Officials in Kyrgyzstan are taking emergency measures to prevent local people from looking for silicon in the area around a former uranium storage facility in the north of the country, the press service of the country's Ministry of Emergency Situations said Thursday.
According to the press service, experts from the ministry and the National Security Service have inspected a dump in the village of Orlovka in the Chui Region and a tailing pit nearby. The staff of the republic's center of hygienic supervision and disease control also visited the site.
"The exposure rate of the gamma ray dose at the deepest point of the excavations 10 meters from the tailing pit is about 1,500 micro-roentgens per hour," the ministry said. However, the storage facility, which is left over from a major Soviet-era enrichment plant, remained intact.
The experts said they had registered no increase in the radiation rate at the village dump, which corresponded to the republic's average rate of 25.5 micro-roentgens per hour.
Orlovka residents were reported to have started an excavation in search of silicon a week ago at the village dump and 10 meters away from the nuclear disposal storage. Their efforts covered some 120 square meters.
The hygienic supervision center has prohibited excavation work on the site, while the district administration has introduced tougher administrative measures and is instructing the local population on the risks of contagious diseases and accidents, the Health Ministry's press service said.
A health official said the silicon was not the source of the radioactivity.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Emergency Situations was unable to say why local people were looking for silicon.