SC upholds environmental clearance, government notification on Central Vista project


New Delhi: In a majority verdict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the environmental clearance and notification for change in land use for the Central Vista Project.

The Central Vista revamp, announced in September, 2019 envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, that is to be constructed by August, 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day.

 

A three-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, by 2:1 majority, held that the grant of the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use for the project was valid.

Justice Khanwilkar, writing the judgement for himself and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, also directed that the project proponent set up smog tower and use anti-smog guns at the construction site for the Central Vista project.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the third judge on the bench, also agreed on the issue of award of project.

He, however, disagreed with the judgment on change of land use and on grant of environmental clearance for the project. 

 

The top court’s verdict came on several pleas on the issue, including the one filed by activist Rajeev Suri, against various permissions given to the project by authorities including the grant of environmental clearance and the nod to change of land use.

Thank you for stopping by and reading this news release about International and Indian news and updates published as “SC upholds environmental clearance, government notification on Central Vista project”. This article is posted by My Local Pages Australia as part of our local and national news services.

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Ukrainian Miners Warn of Imminent Threat of New Radioactive Environmental Disaster in Country



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Ukraine and nearby European countries have already suffered once as a result of major contamination from nuclear material following an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant back in 1986.

Over 30 years since one of the biggest environmental disasters linked to the nuclear industry, a new threat is emerging in Ukraine, according to the country’s Union of Miners.

Three uranium mines located in the Kirovohrad region of Ukraine are on the brink of shutting down over the imminent bankruptcy of the operating company VostokGOK, the union said. The mines might soon have the electricity cut off due to unpaid bills, industry workers claim, meaning that the mines’ pumps will no longer remove and filter water leaking into the shafts, thus creating the risk of local groundwater becoming contaminated.


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Sputnik / Владимир Чистяков

Workers completing the massive sarcophagus over the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s destroyed Reactor Number 4, October 31, 1986.

Germany’s DPA news agency separately reported that operations at the three mines have practically stopped, with 5,000 workers sent on unpaid leave. However, the facilities’ water pumps and filtration systems are still operational, the DPA said. The company operating the mines is going through a bankruptcy process that is expected to be finished by March 2021. The firm’s financial troubles started because its only client, the state company Energoatom, had its own financial difficulties and was thus unable to pay for VostokGOK’s uranium. Ukraine has practically zero export of uranium to compensate for Energoatom’s inability to pay to VostokGOK.  

Local authorities have not yet commented on the reports of the allegedly imminent environmental disaster.

While not as dangerous as specialised nuclear fuel for reactors, natural uranium isotopes are still harmful to a human’s health. For this reason, most uranium mines require constant monitoring for signs of contamination of the nearby environment, even after being decommissioned. In many countries, operating companies are obligated to pay a certain fee to a government’s budget even before starting mining operations to compensate for the authorities’ expenses to maintain the shaft’s safety in case the mine is closed or the company goes bankrupt. It is unclear if the Ukrainian government, which is currently struggling with economic problems and a budget deficit, will have the resources to maintain the uranium mines after VostokGOK goes bankrupt in spring 2021.





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Environmental policy is labor policy, and Biden must make that clear


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Environmental outlook for Blue Mountains downgraded due to fires, dam wall plans


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Climate change is considered as a “very high threat” for future fires, with the projected temperature increase over the 75-year period likely to be “beyond the adaptive capacity of most vertebrates”.

Among the IUCN’s list of potential “high threats” to the region’s so-called outstanding universal values are plans by the state government to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam by 17 metres to reduce the flood risks in the Hawkesbury-Nepean flood plain.

Lifting the height of the dam will increase the frequency, duration, depth and extent of temporary
inundation upstream of the wall, affecting as much as 550 hectares, the IUCN said. Wildlife, wilderness and Indigenous cultural values will be some of the key features hit.

Harry Burkitt from the Colong Foundation for Wilderness wades across part of the lower Kowmung River, an area facing inundation if the Warragamba Dam wall is raised.Credit:Wolter Peeters

Stuart Ayres, the minister in charge of the Warragamba project, was approached for comment. He has previously stated that the project’s environmental impact study (EIS) will be made public.

A report prepared from a draft EIS details the potential effects of the billion-dollar project on the region’s World Heritage values.

