studies have detected among area residents heightened levels of leukemia and cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, lung and thyroid. They have also revealed higher levels of cardiovascular and blood diseases, chromosomal aberrations and congenital anomalies.
Kazakhstan: Living with Semipalatinsk’s Nuclear Fallout, EurasiaNet August 26, 2016 – by Joanna Lillis In the village of Znamenka in northeastern Kazakhstan, adults have vivid memories of nuclear explosions rocking the steppe.
Zhannur Zhumageldina, 25, was born in the village of Olzhabay, 200 kilometers from the polygon, the year after it closed and three years after it conducted its last explosion.
At 15 months old, she was diagnosed with microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which the head is abnormally small, impeding brain development, and scoliosis, curvature of the spine. Both conditions were caused by radiation exposure. Her diagnosis came as a bolt from the blue to her mother, pregnant at the time with her second child, a son who was born healthy.
“I didn’t even know the polygon existed until Zhannur was 15 months old,” said Zhumageldina, a single mother who cares full-time for her severely disabled daughter, who cannot walk or talk. “I was in shock.”
Across the city, in a cramped apartment in another drab suburb, Berik Syzdykov whiles away his days listening to music videos and strumming on his dombra, a traditional stringed instrument. Syzdykov, 37, was born blind and with severe facial deformities in Znamenka, the village where adults remember mushroom clouds exploding on the horizon.
“Once, there was a big explosion,” said his 73-year-old mother Zina Syzdykova, leaning back and closing her eyes. “It was the winter of 1979 and I was pregnant. Two months later, Berik was born like this.”
“Polygon,” she said with a shrug. “We didn’t know anything about it… When Berik was born, I cried and cried, but how would I know what was wrong with him?”
………Over four decades, nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk affected 1.5 million Kazakhstanis in some form, Nazarbayev has asserted. Due to poor record-keeping and Soviet official secrecy, it is still not known precisely how many people received dangerous doses of radiation, Togzhan Kassenova of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Nuclear Policy Program told EurasiaNet.org. Data cited in one Kazakh-Japanese study suggests a quarter of a million people may have received elevated doses.
Dr. Zhaxybay Zhumadilov, a scientist from Astana’s Nazarbayev University who has researched the impact of the tests with experts from Hiroshima University, says studies have detected among area residents heightened levels of leukemia and cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, lung and thyroid. They have also revealed higher levels of cardiovascular and blood diseases, chromosomal aberrations and congenital anomalies.
Determining exposure and drawing meaningful conclusions is complicated, because “for years, what happened at the Semipalatinsk test site, [and] its effects on human health and the environment, were treated as classified information,” Zhumadilov told EurasiaNet.org. There is no international analogy for such “repeated acute external and long-term internal chronic exposure.”………
The state provides free medical care for the test victims: Zhumageldina’s daughter has recently undergone treatment in Astana to alleviate her condition, for which there is no cure. Still, Zhumageldina strikes an upbeat note. “Zhannur means everything to me,” she said with a gentle smile, flicking through an album showing photos of her disabled daughter growing up. “Everyone said I should abandon her – the doctors, my husband, my mother-in-law. … I said no. I’m going to look after her.”
Syzdykov received financial support from the government and an Irish charity for multiple operations in Kazakhstan and Europe, but still this man robbed of his sight by the Semipalatinsk tests dreams of seeing what the world looks like.
“If I could see, it would be good,” he said. “If not, there’s no need for any more surgery.” http://www.eurasianet.org/node/80311
Astana to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference http://astanatimes.com/2016/08/astana-to-host-major-nuclear-disarmament-conference/ BY AIMAN TUREBEKOVA 24 AUGUST 2016
ASTANA – The Kazakh capital will host the international conference “Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World,” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and commemorating UN International Day against Nuclear Tests at the Palace of Independence Aug. 29, the Senate of the Parliament announced.
The Kazakh Senate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) have co-organised the conference.
It will be addressed by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and will bring together parliamentarians, representatives of international organisations, civil activists, scholars, mayors and media from around the world.
