In Kyrgyzstan, in early June, a truck transporting uranium waste from the Tuyuk-Suu storage fell into a ravine near a river in the village of Min-Kush. The accident was only made public after two days, when video from the scene of the accident was distributed on social networks. A statement from the Ministry of Emergencies was then issued stating that at the time of the accident the truck was empty.

“Nothing hit the water. However, water and soil samples were taken and sent for inspection. When the level of radiation was measured on the spot, no danger was found. Therefore, citizens have no cause for concern, the press service of the ministry said.

However, the photo and video taken after the accident shows soil pouring out of the truck. The video shot by locals, also shows an excavator moving this soil to another truck.

The Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology & Technical Control set up a commission to measure background radiation at the site, which established that it was normal and there was no cause for concern. Samples of water and soil were also taken. The results of the samples and the results of the commission will be published.

Despite explanations from official authorities, the country fears that uranium waste in the truck could get into the river located near the accident site.

Member Mirlan Svkojo asked Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Ecology & Technical Supervision Medetbek Mammetov at a meeting of the Jogorku Kenesh committee what measures had been taken and what would be the consequences for Central Asia. “You yourself say that KamAZ was transporting uranium. The truck fell into the water, uranium hit the water. This water goes to Central Asia. You know what the situation is in Min-Kush.” The deputy minister replied that a commission was investigating.

The Min-Kush uranium legacy site has been remediated by the Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA), managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is now tackling other sites in Kyrgyzstan. Central Asia was an important source of uranium in the former Soviet Union. A large amount of radioactively contaminated material was placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites and now poses a threat to the environment and the health of the population.

Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz Parliament has approved a bill to allow the development of uranium and thorium deposits in the republic. This has reversed the law “On the prohibition of activities related to geological exploration of mineral resources for the purpose of prospecting, exploration and development of uranium and thorium deposits in the Kyrgyz Republic”. The initiator of the new law was the government of Kyrgyzstan. The ban had been in force for five following protests in the country. The authorities promised that now uranium and thorium will be mined using new technologies, which will have practically no impact on the environment.