Recent air monitoring conducted in the village of Berezovka in western Kazakhstan indicates dangerous levels of toxics in the air from the neighboring Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, operated by the international consortium Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, BV (KPO). The consortium comprises British Gas, ChevronTexaco (US), ENI/Agip (Italy) and LUKoil (Russia).
The samples were taken in accordance with the US EPA accredited “Bucket Brigade” methodology, which was developed in response to the lack of independent air monitoring data available to communities suffering from the impact of oil extraction and refining. The basic concept is to transform a five-gallon plastic bucket into a sealed vacuum that draws air into a sterile, chemically-neutral bag. This bag simulates a lung, which has breathed in toxins, creating an air sample that is then analyzed in an accredited laboratory for volatile organic compounds harmful to human health. Bucket Brigades are active in communities around the world, proving sample by sample that industrial toxins are polluting the air around their homes.
Samples taken by villagers in September showed elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, toluene, methylene chloride and acrylonitrile in the air. “The sample demonstrates what the villagers have suspected for the past several years: that KPO activities at the field are contaminating the environment and contributing to health problems in the village. The company and local administration have stated repeatedly that there are no health concerns resulting from KPO activity. The air sample demonstrates just the opposite,” said Kate Watters, Executive Director of Crude Accountability, an international environmental nonprofit working with the villagers. Each of the toxics found in the air sample is known to be harmful to human health and causes symptoms such as convulsions, nosebleeds, memory loss, vision loss, rashes and nervous system damage. Villagers report suffering from each of these maladies.
Berezovka residents are seeking relocation to a safe, healthy location of their choosing because of the environmental health problems that plague their community. Forty-five percent of the village suffers from chronic health problems they believe are caused by contamination from Karachaganak.
The International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank, has provided $150 million in loans to LUKoil to develop the Karachaganak field.
Crude Press Release
December 25, 2004
Contact: Kate Watters