Rainbow Caspian: the causes of deadly beauty

When viewing the Baku Bay from a bird's-eye view - while on an aircraft or viewing through quadcopter video cameras, an extensive iridescent film from oil-containing waste thrown into the sea is clearly visible on the surface of the water.  These are traces of oil sludge thrown into the sea - unusable products of the oil industry that, when they are not removed from the platform on time, oil workers throw into the sea due to absence of places on them.

The second reason for the pollution of the Caspian Sea is the illegal dumping of oily liquids from ships into the sea. Water transport is a source of pollution of the marine area of the Caspian Sea, since during its operation, fuel leakage and discharge of washing waters containing oil, petroleum products and synthetic surfactants into the sea are possible, - Kazakh scientist L.K.Berkelieva writes in a scientific work.


Pollutants entering the Caspian Sea interact with all elements of the marine ecosystem, deform the structure of the ecosystem and disrupt its functioning, increase the mutagenicity of water. The consequence of this process is, for example, diseases of the Caspian sturgeon, namely muscle stratification and weakening of the caviar shell, which became widespread in the 90s. The cause of this disease is the accumulation of pesticides in the body of fish, heavy metals - cumulative toxicosis.   Oil products entering the sea negatively affect the quality of caviar, larvae, and juvenile fish, and destroy the food supply. Only 1 ton of oil is capable of covering up to 12 square kilometers of the sea surface. Oil films on the water surface of seas and oceans can disrupt the exchange of energy, heat, moisture and gases between the atmosphere and the reservoir; they change physical and chemical processes: the temperature of the surface layer of water rises, gas exchange worsens, fish leaves or dies, but oil that has settled to the bottom for a long-time harms all living things. Oil pollution causes a severe blow to the biological balance of the sea: the spot does not let in the sun's rays, slows down the renewal of oxygen in the water and reduces biological productivity. Often, toxic components of oil cause the death of fish, seabirds, and negatively affect the taste of meat of marine animals," the scientist from Kazakhstan believes.

Azerbaijani ships, along with ships from other Caspian countries, make their detrimental contribution to the destruction of the Caspian ecosystem. Employees of the Department of Integrated Environmental Monitoring of the Caspian Sea of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan conduct annual monitoring on ships. The 2020 report  says that during an inspection of the BUE Caspian LTD treatment plants, it turned out that the treatment facilities on the Caspian Challenger, Caspian Voyager and Endeavour ships had failed, and wastewater, without treatment, was discharged into the sea. The content of harmful substances in wastewater is higher than normal.  BUE Caspian LTD has been warned that it must take serious measures as soon as possible to stop the discharge of wastewater into the Caspian Sea.

The Ministry of Ecology does not report on inspections on ships in subsequent years. A request from Turan to the press service of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources remained unanswered.

Mirvari Gahramanli, Chairman of the Organization for the Protection of the Rights of Oil Workers, sent a report of her public organization to Turan (nhmt-az.org ).  The report is illustrated by numerous photographs taken by offshore oil workers. The images show dirty oil-containing waste spills around and near offshore oil production facilities. The organization's reports on the annual and numerous facts of dumping industrial waste into the sea from all industrial facilities operating in the Caspian Sea.  When wastewater storage facilities overflow or malfunction, polluted waters are discharged into the sea, oil workers report, illustrating what was said in photographs posted on social networks.

There are no separate statistics on ships polluting the Caspian Sea in the Organization for the Protection of the Rights of Oil Workers.

M.Gahramanli's report mentions Sevil Yuzbasheva, chairman of the NGO "World of Ecology", who believes that mining enterprises hide cases of water, soil and air pollution, and fines issued by the Ministry of Ecology do not solve the problem of environmental protection. The Ministry of Ecology has no other effective tools for punishing environmental pollutants. And it is impossible to restore damage to nature with fines alone," Yuzbasheva points out.

Damage from pollution from ships is recognized at the State level. In February 2023, the responsible representatives of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan agreed to take measures to reduce pollution of the Caspian Sea by ships.

In November 2003, in Tehran, five Caspian littoral States signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea. The Convention has been ratified in Azerbaijan.

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