Azerbaijan - Environment
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Azerbaijan - Gobustan / Qobustan / Kobustan:  oil derrick - petroleum industry - poluted land - photo by N.MahmudovaLocal scientists consider the Apsheron Peninsula and the Caspian Sea to be the ecologically most devastated area in the world because of severe air, water, and soil pollution, soil pollution results from the use of DDT as a pesticide and also from toxic defoliants used in the production of cotton.

The policy of the former Soviet Union  was aimed at intensive exploitation of natural resources. All the spheres of economy and industry developed  at the cost of  intensified consumption of raw materials. In doing this, the problems of resources and energy-supply were not paid proper attention. Less than half of the republic's cities have water treatment systems.The state of water supply and sewerage system is generally quite unsatisfactory. The environment in Sumgayit is particularly serious  because intensive expansion of chemical enterprises has been done without corresponding levels of environmental protection.

Transition to market economy must exert a positive influence, as a whole, on the efficiency of exploitation of resources, as well as on the state of environment. But in the very period of transition the ecological situation is becoming even more aggravated.

Oil Rocks complexAmong the factors polluting the environment in the republic must be mentioned the worn out equipment and obsolete technology, discarded oil industry equipment scattered throughout the Apsheron Peninsula, continuing to pollute the environment and deforming the landscape. Very critical is the problem of recultivation of land polluted with oil.

Unfortunately, solutions to ecological problems are being carried out under the present circumstances of an economic crisis and acute budget shortages. It is evident that the necessary financing to resolve ecological problems is not available.
Great portions of land in the western part of the country have been affected by the war with Armenia.
Air quality in Azerbaijan is not very bad. The cities of Baku and Sumgait are the exceptions, where the level of pollution of air in industrial zones is higher than in dwelling ones. Obsolete methods and technology are being used in water supply and sewerage system, water treatment is in effective.

Chemical plant in SumgaitThe largest rivers in the republic Kur and Araz are extremely polluted by industrial and domestic wastes from neighbouring Georgia and Armenia. Application of intensive methods of land  cultivation, with excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides during the Soviet period has resulted in serious pollution of soil and subsoil waters. There has been a tendency towards swamping and erosion of soil in large areas of the land.

More than half of the large rivers are heavily polluted. All the lakes of republic's lowlands are affected by thermal, biological and chemical changes. Lakes of the Absheron Peninsula and Kur-Araz lowland are in critical state.

During the last few years the level of the Caspian sea has raised significantly. The entire coast of Azerbaijan. is flooded along its whole length. The depth of the maximal flooding is 25 to 35 km. All the towns, settlements and economic-facilities situated in this region need engineering protection, or relocation from their current sites.

Driving on the Caspian (photo by M.Torres / agreements relating to the environment:
-party to: Climate Change, Ozone Layer Protection
-signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity

State ecology Commitee of Azerbaijan: 37 Istiglaliyat st, Baku 370001, tel. 924173, fax 925907.
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