Canal Environment and Social Impact Assessment completed
News from Nicaragua | Monday, 6 July 2015 |
On 31 May, the long awaited Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal Project was presented to the HKND by the ‘world’s leading sustainability consultancy,’ the British firm Environment Resource Management (ERM).
According to the Canal Commission, the 14 volume, 2.75 million word document will be made available to the public in July.
Prior to the ESIA hand over, ERM invited an independent panel of 15 environmental scientists and project experts to meet and review four chapters of the ESIA relating to the potential environmental and hydrological effects.
The review panel released a summary statement of their concerns and ERM in turn have published their response. See http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ERM-respnse-to-Nicaragua-Canal-International-Expert-Panel-Comment-Response_Master-5.13.2015_English.pdf
The overall conclusion of the Review Panel is that the 1.5 year timeframe is inadequate to assess a project of this magnitude. They claim that the report lacks sufficient supporting data on most environmental factors including climate change, mitigation works, sedimentation, nutrient cycling, contamination, water quality, damage to coastal habitats, effect on wildlife, reforestation, potential extinction of threatened species and affects on local populations.
ERM’s agrees with many of the concerns raised and states that “We have already acted on many of the Panel’s list of 15 main concerns by gathering additional data, updating our analysis, modifying our conclusions, and/or adopting their recommendations.”
They also acknowledged that “ERM has been previously quoted in the media as saying the ESIA schedule was aggressive. The lack of a final detailed Feasibility Study hampered our analysis. ERM recommends that several additional studies be completed to confirm key design assumptions before a final decision is made by the Government of Nicaragua”.