Flooding in Russia and Kazakhstan Raises Concerns Over Radioactive Leak

Flooding in Russia and Kazakhstan Raises Concerns Over Radioactive Leak

The Russian Urals region and northern Kazakhstan have been hit by the worst flooding in decades. Authorities have evacuated tens of thousands of residents from Kurgan and Orenburg, where rescue operations are underway to save stranded residents and animals.

Experts are now raising the alarm over the potential for drinking water to be contaminated by radioactive material. The Dobrovolnoye uranium mine in the village of Ukrainskoye is located within the flood zone. The mine is estimated to hold around 7,077 tons of uranium.

Environmentalists fear that the nearby Tobol River could become contaminated with uranium as water levels rise. Footage captured by a resident indicates that an old well that has been leaking uranium for 35 years may already have been submerged.

The flooding was caused by an abrupt rise in temperatures this spring, combined with high snow reserves, increased humidity, and frozen soil. It is the worst flooding in 80 years, according to Natalia Frolova, a professor in the geography department at Moscow State University.

Andrei Ozharovsky, an expert in the Radioactive Waste Safety program of the Russian Social-Ecological Union, says a uranium leak from the Dobrovolnoye mine could result in an elevated concentration of uranium salts in the Tobol River, which could contaminate drinking water.

Environmental activists in Kurgan have been calling on authorities to ban uranium mining in the area for years, due to concerns about groundwater and river contamination.

The flooding in Kazakhstan has also been severe, with footage showing water gushing down streets and dozens of houses partially submerged. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has called the floods “a natural disaster…the likes of which have not been seen for many years.”

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