Archive for February, 2011

Solyndra designs unique solar collector to diffuse greenhouse light and produce power

Solyndra designs unique solar collector to diffuse greenhouse light and produce power


Posted 27 February 2011, by Garima Goel,,

Solyndra, a 10-year old, California-based thin film company has helped in the research and development of thin film solar panels and solar collectors to meet the demand for cheaper solar technologies. The company has recently announced to develop an alternate use for its solar collector proficiency as shade for greenhouses.

The company’s solar collectors are designed with an array of thin film solar-cell covered glass tubes, thus allowing sufficient light to pass through. The plants in the greenhouses are therefore supplied with adequate light they require. Moreover, the solar collectors are a source of clean energy for the research centres and help to offset carbon gas emissions and cut reliance on the electric grid as the required electricity is generated by the solar panel itself. However, the conventional solar panels block all of the light falling on it.

Solyndra‘s solar collector technology is currently being tested in Italy and at the University of California, Davis, where researchers are working to check the performance of their solar panel system in agricultural research centres. The company also received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for their project.

“We are pioneering this new agricultural solar solution in Italy, where extensive shaded agriculture operations combined with strong insolation and a favourable feed-in tariff are driving strong interest and demand,”

said Clemens Jargon, the president of Solyndra in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

These thin film solar companies face a pretty hard competition in relation to prices, from Europeans and Chinese suppliers which use the customary solar panel material.
Via: cnet

India and Japan collaborate on building 24 green cities!


In a stately declaration on 16th February, the Japanese government unveiled the grand plan of signing free trade agreements with India that is expected to cut off 94% of trade tariffs over the course of 10 years. But most importantly for us, the plan also incorporates the lofty proposition of building 24 green cities, all in India.

The agreement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, in view of the current economic and socio-political situation prevailing in the South-East Asia region. Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world and no so far behind India – is the 4th largest, both in terms of purchasing power parity. Moreover, India startling economic growth in the recent years along with its huge market potential makes it more than a deserving candidate. And again politically both these nations would try to tacitly deter the influence of the other Asian giant – China.

But what is rather astounding, is the ambitious scale of this agreement. All the 24 green cities are to be build along the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, spread across 7 states. These advanced urban settlements would integrate the very latest in green energy supplies, an advanced 24 hour water supply system – incorporating water and waste recycling plants, and public recreational zones like walking paths. Moreover, illustrious companies like Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba are all expected to take a part in this grandiose project, in effect creating more green jobs. Well for now we just have to wait and see how this ‘brainchild’ takes the optimum advantage of India’s potential and Japan’s expertise.

Image Source: Courtesy of Flickr user Ivan Walsh.

The Year in Biomimicry: Mussels, Elephants, Water Bears & More…

The Year in Biomimicry: Mussels, Elephants, Water Bears & More…

Posted February 24, 2011, By Tom McKeag,,


The Year in Biomimicry: Mussels, Elephants, Water Bears & More...
It’s that time of year again; time for the second annual Tommies, my 2010 kudos to the most impressive of recent bio-inspired designs or discoveries. As always, I will arrange the awards by the creatures that inspired the innovations, and invite any of the discoverers to have an Irish coffee with me at the Buena Vista in San Francisco.

1. The tardigrade, or water bear, was the inspiration for Biomatrica’s method of preservation without refrigeration. This tiny, common invertebrate can be found in the soil of your front lawn or the waters of the Arctic Ocean, and is one of the more fascinating animals in our world. It depends on a surrounding film of water for gas exchange and to avoid drying out. It can stand extremes of temperature from -80 degrees C  to over +80 degrees C, pressures 6,000 times greater than our deepest ocean trench or the vacuum of space, and about 500 times the radiation it would take to kill us.

Should the tardigrade dry out, it can lapse into a state of crytobiosis, or suspended animation, for as much as 120 years and emerge quite alive after the addition of water.

This process of anhydrobiosis, or life without water, was studied by Biomatrica president and founder Rolf Muller and applied to the preservation of laboratory samples. The company claims that tissue, cells and biopsies can be stored without damage and without the long term risk and cost of refrigeration. Each sample is wrapped in a thermo-stable, synthetic film that mimicks the chemistry of the tardigrade. When needed the sample can be rehydrated without loss of vitality (tissue, cell or DNA damage).

The implications of this innovation go well beyond laboratory sample storage and could be a tremendous help in the global public health effort, where vaccines, samples and supplies often are not delivered to patients because of a lack of refrigeration.

2. The mussel has, for many years, been the poster-child-in-waiting for the bio-inspired design community, and it appears that this bivalve will be coming out of its shell in the near future. Mussel byssus is well-known for its ability to adhere to rocks in the turbulent intertidal zone and many teams of scientists have been studying the proteins that make up these anchor threads. Why? It is because the mussel is able to produce this strong adhesive underwater, at ambient temperatures and with no toxic byproducts. Moreover, the creature can fine-tune this adhesive for a whole range of performance and relative permanence.

Now scientists at the University of Chicago have applied for a patent for a synthetic version of mussel glue, an adhesive, self-healing gel. The potential remains exciting; biomedical transplants and repairs along with underwater mechanical engineering remain the chief areas where this material will have a significant impact. The innovation illustrates how important cross-collaboration over years of research can be.

Key to their breakthrough was using metal ions for molecular bonding rather than the typical permanent covalent bonding in most synthetic polymers. Other synthetic polymers had not performed well for both strength and ductility in the past: The tightly bonded  material became too brittle as it was strengthened. As any structural engineer knows, a part of a bridge that is too strong can weaken the whole structure as much as a weak part. Changing the pH of the material also enabled them to change its properties.

What are the bio-innovation concepts here? Strength from shape, in this case at the molecular scale, and solving contradictions, in this case by changing the dominant parameters of the problem.

3. The sea urchin is also an amazing creature from the intertidal zone and literally chews on rock to make its living, grazing across the litho surface and carving out shallow pits to anchor itself. Pupa Gilbert, a physics professor from University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered that, surprisingly, tooth breakage is what makes their dentition so effective.

Its tooth material is a biomineral mosaic composed of calcite crystals with two forms — plates and fibers — arranged crosswise and cemented together with super-hard calcite nanocement. Between the crystals are layers of organic materials. Since the organic layers are softer than the crystals, they break first and fail in a plane that guarantees optimum sharpness. It’s a bit like breaking off the scored bits of your razor knife as they dull, but on a much smaller and more integrated scale. Self-sharpening tools based on this kind of material logic will indeed be a boon. The bio-design concepts here are the use of composites to solve performance contradictions, controlled failure of parts for optimum success of the system (do autumn leaves come to mind?), and functionally graded material formed from a few basic components.

4. The elephant is the earth’s largest land animal, stumping its tons across varied landscapes. Almost comically contrapuntal to its lumbering frame is its ultra-dexterous and delicate trunk. Festo, the automation company, has added the elephant to the list of their animal inspirations, this time for a robotic arm. With nearly unlimited degrees of freedom of movement, trunks, tails and cylindrical bodies have been employed successfully for millions of years of reaching, grabbing and holding on. This product may represent a market trend toward more “softbots,” as performance capacity and expertise has grown in  robotic research facilities.

5. The Homo sapien, or, more precisely, his skull anatomy, was the inspiration for an innovative helmet design from Lazer, the Belgian helmet manufacturer. Next time you get a scalp massage, you may appreciate the concept that is key to the innovation. Your scalp moves across your bony skull, of course, and, in this ability is part of a damage control system for your brain. In a glancing fall, this flexible skin absorbs the shear force applied to your head and lessens the impact to the precious contents. Head trauma is the leading cause of motorcycle accident fatalities, and most of these are because the head is turned rapidly on impact and the brain, floating loosely inside, follows, tearing blood vessels and nerve fibers.

The new design, named SuperSkin, employs a synthetic skin that floats on a gel cushion outside of the hard liner. This skin is able to stretch up to eight times and the company claims that this technology reduces rotational impact by 50 percent, and possible brain damage by 67 percent.


6. The Oriental hornet may hold the key to more efficient solar cells in the future. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have investigated the striped cuticle of the insect and its ability to channel sunlight and convert it to electrical energy. The outside brown layer of the cuticle absorbs the sunlight and channels it to the yellow layer below, which is studded with many rod-like structures. Here, the photons are bounced around and are converted to electrical energy by the yellow pigment, xanthopterin. Experimenters have substituted this pigment for the silicon typically found in dye-sensitized  photovoltaic cells and proven that the material does work as theorized.

7. Bacteria are notoriously resistant to eradication, and bacterial biofilms, or slime, are a continual problem in environments that need to be clean. Researchers at Joanna Aizenberg’s lab at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have found one reason why. They are very hard to get wet. Liquids bead up on the surface of slime much like another familiar bio-inspirational organism, the lotus.

Unlike that of the lotus effect, however, this discovery is at the material level and holds broad promise in the manufacture of a natural matrix made only of simple basic and natural components-proteins and polysaccharides. The slime is a resilient mesh assembled into a multi-scale hierarchical structure and its synthetic twin would find myriad uses in health care, manufacturing and science.

8. The ant is an industrious creature and has inspired Bryan Lee, a young designer in Australia, to propose a unique and innovative disaster relief vehicle, named the Aid Necessities Transporter (A.N.T.). This multi-functional concept vehicle is able to traverse rough terrain with a unique independent six-wheeled system, and morph into either a land speeder or a container-carrying truck which delivers a temporary shelter along with its goods. This relief system depends on the vehicle’s quick return to base in order to deliver the necessary supply bulk, much as ants go back and forth from their nests.

9. The Namibian Desert beetle is able to harvest fog from the night air in order to survive one of the driest climates on the planet. It does it by facing into the prevailing sea breeze and letting its cooler body condense small droplets of water which run down channels to its waiting mouth. The droplet formation is ensured by a clever series of hydrophilic bumps surrounded by hydrophobic parts of its shell. Designer Pak Kitae has fashioned a canteen called the Dew Bank Bottle that uses this same principle. Instead of a heat radiating cuticle, the bottle is made of quick-chilling stainless steel shaped in a dome with grooves that collect the water into a channel at the dome’s base.

10. Fish get around underwater without bumping into each other by using a sophisticated sensor system known as the lateral line. This is a matrix of hair cell sensors called neuromasts that are arrayed all over the fish’s body either on the surface or in sub-epidermal canals. The lateral line also enables fish to locate prey, avoid predators, navigate shoals and communicate with other fish using the water itself as part of the sensing.

Douglas Jones, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, along with Yingchen Yang from Northwestern University and others, has developed an artificial lateral line (ALL) consisting of a 3-D system of biomimetic neuromasts (BNs) wrapped around a cylinder. The engineers connected their MEMS array to a beamforming algorithm program in order to image real-world events in a three-dimensional water environment. Their prototype could accurately locate a source of disturbance in the water, and image the natural tail flicking of a crayfish under various conditions. This is a decided contribution toward making more sophisticated navigation, communication  and control systems for underwater vehicles and robots.

Congratulations to all our winners: May your species prosper! These innovations, as wide-ranging as they are, represent a very small portion of the research and development now focused on bio-inspired materials, structure, and processes. You can expect this trend to continue as discovery begets more discovery, and our world looks increasingly to nature for solutions.

Elephant painting – CC license by acaben (Flickr), mussels – CC license by JoelDeluxe (Flickr), sea urchin – CC license by poplinre (Flickr)

Alaska’s Bristol Bay Mining Plans Draw Scrutiny From EPA Environmental Justice Unit


Alaska’s Bristol Bay Mining Plans Draw Scrutiny From EPA Environmental Justice Unit

Posted 02/18/2011, by By Andrew Jensen, Alaska Journal of Commerce, Anchorage, Energy News Record,


Feb. 18–The Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 office has a list, and it’s already been checked twice.

Next up is the Pebble mine.

The EPA Region 10 office stated that its Feb. 7 announcement to conduct a year-long, scientific assessment of the impacts of large-scale development on the Bristol Bay watershed was based on petitions received during 2010 from numerous Alaska Native and fishing industry groups concerned the proposed mine will pollute the rivers that produce the world’s largest salmon run.

Documents from the Region 10 office, however, indicate plans for understanding and addressing impacts from copper and gold mining in the Bristol Bay watershed date back to at least 2008.

During 2010, several groups asked the EPA to begin a process under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act that would allow it to preemptively stop the Pebble project before it can apply for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deposit waste rock from the operation within the watershed.

Section 404(c) allows the EPA to veto such permits issued by the Corps, an action it has taken just 13 times since 1972. The EPA has never preemptively prohibited such activity before a permit application has been filed or approved.

Pebble opponents would like to see the EPA set a limit on waste rock disposal within the watershed that would be high enough to prevent development of Pebble while still allowing for something like a village gravel mine.

Region 10 administrator Dennis McLerran tapped Rick Parkin to lead the Pebble assessment. Parkin, who has been with the EPA for 30 years, is the associate director of the Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs.

In 2008, Parkin’s office wrote an action plan for its Environmental Justice division for fiscal year 2009 that identified three examples of long-term successful results: “addressing fish consumption rates in Oregon water standards, protecting subsistence fishing in the Colville Delta, understanding and addressing the impacts of copper and gold mining in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.”

Region 10 officials did not make McLerran available for an interview, and were unresponsive to repeated questions related to the 2009 action plan.

Two for two

In 2010, Region 10 denied proposed water quality standards by the state of Oregon after more than six years of efforts. The denial was based on Region 10 siding with tribes wanting a higher daily fish consumption rate used to set water quality standards.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality proposed standards based on a daily fish consumption rate of 17.5 grams per day, or two 8-ounce meals per month. Oregon tribes wanted the daily fish consumption rate set at 175 grams per day.

In June 2009, Region 10 notified the Corps that it would classify the Colville River Delta on Alaska’s North Slope as an “aquatic resource of national importance,” elevating the CD-5 permit application from ConocoPhillips for additional scrutiny under the Clean Water Act section 404(q).

The rarely used “aquatic resource of national importance,” or ARNI, designation directs the Corps to consider a permit application as similar in magnitude to a 404(c) case. It has been used only 11 times since 1992 — three of those since 2009. The undefined designation is not noted in law or regulations, but in federal interagency memorandums of agreement signed with the Corps in 1992.

Region 10 recommended denial of the permit request to build a bridge and pipeline over the Colville River, along with associated infrastructure.

The Corps eventually sided with the EPA and denied the CD-5 permit. Under federal regulations, the Corps must justify overriding the wishes of the state, and it cited the importance of the Colville River delta ecosystem as “the largest and most productive in northern Alaska.”

While the Corps acknowledged but made no comment of agreement with the EPA’s designation of the Colville delta as an ARNI in the record of decision, it did concur with the potential “disproportionate effect on minority and low-income populations” identified in the environmental justice section of the final analysis.

Jackson’s environmental justice

Environmental justice is important to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who often states environmentalism is inextricably linked to civil rights.

Addressing a gathering of Blacks in Government, or BIG, in Baltimore in August 2009, Jackson drew upon the Jim Crow South to talk about how she, as an African-American, is “changing the face of environmentalism.”

“There was a time living in the South when my father would have been forced to drink unsafe water out of different pipes and different fountains because of his race,” Jackson told BIG.

According to speech transcripts posted on the EPA’s website, Jackson has repeatedly used a variation of this statement in her vision for environmental justice.

“Now,” Jackson typically concludes as she did in May 2009, “I have the responsibility of ensuring that everyone drinks clean water — regardless of their race.”

Environmental justice as federal policy was established in 1994 through an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton that directed all federal agencies to ensure that actions taken did not disproportionately impact or disadvantage minority or low-income populations.

Jackson has used the order to direct agency staff to incorporate environmental justice into all decision-making. The budget for the Environmental Justice division, located within the EPA Office of Enforcement at the Washington, D.C., headquarters, nearly doubled from $4.3 million in 2008 to $7.2 million in 2010.

While the Native groups who petitioned the EPA to review the Pebble mine cheered the announcement of a scientific review, the Obama Administration isn’t as popular everywhere in the Alaska Native community when it comes to environmental justice.

In the western Aleutians, the villages of Adak and Atka are concerned over the National Marine Fisheries Service decision to close cod and mackerel fishing to protect food sources for endangered Steller sea lions. Aleut Corp., one of the 12 Alaska Native regional corporations and the owner of the Adak processing plant, has blasted the decision.

Alaska Native corporations on the Slope supported the CD-5 project after collaborating with the state and ConocoPhillips on an acceptable design.

“I see the current administration promoting environmental justice: ‘We shall not harm individual segments, populations or discriminated people through federal actions,'” said Rudy Tsukata of Aleut Corp. at the December meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. “That is something that is a concern. We’re hearing all this fluff. None of it is translating to what should be done, or what I believe are the purposes of those statements.”

Environmental justice has been used to introduce regulations governing everything from nail salon air quality to diesel emissions under the “goods movement” initiative.

At a meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advocacy Council, or NEJAC, in January 2010, a parade of EPA officials presented the ways in which environmental justice is influencing policy, according to meeting transcripts.

Rob Brenner, of the EPA Office of Policy Analysis and Review, related how environmental justice influenced diesel regulations.

“When we looked at the transportation nodes, the ports, the truck stops, the rail yards and the bus yards, they are located by and large near low-income and minority communities,” Brenner said. “So the way for us to ramp up this effort to go after the engines and to fulfill our goals of trying to do additional work in low-income and minority communities was to go after a goods movement initiative.”

The goods movement initiative also led to new regulations requiring ultra-low sulfur diesel to be used by ocean-going vessels traveling along the U.S. and Canadian coasts.

According to Totem Ocean Transport Express Inc., the cost of compliance with the low-sulfur requirements will increase freight costs between 12 percent and 15 percent for everything traveling between the ports of Tacoma and Anchorage by 2015, when the strictest standards kick in.

Parkin of Region 10 was also a presenter at the NEJAC meeting, and spoke of how the EPA can inject environmental justice to policy for all federal agencies through the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

“One place where they come to the table on (environmental justice) matters and all environmental matters having to do with specific projects is the NEPA table,” said Parkin. “We’ve taken the opportunity on a number of occasions to become a cooperating agency on major transportation issues even when we don’t have a federal action we’re taking. We can still ask to be a cooperating agency. That gives us early and frequent input and gives us some say in decision-making in the document and what is said in the document.”

Charles Lee, who heads the EPA’s Environmental Justice division, told the NEJAC audience one of Jackson’s three principles for the agency is “integrating environmental justice into EPA statutory authority.”

“The goal,” EPA General Counsel Scott Fulton said, “is really being to see the law and find the mechanisms in the law that allow it to serve as an important enabling vehicle for environmental justice.”

Where that vehicle will drive the Pebble process remains unknown, but one thing is now clear. The EPA has taken the wheel.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at

Small Is Beautiful – And Electrifying

Small Is Beautiful – And Electrifying


ted 24 February 2011, by Badylon K. Bakiman, Inter Press Service,

Kikwit student Mave Kube studies by the light from a paraffin lamp. / Badylon K. BadimanKikwit student Mave Kube studies by the light from a paraffin lamp. / Badylon K. Badiman

KIKWIT, DR Congo, Feb 24 (IPS) – While discussion of hydroelectric power on the Congo River is dominated by the massive Grand Inga project and the dream of power for the entire continent, construction of a series of smaller dams to benefit local communities may produce tangible results much more quickly.


Grand Inga could generate as much as 39,000 megawatts of power. Earlier in February, a two-year, 13.4 million dollar contract was awarded to Aecom Technology Company and Éléctricité de France to carry out feasibility studies for the hydroelectric generation complex and transmission lines to carry power as far as Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.

Too big to succeed?

But the Grand Inga project has already encountered setbacks and attracted criticism.

Westcor, a consortium of state-owned power companies from five Southern African states, had a proposed 10 billion dollar, 4,000 megawatt project for a site known as Inga 3 rejected by the Democratic Republic of Congo government in February 2010. The DRC authorities instead agreed to a smaller project with mining giant BHP Billiton on the same site that would principally supply a new aluminium smelter being constructed the company 150 kilometres away.

This project has been criticised by environmental justice groups such as International Rivers. Just six percent of Congolese have access to electricity, says International Rivers, and the BHP Billiton project would prioritise supplying energy-intensive industry rather than the needs of the population.

The environmentalists are also sceptical of the promise of the larger plans Aecom is now studying as well, arguing that the continent lacks a distribution network to carry power from a single mega-project to the majority of those who need it; they argue that the estimated 80 billion dollar price tag would be better spent on decentralised generation, including wind, solar and micro-hydro plants.

They also cite the risk of corruption and mismanagement, a warning given teeth by the 2008 disappearance of $6.5 million intended to rehabilitate one of the two aging power stations already in place at the Inga site.

A more modest solution

While the debate swirls around the larger projects, February finds work under way on a dam at Kakobola, one of the first of up to 315 much smaller dams planned for sites around the country.

The Kakobola dam will provide electricity for three built-up areas in the southwestern DRC province of Bandundu. V. K. Sharma, head of the Indian company Angelique International Limited, which will construct the dam, says the dam will have a generating capacity of 9.3 megawatts.

“We are working on this project for the well-being of the population in Gungu, Idiofa and Kikwit,” says Sharma. His company will draw on the experience of building similar projects in Afghanistan, Rwanda and Sudan.

“It’s easier to build a dam on a river where there are falls such as this one,” Sharma told IPS in an interview at the dam site at Gungu, some 200 kilometres from Kikwit, the provincial capital.

The dam is being built at a waterfall on the Lufuku river which has a height of 29 metres, according to Sharma. The Kakobola dam will have a reservoir just four metres deep, and its turbines will not eliminate the natural falls on the river.

“The dam will cost 53 million dollars,” says Remy Matala, from the DRC’s energy ministry, which is collaborating on the project. “The Indian government, through that country’s Export-Import Bank, will put in 42 million. The Congolese contribution of 10 million dollars comes from the 2011 budget.”

Serving local needs

Completion of the dam is eagerly awaited in the region. “I want the electricity supply to come quickly. It’s not normal for a city the size of Kikwit (around a million inhabitants) to be without electricity,” complains Mave Kupe, one of the many students in the city who must study by the light of storm lantern.

The project is scheduled for completion in January 2014. The more than three million residents of this area presently rely on paraffin lamps, candles or custom-rigged systems that power light bulbs from torches with a box containing a set of batteries.

The Kakobola dam will also contribute towards securing regular access to drinking water, particularly in Kikwit, where 800,000 people lack access to safe water.

When the contract for the dam was signed in Kinshasa in October 2010, the Congolese energy minister, Gilbert Thilongo, noted that the Kakobola project was first proposed in 1980. The installation is the first of an extensive series of small dams planned for the country. It will be followed by another dam in Katende, in Kasaï Occidental province, according to the minister.

“I hope that the work on this dam won’t stop mid-way,” said Emery Raphaël Mikolo, a nurse in Idiofa. “We have seen it many times in our country – the work starts briskly, but then a gloomy silence takes over.”

Louis Kasende, an opposition member of parliament who is the vice president of the Commission for Reconstruction and Development in Bandundu’s provincial assembly, wants the DRC government to state clearly when the money from India’s Import-Export Bank will be repaid.

Wire reports state the DRC will begin repaying the loan in 2016, and will then pay 1.75 percent interest over a 20 year period.

