EXCERPTS FROM VILLAGER INTERVIEWS
Rosa Turmafambetova Kusaenova (38 years old)
The following interview was conducted in November 2003 in Berezovka, Kazakhstan.
Question: What was your first contact with KIO? What did they say at that time? What was your relationship like?
My first contact with a representative from KIO was two years ago, his names was James Rolands and he was a project engineer on gas refinery number two. I met him when KIO was here overseeing the remodeling of our clinic. At that time I talked to him about the cultural center where I work.
He agreed to offer his financial support and began work on a library. Tables and chairs were provided and English language children’s books were brought in from England.
And of course we liked him at first because he paid quite a bit of attention to us, but then his promises to remodel the center itself were never fulfilled; I don’t know why. They came and they filmed all the center’s defects and problems.
Question: But they never did anything?
Nothing has been done.
Question: There is nothing new there?
Nothing. The center sits there ugly and falling apart. It was built in 1975.
Question: Have you made any appeals regarding your cultural center?
I appealed to our deputy in the Oblast government and he told me that everything is decided by the regional authorities; that all money flows from KIO to the regional government and that the government has a commission that must discuss all issues before any concrete work can be done.
Question: In your opinion how has the oil field impacted children in this village?
When I work at night I often can smell and feel the impact of emissions from flares and of course this affects the children in our village.
I have a daughter who just two years ago began to have fainting spells and often complains of problems with her liver and kidneys, her vision, hearing, everything. She has irregular skin pigmentation. We haven’t even taken her to the doctor because I know that our visit will not produce results. I know this because earlier I also had problems with my liver and gall bladder and went to all the nearby medical facilities but never received results.
Also my son, he is nine years old and already the crown of his head is beginning to turn grey.
I have also learned from talking with my friends and acquaintances that many children have poor memories; that it’s extremely difficult for their kids to prepare for school because they arrive for class each morning having forgotten the materials they learned the day before.
Question: When people go to doctors either here or in Aksai or Uralsk, can the doctors help them? Do they suggest that the environment has any impact?
The regional doctors won’t give us data or diagnoses. On the oblast level, a certain amount of data is given out, but very little.
My friend has a nine year old daughter, and they have data from a doctor in Uralsk that indicates that her bone growth is at the level of a 7-year old. This woman’s neighbor has a 12-year old son whose bone growth is at the level of a 8 or 9-year old. This data they do have.
Question: What kind of relationship do people have here with local authorities? When and/or if you have ever appealed to the authorities, how have they responded to your queries?
One day, last June, I witnessed extremely heavy emissions from the field. Unfortunately I was not able to photograph what I saw, but the next day I approached our mayor and a KIO deputy who happened to be visiting, and we had an argument as to whether or not there had been an excess of emissions the previous day. I told them that I am an able person, I am not blind and I have witnesses. When I said this they began to squirm a bit and the following week returned with another KIO representative who said there had in fact been emissions the previous week and had exceed permissible levels at .0005 at that moment. And from my observations this went on for an entire hour. I don’t know what happened, if it was an accident or what, but there was soot hanging over the village and the flares were blazing and there was a loud noise.
When I asked the mayor about this he said he heard the sound but nothing else, no smells, nothing. And of course it’s offensive that he is a resident of this village and still chooses to hide this evidence.