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Prepared by SMEC consultants before last summer’s bushfires, the report says: “There is a lack of knowledge about the impacts to Blue Mountains plant species and vegetation communities from temporary inundation, and also the presence of threatened species in the potentially
impacted area.”

But they conclude that “while there may be loss of some biodiversity, this would not significantly impact the [World Heritage Area] as a whole,” with only “minor” impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage.

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Harry Burkitt, a campaigner with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, said the IUCN assessment underestimated the area likely to be affected by inundation by at least a factor of 10, putting the at-risk area at 6000 hectares.

“IUCN’s World Heritage Outlook is a strategic overview that has used preliminary data in determining its findings,” Mr Burkitt said.

He also said the government’s consultants, SMEC Engineering, were “being paid millions of dollars to systematically justify the destruction of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and its hundreds of threatened Australian species”.

“We know from botanical experts that combined with last summer’s devastating bushfires, raising Warragamba Dam would put the very species constituting the Blue Mountains’ Outstanding Universal Values at direct risk of extinction,” he said.

“These iconic species include the recent honeyeater, the Camden white gum, and Kowmung hakea.”

An aerial view of one of the rivers flowing into Lake Burragorang in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

An aerial view of one of the rivers flowing into Lake Burragorang in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.Credit:James Brickwood

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Trigon Renews Environmental Clearances for Exploration Activities in Namibia


TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Trigon Metals Inc. (TSX-V:TM) (“Trigon” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has been granted the renewal of its Environmental Clearance Certificate (“ECC”) for exploration activities on all of the Namibian Mining Licences (“ML”) Gross Otavi, Asis (including the Kombat Central, Kombat West and Kombat East deposits), Asis Far West (including the Asis West, Asis Far West and Asis Gap deposits) and Asis Ost (“Kombat Project” or the “Project”) [73b, 73c, 16, 9, 21] from the Namibian Government (Ministry of Environment and Tourism), which was a pre-requisite  for the Company to commence its planned upcoming exploration program. The ECC is valid until November 16, 2023.

The Kombat Project is situated in the Otjozondjupa Region, Namibia on the southern tip of the renowned Namibian Copper Triangle, which is an area associated historically and currently with high grade copper mineralization.

The Project consists of a previous operational mine that was placed on care and maintenance in 2008 due to the economic downturn conditions at the time. The mine consists of three vertical shafts as well as ramp systems, a processing plant, siding and paved roads that have all been maintained in pristine condition during the care and maintenance period. Target metals are copper, lead and silver which occur mainly in sulphide minerals.

In the coming months, the Company plans to complete an exploration drilling program at the Kombat Project to further upgrade the expanded Mineral Resource reported on September 28, 2020, being an open pit Indicated Mineral Resource of 7.35 million tonnes and a combined open pit and underground Inferred Mineral Resource of 31.76 million tonnes, at a cut-off grade of 0.6% Cu for the open pit and 1.8% Cu for the underground.

TypeResource ClassTonnes (Mt)Cu (%)Ag (%)
Open PitIndicated7.350.910.58
Open PitInferred11.401.070.46
UndergroundInferred20.362.846.64

The upcoming exploration program is designed to convert the majority of the Inferred Resource estimate to an Indicated Resource estimate on the open pit material.  The key workstream areas include a full re-assay of available drill core at site which were not subject to QAQC requirements at the time (pre-2000’s).  In addition, a potential resource expansion will be investigated with diamond core drilling in areas which show good potential based on the mine’s 60-year operating history.

Jed Richardson, President & CEO of the Trigon Metals, commented, “Our Namibian team is ready to execute our planned exploration programs to advance the properties at Kombat. We look to continue our success expanding our copper and silver resources in Namibia, alongside Silver Hill in Morocco. Work continues at our Silver Hill Project, with drills now testing areas close to our silver-rich discovery holes in the western portion of our claim area.”

Qualified Person
The technical information presented in this press release has been reviewed and approved for disclosure by Fanie Müller, P.Eng, VP Operations of Trigon, who is a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.

