NEWS AND EVENTS
August 26, 2013
Resolution of Senate on activity of Tajik enterprise TALCO
A resolution of the Senate of Oliy Majli sof Uzbekistan “On measures on neutralization of catastrophic impact to ecology and health of people from production activities of Tajik enterprise TALCO”
Material of deep study of growing negative impact of harmful emissions of TALCO to environment and health of population, presented to consideration of the lower and upper chambers of the Oliy Majlis by the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan and the institutions of civil society in the country, put forward on the agenda, as the most acute problem, the question of the immediate measures to neutralize these emissions.
Built in 1975 in Tursunzade, Tajikistan, the aluminium enterprise with out-dated production technology, inefficient purification system annually emits about 22,000-23,000 tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere, including more than 200 tonnes of hydrogen fluoride, which is the most dangerous and harmful pollutant to human health and environment. Currently, as a result of TALCO activities, the content of hydrogen fluoride in the air in the northern districts of Surkhandarya region exceeds the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) on average 1.8-2 times, and in the summer months – by 3.4 times.
A large proportion of these harmful substances carried with the air flow to environment, including the territory of Denau, Sariosiyo, Uzun and other regions of Uzbekistan, destroying the existing ecosystem of the region, formed during thousands of years, as well as causing irreparable damage to the health of about 1 million people, who live in the region.
The problem lies in the fact that population around the plant suffer from emissions from TALCO, which have a high content of fluorine compounds, toxic gases - carbon oxides, sulfur, hydrocarbons and other harmful substances, and primarily from chronic diseases of endocrine, skeletal and muscular system, upper respiratory tract, congenital anomalies and dental fluorosis, as well as cancer.
The growth of abnormal illness among children presents of particular concern.
Over the past five years in Sariasiya district numbers of stillbirths increased by 7.7 times. In Sariasiya district, some 42,000 people of 175,000 population are suffer from endocrine diseases, and about 100,000 persons of 150,000 people living in Uzun district suffer from various specific diseases. In general, in areas subject to transboundary impacts of emissions of the Tajik aluminium plant, the incidence of both children and adults in the frequency of pathological disorders is 3 times higher than the average for Surkhandarya region.
The huge scale damage is done to the economy, agriculture of the region.
Harmful emissions of the aluminum plant pollute air, soil, water resources. As a result, gardens are dying, productivity of vegetables, fruits and other crops is felling.
Over past 20 years, in Sariosiyo, Uzun and Denau districts, the yield of vegetable crops decreased by 27-46%, melons - by 24.4%, vineyards - by 37.8% and traditional for the region sericulture virtually disappeared.
The accumulation of fluoride in fruits and vegetables, other vegetation exceeds the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) by 11-19 times, in wheat - by 5-6.5 times. Irreversible physiological changes - loss of teeth, deformation of long bones, joint disease - occur in the body of animals, resulting in reduced herd cattle, sheep and cattle, reduced milk production, deteriorating the quality of meat and dairy products. Studies have revealed excess rate of fluoride in milk 9-13 times, in the meat - by 10.9%. All this poses a serious threat to human life or health.
According to estimates of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, total economic damage, caused by TALCO, only in last 5 years made up US$447.3 million. At the same time, it is impossible to determine the actual damage caused to the economy, human health and the environment of the region for almost the entire 40-year period of operation of the aluminum plant.
It should be noted that despite constant addresses of the Uzbek side, Tajikistan does not comply with the requirements of international legal instruments, including the Declaration on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 14, 1992), as well as international commitments undertaken within the framework of bilateral agreements.
Thus, the decision of the joint meeting of MPs Groups of the parliaments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from 1991 was not fulfilled. In line with the decision, it envisaged reduction of production capacity of the plant, including the suspension of 100 cells, implementation of other measures designed to “repurpose hotbed of ecological trouble into friendly production and save inhabitants of the two republics, representatives of nations, living in Surkhan and Hissar oases from environmental disaster”.
An Uzbek-Tajik inter-governmental agreement from 17 November 1994 “On cooperation in improving ecologic situation in zone of negative impact of Tajikistan Aluminum Plant” was not implemented as well.
Conclusion of the independent experts, international nature protection organizations that environmental situation in the region continues to deteriorate represents serious concern.
At the same time requirements on international community, international ecologic organizations, calling to adopt necessary measures to stop pollution of environment, worsening ecologic situation in the region, are fully ignored. A negative opinion on the environmental situation in relation to the devastating impact of trans-boundary emissions of TALCO on environment and human health of the northern districts of Surkhandarya were expressed by members of the Belgian Parliament, who considered the matter at its meeting, the deputies of the Latvian Parliament, experts United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the number of non-governmental environmental organizations in Europe and Asia.
Materials of the audits, carried out in 2012 under the auspices of the World Bank, indicates that the resources of the main production equipment of TALCO exhausted, there was a natural physical wear and tear, the modernization of primary capacities was not completed, thereby its safety and environmental friendliness were not ensured.
Despite numerous conclusion of international organizations and experts about the deteriorating environmental situation in the region, the materials submitted by the Tajik side at various levels, including in response to the appeal of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the leadership of the lower chamber of the Parliament of Tajikistan - Majlis Namoyandogon Majlisi Oli from 10 June 2013, is denying current ecologic situation and worsening trends on protection of public health.
At the same time, actual situation, as noted in materials of independent experts, as well as surveys conducted by credible institutions and Tajikistan’s Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Research Institute of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan, prove the worsening of the situation in the zone of impact of TALCO emission.
In particular, overall sickness rate of adult population of Tursunzoda district of Hissar Valley in Tajikistan, who passed examination, as well as prevalence of dental fluorosis in children depending on the degree of remoteness of the settlement from TALCO ranged from 46 to 16.1% in 2011. Congenital abnormalities among children in Tursunzoda region of Tajikistan are three times more compared to other areas.
It goes without saying that such attitude to such a large scale and growing problem, causing significant damage to the environment and human health both in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, cannot be considered as normal.
In order to reduce the harmful effects of industrial emissions of TALCO, a wide-scale work is implemented din Uzbekistan. Only in 2010-2012, a number of multi-district clinics and health care facilities that are equipped with the most modern medical equipment were commission in Denau, Sariasiya, Uzun and Altynsay districts of Surkhandarya Surkhandarya region, 54 rural health units were set up. Action Programme for Protection of Environment of Uzbekistan for 2013-2017, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, plays important role in solving these problems.
Expressing deep concern over growing scale of huge damage to human health and gene pool of people, who suffer from severe and chronic pathological diseases, irreversible changes in the ecological environment caused by industrial activity of TALCO, members of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan are considering urgently:
First, carry out all measures, within our control, on neutralization and mitigation of impact of TALCO’s emission to health of people and environment, rehabilitation of ecologic situation in the region within the territory of Uzbekistan and mobilize all organizational-legal norms, resources and opportunities to achieve this.
Second, attract attention of all interested international environmental organizations, UN agencies, parliaments, governments and international community to solving worsening environmental disaster in the area of operation of TALCO and adopt urgent action to re-specialize this harmful and dangerous to human health and environment production capacities.
Third, we believe that the way out of this situation should be and for sure will be found. Trans-boundary pollution can and should be resolved taking into account generally accepted principles and norms of international law and provisions of international legal instruments, relevant UN resolutions aimed at protecting health of population, and their right to a clean environment.
From early resolution of these issues, today depends life and health of hundreds of thousands of people of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, fate of future generations, who will live and work in this region.
This resolution enters into force from the day of its adoption.
Chairperson of the Senate of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ilgizar Sobirov
22 August 2013