Communications Briefing Focuses on Nuclear Weapons, Environmental Issues

ASTANA – The Aug. 28 briefing of the Central Communication Service (CCS) brought together prominent figures in environmental and nuclear issues for an interactive briefing on environmental safety, the rehabilitation of Kazakhstan’s economy, the importance of The ATOM Project and was dedicated to the annual United Nations International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

Kairat Kadyrzhanov, advisor to the rector of the Gumilyev Eurasian National University on science, former director general of the National Nuclear Centre and former director of the Institute of Nuclear Science, answered questions at the briefing.

Kadyrzhanov highlighted that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and other international agencies are working on rehabilitating the economy of the East Kazakhstan region. Every year, specialists in atomic energy and radiation test the land of the former Semipalatinsk test site to assess its load of harmful substances and the possibilities of further use. He expressed hope that by the time Kazakhstan is 30 years old, it would be clear which parts of the land can be used for some purposes, including agriculture, and which areas should never be used by people.

When asked about the environmental impact of the prospective low-enriched uranium bank to be established in Kazakhstan, he said it would have no harm on the environment as the storage of uranium has no devastating effect.

Another question touched on the recent report published by Harvard University about a long-term project on ensuring the safety of nuclear materials on Degelen mountain, called “Plutonium Mountain” by American journalists. Reports of theft of nuclear materials from the storage area have prompted concerns about nuclear security in the area.

“On the territory of the mountain there is a strong surveillance system. The territory is equipped with warning signs … devices sensitive to the steps of people and animals are installed there. All the entrances and exits are blocked for strangers. In case of an unauthorised entrance to the territory, the signalling system activates and military men come to the territory of the mountain. Therefore, this is the most guarded territory in Kazakhstan. That is why no one can steal anything stored in the tunnels of Degelen mountain,” he said.

Asked about the ATOM Project in Kazakhstan, Kadyrzhanov said, “The ATOM Project is another step in settling the nuclear problem in the world.”

Aug. 29 was chosen as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests because it marks the day in 1991 when the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, one of the largest test sites in the world, was closed permanently.