The event will include a plenary session and four panel sessions: “Security without nuclear weapons or war: Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”; “A nuclear test ban and the role of the UN in achieving nuclear disarmament;” “National prohibition and nuclear-weapons-free zones. Geography of a sustainable world;” “Initiatives and campaigns – legislators, religious leaders and civil society”.
Conference participants will commemorate victims of nuclear tests, consider current disarmament issues and make proposals on how to strengthen international security.
According to Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the 25th anniversary since the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is a date of global significance.
“President Nursultan Nazarbayev is recognised as a leader of the global antinuclear movement. His decision on the full closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site is the first and the only such case in the disarmament history of the world. The idea of complete nuclear disarmament underpins the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.” The anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is the best opportunity for the entire world community to consider the paramount importance of establishing sustainable peace on the planet and to propose new common solutions to security problems,” he said on the eve of the event.
On Dec. 2, 2009, at Kazakhstan’s initiative, the UN unanimously declared Aug. 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests. “For nearly a decade as UN Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world, as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break long-standing deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a special message on this year’s International Day against Nuclear Tests.
In his message, made public by the UN shortly prior to the date, Ban Ki-moon said, “Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific.”
He continued, “A prohibition on all nuclear testing will end this poisonous legacy. It will boost momentum for other disarmament measures by showing that multilateral cooperation is possible, and it will build confidence for other regional security measures, including a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. When I visited Semipalatinsk in 2010, I saw the toxic damage – but I also witnessed the resolve of the victims and survivors. I share their determination to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The UN Secretary General went on to urge Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation member states to act now.
“Those states whose ratification is required to bring the treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All states that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act,” he said.
Kazakhstan knows well those catastrophic human consequences. The Soviet nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk site, caused illnesses and premature death to an estimated 1.5 million people and contaminated a huge area.
The Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century,” which was released by Nazarbayev earlier this year, is another contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and to an end to war. The main idea of the manifesto is to prevent war by utilising common security and international law approaches such as diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication.
Japan to construct nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan, Tengri News, 27 Oct 15
For more information see:http://en.tengrinews.kz/politics_sub/Japan-to-construct-nuclear-power-plant-in-Kazakhstan-262718/
Use of the Tengrinews English materials must be accompanied by a hyperlink to en.Tengrinews.kz
October 23 Tengrinews.kz reported, citing the country’s Vice Minister of Energy Bakhytzhan Dzhaksaliyev, that Kazakhstan was to decide within the following 2-3 years on the location and strategic partner for its first nuclear power station.
January 23,2015 Tengrinews.kz reported that Kazakhstan had started talks with Toshiba, owner of Westinghouse, to construct its first nuclear power plant. The sides were to sign an agreement on supplying a $3.7 billion reactor capable of 1 gigawatt, according to Russia’s Kommersant daily.
Early 2014 the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev commissioned the Government to decide before the end of the Q1 2014 on the location, sources of investments and timing of constructing a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan.
In his Address to the Nation at the start of 2014, President Nursultan Nazarbayev elaborated why Kazakhstan needs to construct a nuclear power plant.
He emphasized that the future lies with nuclear power……… “The actual need for a nuclear power plant will be felt around 2025 given the current power generation and consumption figures”, he elaborated.
