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Like most (previous) republics of the Soviet Union which experienced rapid development of all spheres of economics and human activity which has led to an increasingly negative impact on the environment, including the inefficient usage of natural resources. As can be seen in many other countries, Azerbaijan is interested in finding solutions to the problems regarding environmental protection and rational utilization of natural resources. In support of Azerbaijan's environmental protection goals, a number of important laws, legal documents and state programs, all of which conform to European law requirements, have been developed and approved in order to improve the ecological situation in the country. However, problems arose as these precautionary laws have not been as effective as they were meant to be. Transparency has been a consistent issue in Azerbaijan as NGO's who are given legal authority to collect data from the oil refineries are often blocked or dismissed, and their information comes unofficially. Domestic oil producers have often skimped out on the regulations, disregarding the oil leaks that plague the Caspian Sea. In the next 30 years, Azerbaijan will produce more oil than it produced during the last century. This means that there is little coordination and precaution with the excessive drilling for oil. Part of this is the lack of communication with its neighbors in the Caspian Sea.
The most severe pollutions are the following: dumped petroleum during the Soviet Period, discharge of sewage, depleted stocks of sturgeon, severe air pollution, and heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers. Many of the locals are constantly exposed to the contaminants, and they have accepted to live in it. Some even comment on the beauty of the ocean with the layer of oil that glisten on the top. Unfortunately, the smell and the ramifications of constant exposure to harmful vapors are a concern to the local health, particularly the coastline of Azerbaijan. The ramifications of petro-fueled industries are the following health concerns: harms to the pulmonary, digestive, circulatory, and immune systems. In the worst cases, genetic mutations can occur. Groundwater is also affected by the oil spills causing cancers and bacterial diseases like cholera and hepatitis.
The following are the principal ecological problems of Azerbaijan:
The government has focused on these issues and the judicial system has provided laws to safeguard local health. Foreign oil producers and refineries have been more consistent with these regulations, while not all the time, more so than the domestic oil companies. British Petroleum is one such company that attempts to clean the floors of the ocean by separating the contaminants with the rest of the natural setting. Still, locals are without much strength as the people cannot depend on the judicial system to be actionable as the country is still shedding its war-torn past.
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