Rehabilitation of uranium tailing site completed ahead of schedule

6 October 2023

Rosatom specialists have completed work to rehabilitate legacy uranium tailing sites as part of a project to rehabilitate the Taboshar industrial site near the city of Istiklol in the Sughd region of Tajikistan. Russia has fully implemented measures to reclaim the dump of the low-grade uranium ore factory and four tailings dumps almost five months ahead of schedule.

The ceremony marking the event was attended by the Tajikistan Minister of Industry & New Technologies, Sherali Kabir; the Deputy General Director and Director of the International Activities Unit at Rosatom, Nikolai Spassky; and the Chairman of the Sughd Region, Rajabboy Akhmadzoda.

The direct contractor for the work was the Central Design & Technological Institute (JSC CPTI), the main design institute of Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL of Rosatom and centre of competence for the decommissioning of nuclear & radiation hazardous facilities and radioactive waste management.

The height of the uranium dump was reduced from 65 to 35 metres and covered with a 1.5-metre layer of clean soil. The radiation background in the perimeter of the reclaimed facilities has fallen to natural levels, verified by monitoring data from the Agency for Chemical, Biological, Radiation & Nuclear Safety of Tajikistan National Academy of Sciences.

Necessary infrastructure was installed to enable the work to be carried out including asphalting 3 km of road and reconstructing power lines. At the reclaimed sites, the remains of building structures were dismantled. Russian specialists, together with a local contractor, carried out large-scale work to demolish old reinforced concrete structures and equipment at the low-grade ore factory, and to isolate large-sized scrap in reinforced concrete bowls. A protective soil layer was put in place, and a drainage system organised. The low-grade ore factory dump and all four tailings ponds were covered with a protective screen made of natural materials.


In total, 39 units of special equipment were involved in the work including 20 dump trucks with a lifting capacity of 40 tonnes. More than 1.2m cubic metres of soil were moved. A total of 88 people worked in two shifts, including highly qualified Tajik specialists involving dosimetrists, and surveyors. .

The Taboshar deposit near the city of Istiklol was one of the largest in the USSR, where uranium mining took place between 1945 and 1965. The enterprise was closed in the 1970s. A trilateral contract for the development of working documentation and the implementation of work to rehabilitate the uranium dumps and tailings was concluded in September 2022 between the Tajik Ministry of Industry & New Technologies, Rosatom and the Central Design & Technological Institute. The agreement was concluded as part of the fulfilment of international obligations in accordance with the international target programme of the CIS countries for the rehabilitation of areas affected by uranium mining industries. The project is financed by the countries participating in the international target programme - Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Central Asia served as an important source of uranium for the former Soviet Union. Uranium was mined for more than 50 years and uranium ore was also imported from other countries for processing, and large amounts of radioactively contaminated material were placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites. Most of the mines were closed by 1995 but very little remediation was done before or after the closure of the mining and milling operations.

To ensure effective project management of the Taboshar project, a branch of JSC TSPT was opened in Tajikistan. Specialists developed working documentation, created the necessary infrastructure for carrying out reclamation work (engineering and technical support site, decontamination point for special equipment, etc.), and organised the work of the radiation safety service. The work was unertaken in close cooperation with one of the largest construction companies in Tajikistan, SPK FAYZ recommended by the Tajik Ministry of Industry & New Technologies.

“All rehabilitation work was completed in full - ahead of schedule. Innovative methods have been developed to bring uranium heritage sites into a safe state, “ said Spassky. “We have accumulated extremely useful experience in carrying out such work. The living conditions of people across vast territories have been improved, and the preconditions have been created for the growth of the well-being and economy of the region. I would also like to note that our cooperation with Tajikistan is not limited to reclamation issues. Rosatom State Corporation has competencies in the field of nuclear medicine, geological exploration and mining of uranium, rare and rare earth metals, scientific research and personnel training. We are now discussing specific joint projects in these areas with our Tajik partners.”

“For Tajikistan, this is the first project carried out within the framework of the programme “Reclamation of territories of states affected by uranium mining production,” said Sherali Kabir. “When rehabilitating the uranium legacy in the area of ??the city of Istiklol, all environmental features of the area were taken into account, including the flora and fauna of the area. The design documentation passed all the necessary state examinations. Russian colleagues approached the implementation of the project with great responsibility in accordance with international standards and norms. In turn, companies and specialists from Tajikistan who took part in the project not only contributed to its implementation, but also gained a lot of experience,” he noted.

During the reclamation period, the school was redecorated. Teaching was organised in another educational institution located at a safe distance from the work site. As a result of the completed reclamation of the Taboshar industrial site, the territory adjacent to the nearby settlement was brought into an environmentally safe state, unique experience was accumulated, and special methods of environmental control and social and hygienic monitoring were created and tested.

Image: A ceremony was held to mark completion of works (courtesy of Rosatom)

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