BY GULNAR ALIYEVA
Azeri Daily Editorial Office came into possession of photo and video footage of thick black smoke that is being thrown into the air by the purification plants of the Baku Oil Refinery. The footage was taken on the morning of November 7, but a similar picture has been observed around the clock for many years.
For many years, this plant remains the main source of air pollution in Baku. The activities of the Baku refinery are based on outdated technologies. For this reason, the company pollutes the air many times more than new oil refineries using the most modern technologies.
In fairness, we note that the Baku refinery is currently undergoing reconstruction work. SOCAR plans to spend two billion dollars to restructure the plant. It is expected that in connection with the restructuring works, the plant's activity will be suspended. However, it is still working and continues to pollute the atmosphere of the capital.
Head of the Organisation for the Protection of the Rights of Oil Workers Mirvari Gahramanli notes that from the very first day of the creation of this organisation, she has been monitoring the environmental impact of companies and enterprises in the oil and gas sector. The reports of the organisation indicate, which enterprises and for what amount were fined for environmental pollution. However, according to the human rights activist, the managers of these enterprises were never punished.
'Only in the last 5 years, BP has been fined for pollution in the amount of over 1 million 240 thousand manats, and SOCAR - half a million manats. SOCAR justifies itself by the fact that the equipment of the Baku refinery is outdated. In July of this year, after we distributed video on social networks, as the refinery once again painted the sky over Baku with black smoke, the Ministry of Ecology responded to this. Typically, emissions of harmful smoke occur from 4 to 6 in the morning. It is not known exactly what chemicals get into the air, but residents of nearby areas are suffocating from this smog,' says Mirvari Gahramanli.
According to her, 2-3 years ago, monitoring was conducted among the residents of the NZS settlement and other neighbourhoods near the plant, and in the body of many citizens, including young children, a strange virus was detected.
'Only in July of this year, the Ministry of Ecology has fined the plant 40,000 manats. In October, we again appealed to the ministry, and the enterprise was again fined. However, these penalties do not affect company managers. They probably don’t even know that their plant was fined. I believe that the Ministry of Health should also be concerned with this situation. After all, such emissions into the atmosphere are extremely dangerous for human health. Those who so barbarously pollute the air in Baku should be brought to criminal responsibility,' Miravari Gahramanli is convinced.
In connection with this problem, Azeri Daily appealed to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. The press-service of the ministry stated that they were aware of this problem, and at the present time the ministry staff are carrying out checks on this territory.
Recall that due to the failure of the technological process at the Baku oil refinery in some parts of Baku, there was a recent unpleasant smell and smoke. Because of such incidents, the Ministry of Ecology repeatedly fined the enterprise.
Only in May of this year, the plant was fined 20,000 manats as a legal entity, and the heads of workshops were fined 3,500 manats each as officials.
The last time the staff of the National Environmental Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Ecology conducted an inspection and monitoring on this territory was in September of this year.
Observations have shown that the Baku refinery’s plants installed at the site in Boyukshor spread the strongest odour. As a result of analyses carried out by specialists of the ministry, it turned out that ethylbenzene, orthoxylene, hydrogen sulphide and other chemicals are released into the air, the concentration of which in the air is much higher than normal.
The plant management was warned about this, and the company was given a mandatory notification of the need to eliminate this problem. But the plant continues to pollute the air of Baku.