Zhetibai Oil Pollution, Kazakhstan


For several years OJSC (Open Joint Stock Company) “Mangistaumunagigaz” has been dumping its’ oil slime and waste from oil extraction on the designated oil waste polygons. According to the local villagers of Zhetibai, the polygons are located dangerously close to their houses. The company has also been allegedly burning the oil waste-rich soil at night. Locals report that they have breathed for several years contaminated air full of oil grime that contains carcinogens and other related dangerous substances. They add that they also have suffered many illnesses, discomfort and headaches as the result of the polluted environment. Local NGO “ECO Mangistau” presented an official report that two of the five polygons that they checked were not adhering to the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Several severe breaches of dumping and safe utilization of oil waste have been detected, the absence of hydro isolation of temporary oil slime containers and uncontrolled air contamination among many others.

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Basic Data
NameZhetibai Oil Pollution, Kazakhstan
ProvinceMangistau Oblast'
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population12,000-25,000
Start Date01/03/2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesOJSC Mangistaumunaigaz from Kazakhstan
Relevant government actorsGovernor of the Mangistau Region, Alik Aidarbaev
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNGO "ECO Mangistau"
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Soil contamination
Potential: Genetic contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Otherlack of labour opportunities
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesECO Mangistau has fought to move the polygons to a different place, at a safe distance from the village
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The polygons are still there and no one has compensated the people and/or conducted a study to exactly assess the harmful impact of the company's activities.
Sources and Materials

Environmental Code of Kazhakstan


ECO Mangistau news report
[click to view]

Unemployment protests
[click to view]

Government Info about Zhetibai
[click to view]

Mangistau Governor Statement News Report
[click to view]

Article mentioning court ruling
[click to view]

News article reporting locals' protests
[click to view]

Media Links

Locals gathering for a dialogue with the local administration concerning unemployment
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorYevgeniya Yatsenko, MICLA McGill University
Last update03/09/2014