- ERA grant of €23 million to remediate a former uranium mining site in the Kyrgyz Republic
- Project to bring major environmental relief to the region
- Work at Mailuu-Suu to begin in 2023 and take seven years to complete
Mailuu-Suu, one of the largest and most heavily contaminated uranium legacy sites in Central Asia, will be remediated thanks to the allocation of grant funding from the Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA), managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The grant of €23 million, largest since the establishment of the ERA, will help to stabilise and cover more than 2 million cubic meters of radioactive tailings located along the Mailuu-Suu River in the Kyrgyz Republic. Approximately 350 thousand cubic meters tailings need to be relocated to a safe disposal site. This will prevent toxic material from dispersing the river system into the Fergana Valley, home to more than 15 million people.
The grant agreement, which will allow the commencement of seven years of remediation works, was signed today by Boobek Ajikeev, Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic, and Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD Director, Nuclear Safety Department.
The planned soil covers will be 2 metres thick, which will minimise infiltration into tailings and will prevent access to them. This will bring major environmental relief to more than 100,000 people living in and around the town of Mailuu-Suu in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic. The project will also finance the rehabilitation of contaminated land and water resources in the area, contributing to sustainability and the well-being of local communities.
This is the third such site to be remediated in the Kyrgyz Republic following the successful completion of similar work at former uranium-mining locations in Shekaftar and Min-Kush in spring 2022. The project will serve as a model for initiatives in other parts of Central Asia, where the issue of uranium legacy sites still needs to be addressed.
The ERA, established in 2015 on the initiative of the European Union (EU) and managed by the EBRD, addresses the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining in Central Asia. The EU is the ERA’s biggest donor, while contributions have also been made to date by Belgium, Lithuania, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America.