July 25, 2002
Ecological Society Green Salvation
480091, Almaty, 58 Shagabutdinov St., apt. 28
470000, Karaganda, 49 Dzhambul St., apt. 2
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
With regard to the questions raised by representatives of non-governmental organizations in their appeal to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, I.N. Tasmagambetov, on May 24, 2002, we report the following.
The legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan guarantees the effective protection of the population’s health and defense of the environment against the possibility of the harmful influence of ionizing radiation. In accordance with this, our republic has created a system for state regulation concerning the safe use of atomic energy.
In accordance with legislation of the RK concerning the peaceful use of atomic energy, the Committee on Atomic Energy, created by Decree No. 770 of the President of the RK on May 15, 1992, is designated as the central state body regulating safety issues in the use of atomic energy. The Committee is responsible for licensing all forms of activity connected with the use of atomic energy, state oversight of the import and export of nuclear materials and nuclear technology, accounting for the control of nuclear materials, regulation of nuclear and radiation safety at nuclear establishments and in the use of sources of ionizing radiation, and the organization of the physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear sites.
The Ministry of Public Health of the RK, through its system of sanitary-epidemiological stations, performs the necessary activities for protecting station personnel and the population from potential risks. Within the context of its competence, the Ministry of Public Health bears the responsibility for oversight and inspection in the production, use, storage, and transport of radioactive sources and materials. It also inventories such sources, issues its conclusions regarding the right to work with them, and provides medical assistance to personnel working with them.
The Committee for Environmental Protection of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection bears responsibility for protecting the environment against radioactive contamination. It coordinates work concerning the study of the radiation situation in Kazakhstan, and conducts state expertise of projects in the field of radiation safety.
Other ministries and agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan:
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources develops and implements policy and programs regarding the use of atomic energy;
The Ministry of Science and Education coordinates scientific activity regarding the use of atomic energy, as well as scientific and technical expertise for projects in the given field;
The Ministry of Internal Affairs oversees fire safety and the physical protection of sites for the use of atomic energy and enterprises using sources of radiation;
The Agency for Emergency Situations is responsible for preparing preventative measures in the event of radiation accidents and rescuing the population in such cases; the Department for Mining and Technical Inspection bars responsibility for overseeing the correct use of mining equipment in activities concerning the use of atomic energy.
These state bodies represent the first level in the system of regulation.
The second level consists of various enterprises and organizations conducting activities in separate areas to ensure radiation safety.
They include the following:
The National Committee of Kazatomprom, conducting radiation monitoring at enterprises in the uranium industry and active in the rehabilitation of territories contaminated by wastes from that industry;
The institutes of the National Nuclear Center oversee the situation on territories where nuclear testing is performed, and measure concentrations of radionuclides in the water and soil;
The state enterprise Gidromet monitors the level of global fallout of radioactive substances on the country’s territory;
Monitoring of doses of external radiation and levels of radionuclides in the water, soil, food, and other products is also performed by the laboratories of the Ministry of Agriculture and various scientific institutes and laboratories with an appropriate profile.
In accordance with Article 13 of the Law of the RK “On the Use of Atomic Energy,” the burial of radioactive wastes is carried out at specialized burial sites.
In accordance with Article 15 of the Law of the RK “On the Use of Atomic Energy,” all enterprises keep an inventory of the presence and movement of nuclear materials and radioactive substances, and ensure their preservation. State inspection is conducted by the Committee for Atomic Energy.
In accordance with Resolution No. 1103 of the Cabinet of Ministers of the RK. “On Urgent Measures for Improving the Radiation Situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the following steps have been taken:
(1) A concept for the burial of radioactive wastes in the Republic of Kazakhstan has been developed, which characterizes all radioactive wastes in the Republic of Kazakhstan;
– A map of the locations of all radioactive wastes on the republic’s territory was compiled at the end of 1993;
– The planned annual growth of radioactive wastes in the republic was determined;
(2) Initial work on the creation of a system for the burial of radioactive wastes has been completed:
– Collection and analysis of geological materials for the creation of surface and deep subterranean storage sites for different regions
(3) Kazatomprom has created a special liquidation fund for accumulating finances for work on the recultivation and rehabilitation of the territories of worked-out uranium deposits.
In accordance with section 5, “Radiation Safety of the Population,” of the National Environmental Action Plan of the Republic of Kazakhstan, confirmed by Resolution No. 878 of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on June 9, 2000:
The Committee for Atomic Energy, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the RK and the Agency for Public Health of the RK have developed and approved a Statement of Cooperation Delimitation of Functions between the Committee for Atomic Energy, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the RK and the Agency for Public Health of the RK concerning issues of radiation safety on the territory of the;
Subdivisions of the National Nuclear Center of the RK and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the RK conducted fieldwork and analytical laboratory research to enrich existing data on radioactive contamination during the period of nuclear explosions at the Azgir test site, as well as during the post-testing period. The radiation situation was studied, and contaminated areas were mapped out. Research is being conducted regarding the presence and content of radon in the atmosphere;
Radiological research has been conducted on the territory of the Aktogai district of the Karaganda region, with the aim of evaluating the impact of testing at the Semipalatink nuclear test site;
Radiological research has been conducted in the Bokei-Urdinsk and Dzhangala districts of the West Kazakhstan region, within the boundaries of the test sites included in the testing system of Kapustin Yar. Environmental samples were taken, and chemical and radiochemical analyses were conducted to determine the content of radionuclides, heavy metals, and fallout products of rocket fuel in the soil, water, and plant life. Radon levels were measured in housing in the villages of Saikhin, Terekty, and Dzhangala. The radiation parameters measured did not exceed the background levels characteristic of the given location;
At enterprises in the uranium industry, a system exists for the control of levels of atmospheric radon, thorium, and their decay products in work areas. The volume and periodicity of radiation monitoring has been determined and agreed upon with the inspection agencies, and embraces the entire list of measurements for evaluating the radiation situation.
All ministries, agencies, and organizations included in the Plan send annual reports to the Government of the RK regarding their fulfillment of the Plan.
Resolution No. 1006 of the Government of the RK on July 25, 2001, approved the State Program for the Conservation of Uranium-Mining Enterprises and the Liquidation of the Consequences of the Working of Uranium Deposits for 2001-2010. In accordance with this program, work on the liquidation of the consequences of uranium mining on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan is carried out by the specialized enterprise Uranlikvidrudnik.
This work is financed from the republican budget, and in part by investments from uranium-mining enterprises. At the present time, work is underway on the territory of the former Mines 1 and 2 of Mining Administration No. 4 in the Akmola region, and Mine 3 of Mining Administration No. 4 and Mine 12 of Mining Administration No. 5 in the North Kazakhstan region. Starting July 2002, work will begin at the Vostochnyi [Eastern] Mine of the Vostochnyi Mining Administration in the Zhambyl region.
We fully share your concerns regarding the radiation situation in our country, and we are actively seeking means for its improvement.
Chairman T.M. Zhantikin
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Translated by Glenn Kempf
Translated September 24, 2002