Berezovka Appeals to President Nazarbaev (2006)


Appeal from the Public on the Need to Relocate the Residents of the Village of Berezovka

To: Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbaev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Copies to: Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan D. Akhmetov
Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Esteemed Nursultan Abishevich!

We, the representatives of the public, call on you to put an end to the violation of the rights of the residents of the village of Berezovka (Burlinsky Raion, Western Kazakhstan Oblast) and relocate them from this area, which is dangerous to life and health. We also ask you to provide them with compensation for damage to their health and property.

The village of Berezovka is located close to the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, which is an enterprise of Class One Risk, and which is being exploited by the company, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, B.V. As a result of the active development of the field, which began in the late 1990s, the environmental situation in the village has precipitously declined, and has impacted the health of the local population. An increase in illness among children has been recorded. Environmental contamination has impacted the gardens and livestock of the residents of Berezovka.

According to legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the villagers must be relocated because their population point was located within the Sanitary Protection Zone (SPZ) of the field (Sanitary Norms of Implementation of Industrial Objects 1.01.001-94, Attachment 1). In accordance with the decision of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan 7-14-256 from February 4, 2002, the SPZ was set at five thousand meters, and Berezovka was inside the SPZ. However, numerous appeals for relocation of the villagers sent to state bodies at various levels of government and to the company have resulted in no action. Furthermore, by decree of the Senior Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Kazakhstan on 25 December 2003, the SPZ was reduced from five thousand to three thousand meters, without any discussion with local residents or involvement of the Office of State Environmental Expertise (Letter to the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan 3-2-2-12/2 from January 25, 2005). As a result, the village found itself outside the borders of the SPZ; approximately 1,400 residents of Berezovka have been formally deprived of the right to relocation, and they continue to live in an area that is dangerous to human life. This is a wholesale violation of the right of citizens to live in a clean environment, to have access to information and to participate in the decision-making process.

Deputies to the Mazhilis (Parliament) of the Republic of Kazakhstan—including those from the most recent congress—have repeatedly raised concerns about the impoverished situation of the residents of the village of Berezovka (Burlinsky Vesti, February 15, 2006). A variety of governmental bodies have also made public their concern about the difficult situation. The Environmental Prosecutor’s Office of the city of Uralsk and the Prosecutor of Burlinsky Raion believe that the reduction of the SPZ has placed the residents of Berezovka in danger (Uralsk Weekly, December 22, 2005). The Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Kazakhstan supports relocating the village (Kazakhstan Today, May 17, 2006). The General Prosecutor of the Republic of Kazakhstan has submitted a protest to the Minister of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, stating that the decision of the Chief Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Kazakhstan to reduce the SPZ was illegal (Letter of the Prosecutor of Western Kazakhstan Oblast 7-21-06 from May 30, 2006). The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan created a commission to conduct two months of study of the air quality in population points around the Karachaganak Field and to examine the basis for determining the size of the SPZ (Letter of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Kazakhstan 07-21-622 from May 13, 2006).

However, nongovernmental organizations and the local villagers are concerned about the objectivity of the results of this commission. In spite of the strict requirements of the legislation and norms of the Republic of Kazakhstan in determining the boundaries of the SPZ, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan is trying to change the measurement procedures. Furthermore, there is no legal basis for conducting additional types of measurement to create borders of the SPZ. (Sanitary-epidemiological demands and creating industrial enterprises from July 8, 2005, Attachment 1).

Therefore, we appeal to you, as the guarantor of rights and freedoms of the citizens of Kazakhstan, to restore the rights of the residents of the village of Berezovka, which have been violated, and decide the question of relocation. The villagers are exposed to threats to their health and life on a daily basis. It would be unbearable if a catastrophe took place in Berezovka of the type that took place in Bhopal (India, 1984), when over seven thousand people died from a toxic gas leak at the Union Carbide facility (, November 29, 2004).

