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WECF at Asia and Pacific Region Ministerial Conference in Astana, 2010 - Recommendations and Opportunities for Green Growth

Lessons on environmental challenges on uranium and asbestos mining in Kazakhstan

07.10.2010 |WECF News




Uranium and asbestos industries have a huge impact on the environment, social life and public health. EECCA countries have specific experience on uranium and asbestos handling and lessons learned may be a base to develop “green approach” to safety use of uranium and asbestos.

Uranium and asbestos mining is very dangerous to health. The effects of these products destroy our environments, buildings and create health hazards on surrounding properties and wildlife areas.

The environmental impacts of uranium mining and milling activities are severe. These impacts range from the creation of massive stockpiles of radioactive and toxic waste rock and sand-like tailings to serious contamination of surface and groundwaters with radioactive and toxic pollutants, and releases of conventional, toxic and radioactive air pollutants.



WECF’s representatives lectured during their side event in Astana on these topics such as the Soviet legacy of hazardous uranium and asbestos mining activities, Environmental challenges in two sessions:

  • Hazardous Mining Practices: lesson learning and environmental challenges on uranium and asbestos mining in NIS countries. Our representatives  were Goldman Environmental Prize recipients O. Speranskaya, IPEN, Russia, and K. Atakhanova, EcoForum NGO RK, Kazakhstan , PhD, V. Korotenko, scientist and NGO leader, NGO “BIOM” Kyrgyzstan, will be giving lectures on the challenges of these harmful products to the environment. They will also explain the health and safety issue, environmental responsibility and the dangers of living in a mining environment.
  • “For a Safe Future: international and national green approaches and practices on uranium and asbestos mining”. In this fase the issue of international approaches and practices in mining, the green mechanism, the national and international approaches, including legal and financial approaches on the national level will be discussed. The  eminent speakers are Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director of WECF – Women in Europe for a Common Future (Germany), Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, O. Speranskaya (IPEN, Russia), PhD Amina Beibitova, scientist and national expert on PCB UNDP\GEF, NGO, Kazakhstan).

The Ministers have committed themselves to develop national programs on the elimination of asbestos related diseases by 2015 (Parma Declaration March 2010).
Update policy and requirements of asbestos industry to transit to international policy and standards. Information on uranium and asbestos and the campaign on their dangers, to raise public awareness and support asbestos free alternatives
Environment restoration, Health and Social Rehabilitation Program & Radioactive Waste Management in uranium mining and related nuclear activity is critical for regulatory and government officials to ensure the transit for Sustainable and Green Economy of the nation.

A stronger monitoring of mining is needed, at different levels, through a balanced structure, which includes all parties concerned. There is need for an independent monitoring body for uranium mining activities. The UN could develop a global instrument, to be financed amongst others by mining industry, for the clean-up of uranium mining waste.

Recommendations:

  • International conference on uranium mining is a good opportunity to have an exchange of views on the situation worldwide of the Uranium mining sector and on the rehabilitation techniques.
  • Lessons learned and regional case studies from clean-up and radioactive waste management projects.
  • The latest international updates on policy and regulation for Green Mechanisms and Green Decisions in uranium mining and requires notably the establishment of a financial guarantee to cover closure and after closure of the mining waste facilities including the rehabilitation of the land affected.
  • Medical inspections and formation of stereotypes of safe behavior is needed.
  • The launch of the international cooperation and network creation on chemical safety in Asia –Pacific region.




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