By Laura Suleimenova
During the recent visit of Daniyar Yerenchinov, Chairman of Environmental Regulation and Control Committee under Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, to Atyrau, it was stated that after commissioning of new oil and gas facilities, the volume of emissions in Atyrau, which is dramatic already, will double. About some aspects of the issue we spoke to the head of Atyrau environmental protection department, Yerbol Kuanov.
ANPZ won’t pay alone
- Mr Kuanov, in your speech during Yerenchinov’s visit, you voiced a preliminary report from the committee for evaluation of Atyrau Refinery [ANPZ] impact on Atyrau residents. When will the final report be provided to the public?
“The three year complex study of Atyrau Refinery’s and other organization’s impact on environment and public health in Atyrau has had no precedents before, it is the first one. Each of its two parts is made up of 20 volumes. But now the work is suspended, because ANPZ refused to further fund it, citing they are not the only ones polluting. As they are indeed not alone polluting Atyrau, we are thinking of bringing other companies in to co-funding.”
- At the recent public hearings on environmental impact assessment of future gas and chemical complex, ecologists wondered why designers had chosen today’s condition of air for the assessment, knowing the project would start after the launch of the North Caspian Project facilities, particularly, the Bolashak Plant.
“We discussed the issue at a closed meeting with the heads of regional departments. A proposed solution was – as sanitary protection zones of organizations intersect, they should together prepare a joint environmental impact assessment. The same thing was proposed regarding penalties for emissions, as it is not easy to proof which is the exact source of contamination, given sanitary zones of several companies overlap. Therefore, it was suggested to issue a joint penalty to companies, so they investigate on their own whose emission it was. This refers to ANPZ, Atyrau Heat and Power Station, KPI and Agip KCO.”
Where are the trees?
- Academician Mouftakh Diarov proposed to the public to write a letter to the government explaining that at the time when the huge facilities -- Bolashak plant, gas and chemical complex, TCO’s growth projects and ANPZ -- received construction permits, potential impact on public health was not considered.
For the gas and chemical complex it is now clear that when it neighbors production of cheap raw material – Kashagan gas – it will host another 20 plants.
“You can do nothing with it, as economic development is inevitable. By the way, initially, KPI will be using gas from Tengiz. On the other hand, instead of flaring the gas to no purpose, we require subsoil users to utilize it. It also can be exported and sent to the country’s other regions, where people are still burning coal to heat their homes. At the same time, we will be strictly demanding that they comply with ecologic standards.”
- Forest protection zones could play a big role, but we have not a single one.
“We discussed this too. In 2008, to Agip KCO we had proposed a co-financing in creation of forest protection belts between the industrial zone and the city [not to confuse with plantings between Bolashak and Samal Rotation Village]. However, due to infirm position of the then management of environmental ministry, they [the company] felt themselves the masters of the situation and chose to do nothing. Now the situation has changed, our ministry is keeping a much harder line. Soon we will suggest them to green 1,600 hectares of land along Sokolok Channel. Akim allocated it specifically for this purpose. There is enough water nearby – the channel, which will need dredging. The trees should be planted by seeds, not plantlets. To begin with, the belts will need simple elms, not types unusual for our places. Possibly, Agip KCO and KPI will be doing this job.”