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Kazakh town eliminates mercury threat with WB help
TEMIRTAU, Kazakhstan – The World Bank (WB) recently helped contain mercury pollution from a defunct factory 2km from Temirtau, the WB said in an April 30 statement.
Between 1950 and 1997, the carbide factory produced synthetic rubber, using mercury as a catalyst. It discharged more than 1,500 tonnes of mercury into the Nura River.
A project supported by the WB and Kazakhstani government cleaned up the 60ha factory site, an 18km stretch of the riverbank and flood plains – more than 3,500ha total, the WB said.
Workers demolished the factory in 2008-2009 and transferred the rubble to a specially built landfill. They excavated polluted soil to a 2m depth and transported it to the landfill. They also immobilised the factory’s remaining metallic mercury in plastic containers and in concrete. The workers safely disposed of more than 2m tonnes of contaminated materials, according to the WB.
Project workers also “rehabilitated the Intumak Reservoir” on the Nura River to boost water flow management and keep polluted water from flowing downstream, the statement said. New dams and riverbank diversions and reinforcements now protect villages along the river from formerly routine spring flooding.
The 2003-2011 project cost US $67.82m (10 billion KZT), including US $40.39m (5.97 billion KZT) from the WB.