Azat Bikmurzin: “All enterprises should be as open as possible”

Preliminary results of the investigation of the causes of burst releases in Nizhnekamsk have been announced

The first results of the checking connected with burst releases in the city have been announced in the city hall of Nizhnekamsk. The meeting chaired by the head of the city, Aydar Metshin, was attended by the leaders of large industrial enterprises, representatives of all environmental agencies and prosecutors. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya witnessed the “unprecedented”, as it was described by Metshin, openness of the petrochemists.

More than 400 complaints of foul-smelling odours

The inspection of hazardous production facilities of the largest enterprises of the Nizhnekamsk node — Nizhnekamskneftekhim, TANECO and TAIF-NK — began on 9 September, when in the night from 8 to 9 September, the residents felt a sharp unpleasant smell in the atmosphere.

The complaints began to come from all over the city. Calls were taken by environmentalists, specialists of Rospotrebnadzor and the Unified dispatching service 112. Dozens of reports of adverse environmental conditions appeared on social networks as well.

On the same evening of September 8, a working commission was formed urgently to investigate the incident with the participation of the prosecutor's office and all environmental agencies. At all enterprises of the petrochemical capital, specialists took samples of atmospheric air, chemically contaminated effluents and requested from the enterprises all documentation on technological processes management.

The results of the analyses taken in the city showed concentrations exceeding the MAC for ethylbenzene by 11 times and hydrogen sulphide by 2,9 times, formaldehyde — by 1,5. Nevertheless, while the special commission was engaged in search of a source of a fetid smell, exactly a week later, next Sunday at the same time — after 7 p.m., Nizhnekamsk was covered by the second wave of releases. This time in the air it has been recorded a noticeable exceedance of ethylbenzene concentration.

At a weekly meeting of leaders, Mayor of Nizhnekamsk Aydar Metshin reported that the check was in progress in relation to both cases, saying that for the city “it's too much”.

The evidence base is being prepared

At the recent regular meeting in the city hall, which brought together representatives of environmental agencies, prosecutor’s office and the leaders of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, TAIF-NK and TANECO, the first results of the investigation have been summed up. According to Deputy Prosecutor of the City Ruslan Minibayev, experienced experts of environmental structures of the republic, the equipped laboratories of Rosprirodnadzor from Ulyanovsk Oblast and Samara Oblast have been involved to identify the source of the releases.

“Environmental agencies continue sampling industrial emissions. A detailed analysis of the requested documents is underway. The evidence base on the identified violations is being prepared,” said Ruslan Minibaev.

The prosecutor didn't name the culprit of the emissions.

Aydar Metshin again spoke about that only the interaction of all structures can objectively identify the offender. The environmental issue for the residents of Nizhnekamsk has clearly become one of the priorities in recent years — the indignation of the residents against the authorities of the city is not hidden, the people's control is overwhelmed with complaints of all kinds.

The floor was then taken by Director General of TAIF-NK PSC Rushan Shamgunov. He told about the results of the internal audit at the enterprise. According to the inspection, no violations have been revealed, and therefore there is no involvement in the releases.

Unexpected statement

Azat Bikmurzin, the director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, has turned out to be talkier. He noted that the problems of environmental safety at the enterprise are in the first place. The company strives to be as open and direct as possible in this matter, to make contact with all environmental structures.

“We promptly responded on September 8. Our experts were a part of the working commission. We believe there are two causes of the releases. The first — harmful substances were released into the air during the preparation of equipment for the overhaul in related facilities, the second — contaminated reservoir, which connects the industrial hub with the biological treatment plant (BOS). But I would like to notice that no exceedance has been recorded at the treatment facilities. We have nothing to do with this incident,” Bikmurzin added.

With regard to the September 15, here the petrochemists have partially admitted guilt. This evening, according to Bikmurzin, a special commission was also urgently formed, which included plant managers, environmentalists. According to the results of its investigation, the chemists found that bottom water was discharged into a chemically contaminated sewer at the plant.

“I have made a serious conclusion. A set of measures will be carried out following the results of the investigation. The order on the punishment of the culprits has been signed. I urge all managers of related enterprises to be open, otherwise, we will not achieve anything. It is necessary to make sure that people on the ground do not hide information about violations but exclude them and warn about possible consequences,” the head of Nizhnekamskneftekhim stressed.

“We are a high-tech enterprise, and the issues of industrial safety, labour protection, environment conservation should be in the first place for us. We need to take a different turn on these issues today, and I encourage all of my colleagues to do so. We should change the thinking of our employees, so that people on the ground work so that they do not conceal anything! We will continue to take this careful approach. We have decided to be open, direct in all matters and to contact any authorities in order to minimize the negative impact on our city. After all, we all live here, our families and children live here. And in this direction we should work together, then we will have a good result,” Azat Bikmurzin added. He noted that he would defend this position as a deputy of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, which is part of the committee on ecology.

Along with this, the industrialists noted that in the conditions of the constant development of Nizhnekamsk, its industrial potential, the emergence of new enterprises, it is necessary to pay attention to environmental structures and their activities. There are today questions on a number of enterprises located at the station Alan, a number of objects on the BSI. All enterprises should be jointly and solidary responsible for the environmental well-being of the territory of Nizhnekamsk.

Bikmurzin's words caused surprise and respect in all present. Aydar Metshin could not restrain himself and called the performance of the head of Nizhnekamskneftekhim unprecedented.

The mayor of Nizhnekamsk thanked the head of the city-forming enterprise of Nizhnekamsk for his personal principled position and openness in this matter. “We have not had such statements before, this is the position of a state man, and these are not big words. Now, indeed, it is important to find out all the details of what has happened and to take all comprehensive measures so that more such cases do not occur, they must be excluded. The position of Azat Bikmurzin, his attitude to this issue, his openness should be an example to all other leaders to environmental issues and in relation to the city and its inhabitants. Only with such a personal attitude from each of us, it depends how much we move forward in this matter,” said Aydar Metshin.

The last speaker was Chairman of the Public Council of Nizhnekamsk Khamza Bagmanov:

“Azat Bikmurzin's statement gives hope that the issues related to the environmental situation will not be as acute as they are now. Indeed, every enterprise needs to be as open as possible.”

Director General of TANECO Ilshat Salakhov at the meeting on environmental issues remained silent. His opinion, as well as the results of their internal investigation, have not been announced despite the fact that the prosecutor's investigation is now underway in relation to three enterprises: Nizhnekamskneftekhim, TANECO and TAIF-NK.

Nevertheless, the search for those responsible for the releases of September 8 continues. Aydar Metshin promised to announce them in the near future, after the full completion of the audit. The mayor assesses the meeting and those steps which have been taken recently as a new stage in the agenda on the ecology of Nizhnekamsk.

By Lilia Yegorova. Photo: