Prevention of and preparedness for industrial accidents require special attention in Tajikistan, a country with a strong mining industry. The mountainous terrain of mining sites makes them highly susceptible to earthquakes, mudflows and floods, which can provoke Natech events (natural hazards triggering technological disasters). In these circumstances, coordinated work by government authorities is key to preventing industrial accidents and minimizing their consequences.
Prevention of and preparedness were at the center of debates at the second meeting of the Inter-Institutional Working Group on Tailings Safety and the Prevention of Accidental Water Pollution (IIWG) in Tajikistan on 4 April. More than 40 stakeholders, including state authorities, industrial enterprises, academia, international and non-governmental organizations took part in the discussions.
Opening the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan, Ms Sharifa Khudobakhsh, stressed the importance of inter-institutional coordination and involvement of the water sector in the discussion on preventing accidental water pollution from tailings. The Chairman of the Service of the State Supervision of Safe Work in Industry and Mining Supervision, Mr Rachim Sanjat Aso, noted that the number of tailings management facilities in Tajikistan has been increasing and that his department has been cooperating with UNECE under the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents for many years.
The meeting focused on the review of current issues and measures taken to reduce the risks of accidents at tailings management facilities and water pollution, the benefits of UNECE tools and regional projects, and the exchange of international good practices in the safe operation of tailings management facilities. Participants paid special attention to the benefits that Tajikistan would gain from acceding to the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, the recommendations of the UNECE projects on industrial safety and prevention of accidental water pollution, notably on harmonization of the national legislation with the Convention’s provisions and "Development of joint measures for prevention and response to pollution of the Syr Darya River in emergency situations". As a result of the discussions, agreed proposals for further work of the Working Group were developed. Participants proposed to consider inviting representatives from local authorities, NGOs and academia to the IIWG meetings. The representatives of operators highlighted the need to develop an early warning system in Tajikistan and exchange good practices with other countries. The representatives of operators highlighted the need to develop an automatic monitoring system for tailings facilities in Tajikistan and to exchange good practices on the safe management of tailings with other UNECE countries. Finally, the Working Group included a proposal for the Government to accede to the Industrial Accidents Convention in its work plan for 2023.
The meeting was organized by the Service of the State Supervision of Safe Work in Industry and Mining Supervision under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan in cooperation with UNECE and with the participation of the Public Foundation "Water Initiatives Center".
Note to editors
The Inter-Institutional Working Group on Tailings Safety and the Prevention of Accidental Water Pollution (IIWG) in Tajikistan is a platform to discuss and develop joint proposals on prevention of industrial accidents at tailings management facilities in Tajikistan, including updating legislation and policies at the national level. It aims to facilitate strengthening coordination and cooperation between state authorities, operators and other relevant stakeholders on industrial safety, water and other issues. An inaugural meeting of the Working Group took place on 2 December 2021 and on 21 October 2022 the Working Group was officially established by an order of the Deputy Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan. UNECE supported Tajikistan in establishing the IIWG and in the organization of its meetings thanks to financial support by the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment.