Analysis of State Enviromental Policy in Kazakhstan Compared to EU
Jean-Louis Teurlai, Team Leader, Project Support to the Oil and Gas Production and Transportation Sector of the Republic of Kazakhstan, answers the questions by our magazine.
Please, indicate the main difference between European Union and Kazakhstan in terms of Environmental and Industrial Safety legislation?
The present ecological legislation of the RK is based on control of maximum permissible concentrations (MPC) of polluting substances in the concerned medium, whereas European legislation is oriented towards control of emissions of polluting substances or greenhouse gases at source. In practice, the RK follows more or less a similar path to European countries, since the control of concentrations is difficult to implement.
Another difference is that the RK relies more on State control of polluting industries, through licensing and monitoring, with a system of fines to ensure enforcement. European countries rely on industry to monitor and control its own emissions, within the framework of agreements between the State and industries. Enforcement usually relies on the judiciary system, and the main instrument of coercion is the threat of plant closure.There is little difference of principle between the approach of the RK to industrial safety and that practised in Europe. The main difference is the absence in the RK of a classification of levels of risks of industrial facilities. In European countries, there is a tendency to focus State control on the most hazardous facilities (through the Seveso Directive, for example) and to simplify the process for less hazardous facilities.
The main difference is in the practical implementation. European countries have developed over the years a sophisticated system of certification of safety critical equipment and of audits of hazardous facilities by private bodies which relieves the State of the most routine supervision tasks and allows it to focus its efforts on the main hazardous facilities.
Kazakhstan, like European Union has signed and ratified series of international conventions on environmental protection, many of them has not been implemented in the Republic so far. Why?
The fact that many international conventions ratified by the RK are not fully implemented is not abnormal. Full implementation of these conventions takes time. Furthermore, it has to be admitted that implementation of some of these conventions is not a top priority for the RK.
International “law” is different in nature from national legislation. International conventions are only guidelines, and it is up to every signatory State to define the conditions of implementation, which have to take into account the local legislative framework and the local significance of the issues addressed by the convention considered.
HSE Management System. Is it required for Kazakhstan and for what?
Management systems are not “necessary”. They simply exist, whether or not documented in a single manual. Management always follows a system, the only new thing in “Management Systems” (Quality, Safety, Health, or integrated HSE Management Systems) is that they are described in writing to avoid significant drifts in time or across different parts of the organisation, and that they are systematised, which means in practice that their description follows a standardised pattern. This standard management model guarantees that all essential elements necessary for proper definition of policies and their implementation are in place, without omissions or duplication.
The question with HSE is whether it is necessary to integrate Health, Safety and Environmental issues into a single management system.
When considering non-accident aspects of health management or of environmental protection (for example, the control of atmospheric emissions), the need for integration is not obvious, and many organizations in Europe prefer to keep these aspects separate since they involve different management techniques and resolution of underlying technical issues is by necessity a specialised affair. It is clear, for example, that occupational health management draws heavily on medical expertise which is not necessarily useful in environmental management. And environmental protection techniques depend heavily on technologies available to clean industrial effluents or to introduce less polluting industrial processes.
When considering accidents, however, there is a need to shift the emphasis from protection and recovery which is a specialised field (for example, fire fighting, oil spill control) towards prevention which is a common goal of health, safety and environmental protection and is better managed under an integrated system.
In practice, the solution adopted by most companies is to use an Environmental Management System under ISO 14001, covering all environmental aspects, and an Occupational Health and Safety Management System, under the OHSAS 18001 specification, to cover all health aspects and accident prevention. The two systems are mutually compatible (headings of the outline of both systems are exactly the same) and easy to interface so that a complete HSE Management System can be constructed.
International Safety Code (ISC code). What advantages over Kazakstan system does it have? Why should Kazakhstan adhere to this code?
Shipping is an area where the RK has started with a blank slate and with a limited legacy from the former Soviet Union. There was no previous Kazakhstan system, in large part because there were no ships flying a Kazakhstan flag. Now plans are afoot to build and operate tankers and the ISM code appears to be the only way to manage safety in shipping consistently across the Caspian, no matter if the ships fly Azeri, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Iranian flags.
