Kazakh Environmentalists Win Access To Emissions Data at Karachaganak
On March 26, 2008, Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the environmental nonprofit, Green Salvation, in a precedent setting lawsuit seeking access to environmental information about atmospheric emissions at the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field in western Kazakhstan. For the first time in its history, the Kazakhstan Supreme Court considered the terms of the “Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters” as mandatory in its ruling.
In 2007, on behalf of the residents of the village of Berezovka, which is located only five kilometers from the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, Green Salvation requested information about emissions levels at the field from 2000-2006 from the Statistics Department of Western Kazakhstan Oblast. The Department refused to provide the information, claiming corporate confidentiality. Green Salvation sued the Statistics Department in the Specialized Interregional Economic Court of Western Kazakhstan Oblast and lost. It then took the case to Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Green Salvation and demanded that the Statistics Department provide the nonprofit with all the requested information. According to Kazakhstani law in order to comply with the court’s decision, the Statistics Department has two months to provide the information to Green Salvation.
In this precedent setting ruling, the Supreme Court states that the Statistics Departments violated national law and the Aarhus Convention by refusing to provide the requested environmental information to Green Salvation and the residents of Berezovka. The ruling states that there was nothing confidential about the information and that according to the provisions of national law and the Aarhus Convention, the public has a right to all the environmental information requested. In its decision, the Supreme Court stated, “the refusal of the statistics organs in providing information on emissions into the atmosphere contradicts the standards of the international agreement.”
“This is a really important decision because before this, our court system did not want to recognize the obligatory character of the Aarhus Convention,” stated Sergey Solyanik of Green Salvation.
The Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field is one of the largest petroleum fields in the Caspian region, and the level of pollution around the field has increased significantly since the international consortium, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, B.V. (British Gas, ENI, Chevron and LUKoil) became the operator in 1997. Toxic emissions from the field are endangering surrounding communities, most notably, the village of Berezovka, which has been seeking relocation to a safe location since 2002.
For more information about the efforts being undertaken by the citizens of Berezovka to hold accountable the government of Kazakhstan, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V. and its financiers, please visit www.greensalvation.org and www.crudeaccountability.org. For more information about the Aarhus Convention, please visit www.unece.org/env/pp/.
Crude Press Release
April 9, 2008
Contact: Kate Watters
Sergey Solyanik, Green Salvation
Tel: + 7 (727) 253 62 56