Somebody gets innumerable riches and unlimited power, and other – illnesses and death…
Some time american indians called oil “blood of earth”. Experience shows that indeed this treasure given us by the nature became a way of profit and bloody faction between people. “Blood of earth” was mined by the blood of people… Our group of journalists-investigators decided to hold its own inquiry to what is the life at the land polluted with oil, having chosen the object of research ancient Absheron settlement Balakhani.
According to our information there is conducted intensive building of private houses near oil objects at this settlement. Some inhabitants of Balakhani has drill derrick straight in the yards. Though according to the opinion of specialists to live at the lands polluted with oil is not safely for human health and life.
According to the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic selling lands polluted with oil and other factory waste is forbidden. In November of current year the Cabinet of ministers of Azerbaijan made its changes in “Rules of issuing passports for dangerous waste” and “Rules of cleaning of the territory of centers of population in correspondence with the norms of sanitary, hygiene and ecology, temporary holding, regular transportation and sterilization of domestic waste”.
As it was reported in the cabinet of ministers, passports of dangerous waste are written on the basis of their composition, peculiarities and degree of danger. According to the changes in “Rules of cleaning of the territory of centers of population in correspondence with the norms of sanitary, hygiene and ecology, temporary holding, regular transportation and sterilization of domestic waste”, burial of waste is forbidden at the territory of cities and other centers of population, woodland parks, health resorts, health-improving and recreation areas, conservation zone of water sources and mineral waters, situating of underground water objects, used for supply with drinking water and household-everyday needs, and also at the territory of deposit and in case of occurrence threatening for conducting underground works. Though lands polluted with oil are still been distributed and sold… The question is put point-blank: either busyness, or life of people.
And here we are at Balakhani settlement. Joyless view accompanies us: there everywhere raises rusty oil poling; on the right and left sides territories polluted with oil don’t gladden the eye of traveler by large spots of black oil. At the very settlement in the middle of the houses, among which there are not few quantity of historical buildings there raises a large junkyard of domestic and industrial waste. According to the words of the inhabitants during the summer time it is impossible to breath because of the smell and insanitary conditions not to mention headaches and diseases of respiratory system.
But once Balakhani settlement was sacred land, where Zoroastrian religion – religion of fire worshippers. Balakhani – the first land in the world where the oil began to be extracted by industrial way. During the later historical time (already closer to the present) Balakhani provided with oil soviet army during the struggle against world fascism. And now… Balakhani, where oil is extracted is very often left without electricity and almost everywhere without gas supply. So there is such kind of sad end at some time famous Absheron settlement.
One acquaintance whose ancestors were persons busy with oil production at the beginning of XX century, told that often during trenching of wells working people died because of gas accompanying oil production. In order not to pay to the families of dead people they were buried in these wells, and their relatives were told that the person disappeared. So, in such way oil industry of our country mixed on the blood of people was developing… According to the words of the chairman of Association of assistance to the decision of social-economical problems of Balakhani Intizam Guliyev: “The aim of creating of the organization became was that nobody was interested with problems of oil pollutions of our settlement, landfill and other domestic matters of the inhabitants. It was not enough for us, moreover there added building of asphalt and concrete plants near Balakhani, which much more worsened ecological condition of the settlement. Balakhani was turned out to be “landfill of Baku”: since morning till evening there are burning and smouldering landfills. In case of little wind the smell of burning and waste is spread around all the settlement. And our children are growing up here!”
THE DISEASE OF CENTURY – CANCER
The problem of high radioactive background at Absheron more and more often becomes the problem of discussions in the circles of science and NPO. According to the opinion of leader of Movement of greens Farida Huseynova: “Pollution of Absheron peninsula already brought to that more and more inhabitants of this area suffer from different diseases, including oncological. The matter is that oil itself is radioactive, its production at Absheron is conducted without consideration care of health of the people, living at the peninsula and their children. Much as workers of SOCAR spoke that oil spots on the land are safe for health – it is not so. Even fabricated metals, rigs and oil pipelines emit radiation. Radioactive background allowed for living is 5-7 mkr/hour, so when we adopted to the background 10-15 mkr/hour. Stratal water also hold a large part of radionuclides. At the suburb houses are built near oil pools, rigs. The land in these place is barren, people are breathing by oil fume, particularly in summer time. Much as people fill their plots with soil, it is impossible to prevent fume in such way. Hereupon inhabitants of Absheron more than others are subjected to oncological diseases.