For more information see:http://en.tengrinews.kz/politics_sub/Japan-to-construct-nuclear-power-plant-in-Kazakhstan-262718/
“Rapid, stunning and complete” die-off of animals near nuclear site — 150,000+ antelopes bleeding from internal organs, pits brimming with corpses — Experts completely baffled: “It’s really unheard of… 100% mortality, I know of no example in history like it… Doesn’t make any sense” (PHOTOS)http://enenews.com/rapid-stunning-complete-crash-animal-population-nuclear-site-150000-antelopes-dead-after-bleeding-internal-organs-experts-100-mortality-example-history-like-really-unheard-doesnt-make-sense-infe?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
NBC News, Sep 3, 2015 (emphasis added): Now, the researchers have found clues as to how more than half of the [Kazakhstan saiga antelope] herd, counted at 257,000 as of 2014, died so rapidly. Bacteria clearly played a role in the saigas’ demise. But exactly how these normally harmless microbes could take such a toll is still a mystery, [Steffen Zuther, with the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative] said. “The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species,” Zuther said. “It’s really unheard of.”… Tissue samples revealed that toxins, produced by Pasteurella and possibly Clostridia bacteria, caused extensive bleeding in most of the animals’ organs. But Pasteurella is found normally [and] usually doesn’t cause harm unless the animals have weakened immune systems. (Below: Semipalatinsk nuclear test wasteland, Kazakhstan)
Live Science, Sep 2, 2015: [In] four days, the entire herd — about 60,000 saigas — had died off. Workers struggled to keep up with the mass dying, quickly burying the animals that died in heaps. Scientists were completely baffled… necropsies revealed that bacterial toxins from a few species of pathogen had caused bleeding in all of the animals’ internal organs… [Pasteurella] rarely causes harm unless their immune system has already been weakened by something else. And genetic analysis suggested this was a garden-variety pathogenic form of the microbe, which has never caused such a rapid, stunning and complete crash in a population before. All told, more than 150,000 saiga have died [which]may be an underestimate, as that number only counts saiga who have been buried…
New York Times, May 29, 2015: The numbers and images that describe a mass dying of the critically endangered saiga… in the Betpak-dala region of Kazakhstan are stunning. Hastily bulldozed pits brim with corpses… The enormous new saiga die-off is particularly devastating… there had been previous die-offs… in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1981 and 1988.
Richard Kock, Royal Veterinary College: “It’s very dramatic and traumatic, with 100-percent mortality…. I know of no example in history with this level of mortality.”
BBC, Jun 1, 2015: An unknown environmental trigger is thought to have caused two types of normally benign bacteria found in the antelopes’ gut to turn deadly… “Over two days (in the herd I was studying) 80% of the calving population died,” [Zuther] told the BBC. The whole herd then died within two weeks… Two different bacteria, pasteurelosis and clostridia, have been found in every dead animal studied. These bacteria are naturally found in the animals… so something must have reduced the immunity of the animals… “There’s no infectious disease that can work like this,” said Prof Kock… losing 100% percent of some populations within two weeks “doesn’t make any sense” from a biological or evolutionary perspective, Prof Kock said… all individuals affected by the sudden die-off are from the largest remaining Betpak-dala population…
U.S. National Research Council, 2001:Radionuclide Contamination at Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Test Site — 498 nuclear tests were conducted [and] vented underground detonations occurred through 1989… some Kazakh scientists opine that residual radioactivity is responsible for ongoing health impacts… Pathologies in cohorts born after the atmospheric tests appeared to be significantly higher… [Prof. Saim Balmukhanov, the prominent director of the Institute of Oncology] made a particular case that various pathways of exposure to plutonium particles from the soil may be a causative agent… There is little doubt that people living in the STS region suffer from a range of adverse health effects, includinghigh rates of infectious and noninfectious diseases, cancer, and hematological disorders… The STS is located in the plains of the dry Eurasian steppe… Steppe fauna includes… the migratory saiga antelope… [I]nformation exists suggesting that plants at the test site can hyperaccumlate radionuclides… During meetings with ecologists from Kazakhstan State National University a claim was made that in the past, there were 100 species of higher plants at the STS, now there are fewer than 40. Many animal species have disappeared
New nuclear fuel bank a welcome development, Japan Times, 25 Aug 15 BY GARETH EVANS “………(on Aug. 27), Kazakhstan is establishing a major new international fuel bank, which it will operate on behalf of the IAEA. The new facility should once and for all remove the main excuse that has been advanced, sincerely or not, for building and maintaining homegrown enrichment capability.
Scheduled to commence operations in 2017, the Kazakh fuel bank will store up to 90 tons of LEU, sufficient to refuel three typical power-producing light water reactors. While Kazakhstan will physically operate the bank, the uranium will be owned and controlled by the IAEA, and made available to non-nuclear-weapon states if, for any reason, they cannot secure the LEU they need from the commercial market.
