Asia’s nuclear waste dams – level 3

26-04-2024 15:00

Dams in Central Asia that hold uranium mine waste pose a severe risk due to instability caused by a 2017 landslide.

The area near the town of Male was one of the world’s biggest uranium ore dumps developed by the Soviet Union between the 1940s and 1960s. Studies show that these dams which contain around 700,000 cubic meters of waste could collapse, which would lead to a Chernobyl-scale disaster. Such an event could contaminate water used for irrigation. This would affect millions of people in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

European efforts suggest that moving the waste away from the Mailuu-Suu River is necessary. This area, with 16 million residents, relies heavily on agriculture; however, the whole area is prone to earthquakes. The cost to relocate the waste is estimated at 22-25 million euros, aiming to prevent a catastrophic environmental crisis.

Difficult words: pose (to present a problem or danger), irrigation (the supply of water to land or crops to help growth), prone (to be likely to be affected by something).

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What potential consequences could arise if the dams holding uranium mine waste in Central Asia were to collapse, according to studies?


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