Trigon Metals Inc.
Trigon is a publicly traded Canadian exploration and development company with its core business focused on copper and silver holdings in mine-friendly African jurisdictions. Currently the company has operations in Namibia and Morocco. Namibia is one of the world’s most prospective copper regions, where Trigon has substantial assets in place. The Company holds an 80% interest in five mining licences in the Otavi Mountainlands, an area of Namibia widely recognized for its high-grade copper deposits, where the Company is focused on exploration and re-development of the previously producing Kombat mine. The Company also recently finalized the acquisition of the Silver Hill project, a highly prospective copper and silver exploration project in Morocco.

Cautionary Notes  
This news release may contain forward-looking statements. These statements include statements regarding environmental approvals, the planned exploration program, the Company’s ability to expand its mineral resource estimates, the Company’s strategies and the Company’s abilities to execute such strategies, the Company’s expectations for the Kombat Project, and the Company’s future plans and objectives. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors discussed in the management discussion and analysis section of our interim and most recent annual financial statements or other reports and filings with the TSX Venture Exchange and applicable Canadian securities regulations. We do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable laws.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For further information, contact: Jed Richardson +1 416 566 8134 jed.richardson@trigonmetals.com Website: www.trigonmetals.com

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Barkly Pearl Detention

Barkly Pearl on Radar

A Possible Malfeasance?

Livestock carrier ship MV Barkly Pearl was ordered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority into the Geraldton Port under unclear circumstances. The vessel has been en route from Fremantle to Indonesia.

Fortunately, there were no livestock onboard, and all crew were reportedly in good health condition, with no Covid-like symptoms. Yet, that is not the main concern of AMSA thus far.

Response manager Mark Morrow cited significant concerns about the carrier and its integrity to safely reach Indonesia. Environmental issues were also put in keen consideration. Hence, AMSA ordered Barkly Pearl to make its way to the port of Geraldton the evening of 2 November 2020 for safety. Damages would be further assessed in the port.

To date, there were no reported impacts, environmentally speaking. Regardless of that, a boom would be deployed around the vessel as preventative measure. However, given the uncertainty of circumstances as to which the interruption of the voyage is issued; questions arise as detention is deemed unlawful.

According to news outlets, the ship suffered starboard hull breach, hence, the order from AMSA. But, judging from the videos released, the hole in the hull looks like a technical cut. Not a hull breach as if inflicted by accident.

In addition, the ship did not send any distress or emergency signal. Most of all, by the time Barkly Pearl was ordered to sail towards port of Geraldton, she was rolling outside the Australian territorial waters.

So, numerous questions made people skeptical.  Is AMSA’s seizure of the carrier – supposedly under the jurisdiction of international waters and maritime authority – considered unlawful? If the Master and owner deemed the ship in good condition, shouldn’t they retain their route and not rely on some third-party directives? Lastly, who really commands the livestock carrier, masters or land-based authorities?

The implications of this incident are alarming, and the murky description of the events leading to the accident was a mystery yet to be solved.

Needless to say, Master and Owner of the carrier will still be held responsible on the towage/port and other fees, added by fines for not being “seaworthy” and ship release charges.

Knowing that “maritime safety authorities” are not held accountable for this impediment, it reflects on the current milieu of local, national and international authorities, the inevitability of malfeasance and corruption.

Mid West gas project faces revolt after environmental tick of approval


The joint venture said CO2 emissions would hit about 300,000 tonnes per year and 37.7 million tonnes over the life of the project if customer ‘scope 3’ emissions were factored in. The joint venture said the design of the gas plant had avoided the release of about 121,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

However, Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the recommendation went directly against the growing international body of science and legal precedent.

“With millions of tonnes of pollution and only a handful of jobs, this project is the very last thing WA and our climate needs right now,” he said.

Mr Verstegen also took aim at the companies and EPA for not including the scope 3 emissions in their analysis. In its assessment, the EPA said scope 3 emissions would be considered separately in projects used by Waitsia customers down the line.

“Despite this, it appears that Mitsui and the EPA have overlooked the vast majority of the pollution that would result from this project. A decade ago that approach might have been acceptable, but today it doesn’t pass the pub test,” he said.

WA resources law professor Alex Gardner is one of the appellants, criticising the lack of a baseline emissions figure in the assessment and insufficient detail on how the guiding principles of the Environmental Protection Act, the precautionary principle and polluter pays principle, will be applied.

He said his problem was that Waitsia proposed an increase in the state’s CO2 emissions when new gas projects should be carbon neutral or negative.

