03.01.01 : Norway : Statkraft
frustrated as Norway PM says no more hydro
OSLO - Norway's state-owned utility Statkraft got
a surprise as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in his New Year's Eve
address said there would be no more large-scale hydropower developments
in Norway, Statkraft information chief Trond Rostad told Reuters on
The decision by Stoltenberg's minority Labour government
meant Statkraft's controversial construction of three hydropower stations
in Saltfjellet, northern Norway, had to be put to rest. "This
is frustrating. We have spent vast resources on this project,"
said Rostad, but declined to give a figure on the costs involved.
The three developments caused the government much politicial headache
last autumn, and Statkraft was ordered to halt works in September,
just after construction began, due to strong opposition among environmentalists
and opposition parties. "We have to conform to the government's
decision, but it is a very strong statement which affects not only
us but every other Norwegian power producer as well," Rostad
said. Norway produces virtually all of its electricity from hydropower,
amounting to around 115 terawatt hours (TWh) in a year of normal precipitation
levels. However, unusually high amounts of rain and snow has resulted
in abvove-normal production in the last couple of years, reaching
142 (TWh) in 2000. By comparison, the country consumes around 120
TWh per year. According to Rostad, Statkraft has been exploring other
forms of power generation for some time, and a case in point was Statkraft's
newly acquired consessions to build three wind farms with a total
production of 800 megawatts of electricity in western Norway. "But
with a growth in consumption of about one percent per year, one does
not have to be a mathematical genius to understand that these wind
power developments can only cover the deficit for a very short period
of time," Rostad said. Rostad said the high levels of power production
lately could have influenced the government's decision not to build
more large-scale hydropower stations in Norway. However, those opposed
to further hydropower developments seemed to have lost sight of the
fact that Norway would be a net importer of electricity in a year
of normal precipitation levels, said Rostad.
Story by Erik Brynhildsbakken
Source: Reuters News Service
02.01.01 : Announcement
of an international conference on the impact of reservoirs
to the emissions of greenhouse gases.
A conference called ""Reservoirs and Greenhouse
Gases" will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from 4th to 10th
February 2001. Leading scientists - including both proponents and
opponents of the hydropower issue - and climate change experts will
For more information, contact Irene Thavarajah, Congress
Manager : firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the congress
01.01.01 : The text of the
Water Framework Directive is online (in all languages).
The Water Framework Directive has been published the
22.12.2000 in the Official Journal of the European Communities. This
is now the final and official text, which you can download in all
languages under http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/oj/2000/l_32720001222en.html
29.12.00 : Spain : The government
mulls appeal of toxic spill ruling.
MADRID - The Spanish government said on Thursday it
may appeal a judge's ruling that cleared 25 people of criminal action
in Spain's worst environmental disaster, a massive toxic-waste spill
at a metals mine.
Environment Minister Jaume Matas told state television
the ruling threatened to set "a dangerous precedent of ecological
impunity." Environmental groups also slammed the ruling by Judge
Celia Belhadj-Ben Gomez, who on Wednesday found that none of the 25
people under investigation were guilty of a crime when a reservoir
gave way, spilling nearly seven million cubic metres of toxic material.
Poisonous sludge and contaminated water gushed into a river near the
Donana National Park, one of Europe's largest nature reserves. Greenpeace
branded the judge's decision as "unacceptable" and the World
Wildlife Fund said the ruling revealed the inability of legal systems
to mete out justice in environmental disasters.
For further information : http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=9396
28.12.00: Spanish judge closes
case in massive toxic spill
MADRID - A Spanish judge has closed an inquiry into
Spain's worst ever environmental disaster, after finding that 25 people
under investigation had no criminal responsibility, state radio said
A spokesman for the mining company involved, Boliden Apirsa, said
the ruling vindicated the firm. The firm, a unit of the Swedish-Canadian
group Boliden, had come under scrutiny after nearly seven million
cubic metres of toxic material from a mine near Seville seeped out
near the Donana National Park, one of Europe's largest nature reserves,
on April 25, 1998. Environmentalists and opposition leaders called
the ruling a "barbarity" and vowed not to let the case die.
The spill from a ruptured waste reservoir at the mine contaminated
a river with a thick and foul-smelling poison slick, damaging surrounding
farmland and killing thousands of fish and other wildlife. The ruling
to close the case came as a surprise to nearby farmers who had claimed
to be affected by the spill. According to state radio, the farmers
plan to appeal against the ruling. The Andalusia regional government
was also studying whether to bring a civil case, the radio said. Those
under investigation included 13 workers of the contractor that built
the reservoir, seven employees from Boliden Apirsa, two officials
of the Andalusia regional government and three from the Spanish mining
institute ITGE. "This will not stand," Francisco Garrido,
a spokesman for the Greens environmental party in Andalusia, told
state radio. "We are going to take legal action so that this
catastrophe does not go unpunished. "This is a third world example
that cannot be permitted in a European country," he said. The
Boliden Apirsa spokesman, Alejandro de Antonio, told the Spanish news
agency Europa Press that the judge reaffirmed what the company has
maintained all along: that it was innocent of wrongdoing. "A
few months ago we were considered a terror, but now a judge says we
are not guilty, and says so with a mountain of evidence," he
said. Boliden Apirsa applied for "suspension of payments"
bankruptcy proceedings in October, saying the mine had suffered continuous
losses since reopening in the second quarter of 1999.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
17.12.00 : EU environment
chief sees new mining waste rules
BRUSSELS - The head of European Union environment policy
said on Friday she was likely to propose stricter safety rules for
metals mines, based on a report on a major cyanide spill in Romania
earlier this year.
