The Kazakh press (Kazakhstan Today and Kazinform) announced on Friday, July 23 that a working group is being created by the government of Kazakhstan to develop a proposal to solve the problems in Berezovka, Kazakhstan. The working group was created following a trip to Western Kazakhstan Oblast by Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister, Karim Masimov. According to press reports, the Working Group will be headed by the Minister of Environment, Nurgali Ashimov and will also include a representative of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Oil and Gas, and the NGO community. According to Prime Minister Masimov, “The issue is a hot topic, and a lot of attention has been focused on it…..we need to resolve it.” Although Prime Minister Masimov does not name it, Berezovka’s problem is the need to be relocated away from the toxic emissions of the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field.
The village of Berezovka, home to 1300 residents, is located in near the Karachaganak Field in western Kazakhstan and has been suffering severe environmental and health problems because of its proximity to the enormous field. According to Kazakhstani law, a five kilometer “Sanitary Protection Zone” around the field should be uninhabited; Berezovka is located within the SPZ and has been working for relocation and compensation for damages suffered since 2002. Because they have not been relocated, the villagers filed a lawsuit against the Government of Kazakhstan for failure to act on behalf of its citizens. The court made a decision in June 2010 to relocate only the northern most part of Berezovka. The Ecological Society Green Salvation, which filed the case on behalf of the villagers, has appealed the decision.
Sergey Solyanik, consultant to Crude Accountability, reports, “This morning, villagers smelled gas and reported the incident to representatives of KPO and the local sanitary-epidemiological station. This most recent incident confirms the need to immediately relocate the residents of Berezovka from this area, which is dangerously impacted by the field. I hope that the working group that is being created will decide to relocate the village immediately!”
“I believe I am speaking for the majority of the village residents when I say that living near a field as enormous as Karachaganak is a risk to your life. We see changes in the natural world and in the health of our children. When there are emissions, people feel poorly. The village has a high mortality rate. Therefore we filed a lawsuit, because we believe that relocation is necessary,” said Svetlana Anosova, representative of the Berezovka community group, Zhasil Dala (Green Steppe).
The case of Berezovka has received national and international attention because of repeated violations of environmental law and international standards by the operators. Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, BV, the consortium operating the field, is comprised of British Gas, ENI, Chevron and Lukoil. The project received $150 million in financing from the International Finance Corporation and was found to be in violation of the IFC’s environmental monitoring standards in 2008, as a result of a complaint filed by the Berezovka villagers.
For more information:
Crude Press Release
July 26, 2010
Contact: Kate Watters