclamation cost is estimated at US$ 8.4 million. (Kazakhstan today Oct. 26, 2006)

Rising groundwater level increases hazard from Aktau tailings

The rising groundwater table in the Aktau area increases the hazard of contaminant dispersal from the Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings to the region and to the Caspian Sea. Scientists, therefore, call for efforts to isolate the tailings. (Kazakhstan today Aug. 18, 2005)

Reclamation of Aktau tailings to start from 2005

The reclamation of the Koshkar-Ata uranium mill tailings at Aktau is scheduled to begin in 2005 and will cost more than 10 billion Tenge (US$ 76 million), to be funded by the state budget. At present, the expenses on the tailings deposit amount to 300 million Tenge (US$ 2.3 million) annually. (Kazakhstan today June 16, 2004)

Scientific study on Aktau tailings completed

High levels of heavy metals, rare earth elements, and radionuclides were found in the tailings material and in soils. However, the researchers came to the conclusion that the dust blown from the tailings does not constitute a radioactive danger. Groundwater contamination is identified as the major environmental issue, with potential to contaminate the Caspian Sea.
The Koshkar-Ata tailings pond contains 400 million tonnes of radioactive and toxic waste, including 105 million tonnes of uranium mill tailings. It is located in a depression without exit. Currently, 55% of the tailings surface is covered with water. It is, however, estimated that the complete pond will dry out within 5-6 years.
The study was performed by the Institute of Nuclear Physics on behalf of the Mangistau Oblast Nature Management Department. (Kazakhstan today Jan. 6, 2004)

Dusting problem at Aktau uranium mill tailings remains serious still

Waste dumps near the western Kazakh town of Aktau remain a source of environmental concern for local ecology officials and scientists. Hundreds of million of tonnes of various radioactive and toxic waste, including some 100 million tonnes of uranium waste, have been discharged into the 'Koshkar-Ata' repository since 1965, impacting the adjacent area and the health of local inhabitants.
"The fine dust from the bare spots of the tailing are blown towards Aktau due to rising winds," said Sarkyt Kudaibergenov, the deputy director of the Kaztransoil science-technology centre, describing the situation as serious.
The dusting problem probably even would be worse, if the Mangistau Chemical Metallurgical Plant had not discharged phosphoric gypsum to the dump from 1994 to 1996. The phosphogypsum has formed a crust, preventing more dusting - for the time being, at least. Also, the recent wet years were favourable for dust suppression, in maintaining the water cover on parts of the tailings. However, a long-term management strategy for the tailings dump still has to be found. (IRIN Sep 26, 2003)

Kazakhstan cannot control major uranium waste dump

Kazakhstan cannot resolve a problem with control over the state of the Koshkar-Ata tailings dump, which is 5 km away from Aktau. Three competitive tenders have been held this year to choose a contractor to carry out continuous monitoring of the possible transformation of the radioactive and toxic wastes from the dump into dust. However, a contractor has not been chosen because there were not enough participants in the tenders. The Koshkar-Ata tailings dump has accumulated over 400 million tonnes of radioactive and toxic waste since 1965; the local budget has allocated some 200,000 dollars to maintain the dump in a stable state for 2001. (BBC Monitoring Service - UK, Nov 14, 2001)

 

Zhambyl Province

Kurday

Kurday uranium mine, Pribalkhash district

Study finds elevated radiation levels at former Kurday uranium mine site, calls for action

High concentrations of uranium and associated trace metals were found in water and in fish from the pit lake of the former Kurday uranium mine. In addition...
"[...] Total gamma and Rn dose rate to man amounted to about 6 mSv/y, while the highest calculated dose rate for non-human species based on the ERICA Assessment Tool were obtained in aquatic plants, with calculated mean doses of 700 Gy/hr, mostly due to the U exposure. Overall, it is concluded that measures such as restricted access to the Pit Lake as well as dietary restrictions with respect to drinking water and intake of fish should be taken to reduce the environmental risk to man and biota."
Environmental impact assessment of radionuclides and trace elements at the Kurday U mining site, Kazakhstan, by Salbu, B, Burkitbaev, M, Stromman, G, et al. in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, July 10, 2012 (ahead of print)

 

Almaty Province

Zharkent

Zharkent uranium mine

Reclamation of Zharkent uranium mine to start in 2006

K. Orynbayev of the Department of Natural Resources of the Almaty region reported that a study is being conducted on the closing of the uranium mine in Zharkent. The cost for the conservation of the underground mine are estimated at 24 million Tenge (US$ 180,000). It is planned to conduct tender during March - April 2006, and the works are to begin, once a contractor is determined. (Kazakhstan today Sep. 27, 2005)

 


Uzbekistan   flag

General
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

EBRD sets up new fund for remediation of Central Asia's uranium mining legacy

> View here

Cattle grazing on uranium mill tailings in Angren

Angren markets sell meat from animals raised in a radioactive zone - from the mountain gorges between Angren and Yangiabad. The city of Yangiabad is 10 km away from Angren. Uranium was extracted there between 1940 and 1980. There remain tailings storage facilities to this day, containing radioactive rock formations extracted from the uranium mines, situated in the mountain gorges between the two cities. (Uznews.net Apr. 30, 2014)

 


Tajikistan   flag

General · Chkalovsk · Digmai · Taboshar
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

EBRD sets up new fund for remediation of Central Asia's uranium mining legacy

> View here

Tajikistan adopts concept on reclamation of legacy uranium mill tailings

The Government of Tajikistan has approved the Tajik National Concept on rehabilitation of uranium tailings for 2014 - 2024, reports the Tajik President's Administration. Total amount of waste in the tailings is more than 55 million tons. The total activity of the waste is ranging from 6.5 to 7.7 thousand curies [240 - 285 TBq], according to various estimates. (AKIpress Sep. 29, 2014)

EurAsEC countries allocate US$ 39 million for the remediation of uranium mill tailings in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

> See here

UN sounds alarm on unsecured uranium mill tailings in Tajikistan

The former Soviet republic, where Stalin's empire once mined uranium to create its first nuclear bomb, is still stuck with about 54.8 million tonnes of unsecured waste from the now mainly abandoned mines, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said.
The waste is "not treated, not confined, not secured," agency spokesman Jean Rodriguez told reporters in Geneva.
In its second environmental performance report for the country, the UN agency lamented the lack of progress made to clean up the radioactive waste, which it said appeared to remain at the same level as in 1990. "The state of radioactive waste storage is one of the main problems in Tajikistan," it said, noting that a number of the unsecured sites are near Khujand, Tajikistan's second largest city. The largest single dump site contains 12 million tonnes of radioactive waste and is in the town of Taboshar, north of Khujand, the report showed. Uranium from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan was also processed for decades near Khujand, and 35,000 cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste accumulated there, according to UNECE (AFP Dec. 12, 2012)
> View UNECE release Dec. 14, 2012
> Download Environmental Performance Reviews: Tajikistan, Second Review , United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Nov. 2012

Tajikistan now concerned over safety of tailings dumps rather than development of uranium deposits, President of the Academy of Sciences says

Tajikistan is now concerned over rehabilitation and safety of tailing dumps rather than exploration and development of uranium deposits, President of the Academy of Sciences, academician Mamadsho Ilolov, remarked at a news conference in Dushanbe on October 9. According to him, there is a large number of tailing dumps in northern Tajikistan. In the Soviet era, the northern city of Chkalovsk had been one of centers of the uranium industry. Chkalovsk's enterprises had been processing not only Tajik uranium ore. They had also processed uranium ore delivered from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
"Radioactive waste was stored in tailing dumps that do not meet appropriate safety rules and are situated in the immediate proximity to residential areas and rivers," said the academician, "Therefore these tailing dumps pose threat to the environments." Moreover, resumption of the uranium industry requires huge funds, while Tajikistan now does not have such funds, Ilolov said. (Asia-Plus, Oct. 9, 2009)

Tajikistan investigates feasibility of uranium recovery from reprocessing of uranium mill tailings

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IAEA assists Tajikistan to assess hazards from abandoned uranium mill tailings

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) programme is assisting Tajikistan to assess the impact of millions of tonnes of uranium tailings in abandoned sites.
The tailings sites, a potential source of radioactive and heavy metal pollution, are the legacy that has accumulated in the region over five decades of operation of uranium mines and mills without proper environment management programmes in place. Some of the 10 abandoned uranium mill tailings sites are sited near towns and villages. All of them are in the north of Tajikistan. In Taboshar, a former centre of uranium mining and milling, a hill of more than one million tonnes of process residue tailings lies unprotected, vulnerable to erosion by wind and rain. Animals drink from pools of water that gather at the foot of the hill when seasonal rains fall, and children play around it. Some material from the tailings sites has also been used in home construction.
But Tajikistan is ill equipped to undertake, on its own, the task of securing the tailings legacy. IAEA sees its assistance programme as a first step towards seeking donor funding to secure them. (IAEA June 28, 2007)

Planning for management of abandoned uranium mill tailings in Tajikistan begins

Vostokredmet, the company which mined uranium ore in the Soviet period, announced on October 2, 2006, that the process of documenting radioactive waste pits has begun and plans are being made to bury them safely. Ecologists in Tajikistan say plans to seek donor funding to bury radioactive waste in the north of the country are long overdue, and warn that local people are still disturbing contaminated earth in the area. (NBCA Oct 6, 2006)

Tajikistan seeks foreign help for cleanup of legacy from Soviet era uranium mining

"After the Soviet era uranium extraction in northern Tajikistan, some 50 million tonnes of radioactive waste still remain. If earthquakes, landslides or other cataclysms were to intensify, the contamination may spread," warned Saulius Smalys, the pan-European Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) environment advisor in Dushanbe. Contaminated soil is "open to wind and rain" and nuclear waste "is dispersed over dozens, if not hundreds, of kilometers around," Smalys said.
"Extraction was done manually, with sieves. The technology was so primitive that most of uranium bioxides remained in the waste dump," he said.
Nowadays, the radiation levels now in abandoned mines exceed the norm by scores, while hundreds of Tajiks continue to live on polluted territories, with mine entrances still yawning wide open for the wind to carry contamination far away. According to the OSCE, cancer levels in the north of Tajikistan are 250 percent higher than in other regions. "Some mines are in inundated areas, near rivers, and radioactive waste may reach the Syrdaria river with rains," Smalys said. This would prove a catastrophe to the fertile Fergana valley along the great Syrdaria river, with its 10 million inhabitants.
The OSCE plans to aid Tajikistan in working out a technical project to decontaminate the area and is calling on sponsors such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO for funds. Tajikistan would require "hundreds of millions of dollars" to decontaminate about 10 abandoned mines, said Djabor Salomov, vice-director of the Tajik Academy of Sciences' nuclear security agency. (The Taipei Times 17 Dec 2004)

 

Chkalovsk

Villagers farm perilously close to abandoned uranium dump

Reporter Kamari Ahrorzoza has been visiting Gazion, a village in northern Tajikistan, where residents live and work in close proximity to an old uranium mine. The site, just two kilometres from the village, is one of eight in the region where uranium ore waste has been left where it was dumped when the Chkalovsk plant was processing uranium for the Soviet nuclear industry.
These days, villagers admit that they pasture their cattle close to the site even though it is not allowed. They blame radiation for health problems and lower crops yields. Environmental specialists confirm that areas near the uranium dumps have abnormally high levels of ambient radiation. Villagers admit that they visit the unguarded dump site to pick up scrap metal for resale. That poses dangers to the unwitting buyers who use the recycled steel as part of a house structure and who may suffer health consequences years later.
The authorities merely monitor radiation levels as they do not have the funds to clean up areas like this. "It would take an awful lot of money to render these sites harmless, and the government budget can't stretch to that," said Nurmon Hakimov, local branch head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Agency, part of Tajikistan's Academy of Sciences. "The state-owned [rare metals] enterprise Vostokredmet isn't in a position to pay for it, either." (IWPR/Central Asia Radio Feb. 20, 2009)

Tajikistan: High radiation in Leninabad region from former uranium mining

Uranium of Leninabad: A Legacy of Radiation , by Iskandar Firuz, Eurasianet 10/3/00

 

Digmai

(also spelled Degmai, Degmay)

Elevated radiation dose rates found near unsecured Digmai uranium mill tailings

"An assessment of the radiological situation due to exposure to gamma radiation, radon and thoron was carried out at selected former uranium mining and processing sites in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. [...] The detectors were exposed for an extended period of time, including at least three seasonal periods in a year, in different outdoor and indoor public and residential environments at the selected uranium legacy sites. [...] the gamma and Rn/Tn dose rates at Digmai, Tajikistan, could reach values of several 10 mSv/a."

Assessment of the radiological impact of gamma and radon dose rates at former U mining sites in Central Asia, by Stegnar, P; Burkitbayev, M; Tolongutov, B; et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, ahead of print, Jan. 2, 2013

see also:
Assessment of the radiological impact of gamma and radon dose rates at former U mining sites in Tajikistan, by Lespukh, E; Stegnar, P; Yunusov, M; et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity Vol. 126C, Aug. 29, 2013, p. 147-155

 

Taboshar

High uranium concentrations found in water and fish from pit lake of former Taboshar uranium mine

"[...] These artificial pit lakes contain fish consumed occasionally by the local people, and wild and domestic animals are using the water for drinking purposes. To assess the potential impact from U in these pit lakes, field work was performed in [...] 2008 in Taboshar. Results show that the U concentration in the lake waters were relatively high, [...] about 3 mg/L in Taboshar Pit Lake. The influence of U-bearing materials on the lakes and downstream waters were investigated by measuring the U concentration and the 234U/238U activity ratios. In both Kurday and Taboshar, the ratios increased distinctively from about 1 at the pit lakes to >1.5 far downstream the lakes. The concentrations of 238U in gill, liver, muscle and bones in fish from the pit lakes were much higher than in the reference fish. [...]" (emphasis added)

Uranium activity ratio in water and fish from pit lakes in Kurday, Kazakhstan and Taboshar, Tajikistan, by Stromman G, Rosseland BO, Skipperud L, et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, ahead of print, June 25, 2012

Environmental impact assessment of radionuclide and metal contamination at the former U sites Taboshar and Digmai, Tajikistan, by Skipperud L, Stromman G, Yunusov M, et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, ahead of print, June 9, 2012

Alarming concentrations of Po-210 found in fish from pit lake of former Taboshar uranium mine

"In regards to the recommended Annual Limit of Intake (ALI) for 210Po, the concentration of 210Po in muscle tissues of Carassius auratus is alarming, as there is a high probability for the local population at risk to exceed the recommended ALI through consumption of fish from Taboshar Pit Lake."

Po-210 and Pb-210 in water and fish from Taboshar uranium mining Pit Lake, Tajikistan, by Skipperud L, Jorgensen AG, Heier LS, Salbu B, Rosseland BO, in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, ahead of print, April 16, 2012

Unproteced Taboshar uranium mill tailings present hazards to residents, IAEA finds

In Taboshar, a former centre of uranium mining and milling, a hill of more than one million tonnes of process residue tailings lies unprotected, vulnerable to erosion by wind and rain. Animals drink from pools of water that gather at the foot of the hill when seasonal rains fall, and children play around it. Some material from the tailings sites has also been used in home construction. (IAEA June 28, 2007)


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> View Photo exhibition: "Uranium Tailings in Central Asia: Past and Present"

General

OSCE opens information centres in Kyrgyzstan to raise awareness on uranium legacy remediation

The Office of the OSCE Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA), the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and they Aarhus Centre in Osh on September 14 opened the first Public Environmental Information Centres (PEIC) in the towns of Mailuu-Suu and Shekaftar of Jalal-Abad region in southern Kyrgyzstan as well as in Min-Kush, Naryn region, in the northern part of the country, the OSCE Centre in Bishkek said.
The centres aim to raise awareness among local residents on risks associated with proximity to uranium legacy sites and remediation works conducted by international donors.
The opening of the centres will help the donor community and the Aarhus Centre in Osh extend their outreach to these environmentally-exposed areas. Local residents will be able to obtain official guidance and raise their concerns regarding operations underway. The experts serving at the centres - trained by the Aarhus Centre in Osh - will provide locals with information on the risks associated with living near contaminated areas. (OSCE Bishkek Sep. 16, 2016)

 

EBRD fund for remediation of Central Asia's uranium mining legacy

First agreements signed with EBRD as precondition for cleanup of uranium mining legacy in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan: Framework agreements have been signed with the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan which will provide the legal basis for implementation of projects in these countries.
The purpose of the "Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia" is to support measures to deal with the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining and processing in the region. The uranium mining legacy fund was established at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in May 2015 at the request of the European Commission (EC) to finance projects to rehabilitate high-priority sites in Central Asian countries. The EC has made funds available for some initial remedial projects.
The now-concluded framework agreements set out conditions for implementing the remediation programme, such as tax exemption, the application of EBRD policies, including the Bank's environmental and social policy as well as the procurement rules and policies, and provisions for effective and efficient project implementation. (EBRD Jan. 23, 2017)

European Commission doubles fund for remediation of Central Asia's uranium mining legacy: To date, the European Commission (EC) has provided EUR 16.5 million to the new fund. The EC also finances ongoing detailed environmental impact assessments and feasibility studies at priority sites like Min-Kush, Shekaftar and Mailuu-Suu in the Kyrgyz Republic and Taboshar and Degmay in Tajikistan. (EBRD July 19, 2016)

EBRD sets up new fund for remediation of Central Asia's uranium mining legacy: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is setting up a new fund to deal with the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining and processing in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The new account with the name "Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia" is being established at the request of the European Commission, which is providing an initial EUR 8 million, with additional funding under consideration. The fund will finance projects to rehabilitate high-priority sites in the countries where it will operate. (EBRD June 17, 2015)

 

Project launched to assess environmental impact of former uranium production facilities in Kyrgyzstan, supported by European Union

The Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan has begun work with a consortium led by WISUTEC (Germany) with the participation of German companies Wismut, C & E and Facilia (Sweden) to develop a feasibility study and Environmental impact assessment for the rehabilitation of the former sites of uranium production in Shekaftar and Min-Kush. As reported April 16 in the press service of the Emergencies Ministry, the project is funded by the European Union under the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC). (AKIpress Apr. 16, 2015)

Study on radiation exposure situation at former uranium mine and mill sites in Kyrgyzstan identifies excessive doses to residents from past practice of misuse of contaminated material

"An assessment of the radiological situation due to exposure to gamma radiation, radon and thoron was carried out at the former uranium mining and processing sites in Shekaftar, Minkush and Kadji Sai in Kyrgyzstan. [...] The results showed that gamma, Rn and Tn doses were in general low, which consequently implies a low/relatively low radiological risk. The major radiation hazard is represented by abandoned radioactive filtration material that was being used as insulation by some Minkush residents for a longer period of time. Annual radiation doses of several hundred mSv could be received as a consequence of using this material in their houses. The radiation doses deriving from external radiation (gamma dose rate), indoor radon and thoron with their short-lived progenies in several cases exceeded national as well as international standards. Current doses of ionizing radiation do not represent any serious hazard to the health of the resident public, but this issue should be adequately addressed to further reduce needless exposure of resident public to ionizing radiation." (emphasis added)
Assessment of the radiological impact of gamma and radon dose rates at former U mining sites in Kyrgyzstan, by Lespukh, E; Stegnar, P; Usubalieva, A; et al, in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, aheadofprint, Dec. 19, 2012

 

Kyrgyzstan: uranium mill tailings, general

Chinese company shows interest in "processing" of abandoned Kyrgyz uranium mill tailings and more...

Today, March 31, 2015 in Bishkek a meeting was held of Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic Kubatbek Boronov with the Director BSF Group Corporation Gonkonskoy Lan Anh Mr. Peng Xiaohua. Participants discussed issues of cooperation in the field of processing of uranium tailings and the possibility of signing a Memorandum. This meeting was organized on the initiative of BSF Group Gonkonskoy corporation Lan Anh.
According to the director of Gonkonskoy Corporation Lan Anh Peng Xiaohua, the main purpose of the corporation Lan Anh is to attract investment in China to other countries. This company is also engaged in their activities in many countries in Asia and Africa. Representatives of Chinese companies have expressed a desire to cooperate with Kyrgyzstan in the field of uranium deposits. (Ministry of Emergency Situations Mar. 31, 2015)

Russia gives $1.5 million to UNDP for socio-economic development of settlements in Kyrgyzstan close to uranium tailings

The Russian government provided $1.476 million to the United Nations Development Programme for implementation of the socio-economic development projects in settlements close to uranium tailings during 2014-2015, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The projects will stabilize environmental and socio-economic situation in the areas close to uranium and toxic waste tailings. (AKIpress Nov. 7, 2014)
UNDP releases bold announcement on project for socio-economic development of settlements near Kyrgyz uranium tailings: "Around 15,000 poor and vulnerable people from towns near radioactive waste sites will get help to monitor their environment, create jobs, boost livelihoods and strengthen their communities through a new UNDP project. Over two years, with just under 1.5 million US dollars from the Russian Federation, the project should inject new life into struggling local economies and strengthen the socio-economic infrastructure of five towns that have been heavily affected by storage sites for radioactive waste from Uranium production." (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Jan. 15, 2015)

UN draft resolution would help Central Asia clean up uranium mill tailings

The UN General Assembly Second Committee November 14 approved a draft resolution calling upon the international community to help Central Asian states clean up uranium tailing ponds dating back to Soviet times, the UN said in a statement. The resolution, if approved, would underscore the value of regional co-operation and would call upon the international community to share knowledge on remediation of uranium and other radio-active tailings. (Central Asia Online Nov. 15, 2013)
The representative of Kyrgyzstan introduced a draft resolution on "The role of the international community in the prevention of the radiation threat in Central Asia" (document A/C.2/68/L.36).

European Union allocates EUR 2.1 million to Kyrgyzstan to improve safety of uranium tailings

As part of the annual program of action on nuclear security signed two financing agreements for a total amount of 2.1 million euros. Part of the funds will be used for management and rehabilitation of the former uranium production facility Min-Kush. The other part will go to a secure rehabilitation of uranium tailing Shekaftar in Jalal-Abad. (AKIPress Jan. 10, 2013)

EurAsEC countries allocate US$ 39 million for the remediation of uranium mill tailings in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

The Eurasian Economic Community will allocate 1.2 billion rubles [US$ 39 million] for the remediation of uranium mill tailings. It is planned to reclaim six tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan and four in Tajikistan over a period of six years. (AKIPress Dec. 19, 2012)

Kyrgyzstan to reclaim Min-Kush and Kadzhi-Say tailings dumps

Kyrgyzstan will conduct the recultivation of tailings dumps in Min-Kush and Kadzhi-Say for the sum of US$ 16 million. The program is developed by Rosatom together with the government structures of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC).
US$ 13.6 million (422 million Russian rubles) are to be spent for the Min-Kush tailings dump, which is prone to flooding from landslides, and US$ 2.4 million (78 million Russian rubles) are foreseen for the Kadzhi-Say tailings dump. (AKIpress Apr. 17, 2012)
On November 28, 2012, the Governments of the Russian Federation and Kyrgyz Republic signed an agreement on cooperation in the area of atomic energy in the peaceful purposes. The signature of this agreement accomplishes the establishment of the contractual and legal basis necessary for implementation of EurAzES international target-oriented program "Re-cultivation of the territories of EurAzES member-stated endured to impacts of Uranium-mining industries". (Rosatom Nov. 30, 2012)
The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan ratified the agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Russia on use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Russia will provide 500 million rubles for reclamation of uranium tailings in Min-Kush and Kaji-Sai under the agreement. (AKIpress June 11, 2014)

Kyrgyzstan has not properly addressed hazards of abandoned uranium tailings, UN Special Rapporteur finds

Kyrgyzstan has made progress in addressing the significant problems of radioactive and toxic waste dumps and in raising international awareness of the serious trans-boundary threats of contamination of groundwater and rivers, but much more remains to be done, a United Nations expert reported today.
"The social and economic impact of uranium tailings sites and other hazardous toxic waste dump sites on the local population has not been properly addressed," UN Special Rapporteur Okechukwu Ibeanu said at the end of an 11-day visit to the Central Asian country.
Tailored measures need to be adopted to address the difficulties faced by local communities living in proximity of these sites, who often live in conditions of extreme poverty, he added, noting that the existing normative framework on chemicals and waste management is not effectively enforced, and responsible ministries and agencies do not possess sufficient human and financial resources to monitor implementation.
He reminded the Kyrgyz Government that lack of adequate funds cannot be construed as a general justification for not discharging fully its obligations under several human rights treaties it has ratified, since "under international human rights law, even where resources are demonstrably inadequate, the obligation remains for a State party to strive to ensure the widest possible enjoyment of the relevant rights under the prevailing circumstances." (UN News Centre Oct. 9, 2009, emphasis added)

Kyrgyz Prime Minister asks international community for help with abandoned uranium mill tailings dumps

At an "International Forum on Uranium Tailings Issues in Central Asia" held in Geneva on June 29, 2009, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov asked the international community for help with the management of the abandoned uranium mill tailings dumps located in the country. The scale of the problem would make it impossible to ensure a solution just on the country's own forces. (AKIPress June 29, 2009)

Kyrgyzstan to create special agency for reclamation of tailings deposits

In Kyrgyzstan, a separate agency on the rehabilitation of tailings dumps will be created. This was reported by the head of the ministry for the extraordinary situations of Kyrgyzstan. (Kazakhstan today July 14, 2008)

Kyrgyz government issues decision on reclamation of abandoned uranium mill tailings dumps

The prime minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, Igor Chudinov, signed the decision of the government on the measures for providing safety of radioactive and toxic tailings and mine waste dumps. The cost of the proposed high priority reclamation works on the tailings dumps is estimated at more than 1,524 million Soms (US$ 42 million). (Okmotpress Mar. 6, 2008)

Kyrgyz ministry requests the police to guard the abandoned uranium mill tailings dumps (!)

The Kyrgyz ministry of extraordinary situations requests the police to guard the abandoned uranium mill tailings dumps in the country. "If we do not guard the tailings dump and refuse, then the radioactive materials can become tools in the hands of extremist groups and terrorists," the minister said at the government session on Feb. 13, 2008 (?!). (AKIPress Feb. 14, 2008)

Kyrgyzstan sets up entity for reclamation of abandoned uranium mill tailings

On Feb. 13, 2008, the Kyrgyz government initiated the creation of an agency devoted to the cleanup of the uranium mill tailings legacy in the country. (Kazakhstan today Feb. 13, 2008)

NATO to assist Kyrgyzstan with management of uranium mill tailings

NATO will help Kyrgyzstan in the realization of five projects on the management of uranium tailings dumps. (Kazakhstan today Oct. 30, 2007)

> See also: Legacy of Uranium Tailings and Environmental Security in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Science for Peace project - SfP 981742 (NATO)

No damage to Kyrgyz uranium mill tailings dams from earthquake

The tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan suffered no damage as a result of a scale-6 earthquake in the south of the republic, according to the ministry of extraordinary situations of Kyrgyzstan. The earthquake occured on January 8, 2007, at 23:21 hrs; the epicentre was located on the slopes of the Turkestan ridge at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, 90 kilometers southwest from Batken city and 60 kilometers southeast from Sulyukty city.
According to the data of the ministry, 11 tailings dumps are located in the Batken region, and 26 in the adjacent Dzhalal-Abad region. At present, 49 tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan contain about 70 mln. cubic meters of by-products. (Kazakhstan Today Jan. 9, 2007)

Kyrgyzstan asks for Russian help with uranium mill tailings reclamation

The Kyrgyz-Russian intergovernmental economic cooperation commission asked the Russia Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy (Rosatom) to examine the feasibility of Russia's participation in the recultivation of Kyrgyzstan's uranium production waste and determine the need for and priorities in rehabilitation work. The Kyrgyz side also asked the Russians for examining a "possibility of funding and research and development for recultivation of the tailing ponds". (Itar-Tass Dec. 15, 2006)

Kyrgyz Parliament calls for further foreign aid with uranium mill tailings reclamation

On June 18, 2004, the legislative assembly of the Kyrgyz Parliament adopted a resolution on strengthening of the rehabilitation measures of the uranium mill tailings dumps in the country. The parliament calls the government to ensure an effective use of the foreign aid provided so far for the reclamation; and it directs the government to ask also Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for support, and to supply international organizations with information about the existing hazards. The parliament further plans to call the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA for further assistance with the uranium mill tailings problem. (AKIPress June 18, 2004)

Kyrgyzstan urges donors to write off part of its debt in order to address uranium mill tailings problems, among others

President Askar Akayev urged Kyrgyzstan's creditors on Oct. 14, 2003, to write off part of the country's foreign debt to allow it to address environmental problems he said threaten all of Central Asia. Ecology Minister Satybaldy Chyrmashev told reporters that it will cost US$30 million to $40 million to clean up the uranium mill tailings sites in the southern town of Mayluu-Suu, which threaten to contaminate the water resources in the Fergana valley, which is shared by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. (AP Oct. 15, 2003)

Tailings Reclamation to start in 2004

According to Kyrgyz prime minister Nikolai Tanayev, the reclamation of the Kyrgyz uranium mill tailings deposits will start in 2004, financed with US$ 5 million supplied by the World Bank.
At present, two grants of US$ 370,000 each are being used for investigations of the Mailuu-Su and Kadzhi-Say tailings. (Kabar Sep. 15, 2003)

Russia, U.S. to help Kyrgyzstan repair uranium tailings dump

Russia and the U.S. are planning to contribute about $560,000 to help repair a uranium storage facility in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Minister Satybaldy Chyrmashev told Interfax on Aug. 1, 2003, that the country's government and the U.S. Department of Energy will sign an intergovernmental agreement envisioning $400,000 for these purposes within the next few days. He noted that the Russian government has already pledged $160,000 to finance a feasibility study of the storage facility's repairs.
At the same time, the minister said that the promised funds are insufficient for the facility's full repair. "More than 30 Kyrgyz storage facilities, which hold uranium and radioactive wastes, need to be repaired. This effort requires about $30 million," he added. (Interfax Aug. 1, 2003)

European researchers present investigation results on Kyrgyz tailings

The results of a Franco-Belgian investigation into the uranium mill tailings problem in the Ferghana valley were presented in Bishkek on June 30, 2003. The 2-year study was sponsored by the European Union with Euro 0.5 million under its TACIS program.
According to Hildegarde Vandenhove, expert of the Belgian Nuclear Research Center SCK-CEN [Cookies required], there is no danger for the population of this region, besides specific places. She also reported that the water in the area is completely suitable for drinking, since radionuclide concentrations were low. The main problem were the mechanical stability of the tailings dumps, threatened by landslides and seismic activity. (AKIpress June 30, 2003)

Tadjikistan to extract residual uranium from Kyrgyz tailings?

Tadjik technology could be used to extract residual uranium from the uranium mill tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan. This was discussed at a meeting of the Prime ministers of Kyrgyzstan and Tadjikistan in Bishkek on June 5, 2003. The tailings still contain 15% of the uranium originally present in the uranium ore processed. (Kabar June 5, 2003)

Interparliamentary Assembly group visits tailings sites

A working group of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Community is on a fact-finding mission to Kyrgyzstan's tailings dumps. At the invitation of the Kyrgyz parliament's Legislative Assembly, the group arrived in Bishkek on 13 May 2002. The group will visit tailings dumps in Aktyuz, Kadzhi-Say, Min-Kush, Kara Balta and in the Mayli-Say area to formulate practical recommendations on their utilization.
To date, with the assistance of the Russian Federation Ministry for Atomic Energy, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Ecology and Emergencies has prepared a feasibility study of projects to recover the tailings dumps near the villages Kadzhi-Say, Min-Kush and the town of Mayli-Say.
At the end of April 2002, the head of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Ecology and Emergencies, Radbek Eshmambetov, stated that the World Bank plans to grant 1 million dollars to support these projects. The project at the tailing dumps in the Mayli-Say area, which has a grant from the European Union's TACIS (Technical Assistance to the CIS countries) programme worth 500,000 Euros, is being carried out. The project is aimed at investigating the situation and drawing up projects. About 25 million dollars are needed to recultivate and recover the country's uranium tailings dumps.
(Kabar news agency May 8 / BBC Monitoring Service May 9/13, 2002)

 

Kyrgyzstan: Min-Kush area uranium mill tailings

European Union allocates EUR 2.1 million to Kyrgyzstan to improve safety of uranium tailings

> View here

Kyrgyzstan to reclaim Min-Kush tailings dump

> View here

No replacement homes for people living on uranium mine waste dumps in Mailuu-Suu and Min-Kush areas

> See here

NATO funds study on impacts of possible earthquakes in the Fergana valley

NATO has allocated Euro 250,000 for a study of the impacts of possible earthquakes in the Fergana valley. The study will be performed by the University of Portsmouth (UK). (Kazakhstan today Nov. 11, 2008)

OSCE and Kyrgyz Government to assess and reduce threat posed by uranium dumps in south-east Kyrgyzstan

The OSCE Centre in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Ministry for Emergency Situations and several international organizations decided to raise money for a technical assessment of the threats posed by radioactive dumps in the Minkush area in south-east Kyrgyzstan, and for subsequent rehabilitation efforts. The assessment will be carried out in September 2006.
The Minkush area dumps contain waste from uranium mining in the former Soviet Union from 1958 to 1969. They pose a threat to environment of the Naryn region of the Kyrgyz Republic and the fertile Ferghana valley.
The region is also threatened by landslides. A radioactive dump near the Tuuk-Suu River risks being flooded if a landslide blocks the river. Heavy rain- and snowfall in 2003-2005 contributed to the triggering of landslides. "The climate and the earthquake situation in the past 10 years have created conditions that could trigger landslides, which result in mudslides and catastrophic floods," said Bakir Jolchiev, Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations. (OSCE Bishkek June 14, 2006)

