Resettlement: On What Grounds?

Burlinsky Vesti
December 28, 2004

Burlinksy Raion, as the site of one of the major oil and gas condensate fields, Karachaganak, is the recipient of intense, ongoing attention from society at large, not only in the Republic, but also by the global community. After all, people from various countries worldwide are participating in the development of and investment in the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field. For a couple of years now, the region’s environmental problems have been a topic of active discussion, as the industrial enterprise, in addition to pluses, has its minuses.

As the primary developer of the field, the company KPO, B.V. regularly conducts monitoring of the air, water and soil status with the aid of specialized automatic stations. As a result of this research, the village of Tungush was relocated in May of last year, since its proximity to Karachaganak was not in accordance with sanitary/environmental norms.

For over a year, the residents of the village of Berezovka, also located in close proximity to the field, have been seeking relocation to another population point, motivated by the idea that they also have this right.

To support the initiative group for relocation of the village, a representative of the international, non-governmental, environmental protection organization “Crude Accountability”, Kate Watters, and a Moscow lawyer, Olga Yakovleva, who focuses on legal education for citizens and protecting populations’ environmental rights, traveled here.

According to data from the Public Prosecutor of Burlinsky Raion, Justice Advisor A.U. Ahystanov: “On 11 December 2004 in the branch of the “Talap” polyclinic, located in Aksai, microraion 5, building 8, a large-scale blood collection was conducted of Berezovka residents (60 people) for analysis, along with a survey to provide preventative assessment of those living in the complex’s (Karachaganak field) zone of influence.

Furthermore, on 12 December 2004, in the Berezovka music school building, Burlinsky Raion, Western Kazakhstan Oblast, an educational seminar was conducted by representatives from Moscow, Saratov and England on the topic of “Protecting the Right to a Healthy Environment”.

The aforementioned events were organized by Kathleen Elizabeth Watters, citizen of the USA, date of birth 20/6/1962, Passport #20902950, registered from 8/12/04 to 15/12/04.

In accordance with Chapter 6, Point 10 of the “Instructions on Procedures to Obtain a Visa to the Republic of Kazakhstan,” approved by a decree from the Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, registered in the Ministry of Justice on 10/2/2003, No. 2162 (further Instructions), private visas are issued to foreign citizens, bound for and located in the Republic of Kazakhstan for reasons of a personal nature.

In accordance with Point 25 of the Instructions, foreign citizens in the Republic of Kazakhstan on invitation from relatives and acquaintances, in other words, those traveling for personal reasons, as well as those traveling for business purposes, study or tourism, may not be placed in a job on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan or engage in any activity not related to the purpose of the visit, as declared in the visa.

In violation of Point 25 of the Instructions, and Point 9 of the “Rights of Entry and Stay by Foreign Citizens in the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as Exit from the Republic of Kazakhstan,” approved by Ruling No. 136 of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on 28/1/00, US citizen Kathleen Elizabeth Watters organized and participated in a seminar that was not in compliance with her issued visa.

During oral questioning, Watters explained that she traveled to the Republic of Kazakhstan on a tourist visa to the Berezovka home of Svetlana Anosova, who works at “EcoTan”, located in Atyrau. The action was organized by the latter, however, in connection with her work, Watters decided to help.

In this way, by violating the rights of stay in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and having expressed a purpose other than that stated in her visa, US citizen Watters committed an administrative legal violation, as stipulated in Part 2, page 394 of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Codex of Administrative Legal Violations.

According to the sanctions on page 394 of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Codex of Administrative Legal Violations, it was pointless to expel the foreigner from the Republic of Kazakhstan in order to bring administrative justice in the given situation, as Kathleen Elizabeth Watters’ tourist visa expired on 15/12/04.

The Public Prosecutor of Western Kazakhstan Oblast was informed of this fact.

“For the purpose of preventing similar situations on the part of foreign citizens, I ask you to inform the U.S. representative offices in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

According to the Interim Director of the Burlinsky Raion Department of Government Sanitary Epidemiological Oversight, A.M. Nee, despite open opposition on the resettlement question, the village residents are not taking into account that, in accordance with a letter from the Vice Minister of Public Health (28 March 2003, No. 7-2183), the State’s Senior Sanitary Doctor established the size of the Sanitary Protection Zone (SPZ) at 3000 m on 1/1/04.

The correction to the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field’s SPZ was made in accordance with the Republic of Kazakhstan’s law “On the Sanitary-Epidemiological Welfare of the Population”, “The Methods for Calculating Atmospheric Concentrations of Toxic Matter Contained in Industrial Emissions,” Republic’s Normative Document No. 211.2.01.97, the Sanitary Regulations on Protecting the Atmosphere of Population Points of the Sanitary Rules and Norms No. 3.015-97, taking into account the local annual average wind rise and record of the wind direction. In accordance with the newly established SPZ, permissible levels of emissions have been developed.

Environmental monitoring data attests to the fact that the level of atmospheric pollution in the village of Berezovka is lower than the approved sanitary norms.

Addressing the environmental situation in the village of Berezovka, the Director of the Oblast Territorial Department of Environmental Protection, R. Kh. Suerbaev reports, “The results of environmental monitoring do not provide the basis for the relocation of the residents of Berezovka, as the state of the environment at the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Concentrate Field has stabilized in recent years, and several pollution levels have even decreased. Environmental monitoring is conducted 4 times per day in the nine population points adjacent to the Karachaganak field.”

Atmospheric pollution in the Berezovka basin is characterized at present by the following indicators (see table).

Average Annual Concentrations of Polluting Substances in the Atmosphere of the Berezovka Basin (Portions of Maximum Permissible Concentrations)

2002
2003
1st Quarter of 2004
2nd Quarter of 2004
3rd Quarter of 2004
H2S
0.25
0.25
0.125
0.125
0.125
SO2
0.42
0.44
0.22
0.3
0.24
NO2
0.75
0.8
0.5
0.42
0.48
CO
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.53
0.5
Mercaptans
Not detected
Not detected
Not detected
Not detected
Not detected

 

Monitoring of Berezovka’s topsoil attests to the stable pollution of the upper soil layer (0.5 cm) by hydrogen sulfide up to 2.0-2.2 MPC (maximum permissible concentration). Concentrations of oil products are at the level of 0.8-0.9 MPC. The concentrations of controlled polluted substances (oil products, nitrates, nitrites, chloride, sulfate) are at the level of permissible norms.

In May of this year, a team of Oblast specialists—comprising 14 doctors—visited Berezovka to perform a comprehensive medical examination of the population, including surveying the population. 1,367 people live in this village. Of these residents, 843 were examined; 94 were not present in the region at the time of the examination; 225 refused medical examination; 215 participated in the survey, but did not undergo a doctor’s examination.

The medical examination of the adult population revealed the following: 16.3% healthy population; 65.3% practically healthy; 18.3% individuals who require outpatient treatment. Among those who require outpatient treatment, vision illnesses are the leading pathology (12%). Taking second place are illnesses of the cardiovascular system, heart disease, arteriosclerosis of the vessels of the cerebrum and vessels of the lower extremities—all of which occurred in the elderly. In third place, are illnesses of the structural and motor systems, systemic osteoarthritis of major joints and the spine; in fourth place, illnesses of the gastro-intestinal tract and urinary system (chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer, choleocystitis, pyelonephritis). In fifth place, functional disorders of the central nervous system; in sixth place, mental disorders (2 cases of schizophrenia and severe psychosis).

A preventative examination of children up to 18 years of age revealed the following: 27% healthy population; 48.6% practically healthy; 26.4% outpatient treatment advisable.

Among those children for whom outpatient treatment is advisable, illnesses of the nervous system are the primary pathology, followed by illnesses of the eyes and their appendages (12.3%), respiratory organ illnesses (11.2%), blood illnesses (anemia) (10.4%) and digestive organ illnesses (10.4%).

The concentrations of harmful substances—hydrogen sulfide, sulfurous anhydride, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide—found in the village of Berezovka do not exceed the MPC. Therefore, according to a report from the Director of the Oblast Department of Public Health, B.T. Murzakhmetov, the Oblast commission, composed of doctors and specialists, concluded that illnesses related to the harmful impact of these substances on humans were not discovered during the preventative assessment of 843 villagers.

Based on analysis from 2002-2004, the Deputy Director of the Raion Territorial Medical Association, G.S. Utebaeva, stated that the following conclusion can be drawn about the health of the Berezovka population: the population decreased from 2108 people in 2002 to 1341 in 2003, and 1364 in 2004.

The birth rate increased from 11.2% (24) in 2002 and 17.1% (23) in 2003 to 19.0% in 2004. Childhood mortality was not a factor in 2002, reached 43.4% in 2003 (one colon birth defect), and in 2004 there were no childhood deaths. There were 23 deaths in 2002, 18 in 2003, and 11 in 2004. Among socially-significant illnesses, a decrease in the cases of tuberculosis has been observed—2 cases in 2002, 4 cases in 2003, and one case in 2004; a decrease has also been observed in oncological illnesses: 5 cases in 2002, none in 2003, and 2 cases in 2004.

The Berezovka Family Polyclinic was equipped with medical equipment and medically significant products were centralized in Berezovka in 2004: the Oblast Department of Public Health allocated a car, an EKG machine, an ultrasound inhaler, a distillatory, a mini sterilizer, a surgical set and other items. The local budget also provided medical instruments.

As part of its social development project, KPO B.V., is planning capital reconstruction of the Berezovka Family Polyclinic, including opening five cots in the outpatient hospital and physiology department. The supply of doctors and mid-level medical professionals is sufficient. To provide consultative and organizational/methodological assistance, trips were organized for a team of doctors, including a pediatrician, gynecologist, internists, specialists and the EKG Department, with the number of trips increasing from 7 in 2003 to 13 in 2004.

“Monitoring of the air, water and soil is conducted regularly at our enterprise and several automatic stations have been established for this purpose,” stated the Director of KPO’s Atmospheric Protection and Environmental Monitoring Section, Gabdhakhim Gabdeev. Atmospheric quality control is conducted at eight points on the borders of the Sanitary Protection Zone. Approximately 110,000 air samples alone are processed in the laboratory on a weekly basis. The results are striking—we succeeded in reducing the concentration of harmful substances to the level of permissible concentrations in the field basin and the surrounding population points. KPO B.V. commissioned the competent, professional laboratory, the engineering-production center “Gidromet Ltd.” to conduct industrial monitoring of environmental objects; “Gidromet Ltd.” is the sole laboratory accredited in the Republic of Kazakhstan’s government standards and certified in the system of quality organizations of this type. In addition to air observations, our company conducts meticulous radiation and seismological monitoring, and monitoring of flora and fauna. Geographic Information System (GIS) is going to be introduced—the latest achievement in scientific developments utilizing satellite images.

The construction of a waste utilization complex is one of the significant measures under the “Plan for Environmental Protection Measures” to manage industrial and consumer waste. The introduction of new technology in the process of producing and extracting hydrocarbons at Karachaganak has led to considerable successes in minimizing environmental pollution. For instance, the use of “Supergreen Burners” for exploring wells enabled the burning of gas condensate in the burn-off at the wells, with a reduction in atmospheric emissions of soot to 0.002 kg to 1 kg burned crude; putting into operation a fourth gas compressor at the complex gas refining plant -3 has enabled the return of 97% of the gas condensate instead of burning it; the use of circuits to conduct research on the MPLT wells facilitated a decrease to 50% in the volume of burned hydrocarbon.