They are like oil industry worker who cancer is a professional disease for; therefore they are paid increased salary. 100 and more years of oil production at this peninsula made its work. As a result of it health of the population is weak and today there are spread diseases of thyroid gland and blood. In Azerbaijan, by the way, there is observed increased oncology among children as well. Still in 1992 the Ministry of ecology and natural resources prepared report according to which the area of pollution at Absheron peninsula constituted 16000 hectares – this is an official figure. What is the situation for today is not known. It is necessary urgently to transmigrate people living at the places of oil production and begin cleaning works. The first is unreal, and there only left to hope for the second one.”
According to the accounts of the International academy of ecological energetics, after 10-15 years every fourth inhabitant of Baku will fall ill with cancer. “It will become the consequence of ecological unsafe methods of production, applied by foreign companies…” The next time we will more stop in detail on this matter, as during the investigation we could talk with several persons, suffered from the neighborhood with oil. And we will also stop in detail at the opinion of doctors-oncologists.
OPINION OF SPECIALISTS
We are talking with doctor of biological sciences by the cipher “Ecology”, head of division of soil microbiology of Institute of microbiology NAN of Azerbaijan Nariman Mammad oglu Ismaylov:
— As it is known Azerbaijan – one of countries of the world producing a great quantity of oil long since, and Absheron – is an integral part of oil industry. Naturally, all this brought to polluting a large areas of fertile land with oil and oil products. Oil by itself is a toxic product for soil, particularly its light fractions. Once spill on to the soil it may clean itself with the help of those microorganisms which are living in the soil. And it means that the process of natural cleansing occurs in the soil aside from us. However during a long time of oil production one and the same territory has been subjected to oil spills so many times that the soil is not able to clean itself any more. In many places of Absheron peninsula oil penetrated into more deep “horizons” of soil, and in some cases – even into underground waters.
We conducted a number of researches which showed that oil penetrated into underground waters very often goes out to coastal waters of Caspian Sea, because hydrorelief of Absheron is directed to the side of the sea. And this is very dangerous tendency. Three years ago during our works within the frames of the project by the estimating of the influence on the environment, conducted for “LUKOIL”, there was found out that content of the oil in underground waters of Absheron ten times exceeds maximum permissible concentration. We also conducted analyses of the soils taken at Zikh and Govsani and found out the degree of their oil pollution, which also exceeded maximum permissible concentration a lot. Therefore there is nothing surprising that nothing grows at these soils…
In fact we found “bomb of delayed action”, which it is not known when “will blow up” and will bring large loss for the future generations… At the slopes of southern coast of Caspian sea there are found out deposits of polyaromatic compounds, which ten thousands times exceed maximum permissible concentration. These compounds are accumulated by sea organisms and are reflected in all food chain of the residents of Caspian sea. Eventually all these cancinogens got into organism and there occur irreversible alteration on the genetic level.
In addition in the coastal zone of Caspian sea for the reason of polluting surface soils there are contracted near-bottom sediments. In this case the danger is that unlike surface soils which can self-purify, near-bottom sediments because of the absence of oxygen leave at the same condition. Polyaromatic compounds and oil products are not decomposed under water during tens and hundreds of years. Therefore I began to talk about “bomb of delayed action”…
— Let’s return to the soils of Absheron polluted with oil… Can they be cleaned? And if yes by which ways?
— There is different technology of cleaning of soils polluted with oil: physical-chemical, thermal, with usage of different solutions and biological. I must say that biotechnical methods of cleaning are considered much more profitable and ecologically clean all over the world. Though a little of longer duration than all the rest. If, for example, soil can be cleaned by hydrocyclones in 2-3 days, then for biotechnical method there are required several months. But they are 40-50 % cheaper. Taking into consideration that the volume of soils polluted with oil reaches several millions of cubic metres, then according to our counting for their cleaning there are required billions of dollars. Therefore there where it is possible we should use biotechnological methods of cleaning.
However for microorganisms to manage their work it is necessary to help them. In our case help is in inserting nitrogen, phosphorus, potassiumand other mineral substances, and also enough quantity of water into soil. In case of absence of moisture microorganisms “work” but very inertly. Subject to the degree of polluting with oil products soil will be recovered after half a year – a year. As soon as there appear first plants on it, it will be clear that the process of cleaning began. Nowadays we worked out two-stage method of cleaning of soils polluted with oil. We suggest when an opportunity occurs to gather oil products on the soils where their concentration is more than 8-10 % for second usage. It can be executed with the help of hydrocyclons two of which are at Absheron. So, having separated out from the soil the main part of oil products microorganisms can be get involved which will decompose the rest oil. Oil got from hydrorinse in fact will indemnify for those expenses which will be deposited for cleaning the land polluted with oil. The second specialist we applied on the matter of lands polluted with oil became the president of Ecological Energetic Academy, professor, DPhil Fagan Aliyev: — 50 % of the population of Azerbaijan at present live at Absheron. Everybody knows, however, that the land is polluted with oil. There are such places where the oil solidified up to marble condition. Such phenomenon can be observed in Balakhani, Buzovni and Bibieybat. There is an order of president of Azerbaijan Republic in correspondence with which there was created Ecological administration under control of SOCAR.
