Kazakhstan may take medium- and low-level radioactive waste from abroad for storage, according to Mukhtar Dzhakishev, president of Kazatomprom. Funds raised could be used for Kazakhstan’s waste management programme and to reclaim contaminated lands, estimated to require $1.11 billion.

Exhausted uranium mines can be used as dumping sites for medium and low-active waste. In 30 years, radioactivity would have reduced and the sites would be safe. However, Kazakhstan will not store foreign high-level waste on its territory as it does not have the necessary technologies to deal with this, Dzhakishev added. He also opposes Kazakhstan’s own high-level wastes being sent to Russia for processing. This would cost $450 million, while establishing a long-term storage facility on the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test-range in Kazakhstan would be 15 times cheaper.

At present, Kazakhstan has 237,197,000t of radioactive waste on its territory with a radioactivity level of 15.4 million curies. This includes 450t of high-level radioactive waste with a radiation level of 1.9 million curies, primarily spent nuclear fuel from its Aktau (Shevchenko) BN-350 fast breeder reactor.