A task force was set up in March to suggest ways of
improving the rules covering European mining waste by drawing lessons
from the Baia Mare incident, which devastated long tracts of the Tisza
and Danube rivers with cyanide pollution.
The group's report, issued on Friday, made detailed
recommendations on rules for the construction and running of metal
mines. The Commission will take the task force's recommendations into
account in proposing a new law on waste management next year.
For further information : http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=9334
17.12.00 : EU cyanide report
an ace for court case - Hungary
BUDAPEST - An EU report on a cyanide spill into the
Danube and Tisza rivers is a good starting place for Hungary's legal
battle against a part owner of the plant held responsible, a Hungarian
official said on Saturday.
Hungarian government commissioner Janos Gonczy told
reporters that the EU-led report released on Friday would provide
a reference point for Hungary's 29.3 billion forints ($97.89 million)
case against an Australian mining firm over one of Europe's worst
river pollution accidents in January.
The Hungarian government is suing Esmeralda Exploration
Ltd for damages after 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-tainted water
overflowed the tailings dam at the Aurul project at Baia Mare, Romania,
poisoning fish and other water-life on the Tisza and Danube.
The rivers flow through Romania, Hungary and Serbia.
Hungary and Romania are negotiating membership of
the European Union, and bringing their environmental laws up to EU
standards is one of the most difficult and expensive tasks they face.
For more information : http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=9342
17.12.00 : The Potential
Consequences for water of Climate Variability and Change
A Report of the National Water Assessment Group for
the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Lead Author, Peter Gleick,
After more than two years of serious and sustained effort, the Water
Sector report of the National Assessment of the Impacts of Climate
Variability and Change is now available. This report evaluates the
potential consequences of climate change for the water resources and
systems of the United States. More than 40 new, peer-reviewed papers
were produced in the course of this work, and nearly 1000 more were
evaluated and summarized.
The report is available at: www.pacinst.org/naw.html
15.12.00 : Disastrous Romanian
Cyanide Spills Could Have Been Worse
Brussels, Belgium - January's Baia Mare mine cyanide
spill in northwestern Romania should serve as a wakeup call for regulators
and mining companies throughout Europe, the head of a European Union
task force set up to investigate the accident said today. (ENS)
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/dec2000/2000L-12-15-02.html
14.12.00 : Europe green energy
certificates start test trading
LONDON - Renewable energy certificates will start
trading at a European level on January 1, when a test phase involving
six countries will begin, said Jos Benner, head of the Renewable Energy
Certificates System (RECS) secretariat. "The test phase will
start on January 1st and will involve six countries, namely Denmark,
the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Greece and Italy," he told Reuters.
He said that companies in France and Belgium had expressed an interest
in the trading system and were likely to join at a later stage of
the testing. The RECS system, a voluntary initiative launched by energy
companies and organisations from various European countries, aims
to promote the use of renewable energy through European trading of
green certificates. Certificates can be bought or sold separately
from the electricity produced by renewable plants, to give value to
the environmental benefits of such plants.
The organisation aims to reach a traded volume of 100 gigawatt hours
by the end of the testing period which will last 18 months, with a
third of it traded internationally.
"That will be the success criteria for the test phase,"
One certificate will be issued for each 1,000 kilowatt hour or one
megawatt hour produced by a renewable plant.
National trading systems are already in place or being implemented
in the six countries which will take part in the initial testing.
But harmonisation of the different rules was required for successful
cross-border trading, Benner said.
Certification will be come from national issuing bodies in each of
the countries according to common rules adopted by RECS.
"That was a crucial point. We needed the same issuing rules in
each country to be able to trade internationally the certificates,"
A national team which includes generators, issuing bodies and traders
was set up in each of the participating countries to start the test
trading phase. Renewable power plants mainly include wind power, small
hydroelectric plants, solar power and biomass.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
12.12.00 : Danube Lawsuit
going back to The Hague for a 2nd round
On Monday (12/11/00) the lawyer of the Foundation
to Protect the Hungarian Environment (FPHE), Dr. Kristóf Szentmártony
(in the name of the independent member of the Hungarian Parliament
Sándor Cseh) petitioned the Constitutional Court of Hungary.
He asked the court to direct the Hungarian Government to return the
Gabcikovo-Danube lawsuit to the International Court of Justice in
The Hague for a second and final round.
Dr. Szentmártony argued that after 3 years
of fruitless negotiations with Slovakia, no more time should be wasted.
