Tailings dump of uranium waste in Kirghizia threatened with destruction

Publish date: May 6, 2003

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, RIA-Novosti reported on April 23th.

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. According to RIA Novosti’s information, the uranium deposit in the Mailuu-Suu area was developed from 1946 to 1967. As many as 23 tailings dumps with the total volume of uranium waste amounting to about 2 million cu m are now situated on the territory of the former enterprise, specifically within the town’s confines. 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. In expert opinion, the gamma background even on the surface of the tailings dumps reaches 60 mcR/hour. Last Sunday the village of Kara-Taryk was almost completely destroyed as a result of the descent in the south of Kirghizia of a giant landslide with a volume of up to 1.5 million cu m. At that time 38 people, among them 18 children, perished, and 42 families remained homeless.

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