Photograph by Gerd Ludwig
The Broken Empire
Baku, Azerbaijan. 1993
With forests of oil rigs in their back yard the children of suburban Baku have learned to use the vicious pools of runoff from dilapidated and leaky pumps as substitutes for missing playgrounds.
RealAudio: Digging for kerosene

Siauliai, a small town of about 80,000 people in the center of Lithuania, was the site for the largest Soviet air base in all of Europe. The last Soviet military personnel left in 1993, leaving behind environmental damages which would cost up to $250 million to clean up. The largest threat to the environment comes from kerosene tanks leaking their contents into the underground water system for years. 

Photograph by Gerd Ludwig
It is that much kerosene that people have started to dig wells and ditches into ground and collect about 600 liters of kerosene  per day in total. The "kerosene-exploration" has become a commercial venture. Students or pensioners are employed to work in shifts around the clock, and a certain percentage of the profit goes to the local mafia. A teacher said that 2 days of collecting kerosene equals his monthly salary.
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