The gas ejection from the
Karachaganak field that covered the village of Berezovka in the West Kazakhstan
Region was predictable. The reaction of the authorities and the perpetrators of
the emergency was the same predictable.
On 28 November,
2014 more than 19 children and three adults became unconscious at school in
Berezovka and were taken to the Burlin region’s medical care facility in Aksai.
Later six children were transported to the region’s medical care facility in
On the next day the deputy
chief of regional management of Health M.Aymurzieva reported that there had
been the effect of unknown toxic substance. On 3 December S.Karamanov the
prosecutor of the region stated that in the territory of the Karachaganak field
had been established the facts of the gas ejection from the installations in
excess of maximum permissible concentrations of hazardous substances. On 4
December, another 6 children were admitted with symptoms of ailments to the
dispensary in Berezovka from school, three of them were evacuated by ambulance
to the Aksai.
The village residents of
Berezovka and the environmentalists have sound the alarm for a long time about
very close location of the village to the field. The villagers require moving
them far away from the dangerous neighborhood. The environmentalists have
warned of something like this, and even if the current state of emergency had
not happened, the health of the villagers has long been raised concerns
everyone except the authorities.
On 9 December, at a press
conference in Almaty the consultant of ecological organization «Crude
Accountability» Sergey Solyanik, the head of the Ecological Society “Green
Salvation” Sergei Kuratov and the member of the Coalition of NGOs of
Kazakhstan “For the Protection of
Children’s Rights” Elvira Vatlina once again, made an attempt to
declare about inadmissibility of the situation.
– For us, this occasion is not something unusual, – says Sergey
Solyanik, who has just returned from a trip to Berezovka. – We have been monitoring long time of what is happening in
Berezovka,at oil-gas condensate field, and, unfortunately, we have assumed that
it occurred sooner or later.
Sergey Kuratov told that
their organization maintained the issue of resettlement of the residents of
Berezovka about ten years. In 2008, “Green Salvation” appealed to the
court to resettle the residents on behalf of the residents of Berezovka.
The point is that the
Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, being one of the most dangerous industries in
the country due to the possibility of health and environmental damages,
established sanitary protection zone, such as to protect local residents. Although
on established norms of project estimates of the sanitary protection zone should
be at least five kilometers. However, in 2004, by order of chief doctor of the
Republic of Kazakhstan the zone was reduced from five to three and a half
kilometers. And such manipulation, according to Kuratov, most likely associated
with changing the agricultural land destination and the payment
of compensation to the owners. At the same time taxes on sanitary protection
zone lies on an enterprise that was the cause of creating the zone. It is clear
that no one wanted to pay more, much cheaper to put at risk the lives and
health of citizens.
In 2006, the General
Prosecutor Office issued a protest against the illegal reduction of the sanitary
protection zone, by canceling the earliest order, thus, some of the residents
of Berezovka and nearby settlements were to be relocated.
Returning to the case with
the court, in spite of protest of the prosecutor’s office and the Aarhus
Convention, the claim was not accepted, during 9 months, under various
pretexts. Nevertheless, accept the claim, the court declared five-kilometer
protection zone and the need for resettlement and reimbursement of legal costs
by the defendant, “but at the same
time the court deduced the defendants from the main heroes of the occasion» –
namely, public authorities and the chief sanitary doctor. » And all the duties
of Resettlement were laid on the local executive authorities. And to the
present day, court decision had still not been implemented since 2010.
– However, the situation has not changed. How these people live in the
sanitary protection zone, how they produce agricultural products so live and
produce – concludes S.Kuratov. – That is, for four years one of the largest and most dangerous
companies operates with gross violations of the legislation of the Republic of
Kazakhstan and with gross violation of the court’s decision.
But even if the requirements
are met at minimal sanitary protection zone, anyway Beryozovka completely does
not fall under this zone, because of what the increase of area is required,
based on realities.
About realities said Sergey Solyanik,
the consultant of the international environmental organization «Crude
– The school itself is located in
the center of the village, and the wind blew at school from the field which
resulted to a massive loss of consciousness in children. We must also remember
that nearly 15 years, children as well as the adults, live in a dangerous area,
and their immune system significantly undermined. Four children’s condition has
not improved in regional hospitals, but health of other children has sharply
Sergey Solyanik, who was not
a doctor, said that after interviewing their symptoms narrated by the parents (dizziness,
nausea, terrible convulsions, and rapid pressure drop) “are well described in the directory” Harmful substances in
the industry. Directory of chemists, engineers, doctors. Leningrad, 1976.
Commission experts came from
Uralsk on 3 December and on the same day, nine children feel bad again. The day
before, as the last time, once again came a strong smell of gas from the field,
despite company executives’ assurances and three monitoring stations CPO.
However, for some reason, every time the station shows “0”. “And therefore, no confidence of Berezovka
residents to the information from environmental monitoring stations.”–
S.Solyanik quotes the opinion of the villagers.
Initial versions of state
authorities on mass loss of consciousness speak for themselves: food poisoning,
pepper spraying, the chief doctor of the hospital Aksay diagnosed – fatigue,
but reason is not the release of gas from the field. Only on 3 December at a
WKO prosecutor’s office press conference was recognized – it was the result of
gas release; however, the prosecution did not take courage to link the
application with the sharp deterioration of health of children.
People have not yet got the
test results. I have got the impression that the Aksai regional hospital or
does not have the information, or conceals it- outrages S.Solyanik.
On 29 November took place a
meeting of people, which was attended by akim of the region and the leadership
of CPO. Berezovka villagers put forward several demands – for a period of
school closure and unequivocal relocation of all residents who found themselves
in the affected area of Karachaganak.
In response, the leadership
of Karachaganak Petroleum Operating declared that they had no problems, the
authorities urged not to spread of rumors and not to panic, and Aset Naryk,
Deputy Head of Department of internal policy of WKO expressly threatened:
“For those forces that provoke the social tensions: I urge, in the case
of violation of the law, in the case of a call-up for rallies and more, will be
held responsible in accordance with the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Everything, I say, so the question is closed!” Although the other answers have not expected from perpetrators of
emergency and authority.
Elvira Vatlina, from the NGO
Coalition of Kazakhstan «For the Protection of
Children’s Rights “, in turn, reminded to government officials
about the numerous international obligations of Kazakhstan, including
compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In February 2015, is
expected the pre-session to provide the next report of Kazakhstan to the UN
Committee on the Rights of the Child – obviously the story about Berezovka will take up a special place there.
A few years ago another
problem of Beryozovka was revealed – soil fell through including under the
houses. But that’s another story and the authorities, according to their
practice, will wait for a new tragedy.
Photos by Uralsk journalist Sanat URNALIYEV