Sumsar uranium tailing storage in Kyrgyzstan needs urgent repairs

BISHKEK, August 28 (Itar-Tass) —— One of the three uranium tailing storage sites in Sumsar, southern Kyrgyzstan, needs urgent repairs, the Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Ministry said on Friday.

“Abnormal precipitation of February-March 1994 destroyed dikes of the first uranium tailing storage in Sumsar and plenty of uranium tailings were washed into the Sumsar River,” the ministry said.

Ministry experts say that the storage sites are sources of systematic pollution of the river with salts of heavy metals, such as lead, zinc, cadmium and antimony, and the pollutants are carried to the territory of Uzbekistan. Besides, the rain brings the pollutants to the river from where local residents take drinking water.

“A medical examination showed that children drinking Sumsar water had higher rates of tooth decay and bronchocele than those who drank tap water,” the ministry said. Other common diseases are high blood pressure and kidney disorders.

There are 33 uranium tailings in Kyrgyzstan with the total amount of waste 16.9 million cubic meters. The storage sites appeared in the 1940s-1960s. The Sumsar storage sites were built in 1952-1957. They have decayed since then. The country has no money to reclaim land under uranium tailing storages. The national administration is discussing possible financial aid of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC).

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