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Current International Update

International developments reported in the current issue of ELR's Weekly Update appear below. For previously reported international news, please use the filter function on the left. For older material reported between 2000 and 2010, visit the Weekly Update Archives.

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BRAZILIAN INSTITUTE WARNS OF POTENTIAL HEALTH CRISIS FROM DAM FAILURE

Country: Brazil

Brazil's leading research institute, Fiocruz, is warning of a potential health crisis from the failure of a dam in the state of Minas Gerais, which released muddy mining waste and killed at least 134 people. The reservoir breach leached roughly 12 million cubic meters of reddish-brown mud, threatening to contaminate 48 municipalities and affecting up to 1.3 million residents. The institute is concerned that contamination of the ecosystem and nearby Paraopeba River could lead to the spread of diseases like dengue and yellow fever in communities surrounding the reservoir.

RWANDA SIGNS DEAL TO PRODUCE BOTTLED METHANE GAS

Country: Rwanda

Rwanda has signed a $400 million deal to produce bottled methane gas from Lake Kivu, which lies in the volcanic region of Rwanda's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and is known for emitting dense clouds of methane. The project will suck gas from the lake's deep floor and bottle it for use as fuel, which, in turn, should help prevent toxic gas from bubbling to the surface. The bottled methane is intended to help cut local reliance on wood and charcoal, the fuels most households and tea factories use in the East African nation.

AUSTRALIAN COURT REJECTS COAL MINE IN LANDMARK CLIMATE RULING

Country: Australia

On February 8, the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales dismissed an appeal by pipeline developers of the Rocky Hill open-cut coal mine against an earlier planning rejection. The court found that construction and operation of the mine would result in greenhouse gas emissions that would contribute to climate change, and thus rejected its construction. This case marks the first time an Australian court has heard expert evidence on the need to stay within a global carbon budget in the context of a proposed coal mine.