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Malaya Oymasha – the dead lake

Priozerniy / Mangystau Province

Foto: Martin Plocek

 “Little Oymasha” is a lake located in suburban area of Aktau city and is divided in two parts – “green lake” and “pink lake” according to color tone of water.  The name “Dead Lake” suggests that no surface water inflow can be observed.

 The water is salty, several meters deep and contaminated by radiation. It might have originated as a disposal of waste waters from the uranium enrichment factory, operating in Aktau in the Soviet era. The natural level of radiation in local climate conditions is higher than for example in central Europe. However, there are many high radiation spots in the area including closed uranium mines, former uranium processing factories, some parts of Koshkar Ata tailing pond and also the Malaya Oymasha where some high concentrations of uranium or thorium (but not critical) have been measured.

 

There is extensive illegal waste dump surrounding the lake – mixture of domestic and construction waste, probably from households. There are quite new signs saying “swimming forbidden”. Although swimming people were not observed, shepherds bring their cattle.