BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- Residents of the town of Bouwer, in the central Argentine province of Córdoba, are staging street protests against a temporary storage site for 12 tons of DDC (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) and other highly toxic pesticides.
Six months ago, FUNAM, an environmental defense foundation, filed a court claim against a storage facility for toxic substances of the National Service for Health and Food Quality in the capital of Córdoba.
This month the judiciary ruled that the service must remove the dangerous substances, and the agency decided to transfer them to a waste treatment plant in the neighboring province of Santa Fe. But the chemicals were refused, and the cargo was left in Bouwer, just 10 km from the Córdoba capital, as a temporary measure.
Raúl Montenegro, of FUNAM, told Tierramérica that the final destination of the pesticides should be France or Belgium, where there are facilities capable of neutralizing the toxins.
Amazon Deforestation on Decline
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- A sharp decline in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in June -- 95 percent in comparison with the same month in 2004 (plummeting from 10,017 to 531 square km) -- is raising hopes for success in fighting the phenomenon.
It is the result primarily of strong government measures, which since February have protected vast areas of the northern state of Pará, and in June dismantled a corruption network that had been driving illegal logging in the western state of Mato Grosso, says Carlos Souza, secretary of the Institute of Man and Environment in the Amazon.
He explained that the Institute used data from the Real Time Deforestation Monitoring System, which utilizes satellite images for "surgical inspection" of the forests, so the authorities can crack down on deforestation immediately.
Critics Target Inter-Ocean Highway
LIMA, (Tierramérica).- The construction of a highway that would connect Brazil's Atlantic coast with Peru's Pacific shores is coming under fire for its cost and environmental impacts.
The Peruvian government promised Brazil it would invest 1.5 billion dollars in building a 1,100-km highway to connect Brazil's road network to the Peruvian ports of Marcona, Matarani and Ilo.
But critics say it would hurt a 400-km stretch of Peru's tropical forests.
"This superhighway would benefit Brazil, but would do very little for our country, which would not only pay for its construction, but also for its serious environmental and social costs," said Peruvian Marc Dourojeanni, regional environmental advisor for the Inter-American Development Bank.
"As already occurred in Brazil, the highway would promote unregulated exploitation, deforestation and degradation of the forest, and would promote the exploitation and expulsion of indigenous communities," he added.
Congress to Debate Water Management
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The Colombian Congress will discuss in its sessions, begun July 20, the bill on Integrated Management of Hydric Resources, also known as the Water Law, which seeks to ensure distribution and supply of the essential liquid.
Deputy Environment Minister Carmen Arévalo told Tierramérica that the bill establishes planning for each watershed in order to improve water availability and quality, and sets standards for disposing of wastewater.
It also clarifies the scope of authority for research and use of underground water, designates responsibilities for urban drainage, strengthens the financial instruments for watershed management, and consolidates a reliable environmental information system to aid in decision making, she said.
According to a government study, just 28 percent of the population has potable water in the household (nine percent in rural areas), and 49 percent of the water Colombians drink does not meet the standards for consumption.
Hydroelectric Dam Looms Over Endangered Species
SAO PAULO, (Tierramérica).- The construction of the Barra Grande hydroelectric facility on the border of Brazil's Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states threatens two plant species that are on the verge of extinction, say environmental groups.
The dam is to be built in the valley of the Pelotas River, with a capacity to produce 708 megawatts, and would create a reservoir flooding 94 square km, which would include, say the activists, one of the last remaining forests of Parana pine (Araucaria angustifolia) in the country, and could destroy three of the last stands of Dyckia distachya, a bromeliad species native to the region, member of the pineapple family.
"The concession for (hydroelectric) operations in Barra Grande legitimizes what could be considered one of the greatest environmental crimes of the decade. Even more serious is that the situation has met with complete indifference on the part of the authorities who have the obligation to take care of the environment in this country," Miriam Prochnow, president of the environmental group Apremavi, told Tierramérica.
Despite the protests of environmental organizations and civil society, the Brazilian Institute of Environment granted the environmental permit on July 5 for work to begin on the project *Source: Inter Press Service.
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