The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced it is setting up a new fund to deal with the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining and processing in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The new "Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia" fund is being established at the request of the European Commission, which is providing an initial €8 million for the work.
According to the EBRD, Central Asia served as an important source of uranium in the former Soviet Union. This led to a large amount of radioactive contaminated material from the mining industry being placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites. Although most of the mines were closed by 1995, very little remediation work was done.
The new fund will finance projects to rehabilitate high-priority sites in the region, many of which are concentrated along the tributaries to the Syr Darya River, which runs through the region's densely populated Fergana Valley.
Vince Novak, EBRD Director, Nuclear Safety, said: "This new fund is a recognition of the urgent need to act in regards to the uranium mines and deposits in Central Asia, and of the expertise and know-how the EBRD has accumulated in the area of nuclear decommissioning."
EBRD invites other donors to join the remediation effort.