EBRD-EU delegation visits Tajikistan to discuss remediation of uranium legacy

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — A joint mission by representatives of the European Commission (EC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to Tajikistan from 3-5 April discussed the latest developments in addressing the legacy of Soviet era uranium mining in the country with the Tajik government, the EBRD press office reported.

Following the establishment of the multilateral Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA) framework agreements have now been signed with the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, where the fund will operate.

The operations will be guided by a strategic master plan which is in the final stages of preparations and based on already concluded studies covering high priority sites. A first examination of two sites in Tajikistan, Digmay and Istiklol, has established estimated remediation costs of €30 million.

Hidajet Biščević, Head of Delegation, EU Ambassador to Tajikistan, said: “The environmental remediation in Tajikistan is part of the European Union’s overall environmental strategy for Central Asia. Addressing the legacy of uranium mining will assist Tajikistan in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by improving the living conditions of the people affected by these legacy sites.”

Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD Deputy Director, Nuclear Safety, commented: “We had good discussions with the Tajik authorities and we shared the view that all building blocks are now in place to start remediation works. We agreed to work closely together in establishing the necessary framework to deliver and improve the living conditions of Tajik citizens.”

Recent progress includes:

Development of a strategic master plan. The plan defines the priority uranium legacy sites and the estimated cost of the remediation work. It provides the basis that works take place on the basis of highest international standards and best practices. The plan was prepared under the leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) together with experts from the affected countries and the international community.

Activities in Digmay and Istiklol. The EC has financed an environmental impact assessment and feasibility studies for the two sites to assess the radiological risks and develop remediation options. At the same time a water treatment project is ongoing at Istiklol.

Donor support. Strong support by the international community will be required to address the priorities identified by the strategic master plan. The government of Tajikistan has committed to take an active role in continuing efforts to mobilise further funds from donors.

Tajikistan has been invited to participate in the second ERA contributor’s assembly meeting on 7 July 2017 at the EBRD’s Headquarters in London. The EBRD established the fund in 2015 at the request of the EC and is managing it.

Sergey Kwan

TCA