Kyrgyzstan's opposition politicians are outraged. Late last year hundreds of tons of coal with higher than normal levels of radioactivity found their way from a mine in Kazakhstan to the electricity and heating plant in Bishkek. When the media and public demanded the coal be removed from the city, it was reportedly transferred to the boiler rooms of 14 schools, a kindergarten and an orphanage.
The opposition politicos have seized the story, bellowing that generations of children will be contaminated. They propose theories that are impossible to verify, and offer all sorts of unsubstantiated statistics on how radioactive the coal is. According to the Emergencies Situations Ministry, the coal is emitting background radiation three to five times higher than normal.
Is the coal dangerous? Possibly. But considering Kyrgyzstan’s legacy of mismanaging radioactive waste, the arguments ring a little hollow.
To read the full story