Uranium Mine Aftermath and Yangiabad Expedition in Uzbekistan
This article describes the first half of a history of uranium mines in the Fergana Valley of Central Asia, introduces the existing environment of the old mines, and analyzes a part of heavy metals of water resource in the surrounding. Fergana Valley itself has a long history of civilization, to which Chinese called Dayuan, going back to the conquest of Alexander the Great in 329 BCE or the description of a Chinese explorer Zhang Qian in 130 BCE. After the Second World War, however, Soviet Union polluted the area with heavy metal and radioactivity where a dense monoculture of cotton was developed. A great number of uranium works are located in the landslide zone and are currently exposed to destruction, thus causing radioactive pollution of the surface and underground water. The rehabilitation will cost a huge amount of cost and time. Uzbek and Japanese team dispatched a joint expedition in October 1998 to Yangiabad, one of the former uranium mines, and sampled surface water and particles in the sediments. Japanese side has studied 58 points and Uzbek side has studied 13 random points located in the Yangiabad sites. ICP-MS analysis showed that the uranium concentration of the river water around Yangiabad was unbelievably high (10 to 1,000 ppb-U238).
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