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KARACHAGANAK: OIL harms children

On November 28, 2014, there was a toxic poisoning of children from oil emissions in Berezovka, Kazakhstan.

Twenty-five students fainted; had seizures, dizziness, and blood pressure surges; and complained about severe headaches. Companies extracting oil within five kilometers of Berezovka (participants of the consortium Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV (KPO): American Chevron, Russia's Lukoil, Italian ENI, the British BG Group, and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz) refused to recognize the link between the deterioration of the health of children and accidental releases from the Karachaganak Field that was bringing them huge profits. Also, obvious facts were not admitted by decision-makers at any level in Kazakhstan.

In 2016, affected children are still sick; there are new instances of poisoning symptoms. According to residents, the emissions of toxic substances continue in the field. Kazakh doctors blame all the problems on puberty and chronic diseases. Oil companies say they do not have anything to do with it. Nobody is going to pay compensation for damages to children, many of whom may remain disabled for life. The Russian Children's Semashko Center diagnosed those who had the opportunity to be screened in Moscow with a toxic poisoning of brain with an unknown substance.

Diagnosis only confirmed the fears of the residents of Berezovka. On the eve of tragedy, they witnessed a major accident, which occurred at Karachaganak. "Most likely, the long-term effects of low doses of hydrogen sulfide had brought the immune system to the point that, at the time of emission, it was the like the last straw. It is terrible to see this picture. Not every heart can stand it – being next to a child who cannot wake up from fainting for four hours," says Svetlana Anosov, director of the local NGO Zhasyl Dala.

"Parents are in a bind. Many do not have the means to ensure their children receive normal treatment and can be relocated from dangerous areas. They have repeatedly appealed for help from the authorities of Kazakhstan, the oil companies, but were refused, says Sergey Solyanik, consultant for the international environmental organization Crude Accountability. “Together with other NGOs concerned about such an irresponsible approach by the largest and most respected companies in the world, we call on the oil industry and decision-makers to take responsibility for the tragedy of Berezovka."

The Karachaganak Field is exploited by the Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV (KPO BV) consortium, whose members include the oil companies Chevron, BG Group, ENI, Lukoil, and KazMunaiGaz. The field provides almost 20% of oil and 50% of the gas in Kazakhstan. It falls into the category of hazardous enterprises.

History of accident

Crude Accountability
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