Maxime Pakumu, the director of the Gungu administrative zone, said the construction of the project will help to reduce employment in the region, as well as improving the quality of life, purchasing power, and even health outcomes thanks to electricity for health facilities in the area.

Though small-scale dams such as this one at Kakobola do not answer the question of powering energy-intensive industry in DRC and beyond, if the dam delivers the expected benefits for the region it sits in, it may create alternatives to a development path that relies so heavily on resource extraction.


World Bank Backs Marine Dumping Of Mine Waste In Papua New Guinea

World Bank Backs Marine Dumping Of Mine Waste In Papua New Guinea

Posted 23 February 2011, by Indigenous Peoples, Issues & Resources,

The World Bank has stepped in to support the dumping of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine into the seas off Papua New Guinea after the European Union decided to pull its funding.

A World Bank review in 2003 said categorically that marine dumping should not be used in areas such as coral reefs that have important ecological functions or cultural significance or in coastal waters used for subsistence purposes, but that does not appear to be troubling the World Bank today. The World Bank is funding the efforts of the chief scientist supporting the Ramu nickel mine’s waste dumping plans, Tracy Schimmield, and is paying for oceangraphic studies, monitoring of the tailings as they pour out of the waste pipeline a review of the mine’s Operational Environmental Plan and the training of local staff to monitor the dumping.

This funding from the World Bank, which will be directed through the Scottish Association of Marine Science, comes despite the fact indigenous landowners are challenging the Ramu nickel mine’s waste dumping plans, which they say will cause inevitable harm to their seas, coral reefs and subsistence lifestyles. The landowners application for a permanent injunction to stop the waste dumping is part-heard in the National court but this has not dissuaded the World Bank from intervening in support of the waste dumping.

The bank is also funding Schimmield and SAMS to draft site specific guidelines for the Ramu dumping and that at the Lihir gold mine.

Schimmield’s work for the PNG government assessing the impacts of marine waste dumping at the Misima and Lihir mines in 2009/10 was funded by the European Union, but they have decided not to fund any on-going work specific to the Ramu nickel mine and its marine waste dumping.

Schimmield gave evidence in court this week, where she appeared as a witness for the mine owners, that while the impacts of the waste dumping could not be accurately predicted she supported the mine being allowed to dump its waste into the sea so the impacts could be assessed.

The World Bank has not offered any assistance to the indigenous landowners challenging the waste dumping plans, a fact reflected in the weight of lawyers in the courtroom for the waste dumping trial. While the mine owners and regulators had six lawyers at one end of the bench, including a Queens Council from Australia, another lawyer from Brisbane and four lawyers from Port Moresby, the landowners were represented by a single lawyer based in a Provincial town.

Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Local Environmental Activist Calling Out TCEQ with ‘Smoking Gun’

Local Environmental Activist Calling Out TCEQ with ‘Smoking Gun’

Posted: Feb 18, 2011 9:16 PM by Steven Romo, KRIS TV,

CORPUS CHRISTI – A local environmental activist is coming forward with what she calls another smoking gun against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Suzie Canales of the Citizens for Environmental Justice, held a press conference to showcase some video of the old Encycle Facility on Up River Road.

The plant is closed and is set to be demolished. Canales says, this video shows that there are harmful chemicals still around the facility, and her group is afraid demolishing the site will cause those chemicals to spread.

She says, the video comes from an anonymous source who is able to tour the site. The video shows a field of industrial parts scattered around. Canales says, it also shows acid vats, which seem to still hold a corrosive chemical.

The TCEQ says the facility is prepared for Hurricane Damage but Canales says, the video shows otherwise.

Now, Canales is trying to meet with officials who own Encycle to get information on the status of the plant.

“Now, we have the documentation that shows that they’re not telling the truth. And, I think shame on the TCEQ our biggest problems through the years has not been the industry. Because they do what they do. They’re out to make billions of dollars; we understand that. Our biggest obstacle has been the government,” she said.

We were not able to reach anyone with the TCEQ for comment on this story. Canales says, she has been in contact with that agency and the EPA.