CENN Daily Digest – 03/26/2004

Table of Contents:
1. Become a Member of the `Caucasus Environment Society’
2. Toxic waste threatens Caspian Sea
3. Information and Training Center Opens at the Ministry of Agriculture
4. An Online Advice in Obtaining Funding for Forestry Related Projects
5. NGO Financial Management

Dear users of CENN services!

This is to inform you that due to necessity of financial sustainability
of CENN activities in the long run, we are introducing a number of
innovations in CENN services (Internet services and online products of
CENN – daily digests, bulletins` archive, full online versions of
magazines, GIS database of nature resources of the Caucasus region,
environmental legislation of the South Caucasus States in national
English and Russian languages, etc.) for different types of members to
set force from March 25, 2004.

Only the members of the `Caucasus Environment Society’ will enjoy the
full range of our services. They will receive free of charge our
magazine `Caucasus Environment’, get free legal and environmental
consultancy, free access to CENN databases, maps, resources, etc.

All membership fees support the CENN magazine’s mission of expanding
environmental knowledge on the Caucasus and are considered as charitable

contribution to the production of the regional magazine.

We welcome you to become a Member of the `Caucasus Environment Society’
by registering online:

Annual membership fee for Caucasus citizens/organizations $19, for
international members – $39. Shipment cost included.

For any questions or queries regarding membership and future usage of
online services:

Contact person: Catherine Nakashidze
Tel: +995 32 92 39 46
Fax: +995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]


Vast quantities of radioactive and toxic wastes stored not far from the
Caspian Sea threaten a nearby city and could infiltrate into the world’s

largest inland body of water, Kazakh scientists said.

The environmental deterioration in Kazakhstan’s Mangistau region began
in the 1960s when the Soviet Union started extracting and processing
uranium there. The ore was processed at a chemical hydro-metallurgical
plant located not far from Aktau, the administrative center of the
region. The Prikaspiiskii mining and chemical enterprise, as it was
called, also included sulfuric acid and nitrogen fertilizer plants.

A uranium tailings dump was created in the drain-free settling pool at
Koshkar-Ata, 3 miles north of Aktau and 4.5 miles east of the Caspian.
Since 1965, liquid radioactive, toxic and industrial wastes and
unpurified ordinary domestic drains have been discharged into the
42-yard deep Koshkar-Ata repository, which has an area of 52 square

“Koshkar-Ata is filled with brine, containing an extended quantity of
contaminants and heavy metals,” said Kairat Kuterbekov, the scientific
secretary of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s

Kuterbekov is the manager of the project called the “Overall Examination

of Ecological Situation at the Toxic Wastes Storage ‘Koshkar-Ata’ and
Development of Rehabilitation Actions.”

The brine at Koshkar-Ata contains up to 0.18 ounces of salts per a cubic

foot, Kuterbekov told United Press International.

The production process stopped in the early 1990s and Koshkar-Ata
started to dry up. So far, some 13.8 square miles have dried up,
creating toxic dust that is blown into the atmosphere.

In 1991, the International Commission on Radiological Protection issued
recommendations that included limiting radiation dosages to members of
the public to less than 0.1 rem per year.

A rem measures the amount of damage to human tissue from a dose of
ionizing radiation. Across most of Koshkar-Ata, the exposure dose, as
recorded by sensors, is 0.4 rems. In some of the area, the exposure is
1,500 micro-roentgens per hour –equivalent to 13.0 rems per year.

When the dump was active, in addition to liquid wastes, the Soviets
buried 115 million tons of solid wastes, including 57 million tons of
radioactive wastes, Kuterbekov said. The radiation exposure on those
plots of land — 5,000 micro-roentgens per hour — exceeds the limiting
dose by more than 400 times.

“The radioactive wastes are represented by a natural series of
uranium-238; the most toxic among them are uranium-235, radium-226 and
thorium-230,” Kuterbekov explained.

Uranium and its decay products, including thorium, radium and radon — a

radioactive gas — can be dangerous substances if not properly stored or

isolated. Yet local residents have been digging out the radioactive
metal trying to sell it to scrap dealers. The dealers refuse to buy it
because of its radioactivity, so the frustrated sellers discard it
anywhere, Kuterbekov said.

“A large quantity of heavy metals — copper, zinc, nickel — and
rare-earth elements have been found in the bottom sediment,” he added.

Heavy metals can damage living creatures at low concentrations and tend
to accumulate in the food chain.

Last year, the effects of the radioactive and toxic dust were not as
damaging to Aktau, a city with a population of 185,000 on the coast of
the Caspian. However, 2003 was atypical because of a relatively large
amount of precipitation and because the prevailing winds blew away from
the city, Kuterbekov said.

Underground water is another worry because there is the potential to
contaminate the Caspian, he said. About 17 square miles of the tailing
dump are still covered with water, and five countries surround the
Caspian — Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.

A specialist, who did not want to be identified, told UPI those
concentrations some elements — including iron, molybdenum, manganese,
cadmium, selenium, ammonium and fluorine — have been found to exceed
maximum permissible levels within 1.8 to 2.25 miles of the tailing dump
in the Caspian direction.

The repository represents “a huge and immediate threat to the Caspian
ecosystem,” Boris Golubov, a Russian scientist wrote in his article “The

Caspian: Receptacle for Radiation” published in the quarterly “Give &
Take” in 2001.

Moreover, “in addition to “man-made” sources of radiation, the Caspian
ecosystem collects and stores high levels of natural radioactive
nuclides,” Golubov wrote. “Caspian waters, bottom sediments, and living
organisms contain levels of uranium five to seven times higher than
those in other seas.”

“(The) situation of nuclear wastes in Kazakhstan is disastrous for the
local people and the Caspian Sea in general,” said Bahman Aghai Diba, a
consultant on international law for the World Resources Company in
McLean, Va.

The nuclear wastes are kept in substandard conditions and there is
possibility of infiltration into the sea, Aghai Diba told UPI.

Scientists intend to supply soil to the former bottom to stimulate plant

growth, Kuterbekov said, adding this way to solve the problem had been
chosen because of it was relatively cheap.
United Press International, March 25, 2004


On March 24, 2004 the Government of Armenia and the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) opened the Information and Training Center at

the Ministry of Agriculture and signed a Memorandum of Understanding
outlining the support that UNDP will provide for the “First Agro-Forum”
International Conference. Mr. Samvel Avetisyan, Deputy Minister of
Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia and Ms. Lise Grande, UN Resident
Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative presided over the event.

By supporting the Information and Training Center, UNDP is assisting the

Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen its capacity in information
management. Internet services will be provided at the Information
Center, helping the Ministry access the most up-to-date and important
information on agricultural issues from around the world, and training
will be conducted to ensure that Ministry staff has advanced information


In addition to supporting the establishment of the new Center, UNDP is
also supporting the country’s “First Agro-Forum” International
Conference, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture. The aim of this
important conference is to promote agricultural development in Armenia
by introducing the most progressive and innovative agricultural methods
from around the world. An official website is being developed for the
Conference and an information campaign will be conducted. The fourth
“AgroProdExpo” International Exhibition will be held at the same time as

the Conference. According to Ms. Grande: “The development of agriculture

in Armenia cannot be underestimated. A large part of the population
lives in rural communities and agriculture is the main source of income
for many Armenian families. By strengthening the capacities of the
Ministry of Agriculture and helping to promote agricultural development,

we are helping to reduce poverty and inequality in Armenia. We hope that

the Ministry staff will use this new Information Center to successfully
communicate with the general public, including the mass media.”

Mr. Avetisian noted: “Our cooperation with UNDP has a long history, and
we are grateful that resolution of the problems raised by the Ministry
is always supported by our counterpart. The Information Center, the
network and the website will promote the Ministry of Agriculture
worldwide, and we are confident that this will help us forge effective
partnerships with international and local organizations, bilateral
donors, foreign governments and private companies.”

The “First Agro-Forum” International Conference and the fourth
“AgroProdExpo” International Exhibition will be held in Yerevan on
October 28-29, 2004.
ArmenPress, March 24 2004


Dear Colleagues,

The National Forest Program Facility and the Collaborative Partnership
on Forests (CPF) have the pleasure to announce a new web-initiative
called: “Advice in obtaining funding for forestry related
projects” .

The new site with the database and the forums has been set-up to support

you in your search for funds for your forestry related projects
(forestry in general, sustainable forest management, forest
conservation, forest products, training and scholarships in forestry and

natural resources, etc.). The forums and the on-line moderator can help
you with your enquiries for specific funding, show you the website of
sources of funding, and increase your skills on how to apply for funds
more effectively. In return, you can contribute to the forums by posting

your information on available funding sources, ideas and experiences.

If you are interested in joining the forums please subscribe by clicking

the following link

The website to search for funds is available in 3 languages (English,
French and Spanish), but the forums themselves are for the time being
only operational in English language. French and Spanish messages to the

forums can be sent to the following e-mail address:
[email protected]


What is financial management? How can you measure the quality of
financial management in your organization? This week Alex Jacobs
describes the building blocks of good money management and provides a
method for measurement to help you.

Do you have any “lessons learned” to exchange with other aid workers?
E-mail [email protected] or join the discussions online at

This article is available online at:

Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN)

Tel: ++995 32 92 39 46
Fax: ++995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]