The RK has adopted the ISM code, and delegated its implementation to the Russian Maritime Register which has significant experience in this area.
It is worth noting that shipping is one of main threats to the ecology of the Caspian. It is therefore essential that international managements systems, such as the ISM code, be supplemented by more stringent provisions in safety critical areas. It should be borne in mind that international conventions are developed with open seas in mind and the consequences of an accident there may not be as catastrophic as they would be in the closed Caspian Sea.
Ecological risk assessment. Is it fulfilled by administrations or private companies? Is it necessary to have a license for a company, performing ecological expertise of the projects or ecological audit?
Ecological risk assessment is not distinct from risk assessment in general, since the risk, as a number, is defined as the product of the probability of an accident and the severity of its consequences. Consequences may be to people, to property or to the environment.
The State does not possess the resources nor the detailed information required to assess the ecological risk of industrial activities. So risk assessment must be performed by the enterprises which carry out the activity, possibly using specialised external consultants to carry out this task. Furthermore, risk assessment is not a static activity: it must be integrated into the day to day thinking of everyone involved in ecologically hazardous activities. So risk assessment should not be restricted to the State which should focus its attention on developing methodologies and validating assessments carried out by the assessors themselves.
Licensing of companies performing ecological expertise, or risk assessment, is not essential to the quality of the assessments. Licensing works best when recognising intrinsic qualities or skills. Even if a company has the necessary skills at one time, it can either lose them or simply fail to apply them for some reason. The best risk assessment is, therefore, carried out by the enterprise itself since it knows all details of the activity concerned. A licence is not necessary for this but it is essential that proper checks are in place to avoid lapses in risk assessment.
In Europe, audits are a key element of any environmental management system, be they “first party” audits by the companies themselves (often using external consultants), “second party” audits by interested entities (such as the State) or “third party” audits leading to certification under ISO 14001. Unlike risk assessment or ecological “expertise”, auditing is codified by international standards (such as ISO 19011) and is a “licensable” skill and the qualification of auditors is strictly controlled in the European Union (for example, by entities such as the International Register of Certified Auditors, IRCA)
Regulation of atmospheric emissions or water discharges. What role do the State and private business have in this process?
The best way to control atmospheric emissions and water discharges is to have every entity monitoring its own emissions and discharges and keeping appropriate records. The current system of the RK makes companies responsible in theory for air or water quality but is not applicable since there are many sources of pollution and it is not fair to make industrial plants accountable for the final quality of air or water when it is clearly beyond the control of the plant itself.
Do countries of European Union have the emissions trading scheme? At what level is it implemented (between enterprises, regions and etc.)
At the moment, emission trading schemes in Europe are very limited and are still, in the main, under discussion. They concern mainly greenhouse gases and would operate between enterprises within a given region.
Does the system of ecological payments for natural resources utilization exist in European countries?
Most European countries have avoided ecological payments as a means of controlling emissions and discharges. The idea is that philosophically it is wrong to issue a “permit to pollute.”
There are, however, administrative fees in most countries, which are usually relatively small, and some countries have specific schemes for payments. These payments generally go into special funds aimed at solving particular ecological problems. For example, Spain has one such scheme which is regional, with local authorities defining payment levels.
In which cases penalty and fines system applies in the EU?
Fines are not systematically used in Western Europe to sanction pollution in excess of the permissible limits. Under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control directive (IPPC), agreements are concluded between companies which are unable to meet emissions limits and the State. These set time frames for compliance with emission limits.
In case of abuse, the matter is usually taken to the courts and settled within the judicial system.
In case of accidental pollution, the damages are normally determined by the courts.
The Programme of the European Union Tacis has been implemented in Kazakhstan since 1991, total budget is 134.6 million EURO. In the frameworks of the Programme the project to support the oil and gas production and transportation sectors of the Republic of Kazakhstan was implemented. The objectives of the project were to improve the safety and environmental legislation and introduction of the international standards for the oil certification.