Last update:

Millions of tonnes of radioactive waste from Soviet-times, Istiklol (Tabošar), Tajikistan

Million tonnes of radioactive waste from uranium mining remain in unsecured sites. Tajikistan is concerned over rehabilitation and safety of tailings from Soviet times. Soviet-time nuclear waste in the country is 55 million tonnes.


The first Soviet uranium mine was established in Taboshar (Istiklol) during the Second World War [1]. Taboshar  (Istiklol) used to be a mining “closed-city”, strategic areas closed to the general public by the central government [3]. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Millions of tonnes of radioactive waste from Soviet-times, Istiklol (Tabošar), Tajikistan
State or province:Sughd Region
Location of conflict:Istiklol (Tabošar)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Uranium mining in Asia started during World War II in Tabošar, the present-day Istiklol in the north of Tajikistan. According to a decree by Soviet leadership in 1942, four tonnes of uranium were supposed to be produced in just a few months, to supply the raw material for the first Soviet nuclear bomb. As in Kyrgyzstan, uranium mining and processing in Tajikistan was also treated as a state secret by the Soviet regime. When the last mine was closed in 1992, a total of 20,000 tonnes of uranium had been extracted [4]. Taboshar was the first of many officially secret Soviet closed cities related to uranium mining and production. The main issue now is the cleaning up of the million tons of uranium tailings.

See more
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:18,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1992
Relevant government actors:UNDP, UNEP, OSCE, NATO, UNECE and REC have joined forces in the Environment and Security (ENVSEC)
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:OSCE - Uranium Tailings: Local Problems, Regional Consequences, Global Solution
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Potential: Accidents
Other Health impactsSkin diseases; rise in illness is linked to people's proximity to the waste sites
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the mine has been officially closed in 1992, the amount of waste ---12 million tonnes---accumulated and not properly stored is an enormous concern. Including potential accidents and land run-offs.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Jamestown Foundation (members belong mostly to US business and the military professions). 2012.The Legacy of Soviet Nuclear Industry in Tajikistan: Opportunities and Challenges, Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 81. By: Mark Vinson

April 30, 2012

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty 2009: Tajikistan's Former Soviet Nuclear Sites Pose Threat To Nearby Villages
[click to view]

[2] World Nuclear Association 2017: Uranium in Tajikistan
[click to view]

Nuclear Free Future Foundation: ASIA: SECRET ORE
[click to view]

[4] PHY. ORG 2012: UN sounds alarm on unsecured uranium waste in Tajikistan
[click to view]

Nuclear Free Future Foundation: ASIA: SECRET ORE

[3] Center for a better life: Environment & Security: Uranium Waste in Tajikistan, by Laura Rio, ENVSEC
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[5] EBRD to provide 33.1 million Euros for remediation of uranium mining legacy sites in Tajikistan. 11 Dec. 2019. AKI press.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:KH and JMA ICTA-UAB
Last update10/02/2021
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.