Batken Province, Kyrgyz Republic
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 volunteerThe project is lead by federal and district Ministry of Health representatives
Soil sampling in the Aidarken regionThe handheld x-ray fluorescent spectrometer (XRF) gives real-time soil heavy metal concentrations.
Aidarken town and mine waste pilesDecades of mercury mining and smelting wastes sit adjacent to Aidarken town.
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.