Caspian Sea Conflict Between Oil and Ecology
EarthVision Reports, 10 December 1998
ALMATY, December 10, 1998 - The Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran, has become a hotbed of conflict between oil companies who want to tap the untold riches lying below the tranquil waters and environmentalists, who want to protect its fragile ecology. Reuters reported that Kazakh officials have sided with the environmentalists, telling the oil companies that they will have to cooperate with proposed government programs to protect the environment. The article quotes Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev as saying he is urging all five countries surrounding the sea to agree on measures to regulate oil and metal exploration in the region. Reuters reported furthermore that some of the companies working in the region have already started to research the environmental side of their activities. Western scientists and doctors were also quoted in the article as saying an increase in incidences of diseases among the region's population reflects the already damaged natural balance. According to the article, the water is reportedly already contaminated by oil products and is used as drinking water by the population, causing high rates of intestinal infections.