Provided the state in question is in compliance with its comprehensive non-proliferation safeguards agreement with the IAEA, it can draw the required fuel from the bank and transfer it to a fuel fabricator to make fuel assemblies for the reactors involved…….
The bank has been funded by voluntary contributions, including $50 million from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a U.S.-based NGO, $49 million from the U.S. government, up to $25 million from the European Union, $10 million each from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and $5 million from Norway…… http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/08/25/commentary/world-commentary/new-nuclear-fuel-bank-a-welcome-development/#.VdzQBSWqpHx
I am asking you to wave goodbye to these weapons, though I cannot do so myself. But I can raise my voice, and my paintbrush, and I will do that until the day I die, to ensure that the world sees what has happened in my country and my community, and more importantly, to make sure that this never happens again, in rich countries or in poor countries or in any other hidden place on earth. Children like me were hidden for long enough. I want to use my voice to tell you about us, now, and use my brush to show you the beauty and heartbreak of my landscape
Eliminating the World’s Nuclear Weapons by Bicycle Silk Road Reporters, by Karipbek Kuyukov 23 Apr 15 On April 21, another push – many miles worth, in fact – was added to the growing worldwide drive to rid the planet of nuclear weapons as the Bike Away the Atomic Bomb riders begin their journey from Washington, D.C. to New York to call for real action to be taken at the UN Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York on April 27. I won’t be riding with them. I couldn’t hold the handlebars, or anything else, for that matter: when I was born, outside the now-closed Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in eastern Kazakhstan, it was without arms.
I’m not unusual, where I come from. Forty years of nuclear testing and hundreds of nuclear explosions have blighted swathes of the beautiful steppe there and shattered the surrounding communities, as their effects began to be seen in birth defects and diseases, which continue to this day. The UN estimates that 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan have been affected by the Soviet Union’s nuclear test programme. There are many people like me.
I am determined to be the last.
In a sense, I am lucky: Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, shut down the poisonous Semipalatinsk test site in 1991, in defiance of the government in Moscow, and upon independence set about dismantling Kazakhstan’s formidable nuclear arsenal. Ukraine, Belarus and South Africa join Kazakhstan among the list of countries to renounce their nuclear weapons.
But I and they are also citizens of the world, and while our countries may be free of nuclear weapons, we remain vulnerable as long as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty remains a dream. We have been waiting since 1996 for this ban to become a reality, and I call on China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States to finally sign and/or ratify this treaty. They must ensure that not one more person suffers from the consequences of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons use in the future.
I may not be able to ride with them, but I will be joining Mayors for Peace, Bike for Peace and The ATOM Project in Washington D.C. before the bikers start this new leg of our journey toward nuclear sanity. We are joining Global Wave 2015 in its schedule of coordinated public actions urging humanity – and particularly the decision-makers at the UN conference – to wave goodbye to nuclear weapons.
Tore Nærland, co-founder of Bike for Peace, and Thore Vestby, mayor of Frogn, Norway, who is also vice president of Mayors for Peace and a member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament are among those who will be riding for four days from Washington to New York.
For this tour, Vestby says, he has a specific message: That nuclear weapons cannot be used, because of their enormous humanitarian and environmental consequences, and are therefore useless………
I am asking you to wave goodbye to these weapons, though I cannot do so myself. But I can raise my voice, and my paintbrush, and I will do that until the day I die, to ensure that the world sees what has happened in my country and my community, and more importantly, to make sure that this never happens again, in rich countries or in poor countries or in any other hidden place on earth. Children like me were hidden for long enough. I want to use my voice to tell you about us, now, and use my brush to show you the beauty and heartbreak of my landscape……… The author is the honorary ambassador of The ATOM Project. http://www.silkroadreporters.com/2015/04/23/eliminating-the-worlds-nuclear-weapons-by-bicycle/
After the Apocalypse: The anti-nuclear film that wasn’t, Nuclear Free by 2o45? by Dennis, 27 Feb 15
As the fourth anniversary of the earthquake-tsunami-meltdown syndrome approached, I looked back at an example of pro-nuclear spin that appeared in the media in the spring of 2011. Ironically, the pro-nuclear message discussed here is a film about the horrors of atomic weapon blasts in The Polygon, the sacrifice zone in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union detonated hundreds of nuclear and thermonuclear bombs. I’m timing this article to also commemorate the birth of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement which is marked every year in Kazakhstan on February 28th.
