MAC/20: Mines and Communities

VENEZUELA

Published by MAC on 2007-06-26

VENEZUELA

Air and water contamination confirmed in Zulia coal-mining sites

Bylined to: Patrick J. O'Donoghue, VHeadline.com

26th June 2007

According to an assessment by the Environment Ministry, open cast coal- mining in Zulia State is affecting the quality of water and air. The following mines: Miraflores, Buena Vista Oeste (west) and Buena Vista Sur (south) and Cano Santa Rosa have been found with high concentrations of lead, sulfate, cadmium, cyanide and mercury.

Measurements were taken by the Ministry and Carbozulia, which subcontracted private laboratories to gauge contamination levels. The report discovered that in Cano Paso Diablo the water Ph is higher than normal because of sulfate levels.

Homo et Natura environmental group member, Lusby Portillo says there are plenty of arguments to oppose the handing over of new coal- mining concessions in Zulia. Coal-mining up till now, Portillo states, has devastated 1,800 hectares of forest, which are now just ugly craters, and it has compromised the health of local inhabitants, especially living in indian settlements.

The environmental group is supporting Wayuu, Bari and Yukpa indians, who oppose new concessions, calling for the implementation of the indigenous peoples law and respect for communal lands on which the proposed coal mines are situated.

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