For its part, the engineering-production center “Gidromet Ltd” provided us with data from the atmospheric tests of the last 18 days. According to these results, the concentration of methylmercaptan amounts to less than the level of detection.

And here is what the villagers of Berezovka themselves have to say about the environmental situation.

I.A. Dryga: “I don’t want to be relocated from my village: first of all, I worked on the drilling, saw a lot, participated in accident response measures, and the smell there became horrific, but we worked—I and my fellow villagers—and we are all in normal health…it doesn’t make sense to talk about life here in the village, beyond the Sanitary Protection Zone. Secondly, I have a good house and land here in Berezovka and to move to some sort of birdhouse, like the Tungush villagers, having lost all of their property, is not something that I want. Of course, there has been the smell of gas in recent years, but the smell is less and less frequent now.

M.T. Utarbaeva: In my opinion, the environment is not in a better state anywhere at this point—in Berezovka, in Aksai and in Ilyek there is the smell of gas from time to time. But you know, people live here, my spouse and I have lived here our entire lives, raised children, grandsons, and our health is nothing to complain about. We practically never sense the smell of gas now, and we do not want to be relocated from our hometown.

The head of the Family Polyclinic, M.A. Aitzhanova: I have worked in the Berezovka Outpatient Clinic for six months, right after graduating as a general practitioner from the Medical Academy in Aktobe. I work by assignment and consider that the air here is cleaner than there, and the smell of gas is practically undetectable. Since I began working, no serious illnesses have been detected among the population, although people very often complain of headaches—anemia, high blood pressure, and wide distribution of scabies among children. The fact that the youth of Berezovka do not have serious pathologies is something to be glad about.

The Results of Average Daily Concentrations of Atmospheric Traces Identified in Berezovka, December 1-20, 2004

Population Point
Date
Hydrogen Sulfide
Sulfur Anydride
Nitrogen Dioxide
Carbon Oxide
Control Sample
01.12.2004
0.001
0.010
0.032
1.7
0.020
02.12.2004
0.001
0.031
0.031
1.9
0.021
03.12.2004
0.001
0.010
0.020
1.5
0.023
4.12.2004
0.001
0.012
0.019
1.7
0.020
5.12.2004
0.001
0.013
0.018
1.9
0.022
6.12.2004
0.001
Lower than detection limit
0.012
1.8
0.021
7.12.2004
0.001
Lower than detection limit
0.015
1.5
0.021
8.12.2004
0.001
0.012
0.013
1.7
0.019
9.12.2004
0.001
0.009
0.013
1.9
0.020
10.12.2004
Detection limit
Lower than detection limit
0.012
1.8
0.021
11.12.2004
0.001
0.009
0.013
1.7
0.021
12.12.2004
0.001
Lower than detection limit
0.033
1.9
0.022
13.12.2004
0.001
0.013
0.013
1.8
0.020
14.12.2004
0.001
0.014
0.017
1.9
0.021
15.12.2004
0.001
0.010
0.017
1.7
0.023
16.12.2004
0.001
0.009
0.016
1.8
0.022
17.12.2004
0.001
0.013
0.019
1.7
0.021
18.12.2004
0.001
0.013
0.016
1.9
0.023

Average Maximum Permissible Concentrations
mg/m3

Guiding Document 52.04.
186-89
point 5.2.7.3

Guiding Document 52.04.
186-89
point 5.2.7.2

Guiding Document 52.04.
186-89
point 5.2.1.3

Guiding Document 52.04
186-89
point 6.5

Method of Determining Measurements
0.003-
0.05-1.00
0.02-1.40
0.75-50

Range of Detection
mg/m3

0.075
0.009
0.009
Analytical Limit of Observation
0.001

Footnote: In connection with mid-year conditions (snow), tests were not conducted.

Translation by Crude Accountability