After the Apocalypse  is a one-hour documentary that takes place in Semipalatinsk, a town in north-eastern Kazakhstan where the USSR detonated 456 nuclear weapons, many of them large-yield megaton hydrogen bombs. The camera goes to radioactive craters where herders still take their animals to graze. It goes to a museum where the pickled corpses of deformed babies sit in jars. However, the horror show of the past is not the main attraction. The film concentrates on the fierce struggle that still goes on today over the reproductive rights of the Kazakhstan hibakusha. The director, Antony Butts, follows a pregnant woman, Bibigul, whose wide-set eyes suggest chromosome damage. She wants to give birth despite the protestations of Toleukhan Nurmagambetov, a doctor who talks of the deformed, and too often abandoned, babies in the region as “monsters.” Continue reading
I have a dream: A world free of nuclear weapons Aljazeera, Karipbek Kuyukov 28 Aug 2014 China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US are still to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
HBO: ‘Genetic passports’ for major population exposed to nuclear radiation? “It has deformed their genes, sorry it’s a bit of a bummer” — Twins attached by organs growing outside body, ’1-eyed cyclops’, babies with giant heads… “they respond to the people around them” (GRAPHIC PHOTOS & VIDEO) http://enenews.com/hbo-genetic-passports-major-population-exposed-nuclear-radiation-deformed-genes-sorry-bit-bummer-twins-attached-organs-growing-body-one-eyed-cyclops-babies-heads-photos-video
PVICE, by Thomas Morton, May 4, 2014: “How Fucked Are Nukes? […] way worse than Hollywood has the special effects to depict. A lot of mainstream accounts […] soft-pedal the body horror that acute radiation poisoning causes […] eyewitness testimony from Robert Jay Lifton’s Hiroshima classic Death in Life: […] “at a glance you couldn’t tell whether you were looking at them from in front or in back […] very young girls, not only with their clothes torn off but with their skin peeled off as well. My immediate thought was that this was like the hell I had always read about.” […] If you haven’t already gone to the bathroom to slit your wrists […] VICE on HBO covers the second major population intentionally exposed to atomic radiation—the Kazakhs living around the Semipalatinsk Testing Polygon, where the Soviet Union tested 456 nuclear bombs.
While they weren’t close enough to the blasts to experience the sort of immediate deformities [suffered by the Japanese –] It deformed their genes. Sorry it’s a bit of a bummer.”
See also: Japan Professor: I believe airborne release of cesium-137 from Fukushima equals 400 to 500 Hiroshima nuclear bombs — Another 400 to 500 bombs worth has already flowed into Pacific Ocean (VIDEO)
Thursday March 20, 2014, The World Nuclear Association reported that melting snow is to blame for the disruption of a number of uranium operations in Southern Kazakhstan.
According to the WNA:
National atomic company Kazatomprom reported that snow melt has damaged roads near the village of Taykonur in the Sozak region of South Kazakhstan oblast. This has restricted access of vehicles delivering chemical reagents to the Inkai in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine and processing plant in central Kazakhstan. The Inkai project is owned and operated by Joint Venture Inkai, which is 60% owned by Canada’s Cameco and 40% by Kazatomprom.
The petition – located here – is part of the campaign of The ATOM Project to draw global attention to the need to show more leadership and take decisive steps towards the elimination of the nuclear threat. Anyone in the world can sign the petition and contribute to building a nuclear-weapons-free world.
