MEXICO CITY, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- The Mexican government’s announcement of its plan to build one or two nuclear power plants has environmentalists opposed to atomic energy up in arms.
"This is terrible news. We already have one nuclear plant (Laguna Verde) and it is a hazard because its operation has been plagued with irregularities. Building more will only create more problems," Arturo Moreno, director of energy issues at Greenpeace-Mexico, told Tierramérica.
The Energy Secretariat said that the fate of the new reactors would be decided by Mexico's President-Elect Felipe Calderón, who takes office in December. However, he is expected to give the project a green light, because he has said it "is safe and environmentally friendly."
The Laguna Verde nuclear plant in the state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, produces approximately five percent of the country's electricity. Environmentalists call the facilities unsafe and badly managed, but the government says they are among the world's best.
Scavengers Export Scrap
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- By the end of the month, the Argentine ecological cooperative Reciclando Sueños (Recycling Dreams) will have sent another two shipments to Spain, each containing 25,000 kilograms of scrap iron.
The cooperative, made up of southern zone "cartoneros" (informal scrap collectors) and some of Buenos Aires's poorest residents, is a pioneer in exporting scrap for recycling.
In April the co-op sent its first shipment of 25 tons of scrap to the Interrecicla steel mill, which manufactures tools in the Spanish city Bilbao.
"They are very happy with the material we send. And very enthusiastic, because they prefer to buy from us than from a corporation," Valentín Herrera, president of the co-op, told Tierramérica.
The collectors receive approximately 130 dollars per exported ton, on which they have to pay a tax of almost 40 percent to the Argentine government.
Aluminum Can Recycling Record Remains Firm
RIO DE JANEIRO,, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- In 2005 Brazil recycled 96.2 percent of its used aluminum cans, making it the world's leader in this activity for the fifth year in a row, according to the Brazilian Aluminium Association (ABAL).
Japan followed with 91.7 percent, while the United States and the European Union trailed with can recycling levels of only 52 percent, said ABAL during an international seminar in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo.
"Organizing the market at all points of the chain in the early 1990s was key to Brazil's success," ABAL’s Recycling Coordinator, José Roberto Giosa, told Tierramérica.
The collection system also has a large social impact, providing a source of income for 520,000 informal collectors and street garbage vendors.
Conservation Planned for Yojoa Lake
TEGUCIGALPA, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- The Honduran government has launched a three-year program to preserve the biodiversity of the northern lake of Yojoa -- the country's largest.
The plan, announced Sept. 16, will channel 1.8 million dollars towards supporting productive and environmental-conservation microenterprises, project head Marlon Pineda told Tierramérica.
Yojoa Lake, 16.2 kilometers long and six km wide, is the only freshwater lake in Honduras. It is home to 802 plant species, and boasts a wide diversity of aquatic and land animals.
However, toxic-waste pollution has led to its deterioration over the last decade, spurring ecological organizations to declare a state of emergency for the zone.
Geothermal Wells Being Drilled in Protected Area
GUATEMALA CITY,, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- A Guatemalan company is drilling three geothermal wells in a protected reserve at the Pacaya Volcano, some 40 kilometers south of the capital, without authorization from the local municipality.
Geothermal wells operate like boilers, generating energy from steam.
Álvaro González, mayor of the southern town of San Vicente Pacaya, accused the Ortitlán company of having taken over land in the San Francisco de Sales village to start the project.
Furthermore, "the municipality did not issue them any permit; they say they have one only from the Ministry of Mines and Energy," González told Tierramérica.
The official said he has already filed a legal suit against the company. A few months ago residents blocked the company from bringing in its machinery; police and army support had to be called in to get the equipment through.
Tornado Destroys Thousands of Homes
BOGOTÁ,, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- After the tornado swept through the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla on Sep. 15 -- affecting some 1,200 families -- 61,250 sheets of asbestos will be needed to rebuild houses, local infrastructure secretary Nyry Logreira told Tierramérica.
The tornado wreaked havoc in 14 city neighborhoods and a 17-hectare ecological reserve and injured 30. Logreira said that, in order to speed up response, the central government has declared the city a "public disaster area."
The second rainy season begins this month in most of the country; the Environmental Studies Institute predicts rains will likely be light.
Flood Insurance Measured
SAO PAULO, Sep 25 (Tierramérica).- Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo have developed a method to estimate insurance costs for urban flooding, saying claims could eat up as much as 12 percent of the gross domestic product.
The new calculation technique combines data on rains, water flow and economic analyses of water basins to estimate the impact of these phenomena and optimize the management of resources invested in insurance.
"We are not out to compete with U.S. and European methodologies; we just want to establish excellent human resources in Brazil and the Americas, to adequately address the needs of society," Eduardo Mario Mendiondo, the study's coordinator, told Tierramérica.
The methodology has already been tested in an experimental urban watershed, and is currently being studied in similar basins in Sao Paulo and the northeast region of Brazil. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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