Waste Management

Uzbekistan / Work Begins At Two Sites On Tackling Soviet Uranium Mining Legacy

By David Dalton
14 September 2023

Project bolstered by €9m grant from European account

Work Begins At Two Sites On Tackling Soviet Uranium Mining Legacy
Work has begun at two sites in Uzbekistan. Courtesy EBRD.

Remediation work has begun at two legacy Soviet uranium mining sites in Uzbekistan, bolstered by a €9m ($9.6m) grant that will support work to close mine openings, demolish derelict facilities that were used for uranium ore processing and to re-cultivate waste rock areas.

The €9m grant is from the environmental remediation account for Central Asia, set up on the initiative of the European Union and managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The EBRD said one former site, Yangiabad, is 75 km east of the country’s capital, Tashkent. It has seven mines spread across the mountainous terrain around the town of Yangiabad.

Yangiabad was a uranium mining site for nearly 40 years. It is spread across an area of 50 sq kms area and contains about 2.6 million cubic metres of radioactive waste.

Once remediated, this area, known locally as the Uzbek Alps, will be environmentally safe, allowing livelihoods and tourism to flourish.

The second site, the Charkesar-2 mine, is 140 km east of Tashkent and 60 km to the west of the city Namangan in the Fergana Valley.

The contaminated area of approximately 25 hectares contains five already remediated waste rock dumps and two abandoned mine shafts. The existing water diversion channels on site are dilapidated.

The environmental remediation account has now allocated funding to remediate five out of seven high priority sites in Central Asia, three of which are in the Kyrgyz Republic and two in Uzbekistan.

Work will also help prevent toxic material from dispersing into the river system across the Fergana Valley, home to more than 15 million people.

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