Pressreleases / Communiqués / Pressemitteilungen 
(all in original language, en langue originale, in Originalsprache):


  • 03.01.01 : Norway : Prime Minister announced the end of large-scale hydropower developments
  • 02.01.01 : Announcement of an international conference on the impact of reservoirs
    to the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • 01.01.01 : The text of the Water Framework Directive is online (in all languages).
  • 29.12.00 : Spain : The government mulls appeal of toxic spill ruling.
  • 28.12.00 : Spanish judge closes case in massive toxic spill
  • 17.12.00 : EU environment chief sees new mining waste rules
  • 17.12.00 : EU cyanide report an ace for court case - Hungary
  • 17.12.00 : The Potential Consequences for water of Climate Variability and Change
  • 15.12.00 : Disastrous Romanian Cyanide Spills Could Have Been Worse
  • 14.12.00 : Europe green energy certificates start test trading
  • 12.12.00 : Danube Lawsuit going back to The Hague for a 2nd round
  • 11.12.00 : Hidden Groundwater Pollution Problem Runs Deep
  • 11.12.00 : Three Gorges dam a time bomb, reports Asiaweek
  • 08.12.00 : Pentagon Report Vindicates Army Corps Whistleblower
  • 08.12.00 : Central Africa Unites To Protect Congo Basin
  • 03.12.00: USA: Dams harm wildlife on Missouri River, study says

    Older news

Text :

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 Tuesday.

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 participate.

For more information, contact Irene Thavarajah, Congress Manager : or visit the congress website

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

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 :

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 on Wednesday.
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.


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 :

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 :

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, Pacific Institute.
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:

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:

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," said Benner.
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," said Benner.
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.


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:

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 social problem."
For more information go to

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:

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:

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, they said.
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 Department probe.
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


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