HAVANA, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- The illegal extraction of sand for industry from the natural barrier that separates the sea from the Toa River, Cuba's biggest, threatens the ecosystem in the area of the eastern city of Baracoa.
A permit to remove 1,000 cubic meters of sand from the site per year expired in May 2006, but the activity continues clandestinely, "often using trucks and equipment from state agencies," reported the government-run newspaper Granma on Oct. 30.
Tomás Rivera Amarán, director of the Environmental Inspection and Control Center, confirmed for Tierramérica that environmental legislation prohibits further removal of sand until a new study certifies that it would not harm the ecosystem.
The local government can enforce the law and propose more rigorous environmental standards, he added.
Threatened Fauna on New Currency
CARACAS, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- The bills for two, five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 bolívares fuertes, Venezuela's currency, will debut in January to replace the existing bolívar, and on their reverse side will show native animal species that are in danger of extinction, confirmed the Central Bank.
The bills for two, five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 bolívares fuertes, Venezuela's currency, will debut in January to replace the existing bolívar, and on their reverse side will show native animal species that are in danger of extinction, confirmed the Central Bank.
Court Says OK to Building in Nature Reserve
TEGUCIGALPA, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice upheld the construction of housing in the area of La Tigra National Park, a preserve that serves as the capital's environmental lungs.
With more than one million inhabitants, Tegucigalpa also gets its water from this mountainous reserve, where several watersheds converge.
The decision "is a blow for the environment, because the fragility of the capital will be overexposed," Dolores Valenzuela, of the Honduran Association of Environmental Journalists, told Tierramérica.
"The Mountain Chalet" project was approved four years ago, but when the new government came to power two years ago, the Environment Secretariat expressed its opposition, alleging that the permit had not followed the environmental legal procedures. It appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Oct. 30 gave the green light to construction despite protests from environmentalists.
Labor Risks on Salmon Farms Denounced
SANTIAGO, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- Environmental and workers' organizations have criticized the labor conditions of the salmon farms and processing plants during the "Global Week of Action" of the Pure Salmon Campaign, celebrated Oct. 29-Nov. 2 in seven countries, including Chile.
"We are trying to raise public awareness in Chile about three of the industry's characteristics: the high accident rate, the great number of diver deaths (one per month), and what is known as the conversion rate (eight kilograms of other fish needed to produce one kg of salmon)," Flavia Liberona, head of the Terram Foundation, told Tierramérica.
According to the Chilean Safety Association, the proportion of labor accidents in the salmon industry is 10.62 percent, higher than the average of all sectors affiliated with the association, which is 6.6 percent.
Electric Cars Hit the Streets
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- Several Brazilian companies are testing the Palio Elétrico car, a battery-run version from the Italian manufacturer Fiat.
In Brazil, Fiat is a pioneer "not only in technology", but also in working alongside the transit authorities "to test and note problems in the legislation and in the tax system," Antonio Nunes, president of the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association, told Tierramérica.
The Palio Elétrico is the product of a partnership between Fiat, the Itaipú hydroelectric dam, other electricity companies, and technology centers in Brazil, Paraguay and Switzerland. The car can run 120 kilometers with a 100-kilo battery, and reaches 110 km/hour.
These and other innovations in trucks, buses and motorcycles were the subject of the 5th Electric Vehicle Seminar and Show, held Oct. 25-26 in Rio de Janeiro. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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