Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Radiating Ill Health in Tajikistan
More than two decades since uranium mining ended in Tajikistan, the legacy of this Soviet-era industry continue to pose health risks to local communities.
Dumps containing waste from the disused mines still contain dangerous radioactive material, and the once-sealed storage facilities have cracked, allowing it to escape into the environment. Many are located close to settlements and water sources, in a country known for high levels of seismic activity.
The Degmay dump in Soghd region is the largest of ten sites in Tajikistan, and has never been covered over with the one-metre layer of earth considered the minimum requirement.
Residents of the village of Gozion, five kilometres away, say dust from the site is blown onto their farmland and water sources by the wind. Some villagers allow their livestock to graze close to the dump itself, ignoring the warning signs posted around it.
Numon Hakimov, former head of nuclear safety at Tajikistan’s Academy of Sciences, says the government just does not have the money to make the waste sites safe.
Doctors say Soghd region has two or three times the cancer rate of other parts of Tajikistan, and put this down to radiation leaks from the dumps.
Kamar Ahror is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.
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