Villagers Farm Perilously Close to Uranium Dump

Reporter Kamari Ahrorzoza has been visiting Gazion, a village in northern Tajikistan, where residents live and work in close proximity to an old uranium mine.

Villagers Farm Perilously Close to Uranium Dump

Reporter Kamari Ahrorzoza has been visiting Gazion, a village in northern Tajikistan, where residents live and work in close proximity to an old uranium mine.

Saturday, 21 February, 2009
The site, just two kilometres from the village, is one of eight in the region where uranium ore waste has been left where it was dumped when the Chkalovsk plant was processing uranium for the Soviet nuclear industry.



These days, villagers admit that they pasture their cattle close to the site even though it is not allowed. They blame radiation for health problems and lower crops yields.



Environmental specialists confirm that areas near the uranium dumps have abnormally high levels of ambient radiation.



Villagers admit that they visit the unguarded dump site to pick up scrap metal for resale. That poses dangers to the unwitting buyers who use the recycled steel as part of a house structure and who may suffer health consequences years later.



The authorities merely monitor radiation levels as they do not have the funds to clean up areas like this.



“It would take an awful lot of money to render these sites harmless, and the government budget can’t stretch to that,” said Nurmon Hakimov, local branch head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Agency, part of Tajikistan’s Academy of Sciences. “The state-owned [rare metals] enterprise Vostokredmet isn’t in a position to pay for it, either.”
Tajikistan
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