Baku, Azerbaijan The second round of public consultations on the proposed project “Development of SOCAR’s Environmental Strategy And Large Scale Oil Polluted Land Cleanup Project” was held at the International Press Center on February 8, 2008.:
The purpose of such measure was to inform various government and non-government institutions and the general public about the key contents of the project design, the preparatory steps currently being carried out and the documents prepared for the implementation of the project.
Development of SOCAR’s Environmental Strategy And Large Scale Oil Polluted Land Cleanup Project – by the State Oil company (SOCAR).
Mr. Anar Quseynov, head of foreign relations division of Ecological Department, opened the meeting and welcomed the guests. Then floor was given to Mr. Jabrail Jabrailov, deputy chief (head of special work task of the project) to describe the project and the goals of the project. Having welcomed the participants, J. Jabrailov mentioned that, foundation of Ecological Department in the structure of SOCAR was related to the execution of Presidential Decree calling for the implementation of a “Comprehensive Action Plan on Improvement of Environmental Situation in Azerbaijan for 2006-2010”. He noted that, Ecological Department carries out supervision on environmental impact processes during recovery and transportation of oil besides rehabilitation of oil-polluted lands. J.Jabrailov gave information about project and spoke about works carried out for the project. He noted that, “HPC” Company of Germany and local “IQLIM” Company were involved for the implementation of the project and informed the audience that, oil-polluted lands at Bibi-Heybat, Qala and Buzovna-Mashtaga were considered for the clean-up.
Then Hanspeter Tomschi, representative of German “HPC” Company rendering technical consultancy services in the project thanked for the invitation and spoke about works undertaken. Having informed the audience that, “HPC” Company is involved in environmental activity for more than 60 years, he briefly described HPC’s scope of work: to provide consultancy services to SOCAR for the preparation of a feasibility study, an operational plan and corresponding tender documents related to procurement of equipment. By mentioning the advantages of mechanical treatment for oil-polluted soils in Absheron Peninsula, Mr. Tomschi emphasized that, this method minimizes waste generation, is flexible, quick, and economic recovery of oil is possible. He noticed that, for this purpose it is feasible to install stationary unit with the capacity of 600 m3/day for Bibi-Heybat and 6 mobile installations each with the capacity of 150 m3/day for Qala and Buzovna-Mashtaga areas.
Mirzakhan Mansimov, the representative of “IQLIM” Company involved in the project for the preparation of Environmental Management Plan and Environmental Management Frame, mentioned that the requirements of the World Bank and the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic were taken into account and were coordinated while preparing the documents. He noticed that, the management of wastes, noise, fire cases, emergency situations and the safety was taken into consideration for the assessment of environmental impact of equipments to be installed at sites. M. Mansimov mentioned that, the project to be carried out in environmental field is the largest project in the region and the SOCAR’s this experience may be used as an example for other countries in the future. He also presented the results of an environmental impact assessment, indicarting that potential negative impacts of the project will be temporary, manageable and mitigable, and the draft EMP prepared for project implementation.
After presentations of consultants, a “Questions and Answers” session was held. Besides, comments and suggestions of representatives of various organizations were heard. The following questions were raised and answers given:
Comment 1: Figures used in the reports should be determined more precisely, especially the maps were criticized for their small scale.
Q: Vezir Ahmedov, National Academy of Sciences (NAS): Have you ever observed such contaminations anywhere else in the World?
A: Hanspeter Tomschi (HPC-consultant): Yes, we have seen such contaminations in Texas (U.S.), Kuwait (after military operations), Cameroon and Syria.
Q: (NAS): Don’t you think that, you make a risk with this project?
A: J.Jabrailov, SOCAR: That’s why we have prepared Feasibility Study for the preparation to the implementation of the project.
Q: What kind of data has been used for the preparation of Environmental Management Plan? (why are no references included in the documentation?)
A: M. Mansimov (IQLIM-Consultant): Data of Ecological Monitoring Department (SOCAR Ecological Department), also maps of the Institute of Soil Science and Mapping (NAS) were used. I observed the sites during site visits. We widely used analyses of samples taken from sites.
Q&C: Fagan Aliyev, International Eco-energy Academy: Why do we need credit? (the necessity of WB support was strongly questioned and the last cleanup project - UEIP - criticized as ineffective and “a waste of money”. It was pointed out that the works started by SOCAR in environmental area should be appreciated as they apparently are well-done.
Q: Vezir Ahmedov: Institute of soil science and Agrochemistry: Which soil cleanup standards will be used? After which time period after soil washing can materials be re-used / re-installed?
A: Mr. Tomschi explained that the intention is to use international risk based cleanup standards for the project and adapt them to specific Azeri conditions. The cleaned soils are immediately re-usable.
Q: Why local specialists were not involved?
A: M. Mansimov: Selection of consultants was done after careful consuderations including WB and SOCAR specialists and a blend of international and domestic expertise determined as the best approach.
A: In this context J. Jabrailov pointed out that IQLIM is a local consulting company.
C: R. Mammadov, National Academy of Sciences: Works done by SOCAR are evaluated positive. However, he does not believe in the figures on areas to be cleaned up and asks for scientifically sound clarifications. He expressed doubt that it is in principle possible to clean up Bibi Heybat and generally criticizes the use of international Consultants.
C. J. Jabrailov: As SOCAR is developing and advancing the cleanup projects it is also collecting and processing more and more data on contamination distribution and soil/water parameters. The development of more and more accurate maps is part of this effort.
C: Fuad Hajizade, National Aerospace Agency: Agree with R.Mammadov, congratulations to SOCAR, but it would be better if more local specialists are attracted to the project. He pointed out that local specialists and their knowledge / information can be very helpful, e.g. satellite data from his institution.
C: Suggestions from Arif Islamzade, Sumgait Eco-Rehabilitation Center: