Experts from the Russian Ministry for the Atomic Industry have been monitoring all radioactive waste pits in Kyrgyzia for several weeks already. This is a really hard and large-scale task. Over the years of the “cold war,” dozens of artificial lakes and fields with dangerous wastes appeared in the republic. Uranium has been mined in Kyrgyzia since the mid-50s for more than 20 years already. Basic mines were in the south of the republic and near Issyk Kul lake. Wastes imported from Kazakhstan were processed near the capital of Kyrgyzia in the city of Kara-Balta. Five large uranium mortuaries and 33 waste pits of a smaller size testify to that work.
There is no complete information about the total volume of the radioactive pits in the republic. In the Soviet period, top-secret information about radioactive materials was stored in Moscow. It is a secret where the information is now.
All appeals of Kyrgyzia’s government to Russian colleagues for the release of information about the republic’s uranium mines and radioactive mortuaries resulted in nothing.
For several years already, Kyrgyzia’s authorities have been trying to involve international sponsors and ecological organizations in the solution of the problem. However, the lack of exact information about the problem’s scale and details hampered the process. Finally, some hope for a solution to the problem appeared. Russian-Kyrgyzian cooperation has been developing for several years already. It was decided to set-up joint enterprises to work Kyrgyzia’s rich mineral resources. This also concerned uranium plants and mortuaries. Particularly, it was decided to resume the mining and processing of uranium on the basis of Kyrgyzian ore-mining and processing enterprise in Kara-Balta. This requires the monitoring of the waste pits.
The first stage of the monitoring, which includes the collection and processing of information about the waste pits, is now being carried out. Deputy Director of the enterprise Valery Trenin says that the analysis will be completed in 2002. After that, the second stage will start. It will provide for the development of projects for reclaiming of the radioactive lakes and fields. The tailing pit of Kara-Balta with the reserves of over 50 million of cubic meters of radioactive wastes is to be started with. The project is also believed to be carried out on other mortuaries as well.
Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzia
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/25/35102.html