After retiring in 2019, chemical engineer Suidumbek Kalmurzayev remains at his former workplace in Tashkmir, a Kyrgyz city located at the gateway to Central Asia’s Fergana Valley and known locally as the “graveyard of factories.” I continued to be fascinated by the fate of
“I used to say to him: ‘What is it for you? Leave that factory alone,'” Kalmurzayev’s widow, Uvbu Kalmurzayeva, told Eurasianet in an interview at his home.
“He would say that Tash Kumil is sitting on an environmental time bomb. He tried until the end to find out where all the money went.”
Kalmurzaev died last year after a brief illness, leaving behind piles of papers and press-cuts related to the Soviet-legacy Crystal Polysilicon factory, where he was the last employee.
But the time bomb he regularly mentioned is still ticking.
For over 20 years, 80 tons of hazardous chemicals have been stored in crystal free. This crystal once converted volatile compounds into semiconductor materials and was to be one of the world’s largest plants of its kind. In the days of microchips and solar panels, that output would have been in high demand.
Instead, neglected and neglected by the government, residents fear these corrosive chemicals are now slowly leaking into the local environment, causing more damage than the city and including the highly populated Fergana Valley. It is wreaking havoc on both ecosystems over large areas.
Kalmurzayev started working for Kristall in 1985 as a foreman and later became a production manager.
Over the years, he has seen the site constantly split into different sections, with different companies in charge, as Kyrgyzstan’s political tides shift.
This site is now owned by Computer Power Center LLC, registered in Kyrgyzstan in 2019.
Its director, Maksat Oskombayev, confirmed that it currently hosts a cryptocurrency mining farm, but claimed that the rig is currently not operational.
At a meeting in Tash-Kumyr, Oskonbayev said he was not allowed access to the territory and that it was owned by another company called Tash-Kömür Silicon Production CJSC (TSP), a large tank of chemicals. claimed not to be the company’s fault. Computer Power Center LLC he acquired the land and building three years ago.
“We all know there is poison in these tankers and there is residue in the pipes. [with the state property fund] Immediately after purchasing the plant. We all know that until the issue is resolved, investors will not come here, ”Oskombayev said.
Computer Power Center LLC is owned by the Chinese, Oskonbayev said, without elaborating.
Chemical finger-blaming was a pattern in factories that were mostly abandoned after the early 1990s, when they were ready for post-Soviet privatization.
according to 2012 report by news website 24.kg Since 2007, assets in the territory have been managed by a Belize registered company associated with then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s son Maksim Bakiyev and his business partner and former classmate Alexei Eliseyev.
This was the period when productivity was at its highest for the plant, which began producing world-class polycrystalline silicon.
However, the 750 kg annual production in 2009 was well below the 165-200 tonnes set as the ultimate target by the new investors.
The next year saw a bloody revolution, nationalization, mass embezzlement accusations, and even worse, the new regime’s targeting of the fugitive Bakiyev and his allies.
Crystal was declared bankrupt, placed under external control, and placed in standby mode with minimal staff.
was the fate of large tanks that were not initially addressed trichlorosilanea clear liquid that is both flammable and corrosive enough to separate muscle from bone.
In 2011, the government led by Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev allocated 6.4 million soms (then $152,000) to address the problem. A former colleague of Kalmurzayev, a scientist who requested anonymity, showed a Eurasiannet government document dated May 23, 2011, confirming the chemical disposal order.
However, the money was never used for its intended purpose.
“The tank has a lifespan of only 12 months, but it’s been standing there for 20 years,” said the scientist.
The scientist added that there was a “great risk” of rusting tanks exploding in the middle of summer in Tasi Kmir, when temperatures regularly exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, or in winter, when heavy winds hit the area.
“It will poison the air, the soil and the water. It will have tragic consequences not only for Tash Kmir and Jalalabad, but for the entire region.”
Kelsinbek Bektemirov, the new mayor of Tash-Kumyr, told Eurasianet that the local government is ready to join the waste management effort if it has the funds.
In an interview in his office, both Bektemirov and his agent questioned the cryptocurrency mining firm’s claims that the chemicals in the tank were still the responsibility of the TSP (a nationalized Bakiyev-affiliated company). I threw it.
Computer Power Center LLC agreed to take over all assets when the deal was signed, according to people familiar with the matter.
Leakage at the site has been reported in the past, albeit minor, with no visible impact on the surrounding area.
In 2017, the Tash Kumir prosecutor received a complaint about a leak at a factory and requested a government inspection. ordered to However, no work has been done to date.
Bishkek-based activist and photographer Vlad Ushakov ecomap.kga map of environmental stress around Kyrgyzstan can enter the factory in 2020, Document What he said was an indication of a leak and a slapdash attempt to fix it.
“If you look at the photos inside the factory, you can see the tanks are in bad shape. We will face disaster,” Ushakov said.
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