He stated that 400 unique species of this former inland sea delta
of the Pannon Sea are dying. He also noted that the level of the Danube
has dropped from 380 cm (12.5 ft) to 80 cm (2.6 ft), that willow trees
are growing in the dried out diver bed, that the fish are gone and
so is tourism. He has also pointed to the resulting human suffering
caused by dried out wells, homes with cracking walls, loss of jobs
and a 50% drop in agricultural production, all caused by the drop
in groundwater levels.
Contact : Béla Lipták, Editor of the Environmental Engineers'
Handbook, Stamford, CT, T: 203-357-7614
11.12.00 : Hidden Groundwater
Pollution Problem Runs Deep
Washington, DC, (ENS) - Toxic chemicals are contaminating
groundwater on every inhabited continent, endangering the world's
most valuable supplies of freshwater, reports a new study from the
Worldwatch Institute. This first global survey of groundwater pollution
shows that a toxic brew of pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers, industrial
chemicals, and heavy metals is fouling groundwater everywhere.
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/dec2000/2000L-12-11-06.html
11.12.00 : Three Gorges
dam a time bomb, reports Asiaweek
The Hong Kong-based Asiaweek reports that China's
Three Gorges dam is a time bomb with problems to match its colossal
girth, in a recent review of the troubled $25-billion project. Yet,
despite the dam's environmental and technical drawbacks, and that
it is a breeding ground for corruption and will displace 1.2 million
people, the project is a matter of political face for China, and nothing
will be allowed to stand in its way, Asiaweek concludes. China's normally
conservative Strategy and Management journal predicts the dam site
will become a hotbed for chaos throughout the first half of the 21st
century. Notes the journal, if resettlement problems continue to intensify,
"those not peacefully resettled could turn into an explosive
For more information go to http://www.probeinternational.org/pi/3g/
08.12.00 : Pentagon Report
Vindicates Army Corps Whistleblower
By Brian Hansen
WASHINGTON, DC, December 8, 2000 (ENS) - An internal Pentagon investigation
has confirmed a whistleblower's allegations that high ranking U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers officials manipulated data in order to justify
a series of costly and environmentally injurious public works projects
on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/dec2000/2000L-12-08-15.html
08.12.00 : Central Africa
Unites To Protect Congo Basin
Cameroon, December 8, 2000 (ENS) - The battle against
poaching and illegal logging in the Congo Basin received a significant
boost Thursday as three Central African nations agreed to share management
of a 28,000 square kilometer stretch of forest.
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens.lycos.com/ens/dec2000/2000L-12-08-12.html
03.12.00: USA: Dams harm
wildlife on Missouri River, study says
Fish and wildlife along the Missouri River, the nation's
second-longest waterway, could become extinct if dam operations are
not changed to release more water to aid animal habitats, the government
said on Thursday.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and US Army
Corps of Engineers concluded after a month-long assessment that dam
operations have disrupted water flow and could lead to the extinction
of several animals if not corrected. But the remedy to help wildlife
could adversely impact river navigation for about three weeks a year,
The agencies issued their findings with what they said were five "necessary
conservation actions" to protect the Missouri River and its wildlife.
The Corps of Engineers, which is better known for building projects
to help industry than preserving wildlife, is committed to protecting
the river's endangered fish and animals such as the pallid sturgeon,
said FWS spokeswoman Diane Katzenberger.
"It's just a matter of how we get there, how aspects of the plan
are implemented. This is a very new partnership," she said. Under
the proposal, water from the river's dams would be released each spring
to build sand bars and to improve spawning areas for fish. Selected
habitat areas also should be restored, the study said.
The study cautioned, however, that opening the dams could slightly
increase the risk of flooding farms near the river and may be "detrimental
to navigation" by barges and other craft.
The Corps is currently revising its Missouri River water control guide
used to determine when to release water from local dams. These are
the first reforms the agency has proposed to protect the river's species.
FWS officials said the Corps will use the reform proposals to design
a new operating plan for the river that will protect the wildlife.
The Corps is also asking for suggestions from shippers, grain handlers,
environmentalists, recreational boaters and other interested people.
The comments will be used to help draft a master plan to be submitted
to FWS in February.
The Corps has been criticized for sometimes exaggerating the need
for river projects. Some of the loudest criticisms raised were over
a $54 million study of the Mississippi River that proposed modernizing
the lock and dam system.
The study became the subject of congressional hearings and a Defense
The agency was cleared in September of any wrongdoing by a Senate
panel, which nonetheless found the Corps failed to adequately justify
the projected costs and environmental impacts of its projects.
The Missouri River reforms were applauded by green groups who say
changes to the Corps' policy in the region are long overdue.
"This opinion clearly lays out what needs to be changed on the
Missouri river to restore natural flow and avoid extinction,"
Chad Smith, a spokesman for American Rivers, said in a statement.
"The Corps has a clear window of opportunity to meet the modern
needs of the Missouri River basin. They must take that opportunity
for the good of the river," he said.
The Missouri River has also been a battleground between Congress and
the Clinton administration.
In September, congressional budget negotiators tried to block federal
agencies from restoring the natural seasonal flow of the Missouri
River. But the White House threatened to veto an annual spending bill
for energy and water programs unless a new river management plan was
prepared to protect wildlife.
Story by Christopher Doering
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE.