The efforts to overcome the legacy of uranium mining in Central Asia have taken an important step forward with the signing of a joint commitment on coordinating the efforts to achieve the safe and sustainable environmental remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites (ULS) in Central Asia, in accordance with a Strategic Master Plan (SMP).
The plan, largely funded by the EU, developed by an experts’ group established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sets out a detailed blueprint for the environmental remediation of priority sites in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The plan fits into the EU strategy for Central Asia. It provides a solid basis to move ahead as it is for the first time that a comprehensive plan has been established.
EU Ambassador Didier Lenoir accredited to the IAEA stated at this occasion: "The signature of the plan is yet another example of close cooperation between the EU and the IAEA. This cooperation now moves in the area of nuclear waste following the long term working together in the areas of nuclear safety and nuclear security. It is now time to put the plan into a reality on the ground. In this regards, the EU intends to continue to pay its lead role in order to improve the living conditions for the population and to improve the quality of the environment"
In order to ensure a coordinated, timely and cost-effective approach in accordance with international conventions and agreements, the plan provides a ranking in terms of risk and priority for remediation. It also develops an integrated approach for evaluating the remediation needs of each site. All this flows into a precise programme detailing the main tasks or activities, along with schedules, key milestones and cost.
Total cost of all measures outlined in the plan is estimated at €210 million. Of this amount, €56 million has already been made available by the EU, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the World Bank. Of the remaining €160 million, work on the EU selected seven priority legacy sites will be covered by a special environmental remediation fund established by the EBRD at the request of the European Commission. The total cost for the seven sites in three countries namely the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is estimated at €85 million. While so far the EU is the sole contributor to ERA with €16 million, a donor conference in 2018 will aim to close the funding gap.
The IAEA and partners including the European Commission (EC) and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed yesterday a joint commitment on coordinating the efforts to achieve the safe and sustainable environmental remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites (ULS) in Central Asia, in accordance with a Strategic Master Plan (SMP).
In the past Central Asia served as an important source for uranium. A large amount of radioactively contaminated material was placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites. Most of the mines were closed by 1995 but very little remediation was done. The accumulated amount of radioactive material in the region is a threat to the health of the population and to the environment.
For further information:
Martin Andersen, European Commission
Senior Programme Manager