By Saule Tasboulatova
Emergency flaring of fuel gas at Kashagan, D island. Aug 26, 2013. Archive photo.One of the employees of oilfield services company on D island in Kashagan was delivered to the intensive care unit of Atyrau regional hospital with symptoms of hydrogen sulfide poisoning.
This fact was disclosed to Ak Zhaik newspaper by the victim's father:
- Our son during his work at Kashagan got severely poisoned with toxic gases. He was medevaced to the regional hospital on September 30 where he was immediately taken care by the team of doctors. His life was at stake and I am very grateful to those doctors who did everything to save our son’s life.
Unfortunately, the victim himself refused to provide comments due to reasons of corporate ethics.
According to victim's father, his son spent nearly two weeks in the hospital: the first two days in resuscitation ward, then in the urology, nephrology, toxicology and ENT departments of the hospital.
Here is what the toxicologist of Atyrau regional hospital Baurzhan Rakhmetov says:
- The patient from D island was delivered to reanimation unit in a serious condition. We had different versions, including poisoning, even suspected that he had a stroke, but after computer tomography and other procedures the last assumption was dropped. When the patient recovered consciousness, we started to ask him about his chronic diseases. After all, any of us had this or that sickness if to “dig” the illnesses’ history. But we couldn’t find anything that would have led to such critical condition. We started collecting anamnesis - it became clear that he worked next to the flaring stack. Our big trouble is that we have no chemical and toxicological laboratory. After all, we are sitting on a chemical “bomb”: we have Atyrau Refinery and other plants, as well as Kashagan, and garbage dump area. When a person gets poisoned, we send blood to forensic medical examination, but they do examination only on the request of law enforcement agencies, i.e. in cases, when it connected to crimes.
Living next to such plants, we need to have a chemical-technological laboratory that would help to detect toxins that are possibly present in our bodies, say, for example, the same hydrogen sulfide. Therefore we made the presumable diagnosis: poisoning with products of combustion of oil products. Because legally we have no right to make 100% diagnosis without confirmation from the laboratory. SO we made this diagnosis by the process of elimination. Most importantly, we rescued the patient and it is our big victory.
- Is this the first case of such poisoning in the oil field?
- I work here since 2007 and this is the first case that I know of.
- They say that there were many cases when rotational workers died during the sleep …
- My parents are from Kulsary and they talk about such cases. But this is not proven. Only based on the results of chemical-toxicological laboratory it is possible to define the cause of poisoning, whether it is hydrogen sulfide or something else.
Retuning to the case at Kashagan: we asked the oil experts who assumed that poisoning could have occurred during bleeding of the pressure from the well. In order to prevent a blowout of hydrogen sulfide it is flared to the stack and it is a routine production process. Perhaps, personal detector of the victim failed to trigger.