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Kazakhstan Reports Jump In Uranium Output

(RFE/RL) September 6, 2006 -- Kazakhstan has produced 2,400 tons of uranium in the first semester of 2006.

Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Bolat Akchulakov said today that this figure represents an increase of nearly 12 percent compared to the first six months of last year.

Addressing a Eurasian energy forum in the capital, Astana, he also said output had quadrupled since 1997.

The vice president of KazAtomProm, Kazakhstan's atomic energy agency, Askar Kasabekov, said uranium output could reach 17,000 tons in 2010 and 20,000 tons in 2020.

Kasabekov said Kazakhstan's ambition was to become the world's largest uranium producer with an annual output of 30,000 tons.

Kazakhstan is currently the world's third-largest uranium producer. It exports uranium to China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and Russia.

(Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

A Checkered Past

A Checkered Past

Local resident Ramzis Fayzullin is a modern-day victim of the Mayak disaster. (Greenpeace/Knoth)

IN THE SHADOW OF MAYAK: Russia has said it has no plans to shut down Mayak, the country's biggest reprocessor of spent nuclear fuel. The plant, located just east of the Ural mountains in Russia's Chelyabinsk Oblast, is considered to be the site of some of the worst radioactive contamination on Earth.

Mayak was created in the 1940s as the heart of the Soviet Union's nuclear program. But today the territory around the plant is a wasteland, with generations of residents suffering from sterility, cancer, asthma, and other illnesses....(more)