TWO YEARS AFTER THE TRAGEDY IN BEREZOVKA

November 28, 2016 marks the second-year anniversary of the mass poisoning by toxic emissions of the Berezovka children. For the past two years, children have continued to suffer from loss of consciousness, headaches, seizures, numbness of the extremities and other symptoms of a serious disease—toxic encephalopathy. That was a diagnosis received by three children in Moscow.

Four children were diagnosed with poisoning by a toxic substance in one of the private clinics in Kazakhstan. However, the vast majority of affected children have not been able to get real diagnoses and treatment. The public hospitals of Kazakhstan refuse to recognize the toxic poisoning, and the children’s parents cannot afford private or foreign clinics.

Healthcare providers are not the only entities that have turned away from the children of Berezovka. The Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV Consortium (KPO), which operates the Karachaganak gas field, has refused to pay for the treatment of the affected children. The President of Kazakhstan did not respond to requests from parents and well-known environmentalists to take control of the situation.  Letters to the leaders of the countries whose companies are included in KPO—Italy, USA, Great Britain and Russia—were ignored, too. The heads of ENI, the BP Group (now part of Shell), Chevron, Lukoil and KazMunaiGaz did not respond to pleas to save the children.

“Over the past two years, the situation with the children’s health has not improved. Children have not received any help.  It seems that there will no punishment of those responsible for the tragedy. The criminal case related to the poisoning was suspended after Kazakhstan waited for over a year for help from Russia in the examination of the poisoning victims,” says Sergey Solyanik, consultant for Crude Accountability and co-coordinator of the “Children or Oil” coalition. “However, our coalition will continue to seek help for the Berezovka children. We invite all who do not want more injured children to join us. For us, these children are our children!”

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On November 28, 2014, 25 children and 4 adult residents of Berezovka fainted, developed strong cramps, became dizzy, and experienced blood pressure surges and severe headaches. The village of Berezovka is located in the West Kazakhstan region, in close proximity to the Karachaganak oil and gas condensate field, one of the world’s largest.

On November 29, 2014, a criminal case on the fact of a mass sickness that affected students and teachers in Berezovka was opened. As part of the investigation, a school boiler was also checked to determine if it was involved in the poisoning. A separate proceeding was opened on May 28, 2015. The August 24, 2015 case regarding the boiler was discontinued for lack of evidence.

The Children or Oil coalition asks Chevron, Eni, the BP Group (now Shell), Lukoil and KazMunaiGaz and Kazakhstan authorities to take responsibility for the tragedy, to recognize that there was a toxic poisoning as a result of an industrial accident, and accordingly to arrange for the examination and treatment of Berezovka children and ensure that they are compensated for any damage to their health.