Environmental problems of sustainable development of the republic of kazakhstan

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

Author: Kurmangaliyev Аrman, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The extractive and processing industry is developed in Kazakhstan and the growth rates of these branches have been increasing in recent years. Large industrial projects that lead to an increase in air pollutio and deterioration of ecology of Kazakhstan are under construction and placed in operation. For decades more than twenty billions tons of waste products have been accumulated in the republic, about one third of that is toxic.

In this regard, the ecological situation in Kazakhstan is far from satisfactory. This article considers major factors of anthropogenesis and those branches of economy that define modern ecological condition of environment of the republic. A considerable quantity of the power stations and heating plants of different capacities that use oil products, natural gas, and nuclear fuel, occupy large areas. The majority of power objects were constructed during the Soviet period and many of them do not meet today’s ecological requirements; therefore, they heavily pollute the atmosphere and soil with gases and dust affecting flora and fauna disastrously.

Qualitatively new kind of influence of power industry on environment in Kazakhstan is the desalter of sea water in Aktau that works on a nuclear reactor.

As a result of mineral deposits development with infringement of scientific and technical rules, there is a loss of raw materials in the course of extraction, enrichment and transportation (Sokolovsk-Sarbaisk mineral management, Zhezkazgan ore-dressing and processing enterprise, Karaganda coal basin, Balkhash copper-smelting industrial complex, etc.). Occurrence of open-cast mines, mines, pits, disastrous funnels, pollution of atmospheric air because of the dispersing of extracted and dead rock in waste heaps and open-cast mines, extinction of natural flora and fauna, raised illness rate among workers and local population – are the results of anthropogenic human activity.

In the process of oil extraction the level of underground and ground waters goes down and the integrity of soil-vegetable cover is broken. For example, on Mangistau peninsula, the chaotic laying of dirt roads to drilling units leads to vigorous roadside soil erosion. Besides, storing surpluses of oil in open holes can often be the reason of the soil-vegetative cover disappearance. Ground and underground waters are polluted with oil, which then flow down into the reservoirs used by the population for consumption. There are examples of the Western Kazakhstan natural gases burning in flares on oil wells that pollute the atmosphere with products of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons.

The enterprises of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy use considerable quantity of water (Ust-Kamenogorsk Titan-Magnesium, Zyrjanovsk, Ulbinsk, Balkhash Copper-Smelting enterprises, etc.) in the technological process. Thus the sewage containing considerable quantities of various oils, alcohols and phenols get to the rivers and water basins, and considerable quantities of sulfurous gases and dust get to the atmosphere. Technologically in nonferrous metallurgy, it is necessary to process 50-100 tons of ores to extract only one ton of metal at concentration factories; thus, a large quantity of empty ore goes into dumps, which then is stored away and occupies large areas.

Sulfuric acid is used for the production of mineral fertilizers at the metallurgical enterprises in considerable quantities. That also pollutes the environment as an industrial drain.

However, the greatest ecological damage is caused by the emissions of gaseous substances that pollute atmosphere. In fifteen cities of the republic the level of air pollution is raised by harmful emissions. These cities include Zyrjanovsk, Aktau, Temirtau, Taraz, Petropavlovsk, Shymkent, Almaty, Ust Kamenogorsk, Pavlodar. High level of air pollution in these cities is a consequence of out-of-date production technologies, inefficient treatment facilities, and poor quality of used fuel. The basic polluting substances are dust, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons, phenol, lead, hydrogen sulfide, chloride hydrogen, ammonia, etc. Each of these substances in its way negatively influences people’s health. Dust, for example, causes diseases of respiratory tracts, liver and blood diseases, etc. The dustiest cities of Kazakhstan are Aktau, Atyrau, Zhezkazgan, Semei, Ust Kamenogorsk. Disorders of the nervous system can be caused by the raised concentration of carbonic oxide in the air. Thus headaches occur, memory worsens, and normal sleep is disturbed. The high concentration of carbonic oxide is observed in such cities as Almaty, Aktobe, Karaganda, Kostanaj, Petropavlovsk, Pavlodar, Semei and some other. If there are several kinds of pollutants in the air, which usually occurs, the negative effect gets even more destructive. It affects immune system that frequently leads to oncologic diseases.

