29 June 2009, Palais des Nations, Geneva
On 29 June, the Government of the Kyrgyz Repubic and UNDP invited to an International Forum on Uranium Tailing in Central Asia. Walter Ammann (President, GRF Davos) took part in this high-level conference, which had the aim to consolidate efforts of all stakeholders involved, identify challenges and find solutions.
Timeliness and urgency of this Forum is explained by the existing tailings in the territory of Central Asia left as a legacy from the military-industrial complex of the former USSR. The state of these tailings which contain huge wastes of uranium and other technological wastes over tens of years after shutdown of these enterprises have significantly worsened.
Prior to this International Forum the issue was discussed in April 2009 in a regional conference in Bishek and it was also highlighted during the GRF organized IDRC Davos 2008 in a Special Plenary Session on Central Asian States with respresentatives of the Kyrgyz Government, UNDP and other experts.
Background: There are dozens of uranium tailings throughout Central Asia left as a legacy from the former USSR military-industrial complex. These tailings contain massive amounts of toxic uranium and other extremely hazardous wastes. Often the combination of materials in the dumps makes the resulting mixture of wastes even more dangerous. The state of virtually all of the sites where the wastes are stored has significantly deteriorated. The risks are exacerbated by the location of the majority of tailings in proximity to populated areas that are vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides and mudflows. Overall, there is a real risk of a major catastrophe for the communities located near these sites as well as for the broader Fergana Valley with its 12 million inhabitants, should significant volumes of toxic waste contaminate the waters flowing through the valley.
The Goals of the International Forum:
- To consolidate efforts of all stakeholders and broadly agree on a prioritized, coordinated and coherent set of proposals at national and regional levels to address the challenges posted by the tailings;
- To confirm interest in principle of stakeholders to identify in the near future financial and other resources to help address uranium tailings issues and related threats to public health and environment of the Central Asian region.
- To adopt a Resolution that acknowledges importance of addressing this problem in a comprehensive way and through the ongoing but threngthened collaboration among all stakeholders.
For more information on the issue, the Kyrgyz Republic and the involvement of UNDP: