From December 2001 through April 2002, a group of students from the biology department of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University conducted a survey of Almaty residents, with the goal of discovering their attitude toward the plans to import and bury foreign radioactive waste on the territory of Kazakhstan.

A total of 1010 persons were questioned, primarily young people between the ages of 15 and 27 (931 persons, or 92.2%).

1. What are the most severe problems facing the Republic of Kazkahstan?

А. Low standard of living – 241 persons (24%).

B. Corruption – 252 (25%).

C. Environmental situation – 265 (26%).

D. Unemployment – 252 (25%).

E. Other. Some respondents, after choosing one of the points above, named a number of other problems, including drug addiction, AIDS, the economic crisis, the unsatisfactory demographic situation, sex discrimination, violation of children’s rights, dealing with strategic military sites located in Kazakhstan, and the fact that the government fails to pay sufficient attention to the problems that worry the population of the republic.

2. Do Kazakhstan’s environmental problems worry you?

А. Yes – 952 (94%).

B. No – 58 (6%).

3. Which environmental problems, in your opinion, are the most important?

А. Industrial pollution – 286 (28%).

B. Household wastes – 240 (24%).

C. Desertification – 221 (22%).

D. Radioactive pollution – 263 (26%).

E. Other. The answers virtually duplicated the points above.

4. What do you think the danger of radioactive waste consists of?

А. Сause the greenhouse effect – 99 (9.8%).

B. Increase the cancer rate – 802 (79.4%).

C. Hard to say – 106 (10.5%).

D. Other: radioactive wastes aren’t dangerous; if properly handled, radioactive wastes pose almost no danger; background radiation increases only in the places were wastes are buried – 3 (0.3%).

Some respondents named a number of other problems, including the genetic effects of radiation and the threat to the life of all living things.

5. How do you feel about the possible import and burial of foreign radioactive waste on the territory of Kazakhstan?

А. For – 53 (5%).

B. Against – 899 (89%).

C. Hard to say – 58 (6%).

6. Argue the case for your point of view on the fifth question.

53 persons (5%) voted “for”:

Including the following:

А. It will enable the country to obtain funds to solve environmental problems – 18 (34%).

B. It will make it possible to pay compensation to the members of the population who suffered previously from environmental problems – 15 (29%).

C. It will help the development of the nuclear industry – 20 (37%).

D. Other. Answers virtually duplicated the points above.

This group of respondents named the most severe problems of Kazakhstan as follows:

– low standard of living – 14 (27%)

– corruption – 16 (30%)

– environmental situation – 10 (19%)

– unemployment – 13 (24%),

and the most important environmental problems:

– industrial pollution – 15 (28%)

– household wastes – 13 (25%)

– desertification – 13 (25%)

– radioactive pollution – 12 (22%).

899 persons (89%) voted “against”:

Including the following:

А. Economic inexpediency – 196 (22%).

B. Environmental danger – 369 (41%).

C. Violation of the human right to a healthy environment – 334 (37%).

D. Other. Some respondents, after choosing one of the points above, put forth a number of other arguments, including the following: it will damage our country’s international reputation; it will create a threat to the health of the population; due to the high level of corruption, the funds received will be misused; Kazakhstan lacks the necessary technology, and its specialists are not sufficiently prepared for such work.

58 persons (6%) responded “hard to say”:

Including the following:

А. Contradictory information – 15 (26%).

B. I have not determined my position – 32 (55%).

C. This is the first time I have heard about this problem – 11 (19%).
The survey organizers express their sincere gratitude to all who helped conduct the survey, as well as to the survey participants.

Material prepared for publication April 25, 2002; translated into English September 4, 2002.

Translated by Glenn Kempf