As part of the meeting of the Assembly of the Environmental Remediation Accounts (ERA) for Central Asia, on September 8–9, representatives from the Ministry of Ecology, Emergency Situations, ERA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Development Program, and heads of diplomatic missions from the European Union, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, the USA, representatives from the Republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan visited the cities of Angren and Yangiabad in the Tashkent region.
During the event, participants visited secondary school No. 42 in Angren and Trekking camp in Yangiabad, where they got acquainted with the results of UNDP and OSCE projects, and also met with public activists, students and winners of the small grants program. On the territory of secondary school No. 42, the visit participants, together with representatives of the khokimiyat of the city of Angren, took part in planting tree seedlings.
“We have an ongoing program with the Ministry of Environment to liquidate former uranium deposits. We are in Yangiabad because this is where many historical uranium deposits remain that will be reclaimed,” said EU Ambassador to Uzbekistan Charlotte Adrian. “Environmental restoration is a difficult part of the work associated with decontaminating the land. However, this is being done for the sake of the people and children living here,” the ambassador added.
Also during the event, the delegation visited the sites of former uranium deposits - “Ore yard” and “Kattasai” in Yangiabad, as well as the “Low-grade ore” and “Overburden Rock” sites in Angren, where they got acquainted with the results of reclamation work and liquidation of the consequences of uranium mining in this area.
For the record, remediation of former uranium mining sites in Uzbekistan continues with the support of a €9 million grant from the Central Asia Environmental Remediation Account (ERA), an initiative of the European Union (EU) and managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Uzbekistan is the second state in Central Asia where such rehabilitation activities are carried out within the framework of the ERA.
The grant funds will be used to support the closure of identified workings, the demolition of abandoned facilities that were used for processing uranium ore, as well as the reclamation of individual areas of waste rock at the Yangiabad and Charkesar mines.
“The purpose of the Environmental Remediation Account is to support Central Asia in addressing the problems of uranium legacy. We work in three countries: the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and we're today here in Yangiabad to look at the progress made in remediating the biggest uranium processing in mining site in this country,” said EBRD representative Esther Hollander.
Currently, the ERA has allocated funding for the remediation of five of the seven high priority uranium legacy sites in Central Asia (two of which are in Uzbekistan and three in the Kyrgyz Republic). In addition to mandatory site reclamation and demolition of industrial buildings, activities supported by the ERA will help prevent toxic materials from entering the Fergana valley river system, home to more than 15 million people.
“The project will end in March 2025 and then the risks will be reduced to such a level that it will be possible to safely be on the territory of all these working sites of uranium mines,” noted the project’s construction engineer, candidate of geological and mineralogical sciences V.P. Kupchenko.
It is worth noting that upon completion of the project, the territories of former uranium deposits will be available for mass tourism, which will undoubtedly increase the tourist flow to the region and the well-being of the local population.