September 1, 2008

Paper Raises Alarm Over Environmental Problem in Kazakh Capital Canal

Text of report by privately-owned Kazakh newspaper Vremya website on 20 August

Astana residents worry that the fish are dying out in the rivers of the capital [Astana]. "Live silver" fish float upside down in the canal linking the Nura and Ishim rivers. The canal's entire banks stretching to nearly 300 meters are covered with the carcasses of dead crucians, perches, roaches and gudgeons.

Local people found the fish not far from the traffic circle taking onto the international airport. The first assumption about poachers who stun fish with dynamite has not been approved - it was in its unusual death agony. A group of officials from the Astana Emergencies Department, the public health and epidemiological control department and the environmental protection directory went to the scene of the incident. Water samples were taken. But the results of the analysis will be known only after three-four days.

But what is curious is that neither the department of life support of the Almaty district administration [in Astana] nor the emergencies department nor the environmental protection directory could answer a simple question - from which river does canal water come? After all, if it is water from Nura, then it is expedient to block the canal. It is noteworthy that the Nura river has been on the list of contaminated rivers. The Pavlodar chemical plant's mercury waste, which has been thrown to the river since the Soviet times, has always been dangerous. Maybe, the city authorities should stop watering and swimming before the circumstances of the mass fish mortality is clarified. But state officials, who were available to speak to, do not show much concern and do not hurry to sound the alarm.

Originally published by Vremya website, Almaty, in Russian 20 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Central Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.