The European Union’s (EU's) Delegation to Kyrgyzstan said on 18 August that it Kyrgyzstan’s swift ratification of a framework agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on remediation work at several uranium legacy sites. The framework agreement, which Kyrgyzstan signed in January, is a precondition for the implementation of projects under the EBRD's Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia fund. Under the agreement, which was passed by the Kyrgyz parliament on 28 June and signed into law by President Almazbek Atambayev earlier this month, the EU is to provide an initial contribution of €16.5m ($19.4m) for the work.
Uranium mining by the former Soviet Union, leading has left Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with radioactive contaminated material at waste dumps and tailing sites. Most of the mines were closed by 1995, and although Russia has undertaken some remediation work, much more remains to be done.
The EU has funded technical studies and environmental impact assessments at Kyrgyz uranium legacy sites in the areas of Mailiuu-Suu, Min-Khush and Shekaftar. Remediation work will be implemented through the EBRD fund beginning at Min-Khush and Shekaftar. The EU is currently the only contributor to the fund.
The Kyrgyz government will now be required to set up the necessary structures to manage the projects. The EU Delegation said technical assistance would be provided to enable it to do this. A strategic master plan for the remediation of the Central Asian uranium legacy sites, setting out the technical basis for the remediation activities, has drawn up with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and will be signed in September during the IAEA's 61st General Conference.