May 8, 2009
On 8 May 2009 a Meeting of International Stakeholders on Remediation of Uranium Tailings in Central Asia took place at the IAEA HQ in Vienna.
The purpose of the meeting was to share information among key stakeholders and explore ways of ensuring coordinated action for supporting remediation of uranium tailings in Central Asia. The meeting was opened by Ms. Eliana Amaral, Director of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safey of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Mr. Manuel Recio, Acting Director for the Division of Europe of the Department of Technical Cooperation, from the IAEA side, and by Mr. Jens Wandel, Deputy Direcor of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe.
The meeting involved sharing of information through presentations and dialogue of the various stakeholders. Several stakesholders delivered presentations summarizing their past and ongoing action programmes in the region. Mr. Didier Louvat, Head of the Waste and Environmetal Section, presented the activities of the Agency in the region. Neal Walker, of the UNDP, introduced its initiative to prepare, in partnership with the IAEA and the European Commission (EC), a Framework Document summarizing the status of the uranium sites in Central Asia and announced the organization of a coordinated High-Level Meeting in Geneva, which will be held on 29 June 2009. This Meeting in June will be the first High-Level international event for raising political awareness on the issue and for promoting the organization of a pledging conference later within 2009.
The meeting participants recognized that presently there is an opportunity window opened and that the political momentum had to be seized to take concrete and definitive steps towards the resolution of this long standing issue. This was in line with the conclusion reached by the meeting of the OSCE's Economic and Environmental Committee held on the 7th of May. Because of this, there was urgent need to gather the most relevant players to promote safe remediation of the U-tailing in accordance with IAEA safety standards and internationally accepted best mining practices. Moreover, agreeing on coordinated actions and programmes will be beneficial for effective and efficient remediation of the sites, as well as for promoting social development of the neighboring population.
Commitment of beneficiary Member States for building and sustaining sound regulatory and technical support national infrastructures was signalled as key preconditions before global action of the international community can take place. Furthermore, the stakeholders were in agreement that a regional and technically sound strategy should be strongly pursued in order to address the consequences of the issue in a uniform way across all the affected Central Asian countries.
The stakeholders who were represented in the meeting were the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), the European Commission (EC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Bank (WB), the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) and the IAEA.