"Unstable Nuclear-Waste Dams Threaten Fertile Central Asia Heartland"

"MAILUU-SUU, Kyrgyzstan - Dams holding vast amounts of uranium mine tailings above the fertile Fergana valley in Central Asia are unstable, threatening a possible Chernobyl-scale nuclear disaster if they collapse that would make the region uninhabitable, studies have revealed.

Dams holding some 700,000 cubic meters (185 million gallons) of uranium mine tailings in Kyrgyzstan have become unreliable following a 2017 landslide. A further landslide or earthquake could send their contents into a river system used to irrigate Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik farmlands, the studies at the Soviet-era radioactive waste disposal facility showed. That event would possibly displace millions in those three countries.

The studies, part of a project by the European Commission and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to reinforce the facilities, show that the type of waste involved cannot be safely contained in their current locations and needs to be moved away from the banks of the Mailuu-Suu river.

The Fergana valley, where the contaminated water would go, is the most densely populated area in Central Asia with 16 million people, many of whom are involved in the cultivation of cotton, rice, grains, fruit and vegetables."

Aigerim Turgunbaeva and Olzhas Auyezov report for Reuters April 23, 2024.

Source: Reuters, 04/24/2024