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Russia to compensate Kazakhstan for environmental damage

Russia will pay 291.8 million tenge ($2.43 million) to Kazakhstan as compensation for damage to the environment, caused by the fall of the Proton M booster rocket in September 2007.

The announcement was made by Kazakhstan’s Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Valery Petrov said at a plenary session of the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament on Wednesday. Petrov reminded that initially Kazakhstan demanded from Russia 7.4 billion tenge ($61.6 million) compensation.  The Proton-M carrying a Japanese communications satellite was launched unsuccessfully from the Baikonur cosmodrome on September 6. It fell 40 kilometers from the town of Dzhezkazgan, Karaganda region, with 218 tons of highly toxic rocket fuel. Director of Russia’s Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov said, “the cause was an emergency separation of the rocket’s first and second stages because of damage to a control cable. Separation bolts did not work in time, which led to the emergency shutdown of the engine.” He said the Russian side “has elaborated a method to avert such malfunctions in the future,” Kazinform quotes Itar-Tass.

The carrier rocket with the Briz-M upper stage and Japanese communications satellite started from Baikonur at 02:43, Moscow time. The JCSAT-11 satellite was to be placed in orbit for providing communications and broadcasting services to users in the territory of Japan, the Pacific region and Hawaii. On September 13, the Emergency Situations Ministry of Kazakhstan reported that there was no toxic fuel heptyl in water samples taken from the area of the crash of Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket in the Karaganda region (in the center of Kazakhstan). According to a ministry official, “The joint Russian-Kazakh headquarters for the investigation of the accident of the Proton-M carrier rocket with Briz-M upper stage and Japanese satellite JCSAT-11 examined the results of analyses of water samples taken in rivers and reservoirs in the fall area.”

The analysis of water samples was carried out by the environmental monitoring laboratory of the NPO Mashinostroyeniya research and production association (Russia) and a laboratory of the state-run enterprise Infracos-Ecos (Kazakhstan). The Emergencies Ministry of Kazakhstan said earlier that the concentration of the toxic rocket fuel heptyl in the area of the fall of the second stage of the Russian Proton-M carrier rocket was 1.13-7.1 times exceeding the maximum permissible level. On September 11, the Kazakh side handed over to Russia for storage the wreckage of the Japanese satellite JCSAT-11 found at the site of the Proton-M carrier rocket fall, Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Viktor Khrapunov said at a meeting of the lower house of the Kazakh parliament.

A government commission formed to conduct the rocket accident investigation found 32 spots of fall of the carrier rocket fragments as a result of flyover of the crash area and 250 different samples have been taken at the site. No one in the area where the fragments of the Russian Proton-M carrier rocket crash have been found has so far made any health complaints, Khrapunov said. “Nineteen people who saw the rocket fall have been examined by Health Ministry specialists. But no one has made any health complaints,” he said. According to the minister, maximum permissible concentrations of heptyl have been exceeded in the area affected by the crash. In mid-October, the Kazakh Emergency Situations Ministry reported completion of the works to eliminate the consequences of the Proton-M booster rocket crash. (Kazinform)