Landslide threatens uranium tailings deposit in Central Kyrgyzstan

A potential landslide in the central Kyrgyz province of Naryn could affect a uranium waste dump, threatening up to 50,000 people, according to the Kyrgyz emergency ministry.
"The danger of a landslide is very serious. Currently, according to an expert who has been monitoring the situation on the ground since August, the landslide is moving by 1 to 1.5 cm per day," Emil Akmatov, a ministry spokesman, told IRIN from the capital, Bishkek, on Nov. 1, 2004.
According to the emergency ministry, a special inter-ministry commission has just completed an assessment of the situation in the Min-Kush settlement of Naryn province, where in August a land mass of some 700,000 cubic metres started to slide down in the Tuyuk-Suu area.
Experts from the emergency ministry, the academy of sciences and some scientific research institutions say that if the landslide collapsed it would create a natural dam 30 m high and a subsequent reservoir 200 m long.
They warn that this would destroy the Tuyuk-Suu nuclear waste dump and that the rivers Min-Kush, Kokomeren and Naryn (a tributary of the Syrdarya river, one of the major water sources in Central Asia) would be polluted with radioactivity. "If that were to happen, up to 50,000 people could be affected," Akmatov said.
There are four uranium waste dumps in the vicinity of Min-Kush with a total volume of 800,000 cu m, of which 400,000 cu m are radioactive, according to the emergency officials. (IRIN Nov. 1, 2004)

 

Kyrgyzstan: Kara Balta uranium mill tailings

Reforestation of Kara Balta uranium mill tailings ongoing

Parts of the Kara Balta uranium mill tailings have been covered with a 0.7 m neutral soil layer and are now being planted with trees. (AKIPress April 19, 2005)

Metal thieves selling contaminated scrap metal from Kara Balta uranium mill

The Karabalta Mining Combine's director Vladimir Mashenko told IWPR, "We have existed for 50 years, and all our unserviceable equipment is buried because of uranium contamination. Now scavengers are digging up these radioactive items to sell to metal yards." (Institute for War & Peace Reporting Feb. 11, 2004)

Finland contributes funds for securing of Kara Balta uranium mill tailings

On Dec. 4, 2002, the government of Finland donated more than 3 million Euros for environmental tasks in Kyrgyzstan. The projects supported include the stabilization of the Kara Balta uranium mill tailings dump. (AKIPress Dec. 4, 2002)

Contaminated mushrooms claim victims in Kyrgyzstan

Toxic mushrooms have appeared in Dzhayyl District [of Chuy Region, northern Kyrgyzstan]. One inhabitant of Kara Balta has died, and another five are in intensive care, suffering complications. The staff of the sanitary and epidemiological station are warning that inhabitants are picking mushrooms in the restricted zone of the Kara Balta uranium tailings dump, the largest in the country. (Public Educational Radio and TV, Bishkek / BBC Monitoring Service May 8, 2002)

 

Kyrgyzstan: Orlovka uranium mill tailings

Residents digging for raw materials at Orlovka uranium mill tailings

On Feb. 11, 2006, residents began digging for mono-silicon around the decommissioned Orlovka uranium mill tailings dump in the Chui region (Northern Kyrgyzstan). According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MCHS), the gamma dose at the deepest point of the excavations 10 meters from the tailings pit was about 1,500 micro-roentgens per hour [9.2 Sv/h]; the tailings dump remained intact, however. (RIA Novosti, AKIPress, MCHS, Feb. 16, 2006)

 

Kyrgyzstan: Cleanup of Kadzhi-Say uranium mill tailings

Kadzhi-Say tailings dump endangered by flood hazard and by locals digging for metals

The 150,000 cubic metre Kadzhi-Say tailings dump is endangered by erosion of the bank of the river flowing on one side of the dump, and by locals digging the dump for metal debris. The locals have destroyed all fences to get access to the site.
The site is proposed to be reclaimed by the cleanup project of the Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC) at some time in the period 2013 - 2018. (AKIPress Sep. 19, 2012)

Kyrgyzstan to reclaim Kadzhi-Say tailings dump

> View here

Elevated radiation levels still found around reclaimed Kadzhi-Say tailings dump

"Conclusion
The unfenced Kadji-Sai Uranium tailings site, located on the south part of Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan is a threat on the shoreline of the terminal lake. Erosion is probably the biggest risk for this site due to its position between two perennial creeks."
Environmental Impact of the Kadji-Sai Uranium Tailings Site, Kyrgyzstan, by Z. Kulenbekov, B. J. Merkel, in: B. Merkel, M. Schipek (Eds.): The New Uranium Mining Boom, Challenge and lessons learned, Berlin Heidelberg 2011, p. 135-142

Reclamation of Kadzhi-Say uranium mill tailings completed

The rehabilitation of the uranium tailing deposit located in Kajisai village has been completed.
About 2 years ago, the U.S. Government allocated US$ 400,000 to the International Scientific Technical Center to implement this project. The main goal of the project is to show effectiveness of the rehabilitation work on the tailings deposits at an international level. The project was implemented by Kyrgyz specialists with participation of scientists of University of California. (AKIpress/Kyrg. Ministry of Emergency Situations, March 29, 2006)

U.S. Government finances cleanup of Kadzhi-Say uranium mill tailings

The embassy of the USA plans to spend 400,000 dollars for the cleanup of the Kadzhi-Say tailings dump. If the American side will be satisfied by the results of the works carried out, then they will continue financing, first of all the repair of the Mayluu-Su uranium mill tailings.
The Kadzhi-Say tailings dump with an area of 10,800 square meters and with a volume of 0.15 million cubic meters is located in the region of the Kadzhi-Say settlement, altogether only 1.5 km from the Issyk-Kul lake. (AKIpress Nov. 28, 2002)

 

Kyrgyzstan: Cleanup of Mailii-Su uranium mill tailings

(Note: there are numerous varying transliterations of "Mailii-Su" in use, such as Mailuu-Su, Maili-Suu, Mayli-Say, etc.)

> See also: Mailuu-Suu tailings reprocessing project

 

Kyrgyzstan to repair protective structures at Mailu-Suu tailings sites

Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Emergency Situations will allocate Som 9.643 million [US$ 165,000] for the restoration of protective structures for the tailings No. 1, 13, and 23 in Mailu-Suu town and of shore protection works on the mudflow Aylampa sai Sai. (AKIpress May 27, 2015)

Tailings pile contributing largest amount of uranium seepage to Mailuu-Say river still unsecured

"Vandenhove et al. (2002) identified tailing 3 as the dominating environmental hazard with a total radiation of 650 TBq as high as 60% of the total radiation of all tailings impoundments. Consequently, recent remediation activities relocated the radioactive inventory of tailing 3 to a safe disposal site. However, considering the water transport path other sources are found to be more relevant as shown in table 1. Based on our field observations, seepage from tailing 5 represent a major contaminant for Mailuu-Say river with an input of up to 122 g uranium per day. Therefore, relocation of tailing 3 has limited impact on water quality due to the comparatively low daily uranium discharge [1 g uranium per day] into the Mailuu-Say."
Source: Impact of Uranium Mill Tailings on Water Resources in Mailuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan, by Frank Wagner, Hagen Jung, Thomas Himmelsbach, Arthur Meleshyn, in: Broder J. Merkel, Alireza Arab (Eds.), Uranium - Past and Future Challenges, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Uranium Mining and Hydrogeology, 2014, p. 487-495

> See also: Study demonstrates seepage from uranium mill tailings in Mailuu-Suu area

Houses built on top of uranium tailings pile at Mailuu Suu

The regional office of the State Inspectorate for Environmental and Technical Safety have examined uranium tailings in the town of Mailuu-Suu (Jalal-Abad region).
Thus, the tailing No. 12 contains 62,000 t of uranium waste. Two facilities were built by the locals on the top of the tailings deposit - a house and a two-storey billiard club. There is no signification on hazardous waste. Uranium tailings No. 1, 2, 13, 14 and 23 in the Ailampa-Sai Gorge do not have significations on hazardous waste as well. In addition, there is the risk of destruction of a tailings dam, and hazardous waste may fall into the river. (AKIpress Mar. 12, 2014)

World Bank provides additional financing for tailings relocation at Mailuu Suu

On Oct. 10, 2011, the Kyrgyz parliamentary Committee on International Affairs and Interparliamentary Cooperation approved the ratification of an agreement between Kyrgyzstan and the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) on the additional financing with an amount of US$ 1 million for a project of tailings relocation in the Mailuu Suu area. The project includes the relocation of tailings dumps No.3 and No.18 to dump No.6, and the relocation of 80,400 cubic metres of waste from dump No.1 to No.2. The total project cost is estimated at US$ 1.12 million. (AKIPress Oct. 10, 2011)

No replacement homes for people living on uranium mine waste dumps in Mailuu-Suu and Min-Kush areas

