Secrecy jeopardizes ecological situation in Kyrgyzstan

The gold-mining factory in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan poses a big ecological threat

A serious breakdown at the gold-mining factory Kumtor (which happened in the beginning of July), when a side of the open pit went down, is still being discussed in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. It is not about the fact that seven million tons of rock filled up the pit, having made it impossible to carry on working. The losses of the factory (implying the losses to the republic too) will allegedly make up not less than $23 million.

However, the damage that was caused by this man made catastrophe might cause much more considerable damage to nature. As the first expertise showed, the side of the open pit tumbled down, because the water of the glacier, which was situated higher, damped the soil and it went down. The situation was exacerbated with the fact that the gold-mining pit was situated in the permafrost area, which is known for being absolutely unpredictable.

Unfortunately, there are not only mining pits in the permafrost area: there is a tailing pit built up on a very unreliable ground. This pit has been already filled up with millions of cubic meters of wastes, which are poisoned with cyanides forever. What if the props of the pit slip down as well?

Local ecologists are being very concerned about this situation, they demand there should be the profound independent expertise performed in the divisions of the factory in order to totally reevaluate the reliability of its constructions.

This is a hard goal to pursue, actually, because the Kyrgyz-Canadian company does not allow any accessory inspections, saying that it is their commercial secret. Even the deputies of the parliament can’t get the information about the activity of the factory. Yet, Kyrgyzstan has already had a sad experience, when such secrecy resulted in very unexpected consequences. For example, hard rain has recently caused a very big flood on the territory of the Izolit factory in the south of the republic. This enterprise manufactures quite harmless production. But when ecologists measured the level of radiation over there, after water abated, and it was registered, that the level of radiation was ten times as high. As it turned out later, the site of the land, on which the enterprise was located, was used for secret dumping of uranium wastes during the Soviet era. The dump was secret and there were no documents preserved about it, which imperiled a very big region of the republic. Luckily, it became possible to prevent an ecological disaster, but the incident with Izolit enterprise made everyone to be very concerned about the activity of Kumtor gold-mining factory.

Fortunately, there are no radioactive materials over there. But ecologists and deputies of the parliament are determined to strive for the detailed inspection of the mountain company.

On the photo: An advertisement of Kumtor, the Canadian-Kyrgyz joint venture company involved in the chemical accident near Issyk Kul.

Yury Razgulayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Editorial Team