Batken Province, Kyrgyz Republic

Background

 

Batken includes the agriculturally rich Fergana Valley and the surrounding mountain ranges. This area was heavily exploited by the Soviet Union (USSR) for strategic minerals including gold, mercury, antimony and uranium. Since the breakup of the USSR, the mineral economy in Batken has largely collapsed, leaving severe legacy environmental contamination issues and the potential for increased incidence of environmental disease within communities. Two Soviet-era mining/smelting sites were of particular concern: Aidarken Township in Kadamjay District, among the world’s largest mercury operations, and the antimony smelting operations in Kadamjay City.

 

Local lab team and TIFO volunteer
Local lab team and TIFO volunteer

The project is lead by federal and district Ministry of Health representatives

Soil sampling in the Aidarken region
Soil sampling in the Aidarken region

The handheld x-ray fluorescent spectrometer (XRF) gives real-time soil heavy metal concentrations.

TIFO, MOH, and MSF team
TIFO, MOH, and MSF team

The team from the first site visit in 2016 at the beginning of the project

The local laboratory
The local laboratory

The head of the MOH lab giving a tour of his facility in 2017.

Aidarken town and mine waste piles
Aidarken town and mine waste piles

Decades of mercury mining and smelting wastes sit adjacent to Aidarken town.

Water sampling at a mine site
Water sampling at a mine site

Water samples were collected from mining areas by TIFO in 2018 in partnership with the Kyrgyz government.

Activities​

 

TIFO is collaborating with another humanitarian NGO and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health to assess potential metals-related health risks. Initial project activities focused on assessing risk and developing health and safety mitigation protocols for the NGO staff. The team performed environmental screening of water, soil, air, and food and worked with a government-run laboratory on sample analysis. TIFO is now working with project partners to assess community risk and develop intervention programs to reduce adverse health impacts associated with environmental issues.