The current problem has received international attention among the press and among decision-makers. The Office of Compliance/Advisor, Ombudsman of the International Finance Corporation (Washington, DC, USA), which provided a loan to the operators of the Karachaganak Field, has reviewed a complaint from the residents of Berezovka (Report of CAO, April 19, 2005). As a result of this difficult situation, the country has developed a negative image in the international arena, which is not in accordance with Kazakhstan’s plans to accede to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), one of the main goals of which is the protection of human rights.

Initiative Group of the Residents of the Village of Berezovka (Burlinsky Raion, Western Kazakhstan Oblast, Kazakhstan)

Crude Accountability (Alexandria, Virginia, USA)

Ecological Society Green Salvation (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
This Appeal is also supported by:

Natalia Ablova
Bureau for Human Rights and Fulfillment of the Law
Kyrgyz Republic

Inara Aldybaeva
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Fulfillment of Law
Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty

Chris Allan
Global Greengrants Fund
Boulder CO, USA

Igor Valentinovich Babinin
Russia, St. Petersburg

Lucy Baker
Bretton Woods Project

Rashid Bakirov
NGO: Association “Vunukha”
Zhalpaktobe, Kazakhstan

Sergey Leonodovich Belokon’
Biisk Branch of the International Socio-Ecological Union
Biisk, Altai Region, Russia

Tamara Ivanovna Dobretsova
Kostroma oblast Ecological Movement “In the Name of Life”
Kostroma, Russia

John and Missie Duffy
Manassas, VA, USA

Inessa Franz
Institute for Cooperation With the Goal of Development
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Elena Gerebizza
Rome, Italy

Alice Grabowski
Independent Consultant
Miami, FL, USA

Leanne Grossman
Oakland, CA, USA

George Holliday
Bank Information Center
Washington, DC USA

Askhat Kayumov
Ecological Center “Dront”
Nizhnyi Novgorod, Russia

Rustam Khabibrakhmanov
NGO “Ecocenter VITA”
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Eliza Klose
Former Executive Director, ISAR
Washington, DC, USA

Manana Kochladze
Association Green Alternative
Tbilisi, Georgia

Denis Kopeikin, Anna Kochineva, Tatiana Saksina, Victoria Kopeikina
Russian NGO Environmental Club “Eremurus”
Moscow, Russia

Olga Krivoruchko
Ecological Organization “DZHiP”
Pridnestrovye Moldova

Olga Melen
NGO “Ecology-Rights-Person”
Lvov, Ukraine

Elena Vladimirovna Melnikova
Leonid Fedorovich Firsov
Environmetnal organization, “Eremurus-Ukraine”
Kiev, Ukraine

Svetlana Mogiliuk
Pavlodar, Kazakhstan

Olexi Pasyuk
CEE Bankwatch Network
Kiev, Ukraine

Oleg Pecheniuk
Independent Environmental Expertise
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Liudmila Petrova
Atbasar, Kazakhstan

Vladimir Proskurin
“Kiwanas Club of Taraz”
Taraz, Kazakhstan

N.T. Pustokaikina
Balkhash Ecological Center
Karaganda Oblast, Kazakhstan

Regine Richter
Berlin, Germany

Elena Yurievna Sadovskaya
Conflictology Center
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Dana Sadykova
Karaganda Oblast Ecological Museum
Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Sergei Shaparenko
Ecological Troup “Pechenegi”
Kharkov, Ukraine

Huub Scheele
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Janette Sherman
Radiation and Public Health Project
Virginia, USA

Dmitry Tereshkevich
Youth Society “Institute for the Healthy Person”
Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan

Alia Rymbaevna Tonkobaeva
Karaganada, Kazakhstan

David Waskow
Friends of the Earth – US
Washington, DC, USA

Roman Yushkov
“Green Eukmen”
Fellow in the Environmental Protection Departmen,
Perm University, Russia

Aleksey Zimenko
Center for the Protection of Wild Nature
Moscow, Russia

Translation by Crude Accountability