Today, the top ten list of the biggest polluters in Kazakhstan, based on the official data, was published. The charts reveal that the environment has been greatly contaminated by steelworks Kazakhmys and ArcelorMittal, oil companies KazMunaiGas and KazTransOil, and the power plant in Ekibastuz. The interactive map of facilities that exceed the safe threshold limits valid in the EU (1) is now available in a clearly understandable form on-line at www.ecocitizens.kz. A presentation of the data from official sources (2) was prepared by non-governmental organizations. Unfortunately, a significant number of companies have failed to report their data on a voluntary base. Improvement of access to information is expected based on the new act which was recently signed by the president.
"A new act obliging the companies to publish figures on their pollutant emissions was only recently signed by the president. Our database draws from the data voluntarily reported to the Ministry of Energy by the corporations themselves. Thus, many dirty industries are still absent on the map. Involving them into environmental informational provision is now the major task,” says Dmitriy Kalmykov, director of EcoMuseum Karaganda.
"Citizens can now browse the data for the year 2013 online under www.ecocitizens.kz. More recent data will be available as soon as we analyse official data from the Ministry. For a better overview, we have decided to publish only the data of operators that exceed the EU safe threshold limits. Those can have significant impact on human health," says Kalmykov.
The Arnika NGO from the Czech Republic participated in creating the online database as well as in compiling the lists of the biggest polluters of Kazakhstan. In the Czech Republic, such data is regularly published by the Czech Ministry of the Environment since 2005.
"We have sorted the data presented by the companies into groups of chemicals according to their negative effects. In our database, you can find the summarized overview of carcinogenic substances, chemicals affecting reproduction, and many other functions. An interactive map helps to find the relevant data for the city or region. I hope that our approach can inspire the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan in when developing an official information system," explains Martin Skalsky from the Czech organisation Arnika.
Values exceeding safe threshold limits valid in the EU for the current period are related to only 107 facilities in Kazakhstan and cover only 21 substances emitted to the air (3). According to the qualified estimate of the experts, there are several hundreds of facilities that should report their data – which means that so far, a substantial part of the industrial companies do not submit data regarding their impact on environment and human health.
For comparison: In the Czech Republic, 1,657 facilities reported emissions in 2013; official databases includes releases of 35 pollutants to air, 32 to water, 14 to soil, transfers of 32 substances to wastewater, and 25 substances to waste. This does not mean that the situation in Kazakhstan would be that much better than in the Czech Republic, but it rather indicates that the Kazakhstani data is incomplete. A number of factories did not report their emissions on voluntary basis at all. The official pollution register will be published probably only next year, as the president signed the new act in April 2016. In the Czech Republic, all factories are obliged to report the emissions when exceeding the threshold limit. Transfers in waste are reported as well. In addition to reports mandatory in the whole EU, the Czech factories also report styrene and formaldehyde emissions (4).
Notes for editors:
1/ The database considers the safe threshold limits according to Annex II of Regulation No. 166/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council
2/ The competent authority is the Ministry of Energy. So far, the system of reporting releases of dangerous pollutants from the industry works on voluntary basis only. Kazakhstan unfortunately did not join so called Kiev Protocol to the Aarhus Convention on Pollution Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) and the president has signed new act obliging the companies to report only in April 2016. It means that official data will be presented probably in 2017. For 2013, the companies have reported their emissions for 134 facilities.
3/ Current voluntary pollutant register of Kazakhstan include emissions of 21 following substances: methane, carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2), natrium oxide (N2O), ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (NO2/NOX), sulphur oxides (SO2/SOX), arsenic, cadmium, chrome, cuprum, mercury, nickel, lead, zinc, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, naphthalene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), chlorine and inorganic compounds (as total HCl), fluorine and inorganic compounds (HF), and particulate matter smaller than ten micrometres (PM10).
4/ The data for the Czech Republic is publicly available on: http://www.irz.cz