The village of Berezovka is located 5 kilometers away from Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate field, operated by Karachaganak Petroleum Operating (KPO), a joint venture between KazMunaiGaz, Eni, BG Group, Chevron Corporation, and Lukoil.
For several years now, the villagers along with a number of organizations ( for example Green Steppe) have struggled to obtain the right of villager’s relocation to “a safe and healthy location of their choosing based on the toxic exposure they suffer” as well as to get compensation for their suffering. In 2003, KPO appealed to the government, which resulted in reducing the sanitary protection zone from 5 km to 3 km, claiming that 5 km was for old Soviet-time technology, while for new technology used by KPO 3 km is adequate. KPO and the government have repeatedly claimed that no damage is being done to the environment, while independent studies launched by villagers and NGOs have produced opposite results, revealing numerous health problems including muscular-skeletal problems, headaches and memory loss, vision loss, and cardio-vascular problems . In relation to the quality of air and water, independently conducted monitorings  concluded that over twenty-five toxic substances were present in the air and the water was not of drinking quality. In response to the villagers’ and activists’ officially filed complaints, several legal proceedings have followed, including fines that thus far have totalled around 56 million dollars. In 2004, Western Kazakhstan Oblast environmental authority denied KPO an operating license based on the data of heavy polluted environment and improper storage of waste. In 2008, in response to an NGO’s access to information court appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that information concerning KPO’s environmental harm was to be made public and it was illegal to deny such knowledge to the residents . In April 2009, in response to a submitted lawsuit “On Government’s failure to act”, an Astana court ruled that according to the Aarhus Convention and Kazakhstani law, the reduction of the sanitary zone from 5 km to 3 km was illegal . However, the second complaint, that the government shall act and settle the issue of relocation and compensation, was not satisfied by the court. Later plaintiffs went on to appeal that decision in the Supreme Court. In 2010, it was decided that KPO was not responsible and the local administration had to relocate 2 families that reportedly were the only ones in the sanitary zone (other houses ‘made it’ outside the 5km radius). The problem persists until today where local administration does not have adequate funds to move villagers. At the end of 2013, KPO introduced new air quality monitoring technology that sends the information directly to the local weather forecast station, which in turn is publicly available through the Internet to demonstrate that they are no longer withholding information related to KPO's environmental impact.
Additionally, over the course of the years activists fighting on the side of Berezovka residents have been recursively targeted, according to the NGO Crude Accountability. Svetlana Anosova, a local villager and an activist, was reportedly pursued and harassed by Kazakhstani security police after having met with IFC (International Finance Corporation) representatives in Washington, DC. The meeting that produced no significant results .
On November 28, 2014, a mass poisoning of children ( around 25 children) occurred while they were at school. The children were hospitalized as many of them lost consciousness, fainted, felt lightheaded, and nauseated . On the evening before, on 27th November 2014, a large emission of poisonous gases was detected on the Karachaganak station , so a large commission consisting of regional ecology, health, and prosecutor's office were summoned to conduct an investigation and detect possible connection between the two events. But flares are important safety practices. They safely burn excess gases which are not used in the KPO processing plant. That is why KPO believes it is an error to assume that on this day there was a release, emission or leak of gas, including hydrogen sulphide, in excess of permitted levels.
While the cause of the incident remains unknown, KPO was actively participating in the Berezovka incident investigation and worked in close cooperation with WKO authorities as well as other relevant RoK authorities. KPO provided all relevant data including information from operational facilities and environmental monitoring stations to the investigating authorities.
On January 20th, a public consultation with the public was held where the findings of the report were presented. Parents reported on numerous statements by the local doctors that their kids were 'faking it' and expressed their distrust in the doctors who seemed to ignore the evidence . The regional health ministry report found that over 80% of kids and roughly 50% of the adult population of the total 1357 residents examined had serious pathologies. However, they were attributed to poor diet, obesity, and genes . Residents concluded that once again they would not be relocated and no conclusive link between the operations of the KPO and the mass poisoning of children and poor health of most of the population was established by the official commission . Damiano Ratti, an official from KPO, promised that 30$ million will be invested in social programs over the next two years in the region .
The authority said that the KPO doesn’t have responsibility on the poisoning of the children, but at the same time KPO wants expands his activity in the area, so to guarantee sanitary safety, the local population of Berezovka must be relocated to the cities Aksai or Uralsk.
Until now the children continue to have the same symptoms but only the Semashko clinic of Moscow has declared toxic encephalopathy.