At present, the question remains on providing homes for people living on piles of uranium ore wastes in Maili-Suu and Minkush, said chief medical officer of Kyrgyzstan, Sabirjan Abdikerimov. As he told the April 5 meeting of the committee Jogorku Kenesh on health, social policy, labor and migration, the radiation dose in some places exceeds the permissible standard 100 - 1000 times. In spite of warnings, people build houses there and they live there with their families. (AKIPress Apr. 5, 2011)

Preparatory work started for relocation of two tailings dumps at Mailuu Suu

Preparatory work has begun on the project to transfer the No.3 and No.18 tailings dumps to the No.6 tailings dump in Mailuu Suu. The total project cost is estimated at US$ 11 million. US$ 4.7 million are contributed by the World Bank's International Development Association , and US$ 1.1 million are contributed by the government of Kyrgyzstan. (AKIPress July 21, 2010)

General Prosecutor's Office demands Mailuu-Suu local authorities to remedy violations at uranium tailings

The General Procurator of Kyrgyzstan found that the local authorities of Mailuu-Suu are in violation of several environmental laws regarding the situation of the uranium mill tailings deposits located in the area. On Dec. 10, 2009, the General Prosecutor demanded the local authorities to remedy the violations. (AKIPress Dec. 11, 2009)

Study demonstrates seepage from uranium mill tailings in Mailuu-Suu area

A hydrogeochemical groundwater monitoring study performed by Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) confirmed the ongoing release of contaminants with seepage escaping from the uranium mill tailings deposits in Mailuu-Suu:
"The results demonstrate that contaminated seepage water locally already infiltrates from waste deposits into the underlying quaternary river sediments and also flows superficially into the rivers Mailuu-Say and Kulmin-Say. Even though the transport path is still unknown in detail, a dislocation of pollutants downstream is already indicated in both, the river water and the groundwater of the quaternary river sediments. [...]"
> View TC Kyrgyzstan: Reduction of Hazards Posed by Uranium Mining Tailings in Mailuu-Suu (BGR)
> Download Jung, H.G. & Wagner, F. (2008): Hydrogeochemical Groundwater Monitoring in Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyz Republic. - Final report of technical cooperation project "Reduction of Hazards Posed by Uranium Mining Tailings in Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyz Republic"; 81 pp., Bishkek - Hannover. (5.9MB PDF - BGR)

> See also: Tailings pile contributing largest amount of uranium seepage to Mailuu-Say river still unsecured

Residents concerned about health impacts of uranium tailings dump relocation performed in Mailuu-Suu

Since 2004, with World Bank aid, the Emergencies Ministry has begun reinforcing tailings sites against flooding and landslides. Workers have begun moving waste rock and preparing old sites in the Mailuu Suu area to receive tailings. But the project has caused concerns amongst residents, who say radioactive dust is being sent into the air and that disturbing the sites is only causing more problems. Observers assert the government is trying to skimp on expenditures by not moving the waste to uninhabited areas. (EurasiaNet June 1, 2009)

Relocation of two tailings dumps in Mailii-Suu to begin in 2009

Within the framework of the World Bank project it is planned to transfer the tailings dumps No.3 and No.18 to another, more safe place - into the tailings dump No.6. Work on the transfer of these tailings dumps will begin in 2009. (AKIPress Nov. 13, 2008)

Assessment of radiation exposure in the uranium mining and milling area of Mailuu Suu

A radiological assessment was performed for critical group members living in the city of Mailuu Suu, located downstream the tailings, or in the village of Kara Agach, partially located on a uranium mine waste dump.
The actual external exposure is around 1.2 mSv/a at both locations and exposure from radon is around 3 mSv/a at Mailuu Suu and around 10 mSv/a at Kara Agach. Ingestion dose was negligible for a critical group member living at Mailuu Suu. At Kara Agach, however, under the hypothesis that all food and fodder is cultivated locally, exposure from ingestion is much higher: approximately 10 mSv/a for an adult and 30 mSv/a for a child.
For an accidental scenario it is assumed that the whole content of 110,000 cubic metres of Tailing 3 (or part of it) is thrust to the river during a normal flow period. In this case, estimated additional maximum doses result in 45 mSv for an adult and 77 mSv for a child during a 2-year period, until the tailings have been washed away by the river. These doses are mainly from the assumed consumption of contaminated water and fish from the river; these pathways have to be intercepted in case of such an accident, therefore.

Assessment of radiation exposure in the uranium mining and milling area of Mailuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan, by Vandenhove H, Sweeck L, Mallants D, et al., in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Vol. 88, No. 2, 2006, p.118-139

Kyrgyzstan asks World Bank to speed up work on tailings dumps reclamation at Maili-Suu

On Dec. 10, 2005, the Minister of Extreme Situations of Kyrgyzstan Janysh Rustenbekov at a meeting with the official representatives of the World Bank led by Mr. Joop Stoutjesdijk asked them to speed up their work with the uranium mill tailings dumps in Maili-Suu (Jalalabad region), MES press service reported. "The population asks us about it, because they are tired to sit on powder barrel," - the minister said.
As press service reported, the World Bank this year has allocated $ 10 million for works with the tailings dumps in Maili-Suu. The project "Prevention of extreme situations" was approved by the World Bank's Executive Directors board on June 15, 2004, and was started on September 28, 2004. It will last till 2010. As Joop Stoutjesdijk said, the signing of the contracts and tenders announcement took much time. At the same time, the first results of the project will be known already in 2006. He also said that the government of Japan is also taking part in this project. The governments of Germany and Switzerland and UNDP are also funding the project. (AKIPress Dec. 12, 2005)

Landslide close to Mailuu-Suu uranium tailings dump

A landslide which hit the area surrounding the southern Kyrgyz town of Mailuu-Suu on the evening of April 13, 2005, is causing concern among the authorities because of its proximity to huge radioactive dumps from Soviet-era uranium mines. A land mass of around 300,000 cubic metres, several hundred metres in width and up to 10 metres high halted the flow of a key river and water source in Mailuu-Suu and blocked the road linking the town with the adjacent village of Sary-Bee. According to the Kyrgyz emergency ministry, part of the landslide is alarmingly close to radioactive waste dump number three one of many in the area. (IRIN Apr. 14, 2005)

IAEA takes environmental samples in Mailuu-Suu area

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been inspecting uranium waste dumps in the southern Kyrgyz town of Mailuu-Suu. Peter Waggitt, an IAEA scientist, visited the area in late October and took samples from the ground at several dozen sites for further testing under laboratory conditions, Tilek Akambaev, the mayor of Mailuu-Suu, told IRIN.
According to the mayor, final test results will be released later in November. The IAEA is interested in gaining specific information on the impact the radioactive dumps are having on the environment and people's health. The Kyrgyzstan National Sciences Academy (KNASA) has surveyed about 170 sites at Mailuu-Suu and concluded that high levels of radioactivity were present. (IRIN Nov. 2, 2004)

World Bank and Japan pledge funds for cleanup of Maili-Say uranium mill tailings

The World Bank's International Development Association will provide $6.9 million for the cleanup of the Mayli-Say uranium mill tailings and Japan another $1.95 million, the Kyrgyz Kabar news agency said. Kyrgyzstan's government also will provide $2 million, according to the Russian Itar-Tass news agency. The bank's board of directors will examine the project in June 2004. If it is approved, work will start in summer. (Big News Network May 4, 2004)
On June 15, 2004, the Board of Directors of the World Bank approved a US$6.9 million IDA grant to the Kyrgyz Republic in support of the Disaster Hazard Mitigation Project. The project aims at minimizing the exposure of humans and livestock to radionuclides associated with abandoned uranium mine tailings and waste rock dumps in the Mailuu-Suu area, improve the effectiveness of emergency management and response by national and sub-national authorities and local communities to disaster situations, and reduce the loss of life and property in key landslide areas of the country. (World Bank June 15, 2004)

Cleanup cost for Mailuu-Suu uranium mill tailings now estimated at $20 - 25 million

World Bank experts visiting the area on March 11-16, 2004, have estimated the cleanup cost for the abandoned uranium mill tailings in the Mailuu-Suu area at US$ 20-25 million. (AKIPress March 19, 2004)

OSCE launches information campaign to raise local public awareness on Mailuu-Su uranium mill tailings hazards

The campaign, called "Life Safety in Mailuu-Suu", is a joint undertaking of the OSCE Center in Bishkek , the Science-Engineering Centre "GeoPribor" and the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences. It will be carried out between 12 and 16 January 2004.
At the local level, public awareness of the threat remains alarmingly low. Citizens of the Mailuu-Suu region continue to walk freely among dangerously contaminated and poorly marked sites. The people have often appropriated land on such sites to graze their livestock and used radioactive earth to craft building materials for their homes. The citizens, especially the children of Mailuu-Suu town, are unaware of the dangers, and do not know how to live safely in a contaminated environment.
> View OSCE release Jan. 9, 2004

France intends to assist in reclamation of Mayluu-Su tailings

France intends to take part through the European Union in the solution of the problem of the Mayluu-Suu tailings dumps. This was confirmed by French Minister of Environment Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin in a meeting with Kyrgyz President Akayev. (Kabar Oct. 8, 2003)

Uzbekistan to participate in reclamation of Maylii-Su tailings

At the occasion of a session of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz intergovernmental commission, held in Tashkent July 9-10, 2003, Uzbekistan agreed to participate in the process of rehabilitation of the tailings dumps in Mayli-Suu. (AKIpress July 11, 2003)

Mailii Su uranium mill tailings threatened by landslide

The Tectonic-1 giant landslide which is pending over the tailings dump of uranium waste near the town of Mailuu-Suu has become active in the south of Kirghizia. The Ministry of Ecology and Emergency Situations (MEES) of Kirghizia reported that a small part of the landslide with a volume of 250 cu m came down near the Kirghizelektroizolit plant as a result of downpours on the left bank of the Mailuu-Suu river. The earth mass blocked the Mailuu-Suu - Sary-Bez motor road. According to the MEES officers, another landslide, smaller in volume, also moved there.
The management of the enterprise and the representatives of the Ministry established round-the-clock observation of the state of the landslides which have become active.
Several dozens of landslides are now threatening the tailings dumps. If such large ones as the Tectonic-1, Koi-Tash and TEC with the volume of movable mass amounting to 2-3 million cu m come down they can completely destroy the "tailings", which will cause large-scale radiation contamination of the environment. In this case the environmental catastrophe will affect all the countries of Central Asia. (RIA Novosti April 23, 2003)

Government of Norway offers help for cleanup of Mailii Su uranium mill tailings

> View Final press release of the Bishkek Global Mountain Summit (Nov. 1, 2002)

World Bank to provide grant for cleanup of old uranium mill tailings

The World Bank plans to provide Kyrgyzstan with about $700 million for its poverty reduction program. The Kyrgyz government will use the grants to finance environmental projects, including the rehabilitation of the country's 23 uranium storage facilities. (Interfax Oct 12, 2002)

Kyrgyzstan requests aid for management of hazard from old Mailii Su uranium mill tailings

President of the Kyrgyz Republic Askar Akaev is requesting donor aid to cover the cost of $15 million required to manage the hazard from the old uranium mill tailings in the Mailii Su area. A possible break of the tailing dumps may would have serious consequences in the Ferghana Valley. (Kabar News Oct 9, 2002)

Landslide threatens uranium mill tailings dump in Kyrgyzstan

A huge landslide nearly 400,000 cubic meters in size has barricaded a local river, posing a threat of flooding a radioactive dumping site near the town of Maylisu in the south of Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS was told by press service chief of the Kyrgyz Ministry for Ecology and Emergencies Aleksey Yermolov.
Local civil defence teams are making all possible efforts in order to clear the river grounds. Otherwise, the river might flood one of the nuclear dumping sites near Maylisu, Yermolov said...
(ITAR-TASS news agency / BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 13, 2002)

According to the state news agency KABAR, a 4000 cubic meter landslide started on May 12, 2002. Near the town of Sary-Bee (3000 inhabitants), the landslide partially filled the bed of the Mayluu-Suu river and covered a highway. In the case of a complete barricade of the river, the water can wash off the tailings dumps located along the river. The Kyrgyz government is prepared to evacuate the population if necessary. As of May 13, the landslide was still in motion. (Kabar news agency May 13, 2002 - in Russian)

Tailings Dam Safety Fears

Prolonged rainfall and a series of earthquakes across Central Asia have renewed fears of waste uranium escaping from nuclear waste pits in Kyrgyzstan's southern province of Jalal-Abad.
Should a mudslide or earthquake displace millions of cubic metres of material from the nuclear waste disposal areas, there is concern that it could pose a threat not just to southern Kyrgyzstan but also to the wider region.
Anarkul Aitaliev, from the department of environmental monitoring, part of the ministry of the environment and emergencies, described a chilling worst-case scenario, involving the river Maily-Suu triggering a radioactive mudslide of 120,000 cubic metres "tearing through Central Asia all the way to the Aral Sea". Emphasising the scale of the problem, he added, "That's what only one of the pits can do".
The river Maily-Suu currently flows just a few metres away from the nearest tailing pit. Heightening the sense of alarm, the last earthquake to shake the area, which occurred only a few days ago, was close to the burial sites.
(Institute for War & Peace Reporting, May 1, 2002 )

OSCE drawing attention to Mailii Su uranium mill tailings problem

The OSCE intends to carry out research into the problems of the Mailii Su uranium mill tailings in order to draw the attention of the European Union and the World Bank to them. According to environmental experts it is necessary to prevent landslides, which could lead to an environmental catastrophe in the Fergana valley, where more than 10 million people of three countries live [Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan]. (BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 20, 2002)

> See also OSCE Bishkek Activities

Kyrgyzstan seeks funding for uranium mill tailings reclamation

Russian experts of the All-Russia Research Institute of Industrial Technology have prepared a feasibility study for tackling the problems of some Kyrgyz radioactive dumps and submitted it to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Ecology and Emergencies. The estimated total cost of the work to be done is 8.8 million dollars: (BBC Monitoring Service Feb 22, 2002 / Vecherniy Bishkek Feb 19, 2002)

Russia assists in reclamation of uranium mill tailings in Kyrgyzstan

The Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry has responded urgently to Kyrgyzstan's request for reclamation work to be carried out at uranium dumps in the south of the republic. The uranium waste is located over an area of 20 square kilometres in an area prone to floods and landslides on the bank of the Maylisu river, near houses and production facilities. The ministry prepared a feasibility study for the full reclamation of the Kadzhi-Say burial ground. A meeting of the Kyrgyz-Russian intergovernmental commission has approved the project. Russian experts are continuing to investigate other tailing dumps as well. (BBC/Kabar Oct. 11, 2001)

European Union initiates cleanup of Mailii Su uranium mill tailings

In a two year project starting in 1997, the European Union supports the remediation of the uranium mill tailings deposits at Mailii Su, Kyrgyzstan, under its TACIS program . The project includes a survey of the environmental impacts of the existing uranium mill tailings deposits, the development of management plans for the tailings sites needing remediation, and the first steps towards relocation of the most dangereous dump.

> View Mailii Su site report by Gerhard Schmidt

 

Shekaftar uranium mine dumps

Remediation of abandoned Shekaftar uranium mine dumps "most urgent"

"Mining of the Shekaftar U ore deposit went on from 1946 to 1957. Approximately two thirds of the reserves have been mined out. What remained on the surface are 110 thousand m3 of ore refuse (low-grade ore) and waste rock. [...] The low-grade ore is stored in form of 8 uncovered heaps. [...] Four low-grade ore heaps and 2 waste rock piles are in the domain of the Sumsar-Say River. On the west bank of Sumsar-Say, heap No. 5 is exposed to the erosion of the river throughout the year. The other heaps become flooded yearly, i.e. their feet become leached by the river at the time of high water. [...] Measurements of the river water carried out upstream and downstream of Shekaftar show that erosion and leaching of the Shekaftar legacy heaps increase the content of dissolved U in the river more than 3 times even under regular flow conditions of the Sumsar Say. [...]
The remediation of the former Sumsar-Shekaftar mining district is not only justified; it is indeed, a most urgent preventive action. Regarding the possibility of natural events prompting large-scale waste releases, suffice to say that signs of surface subsidence can be seen around the former U mine and a giant landslide (having a volume of ~200 thousand m3) is in the development on the mountain slopes of Shekaftar. [...] " [emphasis added]
Source: Environmental Issues and Proposed Assessment of Feasibility of Remediation of the Legacy Sites of Mining and Milling in the Area of Sumsar-Shekaftar in Kyrgyzstan, by Isakbek Torgoev, Alex Jakubick, in: Broder J. Merkel, Alireza Arab (Eds.), Uranium - Past and Future Challenges, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Uranium Mining and Hydrogeology, 2014, p. 147-154


Pakistan   flag

General · Baghalchur
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Baghalchur mine

Concern over radioactive waste left at former Baghalchur uranium mine

Speakers at a seminar held on July 17, 2006, did not rule out the possibility of health hazards out of nuclear activities in Dera Ghazi Khan. However, they said, no such scientific evidence could be found there. The seminar on "nuclear waste management" was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) . (Dawn July 18, 2006)

