Commercial activities at SNTS and prospects for its devel-opment

Special signs arranged along the perimeter of the Test Site and its main testing grounds

Restrictions for commercial activity

The territory of SNTS and activities there are regulated, be-sides the conventional, by several special regulatory docu-ments such as the Law of RK “About atomic energy utilization”, the Law of RK “About radiation safety of population”, regulations “About licensing of activities related to atomic energy utilization” (set in power by the Governmental Decree #100 from 12.02.1998) and “About procedures for withdraw-al, protection and utilization of contaminated and disturbed lands” (set in power by the Governmental Decree #976 from 16.06.1997). According to these documents, any activity at the territory of SNTS is to be licensed as one related to utiliza-tion of atomic energy. SNTS lands can be transferred to commercial use only upon completion of all measures aimed at elimination of consequences from nuclear weapon testing and upon over-all ecological investigation supported by posi-tive expert conclusion issued by the State Environmental Ex-pertise.
Currently, the boundaries of the test site and its main fields have been outlined and marked on-site with special warning signs of radioactive contamination.
In spite of that, in several distant localities of the site, some commercial activity is currently in progress (such as prospect-ing and mining of minerals, cattle pasturing, hay provisioning, geological prospecting, dismantling and removal of metal con-structions) without getting required permissions, i.e. such activities are unauthorized. No single farm operating there currently has a license from AEC MEMR RK. Moreover, while most of the farms in Eastern Kazakhstan oblast have got land certificates, there are still more than a dozen of wintering sites located within SNTS contour in Pavlodar and Karaganda oblasts have got no such certificates. This situation relates to another considerable threat existing for local population – potential for radiation exposure.
Taking into account the complexity of this issue, IRSE has developed and submitted to AEC MEMR RK several options to resolve the problem including resettlement of wintering sites away from radiation-hazardous lands or issuing of licenses for the farms with the requirement to perform radiological moni-toring at their lands.
According to the Governmental Decree #100 from 12.02.1998 “About Statue about licensing of activities related to atomic energy utilization”, licensing in the Atomic Energy Committee under MEMR RK is obligatory for all types of ac-tivity in places of nuclear explosions. Procedures for licensing is described in “Rules for licensing of activities at territories of nuclear test sites and other territories contaminated due to nuclear explosions” set in force by the Governmental Decree #270 from 19.03.2008.
Currently there are more than 50 farms within SNTS contour operating over wintering sites and 6 companies in mining business.