In spite of that the administration works quite effectively, but not all these problems have been decided. Oil and waters accompanying it formed 800 little and large lakes, which negatively influence on the environment, it should be mentioned that their influence is considerable. Unfortunately, in spite of all this, 50 % of the population lives at the lands polluted with oil. There are places at Absheron where the depth of oil slimes reaches from 5 up to 9 metres. And people still build houses at these places. As an ecologist I have to affirm that there was created misery. There is a great need in increasing of awareness of population. But unfortunately in this sphere there are conducted too few proceedings. People are building houses direct on slimes, grow up not only tomatoes and greens but also their own children.
— What can you say concerning works connected with cleaning of these lands.
— President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev gave corresponding order and instructions to SOCAR on the matter of cleaning lands, polluted with oil. Now the work already began in Balakhani and at Bibieybat. At present we are busy with making up a chart which does not have analogues in the world; there are reflected all underground zones and archeologically important objects on it. I would like cleaning of the lands polluted with oil not to be personal interest of Azerbaijan but also of the world community, as victory in second world war was reached not without help of azerbaijanian oil.
I consider that in this matter Universal bank should activate all its efforts. If today Azerbaijan exports its oil and gas to Europe, then European financial institutes, including Global ecological fund, should provide additional means for the government of Azerbaijan.
WORLD BANK IS READY FOR COOPERATION
By the way according to the information received from representation of World Bank in Azerbaijan, there exist several methods of cleaning: mechanical, biological and chemical. In 2005 World Bank finished the project, in which there were applied two main methods of cleaning: mechanical and biological. Within the frames of that project small areas were subjected to fiopharming, plants which help to improving of soil were transplanted. At present Universal bank conducts consultations with the government of Azerbaijan on working out of new project. In 2006 there was accepted program of the government on improving the ecological situation in Azerbaijan in the whole, which mainly concentrates on the improving ecological situation at Absheron. In this program there were identified definite types of activities, projects, which were necessary to execute.
The World Bank is ready to provide help for the government in realization of the part of these projects. Consultations are conducted in several directions. The first direction – is cleaning of the lands polluted with oil. Possibly, that there will be provided equipment for SOCAR with an aim of conducting cleaning. SOCAR will determine two-three areas for cleaning, and in the future this equipment will be used by ecological department of SOCAR. In the aims of realization of this program SOCAR also mobilize inside reserves. State Oil Company formed its own ecological plan. Other direction, which Universal bank discusses with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, — this is the project of cleaning of the territories polluted with radioactive waste. In addition on one of the areas of Surakhani, in the administrative building of the former plant refugees live. Their health is also subjected to danger. This is also a very important matter which should be decided.
Besides that there is planned the creation of radiological chart of plots at Absheron, in which radiation background is increased. Oil production is connected with increased radiation background; therefore the government is interested in the presence of such kind of chart. The places of oil production connected with that there radiation background can be increased.
The third direction which is worked out by World Bank together with the Ministry of economical development, — this is utilization of hard waste in Balakhani. There is also planned conducting of work on arrangement of Balakhani junkyard.
The World Bank is also going to help in cleaning of the territories by the area 1000 hectares. At present there are conducted communications with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and are prepared technical-economical grounds, Esteem of influence on the environment and sociological esteems. Only after it the World Bank will proceed to financing.
Which territories will be chosen for cleaning from oil it is known only for SOCAR. At present everything is at the stage of discussing. Early Field Trial had been already conducted by World Bank together with SOCAR, during which the last one was provided by special equipment which used for mechanic cleaning. And in the future there will be chosen plots suitable namely for mechanical cleaning. All these projects are good and we welcome them. However at present in Balakhani there live a great number of people who day by day suffer from dangerous neighborhood. To this quantity there are added newcomers, whom poverty “drove” to the lands polluted with oil. We met with several families which told us about their problems, and also with representatives of regional authority, responsible for cleaning of these territories in the nearest future. There are a lot of applications of the inhabitants to regional authorities and law machinery, and also to ombudsman, called to protect human rights in republic. About the destiny of these letters and the results of activity of Balakhani community we will tell in the next editions of our newspaper in the rubric “In the tracks of journalistic investigation”…
“Zerkalo” Newspaper, Thursday, December 27, 2007