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

THE RESCUE FOR THE WORLD IS IN ITS CLEANNESS

"The hot spots" of Kazakhstan

"The hot spots" are usually those places where it is either difficult or impossible for people to live. Places of military actions or wars are usually the "hot" ones. Currently they are scattered all over the world. Luckily there is no war in Kazakhstan, but there are territories, where people can die almost like during the war time because of polluted air, poisoned water and soil. Usually they are located close to industrial plants, military ranges. In reality civilization costs a lot and industrial power of the country is often built at the expense of the people's health, if, of course, no preventive measures are taken. Specialists-ecologists have studied the situation in the Republic and in accordance with their opinion the following territories are the most disadvantaged ones.

The ones located near copper extraction and production plants, such as Joint-stock company "Balhashmed" and JSC "Zhezkazganzvetmed", which are surrounded by 8 storage places for leftover of rocks and ores, 4 tail storage places and 3 slag storage places, where copper industry wastes have been stored for many years. The tail storage places containing very harmful substances are the most dangerous ones for people and nature These objects not only pollute the soil, plants, but they are also carried by winds for tens of kilometers.

The ones surrounding Krasnooktyabr aluminium ore department of Turgai aluminium ore ore-division, JSC Pavlodar aluminium plant. 4 collectors and slag storage places are found.

In the republic there are 14 plants producing lead and zinc. The largest danger to environment and people is borne by JSC "Akshatau konbaiytu kombinaty", JSC "Achisai polymetal plant", JSC "Zhezkent ore-enriching plant", JSC "Irtysh polymetal plant", JSC "Leninogorsk polymetal plant", JSC "Tekely lead and zinc plant", JSC "Ust-Kamenogorsk lead and zinc plant", JSC "Shymkent lead plant", etc. These plants have more than 40 rock leftover storage places and more than 30 tail storage places. Plants located in Irtish river basin are active pollutants of water sources. For example, Zyryanovsk lead plant pollutes Buhtarma water reserve. The near bottom stream of pollution has reached the Buhtarma power plant dam and is thrown into Ust-Kamenogorsk water reserve. And these are well-known places of fishing and recreation. Naturally, pollution is spread further to Shulba water reserve and further to the very border of Omsk oblast of Russian Federation.

The less water is in the region the more dangerous is the pollution. It is necessary to have the minimal amount of pollutants to make the small rivers unusable.

As well known are the plants extracting and procesing rare metals and nickel. Belogorsk ore-enriching plant, JSC "Kairaktinsk ore-metallurgy plant", Kimpersai ore-division, JSC "Ust-Kamenogorsk" titan and magnesium plant. They have more than 10 rock leftover storage places and as many tail storage places. Belogorsk ore-enriching plant is situated over Buhtarma and Ust-Kamenogorsk wter reserves and is potentially dangerous for concrete constructions of the dams.

Territories adjacent to the gold extracting plants. There are eight of those plants, among which are JSC "Altaialtyn", Joint-venture "Bakirchik ore extracting plant". About 20 rock leftover storage places and more than 10 tail storage places are dangerous for the environment.

It is necessary to repeat that arsenic, lead, zinc and mercury contained in industrial wastes are especially dangerous.

Wastes of the rapidly developing oil industry of the Republic are also alarming.

The wastes are usually carried in all directions. They enter the atmosphere, they are found in water and soil. All over the world there are cities and villages, which can be considered as winners in this silent competition "which city is the dirtiest", or "which river has less fish". There are such winners in Kazakhstan, too.

The dirtiest atmospheric air

It is considered that the most polluted air is in Pavlodar, Karaganda and Zhezkazgan regions. Large `contribution" into the atmospheric air pollution is done by vehicles. For example, in 1994 all cars in the Republic threw into the air 1,2 million tons of harmful substances, much of this amount consists of carbon oxides. It was established that high concentration of carbon oxides unbalances the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Do not drink the water - you may be poisoned

The most disadvantageous conditions are in Irtish river basin where extremely high levels of zinc and lead pollution of the rivers Glubochanka, Krasnoyarka, Breksy, Ulba, Buhtarma reach hundreds of maximum limits of concentration.

The greatest amounts of sewage are directed to the rivers Irtish, Nura, Syrdaria, Ili.

Underground waters are also polluted. The largest concentrations of underground water pollution are in the zone of Karaganda metallurgic plant, production union "Karbid"(Karaganda region), Aktubinsk power and heating plant, slag collectors of the production union "Himprom" (Zhambyl region).

The quality of drinking water makes you wish it to be much better. Especially alarming information about quality of water comes from Kokshetau, Torgai, Kyzyl-Orda, Kostanai regions.

Oh, my field, who planted copper and lead on you!

Land resources of Kazakhstan are actively degrading, about 250 thousand hectares of crop lands are removed from the use for agricultural purposes.

The sols of several regions of the Republic are polluted by industrial origin pesticides and toxicants The highest concentration of pollution caused by industrial plants have been formed around Ust-Kamenogorsk, Lininogorsk, Zhezkazgan, Shymkent, Karaganda. Here concentration of lead, copper and zinc in the soil reaches several tens of maximum levels of concentration.

Non-peaceful atom

The level of radiation is still high on those territories were nuclear weapons were tested (Semipalatinsk, Aktubinsk regions) and were there are lots of uranium abnormalities, ores and fields (Kokshetau region).

Who is going to clean up the garbage?

We would like to talk separately about the, so called, solid household wastes, or about regular garbage, which accumulates at every apartment. This theme is clearly understandable for each person living in a large or even not so large city. After the crash of communist ideology, abundance of products appeared in the stores, the prices became higher and the amounts of garbage increased. It has become common to talk about the fact that during the new times the garbage collection boxes are "guarded" not only by dogs and cats, but also, by new poverty-struck people. There are rumors that it is possible to find lots of valuable things in each garbage collection box. But this is not the point, what is important is the fact the seemingly harmless garbage consisting of various boxes of all kinds and shapes, plastic "fanta" or mineral water bottles threatens to overwhelm the people together with all of their capitalistic ideals. In civilized countries whole garbage recycling plants are built to fight this problem. We have a lack of those so far. As it was stated last year in "The ecological courier" newspaper by Mr. Ainagulov, the head specialist of the Almaty city division of Ministry of ecology and biological resources, "there is no complex organization taking care of collection and removal of solid household wastes from Almaty" For people living in the city this means that they will stumble at potato skins or cardboard boxes, which were thrown outinto the trash boxes. "A serious problem is also represented by solid household wastes. They mainly originate from large cities and towns."

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