Briefing on deterioration of the environmental situation in Uzbekistan caused by emissions from the Tajik Aluminium Plant (TALCO)
A briefing for representatives of political, public and expert circles and the media was held on 29 May 2013 at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in London. It was devoted to the problem of deterioration of the environmental situation in Uzbekistan caused by industrial emissions from the Tajik Aluminium Plant (TALCO).
In his speech Ambassador Otabek Akbarov underlined that this large plant with estimated production capacity of 517 thousand tons per year was constructed in 1975. Being equipped with an inefficient and ecologically faulty purification system, TALCO annually emits about 23 thousand tons of pollutants, including more than 200 tons of hydrogen fluoride which is most dangerous and harmful to human health and the ecology.
A large proportion of industrial emissions from TALCO are carried with the air flow for almost 20 hours a day towards Surkhandarya province of Uzbekistan, where more than 1 million 100 thousand people reside. Uzbekistan faces a number of negative consequences from the high content of hydrogen fluoride in the air such as contamination of soil and water resources, reducing crop yields and livestock productivity and, what is the most important – serious impact on health and the gene pool of the population. More details can be found in the Embassy’s Press Release on this matter.
During the discussion a number of British representatives shared the concern of the Uzbek side on the necessity of urgent and concrete measures to stop polluting emissions from TALCO, the probability of heavy and unpredictable consequences for the health and life of citizens of Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states in the case of continuation of this harmful impact.
In particular, the Chairman of Cambridge Central Asian Forum Professor Siddharth Saxena stressed: - «Our research of the biodiversity of the region proves that the environmental challenges have no borders. So the problem of harmful impact from the activities of TALCO has a transboundary nature, affecting the health and life sustenance of people in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the whole region.
A quick solution of the problem requires a constructive approach by all interested states of Central Asia. The international community should pay more attention and actively help the countries of the region to resolve the situation. Meantime, despite significance of metallurgy there should be created incentives for development of other natural resources with less impact on the environment, including alternative and renewable energy. We must remember that the alternative atmosphere and alternative soil do not exist».
The assistant of the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Britain-Uzbekistan Kamran Akhmed noted the necessity of attracting attention of suppliers of alumina to TALCO on a tolling scheme, the companies-buyers and end consumers of aluminium produced at this plant, to a growing environmental problem in Surkhandarya province and to openly state their responsibility on this matter.
Expert of Cambridge University Nicolay Murashkin suggested to consider involving of the existing formats of regional interaction (e.g. Shanghai Cooperation Organization, forums «Japan - Central Asia», «Korea - Central Asia») for constructive advancement of this issue, as well as attracting finance into projects on study and assessment of the situation, helping suffering people and installing appropriate purification technologies at TALCO.
Partner of Dentons law firm Sam Boileau noted: - «Our experience in the field of international law on environmental issues shows that these problems are really very difficult to solve». In this regard, he spoke about the necessity of active work through international judicial institutions.