The Town of the XXI Century
Series of reports on ecological situation in Central Asia
CITIZENS HAVE MORE RIGHTS IN A LEGAL
TEXANS ARE PROTESTING
Let us turn to another example. The experience of many foreign countries
shows that thanks particularly to the "greens" it was possible to prevent the
attempts to bury toxic wastes, many plants throwing away toxic wastes were
For example, about 10 years ago the south western region of Texas populated
by indigenous tribes was "thriving" on production of pesticides. The plant was
located close to housing districts Soon local people started to notice strange
spots on their skins, health of many members of the community deteriorated,
abnormal children were born.
It was necessary to do something. That was the time when first ecological
organizations appeared. One of them was headed by the philosophy teacher Ruben
Solis. He told us that very soon local people had learnt how to organize actions
of protest. At the beginning very few of them believed that it would be possible
to influence the activities of wealthy enterprises. Nevertheless, some measures
to protect the environment were taken.
This example turns our attention to the fact that people living in Texas
educated in western democratic conditions, probably, learnt quite well the
famous phrase from Ilf and Petrov: "Salvation of the drowning is the business of
the drowning". Even if the Orhus Convention was not signed, still people of
Texas learnt that as taxpayers they had the right to get ecological information,
had the right to preserve the environment, and the right to appeal to the court,
if their rights were violated.
BEFORE THE ORHUS
In 1986-1990 a complex program "To develop and implement measures to improve
the conditions of the air basin of the city of Almaty" was implemented in
Kazakhstan. Many scientific research and planning institutes of the city
participated in the program. Particularly, the main sources of pollution of the
city of Almaty were studied.
So, the production union "Kitap" threw out lead.
Dust of the cyclones of "Porshen" plant contained the abnormal quantities of
wolfram and copper, cobalt, chrome and silver.
Wastes of the Almaty railroad car building plant contained chrome, manganese,
nickel. When the form mixtures were poured, lead, silver, wolfram and zinc were
thrown out into the atmosphere.
Around the vegetable and fruit conservation plant the main source of air
pollution was represented by the boiler room, which was burning crude oil. The
surrounding territories were polluted by ashes and heavy metals.
Heavy metal pollution resulting from operations of the power producing
devices of heat power plants #1 and #2 was related to burning of coals and crude
oil. The ashes of coals shipped from Karaganda and Kuchinsk basins were
distinguished by high concentration of vanadium, arsenic and mercury. Flying
ashes, arriving in the atmosphere were bearing these elements and also lead,
copper and phosphorus.
The Almaty Heavy Machinery Plant contributed lead and mercury to the overall
pollution of the city. This was related to cast iron melting.
At the same time the Center of health protection under the auspices of the
Ministry of health protection studied the health of the people living in the
city. Regions of the so called specific diseases were identified. In these
regions there is a classic correlation between diseases and harmful substances,
which pollute the air basin of Almaty.
But this was a government program, and it had to be carried out by executing
serious of the city-level events, including such ones as installation of
cleaning filters at industrial plants and factories, redistribution of public
At that time no one of the people living in the city, the air of which was
and still is among the most polluted in the Republic, could imagine that they
had the right to demand urgent and effective measures to be taken by city
officials to decrease the amounts of harmful wastes, which were thrown into the
atmosphere of Almaty. By the way, all this information about pollution in Almaty
represented a subject of scientific research and was designed mainly for city
officials rather than for common people.
Currently the Republic of Kazakhstan actively develops international
cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection. People living in
Kazakhstan can fight for the clean ecological surroundings as well as the people
living in Texas. They have the experience of living in a country, which builds
its relationships based on the principles of democracy. This is probably an
important factor for the people to be heard.
SEVERAL MORE WORDS ABOUT SALVATION OF THE DROWNING
Europeans like their continent and want it to be clean. Our colleagues from
Bulagria published a small reference guide for people working in non-government
organizations. It contains some of the predicting factors indicating how badly
particular regions of the country are polluted. By the way, this information can
be useful not only for NGO staff, but also for any citizen of a country, who
does not want to live in dirty air or to drink poisoned water.
You live in a town located not far from lead and zinc processing pkant. It is
built on fertile soil. After several years you start to notice that:
·you often have headaches;
·contents of local people's blood have deteriorated;
·local agricultural products sold at other places are not known for being in
·several children with disabilities were born;
·media publishes materials about dangerous influences of zinc and lead on
You and your companions do not want to stay away from this problem. Draft a plan
By the way, not a long time ago, one of the citizens of Almaty tried to speak
out for protection of her native city.
The problem is that garbage is burnt on the streets of Almaty. Garbage smokes
for hours in old garbage collection containers. Choking fumes enter the
apartment buildings irritating eyes and throats. It is difficult to find those
responsible for these fires because the fires are usually organized in winters
at four o'clock in the morning. And how would want to leave his or her warm bed
and go out into dark badly smelling streets trying to reach the garbage dumping
area and catch the malefactors? But there was one citizen, or more precisely a
lady-citizen, who decided to do that. Let us, by the way, say that she was also
a journalist writing about ecological issues. She left her warm apartment and
went out into a dark cold street walking to the place where the smoke was coming
from. She was really surprised to see a local yard-keeper, who was occupied by
sticking an old jacket into a small fire.
-Hello, Grigorievich, - said the journalist. - Did you do such a fire that it
is almost impossible to breathe? Are you trying to poison us or what? You
probably also can't breathe, can you?
-F- - - you all … - Grigorievich replied - and did not explain what he meant
expressing such a deep thought. - If I did not burn the garbage in the mornings,
you would drown in it.
Later talking to the yard-keeper the journalist realized that city officials
do not have enough resources to collect all garbage and yard-keepers must burn
whatever can be burnt in front of apartment buildings.
The journalist waited a while, talked a little bit more with the yard-keeper
and returned to her apartment with a serious intention to devote the next
morning to calling the local officials, who are responsible for garbage
collection. The officials responded that really they did not have money or cars
and that they were not responsible for the yard-keepers.
Mainly this is the end of the story. Garbage is still burnt on winter
streets. The smokes still enter the houses of peacefully sleeping people, who
can not even imagine that today they have the right to demand quick and
sufficient actions to be taken by the city officials.
So, the respected
citizens, develop your plan of actions.
Today you still have a choice.