Area served as important source for uranium in former Soviet Union The first remediation work will focus on the closure of six shafts in Shekaftar. Photo courtesy EBRD. Work has begun in the Kyrgyz Republic to overcome the legacy of uranium mining in Central Asia with a groundbreaking ceremony in Shekaftar, a former industrial centre during the Soviet period near the border with Uzbekistan.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said intense project preparations continued in recent months to prepare for the start of construction work, despite global disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic

The first remediation work will focus on the closure of six shafts in Shekaftar and the relocation of five waste-rock dumps to an existing dump at a more remote location. Once a thriving community based on uranium mining, today Shekaftar has an unemployment rate of 70%.

The work is funded by the environmental remediation account for Central Asia (ERA), established and managed by the EBRD on behalf of international donors.

Work on other sites in the Kyrgyz Republic is expected to begin soon. It will follow a plan developed by a group of experts under the guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The plan sets out a blueprint for the environmental remediation of priority sites in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Central Asia served as an important source for uranium in the former Soviet Union. A large amount of radioactively contaminated material was placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites. The contaminated material is a threat to the environment and the health of the population. The hazards include the possible pollution of ground and surface water in a key agricultural centre of the region.

Date: Wednesday, 29 July 2020
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