International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Transboundary Rivers of Kazakhstan – Radiation Situation and Risks

K.K. Kadyrzhanov1, H.D. Passell2, V.P. Solodukhin, S. Khazhekber, V.L. Poznyak, E.E. Chernykh

Institute of Nuclear Physics NNC, Almaty, Kazakhstan
1 Presenting Author: Prof. Dr. K.K. Kadyrzhanov

2 Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, USA


The condition of the water resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan is characterized with their whole deficiency as well as their high pollution and desiccation. The situation is also aggravated with much relaxation of work coordination on regulation of trans-boundary river flows and control of their water quality as a result of the USSR collapse and isolation of separate republics. The absence of objective information on water condition of rivers and their contamination sources creates a danger of high ecological risk and psychological stress for inhabitants, localities of that  related to the basins of these rivers, and serves as reasoning for claims  (occasionally unreasonable) to neighboring countries. Following rivers are the largest trans-boundary ones in Kazakhstan: Ile, Syrdarya, Ural and Irtysh.

General information on the main trans-boundary rivers of Kazakhstan

River name

Trans-boundary countries

Total river reach, km

Water flow into Kazakhstan, m3/с













Irtysh+Black Irtysh

China, Russia



All these rivers are of great importance for people’s life-support of the republic. At the same time presence of a number of large industrial centers, agricultural enterprises and radiation-dangerous objects in the basins of these rivers creates a potential danger of chemical and radiation contamination for their water flows. Objective information on its influence rate is required. The most acceptable form of the control of radiation and hydro-chemical situation in the basins of trans-boundary rivers is their monitoring based on modern nuclear-and-physical methods of analysis. Very important factor in organization of such monitoring system is participation of all the countries concerned with the basin of the river under the control. There is a work experience of many years in Central Asia on monitoring of large Syrdarya and Amudarya rivers. These works have been carried out since 2000 with the framework of the International project NAVRUZ. Participants of this project are organizations of nuclear profile from Uzbekistan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The collaborator of this project is the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), USA. Experience of these works was used in preparation of the International project "Caspian Rivers", contemplating organization of the system of radiation and hydro-chemical monitoring of Volga, Ural, Emba and Kura rivers, flows of that comprise 90 % of all the flows in the Caspian Sea. Participants of this project are scientific institutions from Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The collaborator of the project is the SNL as well. The work-setting on radiation and hydro-chemical research and monitoring of Ile and Irtysh rivers with participation of scientific organizations from China, Kazakhstan and Russia is being discussed.