Berezovka Appeal Delivered to Chevron HQ

Appeal from the Villagers of Berezovka, Kazakhstan Delivered Directly to Chevron’s Leadership at the Corporation’s Annual Shareholder Meeting

On May 25, 2011, the Chevron Corporation held its annual shareholder meeting at its headquarters in San Ramon, California. While Chevron organized the meeting to highlight the company’s successes, community members and their supporters from locations as diverse as Indonesia, Angola, Nigeria, the Philippines, Ecuador, Canada and towns across the United States attended the meeting and confronted Chevron’s leadership about the brutal human rights and environmental abuses caused by the oil giant around the globe.

One of the communities represented was the village of Berezovka in Western Kazakhstan Oblast, which, for the past nine years, has been seeking relocation and compensation from the nearby Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, in which Chevron is an investor. Ten days before the Chevron meeting, the villagers prepared an appeal asking Chevron to “take an active role in making a decision about the resettlement of the residents of Berezovka to a safe location.” The villagers wrote, “We suffer constantly from the impacts of the emissions from Karachaganak. According to the results of numerous studies…almost 50 percent of the population suffers from chronic health problems.”

The villagers’ appeal was delivered by Leanne Grossman, a board member of Crude Accountability, a US-based environmental justice organization that works in close partnership with the villagers. Chevron’s CEO John Watson dismissed the letter without reading it, replying inaccurately, “We are in compliance in Kazakhstan.” But the company’s record in Kazakhstan is far from satisfactory. In 2010 alone, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V., in which Chevron is an investor, was fined $13.5 million for excessive emissions and the government of Kazakhstan filed a claim against the consortium for $12.9 million in compensation for damages. Also in 2010, Chevron-operated Tengizchevroil was fined nearly $64 million for environmental pollution.

Detailed accounts of Chevron’s irresponsible investments in the Karachaganak and Tengiz Fields were also delivered to Chevron’s leadership, the international media, and the global community this past week with the release of this year’s True Cost of Chevron Alternative Annual Report. The report, edited by Crude Accountability’s Michelle Kinman, vividly documents the firsthand accounts of communities around the world who are negatively impacted by Chevron’s operations and demanding accountability.

This international focus on Karachaganak follows the June 2010 decision by the Specialized Inter-regional Economic Court of Astana that the two Berezovka families located closest to the field must be relocated and that the farmers who have land inside the Sanitary Protection Zone must be compensated for their losses. While this decision is a clear victory for the villagers and the Almaty-based organization the Ecological Society Green Salvation, which has provided legal counsel to the villagers, the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan has ruled that further appeals to relocate the remaining villagers will not be reviewed. Therefore, it is imperative that the villagers take their case to the international level.

As the villagers of Berezovka continue their courageous campaign for relocation and compensation, they are backed by a wide and influential network of community and international organizations worldwide who will not rest until the community obtains justice.

Crude Press Release
May 31, 2011