My experience of the nuclear horror http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/25/my-experience-of-the-nuclear-horror/ By Karipbek Kuyukov, CNN 25 Sept 13 Editor’s note: Karipbek Kuyukov is an artist and Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project, a global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons testing. The views expressed are his own.As world leaders gather for the United Nations High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York, I would like to deliver a short message from the survivors of nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan.
The perpetual question of whether to pursue the nuclear arms race or eradicate nuclear weapons has divided international opinion. Experts, politicians and world leaders have traditionally sided either for or against nuclear arms. Some believe that nuclear weapons help preserve peace, yet surely many more believe these weapons are a certain path to another world war and the eventual obliteration of mankind.
But although there has been much discussion of the issue, few on either side have turned for advice to the victims of nuclear tests and explosions. We have a lot to say and a right to be heard.
I was born in 1968, about 100 kilometers away from the notorious Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in eastern Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union tested hundreds of nuclear devices over four decades. I was born without arms, a result of the horrific impact of nuclear radiation on the health of our people. As I grew up, I saw that I was not alone.
I saw mothers and midwifes shocked at the sight of other babies born with birth defects. I saw families too embarrassed to show their children to the outside world, hiding them deep inside their homes and bringing them out only briefly to have some fresh air and sun. I saw families and whole communities decimated by radiation-related cancers. As the United Nations notes, more than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan suffered the effects of Soviet nuclear weapons testing, which lasted from 1949 until 1991. Continue reading
But in this poisoned place, on a small patch of land near a few downtrodden trailers, there’s an unexpected hint of vitality: bright yellow sunflowers, clustered together near rows of corn, and a barn full of plump sheep. Here, scientists from Kazakhstan’s Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology, a governmental organization that studies the medical and biological interaction between radioactivity and the environment, have developed an experimental farm. Their goal is to measure the transference of radioactivity from contaminated soil into edible crops, and from those crops into the meat, milk, and eggs of the animals that eat them. Continue reading
Scientists studying the effects of ISL doubt how quickly mine sites can self-cleanse. This uncertainty appears to be little known to both Kazakhstan’s nuclear industry and fledgling environmentalists.
no site in the US has been entirely returned to pre-mining conditions
The cost of being the world’s No.1 uranium producer Kazakhstan’s industry has skyrocketed in the past 10 years. But what could that mean for the environment? Christian Science Monitor, By Ben Arnoldy, Staff writer / August 28, 2013 ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN
If you make a toxic mess under one of the most isolated parts of the planet, does it matter if you don’t clean it up? Does it make a difference if that mess will be there for thousands of years? Scientists are asking those questions as Kazakhstan has steadily risen to become the world’s No. 1 uranium producer, surpassing such nations as the United States, Canada, and Australia, which require more cleanup.
Rather than employing miners to haul rock up to the surface, mine operators in Kazakhstan have embraced a newer – and generally cleaner – process by which a chemical solution is injected down a pipe to dissolve the underground uranium deposits and then is sucked back up to the surface.
This in situ leach (ISL) method avoids making a mess above ground, but leaves toxic levels of heavy metals in the ground water. In the US, companies using the method have tried for years and failed to return ground water to its pre-mining state. Continue reading
Kazakhstan’s Painful Nuclear Past Looms Large Over Its Energy Future, The Atlantic 13 May 13, The central Asian country is positioning itself as a global nuclear leader, but it’s haunted by the lasting impacts of Soviet testing decades ago……….. Kazakhstan is moving forward with plans to build a civilian nuclear power facility for domestic energy needs, possibly on the Aktau site of a now defunct Soviet-era plant…..
Josef Stalin’s nuclear legacy remains in East Kazakhstan Scotsman.com, 9 October 2012 “…..It was over 20 years after the end of atomic testing in the Polygon that the world began to take notice, but Stalin’s legacy may yet have an impact that could threaten future generations across the globe. The mining of uranium to manufacture the atomic weapons tested in the Polygon has left a staggering 812 million tonnes of highly radioactive uranium tailings (waste byproduct). They lie in dilapidated dumps in four of the five Central Asian republics, posing not just an imminent threat to the environment but a potential flashpoint for violence and conflict. Continue reading
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