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 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The largest survey of environmental conditions ever conducted in the former Soviet Union by Western interests has been completed by Arthur D. Little, Inc., international consulting firm.
 Bernhard Metzger, Ph.D., Arthur D. Little's survey project manager, said a rapidly growing "green awareness" in the new Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) means they are beginning to demand comprehensive environmental studies and top-notch environmental performance by Western companies who eye their vast natural resources for possible acquisition and development.
 That trend is developing, he said, despite the fact that the C.I.S. states are relatively lenient in enforcing environmental regulations for their own companies.
 ADL consultants recently completed an environmental assessment of a giant gas field in the republic of Kazakhstan on behalf of a joint venture by British Gas (U.K.) and Agip (Italy), to help in their commercial decision whether to sign an agreement to explore and develop the 60-square mile field. The field, which has been operated by the Soviets since the early 80's contains large amounts of natural gas.
 As part of the study, the company gathered data on the environmental characteristics and socio-economic status of an area several hundred miles square around the gas field.
 Metzger said Russia, Kazakhstan, and other former republics want to attract Western investment to help them develop their natural resources and increase their people's wealth, but "they want to be protected."
 "There is a growing green awareness in the C.I.S. among watchful citizens, advocacy groups, and non-governmental agencies who want to improve current conditions and who have high expectations of Western industries," he said. "They know the West is sophisticated and wealthy and they expect the best, even though environmental enforcement of their own businesses has been less stringent."
 Metzger noted there are new environmental protection laws in the C.I.S. and a pending environmental impact assessment law which will have "widespread implications for oil companies and other industries wanting to do business there. Change is rapid, and any Western industry wanting to invest there should understand how seriously they are taking the environmental performance of outside developers."
 The ADL pre-acquisition study was undertaken to assess environmental damage to the area's soil, water, air, and surrounding villages from past and current field operations. A baseline reading of pollution can demonstrate potential problems before any business deal is finalized.
 The project involved half a dozen Russian, British, German, and Italian companies subcontracted by Arthur D. Little. Hundreds of soil and water samples were analyzed at a Moscow laboratory and a mobil laboratory flown in from the West. A Western mobil air monitoring laboratory was employed to monitor air quality. Satellite communications linking three continents was used to manage equipment deployment and staff logistics.
 Metzger said the environmental impact of the previous drilling operations was "much less serious than any of us had expected." However, there had been some serious episodic events of air pollution.
 And Metzger said they did find that many years of heavy agricultural use of surrounding land had taken its toll in environmental damage. That included heavy soil erosion, destruction of natural habitats, pesticide residue in the soil, and reduced biodiversity.
 Metzger warned representatives of interested Western industries that cultural idiosyncrasies, rapid changes in politics and regulations, and insensitivity to local customs and requirements on the part of some incoming developers can make success in the area difficult.
 He said this benchmark study showed that "if you do it right, you will find acceptance by the locals and backing of international financial organizations. They want your business.
 "But if you do it wrong -- if you fail to take into account local regulations, the movement toward more and more local control and local players in the game, the danger of appearing too know-it-all, and the hard environmental line they are making Westerners toe -- then you won't get your permit and you may never even understand why."
 Arthur D. Little, Inc., is an international consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. It specializes in three areas: environmental, health, and safety consulting; management consulting; and technology and product development.
 -0- 8/30/93
 /CONTACT: Diane Millikan of Arthur D. Little, 617-498-5896/

CO: Arthur D. Little ST: Massachusetts IN: SU: ENV

JL-CM -- NE008 -- 9228 08/30/93 14:33 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 30, 1993

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