The Stream, January 27: Water A Sticking Point For Brazil Iron Mine

The Global Rundown

Concern about water supplies is one of the last remaining hurdles before the Samarco iron ore mine can resume production in Brazil. The condition of Gaza’s aquifer continues to deteriorate. Dozens of people are injured after clashes between police and activists in Bangladesh erupted at a protest against the proposed Sundarbans coal plant. Courts in the United Kingdom do not have jurisdiction over cases involving oil pollution in the Niger Delta, according to a high court judge. A whistleblower in Australia claims a leading energy company routinely disregarded environmental regulations. Cape Town, South Africa is implementing tougher water use restrictions as reservoir levels remain low.

“One of the allegations that’s most disturbing is that there was a deliberate strategy not to report and not to comply because it was cheaper just to pay the fine if they ever got caught – because presumably they thought they wouldn’t get caught very often. That has been the concern of the community from the outset.” –Carmel Flint, campaign coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance in New South Wales, referring to allegations against Sydney-based Origin Energy that were filed by a former senior manager. The whistleblower accused the company of flouting environmental laws and dismissing reports about violations at its oil and gas wells, including instances of aquifer contamination. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

50 activists Number injured in a standoff with police in Dhaka, Bangladesh during a protest against a coal-fired power plant. Opponents worry the plant, slated for construction near the Sundarbans mangrove forest, will pollute the estuary and put the coastline at greater risk from natural disasters. Reuters

96.5 percent Proportion of Gaza’s aquifer that is unusable due to contamination and saltwater intrusion. The condition of the aquifer continues to deteriorate, while Gaza struggles to find the resources to build desalination plants. Reuters

39.9 percent of capacity Current water levels in the reservoirs supplying Cape Town, South Africa, where officials tightened water use restrictions this week. IOL News

In context: Explore Circle of Blue’s special report on South Africa’s water and energy choke point.

Science, Studies, And Reports

The Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil needs a small town’s approval to use water from a nearby river before it can resume production. However, the mayor of Santa Barbara in Minas Gerais is first demanding an environmental impact study to assess how mining activities will affect the river’s water supplies. The mine closed in 2015 after a tailings dam failed and sent a deadly flood of wastewater downstream. Bloomberg

On The Radar

Courts in the United Kingdom do not have jurisdiction over lawsuits brought against Royal Dutch Shell for pollution related to oil activities in the Niger Delta, a judge ruled on Thursday. The ruling is a critical setback for thousands of Nigerian plaintiffs who believe they are unlikely to secure environmental cleanup and compensation through the court system in Nigeria. Guardian