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The Town of the XXI Century 

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The Town of the XXI Century
Series of reports on ecological situation in Central Asia

THE PLANET AND WE: THE ECOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW

Currently the majority of the people living in cities (especially in industrial ones) can not breathe normally since the air of the cities is polluted by harmful wastes. The most harm is done to the atmosphere by industrial wastes and by burning low-quality coal at the Heating and Power Plants, and also by the car wastes.

One of the ways to fight the pollution may be to start using cleaner types of fuel. Governments of the majority of the countries have taken a path of stimulating the shift to renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal, solar power, plants as a sources of energy and aerodynamic energy.

Super powerful, light-weight, ecologically clean and using renewable sources of energy cars, super high-speed trains, offices and apartments highly isolated from outside effects, highly-effective electric light bulbs and engines, industrial conveyors operated by computers - the town of XXI century. Will we be able to live to it?

"The stove tubes" on the wheels

Today there are more than 200 thousand cars in Almaty. More than 80% of the wastes into the capital's atmosphere originate from the car exhausts. The exhaust gases contain about 200 various harmful wastes. It is not possible to say that nothing is done to prevent the pollution. "Almatyecologstroy" has two stationery posts at the Kapchagai highway and at the Almaty-Bishkek highway. The levels of toxic wastes from the car engines are controlled at the posts. Last year the city department of ecology was trying to regulate in a more orderly fashion the wastes originating from vehicles by introducing the ecology tickets (owners of the vehicles had to regulate their cars' engines at the specialized service stations and to receive an ecology ticket afterwards), however these activities were halted by the city ecological prosecutor's office.

The Head of the atmosphere protection department of the Almaty city division of the Ministry of ecology and biological resources, Mr. Alexander Mironuk, says that today there are no documents regulating activities of the specialized service stations, which repair and regulate the parts of the cars influencing the amount of harmful substances in the exhaust gases. There is also a financial issue, particularly the absence o financial resources - one toxic measurement device costs about 1,5 thousand dollars. Mr. Mironuk considers that State Auto Inspection and the State Agency on Standards could have developed the standardized regulation regarding the service stations.

Some time ago the ecological activists from Almaty were trying to install catalytic neutrolizers. There was even a plant producing the devices in the suburb of Almaty. However, the project did not achieve the expected results. This was a result of the whole complex of problems, ranging from the lack of financial resources to conservative attitude of the traffic regulators and car owners. However, the "greens" are not giving up their attempts. The Chairman of the Ust-Kamenogorsk "Green Party", Mr. Sergey Smirnov, said that his non-government organization actively introduced the "Fuelmax" device supplied to Eastern Kazakhstan by the International Research and Development Institute of the USA. The device is used for all types of vehicles and allows to reduce the concentration of harmful wastes in exhaust gases almost by half and to save about 25% of the fuel.

The amount of wastes in the exhaust gases also depends on the quality of gasoline. Shipment to Almaty and distribution of ethyl gasoline are officially banned. But the strict system of control of observation of the ban has not been fully developed, despite, the staff of the atmosphere protection department being always busy carrying out raids to check the quality and the system of gasoline shipment and distribution. That is why, today it is not possible to say that there are no cases of ethyl gasoline shipment into the capital.

"Gasoline" from plants?

Why not? It said that one Indian person had taken some plants mixed them with something else (the recipe is kept secret) and produced "gasoline" for his car. Scientists still can not understand how a car can be fueled by the "plant's gasoline".

In accordance with the information provided by the state atmospheric air control service in 1995 in Kazakhstan the pollution from vehicles reached 997,1 thousand tons of harmful wastes. The largest "contribution" to this amount was done in Kostanai region - 199,4 thousand tons, South-Kazakhstan region - 87,3 thousand tons, Almaty region - 85 thousand tons, Pavlodar region - 74,7 thousand tons, Akmola region - 55,8 thousand tons, Kokshetau region - 53,6 thousand tons.

Currently in Kazakhstanthere are no cities observing the sanitary standards of the air quality harmless for the health of the people. In accordance with "Kazgidromet" information, the most polluted cities in Almaty were Leninogorsk and Almaty. The worries are eased (though slightly) by the fact that the index of atmospheric pollution has decreased in all cities of the Republic in comparison with 1994 levels. The luckiest people live in Atyrau - Kazgidromet states that last year they breathed the cleanest air in the Republic.

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The Town of the XXI Century 

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