Prof. Khalid Rashid, a former PAEC employee who currently teaches Mathematical Modelling and Simulation at the Bahria University, in Islamabad, says what is important is to carry out a survey that would reveal "the effects on health of the people of Baghalchur". Looking at the records for the last 30 years, that are kept in the district hospital, would give some clue, says Rashid. He added that, as far back as in 1982, a medical doctor at the hospital had told him that the incidence of leukemia among Baghalchur residents was about six times higher than the national average. (IPS May 31, 2006)

On May 19, 2006, a ruling party senator from Punjab accused the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) of dumping nuclear waste in a village near Dera Ghazi Khan without observing international safety standards, causing many deaths in the area. Speaking on a point of order in the Senate, Sardar Jamal Khan Leghari of the Pakistan Muslim League said the PAEC had been mining uranium in the village for 25 years for one of its facilities near D. G. Khan and dumping the nuclear waste in the open. He said the matter was of serious nature and it should be referred either to the standing committee on defence or environment. He said the dumping of the nuclear waste was affecting poor people from Baloch and Leghari tribes living in the area, several of whom had already died.
Later, talking to journalists, Mr Leghari said livestock mortality and diseases among people living in the Baghalchur village near D. G. Khan were on the rise due to uranium mining in the area. He said the people of the village working as mine labourers had adverse effects on their health. He claimed that life expectancy in the village had reduced to 40 years.
Replying to a question, he said some villagers had taken the matter to the Supreme Court but the court had decided to keep the proceedings secret. After publication of such reports in a section of the press, PAEC authorities had claimed that the waste was being dumped underground in tunnels and there had been no radioactive effects of it on the area population and its environs. (Dawn May 21, 2006)

Residents of Baghul Chur tribal area are concerned at the "unsafe dumping of atomic waste" in the area. Speaking at a news conference on March 18, 2006, representatives of Mubarki union council Khan Nazir Ahmed, Yaqoob Shah and Hafeezullah Shah demanded that atomic waste be removed from their land as it was causing harm to humans, animals, water and soil. They claimed that as many as 400 drums of atomic waste and other material were lying in the open.
They told the press that they had already lodged an application with the sessions court seeking preservation of atmosphere, land, water, human and animal health of the area of Mubarki Tuman Leghari. The District and Sessions Judges (D&SJ) had sent the application to the Law, Justice and Human Rights Commission, Islamabad.
Mining for uranium was started in Baghul Chur in 1977 and the project ended in 2000. The Atomic Energy Commission had asked the political assistant to dispose of the building established in Bagul Chur.
"The authorities concerned did not take required safety measures while winding up the project," they claimed. Political assistant Tariq Bokhari said there were some stores in Baghul Chur but rejected claims of their adverse affects. (Dawn Mar 19, 2006)

Pakistan closes Baghalchur mine

The existing uranium mining project in Baghalchar is to be 'wound up' from 30 November, 1999. According to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the project is closing because the reserves have been worked out and not because of 'foreign pressure' as some politicians have apparently alleged. (UI News Briefing 99.42)

Japan   flag

General · Ningyo-Toge
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Japan: former Ningyo-Toge uranium mine

Work begins to ship uranium-contaminated soil to U.S. for disposal

On August 29, 2005, the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute began work to ship soil contaminated with uranium from Yurihama, Tottori Prefecture, to the United States for disposal. But the work was suspended almost immediately due to an accident after a bag containing the soil fell from a vehicle during transportation, causing slight injuries to a worker.
Of the 3,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil in the town's Katamo district, the institute will dispose of 290 cubic meters with a relatively high surface radiation level. According to the institute's plan, the soil will be packed in a metal container and transported to Kobe port by truck. After clearing customs, it will be shipped to the United States on a container vessel in early October. In the United States, a company which the institute has contracted will dispose of the soil at a cost of about 660 million yen [US$ 6 million], and use the extracted uranium for power generation there, institute officials said. (Kyodo Aug. 29, 2005)
Work resumed on September 1, 2005, to ship uranium-contaminated soil from a mountain forest in Tottori Prefecture to the United States. Officials at the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute said the delay will not affect its plan to ship the soil from the port in Kobe to Seattle in early October 2005. (Japan Times Sep. 2, 2005)
As of September 17, 2005, the removal of about 290 cubic meters of soil from Yurihama was completed, and the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute plans to ship it in early October [2005?] from Kobe to Seattle. But, the institute has come up with no plan yet to remove the remaining 90 percent of the contaminated soil still left there. If the institute fails to remove all of the contaminated soil by May 2006, the institute must face an additional 50,000 yen [US$ 450] penalty to the residents. (Kyodo Sep. 17, 2005)
The ship left Kobe on Oct. 3, 2005, and is heading for the Port of Everett, Washington. Ed Paskovskis, deputy port director, said the uranium levels are too low to require a hazardous materials label. Paskovskis said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has determined that the soils don't require a special import license, another indicator of the low levels of the radioactive material. (Everett Herald Oct. 4, 2005)
From Everett, the material is to be trucked to the White Mesa Mill south of Blanding, Utah, and processed into yellowcake. Unusable material will go into the tailings ponds behind the plant. Since the material is regarded as ore rather than waste, no special license by NRC nor the state is required; the processing of ore is covered by the mill's license. (Salt Lake Tribune Oct. 5, 2005)

Nuclear institute plans to dispose of uranium-contaminated soil in the U.S.

The Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute plans to ship soil contaminated with uranium from Yurihama, Tottori Prefecture, to the United States for disposal. Of the 3,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil in the town's Katamo district, 290 cubic meters, with a relatively high surface radiation level, will be shipped, sources said. According to the institute's plan, a U.S. firm will dispose of the soil in the United States at a total cost of more than 600 million yen [US$ 5.5 million], they said, adding it remains to be seen what will be done with the remaining 2,700 cubic meters of soil.
The soil originated from test-drilling of uranium by the institute's predecessor, the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation, around Ningyo Pass on the border of Tottori and Okayama prefectures in the 1950s and 1960s. The institute has been paying 750,000 yen [US$ 6900] per day to the local community since its failure to remove the soil by the court-set deadline of March 10, 2005. (Kyodo June 12, 2005)

Nuclear institute ordered to remove uranium soil in Tottori

On June 25, 2002, the Tottori District Court ordered the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC) to remove uranium-contaminated soil it had left abandoned for about 40 years in the prefecture.
It came to light in August 1988 that the public corporation had abandoned approximately 16,000 cubic meters of waste soil in the Katamo district of Togo, where it had dug up uranium from 1958 to 1962, according to the ruling. The level of radioactivity measured 1 meter above the surface of the soil exceeds the government-set upper limit.
Local residents demanded that JNC remove all the waste soil from the uranium collection site, forcing the corporation to ask some local governments for permission to accept the radioactive soil in their territories. But all of them refused to cooperate.
In August 1990, JNC and the neighborhood association concluded the agreement that the public corporation would remove some 3,000 cubic meters of highly radioactive soil from the site "with the cooperation of local governments concerned."
Judge Naito dismissed the claim by the public corporation that it cannot carry out its duty because it has not gained cooperation from local governments concerned in accepting the soil in other areas, which it says is a precondition for removing the soil from the site.
(Mainichi Shimbun, June 25, 2002)
On July 4, 2002, the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute decided to appeal the June 25 district court ruling ordering it to remove the uranium-contaminated soil. (Kyodo, July 4, 2002)
On Oct. 14, 2004, the Supreme Court finalized an order for the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute to remove the uranium-contaminated soil. (Kyodo, Oct. 14, 2004)
The Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute will start paying a fine of 750,000 yen (US$ 7,210) a day to local residents in the western Japan town of Yurihama from March 11, 2005, for its failure to meet a deadline to remove uranium-contaminated soil left in the town, JNC officials said. JNC said it is seeking a place to temporarily store the tainted soil to end the payment of the fines as early as possible. (Kyodo March 11, 2005)

Protestors dump uranium mining waste on nuclear facility's doorstep

On Dec. 2, 1999, a residents group in Togocho, Tottori Prefecture, transported 800 kilograms of dirt left over from the former Ningyo-Toge uranium mine by truck 15 km to the Ningyo Pass facility owned by the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute in Kamisaibarason, Okayama Prefecture.

At Ningyo-Toge, uranium had been mined on a small scale from 1969 to 1982. In 1993/94, 3,000 metric tons of contaminated soil were transferred from the mining site to the current location, owned by now defunct Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Cooperation (Donen), for "temporary" storage. Since the expiration of the lease signed by the facility and local landowners three years ago, residents have been demanding that the dirt be removed by the end of the year. (Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 3, 1999)

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