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Monitoring of Radioactive Mining Waste


Creation of Monitoring Basis in Handling of Radioactive Wastage of Mining Industry

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore

Project summary

Project objective is a creation of monitoring basis in handling of radioactive wastage of mining industry on the North Kyrgyzstan territory. An urgency of the planning works is related to the critical geoecological situation in Kichi-Kemin river valley (Chu area), caused by long-term (more than 50 years) extraction and processing of radioactive ores of lead-zinc and rare-earth lanthanum deposits located within high-seismic zone of North Tien Shan.

Wastage of extraction and processing of Aktyuz deposit ores, containing thorium, cadmium, molybdenum, lead, zinc, copper, beryllium and cyanides, were stored in four waste-depositories, which total volume is 5 mill. m3, occupying square - 510 thousand m, power of exposition doze of g-radiation ranges between 100-450 mR/hour, height of dams - 50-70 m. All the waste-depositories are situated in small depressions, hollows of water-accumulating territories of Kichi-Kemin river (Chu river basin) under condition of mountain broken relief. The region of Aktyuz ore field location is in North Tien Shan seismic active zone and includes the epicentral zones of disastrous crust earthquakes: 1911 Kemin with magnitude MS=8.2 and 1938 Kemin-Chu with magnitude MS=6.9; periodically, in 2-3 years, earthquakes with MS = 4.5-5.0 occur here. As result of constant seismic effect, destruction of natural landscape by mining works and building of transport communications with cutting of slopes, the soil-erosion and landslide processes were made more active.

In December, 1964 the dam of N 2 waste-depository was broken. It was resulted in pollution of soil-layer on depth up to some ten centimeters within a square of more than 50 km2 and distance of 20 km from the source. Side by side with the zone the pollution passed on to Kazakhstan by water way through the flood-land and bed of Kichi-Kemin river, i.e. transitional catastrophe occurred.

After the USSR disintegration the waste-depositories, their protective and purification constructions were handled in unsatisfactory state and were gradually degrading, producing a pollution hazard for surface and underground waters, soils and biota.

Last years a medical service register a worsening of population health in the polluted region.

In connection with closing of enterprise GAO "Aktyuz", starting from 1994 the works on handling of the waste-depositories in safe condition were not carried out; control of protective constructions and drainage systems was stopped. It was resulted in lowering of long-term stability of constructions and increasing of risk of the waste-depositories destruction with catastrophical (including transitional) consequences such as pollution of Chu river basin, which has an important international mean. Previous estimations have shown, that in case of broken dams of Aktyuz waste-depositories a zone of pollution can be up to 100 km2 of the Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan territories with population up to 100 thousand people.

In this connection, the program of planning works in region of Aktyuz ore field was composed not only for study of surrounding pollution, but also for a monitoring of stability of the waste-depository dams and adjoining mountain slopes, where landslide fissures and other deformations were noted.

The Project provides an application of control methods for migration of chemical elements in natural environment, developed (LAR OIAI) with the purpose of determination of pollution sources.

Besides, it is supposed to conduct composite engineering-geological, seismic-tectonical and hydrogeological works for estimation of the waste-depository dam stability and revealing of filtration ways of water solution with toxic substances, and also to carry out a complex radiological and geochemical survey with selection of samples of water, soils, rocks and artificial grounds.

It is necessary to solve the following basic problems for achievement of the purpose:

1. An estimation of geological, geochemical and seismic-tectonical conditions of Aktyuz ore field region.

2. An engineering-geological and hydrogeological estimation of Aktyuz waste-depository stability and revealing of filtration sources of pollutants.
3. Determination of surrounding pollution degree with radioactive elements, heavy metals and other toxic substances in Kichi-Kemin river valley.
4. Composition of a map of Aktyuz ore field pollution and development of monitoring system in handling of radioactive wastage.
5. Development of practical recommendations for decreasing of pollution hazard in Kichi-Kemin valley.

Expected results:

– problems of the waste-depository stability will be solved on the basis of seismic-tectonical, engineering-geological and hydrogeological investigations;

– surrounding pollution degree with toxic substances will be determined for Kichi-Kemin river basin;
– the most dangerous and polluted areas will be picked out;
– a basis of monitoring will be created for handling of radioactive wastage and other toxic substances of mining industry;
– practical recommendation for decreasing of pollution hazard will be developed.

Research methods: geological, engineering-seismological, engineering-geological, hydrogeological, geomechanical, nuclear-physical, chemical.

Experimental data: geological-geophysical materials of geological surveys, geochemical and ecological data, the bank of seismological data, experimental data of geochemical and radiation survey.

Observational system: engineering-geological, geochemical and hydrological points of probation, analogue and digital american seismic KNET arrays, system of observational stations of Ministry of ecology and extremal situations, Kyrgyz Republic.


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