KATCO uranium mine said to cover up radiation leak in November

By Timur Nazarov and Staff

2012-05-30

SUZAK DISTRICT, Kazakhstan – A November 25 radiation leak at the Kazakhstani-French KATCO uranium mine in Suzak District, South Kazakhstan Oblast (SKO), polluted the environment and could lead to company fines, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported May 29, quoting SKO Special Environmental Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Shagala Momynkhankyzy.

On November 25, a truck driver accidentally severed a 500mm-diameter fibreglass pipeline for production solution, the uranium-containing solution that miners at KATCO pump to the surface for uranium extraction. A leak of 240 cu. m. of solution fouled 2,099 sq. m. of surface area.

Laboratory testing five days later found abnormally high alpha radiation levels in the area. However, mine management did not inform authorities at the time and did not take complete measures to clean up the spill, Momynkhankyzy said.

Radiation levels there are now normal, but the special prosecutor has opened 10 cases alleging administrative violations, Momynkhankyzy said. Company officials declined to comment.

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