The Stream, May 14, 2021: Brazil’s Palm Oil Industry Causing Water Contamination on Indigenous Land


  • Despite claiming not to cause environmental harm, Brazil’s palm oil industry is leading to mass deforestation and water contamination.
  • Canada’s Ministry of Environment will track algae blooms throughout British Columbia.
  • A collapsed frac pond in Texas releases more than 3 million gallons of water.
  • A Canadian environmental group is asking the Ministry of Environment to extend the public comment period on a proposal to renew water-taking permits.

A new assessment found that all but one of the top 100 cities at risk for environmental hazards are in Asia.

“Home to more than half the world’s population and a key driver of wealth, cities are already coming under serious strain from dire air quality, water scarcity and natural hazards. In many Asian countries these hubs are going to become less hospitable as population pressures grow and climate change amplifies threats from pollution and extreme weather, threatening their role as wealth generators for national economies.” – Will Nichols, lead author of a new report assessing environmental risk worldwide. The Guardian reports that the assessment found that 99 of the top 100 cities most vulnerable to environmental hazards are in Asia. The assessment found that Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, tops the list due to rampant pollution and severe flooding and heatwaves. According to the report, 35 of the top 50 cities most beset by water pollution are in China, as are 13 of 15 cities facing severe water stress.

  • Why it matters: Many cities highlighted in the assessment have faced water crises for years. Java, the Indonesian island that houses its capital city, faces a plethora of environmental risks: Polluted air, sinking land, and a mounting flood hazards. In China, demand for energy, particularly for coal, is outpacing its freshwater supply.


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Extremely Dry Conditions Spill Across the American West – Drought and climate change are sapping the region’s water. The numbers indicate challenging years ahead.

“Water is life” is the Theme of Day 1 of Protests to Shut Down Enbridge Line 5 – On Wednesday, a little two lane road and a fence topped with barbwire was all that separated Enbridge Energy’s big Line 5 pumping station and a little park where a lot of tribal members from all over the upper Midwest gathered.

Innovative Partnerships and Exchanges are Securing the Gila Rive Indian Community’s Water Future – The Gila River Indian Community is restoring its “lifeblood back through innovative partnerships and water exchanges. This piece is part of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ Tapped Out collaboration, which explores power, justice & water in the West.

Brazil’s Palm Oil Industry Responsible for Deforestation and Water Contamination

A recent 18-month investigation by Mongabay found that Brazil’s palm oil industry is causing deforestation and water contamination. The investigation pokes holes in official policy from Brazil, which maintains that Amazon palm oil is environmentally safe. The investigation explores the industry’s apparent disregard for conservation and the rights of regional Indigenous tribes.



Canada’s Ministry of Environment created a website to track algae blooms across 53 lakes in British Columbia, Global News reports. A water quality limnologist for the ministry said that while most  blooms are harmless, some can be toxic to people, pets, or livestock.


A collapsed frac pond wall caused a freshwater leak that resulted in the loss of more than 3 million gallons of water in Winkler County, Texas, CBS7 reports. The local sheriff’s office said the plant responsible for the frac pond was notified and is on-site.


A local advocacy group in Canada is asking the Ministry of Environment to extend the public input period for water permit renewals in two cities in Ontario, Guelph Today reports. The executive director of Wellington Water Watchers said the ministry slid a proposal to renew applications from Triton Water to divert water from the towns of Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh without informing the group, breaking a verbal agreement they had made to do so. Now the group is asking to extend the public comment to 90 days to ensure the public’s concerns are heard.

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