Toxic bargain

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

In a desperate bid to tide over its financial crisis, the Kazakh government is studying a proposal to import radioactive waste from abroad and bury it in the country. Though the venture will result in heavy cash inflow, environmentalists warn that it will turn the former Soviet republic into a radioactive dumpyard. To oppose the measure, protesters recently gathered in the eastern Kazakh city of Semipalatinsk and in Ust-Kamenogorsk.

"We are appealing to the government to consider the opinion of residents, who reject any agreement that would make Kazakhstan a radioactive dumping ground," said Gulsum Khakimzhanova, leader of community activist group Iris. Ecologist Kymbat Imangalieva said the demonstrators agreed to create an anti-nuclear coalition to lead the campaign, with the aim of freezing the government plan.

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