Because of the disorder of human economic activities, soil cover is exposed to considerable negative influence, such as wind and water erosion, soil pollution with household and industrial wastes. Change of the vegetative cover occurs due to not only the natural phenomena, such as fires, hurricanes, etc., but also due to deforestation and bush cutting, mechanical destruction of vegetation during construction, irrigational-meliorative and a road works. Degradation of pasture lands in Kazakhstan has reached considerable sizes due to cattle pasture, soil erosion; desertification processes became more active. Vegetation reduction in city landscapes leads to rise in temperature and air pollution in cities, therefore expansion of the area of green plantings in cities and settlements has a great sanitary-and-hygienic value. Nowadays distinctly expressed tendency of worsening of a crisis ecological situation in Aral, Balkhash, Irtysh, Kaspii regions, Rudnyi Altai, Almaty, Zhambyl, Ust Kamenogorsk, Shymkent, etc. is observed.

Speaking about the regions with catastrophic level of destabilization of ecosystems and geosystems in Kazakhstan present and former water areas of Aral sea, territory of Semipalatinsk nuclear testing facilities, northeast coast of Caspian sea, urban-industrial areas of Gornyi Altai: Ust Kamenogorsk, Ridder, Zyrjanovsk, can be named. Balkhash, Zhambyl, Zhezkazgan, Kyzyl-Orda, Temirtau, Shymkent, Almaty and Karaganda, the rivers Irtysh, Syr-Darya, Nura, Arys are regions with critical level of environmental destabilization. Aktau, Aktyubinsk, Atyrau, Semipalatinsk, Kapchagajsk and Shardarinsk water basins, lake Balkhash, Ili, Shu rivers are regions with intense level of the environmental destabilization. Regions with satisfactory level of the environmental destruction are urban-industrial areas of Kokshetau, Taldy-Korgan, Petropavlovsk, Uralsk, Ishim, Talas, Tobol, Sarysu, Ural rivers. Regions with favorable level of environmental conditions cover considerable, sparsely populated territories of Kazakhstan: semi-deserts, deserts, mountain areas (Chigarkin A.V., 1995).

Unfortunately, the problem of radiation pollution remains. Struggle against radioactive pollution can have only precautionary character as there are no ways of biological decomposition and other mechanisms, allowing to neutralize this kind of environmental pollution. Spreading by a food chain (from plants to animals), radioactive substances get into a human body with food and can accumulate in a quantity that can be harmful to a person. Nuclear weapon testing with good reason can be called the most serious crime against the nature and humankind. From 1949 to 1962 about 200 explosions in atmosphere, and from 1963 to 1989 - about 400 underground explosions were made in Semipalatinsk’s proving ground; the part of them was accompanied by emissions of radio nuclides. Inhabitants of East Kazakhstan have received the greatest dose of ionizing radiation after Hiroshima-Nagasaki and Chernobyl. The information about the sickness rate connected with radiation influence was not subject to promulgation until 1989. According to informal sources of information, the number of deaths from leukemia made ten thousand people.

In Kazakhstan there is a number of factors which form radio-ecological conditions:

- Activity of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground;

- The nuclear explosions executed for the solution of economic problems;

- The enterprises of an atomic-industrial complex;

- Extraction and processing of polymetallic ores, oil and gas that increase radioactivity.

Bad condition of water resources of Kazakhstan is also recorded. Waterways of our republic are presented by near 85 thousand rivers. The largest waterways are Irtysh, Ishim, Ili, Syr-Darya, Ural, Shu, Talas, Assa rivers. Recent years have seen drying-out of the lake system. It is connected with overregulation of trans-boundary and inland basin flows and with natural fluctuations of their level.

Among the most terrible in the ecological relation there is a basin of the main waterway of Kazakhstan – the Irtysh River. Its waters are polluted with heavy metals (copper, zinc, cadmium, lead, arsenic, etc.) which get into the river with sewage.

Environmental situation of the Caspian region is defined by the increased level of the Caspian Sea and anthropogenous influence on sea coastal ecosystems. As experts predict the sea level rise will lead to lengthening of the coastal line to 2400 – 2700 km, and 1,2 – 2,2 million hectares will be added to the flooded areas. Oil fields at northern and northeast coast of the Caspian Sea are exposed to the greatest danger of flooding (from 43 under the threat of flooding oil fields 32 are in Atyrau and 11 - in Mangistau regions). The Caspian Sea is the world's largest habitat of sturgeon fish. Therefore the problem of the Caspian Sea is not only interstate, but also a global problem. Preservation of Caspian Sea biodiversity is a concern for the whole world community and for the five states that have a common coastal line on Caspian.

Another most urgent problem is the preservation of Aral Sea. Since 1960, the area of Aral Sea has been essentially reducing. Use of water for agricultural crops irrigation has led to reduction by more than 90 % of natural water inflow from Tien-Shan mountains. The sea area has decreased by 2,6 million hectares, the sea has lost 6% of its volume, the water level has decreased by 12 – 24 meters, the concentration of salts has doubled. Daily 200 tons of salt and sand are scattered by wind on distances of up to 300 km. Nowadays, the processes of desertification, salinization of soil, plant and animal life exhaustion, climate change still remain and sickness rate of the population is increasing. The environmental situation of the Aral region has led to impossibility of traditional directions of economic development and has caused a number of social problems.

Destroying the environment, any modern society destroys its own future. For prosperity of the future generations it is necessary to maintain ecological stability. Thorough control over the environmental situation, rationing and prevention of industrial emissions, working out and implementation of waste-free and resource-saving technologies are necessary for preservation of ecologically stable future.

With a purpose of maintenance of a stable development of Republic Kazakhstan following mechanisms have been developed:

- Financing of actions of environmental protection from the state budget, local budgets, means of nature managers, the international loans and grants and other sources;

- Organization of competition among projects about environmental protection and rational wildlife management with their possible further financing from means of state and local budgets;

- Realization of the «pollutant pays» rule, meaning that nature user bears responsibility for financing the actions for environmental protection and for indemnity of a possible ecological damage, otherwise he should refuse to carry out such activity;

- Application of rent payments principle at the taxation of interior users;

- Gradual refusal from fiscal payments for the issues of environmental protection within standards, with reduction of the list of substances, for emissions of which the payment is taken, with simultaneous increase of stimulating value of indemnity of damage for excess of the established standards, increase of rates of administrative penalties for infringement of the nature protection legislation;

- Ecological insurance of any damage to the environment, and also the organization of funds for financing of actions for the environment restoration during the elimination of the enterprises;

- Implementation of ecological taxes on manufacturing of ecologically dangerous production and/or services, with possibility of using the funds for realization of large nature protection programs;

- Inclusion of the overall cost of natural objects into economic indicators with consideration of their environmental maintenance functions, and also costs of nature protection (ecological) works (services);

- Forming and application of the tax and tariff policy stimulating reorientation of export from raw materials to products of deep processing;

- Creation and application of the system of taxes and the duties stimulating use of non-polluting technologies, the goods and services regardless of the producing country;

- Implementation of the system of trade by quotas (obligations) between nature users;

- Implementation of market mechanisms of wildlife management, including recycling and reprocessing of the industrial goods;

- Usage of the international financial and economic mechanisms in the field of environmental protection, provided by the international conventions and agreements;

- Developing stimulating measures for charitable activities in the field of wildlife management.

Thus, the system of delivery of permissions to environment pollution allows regulating environmental pollution by the industrial enterprises.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

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