“They’re going to have 120,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year from operating the gas plant, that is still a substantial increase,” he said.

“If we’re going to reduce our emissions, we first need new projects to stop increasing our emissions.”

Professor Gardner will also argue that the proponents did not properly consider their duty of care to the state’s farmers who are already being harmed by climate change impacts.

Former chair of the Australian Coal Association and energy company executive-turned environmentalist Ian Dunlop said the current likelihood was that the globe would heat up by 2 degrees by 2040, which made even the Paris Agreement not bold enough to address climate change.

He said he lodged an appeal to the EPA recommendation because Australia needed to reduce its reliance on gas.

“The absolute priority is you don’t build new gas projects, whether its smaller ones like Waitsia or bigger ones at Burrup. You just have to stop,” he said.

The Waitsia Greenhouse Gas Management Plan committed to by the joint venture was to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 though the project was expected to be completed in the mid 2040s.

A spokesman for the joint venture said emission reduction targets that avoid, reduce or offset the full quantity of reservoir CO2 emissions (about 60.8 per cent of the project’s emissions) from start-up reflected this commitment.

The spokesman said the joint venture was providing responses to the matters raised in the appeals and the company was still targeting a final investment decision later this year.

Waitsia attracted controversy in July for being the only project exempt from a new domestic gas policy that bans the export of gas extracted from onshore wells to the eastern states and overseas.

That policy drew criticism from the peak oil and gas body APPEA over the state government’s lack of consultation with the wider industry, and raised questions about why the Mitsui and Kerry Stokes-backed Beach energy joint venture was the only onshore project to gain an exemption.

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Congress Week Ahead: Gov’t funding bill, hearings, environmental legislation


FILE – In this May 3, 2020, file photo, light shines from inside the U.S. Capitol dome at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:18 PM PT – Monday, September 21, 2020

As lawmakers are rattled by the shockwave of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing Friday, they still face a laundry list of duties before the November election. Congress is preparing for a busy week ahead with multiple legislative hurdles along the way.

With a September 30 deadline quickly approaching, lawmakers are racing to pass the annual federal funding bill. The threat of a potential government shutdown has led the House to push for a stopgap spending bill that would keep federal agencies funded through December.

This legislation is expected to be introduced in the lower chamber Monday. Democrats are optimistic the will vote on the spending bill early this week, so the Senate can hold their own vote before the impending due date.

Some lawmakers have raised the question of whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could use the threat of government shutdown without a spending bill as leverage in the fight over filling Ginsburg’s seat in the Supreme Court. While Pelosi implied she’s considering various options to combat a nomination before the election, she does not consider a government shutdown to be among those possibilities.

“None of us has any interest in shutting down government,” she told a reporter. “That has such a harmful and painful impact on so many people in our country, so I would hope that we can just proceed with that.”

Along the lines of funding, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing for Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday. The hearing will focus on the need for further financial aid amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Both chambers of Congress have been pessimistic about passing a fifth relief package as time is running out before the November elections.

The House is also looking to take up substantial energy legislation to minimize environmental damage and create clean energy jobs. The package is more than 900 pages long. It seeks to allocate funding for research and development on clean energy in the U.S. The matter of environmental change is among several issues on Congress’s priority list and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said action must be taken just last week.

“It’s something we ought to address, I guess the key to it is how do you address it?” he asked. “I think most Republicans have a lot more confidence in technology to address the problem of climate change.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the chamber to speak about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The lower chamber will also potentially take up multiple bills targeting forced labor in trade with China. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act seeks to prevent certain imports from Xin-Jiang and impose sanctions on those in the region responsible for human rights violations.

The second of the bills, the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, requires publicly traded companies doing business with the Xin-Jiang region to disclose information on their supply chains, including whether forced labor was involved in the making of these products.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are gearing up to release a report on the GOP probe into Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden by the end of the week. The probe is centered on Obama-era policies and will likely draw negative attention to the former vice president just weeks before voters are set to cast their ballot in the presidential election.

Finally, the Senate is continuing their nomination process for lower level courts with three judicial nominations scheduled this week.

The stakes on each of these matters are especially high as both chambers are in their last working period before November 3 with just a couple weeks left until they return to their home districts to focus on campaigning.

RELATED: President Trump pledges to nominate a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court





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Thousands of dying birds out West could reveal an even bigger environmental tragedy

Worn-down carcasses of violet-green swallows and other migratory birds have been found in New Mexico and other Western states. (Devon Yu/Deposit Photos/)

When Jon Hayes opened his email on September 9, he found a strange message waiting for him. His colleagues had been finding an oddly high number of bird carcasses, mostly of small species that migrate from the US to the tropics each fall. Two days later, he saw the birds himself while biking in Albuquerque. “I was amazed by the number of swallows that were dead at the side of the trail,” Hayes recalls. In a matter of hours, what seemed like an isolated event in southern New Mexico became national news.

Over the past week or so, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has received close to 300 bird carcasses, says its spokesperson Tristanna Bickford. Most of them were collected by biologists at White Sands Missile Range—where the first bodies were found on August 20—and New Mexico State University (NSMU).

“This isn’t the kind of thing that anybody who works in this field has seen before,” Hayes, a former wildlife biologist and now the executive director at Audubon New Mexico, says. “Birds that are migrating are often stressed and exhausted. But that results in a few birds here and there dying; you don’t see thousands of them dropping dead.”

Ornithologists studying the mass die-off have pointed to the wildfires on the West Coast, an extreme cold front that pushed into New Mexico last week, and a persistent drought in the area as possible explanations for what’s going on. More generally, scientists have pointed out that these extreme weather events follow predictions of how climate change alters natural cycles. “This is one more sign of a planet and ecosystem in absolute distress,” Hayes says.

Although biologists aren’t sure of the actual avian death toll, they’ve estimated a figure in the hundreds of thousands. “Just by looking at the scope of what we’re seeing, we know this is a very large event,” NMSU ornithologist Martha Desmond said in an interview with CNN.

Most of the birds have been found in New Mexico, Colorado, and along the coast of California. But the event may be more widespread: People in 12 US states and five Mexican states have reported 538 dead birds to a public database specifically created to document the die-off. But even with that data, it’s impossible to get firm numbers, especially in sparsely populated areas and wildfire-evacuation zones.

That said, every new carcass provides a body of clues for the biologists investigating the event. Most of the recovered birds are migratory insectivores like swallows, wood-pewees, flycatchers, and warblers. Most were also in rough physical shape when they died, with “no fat reserves and barely any muscle mass, almost as if they have been flying until they just couldn’t fly anymore,” NMSU’s biologist Allison Sallas shared on Twitter. The few birds that have been recovered alive are largely lethargic, Desmond said in an interview with wbur.org.

Biologists suspect that the wildfires consuming the West Coast might have forced the birds to detour from their usual migration routes. While there are no major blazes in New Mexico, the state is suffering a drought, which may be depleting insect populations. “If [the birds] don’t have any food available, they will starve,” Desmond explained in the wbur.org interview.

But it isn’t only that. The smoke, which has now reached the East Coast, could be harmful to wildlife. “You taste it; you smell it; you see it every morning when you wake up,” Hayes says. “It absolutely can affect those birds as well.” Decades of research show that poor air quality can cause respiratory distress and illness in birds, affect their reproductive success, elevate their stress levels, and alter their behavior. University of Wisconsin-Madison ecologist Olivia Sanderfoot told PopSci in an email that one 2002 study “suggested that smoke inhalation may compromise the ability of birds to escape during wildfire events.”

A cold front that hit New Mexico on September 8 might have been the final straw for the flight along the West Coast. “These birds are kind of on the edge of survival during migration,” Hayes says. “When you put a 95-mile-per-hour headwind in front of them, it’s gonna exhaust them.” Typically, birds are equipped to wing through cold air currents—but this time, the rough weather might have hit them “at the perfectly wrong time.”

Of course, the string of reasons behind the mass deaths is all still hypothetical. Biologists will only be able to give hard answers after they necropsy the carcasses at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The analyses could take anywhere from two weeks to three months, Bickford from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says.

While bird die-offs do crop up now and then, they’re often linked to localized problems like pesticide spraying, new construction along migration pathways, and storm conditions. But the factors behind this calamity seem less contained. “It gets pretty scary when you think that this could become normal,” Hayes says. “Whether it’s a drought, extreme weather, or wildfires, all these [events] are likely to happen more often in a changing climate.”





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