Technology / Design Solutions
Environmental scientists have added opposition to the planned $50 billion Nicaragua canal project this week with the publication of a paper that claims the development will irreparably damage ecosystems and cause “significant environmental and social impairments”.
“Of particular concern are: damage to Lake Cocibolca, a unique freshwater tropical lake and Central America’s main freshwater reservoir; damage to regional biodiversity and ecosystems; and socio-economic impacts,” Pedro Alvarez, one of the 21 co-signed authors of the paper published by the American Chemical Society.
Construction on the 278 km canal started in January this year with backing from the government but opponents have decried the fact that the concession was awarded without a bidding process or any feasibility, socio-economic or environmental impact assessments.
"Invasive species brought by transoceanic ships, which could threaten the extinction of aquatic plants and fish, such as the cichlids that have been evolving since the lake's formation," Alvarez cautioned, discussing the potential damage to Lake Cocibolca.
The canal is expected to be completed by 2019 and accommodate an estimated 5,100 ships per year.
Panama exec claims investment is ‘unfeasible’
The chief executive of the rival Panama also claimed that the project was not a “feasible investment from a private investment standpoint”, questioning the true role that the Chinese government had in backing the project.
The project is under development by Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND) but details of the holding company’s financial backers have not been made public.
The construction process will involve the removal of around 549 million cubic metres of material in order to make way for the latest Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV) with loads of as much as 23,000 TEU.