All the basic conditions are now in place for remediation work to begin at several uranium legacy sites in Kyrgyzstan after the country ratified a framework agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The European Union is to provide an initial contribution of €16.5 million ($19.4 million) for the work.
Central Asia was an important uranium-producing region in the former Soviet Union, leading to a large accumulation of radioactive contaminated material at mines in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and placed in waste dumps and tailing sites. Most of the mines were closed by 1995, but very little remediation of either mining sites or tailings storage facilities has been carried out. Many of the uranium legacy sites are in populated areas.
The EU has funded technical studies and environmental impact assessments at Kyrgyz uranium legacy sites in the areas of Mailiuu-Suu, Min-Khush and Shekaftar. Remediation work, which will improve living conditions in these areas and ensure the protection of the population from radiation exposure from the legacy sites, will be implemented through the EBRD fund beginning at Min-Khush and Shekaftar. The EU is currently the only contributor to the fund.
The Kyrgyz government will now be required to set up the necessary structures to manage the projects. The EU Delegation said technical assistance would be provided to enable it to do this.
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